Trditional Marriage News

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.

Date:
Friday, November 21, 2014
November 20, 2014|10:24 am | The Christian Post| 

A California photography company has announced that it will no longer shoot wedding photography after gay activists protested against the business claiming it "denied" service to a same-sex couple for their wedding.

Nang and Chris Mai, the operators of the Bay Area-based Urloved Photography, posted to the company's website earlier in November that they'll no longer photograph weddings after they were harassed by LGBT activists for referring a gay couple seeking their service to another photographer instead of shooting the wedding themselves.

The Mais, who specialize in weddings, events and family portraits, say they've had to do away with wedding photography because they don't want to sacrifice their personal beliefs against same-sex weddings in order to abide by California's buisness discrimination laws.

"We have come to a difficult decision that we will no longer be in the wedding photography business," the married couple posted on the company's website Nov. 4. "We are grateful for this experience as it has caused us to think about how our personal beliefs intersect with our business practices."

After T.J. Kelsall posted on Facebook about how Urloved Photography declined to photograph the wedding for him and his partner, Thai Lam, the Mais received a backlash in which they were "flooded with hate calls, emails and accusations that inaccurately depict [their] business."

"Great shots but this company denied me and my fiance, a same-sex couple, from their services," Kelsall's Facebook post states. "Stand up and say something about it."

Although the Mais didn't say it was due to their religious beliefs that they didn't want to shoot the same-sex wedding, they told the couple that "photographing a gay wedding is not the best match for us."

In response to the hateful criticism from LGBT activists, the Urloved Photograpy website statement explained that the Mais felt that referring the couple to another qualified photographer, who has no objection to same-sex weddings, would have resulted in the couple being happier with their photograpgy service.

"Unfortunately, our artistic passion for excellence and personal beliefs were misinterpreted. That was never our intent," the statement says. "It is not photographing a couple who have different personal beliefs that we have difficulty with. We genuinely felt referring this couple to a photographer who does share their personal beliefs would provide them with the best service for their special day. We wanted to connect them with someone who did share their personal beliefs so that they could give them the service quality they deserve."

While it's unclear as to whether Kelsall and Lam threatened a lawsuit, another post by Kelsall indicates that it was acknowledged that their denial of service could be pursued further. Under California law: "all persons are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments, including both private and public entities."

The state of New York also has a similar law to California's. Earlier this year, a Christian couple was fined $13,000 for declining to host a same-sex wedding on their farmhouse wedding venue.

"They acknowledged that if this were pursued any further it wouldn't fair [sic] well for Urloved Photography," Kelsall wrote. "They understand the law and told us they have decided that in light of their personal beliefs they will be shutting down their business."

Although the gay couple was initially upset with the Mais' decision to not shoot their wedding, Kelsall also wrote on Facebook saying they respected their decision to stop doing wedding photography and asked gay activists and their supporters to stop posting to Urloved Photography social media and Internet accounts.

"[We] consider this issue resolved and would urge you to stop posting on their FB page, Yelp, and any other social media site," the Facebook post states. "Our friends, family, and the LGBT community/allies have all been amazingly supportive and active in helping to bring this matter to light. We must respect that Nang and Chris have decided to shut down their business because of their beliefs. I wish the outcome could have been different but it is what it is."

Date:
Wednesday, November 19, 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 17, 2014

Michael F. Haverluck   (OneNewsNow.com) Saturday, November 15, 2014

After President Barack Obama announced his plan to give additional job protections to homosexuals employed by federal contractors, many Christian organizations became wary of government encroachment when it came to who they can and can’t hire. They were concerned that they would no longer maintain the right to hire and fire based on their religious beliefs, as faith-based charities receiving federal grants feared losing funding for not complying with Obama’s LGBT-friendly policy.

As a means of protection, Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay signed a letter along with 13 evangelical and Catholic leaders, who bombarded the White House with pleas urging the President to uphold or augment their religious exemption in lieu of the new homosexual protections. Even though Obama didn’t retract the religious exemption, life suddenly became more complicated for Christian leaders striving to uphold biblical morality within their organizations.

Not long after Lindsay’s written plea this summer to retain the moral code at his Christian higher education institution, his stand for biblical values ended up costing him dearly. Among the trials Lindsay and Gordon College would experience since the fateful letter include the pullout of a major federal grant supporter, a student protest over the ban on “homosexual practice” on campus behavior, a college accreditation review, alumni backlash on enforcing Christian standards over LGBT-friendly policies and severed ties with officials presiding over partnerships in neighboring cities.

