Thursday, August 21, 2014
Same-sex couples will have to wait longer to begin marrying in Virginia after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to delay an appeals court ruling striking down the state's gay marriage ban.
The nation's highest court granted a request from a county clerk in northern Virginia to delay a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond that would have allowed for same-sex couples to marry beginning Thursday morning. The state would have also had to start recognizing gay marriages from out of state if the Supreme Court had denied the request. The court provided no explanation for its order.
The Supreme Court's decision was not unexpected, as it previously issued an order in January putting same-sex unions on hold in Utah. A federal appeals court had upheld a decision striking down Utah's ban. Most other federal court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage also have been put on hold.
By granting the delay, the Supreme Court is making clear that it "believes a dignified process is better than disorder," said Byron Babione, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group based in Scottsdale, Arizona, that supported the challenge by the two Virginia circuit court clerks whose duties include issuing marriage licenses.
"Virginians deserve an orderly and fair resolution to the question of whether they will remain free to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman in their laws," Babione said in a statement.
Supporters of same-sex marriage were disappointed, saying gay and lesbian couples have waited long enough to marry.
"Loving couples — and families — should not have to endure yet another standstill before their commitment to one another is recognized here in Virginia," James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia, said in a statement.
While awaiting the court's ruling, Virginia officials and some clergy members were preparing for the possibility that same-sex couples would have been able to wed by drafting a revised marriage license form for courthouse clerks. Some clerks in urban areas were also preparing for an influx of marriage license applicants by bringing in deputy clerks to assist with marriage licenses and setting up overflow rooms.
Earlier this year, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated that as many as 7,100 same-sex Virginia couples could get married within three years of a change in law. That's based on 2010 Census figures showing Virginia had 14,243 same-sex couples and past experiences with Massachusetts after gay marriage was legalized there.
Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 that banned gay marriage and prohibited the recognition of such marriages performed in other states. State Attorney General Mark Herring has said he will not defend the ban and believes the courts were correct in striking it down.
The appeals court ruling overturning that ban was the third such ruling by a federal appeals court and the first in the South, a region where the rising tide of rulings favoring marriage equality is testing concepts of states' rights and traditional, conservative moral values that have long held sway.
Herring has also supported a delay because of unintended negative consequences if the court later rules against marriage equality.
In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Herring said he understood that some might be disappointed. However, there is cause for optimism "that ultimately when the Supreme Court hears our case or whether it hears another one of these cases, that it will strike down these discriminatory bans."
The Virginia lawsuit was filed by Timothy Bostic and Tony London of Norfolk, who were denied a marriage license, and Carol Schall and Mary Townley of Chesterfield County. The women were married in California and wanted their marriage recognized in the state where they are raising a 16-year-old daughter.
Bostic said in a written statement that the delay was disappointing but not unexpected.
"There are thousands of couples just like us in 30 other states waiting to get married. It is time for all Americans to be able to enjoy the freedom to marry, no matter what state they live in," Bostic said.
A panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati recently considered arguments regarding six cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some observers have said the 6th Circuit may be the first to uphold statewide gay marriage bans after more than 20 consecutive rulings in the past eight months striking them down.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
BY NAPP NAZWORTH , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER
Judges who have been overturning marriage laws are misreading the U.S. Supreme Court rulings and ignoring counterarguments in order to promote their own ideological agenda, Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, told The Christian Post in a video phone interview.
"This is a pure ideological power play by liberal judges, some of whom were Republican appointed, ... who don't like traditional morality and the traditional understanding of marriage and want to overturn it," George said. "So they're abusing their offices, they're usurping the authority of the elected representatives, ... and sometimes the people themselves acting through referendums and initiatives, to impose their own vision, their own preferences, their own political policy preferences on the American people. It's not right and it's not constitutional. Judges acting in the name of the Constitution are themselves acting unconstitutionally."
Last Summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in two same-sex marriage cases. One upheld a lower court ruling that struck down California's "prop 8," which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The other, U.S. vs. Windsor, ruled unconstitutional the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that said federal law will not recognize same-sex marriages in states that allow couples of the same gender to get married. Since then, many state courts, federal district courts and federal appellate courts have overturned state marriage laws, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court required, suggested or implied that they do so in the Windsor decision.
