Trditional Marriage News

Thursday, January 23, 2014


RICHMOND, Va. — Following a seismic political shift in Virginia's top elected offices, the new attorney general has concluded that the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and he will no longer defend it in federal lawsuits, his office said Thursday.

Virginia, widely considered a battleground state in the nationwide fight to grant same-sex couples the right to wed, will instead side with the plaintiffs who are seeking to have the ban struck down, a spokesman for Attorney General Mark Herring said in an email to The Associated Press.

"After a thorough legal review of the matter, Attorney General Herring has concluded that Virginia's current ban is in violation of the U.S. constitution and he will not defend it," spokesman Michael Kelly wrote.

Herring, a Democrat who campaigned in part on marriage equality, was to file a brief Thursday with the federal court in Norfolk, where one of the lawsuits is being heard, as notification of the state's change in position in the case, Kelly said.

The state's shift comes on the heels of court rulings in which federal judges struck down gay marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

The lawsuits in Virginia say the state's ban violates the Constitution's equal protection and due process clauses.

The decision by Herring drew divided responses — celebration from attorneys challenging the ban and condemnation from conservative activists.

Tom Shuttleworth, representing the couples challenging the ban in Norfolk, praised Herring's position "on the basic human right of being able to marry the person of your choice."

"It's a nice day to be an American from Virginia," he wrote in an email.

Lambda Legal, which has challenged the state's gay marriage ban in federal court in Harrisonburg, called Herring's decision critical as he is "the keeper of the federal and state constitution in the commonwealth.""

But the conservative Family Foundation of Virginia called the development "disappointing and frightening."

The Republican speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates said Herring was setting a "dangerous precedent."

"The attorney general has a constitutional and statutory obligation to enforce and defend the duly adopted laws and Constitution of Virginia," William J. Howell said in a statement. "This is not an obligation that can be taken lightly."

Herring's announcement comes two weeks after Democrats who swept the top of the November ballot took office, changing the state's political landscape.

With the election of Democrats Terry McAuliffe as governor and Herring as attorney general, Virginia made a hairpin turn away from the socially conservative officeholders they succeeded, particularly Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, an activist on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. McAuliffe issued an executive order on inauguration day prohibiting discrimination against state employees who are gay.

Virginia voters approved the same-sex marriage ban 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006. But a Quinnipiac University poll in July found that 50 percent of registered Virginia voters support same-sex marriage, while 43 percent oppose it. The survey's margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

It is not the first time an attorney general has decided to stop defending their state's gay marriage ban. In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Kathleen Kane said last year that she would stop defending that state's gay marriage ban, also calling it unconstitutional. An outside law firm was hired to represent the state in a lawsuit over the ban.

Proponents of striking down the state's ban say the issue resonates in Virginia in particular because of a landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision involving a Virginia couple and interracial marriage.

Mildred and Richard Loving had been married in Washington, D.C., and were living in Virginia when police raided their home in 1958 and charged them with violating the state's Racial Integrity law. They were convicted but prevailed before the Supreme Court.

The legal costs in the Norfolk case are being paid for by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which was behind the effort to overturn California's gay marriage ban.

David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the high-profile legal tandem that brought down California's prohibition on same-sex marriage, lead the legal team in that challenge. Both cited Virginia's history when they announced their challenge.

"This case is about state laws that violate personal freedoms, are unnecessary government intrusions, and cause serious harm to loving gay and lesbian couples," Olson had said.

The Norfolk lawsuit's plaintiffs are two couples: Timothy Bostic and Tony London, and Carol Schall and Mary Townley. Bostic and London applied for a marriage license with the Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk's office in July 2013, but their application was denied.

Schall and Townley were legally married in California in 2008. They have a daughter, whom Townley gave birth to in 1998, but Schall can't adopt her because Virginia law doesn't allow same-sex couples to adopt children, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit argues that Virginia law stigmatizes gay men and lesbians, along with their children and families, because it denies them the same definition of marriage afforded to opposite-sex couples.

In that state General Assembly, Democratic legislators are still widely outnumbered in the House of Delegates, but they have been emboldened by the shift away from a reliably conservative state. They took immediate aim at the state's ban on gay marriage, but proposed constitutional amendments face a long road. The earliest voters could see a proposed amendment is in 2016.