On second thought …

Unaware of the backlash at the time of the signing, Lindsay says he might have done things differently if he had known how difficult the “gay-“ friendly policies and attitudes adopted under the Obama administration was going to make it for his college.

"I signed the letter as a way of trying to show my personal support," Lindsay reflected. "Obviously, if I had known the response that in particular Gordon College would receive, I wouldn't sign."

Before the signing, Lindsay had no idea how influential the LGBTQ community had been on his own campus, around town, across the state and throughout the nation. Never before had he witnessed such a polarizing issue that made it difficult to enforce policies that were previously unquestioned and readily followed because of their biblical authority.

Under the gun

Lindsay’s dilemma is not unique with the changing political and ethical climate found on college campuses, regardless of their public or private status. More and more, school officials taking a stand for traditional marriage and against same-sex “marriage” are chastised as bigoted, intolerant and oppressive. Even churches and Christian schools are becoming divided over the issue, and oftentimes, those sticking with biblical morality in regards to homosexuality are not only losing friendships, but partnerships with local businesses, agencies and organizations.

When the LGBT community put pressure on Eastern Mennonite University to reconsider its policy of not hiring faculty who are engaged in homosexual relationships, it succumbed to pressure to reconsider. Wheaton College, an evangelical school in Illinois, has allowed students to create homosexual advocacy groups, showing that LGBT activism is no longer just an issue at public universities. Even Christian humanitarian organizations have been caught on the fence over same-sex “marriage,” and when they adopt politically correct policies to accept homosexual behavior, there is often a backlash from supporters and conservative Christian leaders demanding a return to biblical standards.

After his earlier attempt to accommodate the LGBT community on campus and foster an antidiscrimination environment that promotes tolerance in the state (Massachusetts) that pioneered the legalization of same-sex marriage, Lindsay found himself in the middle of volatile tensions. The conflicts began soon after his request for a religious exemption from homosexual “civil rights” from the White House, as many saw this as a conflict of interest from Gordon College’s claim that it provided a safe setting for male and female homosexuals.

Surrender Christian ethics to become LGBT-friendly?

Because the college has had a longstanding code of behavior that singles out and bans immoral behavior, including all premarital sex and “homosexual practice,” it is now being pressed by a group of homosexual students and alumni called OneGordon, along with its supporters, to eradicate any exclusionary language that forbids their lifestyle.

“There should be the same sexual ethic for LGBT and heterosexual students," asserted OneGordon Co-founder Paul O. Miller, who is also a Gordon College alumnus.

Leaders in the local community voiced concern over what they consider Gordon’s inconsistent policies, which allow it to hire homosexuals, while banning them from “homosexual practice,” which, in essence, calls for them to be celibate — just like the rest of unmarried students. LGBT supporters contend that a further problem is posed when “married” homosexual couples want to express physical affection on campus.

Because of the tensions of trying to uphold a Christian campus that embraces the homosexual community, some local decision makers have blackballed Gordon College.

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll ceased its contract with the college so that it no longer manages the Old Town Hall in the heart of the city. In addition, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem announced it will no longer back Gordon College’s grant request to the National Endowment for the Humanities because of the issue. The museum has also severed its academic relationship with the college. Because of the divide created over the “gay” debate, the New England Association of Schools will be reviewing the college over the next year.

Some of the confusion and retraction of ties by community leaders stems from many not knowing that Gordon is in fact an evangelical Christian academic institution.

"I had no idea that Gordon was even a Christian school," expressed School Committee member Rick Starbard, who has been a Lynn public school teacher for 14 years.

Even though Starbard voted to keep the partnership with Gordon College going, the committee voted to sever its 11-year relationship with the school in late August by a 4-3 vote. The decision came in spite of the fact that Gordon had sent thousands of volunteers to teach refugees English, given out Christmas toys and gift cards, assisted students with their homework and provided art for public elementary schools. Its community involvement didn’t end there, as it even had a downtown Wenham office focusing on community relations, where its director was a member of several boards of different service agencies throughout the area. 

Starbard believes that Christian organizations give up their right to be Christian whenever they come in contact with public education or other state-run institutions.

"Anybody can have the personal beliefs that they want, but it does become different when you play in a public school," Starbard contended, seeing his colleagues’ point of view. "I think there was a knee-jerk reaction to this and people didn't think out the long-term implications."

