Tuesday, February 17, 2015
February 13, 2015|4:38 pm| The Christian Post|
Lawmakers in the city of Charlotte, N.C., the hometown of world-renowned evangelist Rev. Billy Graham, are weighing whether to expand the city's non-discrimination ordinance to include legal rights for transgenders to use public restrooms designated for the opposite sex.
The proposed changes to the town's non-discrimination ordinance will be voted on by the City Council on Feb. 23 and the changes could also add non-discrimination protections for sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, gender identity and gender expression.
Although most of the proposed changes to the ordinance were not critically discussed by the city council, the largest contention in the ordinance came in regards to expanding bathroom rights to transgenders, which essentially allows a biological male to use a female restroom and vice versa. Four council members, including two Democrats, voted against putting the ordinance proposal on the Feb. 23 agenda.
By adding transgender bathroom protections to the ordinance, all places of public accommodation, including privately run businesses like restaurants, stores, hotels, theatres, and doctors offices will be required to allow members of the opposite sex to use the other gender's designated restrooms in their facility.
The city council is seeking public input before it makes a decision on the proposed changes. Opponents of the proposal say that such a measure would put women and children in danger.
"We are adamantly opposed to this because it would subject women and children to be in the same public restroom as men," Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the social conservative advocacy group North Carolina Values Coalition, told The Christian Post. "We think that this puts women and children in danger and it exceeds the expectation of privacy that they have upon entering a restroom that is in the public sphere."
Republican council member Ed Driggs, who opposes the new ordinance proposal, also feels that it could put children in danger because it could give a "cover" for sexual predators to go in the other gender's restroom and stalk little girls.
"A lot of people worry that you might provide a cover for bad actors," Drigg said at the council meeting on Monday. "This is not directed toward people with legitimate gender identity issues."
Although the other proposed expansions to the ordinance, which include protections based on sexual orientation, were not highly contested by the city council members, Fitzgerald believes expanding nondiscrimination rights to include sexual orientation would force business owner to violate their religious convictions or leave themselves vulnerable to lawsuits.
"This type of ordinance would potentially place someone who believes that sexuality and marriage are defined by biblical principles, it would put those people at risk of having to violate their deeply held religious beliefs in certain cases to abide by this city ordinance," Fitzgerald said. "We all have the right to freely exercise our religious beliefs under the first amendment and also under article 1, section 13 of the North Carolina Constitution."
The North Carolina Values Coalition sent out an email to its members this week asking them to contact their city council members and voice their disapproval over the proposed ordinance expansion.
Fitzgerald also said that the coalition is organizing a protest for Monday (Feb. 23) at 4:30 p.m. outside of the city council's chambers. Fitzgerald stressed that although the proposal only applies to the laws of Charlotte, it can have statewide implications as other cities could consider ordinance changes as well. Fitzgerald added that it is important to "draw a line in the sand at Charlotte."
"The Human Rights Campaign and Equality North Carolina have pledged to take this to every major city in the state of North Carolina," Fitzgerald asserted. "If we can stop them in Charlotte, we will be able to stop them in other cities. People need to realize that this is something that will impact everyone living in their cities."
As over 17 states and 200 cities have implemented gender identity protections, the city of Houston is in the midst of a lawsuit that seeks to put the city's new transgender bathroom ordinance up for voter referendum. In Houston, pastors were instrumental in driving opposition to the ordinance. Much like the pastors in Houston, Fitzgerald says that pastors in Charlotte are actively involved in driving opposition against the city's proposal.
"Pastors are very upset about this, as they were in Houston and San Antonio. They are arming their people to rise up against their city leaders," Fitzgerald said. "If the people who we elect to represent us at the city level are out of step with the majority of people living in their cities, they shouldn't expect to go back to the city council next time they are up for reelection."
Thursday, February 12, 2015
February 11, 2015|4:03 pm| The Christian Post|
The largest study so far on gay parenting, published this month, shows that children do best when raised by their mom and dad. While the U.S. Supreme Court has already signaled a willingness to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions for every state, it has also demonstrated a concern for how their decision will affect children.
The study, "Emotional Problems among Children with Same-Sex Parents: Difference by Definition," was conducted by sociologist Donald Sullins and published in the February issue of the British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science.
Using several different data sets, including some from the U.S. government, Sullins compiled a representative sample of 207,007 children, including 512 with same-sex parents.
