Trditional Marriage News

Thursday, July 17, 2014



July 17, 2014

Lawyers for both the state and a group of gay and lesbian couples hoping to topple Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage submitted arguments late Wednesday on two separate questions: whether the ban violates the First Amendment or the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Attorneys in the case have already made oral arguments before U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman in federal court, but debated only whether Louisiana must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

New legal briefs requested by the judge after that hearing address the question of whether Louisiana must actually hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and whether the state is violating First Amendment rights against so-called compelled speech by requiring that same-sex couples who have already wed elsewhere list themselves as single on tax returns.

The couples involved answered both questions in the affirmative. They made their case that Louisiana is forcing those married couples into “evident hypocrisy” by requiring same-sex couples, even if they have a legal marriage license from another state, to list themselves as single on Louisiana tax forms, violating the First Amendment in the process.

They also argued that denying same-sex couples a marriage license in Louisiana bas

The first argument may be a unique one, though similar gay marriages cases are pending in every state. The second relies on the same line of reasoning employed in dozens of those lawsuits, most of them sparked by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in United States v. Windsor, holding that the federal government must extend benefits to same-sex couples married in states where those unions are legal.

The plaintiffs’ brief on Wednesday quotes Justice Anthony Kennedy, who in voting to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the Windsor case argued that singling out same-sex couples “demeans” them and “humiliates” the children already being raised by them.

Lawyers for Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the other named defendants in the case responded unequivocally. The answer to whether Louisiana is violating either the First Amendment or due process rights of same-sex couples, they wrote, “is ‘no.’”

As they did in court last month, they pointed out that the Supreme Court in Windsor affirmed the right of the states — rather than judges or the federal government — to define marriage. Kennedy wrote that the states have a “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.”

The state’s brief acknowledges that the couples involved have hit upon a “novel” argument by bringing up the First Amendment, but then dismiss it as off base.

“This novel claim has no merit because this tax filing requirement regulates conduct, not speech,” it reads, “And therefore does not implicate the First Amendment compelled-speech doctrine at all.”


Tuesday, July 15, 2014
July 14, 2014

The Old Town Hall for Salem, Massachusetts.

A city in Massachusetts has opted to end a contract with a Christian college over the academic institution's opposition to homosexuality.

The mayor for Salem recently announced that the city's contract with Gordon College for usage of the Old Town Hall, set to expire later this year, will be immediately terminated.

Rick Sweeney, vice president of marketing and communications at Gordon College, told The Christian Post about the contract to use the Old Town Hall.

"Gordon College had been in a contractual relationship with the city of Salem since 2008 to manage Old Town Hall, one of the most historic buildings in the city," said Sweeney.

"This was a reciprocal arrangement where we provided management of the facility in exchange for using it for educational programs connected to Gordon, and as well as 'curation' experiences for history majors at Gordon."

Sweeney also told CP that Gordon College was already shifting away from "event planning" in order to "refocus on educational efforts."

"The transition was going to occur in August. The city had the option of opting out of the contract early," said Sweeney.

"When the college became part of a public controversy over attention on longstanding behavioral standards we have as a private Christian institution, they decided to move quickly."

Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll told CP that at specific issue was Gordon College's "behavioral standards" policy, which specifically forbids "homosexual behavior" for students and faculty.

"This is in violation of the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that was unanimously adopted by the Salem City Council earlier this year," said Driscoll. "The city does not contract with private parties that willfully discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, marital status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation."

Driscoll asserted that this was not an example of "viewpoint discrimination," but rather an example of enforcing an antidiscrimination law.

"The city's action terminating our contract with Gordon for the management and maintenance of Old Town Hall, a public building, cannot be construed as discriminating against a viewpoint," said Driscoll.

"Rather, the city terminated the contract because Gordon's behavioral standards code conflicted with our fully LGBT inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. It is not discriminatory to reject discrimination."

When asked by CP about whether or not Gordon College will consider legal action, Sweeney responded that this was "highly unlikely" given the parameters of the contract.

"It is sad this situation has cast both the college and our relationship with the city in a bad light, as the partnership has always been very amicable and productive over the years," said Sweeney.

"Members of the Gordon community have always been respectful and welcoming to all individuals regardless of orientation, particularly in the many interactions in diverse communities like Salem."

Monday, July 14, 2014
July 12, 2014|

Gay rights advocates march by the White House in Washington, on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009. Thousands of gay rights supporters marched Sunday from the White House to the Capitol, demanding that President Barack Obama keep his promises to allow gays to serve openly in the military and work to end discrimination against gays.