Not your typical Christian college

Even though Gordon College strives to maintain its traditional Christian values, it rests in the epicenter of this nation’s liberalism, just 25 miles north of the state capital of Boston, where same-sex marriage became a reality for the first time in any U.S. state back in 2003. Even though the college president at the time (Judson Carlberg) did not address how the decision would affect campus life at Gordon, the school has maintained an environment that is quite liberal by most Christian college standards.

Some evangelicals find it problematic that Gordon professes to keep the Bible as the authoritative Word of God while, at the same time, it affords students the “freedom to offer constructive criticism of this tradition.” Other academic policies and curricula also stand more on the left than the right, as many would be surprised to see draped nude models posing for art students drawing the human anatomy, or the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the school’s standard science curriculum. Many would also be surprised to find that Gordon does not enforce an all-out ban on alcohol, as it is only forbidden at campus and school events — adopting the policy for its 1,700 undergrads that they should respect divergent views of what it means to be a Christian.

"Unity does not mean sameness," declared Sharon Ketcham, a professor at Gordon College who expressed this view during a recent fall semester chapel service. "No one here is asking you to be the same."

Despite a prominently displayed placard emblazoned with the words “Christian character” as the cornerstone of Gordon’s mission, many are confused about Lindsay’s contention that the college is rooted in conservative Christian values, while at the same time seeking to embrace liberal governmental policies regarding the LGBT community that don’t necessarily coincide with biblical principles.

"I'm OK in civil society for there to be civil unions, insurance rights, domestic partnerships, all those kinds of things," Lindsay conceded. "But the difference here I think we need to pay attention to — this is a religious institution that presumably might be asked to betray one of its core convictions."

Going it alone

Instead of taking the legal route and accepting legal representation from a number of Christian legal groups pressing for Gordon’s free speech rights, Lindsay has decided to take the path of least resistance in an attempt to make the controversy subside without drawing any “us vs. them” battle lines. To bring all groups together, Lindsay brought homosexual students and alumni together with faculty and staff in order to come to a middle ground and appease all parties involved. He maintains that he will not resort to legal action to resolve the issue.

In an attempt at damage control, Lindsay even took things into his own hands and traveled to Georgetown, where he convinced a teachers’ union to not end hosting its student-teacher program for Gordon College. Intensifying his efforts to maintain local relationships, Lindsay also wrote letters to public school superintendents so that they would still agree to train Gordon students in their teacher education programs.

In the spirit of unity, Lindsay also personally visited Gordon’s dorms for two nights at the beginning of this fall semester and opened up for question and answer sessions. Saying he wanted to fully address all the issues and concerns homosexual students had on campus, Lindsay had administrators, faculty and trustees come together with students. The discussion groups will meet again in February to specifically discuss the “life and conduct statement” that is currently in place on campus.

Having had enough over the controversy, which has sapped much of his time and taken him away from other duties on campus, Lindsay says that this was the last time he will take a public stand on issues that can be political in nature.

Sitting down or standing up?

Eleven-year Gordon College sociology professor James Trent agrees with Lindsay that he made the wrong decision by signing the letter requesting religious exemptions; he also argues that the college’s ban on “homosexual practice” was a mistake.

"He made a mistake in signing it," Trent proclaimed. ''The middle ground begins to wear when you're oppressing people. How do you slightly oppress someone?"

But Line of Fire radio host Dr. Michael L. Brown does not see Gordon’s ban on “homosexual practice” as being oppressive — or even discriminatory. He believes that Christians should not come together with the secular world when it means leaving their faith and values at the door.

“I welcome the coming separation over this issue,” Brown declared. “And as painful as the division will be within churches, denominations, ministries, and even families, it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable.”

Brown believes that Christians on campuses across the nation should still be loving and respectful toward the LGBTQ community, but he stresses that this should not come at the expense of sacrificing one’s Christian convictions.

“That doesn't mean that we attack each other or speak and act in ways that would dishonor the Lord,” Brown concludes. “But it does mean that we hold firmly to our convictions before Him, regardless of cost or consequences, knowing that God's ways will be vindicated in the end.”

Date:
Friday, November 14, 2014
Charlie Butts   (OneNewsNow.com) Tuesday, November 11, 2014
 
The Human Rights Campaign is targeting Mississippi with activism and a media blitz designed to gain support for the homosexual lifestyle. The American Family Association, which is based there, is cautioning Christians not to be deceived.
 