Eight of 12 psychometric measures used in the study showed that children with same-sex parents experienced more distress than children of opposite-sex parents. The results were "clear, statistically significant," and "of substantial magnitude," after controlling for age, sex, race, education and income. For four of the measures of emotional and behavioral problems, children raised by same-sex parents were at least twice as likely to experience difficulties compared to children raised by opposite-sex parents.
Supporters of same-sex parenting might argue that the results are due to discrimination against gays, or that the children of the same-sex parents were likely adopted and were experiencing the same difficulties as all adopted children. The data, however, does not support these hypotheses.
The children of same-sex parents were not more likely to get picked on and bullied. In fact, contrary to conventional wisdom, they were slightly less likely to be picked on and bullied than the children of opposite-sex parents, though the difference was within the margin of error.
Additionally, most of the children of same-sex parents in the sample had a biological connection to at least one of the parents, and overall the children of same-sex parents fared worse than the children of other family arrangements that were not opposite-sex biological, such as single parents, step-parents and unmarried co-habiting parents.
Adopted children were at higher risk of emotional problems overall, but the risk was twice as high for same-sex adoptive parents as opposite-sex adoptive parents. However, the author cautioned against drawing conclusions from this result because there were few adopted children in the sample.
Sullins did find, though, that a biological parent-child connection helped explain the differences between same-sex and opposite-sex parents. Since two women or two men are incapable of having a child together, at least one parent will not be a biological parent. Opposite-sex households, on the other hand, can have both biological parents, one biological parent or no biological parent.
When controlling for a biological connection (along with the other control variables), there was no difference between children of same-sex parents and children in other family arrangements where both biological parents were present. This means that the connection with both biological parents is, in a sense, an explanatory variable for the health and well-being of children, even though it technically cannot be called an explanatory variable because it is assumed in the definition of same-sex parenting (all same-sex parents exclude at least one biological parent by design).
"The reduced risk of child emotional problems with opposite-sex married parents compared to same-sex parents," Sullins concluded, "is explained almost entirely by the fact that married opposite-sex parents tend to raise their own joint biological offspring, while same-sex parents never do this. The primary benefit of marriage for children, therefore, may not be that it tends to present them with improved parents (more stable, financially affluent, etc., although it does do this), but that it presents them with their own parents."
Same-sex parenting is central to the current public policy debate over gay marriage. While gay marriage supporters argue the debate is over equality, traditional marriage supporters argue it is about the rights of children. While many relationships of various number and gender composition can have positive personal and social goods, the only relationship that government has an interest in recognizing is marriage because of its connection to the raising of children, the argument goes. Understanding which parenting arrangement is best for children is, therefore, important for this argument.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, the likely swing vote in this Summer's Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, has already signaled that the well-being of children is an important consideration.
"There are some 40,000 children in California ... that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?" he said during oral arguments for a previous gay marriage case.
There have been previous studies showing either there is no difference between same-sex and opposite-sex parents, or that gay parents actually make better parents. Those studies, however, had numerous methodological issues, such as using small, non-probability samples, or measuring the well-being of the children by asking the parents.
In discussing the public policy implications of his study, Sullins wrote, "Whether or not same-sex families attain the legal right, as opposite-sex couples now have, to solemnize their relationship in civil marriage, the two family forms will continue to have fundamentally different, even contrasting, effects on the biological component of child well-being, to the relative detriment of children in same-sex families. Functionally, opposite-sex marriage is a social practice that, as much as possible, ensures to children the joint care of both biological parents, with the attendant benefits that brings; same-sex marriage ensures the opposite."
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
February 9, 2015|9:35 am| The Christian Post|
The University of Vermont now officially recognizes "neutral" as a "third gender" option for its students who'll also be allowed to be referred to with "gender neutral" pronouns, The New York Times reports.
The university, a public institution of some 12,700 students, allows students to select their own identity, which includes a new first name even if they have not legally changed it, as well as a chosen pronoun, the Timesreports.
The school records such details concerning students' preferences in its information system to enable professors to use the "right" terminology.
Just as the transgender community has increasingly been using the pronoun "They" instead of "he" or "she," the school wants to use the same.
School officials say the university is the first school in the United States to allow students to choose their own pronouns.
"Some people try to reduce this whole topic to kids trying to be cool or they're just acting out or whatever, just trying to be different or new," Robyn Ochs, an LGBTQ activist is quoted as saying. "But there have always been people who have felt profoundly uncomfortable in their assigned gender roles," she says. "Anything we can do to make them safer, or make them feel recognized, heard, seen, understood, we should do. To validate their identity and experience could, in fact, save their life."
