Marriage Equality

Religious Right 'Freedom And Liberty' Group ACLJ Backed Russian 'Gay Propaganda' And Blasphemy Bans

The American Center for Law and Justice, the group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson to be a right-wing counter to the American Civil Liberties Union, bills itself as a champion of the “ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.”

But the ACLJ – which has joined in the Religious Right chorus claiming that progressive policies are causing American Christians to lose their religious freedom – has never been so keen on the civil liberties of those with whom they disagree, especially in its work overseas. As we’ve noted in the past, the ACLJ led the fight to block the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in Manhattan and through its African affiliate has backed efforts to prevent legalized abortion in Kenya and to keep homosexuality illegal in Zimbabwe.

And in recent years, the ACLJ’s European and Russian branches have also supported key parts of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and civil liberties, even as the group has served as a watchdog for Russia’s evangelical minority in the face of government persecution.

Both the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) and the Slavic Center for Law and Justice (SCLJ) affiliates voiced support for Russia’s 2013 gag order on gay-rights advocacy. In addition, following the 2012 Pussy Riot protest, the SCLJ called for a law criminalizing religious blasphemy. One of its leading attorneys then helped draft one proposed version of the law.

In 2012, the last year for which records are available, the ACLJ directed $300,000 to funding the SCLJ with the “goal of protecting religious rights and freedoms of individuals and associations in Russia.” Its bigger overseas project is the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), based in Strasbourg, France, to which it gave $1.1 million in 2012. The ACLJ’s chief counsel, Jay Sekulow, founded the SCLJ's overseas branches and serves as the chief counsel of the European affiliate. A handful of sources list him as the chief counsel of the Russian affiliate as well, although it is unclear if he still serves in that capacity.

The ACLJ did not respond to a request for comment on the work of its work in Russia.

Shortly after the feminist punk band Pussy Riot staged a protest at a Russian Orthodox cathedral – for which they were ultimately sentenced to two years in a penal colony for “hooliganism” – the SCLJ issued a press release endorsing the efforts of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, an Orthodox Church official, to criminalize blasphemy, which at the time was punishable by just a small fine. The press release argued that “seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health,” and recommending “harsh punishments” for people found guilty of blasphemy.

The press release called for Russian officials “to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.”

The cynical, blasphemous actions in the Church of Christ the Savior that took place this week aroused a broad public outcry. The participants of the women’s feminist punk group Pussy Riot ran into the church wearing masks and performed a blasphemous song with a political subtext right before the altar. They recorded the “performance” on video. Based on these recordings, a video clip was put together and posted on social networks, after which a flood of blasphemous and anti-church comments appeared online.

SCLJ recently raised the issue of the danger of dissemination through social networks of blasphemous information that insults the religious feelings of the faithful, at times openly inciting interreligious conflicts. Today we see that this concern is becoming even more acute and urgent. Criticism of certain religious views and beliefs is undoubtedly possible; however, insult and humiliation of the dignity of individuals who hold them or profess any religion is simply unacceptable.

The main problem is that the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation does not currently contain adequate penalties for such acts. The maximum punishment that can be brought down upon the participants in this blasphemous act at the Church of Christ the Savior is that they will be cited for an administrative offense and required to pay a small fine. However, the consequences of their activities may be very serious.

It should be noted that such cases are not rare. SCLJ staff members have often come upon similar situations in other regions of the country. Moreover, in many cases, seemingly innocuous mischief of a few aggressive individuals led to real religious conflicts that posed a threat to people’s lives and health.

Law enforcement agencies typically respond to incidents of this nature by glossing over any anti-religious motives. No one wants crimes motivated by religious hatred and hostility. Therefore, officials strain to limit charges to “hooliganism” and sometimes refuse to open a criminal case at all.

In this regard, SCLJ supports the initiative of Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin to toughen laws against incitement of religious hatred and hostility, but also against insult to the religious feelings of the faithful and assaults against their shrines and temples. We also believe that there is an urgent need to introduce harsh punishments for disseminating such information on the Internet.

In September of 2012, members of the Duma introduced a bill that would criminalize “insulting citizens’ religious views and feelings.”

Despite SCLJ’s initial call for an anti-blasphemy law, the group’s co-chair Vladimir Rhyakovsky was apparently not thrilled with the first draft of the law. Rhyakovsky, a member of Putin’s Council on Civil Society and Human Rights, joined with a fellow council member to propose a revised version of the bill that proposed more moderate penalties for violation and created “zoned” free speech areas, but also, disturbingly, would have made the definition of “insulting religious feeling” even vaguer to cover such beliefs as “patriotism” and “commitment to traditional values.”

In June, 2013, Putin signed the final version of the blasphemy ban. The Moscow Times summarized its provisions:

The blasphemy law will punish “public actions expressing obvious disrespect toward society and committed to abuse the religious feelings of believers,” with potential punishment of up to three years behind bars, fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($15,430), and compulsory correctional labor, Lenta.ru reported.

