Wednesday, November 13, 2013
BALTIMORE, November 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The archbishop who leads the U.S. bishops' fight against same-sex “marriage” says the U.S. Supreme Court’s June rulings on marriage has renewed the bishops' determination to defend true marriage.
In an address at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) annual General Assembly on November 11th, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco lampooned the Supreme Court’s twin decisions of June 26th that ruled unconstitutional the definition of true marriage in the Defense of Marriage Act, and found the Prop. 8 backers had no standing to defend the California law.
According to Cordileone, who chairs the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, the rulings were "the most significant judicial decisions on marriage this country has ever experienced.”Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks to the U.S. Bishops in Baltimore on Nov. 11, 2013.
“By advancing redefinition, the decisions harmed marriage and harmed our society,” he said, noting they produced negative effects "almost immediately."
"At the same time these decisions have renewed our determination to witness to the truth that marriage can only be the union of a man and a woman,” he continued. “We know that our teachings on marriage and family reflect the life-affirming message of the Gospel, and we know that strengthening a marriage culture serves the common good of our country."
"We are no doubt at a critical point in this country when it comes to the promotion and defense of marriage in the law,” he said.
The language of the DOMA decision was “particularly disheartening” and sets “troubling precedent for increasing efforts to redefine marriage,” he said. The decision “is now being used to challenge marriage laws in more than a dozen states that still recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
On the Prop. 8 ruling, he lamented that the measure’s backers were left to defend it because the state refused. "Increasingly we are witnessing public officials placing their opinions over the laws they are charged to defend,” he said. “In the area of marriage this has happened in a striking way with DOMA, Proposition 8, and in other jurisdictions with respect to marriage laws."
In the question and answer period after his address, Bishop Felipe Estevez asked Cordileone how to address the fact that while young people are trending pro-life they are also turning against belief in true marriage.
In response, Cordileone suggested we may eventually experience a similar change on the marriage issue as we have on the pro-life front.
“At the time of the Roe decision, everyone thought the whole country was going to go toward a pro-abortion way of thinking and that all the young people were on board with that. But over time when we saw the devastation that has been done, the young people have turned around,” he said.
“We're in a similar moment with regard to marriage, and I think in time people will see the decimation of family life that's been going on for a long time,” he continued. “We can challenge them to think things through thoroughly as the generation before them did on the pro-life effort.”
National Catholic Reporter accuses Cordileone of ignoring Pope Francis' message
At the National Catholic Reporter, a leftist newspaper that uses the name “Catholic” in defiance of its local bishop, Michael Sean Winters accused Cordileone of not falling into line with Pope Francis’ “pastoral vision.”
“+Cordileone is still at the barricades in the culture wars,” wrote Winters, who attended the plenary on behalf of NCR. “This summer the pope, when asked about a gay monsignor, said, ‘who am I to judge?’ This was widely reported. Apparently, albeit unreported, the Holy Father intended to leave judgment to +Cordileone.”
At a press conference Monday after Cordileone’s address, Winters accused the bishops of favouring the Republican Party in its "Call to Prayer" campaign, which focuses on promoting a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty through various spiritual initiatives.
"A cynic would notice that those are three issues that in the public discussion line up conveniently with the Republican Party platform, and wonder about the absence of, say, immigration reform,” said Winters. “Wednesday's the nine month anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. Was there any consideration to adding poverty to the list, and if not, is its absence not somewhat concerning?"
In response, Cordileone denied any partisan motivations and insisted that they are focusing on life, marriage, and religious liberty because these are “foundational” issues.
"First I would say, if they line up with the Republican platform, it's inconveniently, not conveniently,” he said.
“Our Catholic vision of life would certainly include issues of immigration, issues of poverty, issues of religious persecution,” he continued. “We're not approaching this from a political perspective because if you take the full range of issues that are being debated on the political table, we're across the spectrum on those issues. We see these issues as foundational, understanding life not in a narrow perspective, but including a lot of issues, affirming human dignity from conception to natural death and every condition that people find themselves in.”
