Kentucky’s governor plans to hire an outside counsel to appeal a federal court ruling that the state recognize same-sex marriages from other states, after Kentucky’s attorney general refused to challenge the decision.
The move by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who like state Attorney General Jack Conway is a Democrat, follows a Feb. 27 federal court ruling. The judge who issued that ruling delayed its implementation by about three weeks to allow time for an appeal.
Conway told reporters in an emotional news conference on Tuesday the decision made last month by a federal judge was correct and a formal appeal by his office would be tantamount to defending discrimination.
Conway joined attorneys general from states such as Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia who have also said they will not defend gay marriage bans.
Beshear’s office said the outside counsel will ask for a further stay pending the appeal, which could keep the state from recognizing same-sex marriages until the appeals court makes its decision.
“Without a stay in place, the opportunity for legal chaos is real,” said Beshear.
Socially conservative politicians in Kentucky have been pushing for an appeal.
“It will be up to Governor Beshear and his outside counsel to determine how to move forward in the case,” said the attorney general’s spokeswoman Allison Martin.
U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled last month that Kentucky laws that deny the marriages of same-sex couples “violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and they are void and unenforceable.”
The decision was part of a string of court victories for gay rights advocates, who are trying to overturn bans on same-sex marriage that are on the books in every state in the deep South.
Seventeen U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage. The trend has gained pace since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits.
Sen. Ron Wyden is set to become the next head of the Senate Finance Committee if Montana Democrat Max Baucus retires as expected to become the next U.S. ambassador to China, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Oregon Democrat, respected in his party for his generally liberal views but described by Republicans as willing to reach accommodation across the aisle on economic issues, is expected to push for tax reform, which could include a substantial in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 24 percent, according to the Journal.
Former New Hampshire Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, who worked with the 64-year-old Wyden on a tax reform measure some years back, told the Journal that Wyden has an “unrelenting positive outlook” on things and never gave up trying to hammer out a bipartisan bill even though it ultimately died without consideration.
Another House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, also said Wyden “understands that true bipartisanship builds on the best ideas from both parties.”
The Wisconsin Republican, who is likely to succeed Michigan Rep. Dave Camp as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, would have an opportunity to work with Wyden again next year if Republicans hold the House and Democrats hold the Senate. The two have worked in 2011 on Medicare reform plan, an effort that did not sit well with some of Wyden’s liberal colleagues, The Hill reported.
Wyden, however, has said that he has no plans to work with Ryan again on a Medicare reform effort, although the program remains one of his concerns. He reportedly believes that some effort has to be made to ensure that the program is more sustainable and more focused on chronic health problems.
“His big thing is that if you’re not talking about Medicare, you’re not talking about [fixing] the budget,” former Wyden aide Barbara Smith Warner told the Journal.
Nevada has become the latest state to allow illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license — even as public opinion polls show that the great majority of Americans oppose such measures.
A national poll conducted in October by Rasmussen Reports found that 68 percent of likely U.S. voters think illegal immigrants should not be allowed to obtain state driver’s licenses. Just 22 percent favor licenses for illegals in their state.
Critics say the laws encourage illegal immigration by legitimizing the status of those who come to the United States illegally.
“It is a kind of amnesty. It doesn’t given them any legal status, but by giving them a government-issued ID, it helps them imbed in society,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, D.C., said in an interview with Newsmax.
“This is a way of protecting illegals from coming to the attention of immigration authorities,” Krikorian said. “It’s a way of documenting the undocumented.”
In Nevada, Democratic-led lawmakers approved a driver’s license law in 2013. It was signed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state’s first Hispanic governor, who considers it a public safety measure, and went into effect at the beginning of this month.
“Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s privilege card will increase the number of drivers on Nevada’s roads that are insured and aware of traffic rules and regulations,” Sandoval said in a statement after signing the bill.
When Nevada began issuing licenses on Jan. 2, long lines formed at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Las Vegas, waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of the office. The Associated Press reported that “thousands of Nevada immigrants” sought to obtain licenses on the first day.
Those applying for the driving privilege cards must show some proof of their identity as well as evidence of Nevada residency and insurance. New drivers must pass a driving test, and pay to retake the test if they fail.
The information provided for the licenses, however, may not be used against them for purposes of enforcing immigration laws, a key provision in a state like Nevada where about a fourth of all residents are Latino.
