Friday, January 10, 2014
January 10, 2014|2:07 pm
The Department of Justice announced Friday that it will recognize the same-sex marriages that were legalized in Utah since the Dec. 20 ruling that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The National Organization for Marriage has called the federal government's decision "outrageous," saying it signals the Obama administration has no regard "for the Constitution and the rule of law."
"It is outrageous that the Justice Department would move so brazenly and publicly to undermine Utah's standing constitutional provision regulating marriage as the union of one man and one woman," said Brian Brown, NOM's president.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a videotaped message released Friday that the same-sex marriages will be recognized for federal purposes. "These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds," Holder said.
"In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled – regardless of whether they in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages," he added. The Department of State's decision is in accordance with the June Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, thus awarding federal benefits to same-sex couples.
Holder clarified that the federal government will recognize the Utah marriages while the state continues with the appeals process in the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "In the meantime, I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages."
Utah was thrown into a frenzy of litigation on Dec. 20 when, in a surprise ruling, District Judge Robert J. Shelby determined that the state's 2004 ban against same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
Immediately following his ruling, hundreds of same-sex couples in the state flocked to their local county clerk to receive marriage licenses. Meanwhile, the state frantically requested a hold on same-sex marriage while it appeals Shelby's ruling. Ultimately, on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Utah a hold on distributing same-sex marriage licenses while the state's appeals process makes its way through courts.
The fate of the 1,300 same-sex couples who did marry from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6 remained in limbo following Monday's Supreme Court order.
On Wednesday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert's office announced that the state would not recognize the same-sex marriages that had been legalized in the past few weeks.
"… state recognition of same-sex marital status is on hold until further notice," Derek Miller, the governor's chief of staff, wrote in a statement.
"Please understand this position is not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages – that is for the courts to decide," he continued. "The intent of this communication is to direct state agency compliance with current laws that prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages."
Gov. Herbert's announcement prompted the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group, to request the federal government to recognize the state's same-sex marriages. "… there is simply no reason for the United States government not to extend federal recognition to these more than 1,300 couples," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a letter to Attorney General Holder.
The group wrote a separate letter addressed to the attorneys general of the 17 states where same-sex unions are legal to also recognize Utah's same-sex marriages.
Following Holder's announcement, the HRC released a statement thanking him for complying with their request. "Attorney General Eric Holder has once again shown the kind of leadership that earns you a spot in the history books. This is only the beginning of this fight, and this work continues until marriage equality returns to Utah for good, and full equality reaches every American in all 50 states."
The National Organization for Marriage, a group opposing same-sex marriage, opposed Holder's move in a statementFriday.
"It is the right of states to determine marriage, and the voters and legislature of Utah have done just that. Their right to do so is encoded in the U.S. Constitution, and was explicitly upheld by the Supreme Court this summer in the Windsor decision. But with this move, the Department of Justice under this Administration signals that it simply has no regard for the Constitution and the rule of law."
Utah's appeal against Shelby's ruling will now make its way through Denver's 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and oral arguments could be heard as early as March. A ruling could affect all states within the federal court's jurisdiction, including Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
Friday, January 10, 2014
January 10, 2014|7:58 am
Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) introduced a bill Thursday that would keep a state's definition of marriage for the legal residents of that state for the purposes of federal law.
If passed, the bill would require federal agencies to look at how a person's marital status is defined in their home state when determining their marital status for federal law.
If, for instance, a same-sex couple lives in a state that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman and that couple got married in a state that has redefined marriage to include same-sex couples, federal law would not recognize their marriage because their home state would not recognize their marriage.
"The 10th Amendment was established to protect state sovereignty and individual rights from being seized by the federal government," Weber said. "For too long, however, the federal government has slowly been eroding state's rights by promulgating rules and regulations through federal agencies.
