This afternoon, the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal of the Prop 8 case. In February, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit struck down Prop 8, finding California's revocation of the right of same-sex couples to marry same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit's decision means that either the Supreme Court will take up the case or the 9th Circuit’s decision striking down the law will stand.
The appeals court ruling is on narrow grounds unique to California, where same-sex couples were left with all the state rights of marriage but not the name. It found that taking away gay and lesbian couples’ designation of “marriage” while leaving their rights unchanged did not serve any of the purposes put forth by its defenders. Instead, its only purpose and effect was to lessen a targeted group’s status and dignity by reclassifying their relationship and families as inferior. The Court did not address the larger question of whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry. While the Supreme Court will be presented with the narrower question as framed by the Ninth Circuit, it is impossible to tell, if it agrees to hear the case at all, whether they will rule on this principle or more broadly on the ability of states to deny lesbians and gays the right to marry.
Tomorrow, June 6, will be the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy and Pastor John Hagee used his sermon this past Sunday to reflect upon the sacrifices made on this day ... and also to tell atheists to get out of America "if our belief in God offends you" because they are not wanted and won't be missed while also calling on Congress to "outlaw the practice of witchcraft and Satanism in the US military, lest we offend the God of Heaven":
Shortly thereafter, the notorious anti-gay activists at Liberty Counsel stepped up to represent Lively and on today's installment of "Faith and Freedom," Matt Barber and Harry Mihet explained that they were doing so because Lively is really a courageous hero who ought to be commended for the kingdom's work that he has been doing but who has become instead the victim of violence from gay activists:
While Florida’s local election supervisors are rebelling against a flawed voter purge championed by Gov. Rick Scott, the Houston Chroniclereports that Texas is holding its own voter purge that could jeopardize the status of hundreds of thousands of registered voters. As noted in the People For the American Way Foundation report, The Right to Vote Under Attack, faulty purge programs “can effectively disenfranchise large numbers of eligible voters” and have been frequently used to accomplish partisan agendas, and the Chronicle has already found many instances of people being wrongfully purged from the rolls:
More than 300,000 valid voters were notified they could be removed from Texas rolls from November 2008 to November 2010 - often because they were mistaken for someone else or failed to receive or respond to generic form letters, according to Houston Chronicle interviews and analysis of voter registration data.
Statewide, more than 1.5 million voters could be on the path to cancellation if they fail to vote or to update their records for two consecutive federal elections: One out of every 10 Texas voters' registration is currently suspended. Among voters under 30, the figure is about one in five.
Texas voter registration rates are among the lowest in the nation, but Texas pays nearly twice as much to cancel voters - 40 cents per cancellation - as it does to register new ones at 25 cents.
State and federal laws require the nation's voter rolls be regularly reviewed and cleaned to remove duplicates and eliminate voters who moved away or died. But across Texas, such "removals" rely on outdated computer programs, faulty procedures and voter responses to generic form letters, often resulting in the wrong people being sent cancellation notices, including new homeowners, college students, Texans who work abroad and folks with common names, a Chronicle review of cancellations shows.
Recently, Tony Perkins and Harry Jackson sat down for a half-hour interview with CBN's David Brody to discuss President Obama's support for marriage equality and what it will mean for the 2012 election.
Brody has posted the entire interview on his blog, in which Perkins compared the issue of gay marriage to the issue of abortion, declaring that Americans will never accept the legitimacy of gay marriage, regardless of what the courts rule, because "same-sex marriage violates reason and natural law" and warning that any Supreme Court ruling upholding the legality of gay marriage will "create great unrest in this society":
For his part, Jackson saw the President's statement as an opportunity to create a new "Black-Brown coalition" among African Americans and Hispanics rooted in opposition to the Democratic Party's growing support for gay rights and fueled by resentment against gay activists who are trying to push minorities to the back of the line.
Jackson said comparisons between the push for gay rights and the struggle for civil rights are nonsense because systematic discrimination and violence against the gay community "never happened" and warned that if African Americans and Hispanics don't escape the "Democratic Party plantation," then "America's best days are over":
On Friday's installment of "Prophetic Perspective on Current Events," Rick Joyner warned that "we are close to having race riots in America" and that the racial tensions created by the Trayvon Martin shooting are giving "the enemy" an opportunity to unleash massive death and destruction in this country.
