Monday, October 20, 2014
By Todd Starnes| Published October 20, 2014| FoxNews.com
Two Christian ministers who own an Idaho wedding chapel were told they had to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to a $1,000 fine, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing Donald and Evelyn Knapp, ordained ministers who own the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene.
“Right now they are at risk of being prosecuted,” their ADF attorney, Jeremy Tedesco, told me. “The threat of enforcement is more than just credible.”
According to the lawsuit, the wedding chapel is registered with the state as a “religious corporation” limited to performing “one-man-one-woman marriages as defined by the Holy Bible.”
But the chapel is also registered as a for-profit business – not as a church or place of worship – and city officials said that means the owners must comply with a local nondiscrimination ordinance.
That ordinance, passed last year, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, and it applies to housing, employment and public accommodation.
City Attorney Warren Wilson told The Spokesman-Review in May that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel likely would be required to follow the ordinance.
“I would think that the Hitching Post would probably be considered a place of public accommodation that would be subject to the ordinance,” he said.
He also told television station KXLY that any wedding chapel that turns away a gay couple would in theory be violating the law, “and you’re looking at a potential misdemeanor citation.”
Wilson confirmed to Knapp my worst fear -- that even ordained ministers would be required to perform same-sex weddings.
“Wilson also responded that Mr. Knapp was not exempt from the ordinance because the Hitching Post was a business and not a church,” the lawsuit states.
And if he refused to perform the ceremonies, Wilson reportedly told the minister that he could be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to 180 days in jail.
Now all of that was a moot point because, until last week, gay marriage was not legal in Idaho.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order on May 13 allowing same-sex marriages to commence in Idaho on Oct. 15. Two days later, the folks at the Hitching Post received a telephone call.
A man had called to inquire about a same-sex wedding ceremony. The Hitching Post declined, putting it in violation of the law.
City officials did not respond to my requests for an interview, nor did they respond to requests from local news outlets.
“The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines,” Tedesco said.
“The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected, just as the First Amendment intended.”
Alliance Defending Freedom also filed a temporary restraining order to stop the city from enforcing the ordinance.
“The Knapps are in fear that if they exercise their First Amendment rights they will be cited, prosecuted and sent to jail,” Tedesco told me.
It’s hard to believe this could happen in the United States. But as the lawsuit states, the Knapps are in a “constant state of fear that they may have to go to jail, pay substantial fines, or both, resulting in them losing the business that God has called them to operate and which they have faithfully operated for 25 years.”
The lawsuit came the same week that the city of Houston issued subpoenas demanding that five Christian pastors turn over sermons dealing with homosexuality and gender identity.
What in heaven’s name is happening to our country, folks? I was under the assumption that churches and pastors would not be impacted by same-sex marriage.
“The other side insisted this would never happen – that pastors would not have to perform same-sex marriages,” Tedesco told me. “The reality is – it’s already happening.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told me it’s “open season on Americans who refuse to bow to the government’s redefinition of marriage.”
“Americans are witnesses to the reality that redefining marriage is less about the marriage altar and more about fundamentally altering the freedoms of the other 98 percent of Americans,” Perkins said.
Why should evangelical Christian ministers be forced to perform and celebrate any marriage that conflicts with their beliefs?
“This is the brave new world of government-sanctioned same-sex unions – where Americans are forced to celebrate these unions regardless of their religious beliefs,” Perkins told me.
As I write in my new book, “God Less America,” we are living in a day when those who support traditional marriage are coming under fierce attack.
The incidents in Houston and now in Coeur d’Alene are the just the latest examples of a disturbing trend in the culture war – direct attacks on clergy.
“Government officials are making clear they will use their government power to punish those who oppose the advances of homosexual activists,” Perkins said.
I’m afraid Mr. Perkins is absolutely right.
No one should be discriminated against but have you noticed that any time a city passes a “nondiscrimination” ordinance, it’s the Christians who wind up being discriminated against?
Monday, October 20, 2014
By Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2014
Critics called Thursday on Houston Mayor Annise Parker to withdraw subpoenas for church sermons issued as part of a lawsuit over a transgender rights ordinance, while city officials attempted to downplay the outcry as overblown.
At a press conference at Houston's First Baptist Church, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz joined a group of local pastors in decrying the city's move to subpoena sermons and other communications related to a court battle over the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), also known as the "bathroom bill."