"I drafted the 'State Marriage Defense Act of 2014' to help restore the 10th Amendment, affirm the authority of states to define and regulate marriage, as well as, provide clarity to federal agencies seeking to determine who qualifies as a spouse for the purpose of federal law. By requiring that the federal government defer to the laws of a person's state of legal residence in determining marital status, we can protect states' constitutionally established powers from the arbitrary overreach of unelected bureaucrats."
The legislation is needed, Weber believes, because of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. vs. Windsor. The Court struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that says marriage will be defined as one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law. The Court did not say, however, whether federal law would recognize a same-sex marriage if the couple got married in a state that allows them to get married but lives in a state that does not allow them to get married. Federal agencies, therefore, have been left to decide that question until Congress passes legislation to address it.
In August, the IRS issued a rule saying that it would recognize same-sex marriages in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.
Weber's bill has the support of Family Research Council, National Organization for Marriage, the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops, Concerned Women for America, and Heritage Action.
"The State Marriage Defense Act is consistent with the ruling in Windsor," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said, "which reiterated that states have the 'historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.' The current Obama administration policy is doing the very thing which the Court condemned - 'creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State.'
"The State Marriage Defense Act serves to protect state definitions of marriage against what the Court called efforts 'to put a thumb on the scales and influence a state's decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws.'"
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Becky Yeh - California correspondent (OneNewsNow.com) Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Thousands of signatures to repeal California's "transgender bathroom" law will be counted after state and county officials tried to refuse them. The law, which was set to go into effect January 1, has now been put on hold on account of the signatures.
A California judge has finalized an order that requires California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to accept thousands of signatures supporting an effort to repeal the state's transgender bathroom law. On the morning of January 2, Judge Allen Sumner of the Sacramento County Superior Court finalized his tentative ruling that requires Bowen to accept signatures from Tulare and Mono counties. Those signatures were delivered to county clerks' offices before the deadline, but weren't accepted until after the deadline.
The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) filed suit against Bowen and county officials for refusing to accept the petition signatures challenging AB 1266, which was set to kick in on January 1. Bowen's office had the option to argue the decision in court, but chose not to do so.
According to Brad Dacus, president of PJI, California voters should be encouraged by Sumner's ruling.
"[It] strongly supports the fundamental right to have referendum signatures counted when they are delivered to county clerks ahead of the referendum deadline," he says. "These rights are too important for the secretary of state, or a county clerk, to play politics when they don't like a particular referendum."
This referendum placed on hold AB 1266, the California law allowing "self-identified transgender" students to choose which sex-segregated activities and facilities (e.g., locker rooms, bathrooms) they will use. If enough signatures are verified, the referendum would go before voters in November.
The attorney also points out Bowen has agreed with PJI on what she considers "less controversial" referenda that a law cannot go into effect when more than enough signatures have been delivered – despite the fact proponents and some media outlets are reporting otherwise.
"We ... are committed to protecting every boy and girl attending school in California," says Dacus. "And that's why we're working very hard to make sure that every valid signature is counted in a petition to repeal AB 1266."
- See more at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/legal-courts/2014/01/08/signatures-delay-contr...
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
January 8, 2014
Attorneys representing a Colorado cake shop and its Christian owner filed an appeal last week after a judge ruled last month that the company must sell wedding cakes to gay couples.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys filed the appeal Friday on behalf of Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner, Jack Phillips.
"Every artist must be free to create work that expresses what he or she believes and not be forced to express contrary views," said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner in a statement. "Forcing Americans to promote ideas against their will undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free. If the government can take away our First Amendment freedoms, there is nothing it can't take away."
In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Phillips to make a cake for their wedding reception. The couple planned to marry in Massachusetts then hold their reception in Colorado, where same-sex marriages are not recognized.
Phillips, a Christian, told the couple he would make them other baked items but, because of his religious beliefs, could not make them a cake for their wedding celebration.
Craig and Mullins, who are being represented by the ACLU of Colorado, filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, which determined that Masterpiece Cakeshop had illegally discriminated against them. According to the ACLU, the CCRD's findings then led the Colorado Attorney General's office to file a formal complaint against the company with the state courts.
