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Posts tagged ‘Same-sex marriage’

Rev. Franklin Graham Praises Putin for Stance Against Homosexuality.


Image: Rev. Franklin Graham Praises Putin for Stance Against Homosexuality(AP)

By Todd Beamon

The Rev. Franklin Graham has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his stance against homosexuality and slammed President Barack Obama’s “shameful” embrace of gay rights.

“To be clear, I am not endorsing President Putin,” Graham, the son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said in the March issue of Decision magazine.

The magazine in published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based in Charlotte, N.C. Franklin Graham is the association’s president and CEO.

“To survive in the KGB and rise to power in Russia, you have to be tough,” Graham said of Putin. “His enemies say he is ruthless. To some, he is a modern version of a czar. His personal life has its own controversies.

“Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue — protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda — Russia’s standard is higher than our own?

“Putin is right on these issues,” Graham continued. “Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

Last year, Putin banned the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” Graham said. The restriction was highlighted by the Russian president’s critics leading up to the Winter Games in Sochi last month.

“American media and liberal activists were outraged that the Olympics would be allowed in such an ‘intolerant’ culture,” Graham said. “Even though Putin said that gays and lesbians would be allowed at the Olympics, the fact that he took a stand — simply to protect children — ignited a worldwide cultural firestorm.

“He further explained the law by saying, ‘We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia,’ ” Graham said.

The evangelist called the American response to Putin’s crackdown “sadly predictable,” noting that President Obama sent gay and lesbian athletes to Sochi. He also mentioned Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement last month that his office would push forrecognition of same-sex marriage in all 50 states — “even in the 33 states that outlaw those marriages.”

Graham then charged Obama and Holder with having “turned their backs on God and his standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.

“The world used to look to America for moral leadership,” Graham said. “But those days are long gone.”

He said that the United States has “abdicated our moral leadership” — at home and abroad.

“We defeated Communism, only to relax and see secularism and progressives take over our country,” Graham said. “Secularism is as godless as communism. Secularists and progressives have taken over our schools, media, and local and federal government. And it has all happened in the twinkling of an eye.”

He ended by quoting portions of Matthew 25:34 from the New Testament.

“But the Bible makes it clear that one day, ‘all nations will be gathered before [God]’ for judgment, and that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,'” Graham wrote.
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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obamacare to Cover Married Gay Couples in 2015.


Married gay couples will be eligible for a family health policy under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law beginning in 2015, the government said on Friday, encouraging insurers to begin offering coverage this year.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also announced it would extend for one month a temporary program that offers insurance to some of the sickest Americans, who have had trouble finding private plans in new health insurance marketplaces set up in all 50 states under Obamacare.

Friday’s announcements add to the series of delays and modifications the administration has made to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare, since the law was enacted in 2010 and formally launched last October.

Obamacare’s six-month enrollment period ends March 31. And with volume expected to surge in the final two weeks, officials say the website HealthCare.gov continues to operate smoothly after technical problems in October and November paralyzed the portal for consumers in 36 states. The remaining 14 states run their own markets.

About 4.2 million people have enrolled in private Obamacare health plans so far, and millions more have been found eligible for the Medicaid program for the poor, according to the administration.

It continues, however, to wrestle with complicated and controversial issues related to the law.

In its decision on gay couples, HHS exercised federal authority to prevent discriminatory insurance market practices on an issue that has been caught up in state marriage laws.

The move follows a February lawsuit filed by an Ohio gay couple, who were unable to obtain family coverage under Obamacare, they said, because their state does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The gay community is a key constituency for Democrats, who are facing a Republican onslaught over Obamacare in this year’s midterm elections for control of Congress.

“If an insurance company offers coverage to opposite-sex spouses, it cannot choose to deny that coverage to same-sex spouses,” Dr. Matthew Heinz, who heads HHS outreach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual communities, said in a posting to a government website.

“In other words, insurance companies will not be permitted to discriminate against married same-sex couples when offering coverage. This will further enhance access to health care for all Americans, including those with same-sex spouses.”