"This week, the government of Houston, Texas, sent a subpoena to silence prayers. The government of Houston, Texas demanded of the pastors, 'Hand over your sermons to the government,'" Mr. Cruz said. "Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit, and when you subpoena one pastor, you subpoena every pastor."
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said in a statement that more than 25,000 people have signed an online petition in the last 24 hours asking Ms. Parker "to immediately retract these demands and issue a clear statement in support of the free speech of all people."
In a Wednesday interview with KHOU-TV in Houston, however, city attorney David Feldman called the outcry over the subpoenas "ridiculous," adding that, "It's unfortunate that it has been construed as some sort of effort to infringe upon religious liberty."
"All this hysteria about how we're trying to infringe all because of the use of the word 'sermons' is really, really ridiculous," Mr. Feldman said.
Ms. Parker told KHOU-TV she hadn't read the subpoenas before they were issued. "One word in a very long legal document which I know nothing about and would never have read and I'm vilified from coast to coast — it's a normal day at the office," she said.
Ms. Parker's office released a statement Wednesday in response to the uproar saying that the mayor "agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department's subpoenas for pastor's sermons," and that the city will "move to narrow the scope during an upcoming court hearing."
But Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Christiana Holcomb said Thursday city officials have taken "no concrete action to withdraw the subpoenas" and described the city's move as "simply more window-dressing intended to shield them from public scrutiny."
"Furthermore, the subpoenas themselves are the problem — not just their request for pastors' sermons," Ms. Holcomb said in a statement. "The city is not off the hook from its illegitimate request for e-mails, text messages, and other communications in which these pastors, who are not even party to this lawsuit, may have disagreed with the mayor. The way to fix this is to withdraw the subpoenas entirely."
The city issued subpoenas last week to five local pastors opposed to the ordinance, which requires businesses open to the public to permit opposite-sex bathroom use.
A pastor-led coalition had submitted a petition in August to place the ordinance before the voters, but Mr. Feldman ruled the petition inadequate because of irregularities with a number of signatures.
Members of the coalition, which had turned in three times the number of signatures required to put the ordinance on the ballot, filed a lawsuit in August challenging Mr. Feldman's decision. A court date on the petitions is scheduled for Jan. 19.
The subpoenas included requests for sermons, emails, text messages, presentations and other communications related to the ordinance, the petition drive, homosexuality, the mayor, and "gender identity."
The ordinance, passed 11-6 in May by the Houston city council, forbids private businesses open to the public from discriminating based on "gender identity," which is now a "protected characteristic" under Houston law.
Janice Evans, spokeswoman for the mayor, said in an email, "As we noted yesterday, the action will come at an upcoming pretrial court hearing in the case."
But ADF attorney Erik Stanley, who attended the Houston press conference, said the city doesn't need to wait for a court date to address the subpoenas. So far no date has been set in the ADF's lawsuit challenging the subpoenas, saying they are "overly broad, irrelevant, and cause undue burden or harassment."
"There's no court date but they don't need a court date," Mr. Stanley said. "They can take action now to withdraw or narrow the subpoenas, and that's what they ought to do."
Friday, October 17, 2014
October 10, 2014|12:07 pm |The Christian Post |
NEW YORK — The Supreme Court has declined to hear appeals affecting the legalization of gay marriage in five states, effectively doing away with attempts to maintain the traditional definition of marriage in those states. As a result, six other states will likely follow suit as they also fall under the same federal court jurisdiction. This means that same-sex marriage could be legal in 30, or even 35 states, plus Washington, D.C. if the trend continues.
Eric Metaxas, author, television host and outspoken religious freedom advocate, shared his thoughts with The Christian Post about the Supreme Court's latest move, which gay marriage proponents have cast as the "final legal stamp of approval to marriage equality."
Indeed, supporters of same-sex marriage see the Supreme Court's refusal to take up the issue as "a tactic to win gay marriage."
Some concerned conservatives and supporters of traditional marriage, on the other hand, have cast the justices' decision as "judicial tyranny." One group, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, put out astatement calling for "civil disobedience on a massive scale."
Russell Moore, president of the The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a more moderate voice, suggests Christians should model "the best aspects of the pro-life movement." As Moore sees it, "the primary thrust of the movement wasn't about culture wars but cultural persuasion."
He added, "This is no time for retreat or for resentment."
