Monday, December 30, 2013
December 27, 2013|12:45 pm
Utah announced its plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a district judge's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state. The state announced its appeal plans Thursday as Utah's last four holdout counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, following the orders of Gov. Gary Herbert.
The office of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said that the state will consult with outside attorneys in the coming days and seek an emergency stay with the Supreme Court as soon as possible. "The Attorney General's Office is preparing an application to the United States Supreme Court requesting a stay of the district court's order," the attorney general's officesaid in a statement.
"Due to the necessity of coordination with outside counsel the filing of the appeal may be delayed for a few days. It is the intent of the Attorney General's Office to file with the Supreme Court as soon as possible."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will receive the emergency appeal request because she has jurisdiction over Utah and surrounding states. The magnitude of the state's appeal could cause her to request all of the Supreme Court Justices to offer their opinion on the case.
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional because it violated the right to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. Shelby wrote in his ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage violated couples' "fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason."
Sixty-six percent of Utah's residents voted in 2004 to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. Utah is considered to be a more conservative state on the issue of same-sex marriage, due in part to its large Mormon population and the religion's belief that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.
On Monday, the state requested a temporary stay in the district judge's ruling, arguing that they wanted to see the case play out in the appeals court before the state actually allowed same-sex couples to start marrying.
Judge Shelby refused to grant a temporary stay in his own ruling, and the state was also denied an emergency stay by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
The Utah attorney general's office has said it is appealing Judge Shelby's ruling because the "federal district court's ruling that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right has never been established in any previous case in the 10th Circuit [Court of Appeals]."
As Utah announced its plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, the last of the state's holdout counties began issuing same-sex marriage licenses after Gov. Gary Herbert ordered them to do so. Four counties, including Box Elder, Utah, Piute and San Juan had previously refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in spite of Shelby's ruling.
County clerks told the Associated Press that they had little choice in issuing same-sex marriage licenses after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant an emergency stay on Tuesday. The counties could reportedly be held in contempt of federal court if they continued to refuse to issue the licenses.
San Juan County Clerk Norman Johnson told AP that he was hesitant to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses because he feels it is not the will of the voters who put him in office over a decade ago, but ultimately the county clerks must abide by state orders. "We have no choice," Johnson said Thursday. "The scales have tipped. It's not the way I want to see things go. But the law's the law, and I accept it. It's time."
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert ordered all counties to comply with Shelby's orders, although he made it clear he disagreed with the judge's ruling. "I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah."
Friday, December 20, 2013
December 19, 2013|3:48 pm
Claiming that "same-gender couples are as capable of responsible procreation as are opposite-gender couples," the N.M. Supreme Court found on Thursday that gay marriage is legal under the New Mexico Constitution.
"We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law," Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote for the N.M. Supreme Court.
The other four justices on the court concurred with the opinion.
Denying state marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the N.M. Constitution's equal protection clause, which says that no person can "be denied equal protection of the laws," the court found.
The remedy, Chavez wrote is that "'civil marriage' shall be construed to mean the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples."
The court was unconvinced by the defense arguments that the previous definition of marriage should be upheld because opposite-sex married couples best provide child rearing needs. According to the opinion, the defense argued that maintaining the definition of marriage is in the interest of the state because it promotes "responsible procreation" and "responsible child-rearing."
Chavez wrote that "it is not clear what the opponents of same-gender marriage mean by 'responsible procreation,' ... ." In the next sentence, though, he uses the term "responsible procreation" without defining what it means for the court: "Same-gender couples are as capable of responsible procreation as are opposite-gender couples. We conclude that there is not a substantial relationship between New Mexico marriage laws and the purported governmental interest in responsible procreation."
Chavez also claims that "no one denies that LGBT individuals are fully capable of entering into the kind of loving and committed relationships that serve as the foundation for families, or that they are capable of responsibly caring for and raising children."
Chavez does not address, though, scientific evidence that children do best when they are raised by both a mother and a father (see here, here and here).
Thursday, December 19, 2013
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former Presidential Candidate Gary Bauer noted that critics of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson "want free speech for themselves, and silence for everyone else."