It also stipulates fines of 80,000-300,000 rubles and a prison term of up to three months for hindering the activities of religious organizations and preventing religious rites from being conducted.

A fine of over 200,000 rubles can be levied for deliberate destruction of religious or theological literature.

Ryakhovsky – speaking in his capacity as a member of the human rights council – said after the Duma passed the bill that while he felt that it was “very important” to pass such a law and acknowledged that some of the human rights council’s proposals had been adopted, he was still concerned that “the problem of legal ambiguity remains,” which could “lead to arbitrary application and interpretation of the law, and willful use of it by law enforcement agencies.”

“Whenever the law, and especially criminal law, contains room for arbitrary interpretation, it is fraught with negative consequences,” he said. “I believe that this law is better than the one that was originally proposed, but on the other hand – it is not what it should be.”

That an ACLJ affiliate advocated for a blasphemy law – even if its leader offered only tepid support for the final product – is especially unsettling given that the group has strongly opposed blasphemy bans in its work at the United Nations. In a comment to the UN’s human rights committee in 2011, the ECLJ urged the committee to adopt a strong condemnation of blasphemy laws, such as those in Islamist countries. “Blasphemy prohibitions and laws regarding the defamation of religions violate the very foundations of the human rights tradition by protecting ideas instead of the person who hold those ideas,” the ECLJ wrote in a memo cosigned by its director, Gregor Puppink.

“Freedom of expression includes the right to be controversial, insulting, or offensive, even when such expression targets ideas that are devoutly held beliefs,” the group added.

The SCLJ and its leaders may have had mixed feelings about the final version of the blasphemy ban, but they offered more enthusiastic praise to another bill that Putin signed the same day: a ban on the distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, essentially a gag order on gay-rights advocacy.

After the Duma passed the “propaganda” ban, Ryakhovsky’s fellow SCLJ co-chairman, Anatoly Pchelintsev, told Voice of America that although he would “refine” parts of the bill, it addressed an important problem. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms,” he said.

Co-chair of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice Anatoly Pchelintsev told Voice of America that he believes there is such a thing as homosexual propaganda, and that it must be combated as much as possible. “You only have to turn on a few TV channels to become convinced: promotion of homosexuality is there in both direct and hidden forms.”

However, Pchelintsev believes there is no need to apply the law in all cases, since it is primarily minors who need protection against homosexual propaganda. “Adults are capable of understanding what is good and what is bad,” added Pchelintsev.

Pchelintsev says that he shares the opinion of Sergei Nikitin about the necessity of refining some of the terminology used in the bill. “You have to know what “propaganda” is before banning it.”

Pchelintsev told another outlet that he was “very pleased” about the move toward adopting the law because LGBT people should be allowed to “live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life.”

“I’m against homosexual propaganda, especially among minors. I am for strong families, but in this case I admit that there may be some kind of anomaly, it’s difficult to say in what way exactly—psychological, biological, or something else, but the problem exists—there are people like this. And let them live as they want to, but without propagandizing their way of life,” believes the scientific director of the Institute for Religion and Law, lawyer Anatoly Pchelintsev. “So I’m very pleased about the adoption of this law on the federal level. The key will be that it works and guarantees some kind of punishment. In my view, citation for an administrative offense is sufficient, violations like this do not fall under the purview of criminal law.”

The ACLJ’s European affiliate also voiced support for the “propaganda” ban. In an essay last year, ECLJ’s director, Gregor Puppinck, wrote that the law was “intended to protect children from messages about LGBT practices” that portray homosexuality as “favorable to or equivalent to marital relationships.” He portrayed Russia’s suppression of gay rights as a beacon of hope to France and the rest of Western Europe, showing that the trend toward gay rights is “strong, but not inevitable.”

ECLJ has worked closely with a number of French groups that have been touting Putin’s social conservative crackdown as a model for Europe. Last month, Puppinck joined a delegation of French activists in a visit to Russia to meet with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church and members of parliament to discuss partnering in “protecting traditional values.”

Although participants in the meeting said that they avoided foreign policy subjects, the visit by the delegation just a few weeks after Russia’s seizure of Crimea provoked some controversy in France, including criticism from a French Catholic leader who said, “If they think that Russia protects human rights, they should go for a tour of Crimea.” The magazine Nouvel Observateur accused the delegation of endorsing Putin’s propaganda of “Russia as a paradise of Christian values.”

In response to the Nouvel Observateur piece the president of the leading French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous denied that anybody of authority in her group had participated.

But the ECLJ was far from shy about its own participation. According to the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Strasbourg, it was Puppinck who requested that he organize the delegation of French activists who support “the traditional concept of the family and oppose abortion, euthanasia, etc.”

We haven’t been able to find any detailed accounts of the visit, but one member of the delegation, the Russian Orthodox church’s representative in Strasbourg, repeated the idea of Russia as the moral protectors of Europe. “Russia is a unique country in Europe,” said Abbot Philip Rybykh. “It seeks to protect the natural order of life, and not the various deviations from it.”