Should those who disagree with liberal views on homosexuality have the freedom to express and live according to those beliefs in civil society? Liberals are now deeply divided over this question.

This split was seen most recently over a debate about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Supreme Court's decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

ENDA, a bill that would prevent workplace discrimination based upon sexual preference and gender identity, passed the U.S. Senate last year. Speaker of the House John Boehner has said the House will not vote on the measure. President Barack Obama recently announced that he will issue an ENDA-type executive order that would only apply to employers with government contracts.

Liberals are divided on whether ENDA, the Senate bill or the executive order, should include an exemption for religious groups.

Religious organizations contract with the federal government to provide services, such as aid to developing nations or prison programs. Some of these organizations require assent to a set of religious beliefs and behavior consistent with those beliefs as a condition of employment. As a result, they may not hire someone in a same-sex relationship. Without an exemption for religious employers, therefore, these groups may be forced to no longer provide those government services.

Religious exemptions are not unusual in American law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had one, for instance, related to non-discrimination in hiring and employment. These exemptions have been widely considered consistent with the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment.

The Senate bill, supported by every Democratic senator (except Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, who did not vote), included a religious exemption, which states: "This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

While the Senate's passage of ENDA was largely celebrated by gay rights groups at the time, there were some stirring of concern over extending the same religious exemption found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The editors of The New York Times described the exemption as "terribly broad" because it included, not just houses of worship, but religious institutions like hospitals and colleges.

The exemption, they wrote, "would give a stamp of legitimacy to the very sort of discrimination the act is meant to end."

Debate among liberals over the religious exemption heightened over the past week. The American Civil Liberties Union and three other gay rights organizations announced they were withdrawing support for ENDA because of the religious exemption.

The bill already passed the Senate and it will not even be debated in the House. So what changed? Two things: 1) Obama's pending ENDA-like executive order, and 2) the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision.

Certain types of contraceptives in their employees' health insurance plans if it violates their religious convictions to do so. The Hobby Lobby case was not about gay rights, but the gay rights groups became concerned about the Court's recognition that religious freedom protections do not disappear when individuals start a corporation.

The Court's decision, the organizations wrote, led to their withdrawal of support for ENDA: "The Supreme Court's decision in Hobby Lobby has made it all the more important that we not accept this inappropriate provision. Because opponents of LGBT equality are already misreading that decision as having broadly endorsed rights to discriminate against others, we cannot accept a bill that sanctions discrimination and declares that discrimination against LGBT people is more acceptable than other kinds of discrimination."

Other liberals, though, strongly encouraged Obama to include a religious exemption.

Michael Wear, who led the faith outreach for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign and worked in Obama's Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, wrote a letter to Obama, along with 13 other signers, encouraging him to include a religious exemption. Dr. Stephen Schneck, director of Catholics for Obama, also signed the letter.

"Without a robust religious exemption, like the provisions in the Senate-passed ENDA, this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom," they wrote.

Unlike the statement by the ACLU and other groups, Wear's letter was not in response to Hobby Lobby. The letter was being composed before the decision and would have been sent to Obama even if Hobby Lobby had lost.

separate letter was sent by Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a liberal Evangelical organization, who also encouraged Obama to include a religious exemption.

For some liberals, opposition to same-sex marriage and the belief that homosexual behavior is a sin is not the only punishable offense. Simply asking for religious freedom for those who hold those beliefs is also a punishable offense.

Wear's letter was also signed by D. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College, a Christian college near Boston. As a result of his signing of that letter, the mayor of Salem, Massachusetts ended a contract the city had with the college and the college's accrediting agency will be investigating whether to end the college's accreditation.

While liberalism has historically been appreciative of pluralism and toleration, we are now seeing the rise of "dogmatic liberalism," Damon Linker, a liberal columnist wrote Friday for The Week.

"The decline is especially pronounced on a range of issues wrapped up with religion and sex," he said. "For a time, electoral self-interest kept these intolerant tendencies in check, since the strongly liberal position on social issues was clearly a minority view. But the cultural shift during the Obama years that has led a majority of Americans to support gay marriage seems to have opened the floodgates to an ugly triumphalism on the left."

Why the rise of intolerant, dogmatic liberalism? Linker argues it's related to a decline of religion.

"Human beings will be religious one way or another," he wrote. "Either they will be religious about religious things, or they will be religious about political things.

"With traditional faith in rapid retreat over the past decade, liberals have begun to grow increasingly religious about their own liberalism, which they are treating as a comprehensive view of reality and the human good."



