Trditional Marriage News

Thursday, September 12, 2013
By Sara Ganim, CNN
updated 1:15 PM EDT, Thu September 12, 2013

(CNN) -- A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday ordered a suburban Philadelphia county clerk to comply with the state's same-sex marriage ban and stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

Since July, D. Bruce Hanes, the elected Montgomery County register of wills, has given out 174 licenses to same-sex couples, ignoring a 1996 state law that defines marriage as "between one man and one woman."

The state Department of Health sued to stop Hanes, saying he is in "direct defiance" of the ban and "risks causing serious and limitless harm to the public."

In his order Thursday, the judge said Hanes must "cease and desist from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex applicants, from accepting the marriage certificates of same-sex couples, and from waiving the mandatory three-day waiting period." He also denied dozens of requests from same-sex couples in the state to intervene in the lawsuit.

Hanes told CNN in August that he and his solicitor reviewed the state constitution and decided that language about civil rights, happiness and liberty applied to same-sex couples who want to get married.

"We've either got to change the constitution -- permit discrimination on the basis of sex, permit civil rights to be frustrated -- or change the interpretation of that marriage act or change the marriage act. You can't have it both ways," he said in August.

Hanes started issuing the licenses shortly after the U.S. v. Windsor case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Pennsylvania is considered a conservative state on the issue of same-sex marriage, and it is simultaneously fighting a court battle with the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the state in July after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the Windsor case.

The state attorney general, Kathleen Kane, said this year that Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage is "wholly unconstitutional" and that she won't defend the state in the ACLU suit.



Monday, September 9, 2013

By Zelie Pollon

SANTA FE, New Mexico | Sat Sep 7, 2013 2:08am EDT

(Reuters) - The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide once and for all whether same-sex matrimony should be legal statewide after several counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, prompting a legal challenge.

Stepping into an intensifying debate over gay marriage in a state where same-sex unions are neither expressly recognized nor prohibited by law, the New Mexico court set a hearing for October 23 to consider a request from all 33 counties statewide to settle the matter.

All five of the state Supreme Court justices concurred in ordering a review of the case without comment.

The justices had previously declined to intervene on the issue, saying they would leave it to the lower courts to rule on lawsuits being filed in different counties.

At least two court decisions since August have tipped the scales in favor of same-sex unions in New Mexico, which gay rights advocates hope will join 13 other U.S. states and the District of Columbia in recognizing gay marriages outright.

In August, a district judge in Santa Fe, the state capital, ruled that New Mexico's constitution did not bar same-sex matrimony and ordered the county clerk there to either issue marriage licenses to gay couples or appear in court to explain why she could not.

Days later, a district judge in Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, ruled that denying gay couples the right to marry violates state constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal protection under the law and barring gender-based discrimination. His ruling also applied to Santa Fe.

The 33 county clerks, joined by the New Mexico Association of Counties, subsequently petitioned the high court to weigh in on the Santa Fe and Bernalillo case and decide whether the judge's ruling should extend statewide.

Separately, a number of Republican state lawmakers filed a lawsuit challenging a Dona Ana County clerk who began voluntarily handing out marriage licenses to gay couples last month.

As of Friday, a total of eight New Mexico counties have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some on their own and some under court order, according to Chris Stoll, senior staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

At least 1,000 gay and lesbian couples have applied for marriage licenses across New Mexico in recent weeks, said Micah McCoy, a spokesman for the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which, together with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, represents the plaintiffs in the case in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

He said 250 applications from gay couples had been made in Dona Ana County alone.

Both sides in the debate welcomed the intervention of the state Supreme Court.

"I think it's excellent," said state Representative Anna Crook, a Republican from the town of Clovis who is one of 29 state lawmakers who have joined the lawsuit in Dona Ana County. "It's been absolute chaos. We need to have a ruling one way or the other instead of, 'My county can, yours can't.'"

Stoll, of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said: "We have couples that have received marriage licenses and have gotten married, and they deserve the certainty of knowing their marriage is secure and will be respected by the state."