Friday, November 8, 2013
BY BEN JOHNSON
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 7, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This afternoon the Senate approved a bill that could force business owners who adhere to traditional values to hire homosexuals, bisexuals, and those who do not dress in accordance with their biological sex or face litigation.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed following a bipartisan 64-32 vote.
John McCain voted yea
Supporters say it would forbid “workplace discrimination” against homosexuals and transgender employees and job-seekers. But critics say, like the HHS mandate, its religious exemption is unduly narrow and would force employers – including Christian schools and nurseries – to violate their consciences.
Its protections for “transgender” workers would allow a biological male who self-identifies as a female to use the company's women's restroom or locker room. It would also allow employees to sue if they believed they had faced “discrimination” on the job, experienced a hostile work environment, or had not received a job because of their sexual preference or cross-dressing habits.
All Senate Democrats voted for its approval except Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, who did not vote.
Ten of the chamber's 45 Republicans also voted yes, including John McCain, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, and Lisa Murkowski.
Only one senator spoke against ENDA on the Senate floor, Dan Coats of Indiana.
President Obama hailed the bill's speedy passage. “Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago,” he said, adding that the bill is backed by a number of “corporations” and “faith communities.”
While the bill exempts churches and houses of worship and some affiliated institutions, it does not include many overtly religious nonprofits or business owners. The New York Times called these protections “unduly broad.” But the Becket Fund called the bill's religious exemption “manifestly inadequate."
This morning the Senate adopted, by voice vote, an amendment offered by Republicans Rob Portman and Kelly Ayotte that religious institutions protected by the act would not lose federal funding or other government partnerships if they opposed homosexuality. The Family Research Council'sDavid Christensen, said the amendment did nothing to change the fact that ENDA “removes the ability of non-profits, para-church ministries, and individual business owners to make their own decisions about appropriate conduct in the workplace.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid candidly told the homosexual newspaper The Washington Bladethat he believed the amendment was merely “an effort by them to have a reason for joining the bill.”
Senators rejected an amendment from Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey to apply the bill to businesses “in whole or in substantial part owned, controlled, or managed by a particular religion or by a particular religious corporation, association, or society.” Toomey also supported the final bill.
The bill's broad reach threatens faithful business owners, its critics say. The Catholic bishops conference (USCCB) warned ENDA could “punish” those who hold traditional religious views, including Catholics and evangelicals.
“ENDA would lead to a form of reverse discrimination,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said this afternoon. “Anyone who expresses or promotes a view of family or morality that can be interpreted to be a disapproval of homosexual or transgender conduct will be subject to retaliation and discrimination.”
The group referred lawmakers to numerous lawsuits and complaints of alleged “homophobia,” some costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The potential to harm business owners convinced House Speaker John Boehner to come out against the bill, saying it will not enjoy a vote in the lower chamber. President Obama has hinted he may sign an executive order including the bill's provisions if it is not adopted into law.
In this afternoon's vote our senators, including one Democrat, did not vote today.
Republicans who voted yes include Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
You may view vote results here.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
BY JOHN JALSEVAC
SPRINGFIELD, IL, November 5, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Illinois is poised to become the 15th American state to legalize same-sex “marriage” after the House of Representatives voted 61-54 this afternoon in favor of S.B. 10.
The gay “marriage” bill will now go to the desk of Governor Pat Quinn, who has promised to sign it into law, making marriage redefinition all but a done deal in the Prairie State.
Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill into law, making marriage redefinition all but a done deal in the Prairie State.
"Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history," Quinn said in a statement after the vote. "Illinois is a place that embraces all people and today, we are an example for the nation."
President Obama also issued a statement praising the vote. “Tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours,” he said.
The successful attempt to pass the legislation comes after the bill failed to come up for a vote last legislative session, with inside sources saying at the time that supporters of marriage redefinition lacked the necessary votes.
Debate over the bill today raged for over three hours.
Democrat Rep. Mary Flowers lambasted arguments equating the fight for gay “marriage” with the civil rights movement.