Friday, July 11, 2014
July 10, 2014

A same-sex wedding cake topper is seen outside the East Los Angeles County Recorder's Office on Valentine's Day during a news event for National Freedom to Marry Week in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 14, 2012.

A Colorado district court judge has declared a state voter-approved amendment defining marriage as being between only one man and one woman.

District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree of Adams County made his ruling on Wednesday, but immediately stayed his decision pending appeal.

"The court holds that the Marriage Bans violate plaintiffs' due process and equal protection guarantees under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," wrote Crabtree.

"The existence of civil unions is evidence of further discrimination against same-sex couples and does not ameliorate the discriminatory effect of the Marriage Bans."

In 2006, Colorado voters approved a ballot initiative that added an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as only being between one man and one woman.

Known as Amendment 43, it passed with 56 percent of the vote. In the same election, voters rejected an amendment allowing for same-sex "domestic partnerships" that would have legal benefits.

Colorado was one of multiple states in November 2006 to approve state marriage amendments and as with the others it was legally challenged on the charge that it was unconstitutional.

A total of 18 plaintiffs, or nine same-sex couples from Denver and Adams County, filed suit against the amendment.

"We are ecstatic. There is much cheering in our house … We waited a long time for this ruling," said one of the plaintiffs to The Denver Post.

The decision was one in over dozen similar cases across the United States to rule that state level bans violated the U.S. Constitution.

For the past several months, every decision regarding these lawsuits has come down against the amendments.

Regarding the latest Colorado decision, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins issued a statement denouncing Crabtree's reasoning.

"Rather than take his cues from the Constitution, he joined the judicial stampede by lower federal courts to override state marriage laws — something the Supreme Court was careful not to do in last year's Windsor decision," said Perkins.

"Judges can ignore the will of the people and they defy natural law in making same-sex marriage legal, but the will never be able to make it right."

For his part, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has stated that he intends to appeal the Crabtree decision.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
July 9, 2014|7:07 am

Several liberal media organizations are reporting the results of a new same-sex parenting study which suggests that gay parents do a better job of raising children than the general population. There are four imporant points to understand about that study, however.

Here are a few of the headlines:

CBS News: "Children of same-sex couples healthy, well-adjusted, study finds"

NBC News: "Children of Same-Sex Parents Are Healthier: Study"

The Huffington Post: "Children Of Gay Parents Are Happier And Healthier Than Their Peers, New Study Finds"

Vox: "Largest-ever study of same-sex couples' kids finds they're better off than other children"

The study, though, does not warrant the conclusions suggested by those titles.

"Parent-reported measures of child health and wellbeing in same-sex parent families: a cross-sectional survey," by lead author Dr. Simon R. Crouch at The University of Melbourne in Australia, was published June 21 by the journal BMC Public Health. The co-authors were Elizabeth Waters, Ruth McNair, Jennifer Power and Elise Davis. Power is affiliated with La Trobe University. The rest of the authors are at The University of Melbourne.

The study found that children of same-sex parents scored higher on measures of general behavior, general health and family cohesion than the general population of Australia. The study also measured how often the parents felt stigmatized for being gay. A high number of stigmas was negatively correlated with measures of the children's physical activity, mental health and family cohesion.

Here are four important points to understand about the study:

1) The study did not use a random sample.

To make a generalizable conclusion about a population, scientific studies need a large, probability sample of the population, sometimes called "random sample" or "representative sample." A probability sample means that those surveyed are representative of the general population.

The Crouch study was based upon a convenience sample, or non-probability sample. Participants for the study were recruited through gay and lesbian community email lists and ads posted in gay and lesbian press. This means that the participants volunteered for the study and were not randomly chosen from the population.

The sample had 315 parents of 500 children. Most of the children, 80 percent, had a female parent complete the survey. Eighteen percent had a male parent, while the remaining parents described themselves as "other gendered."

As stated in the study: "Every effort was made to recruit a representative sample, and from the limited data available about same-sex parent families it appears that the [study's] sample does reflect the general context of these families in contemporary Australia."

Convenience samples can be an important research tool when probability samples are difficult to achieve. They can also help researchers design better studies and help them resolve issues with their research before conducting large scale studies. Social scientists understand, however, that conclusions about a general population should not be drawn based upon a convenience sample.

2) The study did not compare same-sex parents to biological parents.

Previous studies have shown that kids do best when they are raised by their biological parents and those parents are married. The Crouch study, however, compares its convenience sample of children raised by same-sex parents to the general population, which includes those raised by single parents, step parents, foster parents and other same-sex parents.