Even if gay marriage supporters prevail, Republican lawmakers could eventually be joined by conservative Democrats in putting a measure on the ballot to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. Democrats hold a majority in both houses of the New Mexico legislature.

(Reporting by Zelie Pollon; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney and Robin Pomeroy)

Friday, September 6, 2013
SANTA FE, N.M. September 5, 2013 (AP)
By BARRY MASSEY Associated Press

New Mexico's 33 counties asked the state's highest court Thursday to decide whether gay marriage is legal in the state and to stop the spread of lawsuits that have forced some county officials to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The New Mexico Association of Counties and clerks statewide filed a petition seeking clarity in a legal dispute that has changed rapidly in the past two weeks since a southern New Mexico clerk independently began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Since then, seven other counties followed — some because of court orders in response to lawsuits by same-sex couples.

More than 900 marriage licenses have been granted to gay and lesbian couples in the state, according to the lawsuit.

It remains uncertain whether the Supreme Court will accept the case.

"The bottom line is we're looking for a uniform answer," said Steve Kopelman, general counsel for the county group. "There's a controversy here. This is not a simple issue legally. But we're not weighing in on the moral issue. We're weighing in on the law."

New Mexico law doesn't explicitly prohibit or authorize gay marriage. However, the marriage laws — unchanged since 1961 — contain a marriage license application with sections for male and female applications. There also are references to "husband" and "wife."

The current and previous state attorneys general have said the law effectively prohibits gay marriage, although current Attorney General Gary King also has said he believes such a prohibition is unconstitutional.

A state district court judge in Albuquerque last week ruled it is a violation of New Mexico's constitution to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The judge based his decision on a 1972 constitutional amendment adopted by voters that prohibits discrimination "on account of the sex of any person."

Two county clerks that were defendants in that case decided not to directly appeal the judge's ruling. However, the county association and the state's 31 other county clerks — including several already issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples — joined the lawsuit to provide a way to quickly move the gay marriage question to the Supreme Court.

The five justices previously turned down efforts by gay rights advocates to get a ruling on the marriage issue. The advocates had attempted to get a decision by filing lawsuits directly with the Supreme Court rather than through an appeal of a lower court decision.

The counties procedurally are asking for a special order from the Supreme Court rather than filing a traditional appeal that would take longer to resolve, said Daniel Ivey-Soto, a lawyer for county clerks and a Democratic state senator.

Their petition says the clerks who are not issuing marriage licenses need "clarity of the law" to proceed with their obligations and "object to assumed constitutional interpretations for which there is no precedent."

The counties also asked the justices to temporarily halt pending district court lawsuits on gay marriage until they make a statewide decision on the issue.

Sen. William Sharer, a Farmington Republican, said he and other lawmakers plan to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court urging it to stop same-sex marriages.

"The people that believe that marriage is between a man and a woman for the very first time are going to have a voice in court," he said. Sharer also is among a group of Republicans who filed a lawsuit in Dona Ana County to try to block the clerk there from continuing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.



Thursday, September 5, 2013

A family-owned Christian bakery, under investigation for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, has been forced to close its doors after a vicious boycott by militant homosexual activists.

Sweet Cakes By Melissa posted a message on its Facebook page alerting customers that their Gresham, Ore. retail store would be shut down after months of harassment from pro-gay marriage forces.

“Better is a poor man who walks in integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways,” read a posting from Proverbs on the bakery’s Facebook page.


“The LGBT attacks are the reason we are shutting down the shop. They have killed our business through mob tactics.”

- Aaron Klein, owner, Sweet Cakes By Melissa


“It’s a sad day for Christian business owners and it’s a sad day for the First Amendment,” owner Aaron Klein told me. “The LGBT attacks are the reason we are shutting down the shop. They have killed our business through mob tactics.”

Last January, Aaron and Melissa Klein made national headlines when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

Klein tells me he has nothing against homosexuals -- but because of their religious faith, the family simply cannot take part in gay wedding events.

“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “I don’t want to help somebody celebrate a commitment to a lifetime of sin.”

The lesbian couple filed a discrimination with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and told their story to local newspapers and television statements.

Within days, militant homosexuals groups launched protests and boycotts. Klein told me he received messages threatening to kill his family. They hoped his children would die.

The LGBT protestors then turned on other wedding vendors around the community. They threatened to boycott any florists, wedding planners or other vendors that did business with Sweet Cakes By Melissa.

“That tipped the scales,” Klein said. “The LGBT activists inundated them with phone calls and threatened them. They would tell our vendors, ‘If you don’t stop doing business with Sweet Cakes By Melissa, we will shut you down.’”

To make matters worse, the Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries announced last month they had launched a formal discrimination investigation against the Christian family.

Commissioner Brad Avakian told The Oregonian that he was committed to a fair and thorough investigation to determine whether the bakery discriminated against the lesbians.

“Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” he told the newspaper. “The goal is to rehabilitate. For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon.”

In other words, Christians who live and work in Oregon must follow man’s law instead of God’s law. But in a show of benevolence, the state is willing to rehabilitate and reeducate Christian business owners like the Kleins.

Klein said the closing of their retail store was a small price to pay for standing up for their religious beliefs.

“As a man of faith, I am in good spirits,” he said. “I’m happy to be serving the Lord and standing up for what’s right.”

Klein said what’s happened to Sweet Cakes By Melissa should be a warning to other Christians across the nation.

“This is a fight that’s been coming for a while,” he said. “Be prepared to take a stand. Hopefully, the church will wake up and understand that we are under attack right now.”

Just last month, New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that two Christian photographers who declined to photograph a same-sex union violated the state’s Human Rights Act. One justice said the photographers were “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”

Denver baker Jack Phillips is facing possible jail time for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.

The Colorado Attorney General’s office filed a formal complaint against Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop. A hearing before the state’s civil rights commission is set for later this month.

In Indianapolis, a family-owned cookie shop faced a discrimination investigation after they refused to make rainbow cookies for National Coming Out Day.

A T-shirt company in Lexington, Ky. found itself at the center of a Human Rights Commission investigation after they refused to make T-shirts for a local gay rights organization.

Klein said it’s becoming clear that Christians do not have the “right to believe what we believe.”

In other words, gay rights trump religious rights.

Aaron and Melissa Klein tell me they will continue to bake wedding cakes from their home. He’s already taken a full-time job to pay the bills and feed their five children.

Mrs. Klein told television station KPTV her philosophy remains unchanged by recent events.

“The Bible tells us to flee from sin,” she said. “I don’t think making a cake for it helps. I guess in my mind I thought we lived in a lot nicer of a world where everybody tolerated everybody.”

The plight of the Klein family exposes the true nature of the left. Those who preach tolerance and diversity are the least tolerant and the least diverse of all.


Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary heard on hundreds of radio stations and in his weekly podcast. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter and be sure to join his Facebook page.

Read more:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Associated PressMon Sep 2, 2013 11:57 AM

An initiative campaign to have Arizona voters decide next year whether to legalize gay marriage is faltering amid reluctance by national and local advocacy groups to back the measure.

Volunteers continue to collect signatures but paid signature gatherers have been pulled from the street and a scheduled volunteer training event wasn’t held.

“We’re in a period of kind of continued dormancy. The dormancy has gone on for a few weeks as we have been in negotiation with the local LGBT groups,” campaign co-chair Erin Ogletree Simpson said.

“We need the backing and support of all of the organizations that have been working on these matters to go forward . We need their support,” Simpson said.

However, advocacy groups say the timing isn’t right because the measure would go on the ballot when turnout for a midterm election would be comparatively low compared with a presidential election year, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.

Sheila Kloefkorn, an Arizonan who serves as a national board member of the Human Rights Campaign, said that group won’t support the initiative.

There is increased support in Arizona for gay marriage but not enough to win in 2014, Kloefkorn said. “We will not (support the campaign) and I don’t know of any organization that would at this point.”

Supporters of the initiative measure would need to submit petitions with 259,213 voter signatures by July 3 to qualify it for the 2014 ballot.

The proposed ballot measure, titled the “Equal Marriage Arizona Initiative,” would define marriage as a union of two people, as opposed to the current requirement of one man and one woman.

Approval of the initiative would overturn a ban approved by voters in 2008 as an amendment to the Arizona Constitution.

Two years earlier, Arizona voters narrowly rejected a broader proposal that also would have prohibited the state and its local governments from creating or recognizing any legal status for unmarried persons that was similar to that of marriage.


Thursday, August 29, 2013
August 28, 2013|12:18 pm

Pastors and church members gathered at New Hope Church Honolulu, Hawaii on Monday to protest the Freedom to Marry Act, which may pass in a special session this Fall, to make Hawaii the 14th state to legalize gay marriage.

"Same-sex marriage is against the will of God," argued Dennis Sallis, pastor of Hope Church Waliki. "We're just preaching the word of God."

A week before, however, over 30 representatives of faith-based groups signed a resolution supporting same-sex marriage, following a service at the Nuuanu church where President Obama went to Sunday school in his childhood years. "They did not choose to be gay – this is how God made them," said Methodist Minister Barbara "Babs" Grace Ripple, 71. "Who am I to say that they should not have the same benefits in life that I have?"

Ripple's fiancé, another Methodist minister, Samuel Cox, was among the first to perform civil unions in Hawaii. He recalled the suicide of a young gay man, whose death reportedly changed Cox's life. "Ever since, I have been a strong advocate for civil rights and marriage equality for our LGBT friends," he said.

Hawaii began struggling with the issue of same-sex marriage in the early '90s, when three same-sex couples sued for marriage licenses in the 1991 case Baehr v. Miike. Following a Hawaii constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to outlaw gay marriage, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled against the couples in 1999. In February 2011, however, the current governor, Niel Abercrombie, signed a new law allowing civil unions, which came into effect on January 1, 2012.

QMark Research poll reignited the issue early this month. It found that 54 percent of Hawaiians support same-sex marriage, while only 31% oppose it. In January, an Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll found opposition 6 percent higher at 37 percent.

"Over just the last six months, opposition has dropped by 6 percent which means people are really starting to understand what the issue is about…welcoming others and treating them with respect," explained State Representative Chris Lee. He also argued that legalizing gay marriage would bring money into Hawaii's economy, as more people pay for weddings and receptions in the state.

Roman Catholic Bishop Larry Silva, however, claimed that gay marriage would do more harm than good, and urged Hawaii Catholics to call their representatives to oppose the legislation.

"People with same-sex attraction are a part of our community, even our Catholic community, and they deserve dignity and respect," he explained. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church only allows marriage between one man and one woman.

The bishop argued that if same-sex marriage is made legal, polygamy, incest, and pedophilia would follow, various faiths would suffer legal persecution, and children would receive substandard care. For these reasons, discrimination against same-sex couples is just, as it between adults and minors, parents and children, professors and students. All people have equal dignity, but in society different people have different roles, and are treated accordingly, he contends.

"If same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land, its implications will go far beyond the relationship of this or that couple," Silva warned. Besides gay marriage, other sexual preferences will also become "normal" in Hawaii. School textbooks will be bound by law to portray various options, and this will confuse the "normal sexual maturation" of boys and girls, as their sexual identity is "formed over time."

Silva wondered if, once same-sex marriage is normalized, discrimination against those who want to marry their mother or father, brother or sister, or a minor, must also be struck down.

"Would people who firmly believe that God made us male and female, and that God has revealed that homosexual acts are sinful be allowed to hold such beliefs?" the bishop asked. He warned that Christians, Muslims, and others who share these beliefs would be persecuted, and religious freedom would become "only a paper freedom."


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Associated Press
August 22, 2013: Happy newlyweds join hands at the Doña Ana County Government Center after receiving their marriage licenses and wedding in Las Cruces, N.M. The married couples include, from left: Erin Haynes and spouse Cynthia Haynes of Los Lunas, N.M.; Rev. Vangie Chavez and spouse Traci Garcia of Albuquerque, N.M.; Richard Sunman and spouse Thom Hinks of Albuquerque, N.M.; and Judi Schultz and spouse June Damuth of Las Cruces, N.M. (AP Photo/Las Cruces Sun-News, Shari Vialpando-Hill)

The clerk for New Mexico's most populous county planned to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples Tuesday after a state district judge declared same-sex marriage legal.

State District Judge Alan Malott on Monday ruled New Mexico's constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, ordering Bernalillo County to join the state's other two population centers in recognizing the unions.

The decision comes on the heels of an order last week from a judge in Santa Fe that directed the county clerk there to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That followed a decision by the clerk in the southern New Mexico county of Dona Ana to recognize same-sex couples.

But Malott's ruling was seen as more sweeping than the temporary Santa Fe order because he directly declared that gay marriage was legal.

Laura Schauer Ives, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, called it "monumental" and said the group didn't expect such a broad decision by Malott. The judge had been asked only to order that the state recognize, on her death certificate, a dying woman's marriage Friday in Santa Fe to her longtime partner.

But after a short hearing in which neither the counties nor the state objected to the request, Malott also ruled on the broader lawsuit by that couple and five others seeking marriage licenses.

"We were stunned and amazed," Ives said.

However, it's uncertain whether clerks in the state's 30 other counties, who were not defendants in the lawsuit, will use the judge's ruling as a signal that they can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Assistant Attorney General Scott Fuqua said the decision wasn't binding on clerks outside Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

Malott's order came during a hearing seeking an order for the state to recognize the marriage of Jen Roper, who has cancer, to Angelique Neuman.

The couple wed at a Santa Fe hospital after a state district judge in a separate case ordered the Santa Fe County clerk to issue same-sex licenses. Dona Ana's clerk decided on his own last week to recognize gay and lesbian marriages.

"It's been a long, long fight," Neuman said. "I'm glad things went our way."

The couple last week joined the lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of five other lesbian couples.

One of those couples, Tanya Struble and Therese Councilor of Jemez Springs, said they plan to get their marriage license first thing Tuesday. But they were unsure whether they would be married immediately or wait for a ceremony that can be attended by family and friends.

"We've never done this," Struble said in an interview after the court hearing.

Struble said she was pleasantly surprised by the broader ruling in the case.

"I thought maybe it would be partially good, but it was 99.9 percent awesome," she said.

Christine Butler of Albuquerque, who opposes gay marriage and attended the hearing, said the judge's ruling violates her rights.

"I don't want to bring my children or go to places and see same-sex couples showing a lot of affection. ... That's against God's law," Butler said.

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she had 1,000 licenses printed in case Malott ordered her to issue licenses for same-sex marriages. Her office spent the day preparing for what is expected to be a flood of applicants Tuesday.

On Monday morning, couples were lined up in Santa Fe waiting for the clerk's office to open. More than 100 licenses had been issued by the end of the day, bringing to 157 the number of same-sex marriage licenses issued since Friday.

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last Wednesday. He said 137 couples from around the state and from neighboring Texas got licenses last week, and more were in the works Monday.

A group of Republican legislators is planning to file a lawsuit to stop clerks from issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

One of those lawmakers, Sen. William Sharer of Farmington, said it is up to the state's Legislature, with the consent of the governor, to make laws -- not its county clerks or district judges.

"It is inexplicable how a district court just today discovered a new definition of marriage in our laws, when our marriage law has not been changed in over a century," Sharer said.

Read more:

Friday, August 23, 2013


Thu Aug 22, 2013 20:33 EST


SANTA FE, NM, August 22, 2013 ( – The Supreme Court of New Mexico has ruled that Christian photographers do not have the right to decline photographing a gay “wedding,” even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Richard C. Bosson said Christians must “compromise” their religious beliefs as “the price of citizenship.”

The high court ruled that Elaine Huguenin and her husband, Jon, violated a lesbian couple's human rights by refusing to photograph their “commitment ceremony.”

Elaine Huguenin must "compromise," according to Justice Bosson.

When their business, Elane Photography, “refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA [New Mexico Human Rights Act] in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races,” the majority opinion states.

The NMHRA, justices noted, protects discrimination “against protected classes of people.”

The case began in 2006, when Vanessa Willock approached the Albuquerque-based business to take pictures of her ceremony with girlfriend Misti Collinsworth and was politely declined. She found another photographer for the event but pursued legal action anyway.

After verifying that Elane Photography would take photos of a heterosexual wedding, the couple immediately hauled the Huguenins before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.

In 2008, the commission ordered them to pay $6,637.94 in attorney's fees. After a legal challenge, an appeals court upheld the fine.

The family got legal assistance from the Alliance Defending Freedom and appealed the case to the state Supreme Court.

The Huguenins argued they did not discriminate against homosexuals but “did not want to convey through [Huguenin]’s pictures the story of an event celebrating an understanding of marriage that conflicts with [the owners’] beliefs.”

They added that they “would have declined the request even if the ceremony was part of a movie and the actors playing the same-sex couple were heterosexual.”

They also said they would not photograph homosexual actions in any way.

The justices ruled, however, there was no distinction between homosexual acts and homosexual people.

As long as the business does wedding photos, it must photograph any such ceremony, they said, although New Mexico does not allow same-sex “marriages.”

Justices added that Christian business owners could avoid legal trouble only by refusing to photograph weddings altogether. "The NMHRA does not mandate that Elane Photography choose to take wedding pictures,” they wrote, “that is the exclusive choice of Elane Photography."

Their ruling flies in the face of the opinion of the overwhelming majority of Americans. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 85 percent of Americans believe business owners should be able to opt out of participating in a homosexual “marriage.”

The concurring opinion filed by Justice Bosson is receiving even greater attention than the main opinion.

The Huguenins, he wrote, “are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” The ruling “will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.”

The homosexual discrimination case defines “what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice," he said.

“At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others,” he wrote. “A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less.”

The forced compromising of religious principles, he wrote, is “the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people.”

The Huguenins' lawyer, ADF Senior Counself Jordan Lorence, called the ruling and its concurrence a “chilling and unprecedented attack on freedom.”

“Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country,” he said.

“Jim Crow is alive and well and living at the New Mexico Supreme Court, and Christian is the new black,” Bryan Fischer said on his AFR Talk program “Focal Point” this afternoon.

Ken Klukowski, director pf the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, agreed the rulings were “profoundly disturbing” and discriminated against everyone who holds “traditional and orthodox Christian beliefs.”

He said the decision should draw Americans' attention to “the serious threat to religious liberty posed by overbearing government agencies when it comes to redefining marriage. Rather than live-and-let-live, this is forcing religious Americans to violate the basic teachings of their faith, or lose their jobs.”

“This decision would stun the Framers of the U.S. Constitution [and] is a gross violation of the First Amendment,” he said.

Lorence said that “America was founded on the fundamental freedom of every citizen to live and work according to their beliefs and not to be compelled by the government to express ideas and messages they decline to support."

He added that he and the Huguenins are considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kuklowski said he hopes the case goes forward to affirm that Americans enjoy the free exercise of their religion, not merely the freedom of worship.

The decision “should now be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court to reaffirm the basic principle that the fundamental rights of free speech and the free exercise of religion do not stop at the exit door of your local church, and instead extend to every area of a religious person's life,” he said.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

By Reid Wilson, Published: August 20 at 8:57 am

Rev. Irene Matsumoto of Palolo Kwannon Temple signs a resolution supporting gay marriage at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu in Honolulu on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013. More than two dozen Hawaii faith leaders of various religions signed a resolution Monday calling the state to pass a law legalizing gay marriage. (AP/Oskar Garcia)

Hawaii state House Democrats will meet this week to gauge whether they can come up with the votes to pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.