“When I was discriminated against, it is not because of who I love, but because of the color of my skin…Homosexuality has nothing to do with race,” she said. “Even if the legal definition of marriage was changed, those two people will never be married in God’s eyes.”
"This issue is not just about two adults and their emotional relational and financial commitment to another," said Republican Rep. Tom Morrison. "Redefining marriage has far reaching implications in our society."
Former House minority leader Rep. Tom Cross (R-Plainfield) joined two other Republicans, Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) and Rep. Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelein) in breaking with the party platform and supporting the bill.
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage said in a statement that "the losers will be the people of Illinois who will see that redefining marriage will unleash a torrent of harassment toward those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman."
He also warned that the bill lacks adequate religious protections.
“Once the law goes into effect in June of next year, we will see individuals, businesses and religious groups sued, fined, brought up on charges of discrimination and punished simply for holding true to the traditional view of marriage,” he said.
Earlier this year Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society in Chicago had warned that SB10 “would make Illinois the most hostile state in the country to the religious freedoms of people of faith."
The Catholic Conference of Illinois also issued a statement saying it is “deeply disappointed” that representatives “chose to redefine what is outside of its authority: a natural institution like marriage.”
The vote “not only goes against the common consensus of the human race – which understands that nature tells us that marriage is the union of one man and one woman – but it also undermines an institution that is the cornerstone of a healthy society,” said the conference.
The statement also expressed concerns “about the very real threats to religious liberty that are at stake with the passage of this bill.”
The vote came less than two weeks after an estimated 4,000 people descended upon Springfield supporting the definition of marriage as being between one man and woman on October 23rd.
In the lead-up to today’s vote, a group of black pastors had vowed to up their efforts to ensure that politicians who voted for the bill would be unseated.
“I think that they will feel the crunch,” said Bishop Larry Trotter, of Sweet Holy Spirit Church in Chicago. “I think that they cannot take for granted that they can come to the church; and get the church’s sanction, and votes, and signatures; and then go to Springfield, and don’t speak what the people want them to speak. And so now, if that’s how we have to be heard, we will be heard.”
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
BY BEN JOHNSON
Tue Nov 05, 2013 13:14 EST
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A bill to forbid “discrimination” against homosexuals and transgender employees could “punish” those who hold to traditional views about sexuality and biology, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) warns.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would penalize employers accused of discriminating against gay, bisexual, or transgender employees. But the Catholic bishops and other Christian critics of the bill say its enforcement could go well beyond opening doors to hard-working and aggrieved workers.
“ENDA could be used to punish as discrimination what many religions – including the Catholic religion – teach, particularly moral teaching about same-sex sexual conduct,” the bishops wrote in a letter sent to all U.S. senators on October 31. The letter was signed by three bishops: Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco; Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore; and Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California.
The bishops expressed concern that ENDA makes no distinction between same-sex attraction and homosexual acts, which they said could lead to faithful business owners, and perhaps religious institutions, being sued, fined, or harassed by the federal government. While the Catholic Church urges Catholics to treat homosexuals with compassion, it also holds all sex outside marriage to be sinful.
The bill's religious exemption is too narrow, the bishops say, adding that “recent experience also shows that even exempted employers may face government retaliation for relying on such exemptions.”
A provision related to “gender identity” could force female employees to share a restroom, locker room, or shower facility with a biological male who says he “identifies” as a female.
Speaking delicately, the bishops write that this clause “fails to account for the privacy interests of others, particularly in workplace contexts where they may reasonably expect only members of the same sex to be present.”
This law, they say, differs from laws based on immutable characteristics like one's skin color.
ENDA legislation would give homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender people greater civil rights than those discriminated against based on religion or national origin, the letter says, because the bill lacks a “bona fide occupational qualifications,” an exemption allowing an employer to refuse to hire a person of a certain background when job requirements demand it.
Aside from these defects, the bishops say the bill presents a warped view of human identity, sexuality, and will be used as further justification for judicial activists to redefine marriage.
“ENDA’s definition of 'gender identity' lends force of law to a tendency to view 'gender' as nothing more than a social construct or psychosocial reality, which a person may choose at variance from his or her biological sex,” they write – something that strikes at the heart of the Christian worldview of man.