The study cannot conclude, therefore, that children raised by gay parents have better or worse outcomes than children raised in two-parent heterosexual households.

3) The study relies upon parent-reported outcomes.

The health and well-being of the children are based upon what the parents say they are. While these measures are being compared to other parent-reported measures, there are reasons that gay and lesbian parents might overstate their outcomes at a greater rate than the general population.

The survey was conducted while Australia is debating redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. Part of that debate deals with child-rearing. Government recognition of marriage should only be for a man and woman, proponents of traditional marriage argue, because this arrangement is best suited for the raising of children, which is a public good.

It is in the interests of gay marriage supporters, therefore, to show that gay couples can raise children just as well as straight couples. The gays and lesbians who volunteered to participate in the Crouch study likely understood the significance of the study. As a result, they may have inflated their results more than the average parent. Additionally, gays and lesbians who are raising children with poor outcomes may have been reluctant to participate in the study for similar reasons.

4) Studies using probability samples show poor outcomes for gay parents.

Two recent studies that did use probability samples showed some poor outcomes for children of gays and lesbians.

The New Family Structures Study at the University of Texas led by sociologist Mark Regnerus found, for instance, that those who reported that at least one parent had a same-sex relationship had poor outcomes along a range of variables. They were, for instance more likely to be depressed, unemployed, have more sex partners and report negative impressions of their childhood.

study published last December by economist Douglas W. Allen looked at a 20 percent sample of the Canadian census and found that children from gay and lesbian families were less likely to graduate from high school than children raised by opposite sex couples and single parents.

The issue of gay parenting in highly politicized. In such an environment, liberal media tend to exaggerate the results of those studies that appear to confirm their biases and write hyper-critically about the studies showing different results. Conservative media have similarly focused more on reporting the research that confirms their biases.

There are some significant differences, though, between how Allen and Regnerus are presenting their findings compared to Crouch and other social scientists who say there are no differences between gay and straight parents. Unlike the "no differences" social scientists, Allen and Regnerus do not argue that their studies are conclusive.

Gay parenting is difficult to study because it is so new. In the history of human civilization, gay parenting has only recently become culturally accepted. To understand the effects on the children they raise, social scientists need more and larger samples and time — time for the kids raised by gays and lesbians to grow up and have outcomes that can be measured and compared to those raised by other family types. Allen and Regnerus point this out in their research and other reports.

For the time being, research has shown that biological, two-parent households provide, on average, the best outcomes for children compared to all other family types. Additional research has demonstrated the unique contributions of mothers and fathers to child development. (One study, for instance, found that fatherlessness harms the brain.) These studies should be sufficient to at least raise suspicion of the studies suggesting that kids raised by parents of the same gender have the same, or better outcomes as kids raised by both a mom and a dad.

The social scientists reporting "no differences," on the other hand, make sweeping generalizations based only upon their small, non-random samples that confirm their liberal biases. Liberal media uncritically follow them.

Some of Regnerus' liberal critics have also argued that his findings should be ignored because he is a conservative Catholic. Crouch, though, is a gay man raising two kids with his partner. Would these same critics suggest that Crouch's study should be ignored because Crouch is personally invested in the results?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
July 8, 2014
    Bert and Ernie "support gay marriage" cake turned down by U.K. Christian bakery, facing threat of legal action in June 2014.

A Christian-run bakery in the U.K. could be facing a court case after it refused a request from a customer to make a cake featuring the "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie with a slogan to "support gay marriage."

Ashers Baking Company in Belfast declined the order from the customer, a gay rights activist, but now mat face legal action from watchdog group Equality Commission, BBC News reported on Tuesday.

In a statement, the 24-year-old general manager of the Christian bakery said that the order, featuring portraits of the two puppets side by side alongside the logo of gay rights group QueerSpace, went against their religious convictions.

"The directors and myself looked at it and considered it and thought that this order was at odds with our beliefs," Daniel McArthur revealed.

"It certainly was at odds with what the Bible teaches, and on the following Monday we rang the customer to let him know that we couldn't take his order."

The bakery then gave a full refund to the customer, but six weeks later it received a letter from the Equality Commission, which argued that the bakery discriminated against the customer on the grounds of his sexual orientation.

Ashers then turned to The Christian Institute for legal assistance, noting that the Equality Commission's letter threatened to pursue legal proceedings.

"I feel if we don't take a stand on this here case, then how can we stand up against it, further down the line?" McArthur added, and revealed that in the past, the bakery has also turned down orders that featured pornographic images and offensive language.