In the midst of the controversy over an interview Robertson gave in which he supported traditional marriage, Bauer, the president of American Values, made the following statement:
"The attempt by gay rights groups and A&E to censor Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson is outrageous. This is another example of the well-funded organized effort in America to silence anyone who dares to express the Judeo/Christian worldview on human sexuality. Phil Robertson's critics are intolerant, pure and simple. They want to decide what can be said in the public square and what can be taught in places of worship. A&E should be ashamed of themselves for bowing to these intolerant extremists."
Thursday, December 19, 2013
December 19, 2013|9:34 am
A pro-traditional marriage group has started a petition demanding that A&E reinstate Phil Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty' after his remarks on homosexuality.
The National Organization for Marriage announced on Thursday morning the creation of a petition demanding that A&E reverse its suspension of Robertson.
"The gay lobby bullies are at it again. This time they've attacked one of the most popular Christians in America – Phil Robertson, patriarch of Duck Dynasty's Robertson family," reads the announcement for the petition.
"The grossly misnamed Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and their Hollywood ally GLAAD have demanded that Phil be punished and, incredibly, last night A&E succumbed to the gay bullies and suspended Phil Robertson!"
In a recent interview with GQ, Robertson garnered controversy when he referred to homosexuality as a sin.
"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical," said Robertson.
The remarks caused an uproar among groups like GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, who demanded that A&E pursue punitive action against the "Duck Dynasty" star.
Wednesday evening, A&E agreed to do so, suspending Robertson from the hit reality TV program for his remarks.
"What's clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz in a statement.
"By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."
Outrage from fans was almost instantaneous, as a Facebook group dubbed "Stand With Phil Robertson" was launched, and within a day has already garnered more than 307,000 likes.
In their petition, NOM has asked supporters to either email or mail a statement calling for the cable channel to reinstate Robertson and to offer an official apology.
"A&E's executives may not believe in the Bible, and that is your right. But you have no right to silence the millions of Christians, like Phil Robertson, who uphold the word of God," reads the petition in part.
"Nothing that Phil Robertson said is hateful. In fact, he has specifically said that he loves all people and would never treat anyone with disrespect simply because they are different from him. He has simply stated his opinion about sin as taught by the Bible."
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
SALT LAKE CITY – A federal judge appointed by George W. Bush has struck down key parts of Utah’s polygamy ban as unconstitutional, while leaving intact the state prohibition against bigamy.
As previously reported, Kody Brown of the TLC reality show Sister Wives, along with his four “wives,” Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn, filed suit in 2011 to challenge parts of the law that they claimed violated their privacy rights.
The five had been under investigation by state officials for violating the statute, and moved to Nevada to escape punishment. Brown is married to Meri, and considers his relationship with the other three women as being “spiritual unions.”
While all states prohibit bigamy–entering into multiple marriages–Utah also bans residents from living together in a polygamous relationship. Brown, a member of the Apostolic United Brethren Church, a fundamentalist Mormon sect, contended that such a prohibition violates his freedom of religion.
Washington, D.C.-based attorney Jonathan Turley represented Brown in court, who has fathered 17 children with the four women.
“Homosexuals and polygamists do have a common interest: the right to be left alone as consenting adults,” he told reporters. “There is no spectrum of private consensual relations—there is just a right of privacy that protects all people so long as they do not harm others.”
On Friday, Judge Clark Waddoups, nominated by then-president George W. Bush sided with Brown in determining that Utah’s prohibition on polygamist cohabitation violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and interfered with the right to privacy. He pointed to the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which decriminalized sodomy in the nation, and differentiated unmarried sexual conduct from criminal bigamy.
“Consensual sexual privacy is the touchstone of the rational basis review analysis in this case, as in Lawrence,” he wrote. “The court believes that Plaintiffs are correct in their argument that, in prohibiting cohabitation under the statute, ‘it is, of course, the state that has equated private sexual conduct with marriage.’”
Therefore, because Brown does not claim to be married to all of the women–nor does the state ban cohabitation in other relationships—Waddoups threw out the cohabitation section of the statute, while upholding the prohibition on bigamy.
