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Category Archives: States

Another Christian Business Forced to Close Down

As reported by The Daily Signal, another Christian family-run business has had to close due to a “discrimination” complaint brought against them by a same-sex couple. This is yet another example of the real tragedy happening in our nation: people who believe in the truth of marriage and simply want to be left alone to practice their beliefs in the public square are instead targeted for persecution and punishment, with the power of government used as a club to advance the cause of ‘same-sex marriage.'

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This time, the victims are Richard and Betty Odgaard, the owners of Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa, which they bought and turned into a bistro, flower shop, art gallery and wedding venue. Members of the Mennonite faith, the couple had a successful business until they were asked to rent the facility for a same-sex ‘wedding.’ Because their deeply held religious beliefs preclude their participation in something that violates their faith, they declined to be involved. Within 24 hours a complaint was filed with a government agency. After the couple was forced to settle and pay a $5,000 fine, they had to stop participating in wedding celebrations altogether in order not to have to participate in gay ‘weddings’ that violate their faith. But portrayed as bigots, the damage to their reputation was done and the couple is shutting their doors.

The proposed First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) would prevent this type of government sanction at the federal level, thus leaving the same-sex couple free to find another ‘wedding’ venue and the Mennonite couple free to not participate. NOM urges state legislatures to move forward with state-based versions of FADA.

From The Daily Signal:

On August 3, 2013, a gay couple from Des Moines asked to rent Görtz Haus for their wedding.

Because of their Mennonite faith, the Odgaards told the couple they could not host their wedding.

Within 24 hours, the couple filed a discrimination complaint through the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

“We knew that the business was going to be in trouble almost immediately,” Richard, 69, said. “We had to get rid of the wedding business to avoid another complaint and possibly a higher penalty.”

The Odgaards never admitted to any discrimination, but agreed to a $5,000 settlement.

They also returned two non-refundable deposits for couples who, after hearing media reports, didn’t want to use their space for their weddings anymore.

“It was just the right thing to do,” Richard said.

. . .

The case was the first of its kind in Iowa, but it didn’t receive the same sort of media attention as the bakers in Oregon, the photographers in New Mexico or the farmers in New York.

The couple says that’s because pending litigation prevented them from being able to speak out, further isolating them from their community.

“We didn’t get the Chick-fil-A response,” Richard half-heartedly joked.

The Odgaards don’t blame the gay community for shutting them down, but rather, the state of Iowa.

“I think if people in Iowa would have had a chance to vote on this, it would have never have been this way. People in Iowa are pretty conservative,” Betty said.

“With the discrimination laws and the legality of same-sex marriage in this state, now you have to prove that you didn’t discriminate,” added Richard.

The Odgaards also feel they never got their day in court, and had the case turned out differently, they might not have been driven out of business.

“This was all administrative judgement,” Richard said. “The [gay couple] had a platform to file their case and we didn’t get our day in court with a jury of our peers.”

For the full article, please visit The Daily Signal.

Senator Mike Lee: Defender of Marriage and Religious Liberty

Senator Mike Lee of Utah has become a champion for marriage and religious liberty. Last week, he gave an important speech at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center where he laid out the history and importance of religious liberty – noting that our constitution does not merely call for religious “tolerance” where diverse viewpoints are allowed, but it requires religious “liberty” and the freedom to live your life according to those beliefs.

He also discussed how the guarantee of religious liberty is being increasingly violated in various ways, including by radical anti-marriage activists who insist that supporters of marriage as uniquely between one man and one woman be punished and marginalized. Sen. Lee will be introducing legislation very soon to protect the right of Americans to be free of government harassment and punishment, legislation that will be a high priority for NOM.

Here are excerpts from his speech, courtesy of The Federalist:

Image credit: Republican60

Image credit: Republican60

We all know – and indeed, many of us are – individuals who have personally benefited from America’s commitment to religious liberty. But those benefits extend far, far beyond individual pilgrims’ progress. Every great social reform movement in American history – from abolition and Civil Rights, to the struggles for women’s equality and labor rights, to the pro-life movement today – has grown out of individual Americans’ religious convictions, and their constitutionally protected right to live them out. All Americans of all faiths – and those of none – have benefited equally from our nation’s unique commitment to religious liberty.

Religious liberty as it has been lived in America is not an accident of history, or a quirk of the law. It is nothing less than a culture-defining human achievement.