Other states that have approved similar laws include Utah, Washington, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, California, New Mexico, and Illinois, along with the District of Columbia.
Said California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, in signing his state’s law last year: “No longer are undocumented people in the shadows. They are alive and well and respected in the State of California.”
The climate of permissiveness licenses for illegals follows a crackdown period after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacksthat came in response to widespread fears of foreign-born terrorists entering the country.
“After 9-11, things were tightening up. Now those states that are mainly run by Democrats are backtracking,” said Krikorian, noting that Congress has given leeway through the REAL ID law to states to issue immigrant driver’s cards, but those cannot be used for federal identification purposes like boarding planes.
New Mexico, with the nation’s largest Hispanic population, is one state attempting to buck the trend. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is hoping to convince the Democratic-led state legislature to repeal the state’s current law, which offers licenses to illegals.She has tried before and failed, but vows to continue.
Polling shows that Martinez has support for her position, said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc., a New Mexico firm that has polled for the Albuquerque Journal twice on the issue.
“Both times, the polls that we did for the Journal showed approximately 70 percent of registered voters opposed granting licenses to undocumented workers,” Sanderoff told Newsmax.
“I think it’s a significant issue to the extent that the governor is once again latching onto it,” he said.
New Mexico differs from its heavily Hispanic neighbor Arizona, where its governor, Republican Jan Brewer, has taken an aggressive stance against illegals in her state. In New Mexico, most Hispanic residents are natives, tracing their lineage back to Spain, said Sanderoff.
“Most New Mexicans are Americans, born and raised here, more so than the average state,” he said, which likely explains why voters there oppose the law by a wide margin.
The trend could continue as Congress renews its debate on immigration reform this year and proponents continue to push for the measure in more states.
“The push for it is nationally coordinated,” Krikorian said. “There is a broader push by national groups to have more say in the issue. They see it in two ways. First, as a practical matter, it helps to imbed the illegal immigrants in the U.S., making it less likely they will leave. Also, it will be presented as evidence of nationwide momentum for immigration ‘reform.'” Related stories:
Despite receiving more than $305 million in federal funds and an aggressive advertising campaign, the OregonObamacare exchange has no enrollments, with the program’s top officer telling lawmakers he does not think the website will ever work.
Senate Democrats are becoming increasingly alarmed about the political consequences of the botched Obamacare roll-out, and are demanding reassurances from the White House that the obstacles with the website and other problems with the law can be overcome swiftly.
The lawmakers met with senior administration officials on Thursday to vent their frustrations over the dysfunctional Healthcare.gov website, and demanded assurances about when the issues would be resolved, Politico reports.
“I didn’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the room. This is more of a show-me moment,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley told Politico. “We were all confident that the system was going to be up and running by Oct. 1. And no, we’re not confident until it’s real.”
Officials also said they would rectify the problems associated with policyholders losing their current coverage under the new system. The issue has become a major political headache for the president given his repeated assurances from the earliest days of floating the healthcare law that anyone who chose to keep their existing policy would be able to do so.
The meeting was seen as a sign that the White House is anxious to prevent Democrats from breaking ranks or pressing for delays of major portions of Obamacare, Politico reports. Democrats who are already vulnerable in the 2014 midterm elections are concerned about the impact of the Obamacare debacle on their re-election prospects.
One of them, Mark Begich of Alaska, said, “People are frustrated just like I am in trying to get on to the site.”
At least Oregon is applying its anti-discrimination laws evenhandedly. Interesting story out of Gresham:The Oregonian is reporting that Bruce Bottoms—a homosexual baker and owner of “Cakes by Cupcakes”—has been charged with anti-Christian discrimination by the Oregon Ministry of Human Rights.
Mr. Bottoms and his partner, Lance Limpkowski, recently declined to bake a cake for the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church (WBC). As a result, they’ve been forced to shut down their business.
It seems that, in another tired attempt to be provocative, representatives from the attention-starved WBC demanded that Bottoms and Limpkowski bake a cake for a Westboro fundraiser with the group’s trademark slogan, “God Hates Fags,” emblazoned in rainbow frosting across the top. Mr. Bottoms, who reportedly moonlights as a part-time blogger for the homosexual activist Human Rights Campaign, was understandably appalled. He refused.