A law dedicated to homosexual interests would mainstream sex outside marriage, the USCCB wrote. “Sexual acts outside of marriage serve neither these goods nor the good of the person and society as a whole,” they wrote.
ENDA, which has been consistently defeated since it was first introduced in 1994, passed a Senate vote yesterday to restrict debate and clear the way for its passage.
Senate contact information.
Friday, November 1, 2013
The pro-family movement and its allies are demanding full prosecution, if it has not been carried out.
The pro-family movement and its allies are demanding full prosecution of the IRS employee who leaked the documents, if it has not been carried out.
In March 2012, an unnamed Obama administration employee turned sensitive tax documents from NOM – including its full donor list – over to the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual activist group. The president of HRC, John Solmonese, went on to be a national co-chair of Obama's 2012 campaign. From there, the documents were printed onThe Huffington Post and picked up by numerous mainstream media outlets.
During Congressional hearings in June, John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, accused the IRS of “illegally using confidential information that must be filed with the IRS to facilitate the intimidation of donors.”
“The Supreme Court ruled in the landmark 1958 case National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama that organizations like NOM have the right to keep their membership and donor lists private,” Eliana Johnson wrote in National Review. Breaking the law is a felony that could result in up to five years in prison.
Yet months after the fact, NOM still could not learn whether justice had been served in its case.
“Stonewalled in its attempts to discover on its own the source of the felonious conduct against it, NOM has also received no satisfaction from the law enforcement authorities of the United States, whose duty it is to prosecute felonious disclosure of confidential tax returns,” Eastman said in June.
The Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee launched an investigation and has identified the leaker.
Chairman David Camp, R-MI, told Johnson the guilty party worked for the IRS Exempt Organizations Division. The group, which until just months ago was led by Lois Lerner, singled out pro-life, evangelical Christian, Catholic, Tea Party, and other conservative organizations for additional scrutiny before granting tax-exempt status. The allegation furthers deep suspicions that the Obama administration has politicized every agency of the federal government to reward its friends and punish its foes.
However, the same IRS code that makes it illegal to reveal taxpayers' documents also makes it illegal to reveal the outcome of internal investigations – including whether the employee was fired or reprimanded, or is still toiling away in the division.
In an unsigned editorial, Investors Business Daily called for prosecution in a criminal court of law.
“Eastman, a constitutional lawyer, believes Eric Holder and the Department of Justice could still bring an indictment and lift the veil of secrecy,” IBD wrote. “But then, we thought that about Fast and Furious, too.”
Thursday, October 31, 2013
What ENDA Does
- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) (S. 815) creates special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would make it illegal for organizations with 15 or more employees to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual … because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
- ENDA defines “gender identity” as “the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms … of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.” In other words, it creates special rights for transgendered individuals—males who dress and act as females, and females who dress and act as males—and forbids employers from considering the consequences of such behavior at the workplace.
Problems with ENDA
- Employers should respect the intrinsic dignity of all their employees, but ENDA is bad public policy.
- Concerns about ENDA unite civil libertarians concerned about free speech and religious liberty, free marketers concerned about freedom of contract and government interference in the marketplace, and social conservatives concerned about marriage and culture.
- Civil Liberties. ENDA tramples fundamental civil liberties and unnecessarily impinges on citizens’ right to run their businesses the way they choose. Individuals should be free to form associations and contracts according to their own beliefs and should not be coerced into accepting the federal government’s set of values.
- Free Market. ENDA would further increase federal government interference in labor markets, potentially discouraging job creation. ENDA does not protect equality before the law, but creates special privileges that are enforceable against private actors. It would impose liability on employers for alleged “discrimination” based on subjective, self-disclosed identities and not on objective employee traits.
- Social. ENDA would further weaken the marriage culture and the ability of civil society to affirm that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that maleness and femaleness are not arbitrary constructs but objective ways of being human. ENDA would treat these moral convictions as if they were bigotry.