Yet recent events suggest it could be losing ground. The great American commitment to religious liberty and diversity may still be universally successful, but it is no longer universally shared. This turn toward intolerance, tragically, has been catalyzed by the campaign for legal recognition of gay marriages.

Like many Americans, I personally do not believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional requirement, or a federal prerogative, or even good policy for that matter. But today, those of us who hold these views cannot deny that our arguments are no longer winning the public debate.

Sometimes in a democracy, the other side wins.

Yet today, at the very moment this campaign appears to be on the brink of success – having appealed to the country with the principles of justice, tolerance, and equality – many within that movement find themselves tempted to abandon the principles and the people that have made them successful.

Most advocates of marriage equality are no more radical than most advocates of traditional marriage – just as most followers of Jesus are no more radical than most followers of Moses, Mohammed, and the Buddha.

. . .

We should never lose sight of the fact that the marriage equality movement is succeeding not by focusing on marriage, but by focusing on equality. Political conservatives and religious traditionalists may not like how the gay marriage debate is going. But it is no small thing that the gay marriage movement has succeeded in recent years only by adopting our principles – of tolerance, diversity, and equal opportunity.

It is those principles – not the parties currently enjoying their political resonance – that hold the high ground in this debate. And because those of us who believe in religious freedom hold those principles in our hearts – and not just in our political quiver – that high ground remains open to us.

The opportunity exists now – and it will expand if the Court rules as most expect it to – for Americans of good-will to come together to reinforce religious liberty, and to further protect and enrich the free space it inhabits.

To read the full text, please visit The Federalist.

BREAKING NEWS – Victory in North Carolina!

The House of Representatives in North Carolina just voted 69-41 to override Governor Pat McCrory’s veto of Senate Bill 2, the critical legislation that will protect marriage and religious liberty. The state Senate previously voted to override McCrory’s veto meaning that this important legislation now becomes law! This is a huge victory for supporters of marriage and was brought about because of the efforts of NOM’s members and others working in support of allies in North Carolina including the NC Values Coalition.

SB 2 allows clerks, magistrates and Registers of Deeds to refuse to participate in a same-sex ‘wedding’ ceremony if doing so violates their deeply-held beliefs. This protects people of faith from having to choose between keeping their job and upholding their beliefs.

It was outrageous that Governor McCrory, a Republican, would veto this legislation and we will work with allies to hold him accountable.

Senator Lankford Stands for Freedom of Religion

Image credit: Newsmax

Image credit: Newsmax

In a bold and decisive move, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford wrote to the Department of Homeland Security insisting on the correct verbiage to be used according to our American rights. He demands that the use of “Freedom of Religion” replace the current “Freedom of Worship” wording, so as to allow for the full intent of the 1st Amendment.

Senator Lankford sent his letter on the anniversary of the introduction of Madison’s amendments, writing:

It is my understanding that the answer choice “freedom of worship” has been used since 2008, when USCIS was advised that the word “worship” was more inclusive than the word “religion.”

Today, June 8th, is the anniversary of the day on which James Madison introduced his amendments to the Constitution. Not only is “freedom of worship” inconsistent with the text of the Amendment proposed 226 years ago today, saying that “freedom of worship” is more inclusive than “freedom of religion” flies in the face of a pillar upon which our entire nation was founded. Our forefathers came to America to have freedom of religion, not simply freedom of worship. So valued, they made the free exercise of religion our first freedom.

We are doing a great disservice to those seeking citizenship in this great country if we distort our history and fail to teach new citizens about the founding and constitutional principles of this nation. How can your Department request that Congress create a new United States Citizenship Foundation when your own naturalization materials do not even accurately reflect the constitutional rights of American citizens?

Our Constitution is clear – Americans have the freedom of religion. The naturalization test and its corresponding materials must be equally as clear. As such, I ask that you immediately change all documents that are part of the naturalization test, including the study materials, to correctly show that Americans have the right to the free exercise of religion.

The freedom of religion is much more than just the freedom of worship. Worship confines you to a location. Freedom of religion is the right to exercise your religious beliefs – it is the ability for Americans to live out their faith or to choose to have no faith at all.

Source and quotes via Lankford.Senate.Gov.

Religious Institutions Seek Refuge Against Discrimination

ThinkstockPhotos-482675767Leaders of religious organizations are expressing growing concern about the possible implications of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision later this month.

This week, more than 70 leaders in Christian education sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, urging them to pass legislation that would protect schools from government discrimination based on their belief in the biblical definition of marriage.

