In Ohio, the State Judicial Conduct Board has ruled that judges can't decline to marry only same-sex couples because of their personal religious beliefs. But the Judicial Conduct Board's ruling went much further than that:
In addition, judges who stop performing all marriages to avoid marrying same-sex couples may be interpreted as biased and could be disqualified from any case where sexual orientation is an issue, according to an opinion by the Ohio Supreme Court's Board of Professional Conduct issued Friday and made public Monday. ...
"For example, if a judge who has declined to perform same-sex marriages is later assigned to hear a misdemeanor domestic violence charge involving a same-sex couple, the judge's ability to follow the law and impartially apply the domestic violence laws could reasonably be questioned," the board said.
This is the ruling of an advisory board, and so it's still unclear to what extent it will be enforced. In 2012, an appeals court rejected a claim that federal judge Vaughn Walker was biased even though he refused to disclose he was gay and in a long-term relationship with a man before overturning California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage.
The 9th Circuit Court of appeals held that just because he potentially had a personal stake in the outcome of the law, it was absurd to think he couldn't independently and fairly perform his judicial functions, and "to hold otherwise would demonstrate a lack of respect for the integrity of our federal courts."
The notion that just because a judge doesn't personally believe in gay marriage they are incapable of following the law and ruling on any case "where sexual orientation is an issue," let alone being sympathetic and compassionate toward the plight of the someone who is gay and being physically beaten by their partner is absurd. According to the ruling, "public confidence in the independence of the judiciary is undermined when a judge allows his or her beliefs concerning the societal or religious acceptance or validity of same-sex marriage to affect the performance of a judicial function or duty," the board said. But judges articulating their personal concern regarding the "the societal or religious acceptance or validity of same-sex marriage" is very nearly the entire basis of gay marriage jurisrudence -- not even liberals have rushed to hold up Justice Kennedy's Obergefell ruling as fine example of legal reasoning. To the extent that courts created gay marriage to prevent discrimination, it seems that in Ohio, they want to enforce that right by enshrining discrimination against religious justices in the legal system.
"They have good days and bad days, but I will tell you they are resolute,” attorney Herb Grey says of his clients, Aaron and Melissa Klein, two bakers from Portland who are facing a $135,000 fine from the state of Oregon for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian commitment ceremony in January 2013. “They know that today it’s them, but that there’s nothing they can do to escape from it, and they’re willing to stand up, knowing what the potential implications are for other people.”
In April, an administrative judge with the Oregon Department of Labor ordered Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of the now shuttered bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to pay a fine of $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian couple's wedding. While there's a case the couple violated the state's public accommodation laws, there's little doubt that the fine was excessive and the reasoning for it specious.
June, for conservatives, has been of late the “cruelest month” at the Supreme Court, as the decisions finally roll forth. Many expect—with a combination of apprehension and resignation—that in the critical case of Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Anthony Kennedy will furnish the fifth vote for installing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.
Over the last few years, the gay marriage movement has transformed from "equality for all" to "bake me a cake." As it picks up steam, the movement looks more and more totalitarian, both at home and abroad.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the controversial Muslim-turned-atheist, told a National Press Club audience last week some hard facts about Islam and its propensity toward violence. But her remarks about Christianity—about its capacity to soften sectarian hatreds—may prove an even tougher pill to swallow.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal talked about religious liberty on NBC's Meet the Press this morning:
"Well let me ask you this," Todd said. "Do you agree with some other folks and conservatives that you think Governor Pence and Governor Hutchinson in Arkansas and Indiana have essentially caved too much pressure?"
On the topic of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the contraceptive mandate case decided on the last day of the recent Supreme Court term, the Democrats are fighting mad. They don’t like the decision. No, they despise it. Indeed, their rhetoric on Hobby Lobby has become so misleading, even strange, that the fact checkers at the Washington Post have felt compelled to call them to task, reminding the Democrats, among other things, that the decision does not outlaw contraceptives, and it does not allow bosses to prevent women from seeking birth control.
Yesterday, Senator Barbara Boxer had an op-ed at the Huffington Post about, among other related issues, the nonexistant threat that women will be denied birth control to treat medical conditions as a result of the Hobby Lobby decision. I personally know someone who works for a religious organization that doesn't cover contraception, but is nonetheless on the pill for a medical condition and gets it covered.
Senator Ted Cruz has organized an effort to urge President Barack Obama to help free Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American pastor imprisoned in Iran.
“The President of the United States is in a unique position to focus international attention on the unjust and abusive detention of one of our citizens,” Cruz says in a press release. “There might also be an opportunity for administration officials participating in nuclear negotiations in Geneva this week to raise the issue directly with their Iranian counterparts. Time is of the essence given Pastor Saeed's current predicament.”
On August 22, the New Mexico supreme court unanimously ruled that a wedding photographer broke the law by refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony. While gay rights advocates are celebrating this latest in a string of legal and political victories, the outcome of Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock has alarmed religious liberty advocates. And it could end up having a profound influence on First Amendment jurisprudence.
In Sioux City, Iowa, a local pastor is asking for the removal of a newly appointed member of the city's human rights commission. The city council appointed Scott Raasch to the commission, which adjudicates discrimination complaints, on July 8. However, the Rev.