Marriage Equality

Tenth Circuit Court Rips Apart Right-Wing's Bogus 'Religious Freedom' Case Against Gay Marriage

Today, the Tenth Circuit Court upheld a lower court’s decision striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. In its decision [PDF], the court dismantled several arguments from the state’s attorneys about the supposedly negative impacts of same-sex marriage on children and opposite-sex couples.

But one argument that jumped out was the state’s claim that a prohibition on same-sex unions is needed to safeguard “religious freedom,” a claim that is gaining popularity among Religious Right activists who are finding less and less success with outright bigotry.

The court pointed out that the increasingly widespread argument doesn’t hold up to scrutiny:

Appellants’ fourth and final justification for Amendment 3, “accommodating religious freedom and reducing the potential for civic strife,” fails for reasons independent of the foregoing. Appellants contend that a prohibition on same-sex marriage “is essential to preserving social harmony in the State” and that allowing same-sex couples to marry “would create the potential for religion-related strife.”

Even assuming that appellants are correct in predicting that some substantial degree of discord will follow state recognition of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court has repeated held that public opposition cannot provide cover for a violation of fundamental rights.



Appellants acknowledge that a state may not “invoke concerns about religious freedom or religion-related social strife as a basis for denying rights otherwise guaranteed by the Constitution.” But they argue that the social and religious strife argument qualifies as legitimate because a fundamental right is not at issue in this case. Because we have rejected appellants’ contention on this point, their fourth justification necessarily fails.

We also emphasize, as did the district court, that today’s decision relates solely to civil marriage. See Kitchen, 961 F. Supp. 2d at 1214 (“[T]he court notes that its decision does not mandate any change for religious institutions, which may continue to express their own moral viewpoints and define their own traditions about marriage.”). Plaintiffs must be accorded the same legal status presently granted to married couples, but religious institutions remain as free as they always have been to practice their sacraments and traditions as they see fit.

The court also demolished another favorite claim of the Religious Right: that gay couples do not have a right to marry simply because they historically have not had a right to marry:

As the Court later explained, “[m]arriage is mentioned nowhere in the Bill of Rights and interracial marriage was illegal in most States in the 19th century, but the Court was no doubt correct in finding it to be an aspect of liberty protected against state interference by the substantive component of the Due Process Clause in Loving v. Virginia.”



Appellants’ reliance on the modifier “definitional” does not serve a meaningful function in this context. To claim that marriage, by definition, excludes certain couples is simply to insist that those couples may not marry because they have historically been denied the right to do so. One might just as easily have argued that interracial couples are by definition excluded from the institution of marriage. But “neither history nor tradition could save a law prohibiting miscegenation from constitutional attack.” Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 577-78 (quotation omitted); see also Williams v. Illinois, 399 U.S. 235, 239 (1970) (“[N]either the antiquity of a practice nor the fact of steadfast legislative and judicial adherence to it through the centuries insulates it from constitutional attack . . . .”); In re Marriage Cases, 183 P.3d 384, 451 (Cal. 2008) (“[E]ven the most familiar and generally accepted of social practices and traditions often mask an unfairness and inequality that frequently is not recognized or appreciated by those not directly harmed by those practices or traditions.”), superseded by constitutional amendment as stated in Strauss v. Horton, 207 P.3d 48, 59 (Cal. 2009).

Ben Carson Unveils Grand Compromise On Marriage: Gay People Can't Get Married

Conservative activist Ben Carson told Newsmax TV host Ed Berliner today that “of course” he can broker a compromise on contentious social issues like marriage equality. Carson’s proposed compromise on marriage? Gay people can do what they want…but they can’t get married.

Arguing (wrongly) that the legal definition of marriage has never changed in America or in thousands of years of world history, Carson said that the idea of same-sex marriage is just as absurd as insisting that “2+2=5.”

In return for not being allowed to get married, Carson explained, gay people “can do what they want to do,” but also shouldn’t accuse people of bigotry. 

Carson offered his grand compromise as an example of the kind of solution included in his new book, “One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future.”

He previously suggested that abortion rights foes should run as pro-choice candidates in order to win elections.

Tim Huelskamp Predicts Marriage Equality Will 'Destroy' Marriage And The Family

After delivering a feisty speech at last week’s “March for Marriage” about how “real men” must stop gay marriage from harming women, Rep. Tim Huelskamp chatted with the conservative website CNSNews about gay marriage and adoption rights.

The Kansas Republican agreed with a CNSNews reporter’s suggestion that marriage equality will “destroy the institution of marriage and of [the] family” and warned that it will pave the way for polygamy.