Overturning marriage laws was never the intent of Windsor, George argued. Rather, the Court only wanted to do what it did, which was to say that state contracted marriages must be recognized by the federal government. When judges useWindsor as justification for striking down marriage laws, they are actually imposing their own views of what marriage should be rather than faithfully interpreting the law, he claimed.
"Judges who are very eager, for ideological reasons of their own, to invalidate marriage laws to promote the ideology that's behind the movement for same-sex marriage are seizing on the — Windsor decision as a pretext for invalidating the laws that have been on our books historically, have always served us well — understanding marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife," George said.
Though it is considered proper to address counterarguments in judicial opinions, George said that the judges overturning marriage laws are ignoring his arguments. The reason George believes they are doing so is that they do not have answers to his arguments.
"The argument is very inconvenient, it gets in their way. They are in a headlong rush to redefine marriage for their own ideological purposes, so they refuse to engage the best arguments that are available on the other side, despite the fact that those arguments are being made," he said.
George provided a brief summary of his argument in the interview. Here is an edited transcript of what he said:
Marriage is, and historically has been, the relationship that brings together man and woman as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children who are born of that union.
Not every marriage will produce a child, but every child has a mother and father and deserves to be known and loved by, and to be able to know and love, those parents who gave that child life. So, our marriage laws, our conjugal understanding of marriage, as embodied in our laws, has historically fulfilled the purpose of maximizing the chances, it doesn't work every time, but it maximizes the chances that a child will be brought up with a very great blessing of knowing and being known by his mother and father in the marital bond, the loving bond of man and woman that brought that child into existence.
That's the ideal. Now when the ideal doesn't happen, we have ways of dealing with that. Adoption, for example, is a wonderful way the we have historically provided, where possible, a mother and father to orphan children. There are ways we deal with the cases where the ideal cannot be realized. But we want the ideal to be realized as much as possible for the sake of children, boys and girls, who do best when brought up in the loving bond of their mother and father.
We need to rebuild a marriage culture that will maximize the chances of any child being brought up in that loving bond. the loving bond of the man and woman whose union gave them life.
That's the whole reason the law is interested in marriage at all. The law is not interested in your romantic relationships. What business is that of the laws? The law is not interested in your ordinary friendships or companionships. The law doesn't regulate them, the law doesn't recognize them. It would be a bad thing if they did. Would we want the law intruding itself on our friendships or even our romances? Why is the law interested in marriage at all?
Going all the way back to the Greeks (this isn't a Christian idea) the pagan Greeks, Plato, Aristotle, the Romans ... all recognized marriage.
Why is the law interested in it? For the sake of children. Because we all know that children really do deserve to be brought up, whenever possible, in the loving bond of man and woman as husband and wife who brought them into the world.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
August 12, 2014|9:14 am |The Christian Post|
A judge has ruled that Tennessee's constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage is legal, breaking a streak of judicial losses for the traditional marriage side.
Circuit Court Judge Russell E. Simmons Jr. ruled last week against the claim that the state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In his decision, Simmons cited the 1972 case Baker v. Nelson, a lesser known decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, arguing that gay marriage is not a fundamental right.
"Baker holds that a state's law on same-sex marriage does not violate the equal protection or substantive due process rights under the United States Constitution," wrote Simmons in his memorandum opinion.
"Although the United States Supreme Court has had opportunities to overrule the Baker decision, it has refused to take that position even in the decision on which the plaintiff relies, which is United States v. Windsor."
The decision is the first since the 2013 Supreme Court decision Windsor v. United States to rule that a state marriage amendment was constitutional.
Last year, the highest court in the land ruled five to four that a key component of the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.
While the decision did not comment on the constitutionality of state-level same-sex marriage bans, judges across the nation have concluded in the past several months that various state's bans violate the constitution.
In 2006, Tennessee was one of multiple states in the U.S. to have a majority of voters approve a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Known as Amendment 1, the ballot initiative passed overwhelmingly with 81 percent of voters in favor. In the same election cycle, Virginia, Wisconsin, South Dakota, South Carolina, Idaho and Colorado approved similar bans.
"The Supreme Court does not go the final step and find that a state that defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional," continued Simmons.
"Further, the Supreme Court does not find that one state's refusal to accept another state's valid same-sex marriage to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution."