The change in the university's information system came after a decade of lobbying and volunteering, which included six months and $80,000 in staff time, to create a software patch, the Times notes.
University Registrar Keith Williams calls it a "public safety issue."
"Transgender students — trans folks in general — have the highest level of violence within the LGBTQ community," he tells WCAX. "So, a situation which might just seem awkward to somebody who isn't trans, where the faculty member just gets the name wrong, or even worse, knows the legal name but uses the name that the student is going by, if that implies the student is trans, it could actually endanger the student."
"Establishing a diverse and inclusive culture is a priority at the University of Vermont," the school says on its website.
The university has five presidential commissions focused on diversity issues, including one of "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equity."
Monday, February 9, 2015
February 7, 2015|4:07 pm | The Christian Post|
As Americans ready to observe Saint Valentine's Day, nationwide multiple organizations will be celebrating National Marriage Week, which will be held Feb. 7-14.
The annual observance, which is in its fifth year, is overseen by a variety of groups and churches involved in the movement to strengthen marriages, including National Marriage Week USA and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"While marriages are challenged by numerous trials, both old and modern (divorce, abuse, pornography, economic difficulties, etc.), the witness of married couples to the beauty of lifelong married love remains a sign of hope and joy in our culture," Bethany Meola, assistant director of the USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, told The Christian Post.
Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, sent a letter to his fellow bishops calling for parishes to be involved in the week-long observance.
"The U.S. bishops are committed to strengthening marriages and families in the United States. This is one of the key priorities of the USCCB, and also of the worldwide Church, as evidenced by Pope Francis' calling of two meetings of the Synod of Bishops to discuss pastoral care of the family," added Meola, who noted that the For Your Marriage website and Facebook page provide a virtual marriage retreat that's centered around the "advice of Pope Francis for marriages and families."
Other initiatives the USCCB has put forth as part of the annual observance include preaching resources for priests for World Marriage Day (Sunday, Feb. 8), which includes a bulletin insert that focuses on the various benefits of marriage, and online resources.
In 2009, organization of National Marriage Week USA came under the leadership of Chuck Stetson and Sheila Weber of the Let's Strengthen Marriage Campaign. A major focus of the organization is its "online marriage calendar" where marriage counselors post classes and workshops that they're holding throughout the year.
"We want to be known as a clearinghouse where people can find ways to get help for their own marriage or to reach out and help others," added Weber, executive director of National Marriage Week USA, who noted that "last year we had a thousand events posted."
"Our goal, eventually, would be to have identifiable marriage education in every town in America," she said.
National Marriage Week was first observed in the United Kingdom back in 1996. It crossed the pond in 2002, courtesy of Brent Barlow and Diane Sollee of Smart Marriages. The annual event involves a coalition of groups participating and holding events relevant to the theme of strengthening the institution.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
February 4, 2015|1:55 pm| The Christian Post|
Christian owners of a bakery in Gresham, Oregon, who were forced to close their business in 2013 due to backlash over their refusal to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding based on religious objections, were found guilty of discrimination Monday and now have to pay the couple up to $150,000 in fines.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries announced that the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery, Aaron and Melissa Klein, will have to pay the sapphic couple. Whether or not they pay the maximum $150,000 fine will be determined at a hearing on March 10 BOLI spokesman, Charlie Burr, told USA Today.
Laurel Bowman alleged in January 2013 that Sweet Cakes refused to sell her and her fiancée a cake for their upcoming wedding and that Aaron Klein called their relationship an "abomination unto the Lord."
Later that year, Bowman filed an anti-discrimination complaint with BOLI charging that the Christian couple had violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007. Burr noted that although the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa are religious, the bakery is not recognized as a religious institution under law.
"Oregonians may not be denied service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The law provides an exemption for religious organizations and schools, but does not allow private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation," said Burr.
During a panel discussion at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. last October, Aaron talked about the couple's Christian faith and what Melissa's bakery meant to her before they were forced to shut down after gay activists aggressively badgered and harassed their clients until they no longer wanted to do business with them.
"The boycotting, the harassment. I mean, quite frankly, they didn't just harass us they harassed the other wedding vendors that we did business with," Aaron told the audience. "It cut off our referral system; we had to shut the shop down. … We're facing in excess of $150,000 in damages for this, just for simply standing by my First Amendment rights. ... My attorney likens this — he calls it economic terrorism."
One harassing email the couple received in June 2014 reads: "You stupid Bible thumping, hypocritical [expletive]. I hope your kids get really, really, sick and you go out of business."