For Republicans concerned about winning votes in November's midterm elections, there were suggestions that some politicians, though longtime trumpeters of traditional marriage values, would in fact retreat from the issue, in light of the Supreme Court's move.
According to a CBS News report, that was the case, at least for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whose state of Wisconsin was affected by the Supreme Court's refusal to consider appeals against the legalization of gay marriage. As he told the network, gay marriage essentially was now a dead issue.
"To me, I'd rather be talking in the future now more about our jobs plan and our plan for the future of the state. I think that's what matters to the kids. It's not this issue," said Walker.
Some Republicans fearing such responses have reiterated that conservative stances on marriage and life issues were non-negotiable.
"If the Republicans want to lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing and Bible-believing people just go ahead and abdicate on this issue," said former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee during a recent American Family Association radio program.
The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate and conservative Christian added, "And while you are at it, go ahead and say abortion doesn't matter either because at that point you lose me."
Tony Perkins, for his part, blasted the "rogue lower court judges" who have declared bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional despite how residents in affected states have voted.
"Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves," Perkins wrote in a statement on his conservative Family Research Council website. "This judicially led effort to force same sex 'marriage' on people will have negative consequences for our Republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law."
Although residents in states affected by the Supreme Court's non-decision have used the democratic process to show their rejection of the redefinition of marriage, national surveys indicate that nearly 50 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage. Among Millennials, those aged 18-33, 68 percent of them were in favor of legalizing gay marriage, according to Pew social trends.
A Pew Research Center survey on religion and public life conducted in early September found that 49 percent of Americans say they are in favor of allowing gay men and lesbians to marry. However, half of respondents consider homosexuality a sin, a view held by 82 percent of white evangelicals and 77 percent of black Protestants. Overall, 35 percent of Protestants are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, and 52 percent of Roman Catholics.
Among Protestants in favor of gay marriage were the newly-debuted group, Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, which celebrated the Supreme Court's move this past Monday.
Brandan Robertson, spokesperson for Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, insists, however, that "despite this judicial victory for civil marriage equality, the battle for hearts and minds — especially among evangelicals — continues."
For Metaxas, who also co-hosts the "BreakPoint" radio program, popular opinion on same-sex marriage holds very little weight, in comparison to how citizens actually vote.
"Most Americans don't know how America is supposed to work, and I include myself. We haven't had for 40 years ... we haven't had education on this stuff, like it's something we've kind of skipped for the last 40 years. So we think, 'How's America supposed to work?' It's supposed to work that we have a democracy, so people get to vote," he said in a recent "CP Newsroom" discussion.
"It's not about popular opinion. It's not about polls. It's about votes. So if you take a poll and ask people, 'So what do you think? What do you think?' I don't really care what people think. I care if they were motivated to get their rear ends to the voting booth. If they weren't motivated to do that, I couldn't care less what they think," added Metaxas.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
The Rev. Franklin Graham, CEO of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said Monday that "activist judges are overturning the will of the people," when speaking about the 61 percent of North Carolina voters who supported an amendment banning same-sex marriage in their state.
"It's sad when a judge is able to overrule the will of the people. This is a democracy and the people spoke. We're seeing that activist judges across the country are overturning the will of the people," Graham, a native of the state, said in an interview with NBC Charlotte. "We saw that in California. We're now seeing it here in North Carolina now. I don't know what will take place."
Last week a court declared North Carolina's ban, which passed via popular referendum in 2012, unconstitutional. Counties in the state have since been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
In 2012 North Carolina voters approved Amendment 1, a measure that added an amendment to the state constitution that banned gay marriage, with a 61 percent majority.
As of October, it was the last referendum on the marriage definition debate to succeed at the ballot box, with North Carolina voters joining over half the country in passing such an amendment.
A lawsuit was filed not long after the 2012 election, with North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announcing in July that he would no longer defend the ban in court.
"It's time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court," said Cooper. "All federal courts have rejected these arguments each and every time, so it's time for the state of North Carolina to stop making them."
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn Jr. struck down the state amendment defining marriage as being between only one man and one woman.
The decision is scheduled to be appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will likely affirm the lower court decision, reported the Charlotte Observer.
"The 4th Circuit, which covers the Carolinas, ruled in July that Virginia's gay-marriage ban was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court announced last week that it would not review similar rulings in five states, including the Virginia case," noted the Observer.
