A conservative student group at The George Washington University faces punishment, including the loss of its funding, for refusing to engage in LGBT sensitivity training on campus. The students are now being condemned and attacked on campus by those who claim they're committing an "act of violence" for standing up for their members' individual rights and Judeo-Christian values.
The Young America's Foundation chapter at the Washington, D.C.-based academic institute has refused to participate in LGBT sensitivity training recently made as a requirement.
Amanda Robbins, vice president of GW YAF, told The Christian Post that their objection to the training "stems not only from many of our members' Judeo-Christian values, but also from our organization's commitment to defending the individual rights of every student on campus."
"We firmly believe that there should be no such preconditions for any student organization to be able to operate freely on campus," said Robbins.
"GW YAF welcomes any individual to attend our meetings and our events on campus; our organization has always behaved in a respectful manner."
The issue derives from a few bills that GW Student Association, the university's student government, passed requiring the training.
"The student association does not need to dictate this to us or to other students," Robbins told CP regarding the sensitivity training.
"In fact, the national YAF organization has existed for over 50 years, and in this time, it has consistently treated with respect individuals of all orientations."
Last month, the GW Student Association passed a bill that would create sensitivity training for student leaders regarding LGBT issues, according to Victoria Sheridan of the GW Hatchet.
"Trainings, which would be led by staff at the Multicultural Student Services and LGBT Resource centers, would teach professors about gender identities and using proper gender pronouns," reported Sheridan.
"Student organization presidents and treasurers would also be required to undergo similar trainings."
GW YAF's stance has been criticized by multiple student groups, including the university's LGBT group, Allied in Pride.
"And their refusal to use preferred gender pronouns should be considered an act of violence and a violation of the non-discrimination clause required in all GW student organizations' constitutions."
Alex Pollock, chairman of the GW College Republicans, explained to the campus publication GW Hatchet that the training "should be mandatory from a sensitivity perspective."
"Regardless of your views on LGBT people, LGBT people exist. … The intent is not to belittle political or religious organizations," said Pollock. "The purpose of this bill is to make student organization leaders aware that we have a diverse student body and make people feel included."
Regarding the possible result of the controversy, Robbins of GW YAF told CP about the best and worst case scenarios.
"In the best-case scenario, the university recognizes the constitutionally-protected free speech rights of every student on campus and refuses to support the student association's legislation and juvenile attempts to silence us on campus," said Robbins.
"The worst-case scenario is that the university supports this mandatory training and removes our funding and ability to organize on campus for refusing to participate."
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Gene Schaerr / Ryan T. Anderson / The Daily Signal|
The overarching question before the Supreme Court is not whether an exclusively male–female marriage policy is the best, but only whether it is allowed by the U.S. Constitution. The question is not whether government-recognized same-sex marriage is good or bad policy, but only whether it is required by the U.S. Constitution.
Those suing to overturn male-female marriage laws thus have to prove that the man–woman marriage policy that has existed in the United States throughout our entire history is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.
The only way someone could succeed in such an argument is to adopt a view of marriage that sees it as an essentially genderless institution based only on the emotional needs of adults and then declare that the U.S. Constitution requires that the states (re)define marriage in such a way. Equal protection alone is not enough. To strike down marriage laws, the Court would need to say that the vision of marriage that our law has long applied equally is just wrong: that the Constitution requires a different vision entirely.
The U.S. Constitution, however, is silent on what marriage is and what policy goals the states should design it to serve, and there are good policy arguments on both sides. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the U.S. Constitution.
We explain why advocates for the judicial redefinition of marriage cannot reasonably appeal to the authority of Windsor, to the text or original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, to the fundamental rights protected by the Due Process Clause, or to Loving v. Virginia. So, too, one cannot properly appeal to the Equal Protection Clause or to animus or Lawrence. Nor can one say that gays and lesbians are politically powerless, so one cannot claim they are a suspect class. Nor can one say that male–female marriage laws lack a rational basis or that they do not serve a compelling state interest in a narrowly tailored way.