"The undisputed facts show that respondents (Phillips) discriminated against complainants because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage," wrote Administrative Law Judge Robert N. Spencer in his decision in December.
Attorneys for Phillips argue that he did not deny the couple a wedding cake "because of" their sexual orientation, according to court documents. He did so because of his "unwavering Christian beliefs" about marriage and about how God would feel if he were to participate in or promote a same-sex wedding.
His attorneys also argue that Phillips's right to refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding celebration is protected by the Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment.
"America was founded on the fundamental freedom of all citizens to live and work without fear of government punishment," said lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an ADF allied attorney, in a statement. "Jack simply exercised the long-cherished freedom to not speak by declining to promote a false view of marriage through his creative work. It's outrageous that the government would turn its guns on Jack and threaten him with a potential jail sentence unless he says and does what the government demands."
A Rasmussen Reports survey conducted in July 2013 focused on another type of wedding vendor, photographers. The survey found that 85 percent of American adults believe a Christian photographer who is opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds should have the right to say no when asked to work a same-sex wedding ceremony, and only eight percent disagree.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Former President and Mrs. Bush celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary on Jan. 6, 2014, the longest marriage for a U.S. president in the nation's history. Here's a look at the couple through the years.
The longest-running presidential love story just celebrated another anniversary.
President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush marked their 69thwedding anniversary Monday, extending the couple’s record for the longest presidential marriage in the nation’s history.
They set the record in 2000 when they surpassed John and Abigail Adams’ 54-year union.
“They don’t think of it in terms of ‘we’re the longest,’” Jim McGrath, President George H.W. Bush’s spokesman, told FoxNews.com on Monday. “They’re just so clearly still in love and devoted to one another. They’re two people, but they’re really one person.”
The romance began when the two met during a Christmas dance at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., back when the future president was 16 years old. The two were engaged a year and a half later, right before President Bush shipped out overseas to fight in World War II as a naval pilot.
A few years later, in Sept. 1944, Bush was shot down and nearly killed during a mission over the Pacific, which resulted in his being sent back home in time for Christmas. Soon after, Bush and the then Barbara Pierce were married in Rye, N.Y. on Jan. 6, 1945. They would have six children, including future President George W. Bush.
Years later, Barbara Bush would tell her children that she married the first man she ever kissed.
The two occupied the White House as the president and first lady from 1989 to 1993. Previously, Barabara Bush was the second lady of the United States during President Reagan’s eight-year term, when her husband served as vice president.
She was hospitalized last week with pneumonia and released on Saturday. McGrath said she’s “thrilled” to be home, and that the couple celebrated a quiet anniversary at their home in Houston.
Meanwhile, President Bush, who has had some health problems, is doing “fantastic,” McGrath said, adding that the former president made it out to the annual family Christmas trip to Florida and was able to do some fishing.
As for the secret to the couple’s longtime bond, McGrath says the two treat each other with love and deference, as well as a healthy amount of teasing.
“It’s hard for one to think of life without the other,” McGrath says, “which is why 69 years is such a blessing.”
Monday, January 6, 2014
By: Julia Marsh
A married, heterosexual gym teacher at a tony Upper West Side private school was fired because his lesbian supervisor disapproved of his “traditional family status,” the canned teacher claims in a new Manhattan lawsuit.
Gregory Kenney, 50, taught gym at the Trinity School on W. 91st St. for 16 years before he was let go in June 2012.
Kenney, who lives with his wife and three young children in LI, says he was a well-liked employee at the elite institution that counts Truman Capote, Ivanka Trump and Eric Schneiderman as alumni, until a gay athletic director named Pat Krieger took over in 2009.
Krieger allegedly forced him to coach three sports, even though his contract only required him to join two teams, according to his reverse discrimination suit.
When he complained that the extra responsibilities interfered with his family obligations Krieger allegedly told him, “We all make choices,” the suit says.