Another report notes that the delegates reached the conclusion that “Western societies would do well to emulate” Russia’s “religious awakening.”

Puppinck reportedly said during the visit that he was “very impressed” by Russia’s newly established “moral” policies, specifically citing the drop in the country’s abortion rate. Russia’s anti-gay policies and protecting Europe from the “contagion” of gay rights were also reportedly objects of discussion.

Benham Brothers Reveal What Love And Liberty Mean To The Religious Right

Benham Brothers Reveal What Love and Liberty Mean To the Religious Right

Idaho Marriage Ban Struck Down

Yesterday evening a federal judge ruled Idaho’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples unconstitutional. If the state begins issuing marriage licenses Friday morning, plaintiffs Amber Beierle and Rachael Roberts say they are more than ready to make their union official. Beierle reflected, “I don't think people understand what [the ruling] means to native Idahoans who love this state and want to stay in this state but who want to be heard.”

In her ruling, Judge Candy Dale made clear that the state’s ban denied critical rights to same-sex couples simply because of who they are:

Idaho's Marriage laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love.

Close on the heels of the striking of Arkansas’ marriage ban, the ruling in Idaho comes as further evidence that the movement toward full nationwide marriage equality cannot be stopped. Even as the far Right continues to compare same-sex marriage to bestiality and to absurdly insist that marriage bans “take nothing away from anyone,” the stack of judicial wins for equality grows taller and taller.
 

PFAW

Marriage Equality Lawsuit Filed in Alaska, Only Three State Bans Remain Unchallenged

Yesterday's filing is great news for these couples and countless other Alaskans wishing to bring marriage equality to their state, but on this issue Alaska is not The Last Frontier – three states remain with unchallenged marriage bans.
PFAW Foundation

Marriage Equality Ruling in Arkansas Welcomed by Southerners for the Freedom to Marry

Wolfson and his organization have been working on a project called Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, and though we expect an appeal to the Arkansas ruling, it looks like the South is ready for change.
PFAW Foundation

Barbwire: Hallmark 'Defiles Mother's Day' With Two-Moms Card

Matt Barber’s Barbwire celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday by sounding the alarm about a report by the British LGBT site PinkNews that Hallmark has issued a card for people with two moms.

PinkNews reports that the card says, “When it comes to big hearts, mums are second to none, how does anyone ever get by with just one?”

BarbWire responded with an article by managing editor Brian Fitzpatrick, entitled “Hallmark Defiles Mother’s Day with 2 Moms Card,” which was featured as the top story on BarbWire’s daily newsletter.

“Despite its wholesome reputation for producing family-friendly movies, Hallmark has embraced the sexualized view of “diversity,” granting practitioners of homosexuality and other aberrant sexual behaviors the same status as ethnic minorities,” Fitzpatrick writes.

Despite its wholesome reputation for producing family-friendly movies, Hallmark has embraced the sexualized view of 'diversity,' granting practitioners of homosexuality and other aberrant sexual behaviors the same status as ethnic minorities. According to the company’s 'Diversity at Hallmark' web page, 'We also support and rely upon Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that offer opportunities for African American, Hispanic, Asian American, Millennial, Military and Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender employees to share common interests and give perspective on product development.'

 

Anti-Gay Groups Take Out Two Pro-Equality Indiana GOP State Reps

Two incumbent Republican state representatives in Indiana lost primary elections after national anti-gay groups targeted them for their votes against a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Kathy Heuer and Rebecca Kubacki were among eleven Republicans who voted against the marriage amendment in January. The amendment will next have to be placed on the statewide ballot, which won't happen until 2016 at the earliest .

According to the National Organization for Marriage, NOM, the American Family Association of Indiana, Focus on the Family’s political arm Citizenlink, the Family Research Council and the FRC’s Indiana affiliate the Indiana Family Institute were all involved in the effort to unseat the pro-marriage lawmakers. NOM writes:

NOM, the Indiana Family Institute, the American Family Association of Indiana, Citizenlink, and Family Research Council Action had warned politicians before the marriage amendment vote in the legislature that if they did not give the people the chance to vote on marriage this year, there would be political repercussions. After the failure of the legislature to pass the question to the voters, the coalition worked together to choose its targets, particularly the ousting of Heuer and Kubacki while protecting marriage champions. 

The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana Family Institute’s political arm "ran $12,000 worth of radio ads in the Fort Wayne area targeting Heuer, Kubacki, and a third incumbent, Casey Cox of Fort Wayne,” who won his primary contest. The FRC-affiliated group also reportedly sent out 10,000 mailers in support of the marriage amendment’s sponsor in his successful effort to fend off a primary challenger.