North Carolina was one of several states to see bans passed by a majority of the electorate fall through the courts.
While many believe that the U.S. Supreme Court will have to eventually rule on the matter, the justices recently refused to hear an appeal for multiple rulings, in effect allowing for the legalization of gay marriage in said states.
Friday, October 10, 2014
| OCTOBER 10, 2014 | 5:00 AM | The Washington examiner
The Supreme Court’s announcement this week that it will not review same-sex marriage cases from five states marks a significant shift in the legal battle over gay marriage. But the battle for the hearts and minds of the American people is far from over.
That’s because while most of America’s elite institutions overwhelmingly endorse same-sex marriage, there is one group that refuses to embrace it: the American people. I’m not talking about just older Americans and conservative Christians. I’m talking about a majority of American adults.
Of course, you wouldn’t know it by the triumphalism in the media.
This week’s announcement prompted many liberal journalists to declare the debate over.
The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson said the court’s decision means the country has reached “a tipping point” in which nationwide same-sex marriage is inevitable. An article at the Atlantic declared, “The Same-Sex Marriage Fight Is Over.” An author at Salon wrote that “after this week, even the most ardent opponent of gay marriage would have to concede it’s over.”
First of all, the legal battle is not over. If a Republican president appoints even one conservative to the Supreme Court to replace a liberal, the entire legal dynamic could change.
But the real debate is in the realm of public opinion, where there is a deep disconnect between the views of elites and those of everyday Americans.
According to a September Pew Research poll, support for gay marriage has declined 5 percentage points since February, to 49 percent. The numbers suggest that about 100 million American adults support the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The poll also found that half the country believes homosexual conduct is a sin (up from 45 percent a year ago) and 49 percent believes wedding caterers should not be forced to serve gay customers if they have religious objections.
Without a doubt, America has seen a shift toward gay marriage over the past decade or so. But the idea that there is anything close to universal support for it is wrong. In fact, there is evidence that polling underestimates support for traditional marriage by as much as 7 percentage points.
Why are so many Americans afraid to tell pollsters they oppose same-sex marriage? It could be partly because the gay-marriage lobby has bullied advocates of traditional marriage and stigmatized (and even criminalized) opposition to same-sex marriage.
Among many elites, not only should opposition to gay marriage be marginalized, but as New York Times correspondent Josh Barro tweeted regarding what he termed "anti-LGBT" views, "we need tostamp them out, ruthlessly."
Americans take notice when people are punished simply for supporting traditional marriage, as happened when Mozilla Corp. CEO Brendan Eich was forced to resign for supporting Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California.
As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a dissent to last year’s Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, “By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency, the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition.”
Many same-sex marriage advocates will not be satisfied until all Americans are forced to embrace gay marriage and until those persons and institutions (including churches) that do not are punished.
The silent majority of Americans who believe marriage should remain the exclusive domain of one man and one woman have a duty to speak up. They should bear witness in their churches and broader civil society to the truth about marriage, religious liberty and the rights of conscience.
The only way for the silent majority to be heard is not to remain silent.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
The seemingly unstoppable juggernaut toward same-sex marriage rights across the country was halted briefly Wednesday after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy blocked a federal appeals court ruling that voided same-sex marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho.
However, hours later, Kennedy narrowed the stay to the Idaho cases, effectively allowing same-sex marriages to go forward in Nevada.
Acting on an emergency application from Idaho officials, Kennedy issued a one-page orderWednesday morning staying the ruling the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released Tuesday.
Kennedy's order offered no rationale for the stay but instructed those challenging the gay-marriage bans to file a response by Thursday afternoon to Idaho's request.
Kennedy is likely to refer Idaho's application to the other justices, so the ultimate resolution could provide another clue about the justices' willingness to wade into the same-sex marriage issue. On Monday, the high court dismissed petitions challenging rulings voiding same-sex marriage bans in Virginia, suggesting a lack of interest in delving back into the question.
Before Kennedy acted, it appeared the new 9th Circuit decision would bring the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage to 32 in short order and to 35 if the courts applied the ruling in three other 9th Circuit states that have not permitted gay marriage: Arizona, Alaska and Montana.
However, in the wake of the second order from Kennedy Wednesday, it appeared that the tally of states allowing same-sex marriage would instead rise to 31.