After Kenney told Krieger that he couldn’t keep working nights and weekends, she reported him to the headmaster “while a single, female teacher faced no scrutiny when she refused to coach a third season.”
Kenney claims the allegedly biased athletic director “routinely favored other single, younger females without children and discriminated against [him] because of his gender, sexual orientation, ‘traditional family status,’ and age.”Kenney says he was fired because of his “traditional family status” from Trinity High School.
“He felt ostracized because of his family,” Kenney’s attorney, Steven Morelli told The Post in an interview.
“He had been doing this for so many years and he certainly did the job well or they would have gotten rid of him a long time ago,” Morelli added.
Kenney coached soccer, basketball and golf at Trinity, where tuition costs as much as $41,370 a year.
“On at least one occasion Kenney was dissuaded from attending social events with his peers because he was a heterosexual, married male with children, who wouldn’t fit in with [Krieger’s] ‘culture.’”
He says three other married coaches with young children were also sacked. Kenney was replaced by a gay female, according to court papers.
Kenney, who has 7-year-old twins and a 9-year-old, is still looking for a new job.
He’s seeking unspecified damages in the suit.
A spokesman for Trinity did not immediately comment.
Friday, January 3, 2014
December 31, 2013|5:14 pm
The Mountain States Conference (MSC) has approved a license for a woman who will become the Mennonite Church USA's first openly gay pastor.
In its decision to grant Rhoda Good a license, the conference empathized with those who disagreed with its decision but said that it felt it had acted in way consistent with its Christian values.
"It is the desire of the Leadership Board to function and communicate with a spirit of deep humility, joyfully acknowledging the work of God in our midst, and with a sense of sadness recognizing the pain that this causes some of the sisters and brothers that we love in Mennonite Church USA," the MSC stated in Mennonite World Review.
Good, who the MSC recognized as one "whose gifts and call to ministry are clearly affirmed," received her M.Div in spiritual formation/direction from Eastern Mennonite University and joined the pastoral team at First Mennonite Church of Denver in 2012.
Despite being in a commited relationship with another woman, Good was unanimously confirmed by the Mountain States Conference Leadership Board on Dec. 22 after a year-long process, and will receive her license on Feb. 2.
According to Mountain States moderator Rhoda Blough, in addition to following its normal credentialing interview process, it also asked the advice of the Leadership Boar and held four listening meetings across the conference with the pastor and five representatives from each member congregation.
"These were places where people could share," Blough told the Mennonite World Review. "It was not to be a place for debate; it was for prayer and listening and then eating together."
After the listening meetings, Good met with both the Ministerial Council and Leadership Board respectively who approved the pastor's request.
Following the decision, Blough said that the conference is making an effort to reach out to churches that did not agree with the MSC's decision.
"I think the Ministerial Council has kept this model of accountability in front of them to hear all the voices in our conference," she said. "We wanted to listen first and foremost to the heart of God of the people who make up Mountain States Mennonite Conference."
Whether Good will be ultimately ordained by the Mennonite Church remains uncertain as the license period can serve "as a time of testing that can, but does not necessarily, lead to ordination."
The MSC encompasses 21 congregations in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas and contains 1,708 members.
Monday, December 30, 2013
December 27, 2013|12:45 pm
Utah announced its plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a district judge's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the state. The state announced its appeal plans Thursday as Utah's last four holdout counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, following the orders of Gov. Gary Herbert.
The office of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said that the state will consult with outside attorneys in the coming days and seek an emergency stay with the Supreme Court as soon as possible. "The Attorney General's Office is preparing an application to the United States Supreme Court requesting a stay of the district court's order," the attorney general's officesaid in a statement.
"Due to the necessity of coordination with outside counsel the filing of the appeal may be delayed for a few days. It is the intent of the Attorney General's Office to file with the Supreme Court as soon as possible."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will receive the emergency appeal request because she has jurisdiction over Utah and surrounding states. The magnitude of the state's appeal could cause her to request all of the Supreme Court Justices to offer their opinion on the case.