In February, NOM and Citizenlink started airing radio ads against at least one Republican state lawmaker who ultimately voted for the marriage amendment, but supported a change that would remove a ban on civil unions from the measure, thus pushing back the schedule for getting the ban on the ballot. The groups accused proponents of the change of bringing “San Francisco-style marriage” to Indiana.

In a statement, FRC president Tony Perkins touted his organization’s recent poll on how Republican voters view marriage equality and claimed that “elected officials can no longer avoid the reality that the redefinition of marriage leads to the loss of our most basic freedoms.”

"The election outcome reinforces the findings of an FRC-commissioned survey released last month showing three-quarters of Republican voters want their elected officials to uphold natural marriage as the national standard. Voters in Indiana and across the country are now realizing that much more than marriage is on the line. Elected officials can no longer avoid the reality that the redefinition of marriage leads to the loss of our most basic freedoms.

"Redefining natural marriage is about far more than the marriage altar; it is about fundamentally altering society. In the wake of same-sex marriage, religious freedom and parental rights have been lost. Business owners, like florists, bakers and photographers, have been hauled into court, fined and even put out of business for simply refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding. But it doesn't stop there; university professors, sportscasters and even members of the military have been demoted or fired for simply believing marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Families have been impacted as parents have lost the right to determine whose values are taught to their children," concluded Perkins.

Florida Man Requests To Marry 'Porn Filled Apple Computer' In Super-Clever Marriage Equality Protest

Many anti-gay activists are strangely obsessed with the idea that marriage equality might someday lead to legalized human-object marriage, whether that object is a car, a turtle, or the Eiffel Tower.

A Florida man has taken this obsession to a new level, filing a motion to intervene in the case challenging the state’s marriage equality ban, purporting to seek the right to marry his “porn filled Apple computer.”

The Broward/Palm Beach New Times provides this quote from the motion of Chris Sevier, which it notes is “Short on sound legal grounding (and even shorter on wit)”:

Recently, I purchased an Apple computer. The computer was sold to me without filters to block out pornography. I was not provided with any warning by Apple that pornography was highly addictive and could alter my reward cycle by the manufacturer. Over time, I began preferring sex with my computer over sex with real women. Naturally, I 'fell in love' with my computer and preferred having sex with it over all other persons or things, as a result of classic conditioning upon orgasm.

Unsurprisingly, Sevier’s motion was rejected last week by the clearly unamused Judge Robert L. Hinkle:

Chris Sevier has moved to intervene, apparently asserting he wishes to marry his computer. Perhaps the motion is satirical. Or perhaps it is only removed from reality. Either way, the motion has no place in this lawsuit. Mr. Sevier has alleged nothing that would support intervention.

The New Times notes that Sevier has tried this sort of thing before:

A Chris Sevier sued Apple because it sold him a computer without telling him about the evils of porn. A Chris Sevier sued A&E after it fired Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson after he was caught spewing antigay talk. And just recently, a Chris Sevier tried to butt his way into Utah's gay marriage legal case . In a 50-page motion, he claimed he was there to make the court "put up or shut up" on the gay marriage issue.

In his motion in the Utah case, Sevier laid out his totally air-tight argument, warning that marriage equality and the “slippery slope” he warns will ensue will result in Americans “becoming salves of our glands, not slaves of virtue”:

Either (1) we will be reduced to a Nation that hypocritically enforces the equal protection and due process clause to suit the interest of the largest minority, which yields discrimination against the true minority classes of sexual orientation, causing hypocrisy to undermine foundation laws, yielding instability; (2) we will remain a Christian Nation that protects traditional marriage, as a relationship set apart because it has the potential of bearing life between two people, who are in a legally binding relationship, who have naturally corresponding sexual organs with the exclusive potential to produce children with DNA that matches theirs; which, of course, makes that relationship both scientifically and factually distinct from all others-religious aside; or (3) we will progress into a Nation that gives equal protection to all classes of sexual orientation allowing everyone to marrying anyone and anything to suit their appetite in the name of tolerance, equality, and love -becoming slaves of ourglands, not slaves of virtue. There is no other possible alternative.

Iowa GOP Senate Candidates Vow To Block Judges Who Won't Follow 'Biblical' Law

The Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader held a forum for Republican US Senate candidates on Friday, at which the group’s view that “God instituted government” figured heavily. In fact, nearly every candidate at the debate vowed that if they were to be elected to the Senate they would block federal judicial nominees who do not follow what they perceive as “natural law” or a “biblical view of justice.”

Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, opened the forum by declaring, “At The Family Leader, we believe God has three institutions: It would be the church, the family, and government.”

He warned that policies such as legal abortion and marriage equality would cause God to cease blessing the country. “As we have a culture that runs further and further from God’s principles, His precepts, from God’s heart, it’s only natural consequences that we’re going to suffer,” he said.

“You cannot run away from the heart of God and expect God to bless the country," he concluded.

Several of the candidates echoed this theme during the forum. When moderator Erick Erickson, the right-wing pundit, asked the candidates what criteria they would look for in confirming federal judges, three out of four said they would demand faith in God or adherence to “natural law.”