There are currently 17 states that allow gay marriage.

Sunday, January 19, 2014
January 8, 2014|11:19 pm

A same-sex couple in California is claiming a local catering company refused to service their upcoming wedding ceremony due to their sexuality.

Kama Kaina and Mathew Rivera, a same-sex couple of four years, reportedly contacted Janet Zimmerman Catering back in November to request her services at their upcoming gay marriage ceremony in Big Bear, Calif. in June 2014. The couple received a response email from Zimmerman saying she could not provide catering for their wedding because her Christian beliefs prohibited her from supporting them celebrate their lifestyle.

"Thank you for contacting me in regards to your upcoming wedding," Zimmerman reportedly responded in an email to Kaina, according to The Advocate, an LGBT publication. "I really appreciate that you were honest with me and gave me a heads up that this would be a same sex marriage. I hope that you will also appreciate when I am honest with you when I say that catering your wedding would comprise [sic] my Christian beliefs and I will be unable to accept this job. I am sure that you will be able to find someone who will better suit your needs."

Kaina and Rivera have said that they are currently not planning to pursue legal action against Zimmerman, and they are now searching for a new catering service to help them on their wedding day. Zimmerman is likely not in violation of California's anti-discrimination laws because her catering profession may be regarded in court as a service, rather than a business. Online searches for Zimmerman's catering service yields one result on Facebook under the name Janet Zimmerman-Catering, but this page has since been removed.

Since gay marriage has been legalized in several states, business owners have been put into difficult situations when wanting to deny services to same-sex weddings, even if their decision is based on religious beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit group, is currently challenging a judge's previous ruling that Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, Colo., could not deny service to a same-sex couple based on his beliefs. Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel for the nonprofit group, said in an statement that the judge's ruling denies Phillips of his constitutional rights. "Forcing Americans to promote ideas against their will undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free."

In another recent case, Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, Oregon was the focus of public criticism after the bakery's owner, Melissa Klein, refused to bake a cake that would be used at a same-sex wedding. The bakery was ultimately forced to close its doors due to boycotting and a discrimination investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

When the bakery closed, Klein posted on her business's Facebook page a verse from Proverbs: "Better is a poor man who walks in integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways."

Friday, January 17, 2014
January 16, 2014|4:52 pm

Executives at several TV networks, including ABC and CBS, are said to be "upset" over A&E "caving in" to "Duck Dynasty" supporters and reinstating Phil Robertson to the show, after it had earlier suspended him for comments he made about homosexuality in GQ magazine.

"Several high-ranking executives have expressed upset over the way this all played out. The network execs think that in allowing Phil to come back so quickly and seamlessly, without apology, sets a bad standard," an unnamed insider shared with FOX411. "The standard being that talent can say whatever offensive thing they want about gay people or other groups and get away with it. No consequences."

Robertson labeled homosexuality a sin, telling GQ for its January edition, "Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

He added, "We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job. We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus – whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later, you see what I'm saying?"

Also using explicit language, he said: "It seems 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."

The "Duck Dynasty" patriarch was criticized for those remarks by several gay rights organizations, including GLAAD, which called on A&E to "indefinitely suspend" the reality TV star, with the network claiming that it has always supported and championed the LGBT community.

The suspension led to calls for a boycott and online campaigns from conservative Christians and "Duck Dynasty" fans, who insisted that Robertson had the right to express his views. A number of conservative politicians and commentators spoke out in defense of Robertson, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Alaska and Arkansas governors Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell D. Moore called the suspension "censorious cultural fundamentalism."

"… I hardly think silencing him can be called open-minded. In fact, it's the sort of censorious cultural fundamentalism that is neither 'progressive' nor 'pluralistic,'" Moore wrote on his website.

Following the outcry, A&E announced that it was reinstating Robertson to the show on Dec. 27. While members of the Robertson family, who stood by their patriarch in the controversy, said that they have smoothed things over with A&E, the FOX411 source claimed that other networks have been "shocked" that Robertson remained suspended for only a week.

"It's all about money. I guess many feel that A&E should have taken a stronger stand," the insider shared. "Where do moral standards go from here? Does this now mean stars can say whatever offensive things they want under the guise of freedom of speech, without repercussion?"

