Monday, April 21, 2014
In a speech earlier this week, Lisa O. Monaco, President Barack Obama’s assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, insisted that American parents must be vigilant because their “confrontational” children could be on the verge of becoming terrorists.
Monaco’s full, prepared text is available here. She presented the speech, entitled “Countering Violent Extremism and the Power of Community,” at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on April 15.
Monaco began her remarks by eloquently describing the lives tragically lost last year during the Boston Marathon bombings. Interestingly, the Harvard grad failed to mention the religion or the motive of brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Muslim terrorists behind the Boston bombings.
In the very next paragraph, Monaco specifically noted racist and disgustingly anti-Semitic beliefs of Frazier Glenn Miller, the 73-year-old former Ku Klux Klan leader accused of gunning down three people at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas last Sunday.
The White House bureaucrat then settled into the heart of her speech: That Obama “has been laser-focused” on preventing “violent extremism” “by homegrown violent extremists” right here “in the United States.”
The president can’t do it all, though. He needs “local communities” to assist in observing “warning signs a person” is becoming “radicalized to violence.”
This is where the American parents of American children in America’s towns, cities and countryside can provide the greatest assistance, Monaco said.
“For instance, parents might see sudden personality changes in their children at home—becoming confrontational,” she asserted.
Schoolteachers and community members can help as well.
“Teachers might hear a student expressing an interest in traveling to a conflict zone overseas,” she added—in an ambiguous allusion to various religious conflicts around the world.
“Or friends might notice a new interest in watching or sharing violent material.”
Monaco then went on to explain some of the localized initiatives that various government entities have initiated to thwart terrorist activities in the United States.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
April 16, 2014|5:04 pm
President Barack Obama met with several faith leaders at the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss what he called a "broken" immigration system. They highlighted the pain it has caused families and called on Congress to come to a bipartisan agreement for change.
"I disagree with the President on some serious issues of human life, marriage, and religious liberty, but this is one issue where the country isn't divided up into red and blue. I don't know anyone who thinks the status quo immigration policy is working," said Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
"Our border isn't secure, we don't know who is and who isn't in the country, and we have families torn apart by an incoherent and capricious system. I encouraged the President to work with Republicans to get beyond partisan bickering and fix this broken system."
The U.S. immigration system has been a contentious issue throughout Obama's presidency. The White House, Christian groups, and bipartisan efforts have repeatedly called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, though House Speaker John Boehner has warned that Republican distrust of Obama's administration is making it difficult to move forward with legislation.
Obama thanked the faith leaders for their leadership on the issue and expressed his commitment to seeing through immigration reform.
"The President expressed deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system," a White House readout of the meeting said.
"He emphasized that while his Administration can take steps to better enforce and administer immigration laws, nothing can replace the certainty of legislative reform and this permanent solution can only be achieved by Congress."
The faith leaders present at Tuesday's meeting, including representatives from the Evangelical and Mormon faiths, emphasized the real human cost for families and communities waiting for reform.
Noel Castellanos, CEO of Christian Community Development Association, Chicago, said that the meeting was an opportunity to share the need to "end the suffering" of 11 million men, women and children caught in America's "broken" immigration system.
"We discussed the urgency for House members to take action before the August recess for the sake of immigrant families and our nation. Let us continue to pray and impress this need on our legislators to act now," Castellanos said.
Dr. Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta, said the U.S. needs to meet at the "intersection of moral conscience and common sense" to pass immigration reform.
"Congress has the tools to act and, as people of conviction, people of faith are in agreement that common sense measures can be taken," Paynter said.
"There is a place to honor the God-given dignity of persons, honor the rule of law, ensure fairness to taxpayers, and seek a path towards recognition for immigrants."
Earlier in April, former Florida governor Jeb Bush suggested that illegal immigrants are not committing a felony, but are breaking the law out of love and commitment to family.
"It's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family," Bush said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
"I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families," he added.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
April 15, 2014|4:46 pm
Dan T. Cathy, chairman and CEO of Chick-fil-A
Just two years ago, conservative Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy infuriated LGBT avtivists when he publicly voiced his support for traditional marriage. As his company gets ready to expand into the more liberal Northeast, however, Cathy is on a campaign to show the public that he has found a wiser way.
While his position on the traditional definition of marriage has not changed, Cathy explained in a USA Today interview that his company's socially conservative agenda, which led them to donate millions to opponents of same-sex marriage in the past, has been tempered.