Sam Clovis, a college professor and retired Air Force colonel, answered that he has  “a very firm litmus test” on judges: “Can that judge…explain to me natural law and natural rights?”

Joni Ernst, who is currently a state senator, agreed, adding that federal judges should understand that the Constitution and all of our laws “did come from God” and that senators should “make sure that any decisions that they have made in the past are decisions that fit within that criteria.”

Former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker argued that neither Clovis’ nor Ernst’s answer had gone “far enough.” He said that he would demand that federal judicial nominees be “people of faith” and “have a biblical view of justice.”

“As long as they have that worldview, then they’ll be a good judge,” he said. “And if they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”

This all must have been very pleasing to Vander Plaats, who in 2010 orchestrated the ousting of Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality, and who has repeatedly insisted that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it "goes against" the Bible and the "law of nature."

Heritage Scholar Claims Marriage Equality Bans 'Take Nothing Away From Anyone'

Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan T. Anderson, the anti-marriage-equality movement’s new young voice, claimed in an interview with the LDS Church-owned KSL TV in Salt Lake City, that banning marriage equality “take[s] nothing away from anyone” and “in no way infringes upon the liberty of any American to live and to love how they choose to.”

Anderson claims that in a “live and let live society,” LGBT people would not have marriage rights, but would receive marriage benefits from their employers if their employers chose.

In the interview, transcribed by the Deseret News, Anderson also explains that it’s easy for him to take emotion out of the marriage debate.

KSL: As you lay out your arguments, many people may be unmoved because it seems like you aren’t giving homosexuals the opportunity for true fulfillment, that society is justifying sacrificing some people’s fulfillment at the sake of others. What is your response to that?

RA: Marriage laws take nothing away from anyone. In all 50 states, two people of the same sex can live with each other and love each other. If their house of worship recognizes same-sex marriage, they can have a wedding there. If their business wants to give them marriage benefits, the business can. That’s very much a live and let live society. What’s at stake with the redefinition of marriage is: will the law redefine what marriage is and then force every community, every religious community, except for the four walls of a church, every business community, into treating the same-sex relationship as if it’s a marriage, even when it violates their beliefs about marriage? But defining marriage as between a man and a woman so that as many children as possible have a mother and a father in no way infringes upon the liberty of any American to live and to love how they choose to.

Deace Implies Same-Sex Marriage Is As Impossible As Human Flight

Speaking with Phyllis Schlafly on Eagle Forum Live this weekend, Iowa talk show host Steve Deace implied that same-sex couples who want to get married are like people who want to be able to fly.

Responding to a caller who asked what he should say to a friend who says “it’s not government’s job to legislate morality,” Deace responded that the friend has “bought into some postmodern thinking” where he doesn’t want to impose his idea of what’s “wrong and icky” on other people.

Deace compared this to fighting the law of gravity, implying that a gay person who wants to get married is like someone who jumps off a skyscraper because they think they can fly.

“I mean, someone might think, I have the right to fly and I’d love to fly and I have a desire to fly and I even found a judge that gave me a piece of paper that told me I have the right to fly,” he said. “But when I fling myself off the top of a skyscraper, I run smack-dab into the law of gravity.”

“It didn’t change because some judge said so,” he added.
 

Caller: I’ve got a buddy who’s semi-liberal and he says, his main premise is that it’s not government’s job to legislate morality. And I was wondering what you’ve got to say about that.

Schlafly: Well, practically ever law is legislating morality.

Deace: Phyllis is correct. Everything is morality. That’s a false objection. Question him further to find exactly out what that means. And I’m telling you, what I’m 99 percent positive that it will mean is that he’s bought into some postmodern thinking that says, ‘Well, yeah, I think this stuff is wrong and icky for me but I can’t impose my value system on somebody else.’

But of course, that’s a very slippery slope as well. I mean, someone might think, I have the right to fly and I’d love to fly and I have a desire to fly and I even found a judge that gave me a piece of paper that told me I have the right to fly. But when I fling myself off the top of a skyscraper, I run smack-dab into the law of gravity. It didn’t change because some judge said so. It still exists. So, chances are that’s a false objection from your friend because he’s bought into some postmodern thinking about over-judgementalism.

Brian Brown: Gay Rights Activists Reviving Jim Crow With 'Anti-Christian Bigotry'

In a conference call in February about Arizona’s proposed “right to discriminate" bill, National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown counseled fellow Religious Right activists to turn accusations of anti-gay discrimination around and accuse gay rights activists of “anti-religious” and “anti-Christian bigotry.”

Brown was the guest on a weekly call held by Staying True to America’s National Destiny (STAND), an organization run by former Virginia GOP lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson.

Noting that opponents of Arizona’s bill – which was later vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer – pointed out its similarities to Jim Crow laws, Brown said, “in fact, it’s the reverse” and that gay rights opponents are the ones facing systematic discrimination.

