California Strengthens Protections For Religious Minorities

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed legislation that reinforces a ban on bias against employees on the basis of religious dress and hair styles.

The bill will expand the definition of religion in the state’s employment discrimination statutes to include religious garb and other aspects of appearance, such as grooming, jewelry and head or face coverings.

Signing AB 1964 at a gathering of Sikhs, Brown declined to wear a turban but he was nonetheless supportive, the Sacramento Bee reported. 

“My own great-grandfather came here in 1852 from Germany and didn’t speak English,” Brown said. “He was driving a stagecoach from Placerville, then called Hangtown…. There’s always new and different people coming around – they speak 113 languages in California.”

Illinois Students Get Religious Liberty Protections

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has signed a bill that will permit college students to reschedule tests or assignments if they conflict with religious holiday observances.

Quinn said religious freedom is “the most American and fundamental freedom we have in this country,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“The First Amendment of our Constitution says that everyone, everyone, has the right to practice their religion and their faith without fear of intimidation,” Quinn added.

Quinn signed the bill Aug. 19 at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in front of 15,000 people. The Sun-Times said he condemned recent acts of violence and discrimination, specifically a shooting at an Illinois mosque, an attack on an Islamic school in the state and the desecration of a Muslim grave in one of the state’s cemeteries.

“These are un-American acts,” Quinn said. “The people of Illinois, all 13 million, abhor anyone who would commit these serious acts of violence as a violation of our Constitution.”