When asked if he also opposes the right of gay couples to adopt children, Huelskamp tried to avoid the question by repeating the myth that the government shut down Catholic Charities and in doing so violated the First Amendment.

In reality, a few Catholic Charities branches have chosen to shut down certain services because they refuse to comply with nondiscrimination policies that are a condition for receiving taxpayer subsidies.

AFA Wants Libraries To Dump 'Sexually Perverse' Gay Children's Book

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association was, unsurprisingly, upset to learn that some public libraries have been stocking “The Princes and the Treasure,” a children’s book that, in the words of its author Jeffrey Miles, "tells the story of two handsome princes who go on a quest to save a princess, but fall in love with each other, get married, and live happily ever after."

Fischer tells the Christian Post that “this book is a particularly pernicious form of sexually perverse propaganda” that “no responsible library should ever include” in its collection.

He adds that parents have the right not just to prevent their own kids from reading the book but to keep it from other children who might talk to their kids about it: "Christian parents don't want to be concerned only about their own children, they want to keep this kind of warped literature out of the hands of other children as well.”

Bryan Fischer, the director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, a nonprofit Christian organization that supports traditional marriage, told CP on Thursday that "because of the power fairy tales, this book is a particularly pernicious form of sexually perverse propaganda."

"The stories and the images that children store up in their minds from fairy tales have a very powerful imprinting effect on their tender young souls," Fischer said. "And the bottom line is that no responsible library should ever include a book like this on its shelves, and no responsible school should ever use this book as a part of its curriculum."

He continued, "The reality is that no library can stock every book that's ever been published. So libraries choose all the time not to stock certain books. There's nothing wrong with parents asking the library not to stock a book of this nature."

Fischer noted that Christian parents aren't only concerned about what their children are reading, but they're also concerned about the literature that's influencing other children in their communities.

"Christian parents don't want to be concerned only about their own children, they want to keep this kind of warped literature out of the hands of other children as well," he asserted. "And if parents want this book for their children, there's nothing to stop them from going to Amazon and buying it with their own money. But taxpayer dollars should not be spent on tripe like this."

We discussed similar book censorship efforts in our recent report, “Book Wars.”

Via Book Patrol.

NOM's John Eastman Compares Supreme Court's DOMA Decision To Dred Scott

In his speech to the March for Marriage today, National Organization for Marriage chairman John Eastman compared the Supreme Court’s decision striking down a key part of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act to the infamous Dred Scott decision.

Eastman cited Justice Scalia’s “call to arms” in his dissent to the DOMA decision, paraphrasing it as, “the court should never take away controversial issues away from the voters in this country.”

“The last time the court tried to do that a century and a half ago on the slavery question, Abraham Lincoln refused to comply,” he said.

Ruben Diaz Claims Satan Runs Public Schools

New York state Sen. Ruben Diaz told “March for Marriage” participants today that even if the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, they must continue the fight because the American people are behind them.

He pointed to the case of government organized prayer in public schools, which was ruled unconstitutional in the 1962 case Engel v. Vitale. As a result, Diaz maintained, Satan took over the schools, leading to waves of crime and disobedience.

Diaz said this year’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway proves that the cause to preserve government-sponsored prayer is not lost, and that anti-gay activists can win as well. He went on to falsely claim that neither voters nor lawmakers have voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

Tim Huelskamp Says 'Real Men' Oppose Marriage Equality, Protect 'Your Woman'

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, the chief sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, had a message for “every man in America” at today’s March for Marriage: “Your woman, your wife, she needs you, it’s time you become a real man and stand up.”

Possibly under the impression that the legalization of same-sex marriage will break up opposite-sex unions, the Kansas Republican congressman emphasized that he loves his wife and believes that men who love their wives must join the fight to stop marriage equality.

“Be a real man of God because this is about you and your wife and your children,” he said.

Tony Perkins Will Have A Lonely Revolution Against Gay Marriage

Operation American Spring. Truckers Ride for the Constitution. Reclaim America Now.

All were right-wing efforts to literally overthrow President Obama. None of them exactly worked.

In 2012, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins similarly warned of an anti-government uprising if the Supreme Court were to strike down bans on same-sex marriage. “I think that could be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said, warning that such a ruling would mean “you could have a revolt, a revolution, I think you can see Americans saying ‘enough of this’ and I think it could explode and just break this nation apart.”