He advised the activists on the call to claim that opponents of gay rights are the real victims: “So, when they bring up discrimination, we need to turn it on its head and say, this is about anti-religious, specifically in some cases, anti-Christian religious bigotry, and there’s no place for this in this country. The discrimination is there, but right now what’s happening is the discrimination is coming from those that want to punish, repress and marginalize individuals and organizations that stand up for their religious beliefs.”

Whether it’s being forced to photograph a ceremony that you don’t agree with, forced to create a same-sex marriage wedding cake, whatever it is, that’s a very different thing than saying this is somehow Jim Crow all over again. In fact, it’s the reverse. What proponents of same-sex marriage are attempting to do is to coerce Americans to leave their faith at the door when they enter the public square, leave their faith at the door if they own a business.

So, when they bring up discrimination, we need to turn it on its head and say, this is about anti-religious, specifically in some cases, anti-Christian religious bigotry, and there’s no place for this in this country. The discrimination is there, but right now what’s happening is the discrimination is coming from those that want to punish, repress and marginalize individuals and organizations that stand up for their religious beliefs.

And what they’re trying to do is to constrain religious liberty to a new term: freedom of worship. Well, our founders didn’t die and come here for freedom of worship, they came here for religious liberty, to practice in the public square, not only within their houses of worship what they believed, but to go out into the community and act on it. And this is one of the important points when we debate this, is to not accept this new language of quote-unquote ‘freedom of worship.’ We believe in religious liberty, we believe in freedom of conscience. We don’t accept the idea that people should be punished in the public square for trying to live out the Gospel call.

Supreme Court Declines to Review New Mexico Rejection of Wedding Photographer Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a request to consider Elane Photography v. Willock, a case brought by a wedding photography business that had been penalized for violating a New Mexico law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. After the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously rejected its free speech and religious liberty claims, the company appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that taking pictures is expressive activity protected by the First Amendment, and that the government has no right to force a photographer to take a particular picture. The Supreme Court declined to take the case.

People For the American Way is committed to religious liberty, freedom of expression, and LGBT equality, and recognizes that people who support both religious freedom and full legal equality for LGBT people can and do disagree on where lines should be drawn in such cases.  A small business person who wants to run a business that reflects their values can be a sympathetic figure. Some believe a mom-and-pop company whose owners have religious objections to same-sex marriage should have the right to turn away a gay couple under those circumstances.  But it is hard to identify a legal principle by which a business covered by an anti-discrimination law would be allowed to ignore the law on the basis of the owner’s religious beliefs on marriage, but not on the basis of his religious beliefs on segregation or gender inequality.

The tension between the rights of a business owner and the ability of a legislature to ban discrimination as a matter of public policy finds eloquent expression in New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Bosson’s concurrence in the Elane Photography case.  The court unanimously upheld a finding by the state’s Human Rights Commission that refusing to provide services to a same-sex couple had violated anti-discrimination law. Bosson wrote that the court’s ruling means that the business owners “are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives. Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering.”

More from Bosson’s opinion:

On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins [the business owners] are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish, they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life…In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs , so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.

Bosson’s opinion recognizes that there are competing interests at play and that can make line-drawing difficult.  He treats the religious liberty questions respectfully.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped Religious Right from portraying the decision, and Bosson’s opinion, as pure tyranny.  A lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom called the decision “a blow to our client and every American’s right to live free.” Cases in Colorado and Oregon involving bakery owners that declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and faced punishment for violating anti-discrimination laws have generated similar rhetoric. 

Most Americans do not see tyranny in the balancing act that legislatures and courts are engaged in. They believe the principle staked out in PFAW Foundation’s Twelve Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics: it is legitimate for government to require religious organizations and individuals to abide by rules and regulations that promote the common good. A poll conducted by Third Way and HRC just before the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act found that 68 percent of Americans believe that small business owners should not be allowed to refuse service to gays or lesbians, regardless of their religious beliefs. When asked specifically about wedding-related services like catering, flowers, or cakes, nearly as many – 64 percent – were opposed to laws that would allow small businesses to deny services based on their religious beliefs.

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BarbWire: 'Al-'Gay'Da' And 'Lezbollah' Terrorists Brought Down Mozilla CEO

Last week’s decision by Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich to step down amid a storm of criticism about his contribution to the campaign to repeal marriage equality in California has caused many anti-gay pundits to reach deep into their stores of hyperbole, comparing the gay rights movement to Nazis, terrorists, communists, the KKK and the Taliban .

Jeff Allen, the senior editor of Matt Barber’s BarbWire website, continues the trend today with a column accusing “Al-‘Gay’Da and Lezbollah terrorist networks” and the “homosexual Taliban” of enforcing “homosexual Sharia” against marriage equality opponents.

“Moreover, what happened to Brendan Eich functions as a metaphor for life,” Allen muses. “In the same way that the founder of Mozilla was forced out of his own company, the homofascists, liberals and secularists also want to dethrone God from the universe he founded.”