. . .

On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, announced plans to re-file a bill that provides the protection the groups seek.

“The bill simply says federal government can't take adverse action against a religious institution based on that institution's belief in natural marriage,” Lee told a group of reporters in his Capitol Hill office. “That's incompatible with our laws, that's incompatible with who we are as a people, and that's incompatible with our Constitution.”

. . .

The proactive approach represents a change in tactics for many of the leaders, who have largely taken a wait-and-see approach to shifting cultural norms on same-sex marriage. They’re now taking their case to the public, warning of “devastating” effects that could loom ahead.

“To remove tax-exempt status from faith-based educational institutions because of their commitment to their beliefs about marriage would result in severe financial distress for those institutions and their millions of students,” the leaders wrote. “It would result in millions of students losing the choice of a faith-based educational experience that has been of historic value to the country for over 150 years.”

Full article available at World Mag.

Utah Defends Anti-Polygamy Laws

A group of state attorneys in Utah are defending the state’s anti-polygamy laws, stating that the laws protect women and children from abuse:

ThinkstockPhotos-470660173The Utah Attorney General is appealing a ruling striking down key provisions of the law in the case of Kody Brown and his four wives, stars of the reality TV show "Sister Wives." The state says in newly filed court documents that monogamous marriage is an important social unit and court rulings dating back to 1878 have upheld laws against polygamy.

"The United States Constitution does not protect the practice of polygamy as a fundamental right," state attorney Parker Douglas wrote.

Utah is appealing a 2013 ruling that struck down key provisions of the state's anti-polygamy law.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups decided that a provision of the state law forbidding cohabitation violated the polygamous Brown family's freedom of religion.

But Utah contends that some religious practices can be outlawed, and polygamy should be one of them, according to documents filed Friday before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The state argues the practice can be associated with crimes like sexual assault, statutory rape and exploitation of government benefits. Outlawing it helps investigators gather evidence and strengthens cases against abusers, court documents say.

Full article available via AP.

The Battle Continues in Washington State

Alliance Defending Freedom, a recent March for Marriage sponsor and partner of NOM, is leading the fight to protect Washington State florist Barronelle Strutzman, who was ordered to pay penalties and attorneys’ fees when she declined to provide the flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony:

ThinkstockPhotos-496514511ADF filed notices of appeal in April on behalf of Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, after a lower state court ruled that she must pay penalties and attorneys’ fees for declining to use her artistic abilities to design custom floral arrangements for a long-time customer’s same-sex ceremony. Rather than participate in the ceremony, Stutzman referred the customer, whom she considers a friend and had served for nearly 10 years, to several other florists in the area who would provide high-quality arrangements and wedding support.

“Americans oppose unjust laws that strong-arm citizens to create expression against their will,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner. “Barronelle and numerous others like her around the country have been more than willing to serve any and all customers, but they are understandably not willing to promote any and all messages. No one should be faced with a choice between their freedom of speech and conscience on one hand and personal and professional ruin on the other.”

“People in creative professions regularly have to make decisions about where they lend their artistic talents and the events in which they will participate,” Stutzman said. “For me, it’s never about the person who walks into the shop, but about the message I’m communicating when someone asks me to ‘say it with flowers.’ We should all have artistic freedom and the right to disagree without one side of a conversation being threatened by the government.”

You can read the full article via The Global Dispatch.

Collusion, Improper Communication, and Bias Against ‘Sweet Cakes’

Kelsey Harkness of The Daily Signal exposes actions by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Basic Rights Oregon to persecute the small business of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. Sweet Cakes held to their religious beliefs by turning down business that involved a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony, before same-sex marriage was even legal in Oregon.

It appears that the advocacy group and the government agency had been holding meetings, as well as exchanging emails and texts, to conspire against Sweet Cakes before same-sex marriage was legal, and in a completely biased manner.

ThinkstockPhotos-176997365The Daily Signal has exclusively learned that the government agency responsible for enforcing Oregon’s anti-discrimination law appears to be working closely with a powerful gay rights advocacy group in its case against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

Communications between the agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon, raise questions about potential bias in the state’s decision to charge the Kleins with discrimination for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Communications obtained through a public records request show employees of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries—which pursued the case against the Kleins—participating in phone calls, texting, and attending meetings with Basic Rights Oregon, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state.

Harkness explains the issues in these discriminating communications:

“That’s a clear conflict of interest,” Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal.

