Trditional Marriage News

Date:
Friday, December 19, 2014
December 18, 2014|4:04 pm | The Christian Post|
 

An Arkansas town's controversial transgender ordinance that Michelle Duggar of "19 Kids and Counting" had campaigned against has been repealed.

Last week, voters in the town of Fayetteville repealed Ordinance 119, a measure that expanded various legal protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity, which many argued would've allowed men who identify as female to use women's public bathrooms.

"Voters turned out in record numbers for a special election, according to the election commission," noted an entry on nwahomepage.com. "The final numbers revealed 7,523 (52 percent) voted for the repeal, while 7,040 (48 percent) against, passing the issue by less than 500 votes. Around 29 percent of Fayetteville's registered voters cast ballots in this special election."

Ordinance 119 had garnered much attention after Michelle Duggar campaigned against the measure earlier this year.

"I don't believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls,"stated Duggar.

Later that month, Jim Wissick of San Jose, California, created a petition on Change.org calling for the Duggars to be taken off the TLC network for "fear mongering."

"The claim that this ordinance would provide predators with access to women's restrooms in order to assault or leer at girls or women is nothing more than fear-mongering and spreading [ignorance] and hatred," read the petition.

"The Learning Channel and Discovery Networks need to [separate] themselves from this bigotry and put an end to the Duggar's show," Wissick asserted.

As of Thursday, Wissick's petition on change.org had garnered over 184,000 signatories, having passed the 150,000 milestone in November.

There were also online petitions created in support of the Duggars, including one from lifesitenews.com that as of Thursday has over 209,000 names.

Another came from the Mississippi-based organization the American Family Association, whose petition presently has more than 164,000 signatures.

"Because of their uncompromising stand on marriage and abstinence, the homosexual lobby has drawn a bully bead on Jim and Michelle Duggar. Gay activists are publicly labeling Jim and Michelle with words like 'ignorance' and 'fear mongering,'" reads the AFA petition page.

"TLC needs to know you support the Duggars and '19 Kids and Counting!' If TLC hears from enough Christians, they will not even consider canceling the show."

Regarding the effort by LGBT activists to have TLC cancel "19 Kids and Counting," Duggar patriarch Jim Bob said at a press conference last month that "They won's succeed."

"Our show is the No. 1 show on TLC. We love everybody. It's a small group creating this fuss. All it has done is give us more exposure," Jim Bob said. "We've gained 50,000 Facebook fans last week. God is expanding our border through the national media."

Date:
Thursday, December 18, 2014
December 17, 2014|3:06 pm | The Christian Post| 
 

WASHINGTON — Leaders from most of the world's major religious groups who gathered at the Vatican last month for a conference on marriage left optimistic that they can win their fight against the forces of the sexual revolution emanating from the West, Dr. Russell Moore said.

"One of the most important things that came out of the colloquium is a sense of optimism from the people there," explained Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in a Monday interview at his Washington, D.C., office. "Being in dialogue with people from all around the world, in almost every [religious] tradition, people who have almost nothing else in common, I think we all walked away with a sense that concern about marriage is much bigger and broader than what we would have previously assumed."

The purpose of the Humanum conference, also called The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium and held at the Vatican Nov. 17-19, was to bring representatives from the major religious groups around the world to discuss how proper understanding the complementarity of the male/female relationship can invigorate efforts to promote the social goods provided my marriage.

Besides the various Christian groups, there were also representatives from the Jewish, Latter-day Saint, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faith traditions. Moore and Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California represented American Evangelicals.

In his speech at the conference, which you can read here or watch below, Moore spoke about the universally recognized truth that all human beings have a mother and a father and that "the drive toward marital unity is powerful, so powerful that it can feel as wild as fire."

The Sexual Revolution, Moore added, is not simply antithetical to Christian teaching, but to human ecology. And, it has been particularly harmful for women.

"The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy. The Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values of power, prestige, and personal pleasure," he said.

Moore told CP that he appreciated the opportunity to be explicitly Evangelical in his speech. There was no effort to suppress religious expression at the event. In the speech, Moore preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The "one-flesh union" of husband and wife, Moore said, "points beyond itself to the union of Christ and his church."