The second order (posted here) also gave no rationale for the change, but a court spokesman said that as of that time no one had actually filed anything with the high court to asking it to block the 9th Circuit's ruling on the Nevada case.
Later Wednesday afternoon, a Supreme Court spokesman said a Nevada group involved in the legal battle there, the Coalition for Protection of Marriage, filed an application (posted here) asking to have the effect of the 9th Circuit's ruling in Nevada halted (or re-halted). There was no immediate action on that request.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
October 7, 2014|1:00 pm | The Christian Post|
Monday's unexpected Supreme Court ruling not to get involved in the national debate over same-sex marriage is expected to eventually bring the number of states where gay marriage is legal to 30 as lower court rulings in support of the practice are allowed to stand.
Conservative groups criticized the Court's decision for letting stand lower court decisions that overturned state-level marriage laws approved by voters in those states.
Prior to Monday's decision, 19 states and Washington, D.C., permitted same-sex marriages. Highlighting the national picture on same-sex marriage, USA Today noted that the Supreme Court's decision on Monday left in place lower court rulings legalizing gay marriage in 11 additional states.
Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah were affected immediately by the decision as federal appeals courts had struck down gay marriage bans in those states. North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming are also now likely affected as a result of the Supreme Court's decision because their judicial circuits are covered by the same appellate courts that struck down the gay marriage bans in the five immediately affected states.
The report noted that the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal could increase beyond 30 if the Supreme Court stays out of the marriage debate. If the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns marriage laws in Idaho and Nevada, the number of states legalizing same-sex marriage could expand to 35 as the ruling would also affect Alaska, Arizona and Montana.
"The court's letting stand these victories means that gay couples will soon share in the freedom to marry in 30 states, representing 60 percent of the American people," Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry told USA Today. "But we are one country, with one Constitution, and the court's delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places."
Despite the celebration of gay marriage supporters however, conservative groups reacted strongly to the surprise decision Monday with most decrying the move.
"Unfortunately, by failing to take up these marriage cases, the High Court will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage," explained Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a release Monday.
"Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves. This judicially led effort to force same sex 'marriage' on people will have negative consequences for our Republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law," he said.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal advocacy group, skewered the high court Monday for choosing to watch "marriage burn to ashes."
He also called the Supreme Court's decision "a total dereliction of duty."
"The Supreme Court abandoned its duty to take up or at least hold these marriage cases. The responsibility for the undermining of marriage rests solely at the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year's decision in the Defense of Marriage Act case that started this fire, and today's decision to watch marriage burn to ashes is the responsibility of the Supreme Court," said Staver in a statement.
"The actions of the Supreme Court in particular, and of the judiciary in general, undermine the rule of law and erode the confidence of the people in the judicial branch of government. When the people lose confidence in the rule of law, the judiciary will lose is legitimacy. Everyone will be affected by same-sex marriage because it is an intolerant agenda that will directly collide with religious freedom," he added.
Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage was a bit hopeful in his comments.
"It's possible that the Supreme Court wants to wait to take a case when a Circuit split develops so that it can rule in favor of the people's right to define marriage as it has always been defined. We're hopeful that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in our favor and that the Supreme Court will then take that case and decide that marriage is not unconstitutional," he noted in a statement.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear appeals from five states of appellate court rulings striking down state marriage laws.
The decision to not hear the cases, for now, means that Virginia, Wisconsin and Utah will begin recognizing marriages of two people of the same gender. Since the appeals courts for those states cover other states, the decision could mean that an additional six states may be required to recognize same-sex marriages, even if the voters or elected bodies of those states chose to define civil marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.
The Court was petitioned by both traditional marriage supporters and same-sex marriage supporters to hear the cases.
The Court could be waiting for a split decision at the appellate level before hearing the cases. So far at the appellate level, the courts have only struck down state marriage laws. There are several cases pending at other appeals courts, however. If one of those courts upholds a state marriage law, the Court will be more likely to hear the cases. The Court has until January, if it is going to take up gay marriage this term.
Ryan Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, criticized the Court's decision as leaving in place poor court decisions that trampled upon democratic processes, or government of the governed.
"This is an unfortunate setback for sound constitutional self-government and a setback for a healthy marriage culture," he wrote.
Same-sex marriage supporters and traditional marriage supporters both have reasonable arguments, Anderson continued, so the decision on how to define marriage for the purposes of state law should be made through democratic processes, not forced upon states by judges.