“The court finds the cohabitation prong of the statute unconstitutional on numerous grounds and strikes it,” he concluded. “As a result, and to save the statute, the court adopts the interpretation of ’marry’ and ‘purports to marry,’ … thus allowing the statute to remain in force as prohibiting bigamy in the literal sense…”
Brown applauded the judge’s ruling on Friday, releasing a statement that called for tolerance of his polygamous lifestyle.
“While we know that many people do not approve of plural families, it is our family and based on our beliefs,” he wrote. “Just as we respect the personal and religious choices of other families, we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs.”
But some have expressed concern over the continued demoralization of the American family in the courts.
“This is what happens when marriage becomes about the emotional and sexual wants of adults, divorced from the needs of children for a mother and a father committed to each other for life,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told reporters following the decision. “Polygamy was outlawed in this country because it was demonstrated, again and again, to hurt women and children. Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing.”
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
TRENTON — Key Senate Democrats are moving forward with a plan to turn a court decision legalizing gay marriage into state law, saying they want to protect same-sex couples from having this right removed by a future court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday is scheduled to hear a new bill called the Marriage Equality Act, (S3109) which is a slightly modified version of a bill (S1) to legalize gay marriage that Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed in 2012.
The measure was posted for a committee vote late today. Sponsors said while they believe this is the best option, the debate isn’t over.
"This is the step we’re taking right now. This is a very fluid situation," said state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). "It could change."
Gay marriage has been permitted in New Jersey since October, thanks to a Superior Court decision to legalize it. Hours after the weddings began despite efforts to stay the ruling, Christie dropped his appeal. Some advocates have argued for the need to write it into state law, stating that a higher court could overturn the decision if things change.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), a bill sponsor, said a key factor in Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage was that gay couples in civil unions would be denied federal benefits because they were not married. If the federal government gave them benefits, Lesniak said, the rationale for the decision could be undercut, which is why it needs to be written into law.
"No future court can change that decision," Lesniak said.
But other advocates argue that any legislation would curtail rights gay couples have under the judge’s decision by recognizing some religious exemptions.
Troy Stevenson, the executive director of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said nothing is settled.
Stevenson had spoken in favor of not writing gay marriage into law because the original bill contained restrictions the court decision did not include. Under the original bill, a group affiliated with a religion — such as the Knights of Columbus — would have been allowed to refuse to rent a hall to a gay couple who wanted to be married or have a reception. Under the court decision, that question is not addressed.
"We can’t stand by anything that will have any stronger exemptions or caveat our rights than what we’ve got right now," Stevenson said.
Lesniak said the new bill continues to have an exemption for religious organizations. But he said only church-affiliated groups that use an event space exclusively for their members would be able to turn away gay couples who wish to get married there. Clergy would not be required to perform gay marriages, but proponents say that exemption would be covered under the First Amendment anyway.
"It does not go as far as the bill that the governor vetoed," Lesniak said.
"If you open up your facilities, you can’t discriminate."
The committee agenda says the panel will not hear testimony on the bill because it is similar to the original bill debated extensively last year. To get the bill to Christie, the full Senate and Assembly would have to pass it.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) did not respond to requests for comment.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said, "We will treat it as we do with all bills in the normal course."
Monday, December 9, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homosexual and transgender young people are more likely to be abused by people they are dating than their heterosexual counterparts, according to a September report from the Urban Institute.
According to the polls, transgender teenagers face the worst abuse rates of all.
Approximately six percent of respondents identified as homosexual, bisexual, questioning, or other ways aside from heterosexual or transgender.
A homosexual publication reported that the groundbreaking report, which was funded by a grant from the Justice Department, found:
43 percent reported being victims of physical dating violence, compared to 29 percent of heterosexual youth;
59 percent reported emotional abuse, compared to 46 percent of heterosexual youth;
37 percent reported digital abuse and harassment, compared to 26 percent of heterosexual youth;and
23 percent reported sexual coercion, compared to 12 percent of heterosexual youth.
Only 18 transgendered students were surveyed, but they reported the highest rates of abuse.
