Parisi calls on Walker to say he'll never sign discriminatory le - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Parisi calls on Walker to say he'll never sign discriminatory legislation

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The top official in Dane County is calling on Governor Scott Walker to officially denounce discriminatory laws in other states as a way to bring jobs to Wisconsin.

Recently signed laws in Mississippi and North Carolina that eliminate anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people have led to a backlash from the business community.

In North Carolina, both Deutsche Bank and Pay Pal are canceling plans to expand operations in that state, while in Mississippi companies like Tyson Foods, Nissan and Toyota have raised objections.

Both states enacted laws that require transgender individuals to use public restrooms that correlate to their biological gender at birth. The Mississippi law also allows business to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples based on religious objections.

On Monday, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi sent a letter to Governor Walker asking him to denounce those laws and also say he would never sign that type of legislation in Wisconsin.    
Parisi told 27 News it is the right thing to do, but there is also an economic component to consider.

"I believe that if the Governor comes out and makes a strong statement, that he will not sign any bills that legalize discrimination in any form - then we can go after these jobs that are not locating in these other states. We can say to Pay Pal - 'come to Wisconsin'," said Parisi.

Governor Walker's office released a statement to 27 News in response to Parisi's request.

"As Governor Walker has previously pointed out, the state Supreme Court already interprets provisions of the Wisconsin Constitution as protecting religious freedom for all individuals," wrote spokesperson Laurel Patrick. "Governor Walker looks forward to continuing to work with businesses, county and local officials, and other economic groups to continue encouraging job growth and creation in Wisconsin."

Patrick copied the following language from the constitution relating to freedom of worship and liberty of conscience:

"The right of every person to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed; nor shall any person be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, without consent; nor shall any control of, or interference with, the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship; nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of religious societies, or religious or theological seminaries."

Patrick noted current Wisconsin statutes also prohibit discrimination.

But Parisi believes a more empathic message from Gov. Walker is needed.

"I think its imperative that the Governor not be allowed to say its not a priority of mine - but the Governor be asked to say I will unequivocally not sign legislation that legalizes discrimination," said Parisi.

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