Simmons' ruling comes not long after multiple parties both for and against same-sex marriage legalization have petitioned the Supreme Court to address the issue.
Earlier this month Utah, Virginia and Oklahoma filed petitions of appeal with the Supreme Court in response to the numerous lawsuits across the nation.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes stated that his duty is to legally defend the will of the state's voters, who supported the state's marriage amendment via referendum.
"My responsibility is to defend the state Constitution and its amendments as Utah citizens have enacted them," said Reyes.
"We recognize this litigation has caused uncertainty and disruption and have accordingly tried to expedite its resolution as quickly as possible by filing our petition a full month-and-a-half before its Sept. 23 due date," he added.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who gained headlines for refusing to defend the Commonwealth's voter-approved marriage amendment, also asked the Supreme Court for its decision.
"Throughout this case, I have fought for the fundamental rights of Virginians and the quickest possible resolution," said Herring. "I believe the district and appeals courts ruled correctly in striking down Virginia's discriminatory marriage ban, but it has long been clear that the Supreme Court will likely have the final word."
Monday, August 11, 2014
As the debate over the definition of marriage rages across the states, the European Court of Human Rights (kind of like a “Supreme Court of Europe”) has decided that the European Convention on Human Rights (kind of like our Constitution) does not require that nations recognize same-sex marriage.
This is a monumental decision, and could have a major impact as our Supreme Court is expected to take up a marriage case in the coming term.
Our Supreme Court Justices have looked to this court before; in fact, Justice Kennedy relied upon the European Court of Human Rights when deciding the Lawrence case that ruled the ban on sodomy unconstitutional.
- Man marries woman; Man decides he’s female; Man has “sexual reassignment surgery” to “become” female; Man tries to change his legal status to female.
- Finland has law restricting marriage to one man one woman unions; Finland declines to change Man’s legal status unless Man and Woman agree to dissolve their marriage and enter domestic partnership; Man and Woman do not want to do that, arguing that divorce is against their religion and their children would be disadvantaged, having lesser status than they do as the children of a married couple.
- Man and Woman therefore demanded to have Man’s legal status changed to female while leaving Man and Woman in a marriage, even though Finland does not recognize marriages between two females.
The Court held by a 14-3 vote that the European Convention on Human Rights does not require countries to recognize same-sex marriages.
The Court affirmed an earlier decision that there is no “right” to same-sex marriage. This would be comparable to SCOTUS issuing an opinion that says, “We meant what we said in our case from 1972,Baker v. Nelson, that there is no equal protection problem if states choose not to recognize same-sex marriage. They didn’t have to recognize same-sex marriage in 1972, and they still don’t.”
One reason the European Court said it reached its decision had to do with the fact that there was no ‘European consensus’ regarding same-sex marriage. Ten countries recognize it; 37 do not. The Court concluded that it would be better to let the debate continue than to impose a ‘one size fits all’ solution on all 47 countries in Europe.
Not surprisingly, this ground-breaking decision from Europe has escaped the notice of the mainstream media. However, you can read more about it here:
What does this mean for the US? It remains to be seen. However, this decision supports our argument that same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right. It would therefore be good for our courts to do as the European Court did. Our courts should let the debate continue, and not try to impose a fifty-state solution on the American people.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
July 14, 2014|11:03 am
Babies wearing pink and blue blankets identifying their gender wait in the hospital.
A White House representative has responded to an online petition that received over 103,000 signatories calling for the Obama Administration to recognize "non-binary genders."
Roy Austin, deputy assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity in the Domestic Policy Council, recently responded to the petition posted on the "We the People" website in March.
While sympathetic to the petition's demands, Austin wrote on Friday that "there is considerable variance across agencies and levels of government."
"…we believe proposals to change when and how gender is listed on official documents should be considered on a case-by-case basis by the affected federal and state agencies," responded Austin.
"However, that consideration must be informed by best practices and a commitment to honoring individuality and ensuring fairness."
Austin's reply also directed readers to a link showcasing President Barack Obama's record on LGBT issues.
"We know how important this issue is, and we understand the profound impact, both symbolic and otherwise, of having official documents that accurately reflect an individual's identity," wrote Austin.