"All of us become more wise as time goes by," Cathy apologetically told USA Today. "We sincerely care about all people."
Chick-fil-A, which recently toppled KFC as the leader in the U.S. chicken fast-food industry with fewer stores located mostly in the South, is looking to quickly expand into the large urban markets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. And with that comes a new reality for the 1,800-store chain.
"I'm going to leave it [discussion of gay marriage] to politicians and others to discuss social issues," said Cathy.
Conservative head of the Family Research Council Tony Perkins, however, derided business leaders like Cathy who temper their positions on same-sex marriage in the name of business.
"I think we're seeing those in the business community becoming cowards," Perkins said on Mike Huckabee's Fox News program on Sunday.
"Tolerance is a one-way street for [the same-sex marriage supporters who boycotted Chick-fil-A]. What they want to do is force the rest of America not to just tolerate but to celebrate what they're doing. They want to redefine America," he added.
Cathy drew the ire of same-sex marriage advocates in the summer of 2012 when he told The Biblical Recorder that the company "was supportive of the biblical definition of the family unit." In another interview he charged that America was "inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage."
Last month he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that all of that was a mistake.
"Every leader goes through different phases of maturity, growth and development and it helps by (recognizing) the mistakes that you make," said Cathy. "And you learn from those mistakes. If not, you're just a fool. I'm thankful that I lived through it and I learned a lot from it."
Cathy said he's now focusing on social issues that match more closely with his chicken business: health and nutrition.
On Tuesday, the company announced the addition of three new grilled chicken entrees to its menu: a grilled chicken sandwich, a grilled chicken club and grilled chicken nuggets as healthier options to consumers. It reportedly spent more than $50 million to develop the recipe and cooking technique.
"The world is rapidly, shockingly changing around us and I think every business, every industry is having to move with incredible speed and agility to adapt to the new realities of the world we are in today and certainly health and nutrition is a major issue," said Cathy.
"We see that the lack of awareness for movement and burning off calories has led to an incredibly obese nation and we're gonna pay dearly for that as it relates to diabetes and all kinds of problems that come as a result," he continued.
"I feel we have a moral obligation being in the restaurant business of providing choices and information so that parents and even children can make informed choices about how they eat," he noted.
Openly gay New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm dismissed the company regardless of Cathy's efforts to make amends.
"We don't need bigots coming to New York City," said Dromm in an interview with the Huffington Post. "They are not welcome here unless they can embrace all of New York's diverse community, including the LGBT community."
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, called Dromm's reaction "outrageous and intolerant" in a press release Monday.
"What Dromm has effectively said here is that anyone who believes in marriage as the union of a man and a woman is unwelcome in New York City," said Brown. "His remarks, coming amidst a climate of such unseemly attacks on pro-marriage people as we saw with the Mozilla controversy last week, simply reinforce a growing manifestation of hostility and intimidation in the public square toward folks with traditional values. Christians and others are now, it seems, going to be considered guilty of 'thought-crimes' and threatened with all manner of reprisals simply for holding their beliefs."
Monday, April 14, 2014
April 11, 2014|4:47 pm
The National Organization for Marriage, a nonprofit group that advocates for traditional marriage, is expecting tens of thousands of people from across the United States to join their June "March for Marriage" in Washington to "show the world that the marriage debate isn't over."
Christopher Plante, spokesman for NOM, told The Christian Post that the June 19 march is being held in part "to show the world, the media, members of Congress and the Supreme Court that the marriage debate is not over."
"There is a huge groundswell of popular support, popular belief in traditional marriage. And despite what the polls may say, the reality is the majority of Americans believe marriage is between one man and one woman," said Plante.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases regarding the marriage definition debate, Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry.
The Windsor case dealt with the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
Hollingsworth was in regard to California's Proposition 8, a referendum that added an amendment to the state constitution that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
On June 26, the Supreme Court struck down a crucial component of DOMA, allowing for federal benefits to extend to same-sex couples in states where gay marriage is legal.
The Court also ruled against Proposition 8, arguing that the pro-proposition appellants lacked standing to appeal a lower court decision against the amendment.
Arguments for the two cases were heard in March. On that first day of oral arguments, NOM and its allies held a March for Marriage rally in support of DOMA and Prop 8.