And, he later added, "the gospel tells us that, left to ourselves, all of us are cut off from the life of God, that we all fall short of the glory of God. The gospel tells us that our only hope is to be joined to another, to be hidden in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners and raised by the power of God, received through faith."

The lasting impact of the conference, Moore believes, will be the relationships that were built during the event.

"Many of the most important things happening in the room happened, not in the public sessions," he said, but in "people getting to know one another and talking about the obstacles they are facing."

The religious leaders from non-Western nations see the problems their nations are experiencing as coming from the Sexual Revolution of the West, particularly the United States, Moore discovered.

He also said he wanted to go to the Vatican to get a better sense of any changes that may be occurring within the Roman Catholic Church after some mixed signals about marriage at an October Synod. He found, though, that "the Pope was clear that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that complementarity is essential to marriage."

Date:
Monday, December 15, 2014
December 12, 2014|8:16 am | The Christian Post| 
 

In single-sex classes, which are common for sex education, students must be allowed to go to the class of the gender they consider themselves to be rather than their actual gender, the U.S. Department of Education directed schools that receive federal funds in aDec. 1 memo.

The memo, from the department's Office for Civil Rights, provides guidance for K-12 schools for when they are allowed to have same-sex classes or extracurricular activities and remain in compliance with Title IX, a 1972 law to protect against gender discrimination in education programs that get federal aid.

Schools may divide students by gender, the memo says, if the course or extracurricular activity is a contact sport or deals with human sexuality. Vocational classes are not allowed to be gender-specific.

Near the end of the document, a paragraph explains how schools must treat male students who consider themselves female and female students who consider themselves male.

"All students, including transgender students and students who do not conform to sex stereotypes," it states, "are protected from sex-based discrimination under Title IX. Under Title IX, a recipient generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes."

Private religious schools do not appear to be affected by the memo. Another part of the memo clarifies that the requirement applies to all public schools and the few private schools that receive some federal aid.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education has previously demonstrated a willingness to grant exemptions to religious institutions in regard to accommodating transgender students.

In July, the Education Department granted a religious exemption from Title IX to George Fox University after a female to male transgender student, Jayce Marcus, filed a complaint after she was not allowed to reside in the male dorms.

Date:
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
December 9, 2014|4:40 pm | The Christian Post| 
 

A lawsuit is moving forward against a Washington State florist who refused to supply floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding ceremony based on her religious objection, which could put her at risk of serious financial loss and the loss of her business.

Baronelle Stutzman, who owns and operates Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington, is being sued by the Washington State attorney general's office for refusing to supply flowers for a same-sex couple's wedding ceremony. Instead, she referred the couple to another nearby florist who could supply flowers for their wedding.

The attorney general's office filed its lawsuit against Stutzman in 2013, and after the judge who was presiding over the case joined the federal bench, another judge has been appointed to the case and began hearing arguments on the case last week. Judge Alex Ekstrom is expected to set the start of the trial for sometime in the Spring.

The attorney general's office is not just suing Stutzman, it's also suing her business, a statement from the Alliance Defending Freedom indicates.

Stutzman is being defended by ADF, which is an advocacy group defending the freedom of religion. Since Stutzman is being sued personally and her business is also being sued, the ADF statement says the lawsuit has put Stutzman at serious risk to lose the business as well as her personal assets.

Although Stutzman has supplied flowers to gay couples in the past, when Robert Ingersoll came to ask for her to supply the floral arrangements for his wedding ceremony, where he would marry his partner Curt Freed, Stutzman felt obligated to turn them down.

Stutzman, who has been a florist for over 40 years, based her reasoning off of her deeply held religious belief that marriage should only be between one man and one woman.

Washington law states that no business can discriminate against a customer based on his or her sexual orientation. However, ADF senior counsel Kristen Waggoner, the lawyer assigned to Stutzman's case, holds that since there are a number of other florists willing to provide flowers for same-sex weddings, the state's prosecution seems like an attempt to get Stutzman to surrender her "livelihood and liberty."