Part of the design of federalism is that experimentation can take place in the states: As the Sixth Circuit noted when it upheld several states’ marriage laws, “federalism…permits laboratories of experimentation—accent on the plural—allowing one State to innovate one way, another State another, and a third State to assess the trial and error over time.” Judges should not cut this process short.
At the end of the day, this is a debate about whether citizens or judges will decide an important and sensitive policy issue—in this case, the very nature of civil marriage. Read more about it in our new legal memo.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Caitlin Thomas / March 09, 2015 | The Daily Signal|
Does the Constitution require the government to recognize same-sex marriages?
With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments this term on cases about same-sex marriage, it’s a pressing question. In February, Ryan T. Anderson, the William E. Simon fellow at The Heritage Foundation, spoke to students and faculty at The Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on whether state marriage laws defining marriage as the union of husband and wife are constitutional.
In examining the marriage cases before the Supreme Court this year, Anderson explained that the question was simple, “It’s not whether government recognized same-sex marriage is a good or a bad idea, it’s whether it’s required by the Constitution.”
The only way someone could argue [that the U.S. Constitution requires the redefinition of marriage] is to adopt a view of marriage that sees marriage as an essentially genderless institution, and then somehow claim that the Constitution requires all of the states to embrace that definition.
The Constitution is in fact silent on what the definition of marriage is, Anderson noted. It is therefore the right of citizens and their elected representatives to make marriage policies democratically, not federal judges:
Beyond the legal question in the upcoming case, it’s also vital to understand the nature of marriage and why government takes an interest in it in the first place. Anderson explained that marriage plays a unique role in society as an institution which enables children to receive the advantages of being raised by both their mother and their father:
Forty years of social science has instructed us about the function of marriage in our society—as well as the social costs of redefining it. It’s now fundamental to rebuild a culture of marriage, Anderson stressed:
Everything that you could care about, if you care about social justice and you care about limited government, if you care about the poor and you care about freedom, is better served by a healthy, intact marriage culture than by big-government programs that try to pick up the pieces.
A printing company based in Ireland has refused to print out invitations for a gay couple's wedding.
Beulah Print and Design, a business located in Drogheda, garnered headlines earlier this week for declining to print out the invitations for a same-sex couple.
Siobhan M. O'Leary, spokesperson for Beulah, told The Christian Post in an interview Friday that their refusal was a matter of religious conscience.
"We decided not to print Jonathan and John's wedding invitation … because their decision does not align with our convictions," O'Leary said in a statement that was shared with CP.
"We have never hidden our faith from our customers and represent the Gospel at every opportunity. We are not against homosexuals, however, we do not support same sex marriage, which printing wedding invitations would do," the statement continues.
"We believe the love of God is extended to all people and that He has called us all to walk in the light of His word, for He is the way, the truth and the life."
O'Leary also told CP that workers at Beulah "have often printed jobs for homosexuals" and that feedback for their position has been "mostly from those who support us."
"We are not opposed to doing business with homosexuals, but we cannot endorse through print same-sex marriage or any other known practice that conflicts with our convictions," O'Leary said.
Recently Jonathon Brennan, a former customer of Beulah, had requested that the Christian company print out invitations for his gay marriage ceremony.
"We've been together eight years and we've never come across an instance like this. We are hurt and we are very angry," continued Brennan, who also said that originally Beulah had agreed to do the invitations.
According to the BBC, this is not the first time that Beulah has declined to service a given function due to its incompatibility with their biblical Christian beliefs.
"Mr O'Leary said that 10 years ago, they declined a similar request to print invitations for a gay ceremony abroad," reported the BBC. " ... they have also refused request to print materials that promote binge drinking, Halloween, 'borderline pornography' and what he described as 'the dark arts.'"
As gay marriage receives legal recognition in a growing number of places, controversies have arisen regarding various businesses declining to service gay weddings.
In the United States, photographers, florists and wedding cake bakers are among those who've found themselves in legal trouble as gay couples have sued them for denial of service.