In its statement explaining the reinstatement, A&E maintained that the show "resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family, a family that America has come to love."

"While Phil's comments made in the [GQ] interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the 'coarse language' he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would 'never incite or encourage hate,'" the network said.

"Duck Dynasty" returned to air for its Season 5 premiere Wednesday night.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

By Published: January 14


A Senate panel voted Tuesday to delay until next year all proposed constitutional amendments, including one to repeal the state’s ban on gay marriage and another to change existing term limits on the governor.

The Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections voted unanimously to push off the constitutional measures for procedural reasons. In order to amend Virginia’s constitution, a measure must pass the General Assembly twice, with an election in between. Then, it must be approved by voters through referendum. Because there will be no General Assembly elections this year, the committee voted to wait.

“Next year is the appropriate year,” said Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), the committee chairman.

Obenshain said the committee was not singling out any particular proposed amendment. He noted that one that he had submitted, intended to make it easier to establish charter schools, was subjected to the same delay. Other proposals called for changing the constitution to establish a redistricting commission, repeal a ban on gay marriage and allow the governor to serve two back-to-back terms. The constitution currently allows a governor to serve more than one term, but only after a break.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014
January 13, 2014|8:21 am

 The Department of Justice announced Friday that it will recognize the same-sex marriages that were legalized in Utah since the Dec. 20 ruling that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The National Organization for Marriage has called the federal government's decision "outrageous," saying it signals the Obama administration has no regard "for the Constitution and the rule of law."

"It is outrageous that the Justice Department would move so brazenly and publicly to undermine Utah's standing constitutional provision regulating marriage as the union of one man and one woman," said Brian Brown, NOM's president.


Friday, January 10, 2014
January 10, 2014|2:07 pm

The Department of Justice announced Friday that it will recognize the same-sex marriages that were legalized in Utah since the Dec. 20 ruling that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The National Organization for Marriage has called the federal government's decision "outrageous," saying it signals the Obama administration has no regard "for the Constitution and the rule of law."

"It is outrageous that the Justice Department would move so brazenly and publicly to undermine Utah's standing constitutional provision regulating marriage as the union of one man and one woman," said Brian Brown, NOM's president.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a videotaped message released Friday that the same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal purposes. "These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds," Holder said.

"In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled – regardless of whether they in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages," he added. The Department of State's decision is in accordance with the June Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, thus awarding federal benefits to same-sex couples.

Holder clarified that the federal government will recognize the Utah marriages while the state continues with the appeals process in the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "In the meantime, I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages."

Utah was thrown into a frenzy of litigation on Dec. 20 when, in a surprise ruling, District Judge Robert J. Shelby determined that the state's 2004 ban against same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Immediately following his ruling, hundreds of same-sex couples in the state flocked to their local county clerk to receive marriage licenses. Meanwhile, the state frantically requested a hold on same-sex marriage while it appeals Shelby's ruling. Ultimately, on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Utah a hold on distributing same-sex marriage licenses while the state's appeals process makes its way through courts.

The fate of the 1,300 same-sex couples who did marry from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6 remained in limbo following Monday's Supreme Court order.

On Wednesday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert's office announced that the state would not recognize the same-sex marriages that had been legalized in the past few weeks.

"… state recognition of same-sex marital status is on hold until further notice," Derek Miller, the governor's chief of staff, wrote in a statement.

"Please understand this position is not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages – that is for the courts to decide," he continued. "The intent of this communication is to direct state agency compliance with current laws that prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages."

Gov. Herbert's announcement prompted the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, to request the federal government to recognize the state's same-sex marriages. "… there is simply no reason for the United States government not to extend federal recognition to these more than 1,300 couples," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a letter to Attorney General Holder.

The group wrote a separate letter addressed to the attorneys general of the 17 states where same-sex unions are legal to also recognize Utah's same-sex marriages.

Following Holder's announcement, the HRC released a statement thanking him for complying with their request. "Attorney General Eric Holder has once again shown the kind of leadership that earns you a spot in the history books. This is only the beginning of this fight, and this work continues until marriage equality returns to Utah for good, and full equality reaches every American in all 50 states."