"I can't say it more forcefully," Aaron continued, "what it came down to was that [my wife] has a God-given talent to create a work of art to celebrate a union between two people. And to use that in a manner that would be in the face of what the Bible says it should be, I just couldn't in good conscience agree to do it."
Shortly before the couple was forced out of business in 2013, Aaron said he had apologized for wasting the lesbian couple's time and explained that they don't participate in same-sex marriages based on religious grounds. "(I) honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn't mean to make anybody upset, (it's) just something I believe in very strongly."
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Written by Alex Newman| Thursday, 29 January 2015| TheNewAmerican.com
In a powerful letter sent to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley this week, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court encouraged the Republican governor and lower courts to defy “judicial tyranny” — specifically, a recent unconstitutional ruling by a federal judge purporting to overturn the state’s constitutional protections for the “divine institution” of marriage. Quoting scripture from the Holy Bible, the state Constitution, as well as previous federal and state Supreme Court rulings, Chief Justice Moore argued that federal courts were using “specious” arguments aimed at “destroying” marriage, with far-reaching consequences for Alabama and beyond. Moore warned in the letter that issuing “marriage licenses” to homosexuals would be a violation of state law and Alabama’s Constitution. The governor also indicated in a statement that he would continue to defend the state Constitution and the will of the people.
The letter from Chief Justice Moore, the state’s highest judicial official, was released days after U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade issued a ruling purporting to expand the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples. For Chief Justice Moore and other top Alabama officials, however, the controversial federal order goes far beyond any semblance of legitimate constitutional power. “As you know, nothing in the United States Constitution grants the federal government the authority to redefine the institution of marriage,” Moore wrote in his letter, adding that the people of Alabama had specifically recognized in the state Constitution that a marriage is a “sacred covenant, solemnized between a man and a woman.” The state Supreme Court has also ruled that marriage is a “divine institution.”
“As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” Moore concluded in his letter to Gov. Bentley. “I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity. Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.” The chief justice also said he was “encouraged” by the Alabama Probate Judges Association advising judges to follow Alabama law in refusing to issue marriage licenses to those who do not meet the legal qualifications outlined in the state Constitution.
Moore’s letter is packed with support for his position. In addition to the state Constitution, the U.S. Constitution, and previous Alabama Supreme Court rulings protecting the institution of marriage, the chief justice also cited a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. “Even the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that the basic foundation of marriage and family upon which our Country rests is ‘the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement,’” Moore explained, quoting the U.S. high court’s decision in Murphy v. Ramsey.
The laws of Alabama have “always recognized the Biblical admonition stated by our Lord,” the chief justice added in the letter, citing Mark 10:6-9 from the Holy Bible. The verses, as quoted in the letter, read: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh; so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” Numerous other scriptures outlining the biblical institution of marriage can also be found throughout the Bible, in both the New Testament and the Old Testament.
“Today the destruction of that institution is upon us by the federal courts using specious pretexts based on Equal Protection, Due Process, and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution,” Moore continued, taking aim at the radical re-interpretation of the Constitution being used by federal judges to redefine marriage in opposition to the will of the people. “As of this date, 44 federal courts have imposed by judicial fiat same-sex marriages in 21 states of the Union, overturning the express will of the people in those states. If we are to preserve that ‘reverent morality which is our source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement,’ then we must act to oppose such tyranny!”
Moore also quoted an 1825 letter by Thomas Jefferson, among the most influential Founding Fathers and a strong proponent of state nullification, expressing the “deepest affliction” over the “usurpation” by federal courts of “all rights reserved to the states.” The chief justice said that Jefferson’s words “precisely express my sentiments on this occasion.” Quoting the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reserves all powers to states and the people that were not specifically delegated to the federal government, Moore said that nothing in the Constitution grants authority to the feds to “desecrate” the institution of marriage. “Our State Constitution and our morality are under attack by a federal court decision that has no basis in the Constitution of the United States,” he added.
Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, released a statement also suggesting that he was prepared to defend marriage from unconstitutional attacks by the federal courts seeking to redefine it. “The people of Alabama elected me to uphold our state Constitution, and when I took the oath of office last week, that is what I promised to do,” the governor said. “The people of Alabama voted in a constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between man and woman. As governor, I must uphold the Constitution. I am disappointed in Friday's ruling, and I will continue to oppose this ruling. The Federal government must not infringe on the rights of states.” As the battle on the issue gears up, growing numbers of traditional marriage advocates are urging state officials to simply ignore unconstitutional federal rulings.
