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Category Archives: States

Groups Urge Alabama Supreme Court to Stand Strong for Marriage

The Constitution is the highest law in the land, not the Supreme Court. When the courts err by issuing an illegitimate decision that lacks constitutional basis, local and state governments are not required to broadly apply them. For this reason, two additional groups are calling for the Alabama Supreme Court to resist the United States Supreme Court’s illegitimate ruling declaring traditional marriage laws to be unconstitutional and purportedly ordering every state to issue ‘marriage’ licenses to same-sex couples.

The groups compare disregarding the ruling to the way that the Wisconsin Supreme court disregarded the mandates of the Fugitive Slave Act and the infamous Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court. President Lincoln also refused to abide by that decision. These new filings are in addition to a filing by Liberty Counsel which similarly urged the state high court to ignore the Obergefell ruling. SFGATE reports on the situation:

ThinkstockPhotos-467245683The Alabama Policy Institute and the Alabama Citizens Action Program did not recommend what the court should do to resist the gay marriage decision.

At a minimum, the groups urged the Alabama justices to try to protect probate judges and their employees who don't want to issue the licenses on religious grounds.

"To require those individuals to participate in the solemnization and celebration of same-sex marriage is repugnant and antithetical to their religious convictions and conscience,” lawyers wrote.

Obergefell violates the First Amendment by forcing officials to act against their consciences. It is an illicit attack on the American way of life and it must be overturned.

Alabama Supreme Court Urged to Protect Religious Liberty

In a potentially significant development, Liberty Counsel has led a brief with the Alabama Supreme Court urging it to ignore the SCOTUS ruling on marriage, citing as precedent a state Supreme Court ruling in Wisconsin where that Court refused to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling in the infamous Dred Scott case.

The Alabama Supreme Court has been a staunch advocate for the decision of their elected officials and voters who overwhelmingly desire to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman. They refused to allow state clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite a federal judge’s order to do so. In the wake of the US Supreme Court’s illegitimate ruling imposing gay ‘marriage’ on the nation, the Alabama court asked for parties to their marriage litigation to file appropriate briefs advising the court what they should do in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v Hodges.

Liberty Counsel’s brief filed in response to the request has decried the Obergefell ruling as an unlawful and illegal federal usurpation of power that is reserved to the states. In an accompanying press release the group said, “A judicial opinion without constitutional basis is not law and should not be followed by any state or citizen.”

Below is language from their Press Release:

ThinkstockPhotos-78632601Montgomery, AL—In a brief to the Alabama Supreme Court, Liberty Counsel presented legal arguments following the opinion in the marriage case at the U.S. Supreme Court. “When considering the Supreme Court’s Obergefell opinion, state Supreme Courts should contemplate the “decision’s substantial assault on the Rule of Law, Democracy, and Natural Law, and its necessary diminishment of the constitutional right to Free Exercise of Religion,” Liberty Counsel told the Alabama Supreme Court.

Chief Justice John Roberts said it best: “[For] those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening….Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law.”

The Obergefell opinion is an assault on Democracy. Justice Antonin Scalia warned, “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine…robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”

ThinkstockPhotos-106536180The decision from five lawyers ignored the natural order of marriage: the union of a man and a woman who complement each other biologically and socially, which union produces children, creates a family, and builds society.

“Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect,” Justice Clarence Thomas put forth in his dissent.

The brief by Liberty Counsel points out that the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to follow the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the Dred Scott case, which said that blacks were not entitled to full protection as citizens. The Liberty Counsel brief also urged the Alabama Supreme Court to protect the religious freedom of its citizens.

“There is existing precedent for a state’s highest court to reject an unlawful mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. Staver continued, “The hope of our Constitutional Republic rests upon state officials and American citizens who will refuse to allow five, black-robed judges to rob us of our free, representative form of government. A judicial opinion without constitutional basis is not law and should not be followed by any state or citizen.”

Liberty Counsel also asked Alabama’s High Court to ensure protection of the constitutional rights of Alabama probate judges and other Christian business owners. “Never before in America has a religious requirement been required to hold office or own a business, and it cannot begin now,” Staver cautioned. “To require Christians to pull out pages of their Bible in order to hold office or own a business is anti-American and it is unconstitutional, despite what any judge may say otherwise.”

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

The Truth About Marriage Can't Be Changed

This past Monday, C. Allen McConnell, a Toledo judge, refused to perform a local couple’s same-sex wedding ceremony. After complaints and outcry from the both the couple and the pro-same-sex marriage community, Judge McConnell issued this statement:

ThinkstockPhotos-78026711The declination was based upon my personal and Christian beliefs established over many years. I apologize to the couple for the delay they experienced and wish them the best. The court has implemented a process whereby same-sex marriages will be accommodated. I will continue to perform traditional marriages during my duties assignment. I am also seeking advisory opinion from the Supreme Court of Ohio at this time as to whether or not I can opt out of the rotation. Upon receipt of the advisory opinion from Supreme Court, I will abide by its decision.

Though Judge McConnell respects the Supreme Court and the United States government at large, he refuses to make decisions that he feels would transgress his moral code. By adhering to his values, he has sparked controversy among his colleagues and acquaintances, who feel that his actions call into question his credibility as a judge. The Ohio ACLU called Judge McConnell’s convictions not only intolerant, but also unlawful in the following statement:

Public servants like Judge McConnell have an obligation to families who wish to marry in their courtrooms, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The highest Court in the land decreed that people have a right to marry who they love, and judges have taken an oath to uphold those laws.