Explaining that racism "empowers the spirit of death," Joyner pointed to Nazism and Japanese atrocities during World War II as proof of what can happen and warned that, if it takes hold in America, "there will be a whole lot more death and a whole lot more destruction than the last time":
On Friday, Brian wrote a post taking note of a recent column by Bryan Fischer in which he called on conservatives to "reclaim the ‘D’ word" and begin to boldly defend the practice of discriminating against gays and lesbians.
As Fischer normally does whenever he posts a new piece, he ended up discussing it later that day during his radio program where he made the case that "it is altogether right to discriminate against homosexual behavior" because homosexuality is not something that should be accepted by "any rational society":
On Bryan Fischer's radio program yesterday, Fischer and Cal Beisner discussed how environmentalism was becoming the established religion in America.
How exactly is environmentalism a religion, you ask? Well, as Beisner explained, it has its own doctrines, its own holy day (Earth Day,) its own food taboos, sacrifice rituals (recycling,) paradoxical beliefs, sacred structures (recycling bins,) and it proselytizes. And, as Fischer added, just like with the early church, heretics (i.e. global warming deniers like Fischer and Beisner) are punished and excommunicated:
One of the last acts of Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court bench that he sat on for nearly thirty-five years was to read a summary of his scathing dissent of the Citizens United v. FEC decision, aloud, stating repeatedly, in one form or another that corporations “are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established.” Unfortunately, this view, which the vast majority of Americans agree with, and which seems so self-evident, was not held by the majority of the court.
To read the decision aloud was noteworthy; justices typically do so on cases they believe have special merit. And Justice Stevens correctly understood then that Citizens United was just that.
Over two years later, as the effects of Citizens United take hold, as corporate and special interest spending flood the 2012 elections and overwhelm the political process, Justice Stevens revisited the topic at the University of Arkansas’ Clinton Schools of Public Service. As reported by the Huffington Post, Justice Stevens took to the lectern Wednesday to address the inherent legal contradictions that are still outstanding under Justice Kennedy’s lead opinion.
Stevens alluded to President Obama’s apprehension, voiced in his 2010 State of the Union Speech, that the decision would “open the floodgates to special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections.” Stevens stated (emphasis added):
… the former professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School [President Obama] made three important and accurate observations about the Supreme Court majority's opinion …
… third, the logic of the opinion extends to money spent by foreign entities. That is so because the Court placed such heavy emphasis on the premise that the First Amendment generally prohibits the suppression of political speech based on the speaker's identity. Indeed, the opinion expressly stated, “We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the Government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers.”
Justice Stevens is correct that the logic of the Court’s opinion in Citizens United extends to permitting foreign corporations to make independent expenditures to influence U.S. elections. As he pointed out in his Citizens United dissent, the majority opinion’s failure to take on the issue of foreign corporate spending when striking down portions of the McCain-Feingold Act is a glaring omission, one that exposes the logical flaws in Kennedy’s argument. And as more cases like Bluman v. FEC arise – in which foreign nationals sought, and were denied the right to make electoral contributions and expenditures – the court will need to further clarify its position on why domestic corporations, and not other “speakers” have the right “to speak.” On the subject, Stevens reasoned:
… in due course it will be necessary for the Court to issue an opinion explicitly crafting an exception that will create a crack in the foundation of the Citizens United majority opinion. For [Justice Alito's] statement that it is "not true" that foreign entities will be among the beneficiaries of Citizens United offers good reason to predict there will not be five votes for such a result when a case arises that requires the Court to address the issue in a full opinion. And, if so, the Court must then explain its abandonment of, or at least qualify its reliance upon, the proposition that the identity of the speaker is an impermissible basis for regulating campaign speech. It will be necessary to' explain why the First Amendment provides greater protection to the campaign speech of some non-voters than to that of other non-voters.
It is very possible that a plethora of cases like Bluman v. FEC will reach the district courts. And it’s very possible that the lower courts will begin to poke so many holes in the Citizens United rationale that the Supreme Court will have no choice but to revisit the case.
But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.
That passage seemed familiar, mainly because it is what David Barton cites when he claims that God created the concept of elections and that our Founding Fathers explicitly cited that passage as the basis for Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution:
Notice how Barton says "God says choose out from among you leaders of tens, fiftys, hundreds, and thousands"? What I realized last night is that in Exodus 18, it is not God speaking, but rather Moses' father-in-law Jethro.