On the other side of the debate, homosexual activists were fuming. One homosexual Alabama lawmaker, Democrat Patricia Todd, even resorted to blackmail — a criminal offense — by threatening to expose alleged “extramarital affairs” among her colleagues if they keep discussing “family values” while speaking out against the federal court ruling. Separately, the pro-homosexual marriage group Human Rights Campaign, which late last year saw its founder arrested and charged for allegedly raping a 15-year-old boy, also lambasted Moore’s letter. “There's something deeply ironic about a judge seeking the right to ignore another judge's ruling while crying 'judicial activism,'” the organization’s Alabama director, Ashley Jackson, declared in a widely quoted statement.
Of course, Moore has come under fire before from radical anti-God activists and federal supremacists. In fact, in 2000, the feds ordered him to take down a Ten Commandments monument from the state’s judicial building in what was widely viewed in Alabama as an extreme overreach by an out-of-control federal government. Moore refused to comply with the lawless decree, and so, in 2003, was removed from his post as chief justice on the high court. Outraged Alabama voters put him back on the job in 2012, sparking even more fury among federal supremacists and anti-Christian bigots despite widespread celebration within Alabama. More than eight out of 10 Alabama voters backed the 2006 constitutional amendment enshrining marriage in the state Constitution.
As the federal government becomes increasingly extreme in usurping power — more than two thirds of Americans in surveys say the feds are “out of control” and a threat to liberty — state-level efforts to stop it all are growing stronger. From nullification of unconstitutional federal statutes by liberal and conservative states, to efforts such as Moore’s to protect state constitutions from radical federal judges, the trend is expected to accelerate. The federal ruling purporting to redefine marriage has been put on hold until at least next month. However, with the Supreme Court expected to rule on the issue, and two justices with blatant and unlawful conflicts of interest so far resisting demands for recusal, legal experts say the high court may well seek to impose its new definition of marriage on all 50 states later this year. Pastors, judges, lawmakers, and more are increasingly urging states to interpose and protect citizens from the escalating federal abuse. Whether or not they do may define America for generations to come.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
January 31, 2015|11:38 am| The Christian Post|
A Christian activist who filed a complaint against a Colorado bakery for refusing to make two cakes protesting against homosexuality has denied asking for the confections to include the phrase "God hates gays."
Recently Azucar Bakery of Denver had a complaint filed against them before the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies for refusing to make the cakes.
Bill Jack, founder of the Christian group Worldview Academy and the one who filed the complaint, told The Christian Post that he never wanted the phrase "God hates gays" put on any of the cakes he requested.
"I requested two cakes each in the shape of an open Bible. On the first cake I requested on one page, 'God hates sin – Psalm 45:7,' and on the facing page, 'Homosexuality is a detestable sin – Leviticus 18:22'," said Jack on Thursday.
"On the second cake I requested on one page, 'God loves sinners,' and on the facing page, 'While we were yet sinners Christ died for us – Romans 5:8.' I, also, requested a decoration of two groomsmen holding hands with a cross in the background with a ghostbusters symbol over it to illustrate that such a union is unacceptable biblically."
Jack's complaint against Azucar garnered many headlines courtesy local news stories like the one done by Jessica Oh of KUSA Channel 9 News.
Oh interviewed Marjorie Silva, the owner of Azucar, who said that Jack's request included phrases like "God hates gays."
"After I read it, I was like 'No way,'" said Silva to KUSA. "'We're not doing this. This is just very discriminatory and hateful.'"
Last March, Jack made the request for the two cakes. When Silva refused to make them with the message Jack wanted, offering instead to make the cakes without the message and to give Jack the supplies necessary to put whatever message he wanted on the cakes. In response, Jack filed a complaint with DORA's Civil Rights Division.
Several news publications including The Christian Post carried the story with the claim that the "God hates gays" phrase was requested for the cakes.
Earlier this week, World Magazine ran a story wherein Jack denied requesting the specific phrase "God Hates Gays" for the cakes.
"Due to the inaccuracies reported by the original Fox News affiliate… I have decided to give radio interviews—one Tuesday afternoon again on Denver's KLZ and another on Thursday afternoon with Denver's 710 AM radio to state accurately what I requested," said Jack to Marvin Olasky of World.
"I am, also, releasing statements to other venues to correct the misreporting."
At issue was the sequence of events, as Jack told CP that he had no written correspondence regarding the interaction between himself and Silva of Azucar.
"However, Ms. Silva's recollection of what I requested is incorrect," said Jack, who visited other bakeries making a similar request.