Both they and their anti-DOMA, anti-Prop 8 counterparts had thousands of supporters in attendance rallying outside the Supreme Court building.
Plante of NOM told CP that the date for this year's March for Marriage is meant to be near the anniversary of the "horrible decisions in the Windsor and Prop 8 cases last year."
"We expect tens of thousands of people to come out. This is a new event. Obviously we had one last year, which was very successful," said Plante.
The March for Marriage is not the only large-scale rally held at the National Mall in remembrance of controversial Supreme Court decisions.
Every January, pro-life groups from across the nation come to Washington for March for Life. Plante himself found comparison between the two marches.
"We are looking to grow this on an annual basis much like the March for Life, and so we expect that we will do more than we did last year," said Plante.
"Life and Marriage are intertwined. The March for Life has been a hugely successful event, and we look to mirror their success and make sure we have an annual event that commemorates the importance and the uniqueness of marriage that becomes visible to our country, to our leaders, to the media," he added.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
April 9, 2014|4:24 pm
The U.S. Senate failed to move forward on a gender pay discrimination bill Wednesday as the White House continues to defend its use of a questionable statistic on the gender wage gap.
With all Republicans voting "no," the Paycheck Fairness Act did not get the 60 votes needed to end debate and move the bill to a vote. The bill would have allowed employees to share their salary information with each other and bring civil actions against their employer for gender discrimination.
Republicans objected that they were not allowed to offer any amendments to the bill, including an amendment offered by four female Republicans that would have included provisions against retaliating against workers who inquire about the salaries of their peers.
Maine independent Sen. Angus King caucuses with the Democrats but joined the Republicans in opposing the bill. In a statement, he said the bill could "impose substantial burdens on businesses" and it does not address "the real causes that are driving the wage gap."
The vote was part of a coordinated effort with the White House to make gender pay differences an issue in the November elections.
"Today, the average full-time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns … in 2014, that's an embarrassment. It is wrong," President Barack Obama said in a Tuesday speech.
Many experts point to problems, though, with the 77 cents figure. Glenn Kessler, the "fact checker" for The Washington Post, gave Obama "two Pinocchios" Wednesday for his use of the statistic. (This was higher, or less truthful, that the "one Pinocchio" Kessler gave Obama for using the same statistic during the 2012 election season.) Also in 2012, PolitiFact said Obama's claim was "mostly false."
Hanna Rosin explained why the statistic is wrong in an August 2013 article for Slate, a liberal publication, called "The Gender Wage Gap Lie."
The 77 percent figure, Rosin explains, comes from comparing the median earnings of all women working full-time with the median earnings of all men working full-time. When looking at it that way, men do make more than women, but the statistic itself cannot explain whether there is discrimination, or men are getting more money for doing the same work as women.
Citing work by economists, Rosin said there are many reasons that the median salaries are higher for men than women that do not include discrimination. Men work longer hours, are more likely to have union jobs, and choose professions that pay more, and women are more likely to have career advancement interruptions to care for children and women are poor salary negotiators, for instance.
To really know if there is gender discrimination, Rosin pointed out, one would need to look at whether women are actually paid differently for doing the same work as men.
Using the same method of calculation that the White House used to argue that discrimination leads to men receiving 23 cents per hour more than women, University of Michigan economist Mark J. Perry found that in the White House itself men get paid 12 cents more than women.
For two days in a row this week, reporters hounded White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about that fact. If comparing median salary gender differences in the labor market indicates discrimination against females, they asked, does comparing median salary gender differences in the White House indicate discrimination against females in the White House?
In his defense of the gender pay differences in the White House, Carney used the same reasoning used by those who say the 77 cent figure is wrong. As long as women are getting paid the same for the same work, Carney explained, there is no discrimination in the White House.
"And here at the White House equal pay legislation deems that there should be equal pay for equal work, and that's what we have – men and women in equivalent roles here earn equivalent salaries.
"For example, we have two deputy chiefs of staff, one man and one woman, and they earn the same salary. We have 16 department heads, over half of them are women, all of whom make the same salary as their male counterparts," he said Monday.
When Carney was again pressed with similar questions on Tuesday, White House Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri suggested, via Twitter, that there was a problem with the fact that the reporters asking the questions are all male.
"Love all these guys, but note that 6 of 7 news [organizations] in front row sent men to ask @pressec [about] the problem of gender pay inequity," she tweeted.