"I would like the outcome of this to be that, any Christians running a business could be allowed to follow their Christian beliefs and principles in the day-to-day running of their business and that they are allowed to make decisions based on that."

Equality Commission has said that it will consider the bakery's response before it takes any further action.
Northern Ireland is now the only part of the U.K. which does not have legalized same-sex marriage.

Christian Institute's chief executive Colin Hart criticized the government for failing to listen to the public and place safeguards for those who support traditional marriage, especially those in the private sector.

"Now this nonsense, more usually associated with the public sector, is being applied to the private sector," Hart said, according to The Telegraph.

"This means millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage, face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide good or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.

"It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual, or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs."

There have been similar cases in the U.S. in recent months, with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling in May against a Christian cake maker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, because of the baker's Christian beliefs. The Commission argued that anyone doing business in Colorado cannot discriminate against others.

Bert and Ernie, two of "Sesame Street's" most popular characters, have been used as a symbol for gay marriage before, although the TV show categorically denies that they have such a relationship.

After magazine The New Yorker used a painting of the two puppets getting affectionate to celebrate the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act in favor of gay marriage, Sesame Workshop addressed the question about Bert and Ernie's sexual orientation in a statement:

"Bert and Ernie are best friends," the statement read. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

Thursday, July 3, 2014
July 2, 2014
Supporters of gay marriage hold rainbow-colored flags as they rally in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on March 27, 2013.

Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban was struck down Tuesday by a federal judge who ruled that it is a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.

"In America even sincere and long-held religious views do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted," U.S. District Judge John Heyburn in Louisville argued.

The ruling follows similar decisions in Utah and Indiana where gay marriage bans were also dismissed.

In his decision, Heyburn stated that his ruling does not "diminish the freedom of others to any degree." There is an "utter lack of logical relation" between excluding same-sex couples from marriage and any legitimate state interest, he added.

He also stated that "same-sex couples' right to marry seems to be a uniquely 'free' constitutional right," Reuters reported.

The case dealt with claims brought by two gay couples from Louisville who were denied marriage licenses. Court documents noted that Timothy Love and Lawrence Ysunza have lived together for 34 years, while the other couple, Maurice Blanchard and Dominique James, have been together for 10 years.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced in a statement after the decision that his office will be launching an appeal.

"Now that Judge Heyburn has issued his opinion on this portion of the case, we will be appealing the decision so that the matter is fully before the Sixth Circuit, where these same issues from other states are already scheduled to be decided by the Sixth Circuit," Beshear said, according to The Associated Press.

Just last week, Utah and Indiana also saw their gay marriage bans struck down in separate rulings, with traditional marriage groups arguing that "judicial activism" from a single judge is substituting the will of the people.

"This is just the latest example of activism from the federal bench, but we fully expect this decision to eventually be reversed when the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of states to define marriage as a man and a woman," National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown said in a statement. "In the meantime, it is imperative that the state legislature move forward a state constitutional amendment preserving marriage so that the people always remain in control of the definition of marriage in Indiana."

In February, Heyburn ruled in favor of gay marriage by issuing an opinion that said marriages performed in other states had to be recognized in Kentucky.

Freedom to Marry noted that since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a provision in the Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. United States, there have been 23 consecutive rulings in favor of same-sex marriage.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
June 30, 2014

The group Texas Values Action holds a demonstration against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

An effort to repeal a controversial anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston, Texas, that purportedly would allow men to use women's bathrooms has until Thursday to garner enough signatures to be considered or put to a vote on the November ballot.

In May, after an 11-hour meeting, the Houston City Council approved an "Equal Rights Ordinance" by a vote of 11 to 6. The ERO amends Chapters 2, 15 and 17 of Houston's Code of Ordinances, prohibiting discrimination in public facilities and private employment on the basis of "protected characteristics."

Critics of ERO have claimed that it will have several unintended consequences, such as allowing transgendered men to use women's bathrooms.

"The city has admitted that the public accommodation section of the anti-religious liberty ordinance will protect men who want to use women's bathrooms if they dress up as women,"Jonathan Saenz, a conservative activist and president of the pro-repeal group Texas Values Action, told The Christian Post.

Saenz also noted that there are strong concerns about the ordinance, especially regarding the issue of religious liberty for business owners.

"City Attorney David Feldman admitted at a public hearing that this ordinance will be used to prosecute photographers who do not want to participate in photographing same-sex wedding-like ceremonies," he said.