"She knows what I requested since she received a copy of the complaint in which I state precisely what I requested."
Azucar is not the first bakery to face legal trouble over expression regarding homosexuality, but it might be the first to face legal action for refusing to cater to a client that request an anti-homosexuality message.
In 2012 Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake, another Colorado-based bakery, was sued for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Although Phillips agreed to make the couple other baked items, he said his Christian beliefs prohibited him from fulfilling the request to make a cake for the wedding.
In response the couple filed a complaint against Phillips, leading to the Colorado Civil Rights Division determining that Masterpiece Cakeshop had discriminated against them.
"The undisputed facts show that (Phillips) discriminated against complainants because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage," wrote Judge Robert N. Spencer in his December 2013 decision.
Jack explained to CP that his ultimate point in requesting the cake and filing the complaint was to point out how anti-discrimination law was being unequally applied to bakers.
"I believe the baker should have the right to deny me service if my request violates her conscience or creed. Unfortunately, under the current application of Colorado statute she and other such businesses are forced to violate their sincerely held beliefs," said Jack.
"This statute is being applied inequitably; it so far is only being applied against Christians, such as Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Bakery. If we do not have liberty for all, then we have liberty for none."
Andrew Hudson, public relations representative for Azucar, told CP that since the controversy began "business has been great" for the bakery as people from Colorado and internationally have offered support.
Hudson also told CP that Silva "doesn't consider herself an advocate" but rather "a simple baker" who refused to advance a homophobic message.
Hudson also provided CP with a copy of a statement from Silva and an unnamed employee, wherein the phrase "God hates gays" was not explicitly mentioned.
"I don't recall what the message said exactly, I tried to make a photocopy of the paper but he put it back in his pocket and would not allow a copy to be made," stated Silva.
Monday, February 2, 2015
By Samuel Smith
January 30, 2015|1:40 pm| The Christian Post|
Influential megachurch Pastor Rick Warren and 49 other Catholic and Evangelical scholars and intellectuals have signed their names to an eight-page declaration that opposes society's growing acceptance of same-sex marriages and labels homosexual unions as a "graver threat" to marriage than widespread divorce and cohabitation because it is a parody of marriage.
The declaration entitled "The Two Shall Become One Flesh: Reclaiming Marriage" was written by the alliance called Evangelicals and Catholics Together and is set to be published in the March edition of the religion journal First Things.
Although the Catholics and Evangelicals involved in the writing of this overarching declaration against sexual sin still hold differences when it comes to the legitimacy of divorce and use of contraception, their differences were set aside as they focused on tackling what they consider to be the biggest problem facing marriage in society today.
Although divorce rates are increasing and society has grown more accustomed to loose sexual behavior before and outside of marriage, the declaration, which The Christian Post obtained a copy of, declares that it is the acceptance of same-sex marriages that ultimately "degrades humanity."
"An easy acceptance of divorce damages marriage; widespread cohabitation devalues marriage," the declaration explains. "But so-called same-sex marriage is a graver threat, because what is now given the name of marriage in law is a parody of marriage."
With most states now accepting gay marriages, the American political climate is continually growing more accommodating toward same-sex unions, while becoming less accommodating to those who defend to the traditional Christian view of marriage as being between just a man and a woman.
The alliance's statement declares that society's push in the last decade to legalize gay marriage and make it more widespread could easily lead down a slippery slope, ultimately causing the destruction of the traditional family.
"The law no longer recognizes the primordial, complementary natural roles of mother and father. The natural family as the fundamental context defining where we have come from and who we are is set aside," the declarations states. "The family becomes a creation of the state, and where the family is a creation of the state, children become, in important legal respects, the property of the state."
"Instead of freely accepting God's gift, we seek to dominate (and even alter) nature, constructing our own moral truths," the document added. "The result is a deceptive pseudo-freedom that degrades our humanity."
Notable signers supporting the alliance's declaration include Warren, founder of the California megachurch Saddleback Church; Robert George, professor at Princeton University and vice-chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedoms; Maggie Gallagher, conservative commentator and former president of the National Organization for Marriage; and Robert Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, did not sign the agreement because of scheduling conflicts. ERLC spokeswoman Elizabeth Bristow told CP that Moore has read the declaration and "has no objections to anything in it."
Although the statement goes out of its way to label the same-sex marriage as a "graver threat" to marriage than either divorce or cohabitation, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Daniel Akin, who also signed his name to the document, told CP that he does not think that "homosexual sin" is any worse than "heterosexual sin."