When asked by CP about whether or not Beulah expected legal trouble for their refusal to print the invitations, Siobhan O'Leary responded that "God is our defense."
"We didn't expect what has happened since Wednesday, so we don't know what is ahead. However, we do know that God is our defense," said Siobhan.
A Christian nursery worker in London, who was allegedly sacked for telling a colleague that God doesn't condone same-sex mariage, has challenged her former employer's decision.
Sarah Mbuyi, who says she was fired from her job at Newpark Childcare in Shepherd's Bush, after she told a lesbian co-worker that "God does not condone homosexuality" in January last year, has launched an unfair dismissal claim, according to Metro.
Mbuyi, 30, will argue at Watford Employment Tribunal that European Union law allows her to converse with adult colleagues subject only to the normal principles of engagement in speech.
She says her lesbian colleague came to her and said she was not happy that the Church refused to allow her to marry her female partner. "When I said, 'No, God does not condone the practice of homosexuality, but does love you and says you should come to Him as you are,' she became emotional and went off to report me to my manager," Mbuyi was quoted as saying.
Nursery directors dismissed Mbuyi, who also allegedly gave her colleague a Bible after she had an accident, for gross misconduct and told her she had breached the equality policy of the nursery.
"Sharing biblical truths out of genuine love for colleagues is being outlawed in the workplace by an oppressive 'cultural correctness.' There is a culture of fear which shuts down freedom of speech and the expression of faith," Andrea Minichello Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, was quoted as saying.
British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Christians last week to be "more evangelical" about their faith and "get out there and make a difference to people's lives."
But Cameron's words are "failing to play out," said the Christian Legal Centre, which is funding Mbuyi's case, according to The Telegraph.
"It's indicative of the sad state we're in that we're using EU Law in Sarah's case because she was prevented from living out her faith in a country which once led the world in freedom and justice," Williams added, according to Mirror.
Schools in Britain, including those run by Christian groups, were recently asked to comply with a new government policy promoting "British values" by inviting Imams and leaders from other religions to take assemblies.
The city council of Charlotte, N.C., the hometown of world-renowned Evangelist Billy Graham, narrowly voted on Monday to reject a proposed expansion to the town's non-discrimination law that would have made it legal for transgender persons to use bathrooms and other public facilities designated for the opposite sex.
After hearing four hours of public input from supporters and opponents of the proposal Monday evening, the council voted, 6-5, after an hour of discussion, to throw out the entire ordinance bill.
The proposal would not just have given transgenders the right to use the opposite gender's restrooms but would have also made it illegal for Charlotte business owners to decline service in order to uphold their Christian beliefs that same-sex marriages is wrong.
"The Charlotte City Council made the right decision ... A big thank you to the council members who stood against this proposition," Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son and President of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse humanitarian organization, told theCharlotte Observer.
Rev. Mark Creech, director of the North Carolina Christian Action League, told The Christian Post that although he and many other Christians in Charlotte are happy that the council decided to strike down the bill, he admits that he did not expect the council to full-out reject the entire proposal.
"We were delighted to see that the measure failed," Creech said. "Many of us were really surprised that it went that way. We anticipated that the ordinance would likely succeed or an amended ordinance would succeed that excluded the bathroom provision but the entire ordinance failed."
According to The Charlotte Observer, over 40,000 emails were sent to the city council from supporters and opponents on the issue, while 120 people had registered to speak on the issue at the Monday council meeting. Before a vote on the ordinance occurred, the council voted, 9-2, to remove the transgender bathroom requirement from the legislation.
Creech was thoroughly pleased with the amount of churches and clergy that voiced their opposition to the bill and made it clear that such an ordinance would put women and children in danger.
"I was glad to see so many churches and pastors who were engaged in the process and came and spoke against the ordinance," Creech explained. "I haven't seen that kind of participation on the part of the church on some of these issues since the marriage amendment was voted on in North Carolina almost three years ago. That was delightful to see."