A formal clarification from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the lead Obamacare agency within HHS, said the administration is encouraging insurers to voluntarily implement the non-discrimination policy for the 2014 coverage year under the Public Health Service Act.

Compliance will be required starting in 2015.

“We expect issuers to come into full compliance with the regulations as clarified in this guidance no later than for plan or policy years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015,” CMS said.

“We also expect states to begin enforcing the regulations in accordance with this clarification no later than for plan or policy years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2015,” it said.

Administration officials said the gay marriage decision and extension of the program for people with pre-existing conditions, known as the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), were both intended to help Americans transition to the new healthcare era established by Obamacare.

The law requires most Americans to pay a penalty unless they are enrolled in insurance coverage by March 31, which is also when the PCIP program was set to expire.

Patient advocates welcomed the move, saying people with cancer, multiple sclerosis or other serious disorders need time to find insurance plans that meet complicated healthcare needs.

“We encourage patients in PCIP to look at other insurance options, including the health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov, as soon as possible so they are assured of coverage beyond the short term,” the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network said in a statement.

The extension came a day after U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers in Congress that the enrollment deadline would not be delayed.

Administration officials said the PCIP program was being extended through April 30, under congressional authorization that has already allowed for two other extensions. PCIP was originally intended to expire at the end of 2013, but was extended first through January and later through March. (Reporting by David Morgan, editing by Karey Van Hall and Gunna Dickson)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Laodicean Christian Carrie Underwood Comes Out In Support Of Gay Marriage.


“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15,16

We live in the age where the professing Christian church is smack dab in Laodicea. Laodicea, for those of you who read your bibles, is the last church on earth right before Jesus returns in the Rapture. It is a cold, dead church that is “rich and increased with goods”, and they have locked Jesus out on the outside. Carrie Underwood joins the ever-swelling chorus of weak, materialistic “christians” who would rather shipwreck their faith rather than lose business deals because of maintaining a biblical perspective on life.

Make no bones about it, the bible is 100% against homosexuality in all its many forms.

The Blaze: Singer Carrie Underwood is making headlines after coming out in support of same-sex marriage. The country and pop singer, who was raised a Baptist, announced her support for gay nuptials during an interview with Britain’s The Independent. Underwood told the publication that she believes everyone deserves to love whomever he or she chooses, citing her faith as the basis for her reasoning.

carrie-underwood-gay-marriage-glaad-lgbt-queer

“Jesus, Take The Wheel” no longer. Carrie Underwood rewrites her Christian faith.

“As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love, and want to marry,” the singer told the outlet. “I can’t imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”

Underwood also told the publication that she and her husband, pro-hocker player Mike Fisher, attend a “gay-friendly” non-denominational church. The songstress went on to say that God wants Christians to love others

“It’s not about setting rules, or [saying], ‘Everyone has to be like me.’ No. We’re all different. That’s what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It’s not up to me to judge anybody,” she added.

Already, Underwood has received the praise of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a gay rights group. In a release addressing the singer’s comments, the organization applauded her, writing, “GLAAD commends Carrie Underwood for supporting marriage equality and rooting it in her faith.”

“You know, Carrie Underwood isn’t any different from anyone else in America. The more Americans think about how issues affect their gay friends and family the more they come to realize that supporting same-sex civil marriage is the right thing to do,” LaSalvia wrote in an email to the L.A. Times. “More and more people are coming to that conclusion — and that includes conservative Christians.” source – Blaze

by NTEB News Desk

Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States’ Rights on Marriage.


Image: Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States' Rights on MarriageUni

By Greg Richter

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee introduced a bill Wednesday to keep states from being forced to recognize marriages and spouses from same-sex unions in other states.

“Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to redefine marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens,” The Hill reported Cruz as saying on Thursday. “The Obama administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states.”

The bill comes after Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday ordered the Justice Department to treat all same-sex marriages the same – even if the couple involved does not currently live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Holder’s rule would apply to same-sex couples that deal with the federal government, but would not apply to state laws that deal with such issues as spousal benefits.