As if that were not enough, the ACLU went on to state that no judge has the right to place their own conscience above the law:

While we respect that judges have deeply held personal and religious beliefs, they should not interfere with the oath they took to uphold our Constitution. No judge has a right to deny a consenting adult couple the right to commit to their loving relationship through marriage.

Once again, the very proponents of “equal rights” are now denying them to anyone who refuses to comply. The hypocritical message of tolerance and equality emblazons headlines while honest people are repeatedly forced to lay aside their deeply held beliefs. This insanity must not continue. Judge McConnell deserves praise for refusing to perform an act against his own will.

See Toledonewsnow for more.

All Dissenting Voices Must Be Silenced: SSM Erodes Free Speech

In a fiery article featured on Breitbart, John Nolte pens a loaded opinion piece, that comments on the recent developments in one of the infamous “wedding cake” episodes. Aaron and Melissa Klein have been not only unjustly fined for invoking their religious rights, but they have been ordered to remain silent after trying to speak up about the discrimination they have faced from the state, and from the proponents of “tolerance” - the same-sex marriage agenda:

ThinkstockPhotos-517523279A judge in Oregon has issued a gag order denying two Christian bakery owners from speaking out against same sex marriage.

“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” [Administrative Law Judge Alan] Avakian wrote.

The gag order is meant to stop Aaron and Melissa Klein from publicly speaking out about their desire to not bake cakes for same sex weddings. The State’s order came after the Kleins were interviewed by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, and after the State fined the Kleins $135,000 for “emotional damages” incurred by a lesbian couple after the Kleins refused to bake their wedding cake.

Towards the end of the article, John Nolte gives a terse summary of how quickly religious rights and free speech have been eroded and slashed with the onset of the same-sex marriage movement. Consider their arguments through the years:

1995: We don’t want marriage, just civil unions.

2005: Our marriage won’t affect your rights.

2014: Bake me a cake, or else.

2015: Your opinion against same sex marriage is illegal.

The same-sex marriage agenda may believe they have scored a victory, but Americans don’t take being tread on lightly. We expect these types of attacks against American principles will awaken the silent majority to demand action protecting their rights.

Bobby Jindal Knows Exactly What Marriage Is

While the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding marriage exemplifies that the majority of the justices do not understand the cultural significance, biological requirements, or historical reasoning of marriage, Bobby Jindal assures everyone that he is not “evolving” on marriage:

Bobby-JindalGOP presidential candidate Bobby Jindal says he will not change his stance on marriage.

The Louisiana governor made that clear when he sat down for an interview with The Daily Signal earlier this year in Baton Rouge.

“My faith teaches me that marriage is between a man and a woman. I’m not changing,” Jindal says. “I know it’s politically fashionable to evolve. I’m not evolving and it doesn’t matter to me what the polls say…that is one of those issues that I’m not going to change on.”

Jindal has called the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage an “all-out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians.”

While Jindal says his state will comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, he has also stated that court clerks and state workers can’t be forced to support the ruling if they have religious objections.

Jindal says he will continue to push for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage between a man and a woman.

Original article and video can be found via The Daily Signal.

Kentucky Clerks Object to Same-sex Marriage Ruling

A group of court clerks in Kentucky have halted issuing all marriage licenses, following the Supreme Court 5-4 ruling that is forcing all states to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

ThinkstockPhotos-86527346In order to not be considered “discriminatory,” several clerks in Kentucky have simply stopped issuing any marriage licenses. As Casey County Clerk Casey Davis said, “my religious convictions will not allow me to in good conscience issue same-sex marriage licenses, and I don't want to be discriminatory toward them, or anyone else, so I choose not issue a marriage license, period."

Naturally, resistance to the imposition of same-sex marriage is not to be tolerated by same-sex marriage proponents:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky said its lawyers would be willing to represent same-sex couples who are refused a marriage license in Kentucky.

"It's our contention that government officials' personal objections are insufficient to justify refusing to do what they have been elected by the people to do, in terms of issuing these marriage licenses," said Bill Sharp, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Kentucky. Sharp declined to say whether any couples have called the ACLU to say they have been denied a license.

Davis, the Casey County clerk, noted that state law allows for any resident over age 18 to seek a marriage license in any county of Kentucky.

"So I don't see that I have to be the one that issues it," Davis said.

Even though the clerks are merely invoking their religious liberties, same-sex marriage proponents are not allowing this quiet rebellion to go unchallenged. As AOL reported:

Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy organization, said the clerks could face lawsuits over their refusal to issue marriage licenses.

"If these county clerks don't abide by the law of the land ... they will be sued and they will waste taxpayer time and dollars on a frivolous and self-righteous pursuit that ultimately will be fruitless," Hartman said.

Hartman said his group would refer callers who can't get a marriage license to the ACLU of Kentucky.

These Kentucky clerks are absolute heroes. All American citizens are encouraged to stand up for marriage, especially through actions such as these. While the opposing side may well attempt to invoke violent attacks against us, those who support marriage as the union between one man and one woman have the benefit of truth on their side.

The road is certainly not easy, but the fight to protect marriage is without a doubt, a fight worth fighting.

Thank you to all who continue to stand strong in the face of adversity and continue to proclaim the truth: marriage is the union between one man and one woman, and ONLY one man and one woman.

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.'

ThinkstockPhotos-92244618

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.