Leaders of the National Rifle Association said Sunday that they would fight any new gun restrictions introduced in Congress, and they made clear that they were not interested in working with President Obama to help develop a broad response to the Connecticut school massacre, Boston Globe reports. During an appearance on the NBC’s “Meet the Press,’’ Wayne LaPierre, the vice president of the powerful gun lobby, was openly dismissive of a task force established by Obama and led by Vice President Joe Biden that is examining ways to reduce gun violence. At a widely watched news briefing on Friday, LaPierre said the NRA’s solution to prevent mass shootings like those that have occurred in the last few years — several of them on school campuses — was to put armed guards in schools nationwide. LaPierre’s statement last week that armed guards in all schools are what will stop the next killer was widely denounced, and even some NRA supporters in Congress have publicly distanced themselves from the proposal.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that employers in the state can legally fire workers they find too attractive. In a unanimous decision, the court held that a dentist did not violate the state’s civil rights act when he terminated a female dental assistant whom his wife considered a threat to their marriage. The dental assistant, Melissa Nelson, who worked for dentist James Knight for more than 10 years and had never flirted with him, according to the testimony of both parties, sued, saying she would not have been fired if she were a man. At trial, Knight testified he had complained to Nelson on several occasions that her clothing was too tight, revealing and “distracting.” The seven justices, all men, said the basic question presented by the case was “whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.” The high court ruled that bosses can fire workers they find too attractive and that such actions do not amount to unlawful discrimination.
A California ban on controversial therapy designed to reverse homosexuality in children cannot be enforced while the constitutionality of the law is being challenged in court, a U.S. appeals court ruled late on Friday. California’s Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed the ban into law in September, making the nation’s most populous state the first to ban so-called conversion therapy among youths. Earlier this month U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller denied an injunction request against the law filed by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the American Association of Christian Counselors, as well as unnamed individuals who sued shortly after the law was signed. Those groups appealed Mueller’s ruling. In a brief order on Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco put the law on hold during the appeals process. The law had been scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
More than 250 religious leaders in Illinois have signed an open letter in support of same-sex marriage, which the legislature is likely to take up in January, reports The New York Times. This is not the first time members of the clergy have endorsed same-sex marriage, but the public nature of the letter and the number of signatures made it an especially strong statement. The timing is also significant: State Senator Heather A. Steans and State Representative Greg Harris, both Democrats, plan to introduce a bill next month to legalize same-sex marriage. Ms. Steans said they would not put the legislation, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, up for a vote unless they were confident it would pass. She added that the Senate, at least, was “definitely within striking distance” of the 30 votes needed for passage and that she hoped the letter would help persuade undecided legislators to support the bill.
A federal judge on Friday blocked a new Missouri law that requires health insurers to offer plans that exclude contraception coverage if employers or individuals object to birth control on moral or religious grounds. Reuters reports U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig granted a temporary restraining order preventing the enforcement of the law, writing that it appears to conflict with the new federal health care law. Republican lawmakers in Missouri drafted the law in response to President Barack Obama’s policy of requiring insurers to cover birth control for free as part of the new federal health care law, even if they work for a church or other employer that has a moral objection. State lawmakers in September overrode a veto by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon to enact the law.