If someone donates $100 or more in support or opposition to a ballot initiative in California, state law requires the disclosure of your full name, occupation and employer. The LA Times published an on-line, searchable database in 2008 with the names and information of those who contributed to the Prop 8 referendum. Armed with this information, militant members of the Al-’Gay’da and Lezbollah terrorist networks utilized Google Maps and produced/published maps indicating where all of the Prop 8 supporters lived and worked. Almost immediately, the supporters of natural marriage found themselves in the crosshairs of an angry mob of homofascist enemies of freedom.

So, whenever liberals argue in favor of legislation mandating the disclosure of the identities of contributors to political issues or candidates, now we know why. It’s not really about financial transparency or the integrity of the democratic process. It’s so they can target, intimidate and launch reprisals against those with whom they disagree. All dissent must be silenced by the homosexual Taliban.

The supporters of Prop 8 have paid a very steep price for defending marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and very few homosexual activists have ever disavowed the crimes that the homosexual Sharia supporters have perpetrated. Nevertheless, these brave individuals are to be commended for standing up for the truth despite the onslaught of attacks. Liberty will require many more people to do the same. Brendan Eich was only latest victim of the virulent Al-’Gay’da terrorists, and we too will need to be a people of courage and conviction if we ever hope to stem the tide of these sin-obsessed, sodomy-fixated destroyers of morality and freedom.

Moreover, what happened to Brendan Eich functions as a metaphor for life. In the same way that the founder of Mozilla was forced out of his own company, the homofascists, liberals and secularists also want to dethrone God from the universe he founded. Of course, the Bible confirms the fact that they will ultimately fail, but in the meantime that doesn’t thwart them from all their raging and vain plotting (Psalm 2:1; Acts 4:25).

An estimated 35,000 people contributed to the Prop 8 effort. That means the vile, militant supporters of sin-based sodomy “marriage,” have got a lot of work ahead of them. Their Islamofascist-style purge of all defenders of morality has only just begun.

For the homo-terrorists, Brendan Eich is “one down” – only 34, 999 more to go!

LaBarbera Warns You Can't Be A Christian And Support 'Redefining Marriage To Accommodate A Sexual Sin'

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality was not happy last month when Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said he was going to stop speaking out publicly against marriage equality, calling him a “sellout” who was “hurting the cause.”

The anti-gay activist was even further dispirited by the charity World Vision’s decision – since reversed – to recognize the marriages of its gay employees. Speaking with talk show host Janet Mefferd yesterday, LaBarbera told evangelicals that you can’t “call yourself a Christian” and also support “redefining marriage to accommodate a sexual sin.”

When Mefferd asked him whether he thought controversies like the one over World Vision’s treatment of gay employees would become more common, LaBarbera responded, “Yeah, I think a lot of evangelicals are going to sell out.”

“I’m afraid were going to see evangelicals either opting out of this issue entirely…or, even worse than that, we’re going to see evangelicals getting behind the idea of natural gay identity and even so-called homosexual marriage,” he said.

“And that’s a sad thing,” he continued, “because if you’re going to call yourself a Christian, don’t get behind non-Christian or anti-Christian ideas. Struggling with homosexuality is one thing – many people struggle with sins – but proudly defending homosexuality and even redefining marriage to accommodate a sexual sin is quite another.”

Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson Calls Gay Marriage 'An Elite Luxury Good Bought For On The Backs Of The Poor'

In a talk in Salt Lake City this weekend, Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation claimed that same-sex marriage is “an elite luxury good bought for on the backs of the poor.”

He made the comment while discussing U.S. v. Windsor, in which Edith Windsor argued successfully that she was unjustly forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes after her wife’s death because DOMA prevented the government from recognizing their marriage. Anderson absurdly claimed that the media suppressed the facts of the case, and insisted that the solution to Windsor’s problem was simply to repeal the estate tax.

He continued in the same vein, claiming that free markets, rather than nondiscrimination measures, will protect LGBT people from employment and housing discrimination.

Anderson warned that measures protecting LGBT people from housing and employment discrimination will oppress conservatives: “Too often, the nondiscrimination laws are just used as a way of discriminating against those who hold traditional views about marriage.”

“I think, to a certain extent, if you want to protect housing and employment for any person, encourage free markets,” he continued. “Employers want the best employees, regardless of their sexual attractions. A landlord wants the best tenants, regardless of their sexual attractions. It wouldn’t be, in the long run, for a business, profitable to be discriminating against good employees for no reason whatsoever.”

In fact, 21 percent of LGBT people report having been discriminated against in the workplace, including 47 percent of transgender people. Ample research also shows that the free market has done nothing to prevent LGBT people  from facing discrimination in renting and buying homes.

But Anderson wasn’t just concerned with public policy. Later in the talk, an audience member asked about pro-gay “subliminal messaging” in pop culture. “The television show Glee has done just as much to corrupt a young generation about marriage as anything the Supreme Court has done,” he responded.