Two lawsuits have been filed by lesbians trying to force same-gender "marriage" on the Magnolia State – where in 2004, 86 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man, one woman. HRC is running an ad campaign to convince people of faith to desert the Bible's teachings on the subject. The campaign reportedly includes ads featuring two Mississippi residents: a conservative Southern Baptist mom with a "gay" son, and an openly gay 25-year-old Army Reservist in uniform.
 
Buddy Smith, executive vice president of American Family Association, says HRC's multimillion-dollar campaign is "very cleverly packaged" to destroy the opposition.
 
Smith
"And in this case the opposition is none other than the church of Jesus Christ, the gospel of Jesus Christ," he explains. "HRC says they're spending $8.5 million in hopes of changing the message of the church and the life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
 
The $300,000-plus Mississippi ad campaign, which began airing TV commercials on Monday, is part of a three-year program that HRC began six months ago in three Southern states known for being among the most religious in the U.S. (Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas).
 
Smith urges people nationwide to not be fooled by the slick advertising and stick to the reality of scripture. "The life-giving message of the church and life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that Jesus forgives sin and the sinner when we repent of those sins and allow him to deliver us and give us a clean and a new heart," he tells OneNewsNow.
 
In 2004, 75 percent of voters in Arkansas passed a marriage amendment to their constitution. That amendment was ruled unconstitutional in 2014 and is currently pending appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Eight in ten Alabama voters approved a "Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" in 2006.
 
Date:
Thursday, November 13, 2014
November 11, 2014|1:45 pm | The Christian Post| 
 

The Kellogg's cereal company is experiencing a backlash from Christian consumers who claim they'll no longer buy the company's products after it helped sponsor the Atlanta gay pride march in mid-October by using the beloved Frosted Flakes mascot, Tony the Tiger, in a pro-LGBT advertisement in the event's pride guide.

"Wear your stripes with pride," the Kellogg's ad states, highlighting the word "pride" in large-font rainbow-colored letters, while Tony the Tiger stands to the right with his arms crossed and a familiar smile on his face.

The American Family Association, a traditional Christian values activist group, posted a picture of the Tony the Tiger advertisement to itsFacebook page last Friday and since then, the post has received over 800 comments. Many of the comments were highly critical of the company for using a cartoon character to promote homosexuality, while a number of other commenters stated that Kellogg's has no place, as a food manufacturer, to weigh in on sexual preference.

"Our policy toward corporate America and companies that serve the public is that we ask them to remain neutral in this battle over same-sex marriage," Ed Vitagliano, research director for AFA, told The Christian Post on Tuesday.

"We don't expect them to take our side but we don't expect them to support groups that want to legalize same-sex marriage," he continued. "So we let our followers and supporters know because these companies rely on the patronage of their customers; and there are a lot of people who, in their own states, voted to keep marriage between one man and one woman. I don't think they appreciate knowing that the companies they buy products from are working against that."

The pro-LGBT ad also included a seal in the bottom right-hand corner of the advertisement that indicates Kellogg's was listed by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay activist group, as "one of the best places to work for LGBT equality."

"At Kellogg's, we're an evolving culture that respects and accepts employees' sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression so that all employees can be authentic and fully engaged," The ad's message states.

Kellogg's is not alone in supporting homosexuality. As Gay Star News points out, "Today, 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies have policies that protect employees from anti-gay discrimination, which is up from 51 percent in 2000."

Vitagliano also noted that since Kellogg's produces cereal and most cereals have cartoon characters associated with them, "They really have no choice but to put Tony the Tiger forward as the representative of Kellogg's making this statement 'wear your stripes with pride.' But we do not approve of charging children with this messages that their parents might not approve."

"This is an argument that our culture is having over the nature of homosexuality and we don't think cereals and cartoons should be bypassing parents to speak about moral issues to children without permission from parents. If that was Kellogg's intent then shame on them, and I hope parents take note of that," he asserted.

As Christian News Network points out, General Mills, a fellow cereal company, voiced support for same-sex marriage in 2012. As the company is headquartered in Minneapolis, its executives voiced opposition to a proposed amendment to Minnesota's constitution in 2012 that would have labeled marriage as only between a man and a woman.

General Mills' vice president of diversity, Ken Charles, issued a letter throughout the whole company saying that if gay marriage was banned in the state it would have made it more difficult to retain skilled workers.

"We do not believe that the proposed constitutional amendment is [in] the best interests of our employees or our state economy," Charles' letter stated.

General Mills has also used LGBT-themed advertisements to promote Lucky Charms and Cheerios in the past.