In case you thought that was just a one-time gaffe, Perkins maintained a year later that if the government “goes too far” on marriage equality, it would “create revolution” and “literally split this nation in two and create such political and cultural turmoil that I’m not sure we could recover from it.”

That brings us to a poll released today by the Human Rights Campaign and conducted by Alex Lundry, who served as Mitt Romney’s data director in 2012. Respondents to the poll were read Perkins’ “revolution” remarks verbatim. Unsurprisingly, only a tiny handful agreed with him, and even most opponents of marriage equality didn’t buy into his idea of an anti-gay revolution.

Conducting his poll at the beginning of June, Lundry didn’t find much support for that kind of revolt when the quote was read to respondents, with 59 percent overall disagreeing with Perkins. Of people who said they were opposed to gay marriage, 58 percent said they wouldn’t do anything, despite disagreeing and being disappointed in the decision.

“Only one directly mentions the word ‘revolution,’ five voters threaten to leave the country, and a scant fifteen people (3% of opponents) mention any form of protest,” reads a prepared polling memo. “Clearly, there is no real threat of widespread calamity should we extend the freedom to marry to gays and lesbians.”

Support for gay marriage is at 56 percent, with 37 percent opposed, squaring with public polls. Asked to rate the degree of their support, 44 percent said they “strongly” support legalization, with only 28 percent opposed.



Those feelings are reflected in some of the other answers to the survey: 74 percent of people said their lives wouldn’t change with legalized gay marriage, and among those who did foresee a change, many rated it as one that would be for the better.

But we don’t expect Perkins to be deterred. The only poll on the topic that the Family Research Council president appears to believe was sponsored by his organization and only surveyed Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

End Times Rabbi: 'There Is A Great Shaking Coming'

In a rambling three-part broadcast of James Dobson’s “Family Talk” earlier this month, End Times author and messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn outlined America’s impending doom, which he blamed in part on growing support for marriage equality.

Cahn’s book, The Harbinger, contends that there is a wealth of evidence supporting the idea that the destruction of the United States is imminent. The “pattern of our collapse” has already been outlined in the Bible, he says, warning that if American culture continues to “move away from God,” we will suffer the same fate as ancient Israel.

His claim is anchored by two catastrophic events – the terror attacks of September 11 and the economic collapse of 2008 – which he believes are two “warnings” sent by God.

However, Cahn says the country crossed the line in 2012, “when America reached this majority for the redefinition of marriage and the president.” “I believe a great shaking is coming and I believe that God will seek to work through that shaking for revival, it’s either revival or judgment,” Cahn said. “We cannot go down this path and expect the smiles of heaven to remain on this land.”

Cahn drove the point home when he suggested that Americans didn’t learn the lesson of the September 11 attacks and continued to defy God on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage: “As a nation, from 9/11 till now, culturally, morally, we have rapidly gone against the ways of God.”

“We have destroyed marriage essentially, or we are well on the road toward that, and we’re continuing to kill babies,” Dobson said. “And make Christians pay for them,” Cahn replied.

“When you rewrite marriage, when you say we don’t care about what God said, that is defiance of God. This is all part of the big picture. The same thing happened in ancient Israel.”

Dakotans File Suit, All Fifty States Now Have Either Marriage Equality or a Legal Challenge in Progress

First we heard from South Dakota on May 22, where Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard has been filed on behalf of six couples. Two weeks later, on June 6, Newville was back in court putting the last state on the board by filing Ramsay v. Dalrymple on behalf of seven North Dakota couples.
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Randy Thomasson Says Marriage Equality Is 'A Form Of Slavery'

Filling in for right-wing talk show host Janet Mefferd on Friday, Randy Thomasson of Save California warned that marriage equality laws amount to slavery and totalitarianism.

“It’s tyranny, it’s intolerance, it’s attack, it’s a form of slavery even, that you cannot even have freedom, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and this is leading away from mere opposition to oppression with coming persecution,” Thomasson said.

Thomasson also interviewed Americans For Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera and introduced him by comparing transgender people to people who believe they are actually horses.

Rick Perry, Supporter Of Federal Marriage Amendment, Says Federal Government Should Have No Role In Marriage

Texas Gov. Rick Perry attempted to dodge questions today about his comparison of homosexuality to alcohol abuse, telling CNBC that he will leave the efficacy of ex-gay therapy — recently endorsed by the Texas GOP — “to the psychologists and the doctors.”

Perry also told host Joe Kernan that he “respects” decisions to legalize same-sex marriage in states like New York. “This conversation has always been about states’ rights on this host of issue” and about rebuking “this idea that Washington should be given total and full ability to make these decisions,” he said.