Fair Housing for LGBT People Rejected in Louisiana

Under current law, Louisiana protects the ability "to compete for available housing on an open, fair, and equitable basis, regardless of race, color, religion, [and] sex." House Bill 804, introduced by Representative Jared Brossett of New Orleans, would have added to the list protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status.
PFAW

Barber: World Vision Has Clearly Fallen Under Satan's Deception

One of the downsides of recording daily radio segments for Religious Right activists like Matt Barber and Mat Staver is that they often record several at a time with plans to air them on some future date. Normally, that is not a problem, but sometimes they record segments about an issue that has changed dramatically between the time of the recording and the time of the airing, as was the case with today's broadcast in which they furiously attacked the Christian charity World Vision for announcing that legally married gay Christians would be welcome in the organization.

World Vision quickly reversed course but Barber and Staver had already recorded today's commentary in which Barber said the organization had clearly fallen under Satan's deception on the issue of gay marriage:

More of a concern than their compromising their values is that they're compromising non-negotiable Biblical truth and Biblical principles.

The President of World Vision USA, Richard Stearns, has said in the past quote 'no one ever died of gay marriage.' Well, I would introduce him to the plague of AIDS.

...

The spiritual warfare is palpable, Mat. And the Father of Lies is using this issue to deceive the multitudes and many within the church are falling under his deception; World Vision is one organization that has clearly fallen under his deception.

Scott Lively: The Mark Of The Beast Now Looks Like A Chick-Fil-A Sandwich

Of all the right-wing reactions to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s quiet step back from the marriage equality debate, Scott Lively’s might just take the cake.

In a post on Matt Barber’s BarbWire today, Lively writes that although Cathy has not yet taken the “Mark of the Beast,” his decision to back out of the gay marriage debate “suggests he might be willing to take it if faced with that choice.”

“I am convinced that God is using the homosexual issue as a test of believers all over the world,” Lively continues. “What would it profit Mr. Cathy to gain the whole world (or a few more restaurants on college campuses), if his compromise of Biblical truth today makes him less able to resist the real Mark of the Beast tomorrow?”

“In my mind’s eye I used to see the Mark of the Beast as a black dot on the back of the hand,” he concludes. “Now it looks more like a Chik Fil A [sic] sandwich. I’ll never buy another one, and I hope you won’t either.”

Dan Cathy Takes the Mark of the Beast

That headline is not true. Dan Cathy of Chick Fil A has not (to my knowledge) taken the Mark of the Beast. Yet he has done something that suggests he might be willing to take it if faced with that choice, in the same way that answering a poll is an indication of how a person will vote in an election. As the Bible says in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

I am convinced that God is using the homosexual issue as a test of believers all over the world. It’s like the “stress test” the central bankers are using to forecast which banks would fail in the event of an economic collapse. Except in this case God is testing us for what we will do in the coming moral and spiritual collapse. The Bible hasn’t changed, only the culture has changed, and believers are being “stress tested” to see whether they stand with Him or with the world on the things He says are true but which the world is pressing very hard to declare false.

The good thing about a stress test is that it gives people an opportunity to change their ways (repent) before the final exam or the big crash. God doesn’t care about Chick Fil A’s profit margins if they come at the expense of Dan Cathy’s willingness to stand up for the truth under pressure. What would it profit Mr. Cathy to gain the whole world (or a few more restaurants on college campuses), if his compromise of Biblical truth today makes him less able to resist the real Mark of the Beast tomorrow?

I’m not saying that Dan Cathy isn’t saved, but he has certainly failed the stress test, and failed the Bible-believing Christian remnant everywhere, by surrendering to the “gay” bullies. How long before we see Chick Fil A running “gay”-friendly commercials as penance for Cathy‘s “homophobia?”

There are varying theological views about what the Mark of the Beast is, or will be, and which ones among us will face that choice of taking or rejecting it. Nevertheless, it stands as a symbol to all Christians everywhere as the choice for or against Christ when the sword is on your neck and to choose Christ means to die saved, or live condemned to hell. The stress test of pressure from “gay” bullies is not life or death, but it is an indicator of whether you have the faith and courage to choose Him over the things of this world. In my mind’s eye I used to see the Mark of the Beast as a black dot on the back of the hand. Now it looks more like a Chik Fil A sandwich. I’ll never buy another one, and I hope you won’t either.
 

Judge Strikes Michigan’s Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

A federal judge ruled today that Michigan’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional, the latest in a string of state marriage equality victories.

The Associated Press reports:

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman announced his ruling after a rare two-week trial that mostly focused on the impact of same-sex parenting on children.

There was no indication that the judge was suspending his decision. Attorney General Bill Schuette said he was immediately filing a request with a federal appeals court to suspend Friedman's decision and prevent same-sex couples from immediately marrying. The decision was released shortly after 5 p.m., when most county clerk offices in Michigan were closed.


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