"Do I think this statement is trying to isolate specifically one particular manifestation over another? No," Akin said. "What this statement is trying to do is address the political legalization of same-sex marriage, which is a real concern for both Catholics and Evangelicals. We do not believe that it would be wise for our government to legalize same-sex marriage."
One such secular reason for objecting to same-sex marriage is how such marriages will alter the dynamic of the parent-child relationship.
"This proposed change has happened with great rapidity, in about a decade or so, and it is hard to predict how damaging it may be, especially for children who will no longer have a mother or father, but as new marriage documents read, parent 1 or parent 2, (or in California, parent 3 and parent 4)," Dean of the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, Timothy George, who also signed the document, told CP. "Pope Francis spoke to this issue recently when he said that every child deserves to have a mother and a father."
Gagnon told CP that this document does not serve just a political purpose but also is designed to debunk analogies used by gay supporters who reason that since divorce and cohabitation is increasingly accepted in many churches, churches can accept homosexual marriages, as well.
"This is a faulty use of analogical reasoning," Gagnon asserted. "One can't logically and reasonably move from limited accommodation in lesser offenses to full accommodation in greater offenses."
The declaration also calls on all Christians to defend the Biblical definition of marriage and to not affirm same-sex marriages politically.
"As Christians, we must state, unambiguously, that same-sex marriage contradicts the Gospel," the declaration reads. "Christians who wish to remain faithful to the Scripture and Christian tradition cannot embrace this falsification of reality, irrespective of its status in law."
Akin explained that Christians who affirm same-sex marriages do not hold an authentically Christian points of view.
"I don't think a consistent follower of Jesus can ever willingly knowingly accommodate what the Bible calls sinful behavior, whatever that happens to be," Akin said. "I think that is what the intent of the [declaration] was. It's not questioning in the sense that if you affirm same-sex marriage you are not a Christian, I don't think it is saying that. I think it is saying that to affirm same-sex marriage is a non-Christian affirmation."
Gagnon agrees that affirming same-sex marriages is not a faithful Christian view.
"Christians can hold unfaithful positions. In my view this is a significantly unfaithful position, comparable to, or worse than, promoting adult-consensual incest," Gagnon writes. "It promotes egregious immorality, behavior that God finds particularly abhorrent."
Friday, January 30, 2015
January 29, 2015|1:02 pm| The Christian Post|
A civil rights group that lists many conservative organizations as hate groups for opposing gay marrriage has filed an ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center filed the complaint against Moore over an official letter he released declaring his refusal to recognize gay marriages in the state.
Filed Wednesday, the SPLC's complaint was brought before the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama and alleged that "Moore's actions violate Alabama's Canons of Judicial Ethics in numerous and significant regards."
"Chief Justice Roy Moore has improperly commented on pending and impending cases; demonstrated faithlessness to foundational principles of law; and taken affirmative steps to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary," argued the SPLC.
"For all these reasons, we respectfully request that this Judicial Inquiry Commission investigate the allegations in this complaint and recommend that Chief Justice Moore face charges in the Court of the Judiciary."
In a statement released Tuesday, SPLC President Richard Cohen said that while Moore could as private citizen make such declarations his position as chief justice limits his speech on the matter.
"Moore is once again wrapping himself in the Bible and thumbing his nose at the federal courts and federal law," said Cohen.
"As a private citizen, Moore is entitled to his views. But as the chief justice of Alabama, he has a responsibility to recognize the supremacy of federal law and to conform his conduct to the canons of judicial ethics."
SPLC's ethics complaint against Moore came in response to an official letter the Alabama Chief Justice wrote in response to a federal judge striking down the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage last week.
"As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,"wrote Moore to Governor Robert Bentley.
"Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority."
In June 2006, Alabama voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative meant to add an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.
Known as Amendment 774 or the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, it was approved with over 80 percent of the vote.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade ruled the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
Alabama's government has opted to continue defending the constitutional amendment, filing a request to grant a stay until the US Supreme Court renders a decision on the matter.
Earlier this week, Granade granted a two week stay in her decision, rejecting Alabama's request to stay the ruling until the Supreme Court makes a decision.
The two week stay does give Alabama time to file an appeal with the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which may grant an extended stay on the Granade ruling.
Some observers, reported Fox News, believe that the ruling, even if it takes effect, may have a more limited scope than assumed.
"The Alabama Probate Judges' Association maintains that Friday's ruling applies only to the parties in that case, and that it doesn't require judges to issue marriage licenses to other same-sex couples," noted Fox.