"These documents play an essential, functional role, but also demonstrate the measure of dignity and respect afforded to our nation's citizens."
In March, a petition was posted on the White House's "We the People" website demanding that the federal government recognize "non-binary genders," or gender identities outside of male and female.
"Legal documents in the United States only recognize 'male' and 'female' as genders, leaving anyone who does not identify as one of these two genders with no option," read the petition.
"This petition asks the Obama administration to legally recognize genders outside of the male-female binary, such as agender, pangender, genderfluid and others, and provide an option for these genders on all legal documents and records."
To earn an official response from the Obama Administration, the petition had to get at least 100,000 signatures by April 20, a benchmark it passed days before the deadline.
Despite making the 100,000 mark back in April, the petition to recognize "non-binary genders" had to wait nearly three months for a reply.
Another petition response, that calling upon Tesla Motors to directly sell products to consumers in all 50 states, were the first official responses posted since May.
President Obama delivers remarks at a reception celebrating LGBT Pride Month in the East Room of the White House, June 30, 2014.
The petition response refusing to fully implement recognition of "non-binary genders" in all federal government agencies comes as the nation waits for President Obama's executive order on LGBT employment discrimination.
Recently Obama announced that he will sign an executive order barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity among business that have federal contracts.
The pending executive order has drawn praise from some for taking steps to protect sexual minorities and criticism from others for concerns that the order will lack sufficient religious liberty protections.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
July 22, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama waves before he signs an Executive Order to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination while in the East Room at the White House in Washington, July 21, 2014.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order Monday prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for federal contractors. What does this mean for Christian organizations that remain faithful to the biblical teaching on homosexual behavior?
Here are two main points that those groups need to be aware of:
First, the order only applies to government contractors and sub-contractors, it does not apply to groups that receive government grants. Most religious non-profits that provide services for the government do so through a government grant. They would not be affected.
A grant recipient is awarded money for general purpose, but how that purpose is fulfilled is decided by the recipent and spelled out in their grant proposal. Contractors and sub-contractors are hired to provide specific products or services.
Second, there is no blanket exemption for religious organizations, but Obama did maintain the religious hiring exemption that was put in place during the George W. Bush administration. The religious hiring exemptions says that faith-based organizations are allowed to only hire adherents of their faith.
The thorny legal issue, and what this debate is all about, has to do with this situation: Suppose a religious non-profit organization contracted by the federal government requires adherence to a set of beliefs and behaviors consistent with its faith as a condition of employment; among those beliefs related to sexual ethics, same-sex sexual relations are prohibited; is that organization exempt from the sexual orientation workplace discrimination rule under the religious hiring exemption? That is an open question that future courts may have to decide.
It is an open question partly because the final rule, which will be written by the Department of Labor, has not been written, and partly because there will need to be a court challenge to know with certainty how the courts would rule.
The legal issue is also murky because the order does not clarify a distinction between those with same-sex attraction and those who engage in sexual relations with their same gender. Many Christian organizations, however, do draw this distinction.
The religious hiring exemption does cover more than just verbal adherence to a faith. In other words, religious employers can require that an employee's behavior remain consistent with the faith, according to Stanley Carlson-Thies, founder and president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance.
After completion of the final rule, lawsuits could be the next step, Carlson-Thies believes, and some religious organizations may simply avoid partnering with the government altogether in order to avoid any potential court battles.
"So, by not exempting religious organizations from the new prohibitions," he wrote, "the President has opened the door to litigation, and his action will likely cause many faith-based organizations to consider whether federal contracting has now become too risky. So the new Executive Order will complicate the federal government's partnerships with faith-based organizations to provide important services."
Monday, July 21, 2014
July 19, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the border crisis after his meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry (not seen) in Dallas, Texas, July 9, 2014.
President Barack Obama plans to sign on Monday an executive order that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers from discrimination by federal contractors, the White House said. There is no new exemption for religious organizations.
The order bars federal contractors from discriminating against their employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and protects federal employees from discrimination based on their gender identity.
The move comes after the failure of the White House to have the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed in Congress, and amid increasing calls by LGBT groups for a measure bypassing legislative approval.
The White House says the order will affect 24,000 companies and 8 million employees.
"Obama's executive order does not modify that Bush exemption" The Huffington Post quoted a senior administration official as saying. "It stands."