Fully 89 percent reported physical dating violence;
61 percent said they were sexually coerced;
59 percent had been emotionally victimized; and
56 percent reported digital abuse and harassment.
“These statistics are really troubling,” a Program Director (PD) for a New England-based at-risk youth diversion program, who asked to remain anonymous, told LifeSiteNews.com.
The PD told LifeSiteNews that non-heterosexual youths “often have limited role models on which to base their behavior. They learn maladaptive interpersonal skills and are often desperate for connection. These kids stay longer, and engage in, toxic relationships far longer than they should.”
The PD said recommended parents engage in “open communication” with their children, telling them what to expect in a healthy relationship and when to leave.
The report noted that there may be a correlation between problems LGBTQ youths face in relationships and issues in other areas of their lives. For example, LGBTQ youths often have problems at home and in other areas of life, including feeling unsafe at school and substance abuse.
LifeSiteNews.com contacted the report's lead author for further details on these areas, but they did not respond by press time.
The report anonymously surveyed 5,647 youths from 10 schools – five in New York State, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Two junior high schools in New York were surveyed; the rest were high schools. 3,745 youths reported being in a relationship. The schools varied in locations from cities to in rural and suburban areas.
Friday, December 6, 2013
BY KIRSTEN ANDERSEN
RICHMOND, VA, December 5, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homosexual couples who “marry” outside of Virginia will still be treated as singles by state tax officials, state officials say. The decision was made after state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office pointed out that the ruling did not apply to individual states.
As a result, homosexual couples living in Virginia who choose to ‘marry’ out-of-state will face inconvenience and a higher bill come tax time.
The Virginia Department of Taxation issued a bulletin last month explaining the differences between federal and state tax laws and providing “married” homosexual couples with instructions on how to file their state taxes.
The bulletin explains that while the state had historically defaulted to the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) definition of marriage for tax calculation purposes, it can no longer do so because Virginia’s constitution was amended in 2007 to specifically block the state government from offering any of the “rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage” to any partnership that does not consist of one man and one woman.
As a result, while “married” same-sex couples may file as married with the federal IRS, they will not be able to do so in Virginia. That means that in order to fill out state tax forms, which ask for federal adjusted gross income, such couples may have to prepare at least three separate federal returns: the “married” form – filed either separately or jointly - to be sent to the IRS, and two dummy returns calculated as single people, from which to draw the correct numbers for the state forms.
The law also prevents both members of a same-sex couple from claiming the same child as a dependent, deducting childcare expenses, or deducting alimony or child support payments made to a former same-sex ‘spouse.’
Additionally, any pretax benefits received as a result of the same-sex “marriage,” such as employer contributions to a partner’s health plan, may also be taxed as income, and businesses that provide benefits to same-sex “spouses” will not be able to claim deductions on those benefits.
The Virginia chapter of the ACLU slammed Virginia’s tax policies in a statement, accusing state officials of “ongoing hostility toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians, including legally married same-sex couples.”
And the business sector has complained about the human resources “nightmare” presented by having federal and state withholdings and benefits deductions calculated in disparate ways.
But state officials say their hands are tied.
“It’s not a tax issue. It’s a constitutional matter,” Taxation Department spokesman Joel Davison toldThe Washington Post. “An administrator can’t go against his or her state constitution.”
Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, praised state officials for upholding the law, unlike the state of Missouri, where Democratic Governor Jay Nixon recently issued an executive order forcing tax officials to recognize same-sex “marriages” for the sake of simplicity, even though the state constitution bans such unions.
“We appreciate the department and administration putting the rule of law ahead of simplicity,” Cobb said in a written statement.
But gay activists say they plan to ask Virginia’s incoming Democratic Governor-elect, Terry McAuliffe to follow Nixon’s lead and sign an executive order forcing the state to treat same-sex ‘marriages’ as valid for tax purposes.
McAuliffe has said he supports a repeal of the state’s marriage protection amendment and has promised to issue executive orders banning “discrimination” based on sexual orientation and “gender identity” on his first day in office.
But even if McAuliffe wanted to change the tax laws, it’s far from certain that he could actually do it, as Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage” is much more strongly worded than Missouri’s.