The bill by Cruz, of Texas, and Lee, of Utah, appears to be an attempt to head off any future move to also apply those rules to state governments.

Thirty-three states currently define marriage between one man and one woman, while 17 allow people of the same gender to wed.

When the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it ruled that it was illegal for the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages that have been made legal in those states. Cruz said his bill seeks the same protection for states where gay marriage is illegal.

“Redefining marriage will entail high social costs,” writes Ryan T. Anderson at Heritage.org in response to the bill. “Thus all Americans should insist our laws embody the truth about marriage. And the federal government should respect it when state laws do so.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Nigeria’s Anti-Gay Law Is A Crime Against Reason.


Chido Onumah
Columnist:

Chido Onumah

Months after it was passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, President Goodluck Jonathan has signed a bill that criminalizes homosexual relationships in Nigeria into law. The President gave his assent to the bill, which stipulates lengthy jail terms, both for same-sex marriage and public expression of same-sex intimacy, despite pressure from local and international social rights and public health advocacy groups.

There have been criticisms of the law in Nigeria, where antipathy towards homosexuality and LGBT people, stoked by a convenient alliance of the state, the clergy, and the rump of the mainstream media, runs deep.

We, the undersigned, wish to ally ourselves with these voices of reason. We unreservedly condemn the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Law and urge civil society and human rights groups to start a campaign that we hope will soon result in its abolition. We also urge the eminent personages across the world who have condemned the so-called law to go beyond diplomatic gestures and put pressures on the Nigerian government wherever they can. Specifically, the United States and the United Kingdom should, forthwith, impose diplomatic sanctions (e.g., denial of visas) on all Nigerian functionaries, including journalists, the clergy, and policymakers associated with the passing of the law.

There are many reasons why every right-thinking person should oppose this law.

First, it is based on a spurious, uninformed and one-dimensional reading of ‘African culture.’ Second, it criminalizes a section of Nigerians for nothing other than their natural sexual inclination. Third, it ignores the fruits of many decades of scientific research which proves decisively that homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality. Fourth, the law threatens to reverse the gains made by programs aimed at fighting the HIV-AIDS epidemic in the country.

Fifth, it is absurd in terms of the jail time it stipulates for those who associate with LGBT people. Sixth, it casts Nigeria in a bad light for no good reason, putting it in the vulgar company of other countries where homosexuality is criminalized. Seventh, it gives law enforcement agents an open check to go after innocent Nigerians in the name of upholding the law. Finally, the law impinges on Nigerians’ freedom of speech and association, and expressly violates the rights of minorities in a free and democratic society.

It is not the business of any state, let along the Nigerian state, to interpose itself in the private affairs of two consenting adults. Any human act or practice that does not infringe on the freedom of others cannot and should not be criminalized. Homosexuality does not harm us as a society and people. It is the hypocrisy, venality, and corruption that pervade our society that are the source of our problems.

 Signed:

Ebenezer Obadare, Lawrence, Kansas, USA;   Akin Adesokan, Bloomington, Indiana, USA;    Wale Adebanwi, Davis, California, USA;  Lola Shoneyin, Abeokuta, Nigeria;  Jude Dibia, Lagos, Nigeria;  Jeremy Weate, Abuja, Nigeria;  Chido Onumah, Abuja, Nigeria;  Amatoritsero Ede, Ottawa, Canada;  Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, Brooklyn, New York, USA;  Olufemi Taiwo, Ithaca, New York, USA;  Tejumola Olaniyan, Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Ike Anya, London, UK;  Kunle Ajibade, Lagos, Nigeria,;  Moradewun Adejunmobi, California, USA;   Sean Jacobs, Brooklyn, New York, USA;   Adeleke Adeeko, Ilorin, Nigeria;   Olakunle George, Providence, Rhode Island, USA;  Wendy Willems, London, UK;   Ikhide R. Ikheloa, Maryland, USA;   Rudolf Okonkwo, New York, USA;   Jide Wintoki, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

LGBT Rights-God’s Laws, Nigeria’s Laws By Prince Charles Dickson.