This means that the employers will be allowed to hire people based on their faith, but barred from discriminating against them based on sexual orientation.
The ENDA Senate bill, supported by almost all Democratic senator, included a religious exemption, stating: "This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
"It would be better if the president could provide leadership that promotes tolerance all the way around rather than use the force of the state," The New York Times quoted Galen Carey, the vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, as saying.
LGBT groups have expressed gratitude to the Obama administration.
"With the strokes of a pen, the president will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of L.G.B.T. people across the country," Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. "These actions from the president have the potential to be a keystone in the arch of his administration's progress, and they send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-L.G.B.T. discrimination must not be tolerated."
Obama's move comes about a month after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that closely held companies can invoke religious objections to the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which forces all companies to cover contraception, sterilization and abortifacients in employees' health care. In a five to four decision, the court ruled last month that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to privately owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties.
A senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal that the Hobby Lobby case didn't involve federal contracts. "We were comfortable moving forward with this executive order in light of Hobby Lobby," she said.
An executive order protecting employees of federal contractors from discrimination, including based on sex, is already in place but President George W. Bush amended it to include exemption for religiously affiliated federal contractors.
Obama plans to issue two orders on Monday.
One order will amend an executive order signed by President Johnson in 1965 that prevents federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of race, religion or national origin, by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to that list, according to Los Angeles Times.
The other order will amend an order issued by President Richard Nixon that prevents discrimination against federal employees on the basis of sex, race, disability and age. While President Clinton added sexual orientation to the list, Obama will now add gender identity to it.
Friday, July 18, 2014
July 17, 2014|9:08 am
A pro-traditional family advocacy group has launched an email campaign opposing a Burger King local promotion in San Francisco that featured a specially packaged, limited-edition gay pride Whopper with a rainbow wrapper in anticipation that the fast food chain may go national with the burger.
"Even though this promotion was at just one location, as a chain, Burger King is promoting homosexual behavior as healthy and something to have pride in," said American Family Association president Tim Wildmon in astatement released Wednesday. "We believe that promoting and encouraging unhealthy behavior will drive families away."
Fernando Machado, Burger King's Senior Vice President of Global Brand Management defended the company's promotion, telling USA Today that the sandwich "showcases who we are as a brand," adding, "It shows how we, as a brand, believe in self-expression."
On Tuesday, AFA sent an Action Alert to its friends and supporters and has prepared an email that consumers can send directly to Burger King executives and to the Burger King Franchise Association. AFA says that unless concerned consumers contact the fast food chain, the promotion could go nationwide next time. The email, which can be edited by the sender, states:
I am offended by Burger King's stunt in offering a so-called "Proud Whopper" in San Francisco. What were you thinking?
Your celebrated promotion of cross-dressers and homosexuality is an insult to families and I find your celebration of abhorrent behavior as a reason to dine elsewhere.
I hope you will learn from this publicity blunder and realize that while most stores did not participate in the corporate-approved program, the damage has been done and affects the image of all Burger King outlets.
"The Proud Whopper" promotion was held the week of 4th of July and at a restaurant situated along the parade route of San Francisco's annual gay pride event. Theologian and author John Piper tweeted, "Good-bye, Burger King.http://dsr.gd/1kmsDPv (If you wonder why, watch the last five seconds of the video, and weep.)"
Burger King video promoting Proud Whopper campaign can be viewed below.
Not every Christian is sold-out on opposing Burger King for its promotion. Alan Noble, co-founder and editor of Christ & Pop Culture wrote recently about the controversy, asking whether Christians should really be saying "goodbye" to Burger King.
"By boycotting Burger King for this lame promotion, evangelicals are validating it as a legitimate political and social statement instead of a cheap and tactless co-opting of the LGBT movement for profit," Noble states. "Most of all, focusing on silly faux-political/moral 'stands' like Burger King's only distracts us from richer and more edifying work."
He argues that current culture sees "economic coercion" as an important tool in social change and cites Mozilla, Duck Dynasty, and Chick-fil-A, as well as Burger King as examples.
"There are times and places when boycotts and buycotts are appropriate, certainly, but the way in which they have become the default method of public discourse and social advocacy is troubling," Noble wrote. "The Church has richer and more effective means of prophetically speaking, through preaching, service, and modeling an alternative to the world's order; I hope we begin to use them more."