“I think we’ll certainly have conversations with Governor McAuliffe’s office to change this for gay couples,” Brian Moulton of the homosexual Human Rights Campaign told the Post. “But it is very difficult to get around these constitutional amendments.”
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
By Brooke Adams | The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Dec 04 2013 01:01 am • Last Updated Dec 04 2013 01:01 am
A federal judge will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage brought by three couples who contend the prohibition is unconstitutional.
Each side has asked U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby for summary judgment — that is, to find their arguments so compelling there is no need for what would likely be a protracted legal fight over Utah’s Amendment 3, the ban approved by voters in 2004.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: Derek L. Kitchen and Moudi D. Sbeity; Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge; and Karen Archer and Kate Call. They filed the lawsuit in March, just as the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two different cases involving the constitutionality of laws on same-sex marriage and associated rights.
In a pair of rulings issued three months later, the Supreme Court dismissed on procedural grounds a challenge of a lower court decision overturning a ban on same-sex marriage in California and struck down a key element of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples, even in states like New Yorkwhere such marriages are legal.
In the Utah lawsuit, both sides use the ruling in the second case — United States v. Windsor — to argue that Shelby should find in their favor.
Attorneys for Utah say Windsor makes clear that states, not the federal government, have sovereign authority to define and regulate marriage. The Windsor ruling is "replete with deferential references" to the state of New York’s power and authority to regulate marriage, state attorneys argue, and criticizes the federal government’s effort to interfere with such decisions.
Windsor "overturned an act of Congress considered an ‘unusual’ federal intrusion" into state authority. Given that, Utah’s own power, decision-making and "exercise of its sovereign authority within our federal system to not include same-sex marriage is entitled to the same respect and deference," the state argues.
Attorneys for the three couples say that under the "binding analysis" of Windsor, their arguments prevail because "Utah’s Marriage Discrimination Laws ... single out same-sex couples to impose a disability on them, and to treat them unequally." Under Windsor, such laws are "irrational, and no legitimate purpose overcomes their purpose and effect to disparage and injure."
"In arguing that regulation of marriage is the exclusive province of the state, the state defendants rely on antiquated opinions and case law, and ignore the patent statements in Windsor to the contrary," the couples argue. Moreover, the state defendants "gloss over" statements in the decision that highlight the need to "respect the constitutional rights of persons" in marriage laws and misinterpret the basis for striking down DOMA, which was equal protection and due process — not federalism.
"Where a state’s regulation of marriage does not respect those rights, or infringes upon those guarantees — such as the case here — then the state’s power is limited by the Constitution," the plaintiffs argue.
The plaintiffs and the state disagree about the standard of scrutiny that should be the basis of weighing the constitutionality of Utah’s law, as well as what research has to say about same-sex relationships — particularly regarding children raised by such couples.
The ACLU of Utah, in an amicus brief filed in support of the plaintiffs, urges Shelby to use heightened scrutiny in his review of Utah’s law, which would mean homosexual couples would be considered a quasi-suspect class that has historically experienced discrimination, has distinguishing and immutable characteristics and is politically powerless.
The state counters that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has found sexual orientation is not a protected class deserving of the higher standard of scrutiny, instead requiring a review based on whether there is a rational governmental interest underlying Utah law.
"Viewed properly, none of the factors adequately supports — and the important political power factor weighs heavily against — making sexual orientation the first new protected class in almost 40 years," the state says in a court filing.
Gay and lesbian interest groups have made remarkable advances in legal and political arenas, with 16 states and the District of Columbia now recognizing same-sex marriage, the state notes. A majority of Americans also support such marriages, it adds.
"It would be hard to identify many groups on the national scene that are more politically powerful than gays and lesbians," the state says.
Homosexuality also is "directly relevant to marriage’s historical focus on childbearing and mother-father child-rearing and to the problem of unplanned and unintended children," the state argues. "Male-female marriage supports the state’s strong interest in having a child raised by the father and mother who brought him into the world; same-sex marriage does not."
The state also says that if the term "marriage" is extended to relationships other than those involving a man and a woman it will lose "some of its intelligibility" and thus "some of its power to attract broad social allegiance and support and to guide potentially procreative heterosexual couples into stable marriages."