The National Organization for Marriage, a group opposing same-sex marriage, opposed Holder's move in a statementFriday.

"It is the right of states to determine marriage, and the voters and legislature of Utah have done just that. Their right to do so is encoded in the U.S. Constitution, and was explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court this summer in the Windsor decision. But with this move, the Department of Justice under this Administration signals that it simply has no regard for the Constitution and the rule of law."

Utah's appeal against Shelby's ruling will now make its way through Denver's 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and oral arguments could be heard as early as March. A ruling could affect all states within the federal court's jurisdiction, including Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.


Friday, January 10, 2014
January 10, 2014|7:58 am

Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) introduced a bill Thursday that would keep a state's definition of marriage for the legal residents of that state for the purposes of federal law.

If passed, the bill would require federal agencies to look at how a person's marital status is defined in their home state when determining their marital status for federal law.

If, for instance, a same-sex couple lives in a state that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and that couple got married in a state that has redefined marriage to include same-sex couples, federal law would not recognize their marriage because their home state would not recognize their marriage.

"The 10th Amendment was established to protect state sovereignty and individual rights from being seized by the federal government," Weber said. "For too long, however, the federal government has slowly been eroding state's rights by promulgating rules and regulations through federal agencies.

"I drafted the 'State Marriage Defense Act of 2014' to help restore the 10th Amendment, affirm the authority of states to define and regulate marriage, as well as, provide clarity to federal agencies seeking to determine who qualifies as a spouse for the purpose of federal law. By requiring that the federal government defer to the laws of a person's state of legal residence in determining marital status, we can protect states' constitutionally established powers from the arbitrary overreach of unelected bureaucrats."

The legislation is needed, Weber believes, because of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. vs. Windsor. The Court struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that says marriage will be defined as one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law. The Court did not say, however, whether federal law would recognize a same-sex marriage if the couple got married in a state that allows them to get married but lives in a state that does not allow them to get married. Federal agencies, therefore, have been left to decide that question until Congress passes legislation to address it.

In August, the IRS issued a rule saying that it would recognize same-sex marriages in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.

Weber's bill has the support of Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage, the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops, Concerned Women for America, and Heritage Action.

"The State Marriage Defense Act is consistent with the ruling in Windsor," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, "which reiterated that states have the 'historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.' The current Obama administration policy is doing the very thing which the Court condemned - 'creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State.'

"The State Marriage Defense Act serves to protect state definitions of marriage against what the Court called efforts 'to put a thumb on the scales and influence a state's decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws.'"

Thursday, January 9, 2014
Becky Yeh - California correspondent   ( Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Thousands of signatures to repeal California's "transgender bathroom" law will be counted after state and county officials tried to refuse them. The law, which was set to go into effect January 1, has now been put on hold on account of the signatures.

A California judge has finalized an order that requires California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to accept thousands of signatures supporting an effort to repeal the state's transgender bathroom law. On the morning of January 2, Judge Allen Sumner of the Sacramento County Superior Court finalized his tentative ruling that requires Bowen to accept signatures from Tulare and Mono counties. Those signatures were delivered to county clerks' offices before the deadline, but weren't accepted until after the deadline.

The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed suit against Bowen and county officials for refusing to accept the petition signatures challenging AB 1266, which was set to kick in on January 1. Bowen's office had the option to argue the decision in court, but chose not to do so.

According to Brad Dacus, president of PJI, California voters should be encouraged by Sumner's ruling.

"[It] strongly supports the fundamental right to have referendum signatures counted when they are delivered to county clerks ahead of the referendum deadline," he says. "These rights are too important for the secretary of state, or a county clerk, to play politics when they don't like a particular referendum."

This referendum placed on hold AB 1266, the California law allowing "self-identified transgender" students to choose which sex-segregated activities and facilities (e.g., locker rooms, bathrooms) they will use. If enough signatures are verified, the referendum would go before voters in November.

The attorney also points out Bowen has agreed with PJI on what she considers "less controversial" referenda that a law cannot go into effect when more than enough signatures have been delivered – despite the fact proponents and some media outlets are reporting otherwise.