"Plenty of florists are willing to provide flowers for same-sex ceremonies, yet the state attorney general insists on going after not only her business, but her personal assets as well," ADF senior counsel Kristen Waggoner said in a press release. "It's nothing more than a blatant attempt to strong arm Barronelle into surrendering her freedom and livelihood."

Refusing to provide services for same-sex wedding ceremonies has cost many private business owners their business, as well as a great deal of financial grief in recent years.

In August, a Christian family was fined $13,000 by the state of New York for refusing to host a same-sex wedding ceremony at their farmhouse wedding venue because they felt it violated their religious beliefs.

In November, a California couple who ran a wedding photography business, announced that they will no longer provide wedding photography service after gay activists protested against the business when a gay man posted to Facebook about how the couple declined to shoot his wedding ceremony because of their beliefs.

Much like Stutzman referred the gay couple to another florist, the California photography couple referred the gay man to another photographer. Still, that did not prevent a social backlash from spawning in the wake of their decision.

Date:
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
December 8, 2014|4:10 pm | The Christian Post| 
 

The U.S. Census Bureau is considering a plan to eliminate questions about marriage from the American Community Survey. Researchers who use that data and recognize marriage as an important explanatory variable are dismayed by the proposal.

The ACS surveys about 3 million American households every year, making it the largest survey in America outside of the census conducted once every 10 years. The large sample provides researchers with a useful dataset about the U.S. population. The data is also used to determine the distribution of funds for some government programs.

The Census Bureau wants to eliminate some of the questions in order to reduce the amount of time required for each respondent to complete the survey. Among the seven questions on the chopping block, five of them are about marriage.

The proposal comes during a time of heightened interest in studying the role marriage plays in society. For instance, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, has held events and published reports on the relationship between marriage and poverty.One of those recent reports found that married men and women raised by married parents enjoy incomes $42,000 higher than those raised in non-intact homes.

In an email to The Christian Post, professor W. Bradford Wilcox, one of the authors of that report and the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, expressed concern about the Census Bureau's plans.

The ACS marriage questions are "helpful in painting an accurate statistical portrait of American family life," he said, and "losing them would be a tragedy."

In an interview with Politifact, the head of the ACS, Jim Treat, denied that the Census Bureau has something against marriage. The marriage questions are being considered for elimination, he claimed, because when he asked government agencies which questions they use the most, the marriage questions ranked low.

In an interview with triblive.com, Steven Ruggles, professor of history and population studies at the University of Minnesota, called the proposal "just crazy."

"We are in a period where marriage is changing more rapidly than ever in our history," he said, and the ACS "gives us a tool" to understand those changes.

Other researchers have pointed out that the Social Security Administration is one of the agencies that relies upon the marriage data, and without that data it is impossible to get reliable estimates on when Social Security will go bankrupt.

"Without those questions, even actuaries and economists inside the Social Security Administration can only rely on speculation," Samir Soneji, assistant professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, told Politifact.

The five questions ask respondents if they (1) got married, (2) got divorced or (3) were widowed in the past 12 months, (4) how many times they have been married and (5) the year they last got married.

The other two questions being considered for elimination asks respondents about their major in college and whether there is a business on their property.

The Census Bureau is accepting public comments on the proposal until Dec. 30. Information on how to submit a comment can be found here.

Date:
Monday, December 8, 2014
December 6, 2014|11:17 am | The Christian Post| 
 

Two concerns were raised this week in the battle to allow religious groups to maintain their religious identity when partnering with government to provide social services.

The Department of Labor released the final regulations for President Barack Obama's nondiscrimination executive order for federal contractors, and a bill may soon be passed during the U.S. Senate's lame duck session that does not contain religious exemptions for faith-based groups that receive government grants to aid homeless and runaway youth.

Federal Contractors

Obama announced in July that there would be no exemption for religious groups in a new nondiscrimination rule for federal contractors, but he would leave in place a President George W. Bush executive order on religious hiring which says religious groups with federal contracts are allowed to only hire co-religionists.

Obama's position was seen as a compromise between LGBT groups that thought religious groups should not be able to discriminate in hiring based upon sexual behaviors and religious freedom advocates who wanted a blanket exemption for faith-based groups.