But the plaintiffs argue that the state "cannot use their political power to discriminate against a politically unpopular minority that does not share the majority’s religious and/or moral view in terms of the fundamental right, and equal access, to marriage."
The state position, particularly on what constitutes an ideal marriage and its importance in child-rearing, received support from four university professors, who filed an amicus brief in its behalf. They are Lynn D. Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University; William C. Duncan. who is an adjunct law professor at BYU and director of the Marriage Law Foundation; Bryce J. Christensen, an associate professor of English at Southern Utah University who has authored several books on marriage as an institution; and Joseph P. Price, an associate professor of economics at BYU who has written about marriage and family.
On Monday, Shelby denied a motion by The National Center for Lesbian Rights to file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs, saying it had come too late to give the parties in the lawsuit time to respond.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
LONDON, November 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Peter and Hazelmary Bull, the Christian hoteliersfined for refusing a single room to two homosexual men in September 2008, have lost their appeal to the UK’s Supreme Court, with the court ruling that their company policy was “discriminatory.”
Despite the fact that the couple proved that their policy applied equally to any unmarried couples, and not just homosexuals, all five judges ruled the Bulls’ policy to be a case of illegal discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and dismissed their appeal. Two of the judges said the discrimination was “indirect,” but unjustified.
The elderly couple said they were “deeply disappointed and saddened” at the decision that has “reinforced the notion that gay rights must trump everything else.”
They have said that they have been the victims of an ongoing hate campaign, including threats and abusive phone calls and emails, vandalism of their home and car. The Christian Institute reports that wheel nuts were removed from the couple’s car “and recently a dead rabbit was nailed to their fence”. The website of the business was recently hacked and replaced with pornography.
Mrs. Bull told the Christian Institute in September that they had no choice but to sell their business, having gone hungry and without heating last winter in their struggle to make mortgage payments.
“We’re just ordinary Christians who believe in the importance of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Mrs. Bull said in a statement after the verdict.
“Britain ought to be a country of freedom and tolerance, but it seems religious beliefs must play second fiddle to the new orthodoxy of political correctness,” she added. “Somehow, we have got to find a way of allowing different beliefs to coexist in our society.”
The Supreme Court deputy president, Lady Hale, said the Bulls are free to “manifest their religion” but by refusing to allow homosexual men to share a double bed in their establishment, they were breaking the law.
In what has been called the first national test case of the Equality Act’s Sexual Orientation Regulations (SOR) for Christians who hold traditional sexual moral beliefs, the Bulls have lost in every court, starting with the Bristol Crown Court in January 2011.
Moreover, Judge Andrew Rutherford declared in the Bristol Crown Court ruling that in law there is no discernable difference between civil partnership and marriage, a ruling which later helped to pass the Conservative government’s “gay marriage” act.
The legal action has had a huge impact on the Bulls’ lives. In addition to being fined £3,600 for the “hurt and embarrassment” felt by the complainants, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, the Bulls were ordered to pay the latter’s legal expenses.
The Bulls have failed in their efforts to find a way to continue their business enterprise while living their beliefs. The Government’s tourism board for England struck the Bulls’ B&B off their approved list of guesthouses and homosexualist groups and publications have enacted a boycott.
They tried to turn their guesthouse into a non-profit, Christian-only retreat centre, but have recently announced that their legal fight has been so costly they have no choice but to sell their home. They have operated their business for 25 years and have always made their policy known to guests.
Hazelmary Bull has described their situation as exemplifying the ongoing marginalization of Christianity in Britain. With these kinds of rulings, she said, it is clear that “some people are more equal than others.”
Mrs. Bull told the Christian Institute in September, that they came to the decision to sell as “a gradual process”. “We just noticed more and more that we couldn’t make the mortgage repayments” she said.
“Last winter was terrible. We were actually shivering and were hungry. We are coming towards next winter and dreading it. In 2013, two people who worked all their lives at this have ended up cold and hungry. It’s not right.”
She described the loss of their home and business as being like a “death in the family”. “I never thought it would end like this. We are not facing the future with any real enthusiasm.”