In response, several reporters pointed out that the White House sent a man, Jay Carney, to answer those questions.
"In your line of [thought] Jennifer a woman should have taken the question for the White House not a man," Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Salena Zito tweeted.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
April 7, 2014|1:41 pm
The exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington March 5, 2014. U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday appeared to look for a compromise that would enable them to avoid overruling a 26-year-old precedent that made it easier for plaintiffs to negotiate large class action settlements.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case, Elane Photography, LLC vs. Willock, in which a wedding photographer was punished for declining to photograph a same-sex wedding ceremony.
"This essentially means the end of legal options for John and Elaine Huguenin for now," Alan Sears, president, CEO and General Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said. ADF represented the Huguenins, owners of Elane Photography.
In 2006, Vanessa Willock sent an email to several wedding photographers in New Mexico asking if they would be willing to photograph her same-sex "commitment ceremony." (New Mexico did not redefine marriage to include same-sex couples until December 2013.)
"This is a same-gender ceremony. If you are open to helping us celebrate our day we'd like to receive pricing information," the email stated.
Elaine Huguenin informed Willock via email, "We do not photograph same-sex weddings, but again, thanks for checking out our site! Have a great day."
In court testimony, Huguenin made clear that she would serve the couple in other contexts. She was not declining to serve gays. She was declining to serve gay weddings because she believed that doing so would be in violation of her religious beliefs. Huguenin had also previously declined service to clients who asked her to photograph nude images and violent images.
Willock filed a complaint against Elane Photography, arguing that the company violated an anti-discrimination ordinance. The case made its way to the New Mexico Supreme Court, which found Elane Photography guilty and ordered the company to pay close to $7,000 to Willock.
"The injustice is difficult to overstate," Sears of ADF stated. "Make no mistake, this issue is all about the government forcing a citizen to communicate a message against her will and against her beliefs.
"To add insult to the outrage, a justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court has even gone so far as to tell the Huguenins that surrendering their freedom is 'the price of citizenship.'"
Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, also expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court's decision to not hear the case. The case is about freedom of conscience, he argued.
"At issue is the fundamental question of whether the state can pretend to be a god over the conscience," Moore said. "No one is seeking to outlaw photographers from working at same-sex marriage or civil union ceremonies. At issue is whether these persons will be forced by the coercive power of the state to participate in something they believe to be sinful.
"The audacity of the New Mexico Supreme Court in saying that the crucifixion of conscience is the price of citizenship is breathtaking. This ruling is more in the spirit of Nero Caesar than in the spirit of Thomas Jefferson. This is damaging not only to the conscience rights of Christians, but to all citizens. When we decide, as a country, that state power trumps the rights of conscience, we are treading on self-evident, inalienable rights, granted not by government but by God."
ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence, on the other hand, argued that the case was about freedom of speech.
"The First Amendment protects our freedom to speak or not speak on any issue without fear of punishment. We had hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would use this case to affirm this basic constitutional principle ...," he said.
Lorence added that ADF has several other clients in similar cases which the Supreme Court will have opportunities to weigh in on the issues, including wedding florists and bakers, and a t-shirt printer who declined to design a "pride festival" shirt.
Monday, April 7, 2014
April 6, 2014|2:59 pm
A federal judge in Cincinnati said Friday that he will strike down as unconstitutional Ohio's voter-approved ban on recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples from other states. The state plans to appeal the ruling once it is issued.
Supporters of same-sex marriage rally at Utah's State Capitol building in Salt Lake City, Utah January 28, 2014.
"I intend to issue a written decision and order by April 14, striking down as unconstitutional under all circumstances Ohio's bans on recognizing legal same-sex marriages from other states," U.S. District Judge Timothy Black said in a statement.
The plaintiffs are four same-sex couples who got married in other states and are seeking to be recognized as parents on their children's birth certificates.
"I intend to issue a declaration that Ohio's recognition bans, that have been relied upon to deny legal recognition to same-sex couples validly entered in other states where legal, violates the rights secured by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," the judge said, adding that same-sex couples are "denied their fundamental right to marry a person of their choosing and the right to remain married."
"It also validates to our kids that we're bringing into our marriage that their parents are recognized by the state that we live in, and that's extremely important," Pam Yorksmith, one of the plaintiffs, told AP. "We're teaching kids of future generations that all families are different and just because our family doesn't look like your family doesn't mean that ours shouldn't be recognized."