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the statewide social conservative organization North Carolina Values Coalition, praised the council's decision as a victory for protected religious liberties in Charlotte, as many Christian florists and bakers in other areas of the U.S. have faced stiff legal consequences for their faithful refusal to service same-sex weddings.
"We applaud the community leaders and citizens of Charlotte for speaking out against a dangerous ordinance that would have compromised the safety of the city's public restrooms and the religious liberty of Charlotte's business owners," Fitzgerald said in a press statement. "The Charlotte City Council made the right decision in voting against unnecessary proposed changes to the city's nondiscrimination policy. We will continue to fight these proposals across the state wherever they might pop up."
City councilman Kenny Smith, who voted against the proposal, said the partisan proposal was largely shaped by the Washington D.C.-based LGBT organization Human Rights Campaign and a local group called the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee.
"I think if it's passed, it would be a clear message to the city that the city council has voted to impose the progressive left's view of morality on the majority of our citizens," Smith said, according to The Christian Examiner.
Although the council struck down the ordinance, Creech does not believe the non-discrimination ordinance battle has concluded in Charlotte or North Carolina.
"I would caution that I am concerned that the issue may not be over. A vote that close, 6-5, may mean that somehow or another that the council will come back together to try it again." Creech said. "One of the things that I said to our supporters on a Facebook post was that we rejoice in that decision by the council that religious liberties are still protected and we are thankful that women and young girls are out of harms way."
Two Supreme Court justices who officiated gay weddings don't need to recuse themselves from an upcoming case where they'll be ruling on the legality of state level gay marriage bans, despite demands from social conservative groups that they "disqualify" themselves, according to legal experts.
In April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in an appeal from the Sixth Circuit regarding the constitutionality of state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.
Calls have been made by some conservative groups for Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse themselves from the case because they've officiated gay weddings.
Kermit Roosevelt, a law professor at the University of PennsylvaniaLaw School, told The Christian Post that neither justice needs to recuse themselves.
"I think it is easy, pretty easy, to predict how Justices Kagan and Ginsburg will vote. But that doesn't mean they should disqualify themselves," Roosevelt said.
"It's also pretty easy to predict how Justice Scalia will vote. There's a widespread misperception that it's somehow improper for justices to have opinions about legal issues — whether there's a national right to same-sex marriage, whether there's a right to abortion, whether Congress can require people to buy health insurance — before they hear cases about those issues."
Roosevelt continued: "We select justices because they are legal experts; of course they will have opinions on those issues. We can ask them to keep an open mind, but we can't ask them to have an empty head, and we wouldn't want them to, either."
"It's wrong for judges to prejudge factual questions before hearing evidence, but they should have pre-existing opinions about legal issues."
The National Organization for Marriage has launched a petition asserting their belief that recent comments made by Ginsburg reveal a bias on the issue that warrants her recusal.
"A justice of any level — let alone one of the nine sitting members of the nation's highest court — must unquestionably remain impartial in regards to any matter before the court. Justice Ginsburg recognized this fact and invoked it frequently in her own confirmation hearings in 1993," reads the NOM petition.
"In light of these recent and deeply disturbing actions foreshadowing her intended ruling, I am demanding that Justice Ginsburg follow the law and judicial ethics, and disqualify herself from hearing the case pending before the court relating to same-sex 'marriage.'"
The American Family Association and the Coalition of African-American Pastors have also called upon Kagan and Ginsburg to recuse themselves.
"The justices recuse themselves most commonly when they have a financial stake in the litigation or issues closely associated with the litigation, when they have close relatives who are parties or lawyers involved in the case," Loewentheil explained.
"… Or when they were involved with earlier stages of the litigation or the development of the law in question as a private party or government employee before they were appointed to the bench. The justices may also recuse themselves for other reasons, but they are not required to disclose those reasons to the public."
Regarding the calls for Kagan and Ginsburg to recuse themselves, Loewentheil replied that there "is no reason for Kagan or Ginsburg to recuse themselves from the case regarding state-level gay marriage bans."