If there is sufficient support, and if legislative leaders can agree on language that would withstand court challenges, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) will call a special session to deal with the issue this fall. Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he thinks it’s “very likely” there will be a special session.

“I think we can put together something that can achieve a solid majority, that will give us the opportunity to establish marriage equity in the state of Hawaii commensurate with the recent Supreme Court decisions, and will satisfy and resolve the issues that are presently before the appeals court on the mainland,” Abercrombie told a gathering of state Democrats.

Abercrombie’s chief of staff, Blake Oshiro, is working on language with the state attorney general’s office, the Star-Advertiserreported Monday. State Senate leadership says they have the votes to pass a same-sex marriage bill.

Democrats have overwhelming majorities in both legislative chambers; they control the House by a 44-7 margin, and they hold 24 of 25 seats in the Senate. But the legislature has to rely on Abercrombie to call a special session because they can’t meet the two-thirds threshold to call one themselves.

Hawaii passed a constitutional amendment giving the legislature power to define marriage as a heterosexual union in 1998, but the legislature partially reversed itself in 2011, legalizing civil unions between same-sex couples.

Read More at The Washington Post


Monday, August 19, 2013


South Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage could be headed to court in the coming years.

SC Equality, the gay-rights advocacy group, has started a volunteer legal team to “explore options” for same-sex couples living in South Carolina now that the U.S. Supreme court has ordered the federal government to treat homosexual couples the same as heterosexual couples. South Carolina is one of the top states in the country where same-sex couples identify themselves as husbands or wives, according to the U.S. Census.

Columbia attorney Malissa Burnette is leading the effort. She says the group is “proceeding very carefully” at first, focusing on individual cases. But the ultimate goal, she said, is to overturn South Carolina’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, which voters approved in 2006.

“I’m very optimistic that it’s been seven, nearly eight years now, and I believe that even in South Carolina, people have become more aware that in their families, in their neighborhoods and in their workplace, there are gay and lesbian people that they see and speak with everyday, and that’s OK,” she said. “People are beginning to accept that more readily than they did in 2006.”

But the Palmetto Family Council has its own legal team ready to counter any effort to overturn the amendment.

Director Oran Smith says he relies on a statewide network of attorneys trained by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a national legal group that, according to its website, is devoted to “religious liberty, the sanctity of life and marriage and family.”

Smith said he does not think his group would intervene in specific cases of same-sex couples seeking federal benefits. But it would intervene if “we saw a pattern of the courts not respecting the marriage amendment in South Carolina.”

“We would certainly want to assess whether we would want to become involved on an individual case by case basis,” Smith said. “Hopefully we would not need to do that.”

The 2006 amendment passed with 78 percent of the vote. In December, the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found 62 percent of South Carolina voters said same-sex marriage should not be allowed, while 27 percent said it should be allowed (10 percent were not sure).

According to the U.S. Census, 7,214 same-sex couples live in South Carolina, or 4.01 couples per 1,000 households – ranked 38th in the country. Vermont was the No. 1 state, with 8.36 couples per 1,000 households.

But 22 percent of South Carolina’s same-sex couples identify themselves as husbands or wives, the 16th-highest percentage of the country. Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, is No. 1 with 44 percent.

Burdette said there are 1,100 places in federal law where a protection or responsibility is based on marital status. She said federal agencies traditionally have deferred to state laws to determine whether a marriage is valid. So if a couple is married in Maryland and they move to South Carolina, Burdette said that is where her legal team could get involved.

“Why should your ZIP code determine your civil rights?” Burdette said. “It’s very disconcerting.”

Smith said his group believes marriage between one man and one woman “is the gold standard for kids.”

“Anything that harms that ability in a family is something we oppose,” he said.

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.