By Prince charles Dickson

In a country contentiously split among Muslims and Christians, leaders of Nigeria’s mosques and churches are united in their condemnation of same-sex relationships.

So, too, are lawmakers, who’ve criminalized sodomy, civil unions and gay marriages, with a 14-year prison sentence as punishment. In some northern regions, flogging and the death penalty comes into play.

Since the anti-gay laws were passed, stories of people being arrested for violating them are a common occurrence. At the same time, gay rights activists are becoming more vocal. Even churches formed by the LGBT community can be found.

So what’s life like for Nigerians who are attracted to people of the same gender? Can they practice their faith in a country where religion and culture overwhelmingly condemn their sexual identities?

To better understand, I interviewed a range of Nigerians from across the country who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual and straight. They came from many walks of life – writers, ministers, government officials, food vendors, etc.

LGBT Spirituality

In Ikoyia, an upscale suburb of Lagos in southwest Nigeria, I caught up with a gay man who works in finance. He took me to party, where I observed gay men socializing.

“We informally gather for dinner parties, at restaurants and beaches,” the man said.

Wealthy gays in his suburb are said to live more openly than anywhere else in Nigeria. I asked: Did he consider himself both gay and Christian?

“My faith is a personnal matter,” said the man, who described himself as a Pentecostal Christian. “Besides, many people won’t understand.”

He’s right. Christians account for nearly half of Nigeria’s population and all major denominations denounce same-sex intimacy as sinful, at least in their doctrines.

Nigeria’s Anglican bishops are especially vocal. They’ve long threatened to break away from the worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue, most recently at an October conference in Nairobi that drew 331 conservative bishops from across the globe.

The bishops want the U.S., Canadian and European members of the Anglican Communion to denounce stances on homosexuality contrary to their own. Canada’s Anglican Church began blessing same-sex couples in 2002, a few months before the U.S. Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop.

More recently, the Church of England dropped a ban on gay clergy in civil partnerships from becoming bishops. Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, says the West is ignoring Scripture and insisting on imposing its views on other countries.

“They want to push it down everybody’s throat,” he said in March at an ordination service. “And as far as they are concerned, it is a matter of human right. But God’s right is not discussed.”

Many of the gay Nigerians I interviewed said they didn’t abandon their faith because of the sexual identity.

“I am a saved Christian and proud gay,” the man in Ikoyia told me.

A country divided

The level of openness found in Lagos wasn’t as evident just 154 miles west in Benin and elsewhere in Nigeria.  For much of the country, it seems that religion, profession, family, the laws as well as class status factor into how openly members of the LGBT community choose to live.

An architect in Kano who is straight and attends a Methodist Church told me that he has friends who are gay. He said he’d come to terms with their sexual orientations.

“I don’t see myself better than they are,” he said. “I believe that can practice their faith, even though the Bible condemns it.”

At the same time, he doesn’t want them showing public displays of affection. Nor does he believe that same-sex couple should be allowed to adopt children.

“I’m not saying being a gay is good,” he said. “I’m a Christian and I also have a culture that condemns it.”

In northern Nigeria, many people said they were aware of LGBT communities Kano and Kaduna, but rarely gave them a thought. A Muslim told me that he grew up with some of them.

“The only thing I do not like is that as Muslims, we don’t allow them pray with us,” he said. “Some of them want to, but you know we can’t allow that.”

In Abuja, Nigeria’s capitol city, I heard a slightly different view.

“I don’t care if a gay person comes to a church or mosque,” a man said. “However, for me, everything is wrong with a union between gay people being called a marriage”.

Ash-Shiekh Muhammad Sani Yahaya, the national chairman, Ulama’u Council of JIBWIS, said Islam condemns homosexuality.

“It is an abomination, it is a crime,” he said. Lesbian relationships aren’t mentioned in the Qur’an, but that’s not true of gay men, citing the following verses:

“Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds.”