Date:
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
November 11, 2014|1:05 pm | The Christian Post| 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor temporarily stopped a lower court decision that would have allowed gay marriages in Kansas.

Justice Sotomayor issued a one-page preliminary injunction Monday per the request of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, but she also directed the American Civil Liberties Union to respond to the stay.

"IT IS ORDERED that the preliminary injunction entered by the United State District Court for the District of Kansas on November 4, 2014, is hereby stayed pending receipt of a response, due on or before Tuesday, November 11, 2014, by 5 p.m. ET, and further order of the undersigned or of the Court," read the stay.

The stay by Sotomayor came after the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals had denied Schmidt an earlier request. Sotomayor could reverse the stay after she receives the ACLU's response.

In 2005, Kansan voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative that added an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

While gay marriage was already illegal in the state, Amendment 1 was passed with 71 percent of voters in support and 29 percent opposed.

The vote made Kansas one of over thirty states that approved similar amendments to their constitutions via popular referendum.

Since the 2013 Supreme Court decision Windsor vs. United States, however, a wave of judicial decisions against many state level bans have occurred.

In October, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit, known as Marie, et al., vs. Moser, et. al., on behalf of two lesbian couples against the constitutional amendment.

Last Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued an injunction on behalf of the lesbian couples, whose result was stayed pending further action until Veterans Day.

"Had Sotomayor not instituted the stay, same-sex couples would have been able to wed in Kansas starting Tuesday at 5 pm Central Time (7 pm Eastern Time) as a result of an order by U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree," reported Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade.

"It's still possible for same-sex couples to wed at that time if the Supreme Court acts quickly to lift its stay."

Sotomayor's stay in the Kansas lawsuit comes not long after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declared four states' bans on gay marriage constitutional.

In a two to one decision, the Sixth Circuit overturned lower court decisions against bans found in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

Given that other appellate courts have ruled against the state bans, the overall legal dispute will likely be brought before the Supreme Court in the near future.

Date:
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

With a ruling last week by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on same sex marriage bans, it appears likely the Supreme Court will ultimately weigh in on the contentious issue, possibly before their term ends in June 2015.

Until recently, all of the federal appeals courts that considered state bans on same sex marriage had struck them down. Then the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals broke with that trend last week, upholding bans in four states. In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit essentially held that states should have the authority to decide questions regarding marriage.

Appeals regarding same sex marriage bans did reach the nation's highest court earlier this year, but because there was no conflict in the federal circuits, the Justices declined to hear the cases.

Now that a split exists, the Court is much more likely to have to confront the subject, possibly by the middle of next year. Advocates both for and against same sex marriage agree on that, but not much more.

Elizabeth Wydra, Chief Counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center, said, "Simply because a majority of people vote to ban same sex marriage does not mean they can ignore the guarantees and requirements of the Constitution."

Wydra is among those who believe same sex couples have a "fundamental right" to marriage, based on the Equal Protection Clause found in the 14th Amendment. She remains cautiously optimistic that a majority of the Justices will agree.

Supporters of traditional marriage see a chance to argue before the Supreme Court as a new opportunity, at a time when many are urging them to give up the fight.

Jordan Lorence, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said he believed "public policy" issues should be at the top of the Justices' considerations, adding, "The Supreme Court should step out of the way and let this be decided by the people, by the state legislatures."

If an appeal from the Sixth Circuit moves expeditiously, and the Justices agree to take up the case, it could be heard in the spring and decided by late June 2015. It's also highly possible that the procedural timeline pushes the case into the Court's next term, starting in October 2015.

Also Monday, Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted an emergency request from Kansas officials who argued they should not be forced to begin issuing same sex marriage licenses while the legal dispute over the state’s law remains active. Sotomayor has ordered the opposing parties to file a response by 5pm ET on Tuesday.

Date:
Monday, November 10, 2014
By Matt Ford | NOV 7 2014, 10:26 AM ET | The Atlantic| 

 

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld same-sex marriage bans in four states on Thursday. By creating a "circuit split," where different federal appeals courts have ruled in opposite directions on marriage equality, the ruling virtually guarantees Supreme Court's intervention to resolve it.

The 2-1 decision is the first by a federal appellate court to uphold same-sex marriage bans since the Supreme Court's rulings in summer 2013 in United States v. Windsor, which overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, which left standing a lower-court ruling that overturned California's same-sex-marriage ban. Since then, judges in the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and 10th Circuits have overturned similar bans in their jurisdictions. The Supreme Court justices refused to hear appeals on seven same-sex marriage cases in October.