Obama's attempt at a middle position, however, also led to a lack of clarity. What happens when the religious hiring exemption conflicts with the nondiscrimination clause? For instance, what if a religious organization requires its employees to abide by sexual ethics consistent with its faith, and those sexual ethics include a ban on same gender sexual relations? The Labor Department did not clarify this question when it made public the final regulations on Wednesday.

The new regulation adds "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the categories but does not mention religious groups. There is a section on "religious entities" on the Labor Department's FAQ's page regarding the new rule, but that page also lacks clarity. The page notes that the Bush era religious hiring exemption is still in place and the U.S. Supreme Court requires a "ministerial exemption" from nondiscrimination laws. It does not answer, however, whether a religious organization that believes homosexual practice is a sin would be allowed to deny employment or fire someone in a same-gender sexual relationship.

The lack of clarity itself could influence the role of religious groups in providing important social services, noted the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance in a email to supporters.

"Many faith-based organizations may consider themselves no longer welcome in federal contracting, or will fear intrusive (and disruptive and expensive) inquiries by federal officials into their human resources policies and practices, even if in the end they are vindicated," IRFA wrote.

As The Christian Post reported in October, the rule was issued without public comment.

On the Q&A page, the Labor Department said it was allowed to issue the rule without prior notice or comment because, "President Obama's Executive Order was very clear about the steps the Department of Labor was required to take, and left no discretion regarding how to proceed. In such cases, principles of administrative law allow an agency to publish final rules without prior notice and comment when the agency only makes a required change to conform a regulation to the enabling authority, and does not have any discretion in doing so."

Runaway Youth Bill

The new LGBT rule came the same week that the U.S. Senate is poised to pass a funding bill that similarly contains a broad nondiscrimination clause with no religious exemption.

The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act, S. 2646, reauthorizes funding for government programs to help young runaways, homeless and human trafficking victims.

The language of the nondiscrimination clause currently in that bill is the same language that was added by the U.S. Justice Department to the reauthorized Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act in June.

Like Obama's order for federal contractors, "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are added to the categories that may not be discriminated against. Religious groups are covered under the religious hiring exemption but there is no blanket exemption for religious groups.

An April 9 Justice Department memo about the new VAWA nondiscrimination language made clear that it applied to employees of grant recipients, not just beneficiaries, or those who are served by the grant recipients.

The memo stated that faith-based organizations "may prefer co-religionists," but, like the new rule for federal contractors, did not state what would happen if the faith-based organization's preference for co-religionists conflicts with the sexual orientation nondiscrimination rule.

Could a married gay man, for instance, sue if he were fired or not hired because his relationship is in violation of his faith-based employer's code of ethics? The Obama administration has consistently stated those situations would be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Date:
Friday, December 5, 2014
By Stoyan Zaimov |December 4, 2014|2:08 pm |  The Christian Post| 

 

The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has warned that allowing gay and lesbian couples the same rights to marry as straight couple would be "a grave injustice," ahead of the country's upcoming referendum on marriage in 2015.

"To put any other view of unions on the same level as Christian marriage would be disservice to society rather than a service," Bishop Liam MacDaid said at a news conference, according to Reuters.

"In a same sex union, children would be deprived of what a man and woman can give to children in a stable marriage."

The Irish bishops' views mirror that of the Vatican's major synod on the family, which over two weeks of meetings in October affirmed the traditional definition of marriage.

Their remarks came out the same day as the release of an eight-page leaflet on marriage, which contends that "it is a grave injustice if the State ignores the uniqueness of the role of husbands and wives, and the importance of mothers and fathers in our society," The Irish Times noted.

The leaflet adds that "the union of marriage provides for the continuation of the human race and the development of human society," and that "marriage of a woman and a man is a fundamental building block of society which makes a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the common good and to society as well."

Ireland legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, but still defines marriage between one man and one woman. In May 2015, however, it will become the first country to hold a nationwide referendum on whether gay marriage should be legalized.

An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll from October suggested that the majority of the Irish population would support such legalization. While 67 percent of those who responded to the survey said they would vote in favor of gay marriage, 20 percent said that they will not.