The global view

Britain and some other Western nations threaten to suspend aid to Nigeria and other countries where homosexuality is criminalized. They consider the laws discriminatory and grounded in bigotry and prejudice.

In November, the European Union’s top court ruled that gays and lesbians in countries that outlaw homosexual relations are eligible for asylum. Days later, the Malta Refugees Appeals Board granted asylum to an 18-year-old Nigerian teen.

“The dominant role of religion is widely seen as the root of the country’s homophobic culture,” the board said, quoting from a border agency report.

“Punishing gays is one of the few common themes that politicians can promote with equal zest in the mainly Christian south and the largely Muslim north,” the board said.

Homosexual intimacy is criminalized in 78 countries, including 38 of 54 African countries. That’s why Africa is often pointed to as the most homophobic of continents.

The death penalty is at play in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen as well as parts of Somalia.

“Same-sex marriage may be acceptable in some countries of the world, but in Nigeria, the majority of the people – by words and deeds – have shown it to be an abomination that they must stand against,” wrote Emma Madaubuch, an assistant editor, in the Daily Independent.
The same sex bill passed by the Congress in Nigeria, waiting assent provides that a marriage contract or civil union entered by persons of same sex by a virtue a certificate issued by a foreign country shall be void in Nigeria.

The bill provides that persons that enter into such union are jointly liable to 14years imprisonment each, and those that administer, witnesses, screens, aid and abets, supports, operates gay clubs, societies, procession or organization in Nigeria commits an offense and liable on conviction to a 10 year jail term.

Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has aligned himself with the country’s majority view and the anti-gay laws adopted by the National Assembly.

While Nigeria has dug in its heels on the issue, attitudes and polices in other countries are softening and shifting toward greater acceptance. In 2001, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution supporting equal rights for all, no matter their sexual orientation

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 16 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Uruguay, and New Zealand. In addition, gay couples can wed in England and Wales beginning in March 2014.

They can also marry in some regions of Mexico and the United States, though President Obama didn’t support legalization until May 2012.

The spiritual view

The Rev. Rumo James, a Baptist pastor in Jos, told me that homosexuality is affliction and disease for which no compassion should be extended.

“Homosexualism is a virus that degrades the family and its values, corrupts human cohabitation and offends God,” he said. “It eventually leads to social decline.”

Nigeria’s Christian population is Africa’s largest, with 80 million followers, according to the Pew Research Center in the United States. Clergy cite Bible-passages as the God-given reason for their condemnation of same-sex relationships.

Two of the most frequent verses cited are from Leviticus. One states: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (18:22).

The other says: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (20:13).

Christians supportive of same-sex couples say those Old Testament Bible verses are misinterpreted, made obsolete by the New Testament or simply out of touch with modern life.

They also argue that all people, gay and straight, are made in the image of God. Besides, they point out, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.

‘I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel laureate from South Africa, said this year in response to Russia’s anti-gay laws.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuals are intrinsically disordered and should live celibate lives. But Pope Francis also made headlines when he offered a softened tone on homosexuality than that heard from the Vatican in decades.

“Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith?” the pope told reporters. Many Catholic bishops, priests and church members take a harsher view.

Bishop Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Diocese in northwestern Nigeria isn’t one of them. Like the pope, he strikes a conciliatory tone.

Would the bishop welcome gays and lesbians in church? “

“The church is a place for everyone,” he said. “I would not chase one out. I would not report that person either.”

It should be noted that people who help conceal same-sex couples can be punished by up to 10 years in prison under Nigerian law. Some consider those who choose not to report defiant and others see them as courageous.
Conclusion

As in all repressively homophobic cultures, LGBT people continue to find ways to express and to live out their authentic selves.

They are part of Nigerian society at all levels. Some hold prominent jobs in government, businesses, the military and even as religious leaders.

But it’s not a leap to suggest that the majority keep their sexuality a secret for fear of losing their families, friends, jobs, freedom or even their lives.

