Saturday, May 23, 2015

The 3 - May 24, 2015

This week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, highlights some content from a speech from the president of the Boy Scouts of America calling for gay Scout leaders.  Also, there were two court defeats this past week for non-profit organizations seeking to be released from the HHS contraception mandate.  And, religious freedom was defended by the Governor of Louisiana, and a bill protecting pastors and religious organizations cleared a major hurdle in Texas.

3 - Boy Scouts president announces that homosexual leaders should be allowed

This past Thursday, the president of the Boy Scouts of America, Robert Gates, in a speech at the annual Boy Scouts meeting in Atlanta, said the organization’s ban on homosexual leaders needs to be changed to “deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” according to a story on the WORLD Magazine website, which quotes Gates as saying, “the status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”

As Warren Cole Smith, the writer of the WORLD article, pointed out:
When the Boy Scouts decided in 2013 to allow homosexual youth into the program, critics of the change said then the decision was unsustainable. John Stemberger, who ultimately left the Scouts to found a group called Trail Life USA as a Christian alternative to the BSA, said then the new policy “creates a myriad of problems” for the Boy Scouts. Andrew Walker of the Heritage Foundation said the BSA’s 2013 policy of allowing gay boys but prohibiting gay men displayed “willed naiveté on this issue.” Gates himself seemed to agree when he said after becoming president of the BSA in May 2014 that he favored ending the ban on homosexual adult leaders.
As Smith reports, Gates said in his Thursday speech that a decision by a New York BSA council in April to hire the nation’s first openly gay adult leader, Pascal Tessier, was a direct affront to the national policy and posed a potentially damaging legal and reputational threat to the Boy Scouts. While Gates said that he didn't see that coming, the WORLD piece quotes Jeremy Tedesco, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, as saying: "When Alliance Defending Freedom was commenting on this policy change, we told them this is where this policy change would lead,” adding, “You can’t compromise in one area and then expect that compromise won’t have consequences elsewhere.”

2 - Court defeats for non-profit organizations seeking relief from HHS contraception mandate

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of closely-held companies in the Hobby Lobby case, involving the Department of Health and Human Services mandate that forces employers to provide free contraception and potential abortion-causing drugs in their health care plans, two non-profit organizations suffered court defeats this past week in their challenge to being forced to comply with the mandate.

The Washington Times reports that the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said a majority of its judges had decided not to rehear the lawsuit from Priests for Life, after a three-judge panel rejected its challenge in November.

That decision was the second ruling in two days against religious nonprofits who have filed suit to be exempted from the mandate.

The newspaper reported that earlier in the week, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant a preliminary injunction that would shield the University of Notre Dame from the mandate.

The Priests for Life website states:
So now we have 90 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.
And in the meantime, we need the Appeals court to keep in place the injunction which has protected us from the mandate throughout this litigation.
Priests for Life has been, and remains, the "lead case" for the religious non-profit sector, just as Hobby Lobby was for the business sector.
Our case -- represented by the American Freedom Law Center, and our attorneys Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi -- is farther along in the courts than the others -- even though some have gotten more media. None has gone to the Supreme Court yet on the merits of the arguments. There has been some Supreme Court activity just about preliminary injunctions, while the arguments on the merits of those other cases are being heard in lower courts.

1 - Louisiana Governor issues order for religious freedom protection; Texas Legislature approves protection for pastors

After a religious freedom protection bill, the Marriage and Conscience Act, failed to move forward in the Louisiana Legislature, Governor Bobby Jindal issued an executive order designed to accomplish the same purpose.

The bill was sponsored by Louisiana State Representative Michael Johnson, according to The Christian Post, and sought to protect businesses and individuals who oppose gay marriage from being legally compelled to provide services for said ceremonies.

After the announcement of the defeat of the bill, Governor Jindal said, "We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will accomplish the intent of HB 707 to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman."  He added: "This Executive Order will prohibit the state from denying or revoking a tax exemption, tax deduction, contract, cooperative agreement, loan, professional license, certification, accreditation, or employment on the basis the person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman."

Meanwhile in Texas, a bill referred to as the “Pastor Protection” bill, designed to protect pastors and their churches when refusing to perform a same-sex marriage, passed the Texas House with bipartisan support, according to the website, which reported that the bill would go immediately to Texas Governor Abbott, who had vowed to sign it.

The vote for passage of the bill was 141-2, with five House members abstaining. The two who voted against the measure were Democrats.

The website reported that Senate Bill 2065, like the essentially identical House Bill 3567, provided that clergy, religious organizations, and employees of religious organizations may not be required to perform a marriage or provide goods, services, or accommodations related to a marriage ceremony, if the action would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.

The article says that Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values Action, provided the following statement to Breitbart Texas:
Texas made an important decision today to specifically protect the religious freedom of our pastors and churches that follow their beliefs on marriage. Government at any level should not be allowed to punish our clergy and churches for following their faith on marriage. We are thankful for the pastors, churches and church leaders from all across the state that have lead in this effort and have demonstrated the very real threats to religious freedom from those seeking to redefine marriage.

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