Sunday, February 15, 2015

The 3 - February 15, 2015

In this week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, we recognize that a young lady has lost her life while being held captive by the radical terror group, ISIS, a young lady whose faith in God apparently sustained her during her ordeal.  Also, a jury has found that there was no fraud in the petition drive to get that so-called equal rights ordinance on the ballot in Houston, but there were some improprieties discovered.  And, the top story involves the implementation of so-called "same-sex marriage" in Alabama this past week in some, but not all, counties.

3 - ISIS announces death of American relief worker 

It was confirmed earlier this week that an American humanitarian aid worker had indeed lost her life while being held by the radical Islamic group, ISIS.  The Christian Post reported that a U.S. intelligence official has said that worker, 26-year-old Kayla Mueller of Prescott, AZ, appeared to have been married off to an ISIS official. The terror group had sent photos of her dead body to her family showing her in a white burial shroud, supposedly as a sign of respect.

The article noted that ISIS has claimed that Mueller, who had been held captive since 2013, died following a Jordanian airstrike on one of its targets.  However, American officials have not yet confirmed the cause of her death.

It was reported that Kayla's family released a letter she had written during her time in captivity, where she asked her parents not to worry about her, and claimed she was healthy and was being treated well.  The family noted that her deep Christian faith gave her courage.

Mueller is reportedly the fourth American confirmed to have been killed at the hands of ISIS since the U.S. began military operations against the terror group in 2014.

2 - Jury reaches decision in case concerning petition drive to overturn Houston ordinance; effect clouded

The ongoing standoff between city officials in Houston and citizens who wish to see the so-called equal rights ordinance there put to a vote of the people took another confusing turn this week, as a jury reached what the Houston Chronicle is calling a "mixed verdict."   The case involved the collection of signatures for a petition drive, in which those opposing the amendment claimed to have exceeded the requirement for signatures in order that the ordinance would be placed on the ballot, only to have city officials throw out a large number of the petitions.

The article said that the jury found that the law's opponents submitted a repeal referendum petition that contained forgery and other flaws. Attorney for the petitioners, Andy Taylor, is quoted as saying, "The thing that is super significant here is that the jury found no fraud," adding, "This mayor has been claiming for over six months that these hardworking citizens committed fraud and this jury found that they did not. So they can take that to the bank."

What's next?  The Chronicle reports that attorneys on both sides said that the presiding judge, Robert Schaffer, will now begin counting which signatures are valid to see if opponents have reached the needed 17,269-signature threshold. Schaffer reportedly retains wide legal discretion in what he deems valid. The report says:
The jury's ruling Friday will trigger a series of legal dominoes that, eventually, will yield a definitive answer: The judge will count the signatures, issue a decision on whether the petition is valid and then the case will almost certainly go to the appellate courts.
The piece noted that jurors were tasked with poring over the almost-5,200-page petition and answering six questions about the work of more than 100 circulators. Ten of the 12 jurors signed off on the final decision.

1 - Legal battles continue concerning same-sex marriage in Alabama

This past Monday in Alabama, a federal judge's ruling went into effect, allowing marriage licenses to be issued for same-sex couples across the state.  The first day, according to a map on the website, fewer than 10 counties were actually issuing the licenses to same-sex couples. Chief Justice Roy Moore had instructed probate judges in Alabama not to issue the licenses.

On Thursday, in response to legal action filed against the Mobile County Probate Judge, Don Davis, the same judge that ruled the state's marriage amendment unconstitutional, ordered that judge to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples.   By the end of the week, according to an updated map, over 40 counties had begun to issue licenses to such couples.

But, the legal action has not ended. reports that late Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court agreed, by a 6-2 margin, to consider a petition by two groups seeking a halt to the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses by state probate judges.

The high court reportedly set up a schedule for the coming week for the different sides to file their answers and briefs on the request by the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program. The court, however, did not say whether it would hold a hearing for oral arguments before responding to the petition.

API and ALCAP on Wednesday filed their emergency petition for a writ of mandamus declaring the state's ban on same-sex unions is still in force and to halt any probate judge from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The order stated that briefs by probate judges should address issues raised by the petition, including whether the state Supreme Court even has jurisdiction to hear the petition.  Answers and briefs by probate judges are to be filed by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, then ALCAP and API will have a chance to respond by 5 p.m. Thursday.

National legal advocacy group Liberty Counsel is also involved in asking the Alabama Supreme Court to prevent probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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