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Are Unlike Race
- Jim Crow laws represented pervasive, onerous, and legally enshrined obstacles to employment based on race. There is no similar history of society-wide legal prohibitions on employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Voluntary actions and market forces have emerged that undermine the clamor for federal intervention: for example, 88percent of Fortune 500 companies prohibit employment decisions based on sexual orientation.
- While race is usually readily apparent, the groups seeking special status under ENDA are not defined by objective characteristics. Sexual orientation and gender identity are commonly understood to be subjective, self-disclosed, and self-defined.
- Unlike race, sexual orientation and gender identity are usually understood to include behaviors. Decisions reasonably taking into account the behavior of employees are core employment decisions, best left to businesses themselves—not the federal government.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Two gay couples have filed a federal lawsuit for the right to marry in Texas–one of 29 states with a constitutional amendment to prevent same-sex marriage.
“In Texas, Plaintiffs cannot legally marry their partner before family, friends, and society—a right enjoyed by citizens who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex. And should they become married in a state that has established marriage equality, Texas explicitly voids their marriage,” San Antonio attorney Barry Chasnoff argued in the lawsuit filed Monday in
The two couples listed as plaintiffs in the case—Marc Pharriss and Vic Holmes and Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman—are suing the state for violating the the right to marry under the U.S. Constitution, which they argue trumps state law.
“We’ve talked numerous times of getting married and going to one of the states that allows gay marriage,” Pharriss told the San Antonio Express-News. “The problem with that is we have no legal rights when we return.”
De Leon and Dimetman were married in Massachusetts in 2009, but their marriage was not recognized in Texas. But after the Supreme Court earlier this year struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration began to recognize same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes—even if the couple lived in a state that does not legally recognize their marriage.
Whether Texas and other conservative-led states will follow the federal example is questionable: the Texas National Guard announced in September it would not provide benefits to same-sex couples, despite a direct order from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the wake of the DOMA ruling.
Twenty-nine states, including Texas, have with a constitutional amendment that limits marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Six additional states have statutory provisions defining marriage, though one of those states—Hawaii—is considering approving same-sex marriage by the end of the year.
The lawsuit goes on to state, “There is no rational basis, much less a compelling government purpose, for Texas to deny plaintiffs the same right to marry enjoyed by the majority of society.”
A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry told My San Antonio that the governor stands by “the majority of Texans” who voted back in 2005 to amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Indiana University has joined a campaign fighting a proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages.
The university announced Monday it was joining Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan coalition that includes Eli Lilly and Co., Cummins Inc. and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.
IU President Michael McRobbie said the amendment would turn some prospective employees away from Indiana and increase the state's challenges to remaining economically competitive.
The General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the proposed ban in 2011, but the current Legislature would need to approve it again before it would go to voters in a statewide referendum. Indiana law already bars same-sex marriage, but backers of the constitutional ban say it would provide an impediment to potential court decisions that would overturn the state law.
Thirty states have constitutional amendments banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage and five others, including Indiana, ban it by law.
Monday, October 28, 2013
By Oskar Garcia
OCTOBER 28, 2013
HONOLULU — A special session of the state Legislature that starts Monday could make Hawaii the next state to formally legalize same-sex marriage.
Many credit a Hawaii case that began in 1990 with prompting action on the issue of gay marriage in courts and state houses nationwide. That led Congress in 1996 to pass the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which was struck down this year by the Supreme Court.
The state allows civil unions for gay couples. If lawmakers approve full marriage rights, Hawaii would join 14 other states and the District of Columbia in recognizing same-sex marriage.
In calling the special session, Governor Neil Abercrombie said legalizing gay marriage would help resolve a pending federal lawsuit and also put Hawaii in line with Supreme Court rulings, which don’t apply to couples in civil unions.
Proponents say granting equality would exemplify the state’s aloha spirit — the word literally means “love’’ in Hawaiian — and also spur tourism.
Some opponents of the proposed law contend that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
Others say the matter should have a regular vote, not be rushed outside the legislative calendar.
For Dr. Allan Wang, a 56-year-old Hawaii doctor, the issue is about being treated fairly.
