Today, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a controversial measure that critics fear could lead to discrimination against the LGBT community. The bill recently passed a vote in the state’s largely Republican House and Senate. Supporters of the bill say the measure isn’t meant to target gay and lesbian residents but rather, as Gov. Pence explained to CNN, provides protection for businesses “if a government is going to compel you to act in a way that violates your religious beliefs.” At the signing, Pence cited the example of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, in which the corporation argued that it should not have to provide certain types of birth control—that it holds a moral opposition to—to employees as part of the Affordable Care Act. In a statement, Pence said, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it.” Currently, 18 other states have similar bills.
However, the bill’s opponents say that it could potentially allow businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers. As CNN notes, the state does not currently have any laws that protect residents from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. On the website of Eric Miller, one of the lobbyists who championed the measure and was at the bill-signing, specific examples of Christian businesses not having to be required to provide services at the weddings of gay and lesbian couples was cited. Several large organizations have said that the bill may make them reconsider holding large conferences in the state ... Discuss
The drama! The intrigue! The fancy attire! This Christmas, it is all coming to an end. Producers have announced that the sixth season of the wildly popular British drama Downton Abbey will be its final episodes, with a series finale planned for Christmas 2015. In a statement, Executive Producer Julian Fellowes said that he has been just as surprised about the direction of the show as fans, admitting, “People ask if we knew what was going to happen when we started to make the first series and the answer is that, of course we had no idea." The final season kicks off this fall in the UK ... Discuss
Former Saturday Night Live standout Nasim Pedrad will soon have her very own sitcom. According to The Hollywood Reporter, though details about the show’s concept are still in the works, Pedrad will create, write and star in the new series. Since her stint on SNL, Pedrad has started in Fox’s Mulaney and is featured in the upcoming horror/comedy series Scream Queens. Fox Broadcasting’s entertainment president said in a statement, “Nasim is not only one of the most talented comedic actresses out there today, she's also a formidable writer with a clear, bitingly witty point of view ... we are so excited for her to be an even bigger part of the Fox family this year" ... Discuss
At long last, fast food chain McDonald’s has launched the line of cheese burger-emblazoned rain boots, thermal underwear, linens, hoodies and wall paper you’ve been waiting for. The strange product launch—all of the items are actually for sale—is part of the company’s “imlovinit” marketing campaign, in which marketing teams from 24 cities launch weird, McDonald’s initiatives to spread “24 hours of joy.” Because nothing spreads global joy like being able to buy bed sheets with pictures of Big Macs all over them ... Discuss
Hillsong has released a new trailer for their upcoming documentary Let Hope Rise, which releases this spring. From filmmaker, Michael John Warren—the director of Jay Z’s Fade to Black concert movie—Let Hope Rise looks at the rise of Hillsong Church (which pulls in more than 100,000 weekly attendees in services around the globe), and the United Band’s huge global influence ... Discuss