“Look, I’ll serve anybody, Christian or otherwise,” Bottoms says. “I just refuse to bake a cake that endorses an ideology that I find obscene. If Westboro came in and asked me to bake a birthday cake with the words ‘Happy 120th, Papa Freddy,’ it’d be my pleasure. I didn’t decline to bake the cake because the customers defined themselves as Christian; I refused because nobody should be forced to lend their talents to endorse—whether directly or indirectly—a message or event that they find repugnant.”
“We are committed to a fair and thorough investigation to determine whether there’s substantial evidence of unlawful discrimination,” Avakian told The Oregonian. “The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate. For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon. Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate.”
Meanwhile, churches and Christian groups across America organized a boycott of Cakes by Cupcakes, picketing the business and threatening to target other businesses that associated with Bottoms and Limpkowski. The two men have additionally reported multiple death threats, with one Presbyterian preacher leaving a voicemail that said, “Die bigots! You anti-Christian haters need to keep your Christophobia to yourselves!”
Although the Cakes by Cupcakes incident didn’t actually happen, something quite similar is happening across America. It’s a photo negative of the above scenario, but it’s equally absurd. Homosexual activists and “progressive” government officials are targeting Christian business owners—true Christians, not hateful Wesboro types—for real anti-Christian discrimination.
And they’re doing it in the name of “nondiscrimination.”
Todd Starnes of Fox News reports, “A family-owned Christian bakery, under investigation for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, has been forced to close its doors after a vicious boycott by militant homosexual activists.
“Sweet Cakes by Melissa posted a message on its Facebook page alerting customers that their Gresham, Ore., retail store would be shut down after months of harassment from pro-gay marriage forces.
“‘Better is a poor man who walks in integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways,’ read a posting from Proverbs on the bakery’s Facebook page.”
“It’s a sad day for Christian business owners, and it’s a sad day for the First Amendment,” owner Aaron Klein told Starnes. “The LGBT attacks are the reason we are shutting down the shop. They have killed our business through mob tactics.”
“Last January, Aaron and Melissa Klein made national headlines when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple,” Starnes reports. “Klein tells me he has nothing against homosexuals, but because of their religious faith, the family simply cannot take part in gay wedding events.
“‘I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,’ he said. ‘I don’t want to help somebody celebrate a commitment to a lifetime of sin.’”
To be sure, Mr. Klein did not discriminate against the lesbian couple because of their sexual orientation. If that same lesbian couple ordered a birthday cake that didn’t require the endorsement of a repugnant message or event, Mr. Klein would, no doubt, be happy to serve.
What if the lesbian’s straight brother came in and ordered the gay wedding cake as a surprise for his sister? If Mr. Klein refused, would he be guilty of discrimination because of the brother’s heterosexual orientation?
Of course not. And neither is he guilty here.
If a black man entered the store and ordered a birthday cake for his son, and Mr. Klein refused because of the customer’s race, then that would be unlawful discrimination. If that same black man ordered a “Kill Whitey” cake for a Black Panthers rally and Klein refused, it would not be discrimination. The latter scenario is analogous to Mr. Klein’s and other Christian business owners’ refusal to provide services for gay weddings and similar such events (photographers, printers, bakers, florists and the like). The former scenario is not.
Would we charge a Muslim caterer with discrimination for refusing to serve HoneyBaked Ham and BLTs at a decidedly unkosher bar mitzvah?
Then why are we charging Christians with discrimination for refusing to endorse a message or event that Christianity itself finds expressly repugnant, that the Bible calls “an abomination”?
Seriously, you gay activists and other George-Orwell-characters-come-to-life, like Brad Avakian, need to lighten up and take a step back. (Avakian is Oregon’s labor commissioner and really did say the above things about Christians.) You’re not helping your cause. Christians aren’t discriminating against you because of your sexual orientation. We just refuse to endorse sinful lifestyles, behaviors, messages or events. And guess what? It’s our constitutional right to do so. The First Amendment trumps your newfangled “sexual orientation nondiscrimination laws.”
Yet even if it didn’t, God’s law supersedes man’s law.
But, hey, there is a bright side. It does keep me busy. It’s job security. It’s sending my kids to college. Every time you go after a Christian business owner, it gives guys like me tons of ammunition. I get to demonstrate from the rooftops that you’re a bunch of homofascists.
You don’t want the world to know that you’re a bunch of homofascists, do you?
Still, this was never about preventing discrimination. It’s always been about worldview—about mandating, under penalty of law, affirmation of a demonstrably destructive and sinful lifestyle.