‘‘It’s unfair that our amazing relationship — which we’ve been together over 33 years — our amazing relationship cannot be acknowledged,’’ Wang said, sitting next to his partner, Tom Humphreys, a longtime molecular biology professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Wang and Humphreys, 77, married in California in July, one month after entering a civil union in Hawaii and after decades of pressing for gay marriage in the state. Humphreys said they were effectively forced to marry outside Hawaii after he was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and told he had only a short time to live.
They married exactly one week after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, granting federal benefits to legally married gay couples. Congress had passed the act as part of a growing backlash to a case from Hawaii, after a couple tried to apply for a marriage license in 1990.
Differences between civil unions and full-fledged marriage have been a key part of the debate in Hawaii. A lawsuit pending in the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals argues that gay couples should be allowed to marry and shouldn’t have to settle for civil unions.
On Friday, Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts filed a brief in the federal appeals case and another case from Nevada involving couples who maintain that the state’s ban violates the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution. Attorneys general from 14 other states are listed as co-counsel in the brief.
Hawaii and Nevada provide many protections for same-sex couples, but deny them full marriage status.
Coakley said the experience in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage, shows that allowing same-sex couples to marry only strengthens the institution of marriage.
Coakley led the filing of the amicus brief on behalf of Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
Lawmakers and followers of Hawaii’s Legislature — which is heavily Democratic — say they are confident a bill will pass, but not certain.
Representative Chris Lee, a Kailua Democrat who supports the bill, said legislators have been bombarded by passionate calls on both sides.
Jim Hochberg, president of Hawaii Family Advocates, said coalitions from every Hawaii island are building to push for a public vote.
‘‘They don’t support the concept of same-sex marriage. They don’t support the special session,’’ Hochberg said. ‘‘They want to vote on it.’’
The legislative hearings are expected to draw heavy crowds, with an opposition rally planned Monday night.
In Oklahoma next week, Darren Black Bear, 45, and his partner of nine years, Jason Pickel, 36, plan to be legally married, even though the state bans same-sex marriage. Their marriage license is being granted by the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribe, which is among the few Native American tribes in the United States that allow same-sex marriage.
Like all federally recognized tribes, the Cheyenne Arapaho can approve laws for its land and members.
Its code regarding marriage doesn’t address gender, referring to the parties simply as ‘‘Indians,’’ and requires that one person be a member of the tribe and reside within its jurisdiction.
Like gay couples who legally marry in other states, Black Bear and Pickel will not be awarded state benefits given to married couples in Oklahoma. But they will receive federal marriage benefits, including health insurance.
At least six other tribes allow same-sex marriage, including the Coquille Tribe in Oregon and the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan, states that also ban same-sex marriage, according to national gay marriage advocacy group Freedom to Marry. Other tribes, such as the Cherokee Nation, specifically bar gay marriage.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Soldiers attending a pre-deployment briefing at Fort Hood say they were told that evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party were a threat to the nation and that any soldier donating to those groups would be subjected to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
A soldier who attended the Oct. 17th briefing told me the counter-intelligence agent in charge of the meeting spent nearly a half hour discussing how evangelical Christians and groups like the American Family Association were “tearing the country apart.”
Michael Berry, an attorney with the Liberty Institute, is advising the soldier and has launched an investigation into the incident.
“On the very base that was the site of mass murder carried out by a radicalized Muslim soldier, it is astonishing that it is evangelical groups that are being identified as a ‘threat.’”
- Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president
“The American public should be outraged that the U.S. Army is teaching our troops that evangelical Christians and Tea Party members are enemies of America, and that they can be punished for supporting or participating in those groups,” said Berry, a former Marine Corps JAG officer.
“These statements about evangelicals being domestic enemies are a serious charge.”
The soldier told me he fears reprisals and asked not to be identified. He said there was a blanket statement that donating to any groups that were considered a threat to the military and government was punishable under military regulations.
“My first concern was if I was going to be in trouble going to church,” the evangelical Christian soldier told me. “Can I tithe? Can I donate to Christian charities? What if I donate to a politician who is a part of the Tea Party movement?”