Despite Nigeria’s strict laws, the debate over LGBT rights and same-sex relationships is nowhere near resolution. My reporting reveals Nigeria’s gay culture, though largely silent, isn’t going away.

On this vexatious issue, I believe in windows of possibility. Nigerians and other Africans need to strike a balance.

Might the day come when Nigerians respect the rights of its LGBT community and the LGBT community be respectful to those who uphold heterosexual relationships exclusively?

Learning to live in peace doesn’t mean we will agree with one another on all matters. Nor does being civil toward one another mean we endorse one another’s behavior or beliefs.

Change is a part of life and throughout life we change and accommodate new understandings of behavior and circumstances.

As a journalist and writer, I strongly believe there’s need for understanding and that understanding is key to Nigeria’s path forward on this issue.

Should the LGBT community be discriminated against? Should their human rights be abused?

Should they face imprisonment? Should they be flogged?

Should they be put to death?

My answer is NO!

Prince Charles Dickson is a Nigerian Journalist.
LGBT Rights– God’s Laws, Nigeria’s Laws is a reportorial for the ICFJ/Henry Luce Reporting Fellowship

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

As State Prepares Appeal, Utah Same-Sex Couples Rush to Wed.


gay marriage in Salt Lake City
Isaac Troyo (left) and his partner, Jed Mecham, get married at the Salt Lake County Government Building in Salt Lake City Monday. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart )

A federal judge has allowed gay marriage in Utah to continue, making Utah the 18th state plus the District of Columbia where gay and lesbian couples can marry.

Judge Richard Shelby on Monday denied a request by the state that sought to halt gay marriage until the appeals process plays out.

The same judge overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage Friday, ruling it is unconstitutional.

“We’re thrilled that this decision continues the process of decisions across the country that support the right of gay and lesbian couples to get married and have their love and families protected equally under the law,” said Brian Silva, executive director of Marriage Equality. The New York City-based group promotes the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The state of Utah is now expected to appeal the decision to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling drew attention given Utah’s long-standing opposition to gay marriage and its position as headquarters for the Mormon Church.

Lawyers for the state are waging a legal battle on several fronts as they seek to stop the same-sex weddings.

Shelby on Friday overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban, ruling that Utah’s law violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights under the 14th Amendment.

The decision that has put Utah in the national spotlight because of its long-standing opposition to gay marriage.

On Sunday, a federal appeals court rejected the state’s emergency request to stay the ruling, saying it couldn’t rule on a stay since Shelby hasn’t acted on the motion before him. The court quickly rejected a second request from Utah on Monday.

Following Shelby’s surprising ruling Friday afternoon, gay and lesbian couples rushed to a county clerk’s office in Salt Lake City to get marriage licenses. More than 100 couples wed as others cheered them on in what became an impromptu celebration an office building about three miles from the headquarters of the Mormon Church.

For now, a state considered as one of the most conservative in the nation has joined the likes of California and New York to become the 18th state where same-sex couples can legally wed. Legal experts say that even if a judge puts a halt to the weddings, the licenses that have already been issued will likely still be valid.

Utah is home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was one of the leading forces behind California’s short-lived ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, which voters approved in 2008. The church said Friday that it stands by its support for “traditional marriage” and that it hopes a higher court validates its belief that marriage is between a man and woman.

In Shelby’s 53-page ruling, he said the constitutional amendment Utah voters approved in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Shelby said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.

The decision drew a swift and angry reaction Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who said he was disappointed in an “activist federal judge attempting to override the will of the people of Utah.” The state quickly took steps to appeal the ruling and halt the process, setting up Monday’s hearing before Shelby.

The ruling has thrust Shelby into the national spotlight. He has been on the bench for less than two years, appointed by President Barack Obama after GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch recommended him in November 2011.

Shelby served in the Utah Army National Guard from 1988 to 1996 and was a combat engineer in Operation Desert Storm. He graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1998 and clerked for the U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene in Utah, then spent about 12 years in private practice before he became a judge.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.


Elizabeth Weise writes for USA Today.

Copyright 2013 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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