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Puerto Rico gov tells lawmakers to shelve 'religious liberty' bill after Ricky Martin criticism

Puerto Rico gov tells lawmakers to shelve 'religious liberty' bill after Ricky Martin criticism
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Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló reportedly told lawmakers to shelve a "religious liberty" bill after singer Ricky Martin wrote a public letter decrying the legislation. 

Rosselló's decision came hours after Martin published a letter online, denouncing the bill that would exempt government employees from serving constituents if they believe it goes against their religious beliefs, according to NBC News

Rosselló said in a statement that "instead of reaching a consensus on a basis of mutual respect, it provokes the division of our people," NBC reported.

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In his letter earlier Thursday, Martin accused the bill of encouraging "division, prejudice, hatred and the lack of respect for individuality." 

Rosselló said Wednesday that he would only sign the bill if Puerto Rican legislators approved another bill that would ban conversion therapies in the U.S. territory. But the bill in question had faced backlash from civil rights groups for only banning conversion therapies conducted by mental health professionals while allowing exemptions for churches and religious institutions. 

"As a member of the LGBTT community, I join the constituency that affirms that there has never been a willingness among our LGBTT people to allow for the validation or legalization of discrimination against us," Martin said. 

The bill would "achieve nothing more than opening the doors to hatred towards anyone who doesn’t share the same ideology, who simply belong to the LGBTT community, or who don’t have the same color skin, amidst many other discriminatory measures," Martin said. 

"Authentic religious freedom calls for respecting everyone equally," he added. 

Martin had spoken out against Rosselló and the island’s House of Representatives on social media Wednesday after lawmakers voted in favor of the bill Tuesday.

The bill was heavily criticized by other LGBTQ activists and a handful of Democratic presidential candidates, including former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCancel culture comes for the moderates Biden expands on Obama ethics pledge Student loan forgiveness would be windfall for dentists, doctors and lawyers MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBoycott sham impeachment Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Sanders: Senate may use budget reconciliation to pass Biden agenda MORE (I-Vt.).