The label of protected characteristics includes race, color, ethnicity, sex, national origin, age, familial and marital status, military status, religion, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The deadline for repeal was initially presumed to be last Friday, but has been extended to Thursday, July 3.

"Further information became available to determine that the official publication date of the new law was June 3, so we have 30 days from that point to collect and submit signatures," explained Saenz.

While not commenting on the exact number of signatures gathered as of Monday, Saenz told CP that he was confident that they will have enough names to challenge the ordinance.

"We remain optimistic that we will have the 17,000 signatures needed to force the city to repeal the ordinance or place the ordinance on the November ballot," said Saenz.

"If we do in fact secure the necessary amount of signatures, the city will be forced to suspend the enforcement of the ordinance."

While Houston city government officials declined to provide comment to CP about the movement to repeal the ordinance, Annise Parker, the city's openly gay mayor, described its significance to MSNBC soon after she signed the ordinance into law.

"It is by no means the most important thing I will accomplish as mayor,"said Parker to MSNBC in late May. "But it is personally meaningful to me because I understand what the hundreds of people who came before Council to describe their experience and the pain and discrimination they face daily."

The ordinance provides certain exemptions, including entities owned by a "bona fide private club," groups like any "social, fraternal, educational, civic or religious organization," state and federal government facilities and military discounts.

Friday, June 27, 2014
June 26, 2014|8:10 am
Plaintiffs Derek Kitchen (L-R) and Moudi Sbeity and Kate Call and Karen Archer talk outside the courthouse after a federal appeals court heard oral arguments on a Utah state law forbidding same sex marriage in Denver in an April 10, 2014 file photo.

Utah and Indiana became the latest U.S. states to see their bans on same-sex marriage struck down following separate rulings in federal court on Wednesday.

"It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples," a three-judge panel in the Utah case said while upholding a lower court ruling, NPR reported.

Back in December, Utah briefly became the 18th state where gay couples received the right to marry, after a federal district judge ruled that the state's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. The decision was then put on hold pending appeals, though more than 1,300 gay and lesbian couples managed to get married before that.

Wednesday's decision, which resulted from a 2-1 split decision, has been put on hold, pending appeal which could go directly to the Supreme Court.

In Indiana, District Judge Richard Young, who also upheld a lower court ruling, added: "Same-sex couples, who would otherwise qualify to marry in Indiana, have the right to marry in Indiana. ... These couples, when gender and sexual orientation are taken away, are in all respects like the family down the street. The Constitution demands that we treat them as such."

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed a notice of appeal and an emergency request for a stay of Young's order, The Courier-Journal reported.

"Until the United States Supreme Court determines that traditional marriage laws such as Indiana's are unconstitutional, it is premature to require Indiana to change its definition of marriage and abide by this court's conception of marriage," the attorney general wrote in the request for stay. "Nonetheless, marriages in violation of Indiana's existing law have taken place, are taking place, and will continue to take place pursuant to this court's order."

Traditional marriage groups, such as the National Organization for Marriage, which last week staged the March for Marriage event in Washington D.C., said that they disagree with the decisions but do not find it surprising.

"The elected representatives of the people of Indiana have decided, for good and proper reasons, to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It is judicial activism for a single judge to substitute his own views on marriage for the considered opinion of the people's representatives," NOM President Brian Brown said in a statement.

"This is just the latest example of activism from the federal bench, but we fully expect this decision to eventually be reversed when the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the right of states to define marriage as a man and a woman. In the meantime, it is imperative that the state legislature move forward a state constitutional amendment preserving marriage so that the people always remain in control of the definition of marriage in Indiana."

Brown also praised Justice Paul Kelly's dissent in the Kitchen v. Herbert case in Utah, where the judge argued that the people of the state have the right to decide the issue for themselves.

"And while the Court has recognized a fundamental right to marriage, every decision vindicating that right has involved two persons of the opposite gender. Indeed, the Court has been less than solicitious of plural marriages or polygamy," Kelly wrote.

"If the States are the laboratories of democracy, requiring every state to recognize same-gender unions—contrary to the views of its electorate and representatives—turns the notion of a limited national government on its head."

Earlier in June, Wisconsin also saw it's same-sex marriage ban declared unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb neither stayed the ruling nor clarified when it takes effect, however, making it unclear whether gay licenses could be immediately issued.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
June 25, 2014

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday to express disappointment in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a denomination to which he belongs, for its recent decisions to bless same-sex marriages in states where it is legal, and to divest from three American companies whose products are sold to Israel.

See his full remarks here: