Trditional Marriage News

Date:
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
June 2, 2015|12:18 pm| The Christian Post| 

 

Illinois may soon become the latest state to pass legislation banning the practice of sexual orientation change efforts therapy for LGBT youth.

Last week the state legislature passed House Bill 217, sending it to the desk of Governor Bruce Rauner, who has not indicated whether or not he will sign it into law.

Samantha Ames of the National Center for Lesbian Rights said in a statement last Friday that she and her organization were proud of the legislature's action.

 

"We couldn't be prouder to add Illinois to the list of legislatures that have acted to protect LGBT youth, and we applaud the dedication of Equality Illinois and the tireless coalition on the ground," stated Ames.

"We hope Governor Bruce Rauner will join fellow Republicans like Chris Christie, who signed New Jersey's conversion therapy ban in 2013."

Introduced by Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy, HB 217 sought to ban SOCE therapy for minors and to label commercial ads declaring homosexuality a mental illness as fraud.

 

"No person or entity may, in the conduct of any trade or commerce, use or employ any deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in advertising or otherwise offering conversion therapy services in a manner that represents homosexuality as a mental disease, disorder, or illness, with intent that others rely upon the concealment, suppression, or omission of such material fact," read HB 217.

"Any sexual orientation change efforts attempted on a person under the age of 18 by a mental health provider may be considered unprofessional conduct. Mental health providers found to have engaged in a sexual orientation change effort on a patient under the age of 18 may be subject to discipline by the licensing entity or disciplinary review board with competent jurisdiction."

 

HB 217 was similar to a piece of legislation that Rep. Cassidy had introduced in a previous legislative session which was voted down.

First read in January, HB 217 passed the House in May with a vote of 68 to 43 and last Friday passed the Senate in a vote of 34 to 19, with 1 abstention.

 

In a statement released Saturday, the conservative group Illinois Family Institute denounced the passage of the bill as a political ploy with little actual regard for protecting minors. The group also complained that the bill makes no distinction between therapies freely chosen by youth and more coercive therapies.

"HB 217 makes no distinction between coercive aversion therapy and 'talk therapies' that would allow minors a measure of autonomy in constructing an identity that does not affirm unchosen, unwanted same-sex attraction," stated IFI.

 

"This bill is not a reasoned attempt to protect children. It's a political maneuver that serves the strategic interests and profoundly selfish desires of adults committed to perverse activity and delusional thoughts."

At present, California, New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia have passed similar bills into law. Several states are presently considering similar legislation and many have voted them down.

Date:
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
June 2, 2015|8:06 am| The Christian Post| 

 

There may be evidence that the government agency in charge of enforcing Oregon anti-discrimination laws colluded against Aaron and Melissa Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery, with the pro-LGBT group Basic Rights Oregon.

The Daily Signal, the news arm of The Heritage Foundation, exposed the communications contact between officials at the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries and Basic Rights Oregon, obtained through a public records request, in their story titled, "Emails Raise Questions of Bias in Case Against Bakers Who Denied Service for Same-Sex Wedding."

The communications between the two groups raises questions of the impartiality of the government organization tasked with deciding to bring a case against the Kleins, who were forced to close their bakery after declining to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian marriage ceremony and saddled with over $150,000 in damages.

 

Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian, who will determine the final fine paid by the Kleins, appears to be far from impartial. The Daily Signal reported on the conflict of interest:

"Emails also show Avakian purchasing tickets costing hundreds of dollars to attend Basic Rights Oregon's annual fundraising galas and gay pride parades, while his agency's case against the Kleins was underway."

The Daily Signal further uncovered in its report that in 2012, "Basic Rights Oregon donated almost $8,000 to Avakian's bid for commissioner."

The Christian Post reached out to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

 

The Daily Signal reported the communications director for the Bureau of Labor and Industries mostly ignored its press inquires about the case against the Kleins, but were quick to inform Basic Rights Oregon of updates in the case, sometimes sending them texts about new or developing updates.

The two groups even communicated together about avoiding questions from the Daily Signal, a conservative media site.

The Daily Signal did report that the Bureau of Labor and Industries provided a statement to them where they reiterated their commitment to "fair enforcement."

In a related essay on cronyism last week at The Federalist, Michael A. Needham and Ryan T. Anderson discussed how cronyism and collusion, especially within the courts, is infecting culture.

 

Cultural cronyists often start in the courts," declared Needham and Anderson, "where they leverage the networks and institutions they dominate in law and academia to convince sympathetic judges to enact sweeping rulings that declare their core social priorities to be fundamental rights."

Almost prophetically in terms of this case, the two noted, "Progressive allies often have a seat at the table when the government decides how to crack down on civic institutions that don't toe the Progressive cultural line."

Avakian is expected to rule on the final penalty against the Kleins this summer.

 

Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, called the agencies action "a clear conflict of interest.

"State agencies have a duty to represent the best interests of the general public, declared von Spakovsky, "not the interests of one particular advocacy group.

"The relationship shown by these communications is inappropriate and raises basic questions about the objectivity, bias, and fairness of this agency and its proceedings."

The Kleins attorneys are hopeful that the newly uncovered communications will once and for all prove clear bias in the case against their client. The Heritage Foundation published a motion by the attorneys to reopen the case because of new evidence based on bias and collusion.

Date:
Monday, June 1, 2015
May 31, 2015|9:50 am| The Christian Post|
 

 

Freedom of speech, press, and religion "have suffered greatly" in Canada since it began federally mandating same-sex marriage in 2005, the Rev. Franklin Graham warns even as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering its legalization.

"[In Canada] If you say or write anything questioning same-sex marriage, you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government!" Graham, who leads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wrote on hisFacebook page on Friday.

"We need to realize that if our Supreme Court makes same-sex marriage the law in the United States, we will be in the same boat," he added, asking, "Will the next step be to ban us from speaking God's truth from His Word about this issue?"

 

In his post, Graham included a link to an "eye-opening" article written by an adult child of gay parents.

In the article, titled, "A Warning from Canada: Same-Sex Marriage Erodes Fundamental Rights," the author, Dawn Stefanowicz, identifies herself as "one of six adult children of gay parents who recently filed amicus briefs with the US Supreme Court, asking the Court to respect the authority of citizens to keep the original definition of marriage: a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, so that children may know and may be raised by their biological parents."

 

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that men and women are anatomically, biologically, physiologically, psychologically, hormonally, and neurologically different from each other," writes Stefanowicz, who lives in Canada. "These unique differences provide lifelong benefits to children that cannot be duplicated by same-gender 'legal' parents acting out different gender roles or attempting to substitute for the missing male or female role model in the home."

Citing incidents of violations of basic freedoms, the author, a member of the Testimonial Committee of the International Children's Rights Institute, adds: "In Canada, it is considered discriminatory to say that marriage is between a man and a woman or that every child should know and be raised by his or her biological married parents. It is not just politically incorrect in Canada to say so; you can be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, fined, and forced to take sensitivity training."

 

Earlier this week, Graham said Ireland was once a "staunchly religious country" but has now become a "light shining in the wrong direction."

Ireland recently became the world's first country to legalize gay marriage through a referendum.

 

"According to a gay Irish Cabinet minister, '[the vote to legalize same-sex marriage in Ireland] makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world, of liberty and equality,'" Graham said in a social media post. "They must not realize that this is a light shining in the wrong direction!"

Graham focused on Christian teaching instead of popular opinion, adding: "Jesus Christ said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).'"

Date:
Friday, May 29, 2015
May 26, 2015|11:57 am| The Christian Post| 

 

Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, Ireland, believes the Catholic Church needs to reestablish itself as a moral authority in Ireland after the passing of same-sex marriage by popular vote last week.

 

Martin spoke with broadcaster RTE about the Catholic Church needing to reconnect with young people after a referendum found 62 percent of people were in favor of changing Ireland's constitution to allow gays and lesbians to marry.

"We [the church] have to stop and have a reality check, not move into denial of the realities. We won't begin again with a sense of renewal, with a sense of denial," said Martin.

He also elaborated on the point of view of gays and lesbians who are now celebrating.

 

"I appreciate how gay and lesbian men and women feel on this day," he continued. "That they feel this is something that is enriching the way they live. I think it is a social revolution."

The archbishop admittedly voted no to the changing of the constitution, however, he does believe "gay rights" should be respected without changing the definition of marriage.

 

Martin also said he feels the church has lost its influence with the younger generation.

"I ask myself, most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years? I'm saying there's a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the church," he said.

 

Around 84 percent of people in Ireland identify as Catholic. However, its influence in society and politics has dwindled along with church attendance since the early 1990s.

Last Friday, over 1.9 million people voted whether or not to amend Ireland's constitution which originally defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. Voters were asked if they agreed with the statement: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

 

The victory for same-sex marriage comes just 22 years after homosexual acts were decriminalized in the country.

The referendum prompted many young people to vote for the first time. However, the older generation was not as quick to embrace the change.

"You can give gays their rights without redefining the whole institution of marriage. What they're asking for is too much," said 61-year-old voter Bridget Ryan to The Associated Press.

Date:
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Genevieve Wood /May 08, 2015| The Daily Signal|

 

In 2004, voters in Michigan and 10 other states passed state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Ten years later, in March 2014, a federal judge struck down the law saying it violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

But just eight months later, the 6th Circuit Court overturned that decision, ruling that Michigan’s law—and similar marriage laws enacted by Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, the three other states under the court’s jurisdiction—were indeed constitutional. The judges writing that decision noted: “Our judicial commissions did not come with such a sweeping grant of authority, one that would allow just three of us, just two of us in truth, to make such a vital policy call for the 32 million citizens who live within the four states of the 6th Circuit.”

 

The U.S. Supreme Court took up the case recently, and now the question is whether nine judges (or just five to be more accurate) will express the same humility as the 6th Circuit or will they instead determine they do have the sweeping authority to make such a decision for more than 300 million American citizens who live in all 50 states?

The issue before the court is not whether states have the right to redefine marriage but whether states should be forced to redefine marriage. And despite what recent public opinion polls may suggest, when voters have been given the opportunity to have their say, they have overwhelmingly voted in favor of traditional marriage.

 

In only three states has marriage been redefined by popular vote. That means that of the 37 states that recognize same-sex marriage, only three do so because the citizens of that state voted for it. Eight states changed the definition of marriage through their state legislatures, and 26 states have been forced to do so by courts.

Take a look at the national popular vote. Over the last 10 years, this issue has been on the ballot 39 times in 35 states. The number of votes in favor of traditional marriage? 51,483,412. The number of votes in favor of same-sex marriage? 33,015,412. As attorney John Eastman of the National Organization for Marriage rightly concludes, “That’s a vote margin of 60.93 percent to 39.07 percent, a landslide in American politics.”

 

One might also point out that the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman has been a landslide decision across the millennia of human history.

There are a host of reasons one can give for being for or against changing the definition of marriage. But of those who believe nine judges can settle such a contentious cultural matter once and for all, I would ask them to recall a similar decision made by the high court over 40 years ago called Roe v. Wade. Does anyone believe the matter of abortion is “settled” public policy in this country? To the contrary, the issue of abortion is more contested today, at both the state and federal levels, than ever before. A court decision forcing all 50 states to redefine marriage would be no different.

 

John Bursch, the attorney representing the state of Michigan, included this line of reasoning in his arguments: “When people have to act through the democratic process, it forces neighbors to sit down and civilly discuss an issue and try to persuade each other through reason, love and logic. … When you enact social change of this magnitude through the federal courts, it’s cutting off that dialogue and it’s saying one group gets their definition and the other is maligned as being irrational or filled with animus. And that’s not the way that our democratic process is supposed to work and there are long-term harms to our country and to that fundamental liberty interest to govern ourselves.”

 

Proponents of same-sex marriage insist that public opinion polls indicate most Americans are in favor of redefining marriage—and that their ranks are growing by the day. If that’s the case, why not let those citizens speak for themselves via the ballot box? Let all Americans have a say in this issue, as opposed to having a handful of judges make the decision for them.

Date:
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY RAY NOTHSTINE , CHRISTIAN POST CONTRIBUTOR
May 21, 2015|2:59 pm| The Christian Post| 

 

Robert Gates, president of the Boy Scouts of America, on Thursday urged members to lift the decades-old ban on openly gay adult troop leaders "sooner rather than later," during a speech at the organization's annual national meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

"I am not asking the national board for any action to change our current policy at this meeting," said Gates. "But I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to preisdents when I was director of the CIA and secretary of defense. We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.

"The Greater New York Area Council, Denver area Council, and others are taking a stand counter to national policy," Gates added, emphasizing that the status quo in the BSA policy "cannot be sustained."

The BSA's policy prohibits openly gay adults from serving as leaders in the scouts. Gates alluded to the impending Supreme Court decision on gay marriage as a significant basis for changing the organization's current policy, which since 2013 allows openly gay youth to become and remain members in the national organization, but not adults.

 

In his remarks, Gates continued to point to cultural and legal shifts as the reason for the change in policy. "The country is changing and we are increasingly at odds with the legal landscape at both the state and federal levels.

Gated again stressed urgency, declaring, "We can act on our own or be forced to act but, either way, I suspect we do not have a lot of time."

 

The BSA president also admitted that the change in policy will upset many friends and leaders of the organization, but asserted that he has to suggest the change in policy to "preserve the Boy Scouts of America in recognition for all it has done for America, and all it can and must do in the future.

"I assure you that I have no hidden agenda," he declared.

The Christian Post reported in 2013 that the Boy Scouts were making plans to lift the ban on openly gay scout leaders.

 

Last year, The Christian Post reported on the dramatic growth of Trail Life USA, a biblically based alternative to the Boy Scouts of America, formed in 2013 in reaction to the Boy Scouts dropping their ban on openly gay youth.

More than 2.5 million boys are members of the Boy Scouts of America. It was founded in 1910 and over 1 million adult males serve as leaders in the organization.

The Boy Scout motto reads: "On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

The BSA's policy prohibits openly gay adults from serving as leaders in the scouts. Gates alluded to the impending Supreme Court decision on gay marriage as a significant basis for changing the organization's current policy, which since 2013 allows openly gay youth to become and remain members in the national organization, but not adults.

In his remarks, Gates continued to point to cultural and legal shifts as the reason for the change in policy. "The country is changing and we are increasingly at odds with the legal landscape at both the state and federal levels.

Gated again stressed urgency, declaring, "We can act on our own or be forced to act but, either way, I suspect we do not have a lot of time."

 

The BSA president also admitted that the change in policy will upset many friends and leaders of the organization, but asserted that he has to suggest the change in policy to "preserve the Boy Scouts of America in recognition for all it has done for America, and all it can and must do in the future.

"I assure you that I have no hidden agenda," he declared.

The Christian Post reported in 2013 that the Boy Scouts were making plans to lift the ban on openly gay scout leaders.

 

Last year, The Christian Post reported on the dramatic growth of Trail Life USA, a biblically based alternative to the Boy Scouts of America, formed in 2013 in reaction to the Boy Scouts dropping their ban on openly gay youth.

More than 2.5 million boys are members of the Boy Scouts of America. It was founded in 1910 and over 1 million adult males serve as leaders in the organization.

The Boy Scout motto reads: "On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

 

Date:
Friday, May 22, 2015
May 21, 2015|12:50 pm| The Christian Post|
 

Leading evangelist Franklin Graham has spoken out against a Virginia school district that's weighing a curriculum change to its family life classes that focus on educating students on the "fluid spectrum" of sexuality, which would include teaching the concept that one's sexuality "evolves" throughout his or her lifetime.

The Fairfax County School Board will introduce on Thursday recommendations provided by its Family Life Education curriculum subcommittee suggesting that the school district teach middle and high schools students about transgenderism, gender identity and sexual identity.

 

According to a 28-page recommendation report by the subcommittee, starting in the eighth grade, students in the county would be taught that sexuality is a "broader spectrum."

"Students will identify that development of individual identity occurs over a lifetime and includes the component of sexual orientation and gender identity," the report states. "Individual identity will also be described as having four parts — biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual). The concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum will be introduced."

In ninth and tenth grades, students would be taught that their sexual orientation could naturally shift throughout their lifetimes.

 

"Instruction will include that individuals are sexual beings from birth to death and that sexuality evolves from infancy to old age," the report added. "Instruction will include how sexuality develops throughout a lifetime and how sexuality encompasses attitudes, values, and behaviors. Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime."

According to a statement provided to The Christian Post by Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson, John Torre, a final vote on the subcommittee's recommendations will be held on June 25, after a 30-day public comment period.

After reading about the subcommittee's proposal in a Fox News article, Graham, who is the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, took to Facebook to offer his opinion that the subcommittee's recommendations are nothing more than "poison" and an attempt to "brainwash" students.

 

"Can you believe these idiots? Gender fluidity? Here's an example of some of the wicked things misguided educators today want to expose our children to," Graham wrote. "It should make your blood boil that they want to brainwash our children! Teaching them that there is no difference between boys and girls is nothing more than a lie. We are different because God made us different. School districts should not allow this poison anywhere near the classroom!"

Graham further stated that Christians should see this is a reason to get more involved in local politics. He said policies and proposals such as the curriculum reccomendation are a result of school officials not upholding biblical principles.

 

"This is a great example of why Christians should be involved in politics at all levels in our communities, cities, and nation. Christians upholding biblical principles on school boards could help put a stop to outrageous initiatives like this," Graham added. "Let's fight back by getting the names of Christians on the ballots and working to make a difference for the future of our nation."

The school district voted earlier this month to add gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy, a move that Fox News reported had some parents upset. But now that the school district could be implementing lessons on sexual and gender identity that some Christian and conservative parents feel are not suitable for their children, some parents are outraged.

 

Torre told CP that parents would be able to remove their children from the family life classroom for lessons they disapprove of, just like the school district allows them to do currently.

"Parents have been able to opt their students out of Family Life Education designated lessons in the past and will continue to have that ability under the committee's recommendations - including the sexual orientation and gender identity lessons," Torre said.

Date:
Thursday, May 21, 2015
May 20, 2015|12:40 pm| The Christian Post|
 

A study that purported to show gay marriage opponents can easily be convinced to change their minds if they talk to gays was retracted after finding it used fake data.

The study, "When contact changes minds: An experiment on transmission of support for gay equality," was published in the December 2014, issue of the journal Science. It was widely reported in the media and cited as evidence that support for gay marriage is inevitable.

Donald P. Green, professor of political science at Columbia University, retracted the study after learning that his co-author, Michael LaCour, a UCLA graduate student, had used fake data.

 

Just one 20-minute conversation with a gay person will likely convince a same-sex marriage supporter to change their position, media reports declared last December in writing about the study.

Researchers first started to suspect problems with the study after three other researchers were unable to replicate the findings. Then on Tuesday, David Broockman, assistant professor at Stanford, Joshua Kalla, graduate student at Berkeley, and Peter Aronow, assistant professor at Yale, released a paper detailing several irregularities in the LaCour and Green study.

Those irregularities "jointly suggest the dataset (LaCour 2014) was not collected as described," the report stated.

 

The retraction was posted to retractionwatch.com. At the time of this publication, the website was down, perhaps due to too much traffic, but excerpts can be found in BuzzFeed science editor Virginia Hughes' article.

"I am deeply embarrassed by this turn of events and apologize to the editors, reviewers, and readers of Science," Green wrote

According to Hughes, after Green was alerted to the irregularities, he contacted LaCour's dissertation advisor, Professor Lynn Vavreck. After Vavreck confronted LaCour, he was unable to provide the study's raw data and claimed he accidentally deleted the file. A representative from Qualtrics, the company that provided the survey program LaCour used, told UCLA there was no evidence that the data had been deleted.

 

The New York Times' report on the study was written by Vavreck, a regular NYT contributor.

Andrew Gelman, professor of statistics and political science and Green's colleague at Columbia, originally wrote about the study for The Monkey Cage, a political science blog hosted by The Washington Post. On Tuesday he wrote about the retraction.

"It would be easy to criticize Green for not looking at the data more carefully, but ... that's easy to say after the fact. In all my collaborations, I've never even considered the possibility that I might be working with a Diederik Stapel. And, indeed, in my previous post on the topic, I expressedsurprise at the published claim but no skepticism," he wrote. (Emphasis and ellipsis in original. Diederik Stapel was a Dutch social psychologist who had 55 published works using fake data before his ruse was discovered in 2011.)

 

Harvard political scientist Gary King noted on Twitter that the retraction is the first for a political scientist. He also commented that it was "great for the discipline."

After University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald asked why it would be great for political science, given that it would raise doubts about the discipline, King answered that political science "now has some standards, that there is such a thing as fraud, truth, etc., rather than another argument."

On Wednesday, LaCour reacted to the news on his Twitter account.

 

"I'm gathering evidence," he wrote, "and relevant information so I can provide a single comprehensive response. I will do so at my earliest opportunity."

According to McDonald, LaCour was going to be an assistant professor at Princeton beginning in the Fall, but that is apparently no longer the case.

Date:
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

By: Dustin Siggins |Wed Apr 22, 2015 - 5:27 pm EST| Life Site News| 

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 22, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – D.C.-based religious organizations saw some of their First Amendment rights protected by a House committee last night -- even as a committee spokesperson told LifeSiteNews that another bill described as "unconstitutional" would not be given the same legislative scrutiny.

On Tuesday evening, the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform (COGR) marked up a resolution to disapprove of the "Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act" (RHNDA). Signed by the mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser, in January, the Act makes it illegal for any employer, including religious and pro-life organizations, to use a person's belief or actions about abortion in employment considerations. Abortion coverage by employers is also required.

The Committee will not, however, consider a resolution of disapproval against a D.C. bill that forces religious groups to sponsor gay rights events. A spokesperson for the Committee told LifeSiteNews that the gay rights bill was unconstitutional, and therefore did not need to be considered for disapproval.

 

Under existing federal law, both D.C. measures have 30 legislative days to be disapproved by Congress and President Obama. If this does not happen, they become law -- which is expected to happen by the end of next week. An HRAA disapproval resolution was introduced last week by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-MO, and the pro-life disapproval resolution was introduced by Rep. Dianne Black, R-TN.

 

Republican Senators James Lankford of Oklahoma and Ted Cruz of Texas have introduced similar pieces of legislation in the Senate.

RHNDA has drawn support from those who say it prevents discrimination against women, but opposition from the Cardinal Newman Society. The Catholic-based group says the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision in 2014 should pre-empt the law.

It also drew opposition from former D.C. mayor Vincent Gray, who last year wrote of his office's concerns that the Act would violate both federal law and the First Amendment related to religious liberty. While Gray "applaud[s] the goals of this legislation," his assessment noted that the Act's language could be considered a violation of the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal treatment, as its supporters are only aiming to protect alleged rights of one gender.

 

While any measure of disapproval is likely to pass the GOP-dominated committee and the full House, passage into law is uncertain given the pro-abortion preferences of President Obama. Additionally, a bill that passes the House first, and then the Senate, would need to pass a 60-vote threshold in Congress' upper chamber -- though if the GOP-dominated Senate were to pass its own bill first, only a 50-vote threshold would be required.

Democrats are using the disapproval debate to defend abortion. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said in a statement today that “allowing employers to fire employees for using birth control, or in vitro fertilization, or any other reproductive health care service is an unconscionable intrusion into workers’ personal lives."

Pelosi's statement came one day after D.C.'s Democratic non-voting Representative to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, held a press conference with Catholics for Choice, national gay rights groups, and a national atheist organization, among other groups opposed to the House's action.

 

Norton and those who joined her at the press conference said disapproving of RHNDA was an example of Congress meddling in local affairs. However, March for Life Action Vice President Tom McClusky told LifeSiteNews that the opposite was true.

"The list of those supporting this effort to take away the rights of D.C. residents are mostly national groups with little interest of the day to day concerns of those who live in the nation's capital," McClusky said. "Those who oppose the liberal attempts represent D.C. charities, schools, and relief services.”

“Eleanor Holmes Norton would like to portray this as the U.S. Congress vs. the D.C. people when in fact this is the D.C. government against the religious and moral freedoms of D.C. residents," he told LifeSiteNews.

 

The other bill signed by Bowser that is concerning to religious liberty advocates is the "Human Rights Amendment Act" (HRAA). According to the Committee Reportpublished on October 15, 2014, "educational institutions affiliated with religious organizations would not be allowed to prohibit gay and lesbian students groups from using the school facilities and services."

The report says the law does not require funding or official recognition for such groups, but Heritage Foundation policy experts Ryan Anderson and Sarah Torre disagree. Anderson and Torre wrote that the law "could force Christian schools to recognize an LGBT student group or host a 'gay pride' day on campus."

HRAA is not being considered for disapproval by the House Oversight Committee. Committee spokesperson Melissa Subbotin told LifeSiteNews that "the Committee does not need to take up HRAA."

 

"The Council of the District of Columbia’s legislation...is unconstitutional from a First Amendment perspective and it is in conflict with an existing act of Congress," Subbotin said in an email. "In either case, it will not stand, and does not require Committee action."

Subbotin explained that "the Constitution gives Congress the power to 'exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever' for the District of Columbia. In 1989, the Religious Liberty Act was signed into law. It exempts religious institutions from the DC Human Rights Act, appropriately respecting the constitutional separation between church and state."

 

"Once again...the Council of the District of Columbia is thumbing its nose at Congress," said Subbotin.

LifeSiteNews submitted a request for comment to the office of the D.C. Attorney General regarding Subbotin's comments, but no reply had been received as of press time.

Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly told LifeSiteNews that fighting HRAA "is a rather simple test of Republicans' claim to respect religious freedom."

 

"If they fail, it leaves Catholics in a very bad position," Reilly said. "They should be able to win a costly court battle, but if that fails, they can shut down their services, move out of the District, or violate the law and suffer a kind of martyrdom for doing so."

Earlier this year, a senior GOP Hill aide told LifeSiteNews that "the House will review these bills, especially in light of concerns about religious liberty and conscience rights violations, and respond accordingly." The aide also said that "Congress will continue to consider [the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act] and will consider ways to protect individuals, organizations, and providers’ religious beliefs and moral convictions.”

Other methods of protecting religious liberty in the District of Columbia are available to pro-life and pro-family advocates, should disapproval resolutions fail. One is new legislation that would override the D.C. Council's laws. Another is using the appropriations process to protect religious liberty. 

Date:
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
May 19, 2015|9:28 am| The Christian Post|
 

A U.K. judge has rued that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against gay customers when it refused to make a cake featuring the "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie with a pro same-sex marriage slogan.

District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled at Belfast County Court on Tuesday that Ashers Bakery, the defendants, "have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of sexual discrimination," The Belfast Telegraph reported.

"This is direct discrimination for which there is no justification."

 

The baking company was taken to court in 2014 for refusing the order of LGBT activist Gareth Lee, who said that the £500 (U.S. $775) in damages will be donated to charity.

Ashers' general manager Daniel McArthur explained that the bakery seeks to accommodate everyone, but cannot operate against its religious beliefs, which define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"We happily serve everyone but we cannot promote a cause that goes against what the Bible says about marriage," McArthur said, according to BBC News.

"We have tried to be guided in our actions by our Christian beliefs."

 

Brownlie apparently acknowledged that the McArthur family held "genuine deeply held religious beliefs," but argued that since they run a for-profit organization, the law dictates that they must serve everyone.

"The defendants are not a religious organization. They conduct a business for profit. I believe the defendants did have the knowledge that the plaintiff was gay," the judge said.

"As much as I acknowledge their religious beliefs this is a business to provide service to all. The law says they must do that."

 

The cake in question that Ashers refused to make was supposed to feature portraits of the two "Sesame Street" puppets side by side alongside the logo of LGBT activist group QueerSpace.

In past cases, Sesame Workshop has denied that the characters can be linked to any kind of sexual orientation.

"Bert and Ernie are best friends," a 2011 statement read. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

 

Northern Ireland politicians reacted to the ruling with some praising Brownlie's decision while others said that gay activists are now being allowed to trump religious freedom rights.

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness tweeted in support: "Ashers bakery judgment a good result for equality, gay people have for far too long been discriminated against. We and the law on their side."

 

Unionist Politician Paul Givan, member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said, however, that many Christians may view the decision as "an attack" on their convictions.

"What we cannot have is a hierarchy of rights, and today there's a clear hierarchy being established that gay rights are more important than the rights of people to hold religious beliefs," Givan said.

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