After having led the Israelites out of Egypt, "Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God." While Jethro was visiting, Moses went out to serve as judge for the Israelites and settle their disputes, but there were so many that the task lasted all day. Jethro, seeing that the workload was too great, suggested that Moses should "select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens." Then these judges would hear the simple cases while reserving for Moses the difficult ones and easing his burden. And that is exactly what Moses did:
13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain —and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
It is flagrantly false for Barton to claim that it was God speaking in this passage and utterly misleading for him to claim that it has anything to do with establishing elections. In fact, it was Moses alone who picked which judges to place in charge, which is pretty much the exact opposite of an election.
As we have said before, it is getting to the point where we now have to check nearly every assertion that Barton makes because so many of them turn out to be fundamentally false. And if Barton is willing to lie about what the Bible says, it raises the question of whether there anything that he won't he lie about?
A federal appeals court in Boston today upheld a lower court ruling that called the key section of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA bans the federal government from recognizing legal marriages between people of the same sex, meaning that it willfully discriminates against a set of married people when it comes to Social Security benefits, joint-filing tax breaks, military spousal benefits and immigration. When DOMA was passed in 1996 no states allowed gay and lesbian couple to marry – its provisions were purely theoretical. Today, marriage equality exists in six states and the District of Columbia, and DOMA actively harms thousands of married Americans – 100,000 couples, according to the court.
In its decision concluding that DOMA violates the Constitution, the unanimous First Circuit panel – two out of three of whom were nominated by Republican presidents – was cautious. The panel said that under First Circuit precedent DOMA doesn’t trigger “heightened scrutiny” – a tougher standard for the federal government to meet. It also declined to address any arguments based on the premise that lesbians and gays have a constitutional right to marry (as opposed to having their existing marriages recognized by the federal government).
But the court was clear that Section 3 of DOMA does not meet the “rational basis” test for upholding a federal law that denies equal protection to a group long subject to discrimination – in other words, there’s just no good reason for DOMA to do the harm that it does.
The court looked at several justificiations offered for the law by DOMA’s supporters and found that each comes up short. Supporters say DOMA will save the federal government money (reports say that it actually costs the government money…and saving money isn’t a good enough reason for legal discrimination in the first place); that allowing lesbians and gays to marry harms children (it doesn’t, and Section 3 of DOMA doesn’t affect these couples’ rights to raise children anyway); and just plain moral disapproval (Supreme Court precedent says this isn’t enough of a reason). And finally, the court takes on the constant argument of opponents of same-sex marriage: that somehow gay couples getting married will harm the institution of marriage for everyone else:
Although the House Report is filled with encomia to heterosexual marriage, DOMA does not increase benefits to opposite-sex couples--whose marriages may in any event be childless, unstable or both--or explain how denying benefits to same-sex couples will reinforce heterosexual marriage. Certainly, the denial will not affect the gender choices of those seeking marriage. This is not merely a matter of poor fit of remedy to perceived problem, but a lack of any demonstrated connection between DOMA's treatment of same-sex couples and its asserted goal of strengthening the bonds and benefits to society of heterosexual marriage.
This is the crux of any number of court decisions that have struck down barriers to marriage equality. The main reason given for many laws that seek to deny marriage rights to gays and lesbians is that same-sex marriage will somehow weaken marriage for everybody else. It’s a claim that just doesn’t hold water.
The First Circuit panel did, however, go out of its way to defend DOMA’s supporters even while rejecting the law.
The District Court judge whose ruling the appeals court upheld declared that DOMA was motivated by “irrational prejudice” toward gays and lesbians. The First Circuit explicitly refuses to go there, instead stating that while that may have been true for some supporters, others were motivated instead by what it characterizes as the non-biased wish to “preserve the heritage of marriage as traditionally defined over centuries of Western civilization.” Under recent Supreme Court precedent, they write, the wish to uphold tradition isn’t a good enough one for denying equal protection. But the Supreme Court can change that if it wants:
In reaching our judgment, we do not rely upon the charge that DOMA's hidden but dominant purpose was hostility to homosexuality. The many legislators who supported DOMA acted from a variety of motives, one central and expressed aim being to preserve the heritage of marriage as traditionally defined over centuries of Western civilization. Preserving this institution is not the same as "mere moral disapproval of an excluded group," and that is singularly so in this case given the range of bipartisan support for the statute.