Of course, when he was running for president, Perry supported the federal government intervening on same-sex marriage, endorsing the Federal Marriage Amendment.

But the Texas governor was for the right of states to pass marriage equality laws before he was against it and then for it again.

“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” he said in July of 2011. “If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”

Now it seems that Perry has reversed himself once again and is going back to his original position…or, maybe he just doesn’t understand how the Federal Marriage Amendment would work.

Regnerus Study Backer Acknowledges That Marriage Equality Creates Family Stability

Updated

Buried in a National Catholic Register report on the biannual meeting of U.S. Catholic bishops this week is the surprising revelation that Brad Wilcox, one of the researchers behind Mark Regnerus’ infamously flawed study of same-sex parenting, admitted to attendees that most social scientists have found “no difference” between “a stable same-sex family and a stable heterosexual family.”

And when a Washington state bishop compared same-sex marriage to cohabitation, Wilcox responded that data suggests “when same-sex marriage is legalized and it is given cultural support, it will be as stable as heterosexual marriage" and that married same-sex couples “are more likely to have stable relationships when the legal regime is more supportive of their relationships.” 

Following his talk, Wilcox took a number of questions from bishops on the floor of the meeting. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput asked why, if marriage is so valuable for economic success, same-sex marriage is being legalized in so many states.

"Most of the scientists would say that there's no difference ... between a stable same-sex family and a stable heterosexual family," replied Wilcox, noting that those scientists might consider stability the "key factor, not other issues that might relate to a child's well-being."

Yakima, Wash., Bishop Joseph Tyson asked why same-sex marriage is not considered by the studies Wilcox cited to be as dangerous as cohabitation.

"I think that the assumption ... is that when same-sex marriage is legalized and it is given cultural support, it will be as stable as heterosexual marriage," Wilcox replied.

"Is there data to back that?" Tyson asked.

"The data suggest that same-sex couples -- and this is really preliminary -- are more likely to have stable relationships when the legal regime is more supportive of their relationships," Wilcox replied.

This acknowledgment of mainstream social science’s assessment of gay and lesbian parenting is important coming from someone who helped to shape the Regnerus study, the discredited attack on same-sex parenting that is still cited widely by marriage equality opponents. We wrote last year:

Documents obtained by the American Independent this year revealed that the Witherspoon Institute was closely involved in Regnerus’ work through the go-between of W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor at the University of Virginia who at the time ran Witherspoon’s program on family, marriage and democracy, which had recruited Regnerus to conduct the study on LGBT parents. Regnerus in turn hired Wilcox on contract to assist him with data analysis on the study. Along with working with Regnerus on his skewed interpretation of the data, Wilcox urged Regnerus to release the study in time to influence the U.S. Supreme Court in its upcoming marriage equality cases. (Regnerus later signed onto an amicus brief seeking to influence both cases, which extensively cited his own research).

Wilcox’s remark echo the Proposition 8 trial testimony of David Blankenhorn, in which he acknowledged the stability provided by marriage for same-sex couples. Blankenhorn later became a full-fledged marriage equality advocate.

UPDATE: The bishops’ group has posted video of the conference. It’s clear from the video that Wilcox isn’t completely on board with the social science on same-sex marriage, but  does acknowledge the consensus among his colleagues.

Interestingly, Wilcox did not mention same-sex marriage at all until it was brought up in the question-and-answer session.
 

PFAW Report Exposes Deceptive New Religious Right Strategy

WASHINGTON –  Right-wing groups that oppose advances in marriage equality and reproductive justice have increasingly embraced a new tactic to push their agenda: the claim that opposition to them on policy amounts to oppression of their religious beliefs. A new report from People For the American Way exposes how the anti-gay, anti-choice Religious Right uses false and misleading stories to portray itself as a victim of religious persecution and intolerance. 

The report, “The Persecution Complex: The Religious Right’s Deceptive Rallying Cry,” illustrates how Religious Right activists and elected officials have attempted to portray the increasing unpopularity of their stances on a number of cultural issues as evidence of oppression of their religious faith and represent themselves as the only holdouts in a society that is turning its back on moral values.

“Religious Right leaders hold themselves up as the victims,” stated People For the American Way’s President Michael B. Keegan. “This is a powerful talking point, even if not true. We need to expose these distortions for what they really are—an attempt to protect the Right’s ability to discriminate and push its policy preferences on the rest of us.”