Another soldier who attended the briefing alerted the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. That individual’s recollections of the briefing matched the soldier who reached out to me.
“I was very shocked and couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” the soldier said. “I felt like my religious liberties, that I risk my life and sacrifice time away from family to fight for, were being taken away.”
And while a large portion of the briefing dealt with the threat evangelicals and the Tea Party pose to the nation, barely a word was said about Islamic extremism, the soldier said.
“Our community is still healing from the act of terrorism brought on by Nidal Hasan – who really is a terrorist,” the soldier said. “This is a slap in the face. “The military is supposed to defend freedom and to classify the vast majority of the military that claim to be Christian as terrorists is sick.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, tells me the Pentagon is pushing anti-Christian propaganda.
“On the very base that was the site of mass murder carried out by a radicalized Muslim soldier, it is astonishing that it is evangelical groups that are being identified as a ‘threat,’” he said. “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel must immediately intervene to stop this march against the rights and freedom of our soldiers.”
The soldier said they were also told that the pro-life movement is another example of “radicalization.”
“They said that evangelical Christians protesting abortions are the mobilization stage and that leads to the bombing of abortion clinics,” he said, recalling the discussion.
An Army spokesman at the Pentagon tells me they do not maintain or publish a list of organizations considered extremist.
“None of these slides [shown at the briefing] were produced by the Army, but by soldiers who included information found during an Internet search,” the spokesman said.
He said commanders and other leaders were cautioned that they should not use “lists of extremists, hate groups, radical factions or the like compiled by any outside non-governmental groups or organizations for briefings, command presentations, or as a short cut to determining if a group or activity is considered to be extremist.”
Meanwhile, the public affairs office at Fort Hood is denying the soldiers' allegations.
“The allegations you are asking about were brought to the attention of the Fort Hood leadership immediately and a (sic) inquiry is occurring,” read a statement from Tom Rheinlander, the public affairs director at Fort Hood. “At this time, initial information gathered about the training and what you claim occurred is not substantiated by unit leadership and soldiers present at this training venue.”
I sent the public affairs officer additional questions about the specific content of the briefing but he declined to respond.
But this is not the first time an Army briefing has labeled evangelicals as extremists. Last April an Army Reserve briefing classified Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as “religious extremism.”
In a letter to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Secretary of the Army John McHugh said the briefing in April was an isolated incident and the material used was not sanctioned by the Army.
McHugh said it was a “misguided attempt to explain that extremism is not limited to a single religion.”
Two weeks ago, several dozen active duty troops at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, were told the American Family Association, a well-respected Christian ministry, should be classified as a domestic hate group because it advocates for traditional family values.
Again, the military called it an isolated incident with a trainer using material that was not sanctioned by the military.
That explanation is wearing thin with American Christians.
“How much longer can the Army claim no knowledge or responsibility for these things?” Berry asked.
“These repeated incidents show either that this training was directed from Army leadership at the Pentagon, or else the Army has a real discipline and leadership problem on its hands because a bunch of rogue soldiers are teaching this nonsense.”
The most recent allegations at Fort Hood have drawn sharp rebuke from religious liberty groups around the nation.
“Why is the Army engaged in these anti-Christian training propaganda briefings?” asked Perkins, himself a veteran of the Marine Corps. “The only explanation is that this is a deliberate effort of the Obama administration to intimidate and separate soldiers from Christian groups that they support and that support them.”
Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance, called the military’s behavior dishonorable.
“Far from mere ‘isolated incidents,’ as the Army has dismissed previous occurrences, this latest incident demonstrates a pattern and practice of Army briefings identifying mainstream religions, such as Evangelical Christianity, Judaism, and Catholicism, as examples of ‘religious extremism’ similar to Al Qaeda, Hamas and the Ku Klux Klan,” he told me.
Perkins said it’s time for the Pentagon to “ensure that instructors carry out their role to train our troops to defend our freedom, and not push anti-Christian propaganda.”
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him onTwitter.