The opponents of section 3 point to selected comments from a few individual legislators; but the motives of a small group cannot taint a statute supported by large majorities in both Houses and signed by President Clinton. Traditions are the glue that holds society together, and many of our own traditions rest largely on belief and familiarity--not on benefits firmly provable in court. The desire to retain them is strong and can be honestly held. For 150 years, this desire to maintain tradition would alone have been justification enough for almost any statute. This judicial deference has a distinguished lineage, including such figures as Justice Holmes, the second Justice Harlan, and Judges Learned Hand and Henry Friendly. But Supreme Court decisions in the last fifty years call for closer scrutiny of government action touching upon minority group interests and of federal action in areas of traditional state concern.
Recognizing that the Supreme Court will likely review its reasoning, the court stayed the decision, so it will not go into effect yet.
Facetiously declaring that "haters of a feather stick together," Deace brought Fischer to try and explain why the Republican Party seemed so intent on embracing the issue of homosexuality at the expense of the support of Christian conservatives. Fischer warned that if the GOP continued along this path, it was going to spell the end of the Republican Party while Deace simply could not understand why Republicans would be "catering to the homosexual lobby, which is a major fundraising arm for Democrats across the country":
Deace: The GOP is going to have to make a decision here: are they going to stick with those traditions that past conservative stalwarts like Russell Kirk, those laws of natures and nature's God that you just heard Bryan reference, or are they going to embrace the new morality? And what happens Bryan if they make the wrong choice?
Fischer: Well, I think it will be the end of the Republican Party. You know, the evangelical community still provides the core of the Republican Party base, they're the ones who are most motivated to go to the polls and they'll just abandon the Republican Party ...
Deace: You can even simplify it on a more base level which is why would you want to aid and abet and fund the people who are funding the folks you are running against? Why would you want to do that? Why do we aid and abet and enable the homosexual movement? I mean, can you imagine if [Jeff] Sessions and [John] Cornyn said 'we're going to have a fundraiser with AFSCME about how we can raise money to help the Republican Party." There would be howls of protest, Bryan, across the fruited plain from every vestige of the right-of-center coalition in this country. Well, that's the exact same thing they're doing by catering to the homosexual lobby which is a major fundraising arm for Democrats across the country.
Deace and Fischer also claimed that GOP needs to take a stand against homosexuality in particular, because gay activists are systematically forcing society to accept their immoral behavior while refusing to even admit that it is a sin:
Fischer: You know, the reality is Steve, if homosexuals were willing to keep this in the privacy of their own bedrooms, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. They're the ones that are bringing it out of the bedroom, they're bringing it into our streets, they are demanding and insisting that we recognize this behavior, that we normalize it, that we endorse it, that we approve of it. So they're really the ones that are dragging it out of the bedroom and making it an issue in the public square and, you know, we have to respond to that.
Deace: I think what you just said is very important because I get asked this sometimes by Christians, hey I agree that this is a sin, but why is this different than other sins? Why do we make such a big deal out of this publicly? And the point that I make to them is, listen, they're isn't a group of fornicators out there saying we've got to change the laws of marriage, the accreditation laws for counselors, the way in the curriculum that your kids are taught in school in order to teach them, hey, that it's okay for me to be a serial fornicator or a serial adulterer and we're actually going to teach them how to do that better. I mean, we're looking here at an immoral behavior with its own political lobby and they're the ones that are driving this debate, we're simply reacting to it.
Fischer: Well, and you look at this issue of sin; people say 'well, homosexuality is a sin like every other sin' and there's a point to that. But the problem is people right now that are homosexual activists that are engaging in this kind of behavior, they're denying that it is a sin at all. You know, they;'re saying that it is perfectly normal, that it's healthy behavior; they reject the analysis that there is something morally deficient about that behavior whatsoever. You know, most adulterers say "yeah, that wasn't too cool what I did there," but homosexual activists say "no, what we're doing is just fine and not only just fine, we're going to insist that you approve of what we do."
A unanimous three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower-court ruling which held that Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The panel included two Republican appointees.
Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation, issued the following statement:
“The First Circuit has reached the inevitable conclusion on DOMA: the arguments for such a discriminatory, hurtful law just don’t hold up. Over 16 years, DOMA has denied thousands of legally married Americans the protections and responsibilities granted to all other married couples under federal law. DOMA prevents married couples from providing for each other through Social Security; sponsoring each other for visas; helping each other with the tax benefits reserved for married couples; and prevents some service members and veterans from having their marriages recognized by the military. DOMA marginalizes a group of Americans, declares them inferior, and denies them rights granted to all others.