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Lawyers for both the state and a group of gay and lesbian couples hoping to topple Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage submitted arguments late Wednesday on two separate questions: whether the ban violates the First Amendment or the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Attorneys in the case have already made oral arguments before U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in federal court, but debated only whether Louisiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
New legal briefs requested by the judge after that hearing address the question of whether Louisiana must actually hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and whether the state is violating First Amendment rights against so-called compelled speech by requiring that same-sex couples who have already wed elsewhere list themselves as single on tax returns.
The couples involved answered both questions in the affirmative. They made their case that Louisiana is forcing those married couples into “evident hypocrisy” by requiring same-sex couples, even if they have a legal marriage license from another state, to list themselves as single on Louisiana tax forms, violating the First Amendment in the process.
They also argued that denying same-sex couples a marriage license in Louisiana bas
The first argument may be a unique one, though similar gay marriages cases are pending in every state. The second relies on the same line of reasoning employed in dozens of those lawsuits, most of them sparked by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in United States v. Windsor, holding that the federal government must extend benefits to same-sex couples married in states where those unions are legal.
The plaintiffs’ brief on Wednesday quotes Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in voting to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the Windsor case argued that singling out same-sex couples “demeans” them and “humiliates” the children already being raised by them.
Lawyers for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the other named defendants in the case responded unequivocally. The answer to whether Louisiana is violating either the First Amendment or due process rights of same-sex couples, they wrote, “is ‘no.’”
As they did in court last month, they pointed out that the Supreme Court in Windsor affirmed the right of the states — rather than judges or the federal government — to define marriage. Kennedy wrote that the states have a “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.”
The state’s brief acknowledges that the couples involved have hit upon a “novel” argument by bringing up the First Amendment, but then dismiss it as off base.
“This novel claim has no merit because this tax filing requirement regulates conduct, not speech,” it reads, “And therefore does not implicate the First Amendment compelled-speech doctrine at all.”
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
July 14, 2014
The Old Town Hall for Salem, Massachusetts.
A city in Massachusetts has opted to end a contract with a Christian college over the academic institution's opposition to homosexuality.
The mayor for Salem recently announced that the city's contract with Gordon College for usage of the Old Town Hall, set to expire later this year, will be immediately terminated.
Rick Sweeney, vice president of marketing and communications at Gordon College, told The Christian Post about the contract to use the Old Town Hall.
"Gordon College had been in a contractual relationship with the city of Salem since 2008 to manage Old Town Hall, one of the most historic buildings in the city," said Sweeney.
"This was a reciprocal arrangement where we provided management of the facility in exchange for using it for educational programs connected to Gordon, and as well as 'curation' experiences for history majors at Gordon."
Sweeney also told CP that Gordon College was already shifting away from "event planning" in order to "refocus on educational efforts."
"The transition was going to occur in August. The city had the option of opting out of the contract early," said Sweeney.
"When the college became part of a public controversy over attention on longstanding behavioral standards we have as a private Christian institution, they decided to move quickly."
Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll told CP that at specific issue was Gordon College's "behavioral standards" policy, which specifically forbids "homosexual behavior" for students and faculty.
"This is in violation of the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that was unanimously adopted by the Salem City Council earlier this year," said Driscoll. "The city does not contract with private parties that willfully discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, marital status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation."
Driscoll asserted that this was not an example of "viewpoint discrimination," but rather an example of enforcing an antidiscrimination law.
"The city's action terminating our contract with Gordon for the management and maintenance of Old Town Hall, a public building, cannot be construed as discriminating against a viewpoint," said Driscoll.
"Rather, the city terminated the contract because Gordon's behavioral standards code conflicted with our fully LGBT inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. It is not discriminatory to reject discrimination."
When asked by CP about whether or not Gordon College will consider legal action, Sweeney responded that this was "highly unlikely" given the parameters of the contract.
"It is sad this situation has cast both the college and our relationship with the city in a bad light, as the partnership has always been very amicable and productive over the years," said Sweeney.
"Members of the Gordon community have always been respectful and welcoming to all individuals regardless of orientation, particularly in the many interactions in diverse communities like Salem."