The report explores a number of myths that have become widespread on the Religious Right, despite having little or no basis in reality:

  • Two middle school girls are forced into a lesbian kiss as part of an anti-bullying program
  • An Air Force sergeant is fired because he opposes same-sex marriage
  • A high school track team is disqualified from a meet after an athlete thanks God for the team’s victory
  • A Veterans Affairs hospital bans Christmas cards with religious messages
  • A man fixing the lights in a Christmas tree falls victim to a wave of War-on-Christmas violence
  • An elementary school student is punished for praying over his school lunch
  • A little boy is forced to take a psychological evaluation after drawing a picture of Jesus

None of these stories is true.

These unfounded stories feed into a narrative that portrays conservative Christians as the victims of LGBT rights, reproductive justice, religious pluralism and secular government. This narrative, in turn, has fueled the legislative and legal efforts to turn back any progressive advances.   

“Using the resonant rhetoric of religious persecution, bolstered by often-bogus stories of purported anti-Christian activities, the Religious Right has attempted to tip the balance away from pluralism and accommodation to a legal system that allows individuals and businesses to broadly exempt themselves from policies they disagree with,” the report states. “Even when that means trampling on the religious rights of others.”

Read the full report here.

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Same-Sex Marriages Continue in Wisconsin After Federal Judge Denies Motion to Stay

Since last Friday’s ruling by Federal Judge Barbara Crabb that Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, hundreds of same-sex couples have lined up to get marriage licenses across the Badger State. Immediately after receiving the ruling, clerks in Dane and Milwaukee counties began issuing marriage licenses, and in both areas, facilities stayed open late on Friday and continued issuing licenses on Saturday. Officiants, including judges, ministers, and commissioners, married couples on-site at their respective county courthouses.

Similar to actions in other states where courts have struck down same-sex marriage bans, Wisconsin’s right-leaning GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen filed multiple motions to “preserve the status quo” attempting to stop same-sex marriages from happening.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 48 of the state’s 72 counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the ongoing legal battle. Wisconsin’s Vital Records Office is accepting the licenses, but holding them until they receive further guidance from Van Hollen.

For its part, the ACLU filed a proposal of how to implement same-sex marriage in the state. If approved, the plan would force Governor Scott Walker, Attorney General Van Hollen, and county clerks across the state to treat all same-sex and opposite-sex couples equally under the law.

Judge Crabb is set to have another hearing on June 19th.

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Ted Cruz And Rick Santorum To Join Iowa Pastor Who Predicted Marriage Equality Would Increase The Murder Rate, Destroy America

Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum are slated to appear at a September “American Heritage Summit” in Washington, D.C., hosted by a right-wing Iowa pastor Cary Gordon of Cornerstone World Outreach.

Along with Gordon and the pair of likely presidential candidates, the guests include conservative pseudo-historian David Barton, Iowa-based talk show host Steve Deace and Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King.

Gordon became heavily involved in politics during the 2010 campaign to remove Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality, and he endorsed Santorum’s 2012 presidential campaign, helping the former Pennsylvania senator to win the Iowa caucuses.

At an anti-gay marriage rally in 2011, Gordon described marriage equality as a demonic attempt that would bring about America’s destruction, warning that Iowans must “protect the virtue of true Americanism from our own mental barbarians who attack our minds with the God-hating secularism of Europe” or risk being “extinguished from the earth.”

Gordon even predicted that gay marriage would increase the murder rate: “The natural problem that causes is an overt immorality. The crime rates go up, people suffer, people are stealing and murdering and [doing] all the things morality tells you not to do.”

The pastor, insisting that it is a “glaringly obvious fact that being ‘gay’ is a behavior, and has nothing to do with civil rights,” charged in a 2010 blog post that the same-sex marriage ruling put Iowa on the road to Nazism: “True pastors, in the fashion of Christ, will not and cannot bow before the arrogance of Caesar and Herod. We have learned from our past mistakes. We will not repeat the mistake made by Lutheran pastors when confronted with German fascism.”

“[T]o the intelligent religious man, homosexuality will always be un-natural for a myriad of obvious reasons one shouldn’t have to explain,” Gordon wrote. “To the intelligent evolutionist, it will NEVER agree with the doctrine of ‘survival of the fittest.’”

Gordon’s church also released a video asserting that same-sex marriage would legalize incest, pedophilia and bestiality.

Vic Eliason Warns Marriage Equality 'Defiles' People And 'Turns Them Into Perverts'

Vic Eliason of the Wisconsin-based group Voice of Christian Youth America was not pleased with a federal judge’s decision last week to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, a point which he expounded on at length on yesterday’s edition of “Crosstalk.”