"The justices in question performed an act, at the request of a third-party, which was lawful in the state where and when it was performed," Loewentheil said.
"They have no financial interest or other inappropriate stake in the outcome in the case, and have no obligation to recuse themselves."
An Indiana bakery, 111 Cakery, that drew protests last year after the business' Christian owners declined a request from a gay man to make a cake for his same-sex wedding, has decided to close shop for good.
"We have decided not to renew our lease so we are now closed. We want to thank everyone for your patronage, support and friendship. It has been a true pleasure to serve you. Eph 2:8," notes a message on the bakery's website.
Randy McGath, 48, who co-own's the bakery, told USA Today that the business was still profitable but his wife, Trish, 45, who did most of the baking, wanted to spend more time with their four grandchildren.
He said that the bakery went out of business on Dec. 31 and it was "wearing her out."
The Christian Post reached out to the business on Monday for further comment but did not receive a response. A firestorm of protests ensued last March after the McGaths' cited their faith for refusing the cake request for the same-sex wedding.
"As Christians, we have a sincere love for people. As artists, we must find the inspiration to create something special for our clients. When asked to do a cake for an occasion or with a theme (alcohol explicit in nature) that is in opposition to our faith, that inspiration is not found. We feel that it is important for a paying customer to know when this is the case. Why would you want a cake that is less than inspired for your special event. That is why this week we told a man that requested a cake for a same-sex ceremony that it was against our policy, but we would be happy to help him with anything else," the Christian bakers wrote in a statement about the incident on Facebook.
"It was not that we wanted to deny them a cake, it's just tough to create something that goes against your beliefs. Was this the right thing to say? Maybe not, but this phone call caused us to do a lot of soul searching because we want to be right with our God as well as respect others. We have not heard from this man but would welcome a chance to meet with him. We sincerely wish them the best," the statement continued.
The rejection by the couple snowballed into a controversial talking point in local and national media after that statement, which attracted much support from conservatives as well as detractors, particularly since the bakery was located in a neighborhood in Indianapolis that had been considered a hub of gay culture for decades, according to USA Today.
The couple who attend a Baptist church said they were aware of the neighborhood's gay culture when they opened the bakery in 2012, but "just didn't want to be party to a commitment ceremony" because such an event reflected "a commitment to sin."
"There was zero hate here," McGath, who is now selling recreational vehicles, told USA Today. "We were just trying to be right with our God. I was able to speak to many homosexuals in the community and to speak our opinion and have a civil conversation. I'm still in touch with some."
Friday, February 27, 2015
By Gary L. Bauer Feb. 27, 2015 10:00am The Blaze
Is the marriage debate over?
Many political elites, including more than a few Republicans, claim that it is, and that samesex marriage has won the day. But that claim confuses the will of the people with the dictates of a handful of unelected judges.
When people have actually voted on marriage or revealed their preferences to pollsters, a much different picture emerges. On Tuesday my nonprofit organization, American Values, and a coalition of profamily organizations released a national poll showing public support for traditional marriage and strong public opposition to court interference in the right of voters to define marriage in a way that reflects their values.
Fortythree percent disagreed with this statement. The poll also found that nearly twice as many respondents (61 percent to 32 percent) agreed that “states and citizens should remain free to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and the Supreme Court shouldn’t force all 50 states to redefine marriage.” Finally, more than four in five respondents (81 percent) agreed that “government should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.”
For those who would dismiss our poll as an outlier, other polls have found similar results. Last fall Gallup found that support for gay marriage had dropped, from 54 percent a few months earlier to 49 percent. Some commentators interpreted the decline in support for gay marriage as a result of the increasing intolerance of gay marriage advocates toward those who do not agree with their views. Then there’s the fact that traditional marriage has won 32 times when the matter has been put to voters at the state level. At this point, the most essential public policy question in the marriage debate is not over the morality of homosexuality or the meaning of marriage; rather, the question is: who gets to decide?
