NEWS BRIEFS: Huckabee says 'very important announcement' coming Sat.

Baptist Press
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Posted: May 13, 2011 4:52 PM
NEWS BRIEFS: Huckabee says 'very important announcement' coming Sat.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Former Arkansas Gov. and Southern Baptist pastor Mike Huckabee says he'll make a "very important announcement" this weekend, one that his executive producer says will concern whether he'll explore a run for the White House.

Huckabee, who has performed well in Republican preference polls, said on his radio program Friday, "This weekend be sure to catch my Fox News television show. A very important announcement coming this Saturday." Huckabee hosts a TV program on FoxNews Saturdays at 8 p.m. Despite his solid showing in the polls, Huckabee has yet to announce whether he will run for president in 2012.

Woody Fraser, executive producer of Huckabee's FoxNews program, told several media outlets Huckabee will announce whether he intends to take the first steps toward a White House run. That could come in the formation of an exploratory committee.

Earlier Friday Huckabee Tweeted, "Be sure to check my media schedule for today and the weekend." Huckabee has a loaded media schedule on FoxNews this weekend, appearing on "Your World" with Neil Cavuto Friday at 4 p.m. ET, "The O'Reilly Factor" with Bill O'Reilly Friday at 8 p.m. ET, and "Fox and Friends" on the Fox News Channel Saturday at 8:30 a.m. ET, before hosting his show Saturday night.

TENN. SENATE OKS REVERSAL OF 'GENDER IDENTITY' LAW

The Tennessee Senate passed a bill May 12 revoking a Nashville ordinance that protects employees based on their homosexuality or transgender status.

The senators voted 21-8 for the legislation, which would prevent local governments from enacting nondiscrimination ordinances that go beyond existing state and federal law.

Tennessee law already prohibits employers from discriminating based on "race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin." The Nashville Metro Council went further in early April, requiring businesses that contract with the city to add employment policies with protections for the categories of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

The bill -- the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act, H.B. 600 -- will return to the House of Representatives for a vote on final passage. The Senate version is slightly different than one the House approved 73-24 in a late April vote.

"Sexual orientation" can encompass homosexuality and bisexuality, as well as transgender status. "Gender identity" is a term that "refers to a person's innate, deeply felt psychological identification as male or female, which may or may not correspond to the person's body or designated sex at birth," according to the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest homosexual organization.

Southern Baptist Richard Land urged support for the bill in a May 11 letter to the senators. He said the measure would ensure the uniform application of the state's nondiscrimination laws to business owners, prevent "frivolous but costly lawsuits by protecting state merchants from the arbitrary and subjective interpretation of 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity,'" and guard the religious freedom of Christian employers.

"There is no evidence to dictate equating homosexual behavior with immutable distinctiveness," said Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). "To do so mitigates the value of inalienable rights and trivializes the effort of those who seek to protect them."

Also on May 11, Land and Randy Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, urged Tennessee recipients of an ERLC email alert to ask their senators to vote for the measure.

David Fowler, president of the conservative group Family Action of Tennessee, has called the bill a "first-in-the-nation kind of law."

Some opponents of the Nashville ordinance say it could lead to men using women's restrooms. The concern over restrooms involves the definition of "gender identity." These opponents warn that, under the ordinance, a man who inwardly identifies as a woman can begin using a women's restroom.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES AMENDMENT HEADED TO MO. BALLOT

Missouri residents will get to vote on a religious liberties amendment next year, after the Senate passed the legislation, 34-0, on May 10.

The measure would amend the state constitution to clarify the rights of Missourians to pray and acknowledge God in public and private settings. It also would protect public school students' right to pray and acknowledge God in school, as well as express their religious beliefs in written and oral assignments.

Joe Ortwerth, executive director of the Missouri Family Policy Council, said, "This legislation establishes the clear outlines of our citizens' religious liberties (and) would help overcome legal intimidation tactics" from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

The House previously passed the bill, 126-30.

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press, and Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. The Missouri brief is a World News Service item.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net