"For same sex couples who have struggled to secure equal rights this is a great day," said attorney Al Gerhardstein.
The judge did not mention Ohio's ban on gay couples marrying within the state. Last December, the same judge asked Ohio to recognize same-sex marriages from other states on death certificates.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will be prepared to appeal the impending ruling, according to spokesman Dan Tierney.
Attorneys for Ohio had argued that the state alone has the jurisdiction to define marriage. State's voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 acknowledging that the definition of marriage was the union between one man and one woman.
The National Organization for Marriage criticized the judge's intention. "This is an affront to the rule of law and to the people of Ohio who voted overwhelmingly to define marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman," Brian Brown, the group's president, said in a statement.
Same-sex marriage is currently recognized in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
Federal judges in a few states have struck down state amendments and laws banning gay marriage as unconstitutional ever since the U.S. Supreme Court last June squashed a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. They have revoked bans in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, and ordered Kentucky and Tennessee to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. However, stays have been issued pending appeals.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
April 1, 2014|8:31 am
Last week began with World Vision's stunning announcement that it would be open to hiring homosexuals in legal same-sex marriages.
But within two days, World Vision reversed course. In a letter to supporters, the Board acknowledged that it had made a mistake, reaffirmed the organization's commitment to the biblical norm of marriage between one man and one woman, and asked for forgiveness.
I say Praise God! And, we should not only forgive but also offer our support and encouragement. Let's not be the prodigal son's older brother. And let's learn from this episode.
As World Vision president Rich Stearns told reporters, "Christian organizations will continue to deal with this sensitive issue." That, my friends, is an understatement. Anyone currently trying to sit this one out, will soon realize how little neutral ground there actually is.
And that will reveal how many Christians and Christian organizations just don't "get" marriage. If our argument is selectively pointing out certain condemnations from Leviticus while ignoring others, we don't get it. Or, if we think God's morality gets in the way of God's Gospel, we also just don't get it. Without a strong understanding of what marriage itself is, and why it's important, we'll either be unwilling or unable to defend it. Before there were any political institutions or governments, God established the institution of marriage as a universal human institution.
Look at Matthew 19. The Pharisees ask Jesus if divorce is permissible according to Mosaic law. He pointed them to something more important than that law: what God intended from the beginning.
Jesus replied, "Haven't you read . . . that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? … Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
Folks, churches must make discipleship and instruction on marriage a priority. Enough of the therapeutic "four steps to a great marriage" and "five steps to a happy and godly sex life." We need a robust, theological vision of God's intent for marriage that people can actually live from.
And, we need humility. When gay activists say, "You guys have been inconsistent on other marriage issues, like divorce," We should say "You're right, we have been." But by His grace, we'll do better.
And once we get down what marriage is, we need to think through the specific "what ifs" about same-sex marriage. What should Christians do if invited to attend, or officiate, a same-sex wedding? What if a gay couple asks to enroll their child at our Christian school or even Sunday school? What if our employer asks us to participate in gay awareness events?
The time to struggle with these, and the many other questions, is now.
Sean McDowell and I are writing a book on all of this. There's been plenty written warning of same-sex marriage, and plenty written predicting it brings the end of the world. Our book, due out in July, offers guidance for the "what do we do now" questions that are coming, and in many ways, already here.
Here's a preview: First, we must know what the scriptures teach on marriage so we can know what must not be compromised. Second and third: Pray and pray again. Fourth, seek the counsel of other believers.
Fifth, in every situation, respond in grace and love. What God thinks of marriage is clear. How we ought respond in specific situations, will be at times a matter of conscience – like whether to eat food sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians.
And remember, as difficult as it will be, we have an enormous opportunity before us to hold out and live out God's vision for marriage. Please come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary. We'll point you to some vital resources on understanding and defending marriage.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
March 31, 2014|1:25 pm
Virginia's Democratic Party has elected a new chairman despite initial opposition from gay rights activists over his lack of support for state recognition of same-sex marriages.
Dwight Jones, mayor of Richmond and a Baptist preacher, was recently elected to the position of party chair by a majority of the DPVA's State Central Committee, which has 300 members.
In a statement released after the results, Mayor Jones said that he looked forward to the position, as he has been a "Democrat my whole life."