A previous poll from November 2012 saw 64 percent of responders indicate they would support such a change, while 36 percent said no.

Last week, Finland's parliament voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, joining another 11 European nations that have approved of the practice.

Nearly 8,000 members from the Lutheran Church in Finland announced that they will be resigning from the church after Kari Mäkinen, the Archbishop of Turku and Finland, revealed that he is "rejoicing" with the news.

Date:
Thursday, December 4, 2014
By Michael Gryboski |December 3, 2014|12:18 pm| The Christian Post| 
 

Washington, D.C. city council approved a bill that bans the practice of sexual orientation change therapy for minors.

Following similar legislation in California and New Jersey, the Council of the District of Columbia voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a bill barring the practice for minors.

B20-0501 was passed by the Council in their legislative session and is expected to be signed into law by Mayor Vincent Gray.

"A provider shall not engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a consumer who is a minor," reads the bill, which amends the Mental Health Service Delivery Reform Act of 2001.

"A violation … shall be considered a failure to conform to acceptable conduct within the mental health profession under section 514(a)(26) of the District of Columbia Health Occupation Revision Act of 1985, effective March 26, 1986 … and shall subject a provider to discipline and penalties under 514(c) of the District of Columbia Health Occupation Revision Act of 1985."

Known also as the "Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2014", the bill was introduced by Councilmember Mary M. Cheh in October of last year.

In October 2013, B20-0501 was referred to the Committee on Health, but was not given a notice of public hearing until several months later in May.

In late June, the bill was given a public hearing where proponents and opponents of the SOCE therapy gave testimony to the Council.

The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council denounced the bill's passage, with FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg calling the vote "a shocking violation of the longstanding ethical principle of client autonomy."

"The D.C. City Council disregarded powerful testimony by therapists who debunked misconceptions about sexual reorientation therapy and by clients who had benefited from it," stated Sprigg.

"This new law is an outrageous assault upon the freedom of speech of therapists, the freedom of religion of clients who seek help in living lives consistent with their faith, and the privacy of the therapist-client relationship."

Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that supported B20-0501, said that more work needed to be more nationally.

"No child should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited so-called therapy," said Warbelow in a statement.

"While the LGBT youth in our nation's capital will soon be protected once this bill is signed into law, HRC is committed to making sure these kinds of protections are secured throughout the entire nation."

With the vote, the District of Columbia joins California and New Jersey as places in the United States that prohibit conversion therapy.

Many other states, however, including Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, and Virginia, have blocked or withdrawn similar proposed pieces of legislation.

Date:
Monday, December 1, 2014
By Alex Murashko |November 19, 2014|7:42 am| The Christian Post| 

 

Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore and megachurch pastor Rick Warren, both speaking at a Vatican conference Tuesday, warned that Christians should not succumb to the current sexual revolution or waver on the Biblical truth about sexuality and marriage.

"Western culture now celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition, and abortion rights as parts of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems," said Moore in a prepared statement given during the "Complementarity of Man and Woman" colloquium convened by Pope Francis.

"The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy," he continued. "The Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values of power, prestige, and personal pleasure … We see the wreckage of sexuality as self-expression all around us, and we will see more yet. And the stakes are not merely social or cultural but profoundly spiritual."

Moore, who is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, argues that every culture has recognized that there is something about sexuality that is "more than merely the firing of nerve endings" and that there is "something mysterious here, the joining of selves."

"In the evangelical Christian perspective, this is because there is no such thing as a casual sexual encounter at all, when we are speaking in spiritual terms," he said.

Warren, who said he agreed with much of what was said from the many speakers before him during the three-day conference, focused his message on action steps for the church.

"In many ways, the debate over the definition of life, of sex, and of marriage is, in reality, a question of leadership," said Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life—What On Earth Am I Here For? He continued (in his notes forwarded to The Christian Post) by asking, "Who is going to lead? Will the church follow the crowd, or will the church lead the crowd?"

He explained, "The church cannot be salt and light in a crumbling culture if it caves in to the sexual revolution and fails to provide a counter-culture witness. It is a myth that we must give up Biblical truth on sexuality and marriage in order to evangelize."