State agencies have a duty to represent the best interests of the general public, 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.

According to emails, Avakian met with Basic Rights Oregon on multiple occasions.

Read the full article at The Daily Signal.

North Carolina Passes Legislation Protecting Officials Against Government Coercion to Perform Same-sex ‘Weddings’

ThinkstockPhotos-99272117The North Carolina House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed legislation to allow local magistrates and registers of deeds, the officials who perform marriages in the state, to refuse to participate in a same-sex ‘wedding’ if doing so violates their deeply held religious objections, and similarly if they refuse to perform heterosexual wedding ceremonies. The vote in the House was 67-43, following similar lop-sided passage in the State Senate. The legislation was pushed in response to the illegitimate decision of a federal judge to overturn North Carolina’s marriage amendment that was overwhelmingly adopted by voters in 2012.

Supporters of Senate Bill 2 say it effectively balances the rights of state employees who object to same-sex marriage and the rights of the couples seeking a wedding.

“This bill provides a balancing act – to make sure marriages across this state are performed in a blind fashion,” said Rep. Dean Arp, a Monroe Republican. “The question is should you be fired from a job because you choose to live your life by those religious beliefs.”

Unfortunately, Governor Pat McCrory (a Republican) has tragically promised a veto of the legislation and appears to have swallowed the false talking points of same-sex marriage activists and the left. This will likely prove to be a tremendous miscalculation on McCrory’s part. There is a real chance that the Legislature would override McCrory’s veto. Sen. Phil Berger, the President of the Senate, authored this legislation. Further, McCrory is up for reelection next year. A veto of the bill invites a primary challenge and certainly will alienate him from the conservative base of the Republican Party. NOM will be working with allies in the state to assess our options.

Gov. Pat McCrory announced Thursday afternoon that he’ll veto a bill to allow magistrates to opt out of performing marriage if they have a religious objection.

The governor’s announcement came just hours after the N.C. House approved it in a 67-43 final vote Thursday.

. . .

“Whether it is the president, governor, mayor, a law enforcement officer, or magistrate, no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath; therefore, I will veto Senate Bill 2.”

The U.S. Constitution and federal law protect people from religious persecution and coercion, specifically requiring the government to make reasonable accommodations for people of faith. This modest legislation in North Carolina simply protects people from having to choose between keeping their job and their religious beliefs. Nobody should be forced to participate in any ‘wedding’ against their wishes:

The conservative N.C. Values Coalition, which has advocated for the bill, issued a stinging critique of McCrory’s decision Thursday afternoon.

“Senate Bill 2 will protect the fundamental American freedom to exercise one’s religious beliefs, and it is unacceptable for any governor who calls himself ‘conservative’ to veto legislation like SB2,” spokeswoman Jessica Wood said.

The solution to this situation, of course, is for the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the right of states to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, which would reinstate the North Carolina Marriage Amendment and make legislation like this unnecessary. We hope that the justices are watching the chaos that is occurring in the states as they struggle with ways to deal with the damage done by federal judges who have illegitimately imposed their own views of marriage, despite the democratic decisions of voters and elected legislators.

Source and quotes via News Observer.

Texas Reaffirms Support for Marriage

200445153-001The Texas Senate reaffirmed Christian principles when passing a resolution to “affirm the preservation of the present definition of marriage as being a legal union of one man and one woman…” Although the resolution is not binding, it does make a statement to Texas and the country that they will be upholding the true definition of marriage, no matter what it might cost. It is a worthy stand for them to make, and one they know must be done:

Same-sex marriages already are prohibited by the Texas Constitution. But senators who supported the resolution 21-10 said they wanted to make a point, and take a stand on principle.

In their late-night vote, 10 years after Texans voted to ban gay marriage in the state, every Senate Republican effectively said they still support that decision - with a resolution reaffirming the state's 2005 voter-approved ban.

The proposal touched off passionate speeches for and against the measure.

We affirm the preservation of the present definition of marriage as being a legal union of one man and one woman as a husband and wife, and pledge to uphold and defend this principle that is so dearly held by Texans far and wide," the resolution read.

As the day comes closer to the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage, stands such as the Texas Senate’s will become more important. Important to show the Supreme Court that the states can decide on the definition of marriage for themselves, and that is not the right of SCOTUS to decide the beliefs of the American people.

Source and quotes via SF Gate.