Last Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional because it violated the right to equal protection and due process under the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. Shelby wrote in his ruling that the ban on same-sex marriage violated couples' "fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason."
Sixty-six percent of Utah's residents voted in 2004 to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. Utah is considered to be a more conservative state on the issue of same-sex marriage, due in part to its large Mormon population and the religion's belief that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.
On Monday, the state requested a temporary stay in the district judge's ruling, arguing that they wanted to see the case play out in the appeals court before the state actually allowed same-sex couples to start marrying.
Judge Shelby refused to grant a temporary stay in his own ruling, and the state was also denied an emergency stay by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
The Utah attorney general's office has said it is appealing Judge Shelby's ruling because the "federal district court's ruling that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right has never been established in any previous case in the 10th Circuit [Court of Appeals]."
As Utah announced its plans to appeal to the Supreme Court, the last of the state's holdout counties began issuing same-sex marriage licenses after Gov. Gary Herbert ordered them to do so. Four counties, including Box Elder, Utah, Piute and San Juan had previously refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in spite of Shelby's ruling.
County clerks told the Associated Press that they had little choice in issuing same-sex marriage licenses after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant an emergency stay on Tuesday. The counties could reportedly be held in contempt of federal court if they continued to refuse to issue the licenses.
San Juan County Clerk Norman Johnson told AP that he was hesitant to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses because he feels it is not the will of the voters who put him in office over a decade ago, but ultimately the county clerks must abide by state orders. "We have no choice," Johnson said Thursday. "The scales have tipped. It's not the way I want to see things go. But the law's the law, and I accept it. It's time."
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert ordered all counties to comply with Shelby's orders, although he made it clear he disagreed with the judge's ruling. "I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah."
Friday, December 20, 2013
December 19, 2013|3:48 pm
Claiming that "same-gender couples are as capable of responsible procreation as are opposite-gender couples," the N.M. Supreme Court found on Thursday that gay marriage is legal under the New Mexico Constitution.
"We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law," Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote for the N.M. Supreme Court.
The other four justices on the court concurred with the opinion.
Denying state marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the N.M. Constitution's equal protection clause, which says that no person can "be denied equal protection of the laws," the court found.
The remedy, Chavez wrote is that "'civil marriage' shall be construed to mean the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples."
The court was unconvinced by the defense arguments that the previous definition of marriage should be upheld because opposite-sex married couples best provide child rearing needs. According to the opinion, the defense argued that maintaining the definition of marriage is in the interest of the state because it promotes "responsible procreation" and "responsible child-rearing."
Chavez wrote that "it is not clear what the opponents of same-gender marriage mean by 'responsible procreation,' ... ." In the next sentence, though, he uses the term "responsible procreation" without defining what it means for the court: "Same-gender couples are as capable of responsible procreation as are opposite-gender couples. We conclude that there is not a substantial relationship between New Mexico marriage laws and the purported governmental interest in responsible procreation."
Chavez also claims that "no one denies that LGBT individuals are fully capable of entering into the kind of loving and committed relationships that serve as the foundation for families, or that they are capable of responsibly caring for and raising children."
Chavez does not address, though, scientific evidence that children do best when they are raised by both a mother and a father (see here, here and here).
Thursday, December 19, 2013
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former Presidential Candidate Gary Bauer noted that critics of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson "want free speech for themselves, and silence for everyone else."
In the midst of the controversy over an interview Robertson gave in which he supported traditional marriage, Bauer, the president of American Values, made the following statement:
"The attempt by gay rights groups and A&E to censor Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson is outrageous. This is another example of the well-funded organized effort in America to silence anyone who dares to express the Judeo/Christian worldview on human sexuality. Phil Robertson's critics are intolerant, pure and simple. They want to decide what can be said in the public square and what can be taught in places of worship. A&E should be ashamed of themselves for bowing to these intolerant extremists."