"In a system of limited constitutional self-government, the people and their elected representatives should be making decisions about marriage policy. And there are reasonable arguments on both sides of this debate. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the Constitution," he wrote.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a social conservative advocacy organization, also warned that the decision undermines democracy and the rule of law.
"Even more alarming," he said, "lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves. This judicially led effort to force same sex 'marriage' on people will have negative consequences for our Republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law."
Same-sex marriage supporters celebrated the Court's decision.
"This is a huge step forward for Utah and the entire country," Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said. "We are hopeful that the other cases pending across the country will also vindicate the freedom to marry so that all couples, no matter where they travel or live, will be treated as equal citizens and have the same basic security and protections for their families that other Americans enjoy."
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, encouraged Christians to neither respond to the decision with a "siege mentality" nor by jettisoning a Christian sexual ethic.
"The sexual revolution didn't start at Woodstock. It is always with us," he said. So Christians should view the same-sex marriage debate as an opportunity to speak to the broader culture about "a Christian vision of what marriage should be" and to "embody that vision in our churches."
"Let's love our gay and lesbian neighbors," he added. "Let's move forward with persuasion and with confidence. This is no time for retreat or for resentment. This is a time for mission."
Monday, October 6, 2014
Posted Mon, October 6th, 2014 9:51 am
This morning the Court issued additional orders from its September 29 Conference. Most notably, the Court denied review of all seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. This means that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect shortly, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits.
The Supreme Court had issued the first round of orders from the September 29 Conference last Thursday, adding eleven new cases to its docket for the new Term. Many people had anticipated that one or more of the same-sex marriage petitions might be on that list, but the Court did not act on any of them at the time. Last month Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had suggested that the Court might not step into the controversy at this point, because there was no disagreement among the lower courts on that issue. Today her prediction proved true, with the Court denying review (without any comment) of the seven petitions: Bogan v. Baskin (Indiana); Walker v. Wolf (Wisconsin); Herbert v. Kitchen (Utah); McQuigg v. Bostic (Virginia); Rainey v. Bostic (Virginia); Schaefer v. Bostic(Virginia); and Smith v. Bishop (Oklahoma).
Friday, October 3, 2014
October 3, 2014|8:37 am| The Christian Post|
An attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom filed a petition Thursday in New York state court asking for a review of the NY State Division of Human Rights decision that fined farm owners Cynthia and Robert Gifford $13,000 for refusing to host a lesbian wedding ceremony on their property.
"All Americans should be free to live and work according to their beliefs. Entering the marketplace doesn't mean the government can force a person to surrender their First Amendment freedoms or face punishment," said James Trainor, the attorney.
"The commission demonstrated stunning disregard for the Giffords' First Amendment rights, which were never considered at the hearing. The commissioner's order in essence gives an ultimatum: host same-sex marriage ceremonies or none at all," Trainor added.
Under the Grounds for the Appeal section, the petition states that "when working citizen farmers are forced by an administrative agency of the state to host in their own home a religious ceremony that violates their sincerely held spiritual beliefs, their government has failed them."
The Giffords, who own Liberty Ridge Farm located in Schaghticoke, refused to host the wedding of Jennie McCarthy and Melissa Erwin of Albany back in 2012, based on their belief that marriage is restricted to one man and one woman.
Gifford told the same-sex couple: "My husband and I have been married a really long time and it's great that you're getting married, but you can't do it here."
McCarthy and Erwin subsequently filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights in October 2012. In August 2014, Judge Migdalia Pares ordered the Giffords to pay a $10,000 fine for violating state anti-discrimination regulations, along with $1,500 each to McCarthy and Erwin.
The Christian couple has ran the farm for many years, and to supplement their income from the crops they grow, they would open up their property for various festivities during the fall, including weddings.
The Giffords decided in August following the fine to stop hosting all marriage ceremonies, even though they said it is likely to hurt their business.
ADF pointed out in August that the Giffords do not discriminate against anyone; they have hired homosexual employees and host other events open to heterosexual and homosexual couples.
"The government should not force anyone to choose between their faith and their livelihood, but that's exactly what has happened here," Trainor added. "The Constitution prohibits the state from forcing people to promote a message that violates their religious beliefs and conscience. Particularly disturbing is that, in this instance, it's happening in someone's own home."