Controversy in Utah: Debate About Marriage is No Longer Permissible

The “controversy” being orchestrated in Utah against those who signed onto a brief by scholars supporting marriage is indicative of the new direction of same-sex marriage activists: they are attempting to shut down debate altogether.

Voiceless

It’s no longer acceptable in their eyes to have a civil debate about the importance of marriage, or about the beauty of men and women coming together to have and raise children. Instead, they treat these positions as bigoted and discriminatory, akin to racism, claiming there is no room in civil discourse for them to be expressed, and certainly not anywhere near a university.

Two professors and a university president at two Utah universities are facing intense scrutiny from colleagues and students after signing a legal brief provided to the Supreme Court that defends traditional marriage.

Utah State University professors Richard Sherlock and Kay Bradford, along with Utah Valley University president Matthew Holland, were three of 100 scholars nationwide that signed an amicus curiae, or friend of the court brief, in support of traditional marriage.

Opponents of the brief allege the three, by signing the document, are perpetuating discrimination in the name of their respective universities.

The “100 scholars of marriage” brief is one of more than 140 briefs provided to the Supreme Court as it decides whether state bans on gay marriage are constitutionally legal.

Arguing in favor of gay marriage bans, the “100 scholars of marriage” brief states that “forcing a state to redefine marriage in genderless terms will seriously disserve the vast majority of the state’s children.”

The brief further argues redefining marriage will bring an increase in poverty, the number of children with emotional problems, and teenage pregnancies and abortions, among other things.

. . .

Because of the brief’s staunch defense of traditional marriage, some professors and students at Utah State and Utah Valley have gone on the offense toward the two professors and president. A contingent of students and employees at each university penned letters that express their disapproval.

In a letter sent to the Herald Journal, 250 students and professors at Utah State wrote the signatures of Sherlock and Bradford “send a clear message of intolerance to those LGBTQ students, faculty, and allies” at the university.

“Ultimately, they used their university title to perpetuate discrimination — that’s not OK, and that’s why we wrote this letter,” said Senior Bret Nielsen, who drafted the letter.

In response, Sherlock said his opposition to gay marriage is not equivalent to discrimination, especially when related to gay students.

“We all have views,” Sherlock told the Herald Journal. “Our task as teachers is not to keep those views hidden but insure that we are being fair to students who disagree.

Bradford has not commented on the controversy.

You may remember when former GOP Gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer in Minnesota was stripped of a university professor post that had been awarded to him when activists complained that he supported traditional marriage. And there is the case of a tenured professor at Marquette who was terminated because he publicly objected to another teacher refusing to allow a student to express a position in support of traditional marriage in a classroom discussion. They follow the 2012 case of a high-ranking official at Gallaudet University who was suspended from her position because she signed a petition giving Maryland voters the right to vote on marriage.

We sincerely hope that the members of the US Supreme Court are watching developments like this, because if they rule (illegitimately) that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman violates the US Constitution, the recriminations against supporters of marriage will be fast and furious.

You can read the full article at The College Fix.

Louisiana’s Fight for Freedom

True Americans are open to all ideas, but they are not willing to redefine society norms merely to please special interest groups. Recently, Louisiana has demonstrated that they uphold the American belief that citizens, not unelected judges, should decide the laws for themselves:

ThinkstockPhotos-176954063In Louisiana, a new bill has been proposed to protect those who have suffered unjust government discrimination. Opponents are demonizing the bill’s supporters and calling them names, misrepresenting the contents of the proposal, using scare tactics, and generally acting with fundamentalist zeal instead of dispassionate deliberation and rational discourse. They would deny to an entire class of Louisiana citizens legal protection from discriminatory acts, simply because members of that class do not share their own moral views.

Naturally, those zealous opponents are supporters of redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.

The bill is known as the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act. As its name suggests, it is designed to codify legal protections for those who have moral and religious convictions about the nature of marriage and whose convictions are out of favor with cultural elites and powerful political actors. Specifically, it would protect those who perceive that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The bill is timely, necessary, and well-justified.

. . .

The truth is that Louisianans, like Americans generally, disagree about the nature of marriage and they do so because they have reasons to believe what they believe about marriage. States do not use their considerable power to prevent marriage revisionists from advocating the redefinition of marriage or from acting on their views, and states should not use their power to prevent natural marriage proponents from acting on their conviction that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

You can read the full article via Public Discourse.