Pope Francis declared during the conference on Monday that marriage is by definition a union of man and woman, defying past claims by some that the Church was considering a change in its views on same-sex unions and sexuality.

"It is fitting that you have gathered here in this international colloquium to explore the complementarity of man and woman," stated the pontiff. "This complementarity is at the root of marriage and family, which is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others' gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of living together."

Francis also stated in his remarks at the colloquium that "marriage and the family are in crisis."

Additional excerpts from speeches below.

Russell Moore: Many would tell us that contemporary people will not hear us if we contradict the assumptions of the sexual revolution. We ought to conceal, or at least avoid, the conversation of what we believe about the definition of marriage, about the limits of human sexuality, about the created and good nature of gender, and speak instead in more generic spiritual terms. We have heard this before, and indeed we hear it in every generation. Our ancestors were told that modern people could not accept the miraculous claims of the ancient church creeds, and that if we were to reach them "where they are," we should emphasize the ethical content of the Scriptures—the "golden rule"—and deemphasize the scandal of such things as virgin births and empty tombs and second comings. The churches that followed this path are now deader than Henry VIII.

It turns out that people who don't want Christianity don't want almost-Christianity. More importantly, those churches that altered their message adopted what Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machen rightly identified as a different religion. The stakes are just as high now. To jettison or to minimize a Christian sexual ethic is to abandon the message Jesus handed to us, and we have no authority to do this. Moreover, to do so is to abandon our love for our neighbors. We cannot offer the world the half-gospel of a surgical-strike targeted universalism, which exempts from God's judgment those sins we fear are too fashionable to address.

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF RUSSELL MOORE'S ADDRESS

Rick Warren (Notes): Paul explained it this way: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – to make her holy... and to present her as beautiful bride to himself, a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or blemish, but holy and pure.

"In this same way, husbands must love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds it, and cares for it, just as Christ does his church– for we are members of Christ's body! It is for this reason that man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and his church! So, each of you must also love your wife as your love himself, and you wife must respect your husband." Eph. 5:23-33 (NIV)

THIS is the deepest meaning of marriage! THIS is most profound purpose of marriage! THIS is the strongest reason marriage can only be between a man and a woman.

No other relationship, including the parent-child relationship, can picture this intimate union. To redefine marriage would destroy the picture that God intends for marriage to portray.

We CANNOT cave on this issue!

Date:
Monday, November 24, 2014
November 24, 2014|8:27 am | The Christian Post| 

 

The state Supreme Court in Mississippi, where same-sex marriage is not recognized, will hear arguments Jan. 21, 2015, from a woman who has asked the state to recognize her gay marriage so that she can be granted a divorce.

Lauren Czekala-Chatham and Dana Ann Melancon, who married in California in 2008, cannot be granted a divorce in Mississippi due to the state's constitution and statutes, DeSoto County Chancery Judge Mitchell Lundy Jr. ruled last year.

"All same sex Mississippi couples lack a right to have their marriage recognized by the state regardless of whether newly arrived here, having lived here all their life or anywhere in between," The Associated Press quoted Assistant Attorney General Harold E. Pizzetta III as saying in briefs.

"Valid federal law grants states the right to choose whether to recognize marriages from other jurisdictions. States are not bound to import other states' laws or policy choices. They are, and forever have been, free to choose their own public policy, as Mississippi rightfully has done here."

Czekala-Chatham's attorney does not agree. "Lauren does not seek to be married — she seeks a divorce. Lauren does not complain of Mississippi's refusal to recognize her marriage to Dana on a going-forward basis. Her complaint is that Mississippi law relegates her to a declaration of voidness, when a party to an opposite-sex marriage in otherwise similar circumstances would be entitled to a divorce," the attorney was quoted as saying.

Federal judges started striking down state amendments and laws banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional after the Supreme Court last June squashed a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Courts, legislatures and voters in 35 states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage or are about to do so, according to Pew Forum.

These states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is the only federal appeals court to uphold state same-sex marriage bans, a ruling that applies to Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Due to this decision, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of gay marriage bans soon.

Fifteen states have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage.

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