"We ... are committed to protecting every boy and girl attending school in California," says Dacus. "And that's why we're working very hard to make sure that every valid signature is counted in a petition to repeal AB 1266."

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014
January 8, 2014

Attorneys representing a Colorado cake shop and its Christian owner filed an appeal last week after a judge ruled last month that the company must sell wedding cakes to gay couples.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys filed the appeal Friday on behalf of Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner, Jack Phillips.

"Every artist must be free to create work that expresses what he or she believes and not be forced to express contrary views," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner in a statement. "Forcing Americans to promote ideas against their will undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free. If the government can take away our First Amendment freedoms, there is nothing it can't take away."

In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Phillips to make a cake for their wedding reception. The couple planned to marry in Massachusetts then hold their reception in Colorado, where same-sex marriages are not recognized.

Phillips, a Christian, told the couple he would make them other baked items but, because of his religious beliefs, could not make them a cake for their wedding celebration.

Craig and Mullins, who are being represented by the ACLU of Colorado, filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which determined that Masterpiece Cakeshop had illegally discriminated against them. According to the ACLU, the CCRD's findings then led the Colorado Attorney General's office to file a formal complaint against the company with the state courts.

"The undisputed facts show that respondents (Phillips) discriminated against complainants because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage," wrote Administrative Law Judge Robert N. Spencer in his decision in December.

Attorneys for Phillips argue that he did not deny the couple a wedding cake "because of" their sexual orientation, according to court documents. He did so because of his "unwavering Christian beliefs" about marriage and about how God would feel if he were to participate in or promote a same-sex wedding.

His attorneys also argue that Phillips's right to refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding celebration is protected by the Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment.

"America was founded on the fundamental freedom of all citizens to live and work without fear of government punishment," said lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an ADF allied attorney, in a statement. "Jack simply exercised the long-cherished freedom to not speak by declining to promote a false view of marriage through his creative work. It's outrageous that the government would turn its guns on Jack and threaten him with a potential jail sentence unless he says and does what the government demands."

A Rasmussen Reports survey conducted in July 2013 focused on another type of wedding vendor, photographers. The survey found that 85 percent of American adults believe a Christian photographer who is opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds should have the right to say no when asked to work a same-sex wedding ceremony, and only eight percent disagree.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Former President and Mrs. Bush celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary on Jan. 6, 2014, the longest marriage for a U.S. president in the nation's history. Here's a look at the couple through the years.

The longest-running presidential love story just celebrated another anniversary.

President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush marked their 69thwedding anniversary Monday, extending the couple’s record for the longest presidential marriage in the nation’s history.

They set the record in 2000 when they surpassed John and Abigail Adams’ 54-year union.

“They don’t think of it in terms of ‘we’re the longest,’” Jim McGrath, President George H.W. Bush’s spokesman, told on Monday. “They’re just so clearly still in love and devoted to one another. They’re two people, but they’re really one person.”

The romance began when the two met during a Christmas dance at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., back when the future president was 16 years old. The two were engaged a year and a half later, right before President Bush shipped out overseas to fight in World War II as a naval pilot.

A few years later, in Sept. 1944, Bush was shot down and nearly killed during a mission over the Pacific, which resulted in his being sent back home in time for Christmas. Soon after, Bush and the then Barbara Pierce were married in Rye, N.Y. on Jan. 6, 1945. They would have six children, including future President George W. Bush.

Years later, Barbara Bush would tell her children that she married the first man she ever kissed.

The two occupied the White House as the president and first lady from 1989 to 1993. Previously, Barabara Bush was the second lady of the United States during President Reagan’s eight-year term, when her husband served as vice president.

She was hospitalized last week with pneumonia and released on Saturday. McGrath said she’s “thrilled” to be home, and that the couple celebrated a quiet anniversary at their home in Houston. 

Meanwhile, President Bush, who has had some health problems, is doing “fantastic,” McGrath said, adding that the former president made it out to the annual family Christmas trip to Florida and was able to do some fishing.

As for the secret to the couple’s longtime bond, McGrath says the two treat each other with love and deference, as well as a healthy amount of teasing.

“It’s hard for one to think of life without the other,” McGrath says, “which is why 69 years is such a blessing.”