“ DOMA has caused real harm to Americans. A law that discriminates against a class of people just for the sake of discrimination is contrary to our principles and contrary to our laws.”
A few weeks ago, Roger Schlafly mourned a Census Bureau report showing that non-white births have now exceeded white births in the U.S, declaring that this was "not a good thing" because "immigrants do not share American values," by which he meant "vote Republican."
Today, Rick Scarborough of Vision America sent out an email warning that "the non-Hispanic white share of the population will fall from 70% today to a bare majority by the year 2050" and suggesting that is a bad thing. While insisting that "the racial mix of this nation shouldn’t matter," Scarborough lamented "the sad reality is [that] America is changing," suggesting that "more non-white families" means more single-parent households, which in turn means less Christians:
Now we are witnessing more babies being born out of wedlock than in wedlock, leading to escalating social problems. That brings us back to this latest revelation on the growing influence of minorities in America. The sad reality is that more non-white families will also mean an America with more fatherless families.
Children raised in a one-parent household are also less likely to attend church services as both children and as adults, According to various surveys, as adults, they are less likely to go to church, pray, read the Bible or listen to Christian radio. They are more likely to get their values from movies, popular music, video games and the dominant (non-Christian) culture.
The increasing polarization of the races is an additional cause for concern. Politicians and self-styled community leaders urge blacks and Hispanics to see themselves as members of a race first and foremost, and not as Americans or Christians.
[A]s Christians, we must reach out to minorities in families at risk, with the message of the Gospel – one of repentance, love, salvation and a helping hand. Many churches of every ethnicity are doing a heroic job here. But they need our help.
This is the best way to guarantee that America stays America – a nation animated by Christian values – regardless of the nation’s racial composition.
A few years ago, Scarborough was quoted as saying that "if this country becomes 30 per cent Hispanic we will no longer be America," but then insisted that he had said nothing of the sort, despite the fact that the statement was reported by two separate news sources.
In one, entitled "The Death of the Dollar," Hagee cited Deuteronomy 28, which lays out signs that a nation is being cursed by God, to declare that America was most certainly under the judgment of God, citing violence in our cities, our struggling economy, the emergence of new diseases, our military losses in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and a high divorce rate:
The most recent spate of companies fleeing from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been from the education and retail sectors, but yesterday ALEC got a rebuke from the healthcare industry as well. Medtronic, the medical technology company, has informed the Center for Media and Democracy that they did not renew their ALEC membership. Medtronic is the 17th corporation to leave the organization.
ALEC’s “healthcare” agenda is much less about helping sick people than about enriching healthcare corporations. To do so, ALEC advocates for policies that put quality care out of reach for many people by privatizing Medicare and Medicaid and repealing important laws that expand public access to care, including ObamaCare. They also push for the deregulation of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and seek to limit accountability for drug companies that produce faulty medications that can cause injury or death.
The ALEC agenda is extreme, and when it comes to public health, it’s downright dangerous. Medtronic now joins Blue Cross Blue Shield in doing right by their customers and patients by getting out of ALEC.
Matt Borges was recently named as the new executive director of the Ohio Republican Party and this is not sitting well with Ohio-based Linda Harvey, primarily because Borges previously served as a lobbyist for the gay rights group Equality Ohio.
Borges reportedly lobbied on behalf of anti-discrimination legislation in Ohio, which Harvey attacked in her radio message today as nothing more than an effort to "give a stamp of approval to immoral and sinful behaviors and a tool for lawsuits to defend behavior people should not be doing in the first place."
As such, Harvey declared that it was "unacceptable" to allow Borges to run the Ohio GOP "unless he renounces his past support for the goals of homosexual activism" because it is "one of the major forces for youth corruption, religious discrimination, and moral disintegration in our country":
Matt Borges is unacceptable at the present time to lead this party unless he renounces his past support for the goals of homosexual activism. And let's be realistic, homosexual activism is now one of the major forces for youth corruption, religious discrimination, and moral disintegration in our country. We need to oppose it with every legal, spiritual, and civil means at our disposal and this is, in my opinion, the duty of every Christian in this country.
This is simply an in your face insult to Ohio Christian families and voters. It's also terribly foolish strategically when people with strong values should be united against the re-election of Barack Obama.