"I have seen the party grow to what it is today, a party that fights for issues important to all Virginians, issues like access to affordable health care, making sure women receive equal pay for equal work, and fighting to ensure all Virginians are treated equally across the Commonwealth," said Jones.
"I look forward to the next chapter at the Democratic Party of Virginia and I'm excited to work together with Democrats across the Commonwealth to continue building a strong, sustainable party that will keep Virginia blue for years to come."
Jones faced opposition from groups like the LGBT Democrats of Virginia over his lack of support for same sex marriage. However LGBT Democrats eventually dropped their opposition to Jones' nomination due to him not being avidly opposed to gay marriage, reported the Washington Blade.
"He's just not in a place where he feels he can support it," said McDonald to the Blade, adding that "As chair, [he said] I want to help you achieve your goals."
Earlier this year, DPVA chair Charniele Herring stepped down in order to run for a vacated U.S. House of Representatives seat.
While Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe and other Democrats supported Jones for the position, others, including the LGBT Caucus of the state Democratic Party, initially opposed Jones.
In an earlier interview with The Christian Post, Joel McDonald, vice chair for Technology & Communications with LGBT Democrats of Virginia, explained that they opposed Jones' nomination due to his "opposition to marriage equality."
"Our position always has been, and continues to be, that Governor McAuliffe pick a pro-marriage equality candidate to support as the next chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia," said McDonald.
McDonald also told CP that while his organization does "applaud Mayor Jones for progress Richmond has made during his tenure" they nevertheless believe "selective equality is still discrimination."
The LGBT Democrats of Virginia circulated a petition in opposition to Jones' nomination, which had the backing of many Democratic politicians in Northern Virginia, a stronghold for the party in the Commonwealth.
Gov. McAuliffe's spokesman Brian Coy came to the defense of Jones,stating that McAuliffe "fully supports his good friend Mayor Dwight Jones."
"Mayor Jones has spent his life fighting for civil rights and for equal treatment for all Virginians under the law," stated Coy.
Monday, March 31, 2014
March 29, 2014|10:40 am
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that the federal government will recognize the 300 same-sex marriages performed in Michigan following the recent ruling that struck down the state ban on gay marriage. The announcement comes shortly after state Gov. Rick Snyder said the same-sex nuptials would not be recognized at a state level.
Holder said in a statement posted on the Department of Justice website that he will be recognizing the marriages performed last weekend in the state, adding that these married same-sex couples will be eligible for federal benefits.
The move follows a similar decision made in January, when the Obama administration said it would recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6, before a stay was granted in a court ruling that struck down the state's gay marriage ban.
In his announcement, Holder referenced the June 2013 Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, thus awarding federal benefits to same-sex couples. "Last June's decision by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor was a victory for equal protection under the law and a historic step toward equality for all American families."
"The Department of Justice continues to work with its federal partners to implement this decision across the government. And we will remain steadfast in our commitment to realizing our country's founding ideals of equality, opportunity, and justice for all."
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman had ruled last weekend that Michigan's ban on gay marriage – which was approved by 59 percent of voters in 2004 – was unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted a temporary stay a day later. But in that short period of time, 300 marriage licenses were granted to same-sex couples.
Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, told reporters on Wednesday that the gay marriages performed would not be recognized by the state, saying that although they were "legal" when they were performed, the state must still respect the stay granted against Friedman's ruling.
"What we have here is a situation where legal marriages took place Saturday," Snyder said, "but because of the stay, the operation of law is such that we won't recognize the benefits of those marriages until there is a removal of the stay or there is an upholding of the judge's opinion by the Court of Appeals or a higher court."
Brian Brown, president for the National Organization for Marriage, has spoken out against Friedman's ruling ,calling it "an all-out assault on marriage, issuing rulings to redefine this foundational institution in violation of U.S. Supreme Court precedent and the rule of law."
Catholic bishops from seven dioceses in the state also issued a collective statement on the Michigan Catholic Conference website, calling Friedman's ruling "most regrettable."
Friedman's ruling "strikes at the very essence of family, community and human nature. In effect, this decision advances a misunderstanding of marriage, and mistakenly proposes that marriage is an emotional arrangement that can simply be redefined to accommodate the dictates of culture and the wants of adults," the conference argued.
Michigan will now go through the appeals process in the Sixth Circuit in an attempt to overturn Friedman's ruling and keep its ban on gay marriage. Several other states are going through similar appeals processes.