"One probate judge and president of the association, Greg Norris of Monroe County, said probate judges have a duty to issue licenses in accordance with Alabama law, which means they can't issue them to same-sex couples."
Judge Moore is not the only figure to recently sound off on continuing to uphold state level bans on gay marriage despite judicial actions.
Potential GOP presidential candidates including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have stated their intentions to have an amendment added to the U.S. Constitution allowing for states to decide to have bans.
"I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. My faith teaches me that, my Christian faith teaches me that," said Jindal in an interview with ABC's "This Week' host George Stephanopoulos.
"If the Supreme Court were to throw out our law, our constitutional amendment -- I hope they wouldn't do that -- if they were to do that, I certainly will support Ted Cruz and others that are talking about making an amendment in the Congress and D.C., a constitutional amendment to allow states to continue to define marriage."
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
January 26, 2015|4:58 pm | TheChristian Post|
A federal court in Illinois has ordered a community college to allow two activists to distribute anti-homosexuality leaflets on its campus, after the school maintained that the individuals could not distribute such materials that were deemed "inconsistent with the philosophy, goals and mission of the college."
Last January, Wayne Lela and John McCartney sent an application to Waubonsee Community College seeking permission to pass out leaflets on its campus promoting their Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment, a group organized by Lela that advocates that homosexuality is immoral. After submitting the required details about the leaflets to the administration, the administration sent them back a letter denying their request later that month.
Although Lela and McCartney had been previously granted permission in 2003 and 2005 to pass out the promotional items for the organization on the WCC campus, the school's letter of denial in January of 2014 stated that group's message conflicted with the message of the school and that school could not allow them to hand out their leaflets on its campus.
The heterosexual group condemns homosexual behavior and produces publications like, "The Uncensored Truth about Homosexuality." They filed a court motion in late July stating that they had protections under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Lela and McCartney sought a preliminary injunction that would allow them to pass out flyers, no matter how their beliefs contrasted with the beliefs of the college.
Last week, Judge Robert Gentleman of the U.S. District Court issued the injunction ruling that the school does not have the right to discriminate based on the content of speech.
"First Amendment rights cannot be vetoed by listeners who, in disapproving of the message, create a disturbance, thereby silencing the speaker," the judge wrote in his decision. "[The] Defendant's concern that plaintiff's presence on campus may cause a negative student response or disturbance was not a constitutional ground for denying them access."
Because Judge Gentleman felt that the merits of Lela and McCartney's case were strong enough, he had no trouble issuing the preliminary injunction. The injunction states that the school, which is located in Sugar Grove, must allow Lela and McCartney to pass out their leaflets. WCC must submit a reasonable time period to the court for when the two individuals will be allowed to start leafleting on the campus by Jan. 26.
"As has been held numerous times by courts in this district, the loss or impingement of freedoms protected by the First Amendment, 'even for minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury,'" Gentleman wrote. "Given the court's finding that defendant discriminated against plaintiffs based on the content of their speech, the court finds that plaintiffs have a high likelihood of success on the merits."
Lela and McCartney were represented by The Rutherford Institute, a legal group devoted to the protecting civil liberties. President of The Rutherford Institute, John Whitehead, said in a statement that university campuses once served as a breeding ground for ideas but now schools are going out of the way to silence those who disagree with the school's opinions.
"We are pleased that the district court recognized the value of free speech, provocative or not, in our society," Whitehead wrote. "If college administrators today were allowed to have their way, college campuses would be little more than breeding grounds for compliant citizens content to speak only when spoken to, on politically correct topics guaranteed not to cause disruption or disagreement, and in Orwellian areas designated as free speech zones."
Assisting the Rutherford Institute in the case were two attorney's from the the Chicago-based Mauck & Baker, LLC., a legal group advocating for the "religious oppressed." Mauck & Baker attorney Whitman Brisky, who helped in the case, said in a statement that he hopes there will be more court cases in the future to help eliminate the censorship by universities and colleges.
"Colleges in America should not be in the business of protecting their students from ideas and suppressing speech," Brisky said. "We need more cases and judicial decisions like this to beat back the increasing levels of censorship on our college campuses."
In December, Marquette University in Wisconsin suspended a tenured professor after he blogged about his opposition to a teaching instructor who prohibited a student from discussing his views against same-sex marriage. It was reported earlier in December that Marquette University had also been training its faculty to report any other faculty member who voices opposition to same-sex marriage as as form of harassment.