Sunday, March 23, 2014

The 3 - March 23, 2014

This week in my week-in-review feature, "The 3", more court action concerning same-sex marriage, as another singular Federal judge has decided that the traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional in another state.  Also, a Christian professor who had been denied a promotion, allegedly because of his Christian beliefs, was granted a positive outcome by a jury.  And, the top story involves the progress of pro-life legislation in several states, the week after a pro-life bill was dealt a setback over a week ago.

3 - Another Federal judge rules a state marriage amendment unconstitutional

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer are two lesbians from Michigan who want to get married. They also wish to adopt one another's children - three children who have special needs. But, they can't jointly adopt each other's children because joint adoption in the state is tied to - marriage. So, they went to court in 2012 to overturn Michigan’s ban on joint adoptions by same-sex couples.   The WORLD website has a report.

Out of that case came a ruling by a Federal judge this week that struck down Michigan's constitutional amendment, approved by 59 percent of voters, that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman released his 31-page ruling exactly two weeks after the rare trial that mostly focused on the impact of same-sex parenting on children. Attorneys for the state said during the trial that the plaintiffs, a Detroit-area lesbian couple, were great parents. Nevertheless, the state urged the judge to respect the results of that 2004 election when the marriage amendment was approved.

Judge Friedman stated that, “Many Michigan residents have religious convictions whose principles govern the conduct of their daily lives and inform their own viewpoints about marriage...Nonetheless, these views cannot strip other citizens of the guarantees of equal protection under the law.”

Attorney General Bill Schuette is quoted as saying that he would immediately ask a federal appeals court to freeze Friedman’s decision and prevent same-sex couples from marrying while he appeals the case.

The Windsor case decision from last summer, overturning a portion of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, has continued to open the door for marriage amendments to be overturned in various states.  Seventeen states and the District of Columbia issue licenses for same-sex marriage. Since December, bans on gay marriage have been overturned in Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia, but those rulings have been put on hold pending appeal.

2 - Jury finds Christian professor experienced discrimination

There was an encouraging court ruling in the area of academic freedom issued this past week, according to a report on the CitizenLink website.

Dr. Mike Adams was hired at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington in 1993 and promoted to associate professor in 1998. He became a Christian two years later. He then began sharing his faith in published columns. After that, he was turned down for a full professorship, despite his exemplary record as a professor.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Allied Attorney Travis Barham said that university officials had "...passed along false and misleading information about his academic record, explicitly considered the content of his protected speech in promotion documents...and — incredibly — allowed a professor who’d filed a false criminal complaint against Dr. Adams to cast a vote against his application.”

In 2011, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that: “No individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment.”

Last year, a federal court found sufficient evidence to have a trial. This happened after an appeals court determined the First Amendment protects the views Adams published in opinion columns with which university officials disagreed.

Lead counsel David French with the American Center for Law and Justice praised the jury verdict.

“We’re grateful the jury determined what we have long known to be true — that the university violated Dr. Adams’ constitutional rights when it denied his promotion,” he said. “This is an important victory for academic freedom and the First Amendment.”

1 - States continue to consider limitations on abortion, Federal judge rules AR fetal heartbeat abortion ban unconstitutional

Even though a Federal judge struck down the portion of an Arkansas law over a week ago that provides that an abortion cannot be performed involving an unborn child who has a detectable heartbeat and is at 12 weeks' gestation or greater, there are still provisions of the bill that remain in place.  And, more pro-life legislation is advancing in other states. reports that Arkansas may still require testing for a heartbeat before performing abortion and, when a heartbeat is detected, require disclosure to the mother that her unborn child possesses a heartbeat.

In striking down the abortion ban, the court cited U.S. Supreme Court precedent regarding viability of the unborn child as the point when the government may prohibit abortion in some cases. This rule is often called the “viability rule.” Viability is not a precise event but usually occurs, in the current state of medical development, around 24 weeks of pregnancy. The Arkansas heartbeat law banned abortions at 12 weeks when a heartbeat was detected. Therefore, the district court ruled that the law violated Supreme Court precedent. points out that this ruling is a victory for advocates seeking to protect unborn children by requiring that mothers considering abortion be informed if their unborn babies possess a heartbeat.

In other pro-life news, legislation to stop abortions after the point at which the unborn child can feel pain was introduced in the Minnesota Senate this week. The measure would prohibit the taking of the lives of innocent unborn children at 20 weeks from conception, approximately the point at which scientists have determined that an unborn child can feel pain.

Scott Fischbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), is quoted by as saying that, “For far too long, Minnesota’s abortionists have been inflicting unconscionable suffering on unborn babies by killing them when they are already extraordinarily developed and pain-sensitive,. “It is illegal to treat animals in such a brutal way; this bill will finally protect unborn children at 20 weeks and older from the torturous pain of abortion.”

And, the website reports that in South Carolina, the House has approved a similar bill that would enact a 20-week abortion ban.  Meanwhile, in Alabama, legislation that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected is still awaiting action before the state Senate, part of a 4-bill package of pro-life bills that have already passed the House.  The Alabama Legislature is in recess this coming week.

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