In his majority opinion upholding bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, and Ohio, Judge Jeffrey Sutton cast the debate as one between unelected judges and the will of the people. "Who decides?" the judge asked. "Is this a matter that the National Constitution commits to resolution by the federal courts or leaves to the less expedient, but usually reliable, work of the state democratic processes?" To Sutton, judicial deference to the whims of voters is preferable here.

Sutton, a George W. Bush appointee, also attempts to challenge the constitutional underpinnings of other circuit courts. The Supreme Court itself has yet to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex-marriage bans—a historical fact he cites to his advantage. The closest the justices have come is in the 1971 case Baker v. Nelson, which they refused to hear upon appeal. "Windsor invalidated a federal law that refused to respect state laws permitting gay marriage, while Baker upheld the right of the people of a state to define marriage as they see it," Sutton wrote. "To respect one decision does not slight the other."

Similar bans on same-sex marriage had been ruled unconstitutional across the country for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Sutton directly challenged this interpretation, noting that the Supreme Court has "never held that legislative classifications based on sexual orientation"qualify for heightened judicial scrutiny. (He omits that the Supreme Court has never held ruled to the contrary, either.)

Sutton's arguments did not go unanswered. The lone dissent, authored by judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, is blistering. "The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy," she writes, arguing that the court "treats both the issues and the litigants here as mere abstractions."

But Daughtrey's strongest rebuke is saved for the majority's judicial deference to the popular will. This, she argues, runs contrary to the purpose of the judiciary itself: To restrain "the pull of popular opinion" and to "ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims."

More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to "administer justice without respect to persons," to "do equal right to the poor and to the rich," and to "faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me…under the Constitution and laws of the United States." If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams.

Will the Supreme Court take up Daughtrey's call? There is no way to force the high court to hear a case on appeal. Of the thousands of petitions submitted each term, the justices usually only hear less than 100 of them. But the high court's rules list a division between the federal circuit courts of appeal as one of the most compelling reasons for the justices to accept a case. A central purpose of the Supreme Court is to ensure that the law of the land is uniformly interpreted throughout that land. Now is the justices' chance.

 

Date:
Friday, November 7, 2014
November 7, 2014|8:01 am | The Christian Post|
 

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the right of states to ban same-sex marriage by a 2-to-1 vote on Thursday. The ruling overturns lower-court decisions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that found such restrictions unconstitutional.

Observers say the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruling will most likely force the Supreme Court to make a decision on same-sex marriage for the nation.

"This circuit split means that the Supreme Court's ignoring of this issue will not be able to continue," said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. "The people of the states have the right to recognize marriage the way virtually every human culture has, as the union of a man and a woman. The Supreme Court should affirm this right, for all 50 states."

Moore recently held a national conference for Evangelicals, "The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage," designed to equip attendees to defend marriage in the culture and strengthen marriage in the church. He has also been invited by the Vatican to speak at a November colloquium in Rome, where he will provide an evangelical Protestant perspective on marriage and family — joining Pope Francis and religious leaders from all over the world.

Dale Carpenter, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Minnesota, was quoted in The New York Times as saying that the circuit split "will almost surely produce a decision from the Supreme Court, and sooner rather than later. It's entirely possible that we could have oral arguments in coming months and a Supreme Court decision by next summer."

Circuit Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, who authored the main opinion, wrote: "When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better, in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way."

The decision conflicts directly with federal appeals courts in the Fourth, Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, stated Lyle Denniston in the SCOTUSblog. He wrote that it is "precisely the kind of division of judgment that ordinarily will lead the Supreme Court to step in to resolve the split, especially on an issue of fundamental constitutional significance."

The opinion was joined by Circuit Judge Deborah L. Cook. Dissenting Senior Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtry called the Sutton opinion "an introductory lecture in political philosophy," but one that failed, as an appellate court decision, "to grapple with the relevant constitutional issue in this appeal," according to Denniston.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has indicated that the main reason the Court had bypassed the cases so far was that there was not a split among the courts of appeals, according to public comments.

"Now there is a split, and it is a stark one," states Denniston in his blog. "In one sweeping decision, the Sixth Circuit has given all of the states in its geographic region a victory for their bans on both initial marriages of same-sex couples and official recognition of such marriages performed outside of the couples' home states. By contrast, other federal courts have nullified identical bans in 13 states just over the past few months, with the prospect that the number would soon rise of 16 — for a total of 35 states, plus Washington, D.C., allowing such marriages."

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