All States Should Take Texas’ Lead

Texas is taking a strong stance to protect their State’s right to define marriage, regardless of what ruling the Supreme Court issues:

State lawmakers are considering at least five bills designed to block same-sex marriages, which are currently illegal in the state, and some state leaders say they’ll battle to bar the unions regardless of any Supreme Court decision.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement reaffirming his opposition to same-sex marriage. He said, “Texans — not unelected federal judges — should decide this important issue for their state.”

A Texas state representative backs this judicial move with several historical precedences. In addition to Texas, Alabama, Michigan, and Louisiana are also taking a stance:

ThinkstockPhotos-126425189In Louisiana, lawmakers are studying the “Marriage and Conscience Act,” which, if passed, would allow employers to deny same-sex spouses marriage benefits and give state contractors the right to refuse to hire gays and lesbians who marry.

“As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, wrote in The New York Times.

These states are holding up the right of not only their citizens, but also the right of the State to not be dismissed by unelected officials in the federal government.

In 2005, Texas voters passed a referendum banning same-sex marriages. A federal judge last year ruled the ban unconstitutional but issued a stay on his ruling as the issue moved through higher courts.

The fact that the Supreme Court is considering cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky but not Texas should preclude state officials here from automatically following any decision from the highest court, said Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, which opposes same-sex marriages.

The people’s will, proved through the 2005 referendum, outweighs any decisions by a federal court, he said. One of his bills would bar public funding to license or recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples, regardless of any Supreme Court ruling. As of late Monday (May 11), the bill appeared to have a majority of support in the state House.

Leading by example is one of the highest and effective forms of leadership, and Texas is proving that their ideals and their government truly are led by the people. All states and all citizens should take up the American cause to give the power back to the people, and let the states decide their own fates.

“The sovereignty of states is not something to be taken lightly,” Bell said. “It’s something intended by the framers of our Constitution.”

Source and quotes via Religion News.

There's Something Different About a Wedding: Same-sex Marriage Affects Everyone

In a recent article from The Washington Post, Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, defends her decision to abstain from providing flowers for her friend’s same-sex wedding ceremony:

ThinkstockPhotos-479346023I’ve been a florist in Richmond, Wash., for more than 30 years. In that time, I’ve developed close relationships with many of my clients.

One of my favorites was Rob Ingersoll. Ingersoll came in often and we’d talk. Like me, he had an artistic eye. I’d try to create really special arrangements for him. I knew he was gay, but it didn’t matter — I enjoyed his company and his creativity.

Then he asked me to create the floral arrangements for his wedding. I love Rob, and I’d always been happy to design for his special days. But there’s something different about a wedding.

Ultimately, Stutzman decided to act according to her religious conscience, and had to turn down the offer:

When I told Rob, I felt terrible that I couldn’t share this day with him, as I’d shared so many with him before. I took his hands and said, “I’m sorry I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ.” Rob said he understood, and that he hoped his mom would walk him down the aisle, but he wasn’t sure. We talked about how he got engaged and why they decided to get married after all these years. He asked me for the names of other flower shops. I gave him the names of three floral artists that I knew would do a good job, because I knew he would want something very special. We hugged and he left.

I never imagined what would happen next. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued me after hearing in the media what had happened. That was shocking. Even more surprising, Rob and his partner Curt, with their ACLU attorneys, filed suit shortly thereafter. A judge ruled against me, but this week, with the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, I appealed.

We’ve always heard that same-sex marriage would never affect anyone aside from the same-sex couples who wanted to be married. But a judge recently told me that my freedom to live and work according to my beliefs about marriage expired the day same-sex marriage became the law in my state.

You can read the full article here.

Texas Bill Would Protect Local Officials From Issuing Same-sex Marriage Licenses

From The Washington Post:

ThinkstockPhotos-496264349Texas Republicans are pushing legislation to bar local officials from granting same-sex couples licenses to marry, launching a preemptive strike against a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling next month that could declare gay marriage legal.

Supporters of the measure, which is scheduled for a vote as soon as Tuesday in the Texas House, said it would send a powerful message to the court. Taking a cue from the anti-abortion movement, they said they also hoped to keep any judicially sanctioned right to same-sex marriage tied up in legal battles for years to come.

The measure, by Rep. Cecil Bell, a Republican from the outskirts of Houston, would prohibit state and local officials from using taxpayer dollars “to issue, enforce, or recognize a marriage license . . . for a union other than a union between one man and one woman.”

Bell said the bill “simply preserves state sovereignty over marriage.”

You can read the full article here.