Sunday, January 25, 2015

The 3 - January 25, 2015

This week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, highlights the latest action from the fire chief in Atlanta, who lost his job after publishing a book that presented a Biblical view of sexuality. Also, another Federal judge has struck down a state marriage amendment in another Southern state - this time in Alabama.  And, the top story: a throng of marchers gathered in Washington, DC to stand for the right to life for pre-born babies, with a special concentration on those children with disabilities.

3 - Former Atlanta Fire Chief fights back

An attorney representing fired Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that the former chief was terminated due to his religious beliefs, claiming that this action violated his civil rights.

According to an article on The Blaze website, Alliance Defending Freedom "Allied attorney Jonathan Crumly filed an EEOC complaint on behalf of Chief Cochran yesterday based on the City’s clear religious discrimination against the Chief,” according to a statement by ADF senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco.  He added, ”Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts.”

The piece related that Cochran, in his filing, recounted his version of events, noting that he served as fire chief for nearly five years and that his problems with city officials began on Nov. 24, 2014, when he was suspended without pay following controversy over a book that included a section on sinful behavior, including sexuality.  The Blaze article referenced an interview with Todd Starnes of Fox News, in which the former chief said that he did “not single out homosexuality” in his book.  He is quoted as saying, “I simply spoke to sex being created by God for pro-creation and He intended it to be between a man and a woman in holy matrimony – and that any other sex outside of that is sin,”

Cochran said that he was later informed that an investigation the government conducted while he was out of work found zero instances in which he had discriminated against other staff members, but he alleges that his faith became a factor in the dismissal process. In the complaint, he stated, “The book expresses my deeply held religious convictions on many subjects,” he concluded. “I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my religion — Christian — in violation of Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.”

The mayor of Atlanta is apparently trying to contend that the chief was fired because he disobeyed orders. Mayor Kasim Reed claimed at a press conference earlier this month that Cochran’s judgement was at the center of his firing.

The mayor said he wasn’t consulted before the book was written and that Cochran, who spoke out about his battle with the city to religious groups when he was reportedly told not to, violated policies by not having the book cleared by an ethics panel, as required by the city.

Cochran claims Atlanta ethics officer Nina Hickson gave him verbal permission to write the book and that he had given a copy to Reed’s office last January, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

However, according to Christianity Today, the mayor had said when the book came to the attention of city officials, that he worried that Cochran’s positions in the book would lead to accusations of discrimination. It referenced a USA Today story, quoting the mayor as saying, "I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran's book is not representative of my personal beliefs, and is inconsistent with the administration's work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all citizens—regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race, and religious beliefs."

2 - One judge negates hundreds of thousands of voters regarding Alabama's marriage law

Late Friday afternoon, a Federal judge in Mobile ruled that Alabama's marriage amendment, approved by 81 percent of the voters, is unconstitutional.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is quoted as saying, "This federal judge is throwing out the votes of the people of Alabama and attempting to shut down the debate over marriage. In exercising their right to vote, Alabama voters overwhelmingly sent a message that that they want to see society rebuild and strengthen marriage - not have it redefined by unelected judges.

He also said that, "There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that empowers this federal judge to overturn Alabama's marriage amendment nor any basis for the U.S. Supreme Court to impose a 50 state same-sex 'marriage' mandate."

According to AL.comU.S. District Judge Ginny Granade ruled that the Alabama Marriage Protection Act and the amendment that later enshrined it in the state constitution both were unconstitutional.   The website indicates that over 697,000 Alabamians voted in favor the amendment in 2006.

Also, reported that the Alabama Probate Judges Association issued a statement Saturday night saying despite Friday's federal court ruling, the state's probate judges cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Al Agricola, attorney for the Alabama Probate Judges Association, stated in a press release. "The legal effect of this decision is to allow one person in one same sex marriage that was performed in another state to adopt their partner's child. There is nothing in the judge's order that requires probate judges in Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples."

And on Sunday, according to, Judge Granade issued a 14-day stay of her ruling. She reportedly rejected arguments by the Alabama Attorney General's Office that the state likely would win on appeal. But she agreed to give attorneys two weeks to make their case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If it does not act in that time to extend or lift the stay, the order will take effect on Feb. 9. The judge said she also would issue a follow-up opinion clarifying the original order.

1 - Hundreds of thousands take part in March for Life, House passes ban on taxpayer funding of abortion

The 42nd March for Life was held in the nation's capital on Thursday, and another large turnout participated.  According to a report on the website, "hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists gathered beneath sunny skies and surprisingly warm temperatures to hear speeches from pro-life politicians and prominent movement leaders."

March for Life President Jeanne Monahan Mancini stated that, "I’m so grateful” for those who traveled from around the country and around the world to join the march. She explained that this year’s theme, “Every Life is a Gift,” refers especially to babies with prenatal diagnoses of potentially disabling conditions like Down syndrome who are aborted at a much higher rate than the general population.

The article reported that several lawmakers spoke, including Rep. Kathy McMorris-Rogers of Washington state, the mother of a boy with Down syndrome.  She promised that despite the Republican GOP leadership’s eleventh-hour decision to refrain from voting on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban most abortions after 20 weeks, she and her pro-life colleagues are committed to its passage, along with the passage of a healthcare conscience rights act. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina said, “The Senate will stand shoulder to shoulder with the House as you move forward legislation that protects life.”

Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey touted the importance of the passage of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, saying, "That legislation is historic...It will end our forced complicity, our funding of abortion.”  In addition to those 3 Republican lawmakers, Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois declared, “Everyone needs to come together to protect life,” adding, “Women deserve better than abortion.”

Also, it was reported that as the March itself began, organizers announced the winners of the annual student contest, themed “Every Selfie has a Story.” They then introduced this year’s march leaders, the entire student body and faculty of Shanley High School in Fargo, ND - 400 total people, who filled eight buses and drove 24 hours straight to carry the banner at the front of the march.

Senior Julia Johnson said, “As a school, we are humbled and honored to have been selected to hold the banner for this year’s March for Life.” In a brief speech, Julia proclaimed, "Our cause in defending life is a noble one,” and added, “We are living in a modern-day holocaust … that takes the lives of 3,000 babies each day, more than one million babies each year.”

On Wednesday night, the eve of the March for Life, a vote that was timed with that massive event was suddenly cancelled, the vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which The Daily Signal website describes as a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks, except in cases where rape or incest had been reported to authorities.

The piece quotes a Politico report that said, "The evening switch comes after a revolt from a large swath of female members of Congress, who were concerned about language that said rape victims would not be able to get abortions unless they reported the incident to authorities."

As The Daily Signal points out, the bill passed in the House in 2013 without controversy over the exceptions. And a Quinnipiac poll asked this question: “In 2013 the House of Representatives approved legislation that would ban virtually all abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape and incest that are reported to authorities...Would you support or oppose such legislation?”

In response to that specific question, 60 percent of Americans, including 59 percent of women, said they would support such legislation in response to the poll, which was released in November. 

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