“This same-sex marriage is a branch off of — it’s promiscuity, it’s passion out of control, it’s a violation of natural order, it’s a violation of literally — you cannot procreate — and they have literally defiled the very definitions of who people are and turned them into perverts,” he said.

Eliason’s guest, Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Council and Wisconsin Family Action, agreed with his assessment and claimed the judge effectively said she “knows better than God Almighty.”

Jim Garlow Warns Marriage Equality Is 'The Destruction Of Our Nation, The Ultimate Nail In The Coffin'

Comparing the anti-gay movement to the fights against slavery and the Maccabees, right-wing pastor and Prop 8 organizer Jim Garlow appeared on “The Janet Mefferd Show” Friday to warn that “it’s going to be the loss of America if marriage goes down.”

“It’s going to be the destruction of our nation, the ultimate nail in the coffin,” Garlow said. “Marriage will survive ultimately, America will not.”

Garlow previously held President Obama personally responsible for “tip[ping] the scales in a destructive direction” with his endorsement of marriage equality.

NOM Spins Judicial Smackdown As Victory

Last year the National Organization for Marriage sued the IRS over a clerk’s mistaken release in 2012 of a tax form that by law should have had the group’s donors redacted but didn’t. When gay rights activists published the list of major donors, NOM portrayed the release as a sinister political plot by the Obama administration that was “reminiscent of Watergate” and “part of a deliberate attempt to chill the First Amendment activity of NOM, its donors, and others who associate with NOM.” Based on this conspiracy theory, NOM sued the IRS for punitive damages.

Last week a federal judge harshly rejected NOM’s claims that the release was willful or a result of gross negligence, but NOM is trying to spin the humiliating rejection of its false charges as some kind of victory.

In reviewing the facts of the case, the judge said it is clear that the IRS clerk, who was responding to a public records request, sent a copy without the donors redacted by mistake. The government readily admits the accidental release. But NOM lawyers absurdly tried to claim that IRS supervisors investigating the incident were somehow breaking the law by reviewing the group’s forms.

“NOM has proffered no evidence that its unredacted tax information was willfully disclosed,” wrote Judge James Cacheris. In fact, the judge’s ruling says, the clerk had no idea who was requesting the information or what NOM was about. David Badash at the New Civil Rights movement nicely summarized the tone of the judge’s dismissal on summary judgment of the charges that the release was due to a political plot or gross negligence:

United States District Court Judge James C. Cacheris in his Tuesday ruling against NOM used terms like, “NOM has failed to produce a shred of proof,” NOM’s argument “misses the mark,” is “unconvincing,” “is unpersuasive,” and “[t]o find that NOM could prevail from this scintilla of evidence … is not appropriate.”

The one part of NOM’s lawsuit the judge did not throw out was NOM’s claim for attorney’s fees and funds for any actual damages it can prove resulted from the mistaken release. NOM will get to make the case for those damages in court.

That was enough for NOM to spin the decision as a victory. In an email to supporters on Sunday evening, NOM’s Brian Brown wrote:

First, the IRS news you've been waiting to hear — they finally admitted we were right and they were wrong! This week the IRS was forced to admit that they were the ones who unlawfully released our confidential donor information to a gay activist who promptly gave it to our political opponents, and opponents of marriage, the Human Rights Campaign.

Brown’s email makes it sound as if the government was trying to cover up the mistaken release, and it was only the pressure from grassroots activists and the Act Right Legal Foundation (which Brown chairs) that pushed members of Congress to “keep the IRS scandal in the public view and to dig into the truth of what happened to NOM and its donors.”

The truth is much less exciting than NOM’s claims. But NOM seems likely to get the government to pay some legal fees related to the mistaken release. Also to be considered by the court will be the government’s argument that any damages NOM can prove should be offset by money NOM raised by falsely portraying themselves as the victims of political persecution.

NOM’s lawyers, of course, have plenty to keep them busy.

BREAKING: Wisconsin Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

A District Court judge ruled today that Wisconsin’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional.  Judge Barbara Crabb relied on equal protection law to strike down the ban:

"My task under federal law is to decide the claims presented by the plaintiffs in this case now, applying the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court," she said. "Because my review of that law convinces me that plaintiffs are entitled to the same treatment as any heterosexual couple, I conclude that the Wisconsin laws banning marriage between same-sex couples are unconstitutional."

Congratulate Wisconsinites by sharing our graphic below:

 

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