In a free society, it is really the only question that matters. The Constitution does not address the issue of marriage, thus leaving it to the individual states to decide. This is something most Americans seem to understand. A 2013 New York Times/CBS News poll showed that 60 percent of Americans favored allowing each state to define marriage.
But yet, 36 states and the District of Columbia now recognize samesex marriage, most via judicial decree. And a Supreme Court decision in June may legalize samesex marriage nationally, effectively striking down the will of the voters in dozens of states. It’s wrong when an unelected judge can impose policy preferences by overruling millions of voters.
By appropriating the role of the legislative branch, the Supreme Court would be guilty of the worst kind of judicial activism. There is something wrong in a democracy when a single unelected judge can impose his policy preferences by overruling millions of voters or the majority of the people’s democraticallyelected representatives.
The prospect of nationwide gay marriage by judicial fiat comes at a time when public confidence in the Supreme Court has reached an alltime low. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, just 30 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Supreme Court, the lowest share since Gallup began asking the question in 1973. I suspect there are more than a few Republican elites who will breathe a sigh of relief if the Supreme Court rules in favor of samesex marriage. But Republicans shouldn’t let the issue of judicial activism go unanswered.
They should continue to remind voters that judiciallyimposed samesex marriage is antithetical to selfgovernment. And they should remember that while samesex marriage may be winning in the courts, it has not come close to winning in the court of public opinion.
Campus housing specifically for 15 alternative sexualities, including sadomasochists, is acceptable, but fraternities that just allow men are not, at Wesleyan University.
Wesleyan University housing has an option for students who want to live with others identifying with one of 15 categories — LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. The university's inclusiveness excludes, however, male-only fraternities.
Delta Kappa Epsilon sued Wesleyan University after the liberal arts college ordered all of its fraternities to admit women, charging sexual discrimination and false and deceptive practices.
Wesleyan, a Connecticut college, was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church and named after 18th century evangelical theologian John Wesley, but is now secular.
According to the suit, Wesleyan offers a range of housing options for it undergraduates (who are required to reside on campus), including, Women of Color House, Womanist House, Malcolm X House, Lighthouse (for "open-minded" Christians), and houses specifically for Latinos and Asians.
One of those housing options is called "Open House," which is for LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM individuals, according to Wesleyan's Office of Residential Life. The 15 letters stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, flexual, asexual,genderf***, polyamourous, bondage/disciple, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism, in that order.
The suit points out that male-only and female-only housing is available in the school's residence halls. The Wesleyan website also touts the school's "diversity of housing options."
The suit complains that the school is not fulfilling its stated goals of diversity and inclusiveness, and is violating its opposition to sex discrimination, by eliminating male-only fraternities as a housing option.
The move to make fraternities accept women was in response to concerns about campus rape. A group of faculty and students argued last Spring that frat parties encourage sexual assault by men against women. The solution was to place more women in fraternities. In an open letter the group called for requiring the school's three all-male fraternities to "drastically reform" and admit women.
The letter stated: "Because fraternities are male-exclusive and the possessors of some of our campus' largest party spaces, they explicitly and implicitly cultivate a gender-based power dynamic that privileges men, the hosts, over women, who are among the guests. This power dynamic engenders sexual assault because women are institutionally encouraged to 'repay' men for their hospitality, often with sex, and men are institutionally provided with a control over their guests, especially women."
Even though fraternities are thought to be a dangerous place for women, the letter states that placing women in fraternities will make them safer by eliminating "the gender-based power dynamics by which sexual assault is promoted within fraternities."
In an interview with The Washington Post, Terence Durkin, president of the Wesleyan DKE chapter, said that DKE was given three years to make the change, and they were prepared to do so, but Wesleyan suddenly moved the timetable to five months. Wesleyan countered, in an emailed statement to The Washington Post, that DKE had not shown sufficient progress in making the necessary changes.
In an op-ed for First Things, Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, argued that Wesleyan's expansion of LGBT to 15 letters is emblematic of the current direction of liberal moralism.
"This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person's attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing," he wrote.