3 - OK governor says "no" to removal of 10 Commandments
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled last month that a Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol grounds, which was paid for using private funds, must be removed. However, Governor Mary Fallin said on Tuesday that the monument isn't going anywhere.
That's according to a report on The Daily Signal website, which quotes the governor as saying: “Oklahoma is a state where we respect the rule of law, and we will not ignore the state courts or their decisions,” adding, “However, we are also a state with three co-equal branches of government.” Attorney General Scott Pruitt has requested the state Supreme Court rehear the case. After the initial court ruling, both Fallin and Pruitt made it clear they would request a rehearing and attempt to overturn the verdict.
The state ACLU had originally filed suit seeking to have the monument removed, claiming that the monument violated the Oklahoma State constitution, which prohibits public funding or property to go toward supporting a particular sect of religion, according to Article II, Section 5 of the constitution. The state Supreme Court initially ruled by a 7-2 margin that the monument was unconstitutional, based on the grounds that it is “obviously religious in nature and … an integral part of the Jewish and Christian faiths.” But, Pruitt said after the decision that the monument was in fact constitutional and that the court got it wrong. He cited a similar monument in Texas the U.S. Supreme Court deemed to be constitutional.
Governor Fallin is quoted as saying: “Celebrating the historical importance of religions and religious values is not a new idea. Our nation is steeped in references to God and the rights He bestows on all men and women.” She added, “None of these represent state endorsement of or support for any religion. They are celebrations or visual representations of our culture and events of historical importance.”
Lawmakers have proposed legislation to allow the people of Oklahoma to vote on whether Article II, Section 5 of the constitution should be eliminated. As a result, the monument will remain intact as the state appeals the court’s decision and the legislature considers the proposed changes to the state constitution.
2 - Oregon bakers stare down deadline for paying heavy fine for not providing cake for same-sex wedding ceremony
The deadline is Monday (July 13) for Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay an exorbitant, $135,000 fine for merely declining to participate in a ceremony celebrating a same-sex marriage. But, thanks to the overreaching of the Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, the Kleins face a lein on their home if they don't pay up.
Aaron has been outspoken in that he does not intend to pay the fine, and he's not keeping quiet about it. Not only had the Commissioner ordered the Kleins to pay, but he had ordered them not to speak out about the case. Aaron said to Todd Starnes of Fox News, “This is intimidation and bullying - that’s exactly what it is,” adding, " They are trying to strong-arm me into handing over $135,000 to the two girls and if I win on appeal - they will never pay me back.”
According to attorney Anna Harmon, the Commissioner, whose name is Brad Avakian, "...is intent on using his office to root out thought and speech with which he personally disagrees." A Family Research Council Washington Update piece states that one investigation shows that the Bureau was already ethically compromised:
While the state was busy accusing Aaron and Melissa of bias, emails suggest their agencies were full of it. In emails, text messages, phone calls, and other documents, Daily Signal found a shocking amount of collusion between the Bureau and the largest LGBT activist group in the state: Basic Rights Oregon (BRO).
Aaron Klein is quoted as saying: "Brad and his cohorts at BOLI have overstepped their [authority] in requiring me to cease and desist from my constitutional freedom," adding, "I will fight them with every last breath I have." As FRC says, as tough as it's been on their family, Melissa says that it's an honor to be a voice for religious liberty. She says: "It's making us stronger and emboldening us to stand up to this. Aaron and I are fighting for every American out there -- for their freedom. We are not backing down at all."
1 - State officials in a variety of states refuse to marry gay couples
Meanwhile, state officials in various parts of America are refusing to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples:
In Ohio, a judge who also serves as an elder in his local congregation has refused to marry two lesbians this week based on his “personal and Christian beliefs” about marriage, according to ChristianNews.net.
Toledo Municipal Judge C. Allen McConnell, an elder at First Church of God in Columbus, declined to officiate for Carolyn Wilson and her partner last Monday because of his Christian faith. The women, upset about the matter, then went to the media to lodge a complaint.
In a statement released by the judge, McConnell stated: " The declination was based upon my personal and Christian beliefs established over many years,” adding, “I apologize to the couple for the delay they experienced and wish them the best.” Another judge officiated over the two after McConnell declined, which should be the end of this story, but judging from past actions from gay couples wishing to get married or to force a creative artist to participate in the their ceremony, don't count on it.
In Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear has ordered a county clerk to issue “marriage” licenses to same-sex pairs or resign from his position. According to ChristianNews.net, the governor told Casey County clerk Casey Davis on Thursday those were his two choices.
Davis had met with the governor this week to outline his concerns and his convictions not to facilitate the sins of others. During the meeting, approximately 50 of Davis’ friends and family members gathered to pray at the capitol rotunda. Three other Kentucky clerks, Kenny Brown in Boone County, Kim Davis in Rowan County and Jason Denny in Anderson County, have likewise expressed their objections to issuing the licenses due to their Christian convictions. The governor is quoted as saying: “One of Mr. Davis’ duties as county court clerk is to issue marriage licenses, and the Supreme Court now says that the United States Constitution requires those marriage licenses to be issued regardless of gender.”
In Texas, an East Texas county clerk has resigned rather than comply with the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. According to the Dallas Morning News, Rusk County Clerk Joyce Lewis-Kugle submitted her resignation letter Thursday. County Judge Joel Hale, Rusk County’s top administrator, said Lewis-Kugle wrote that she could not in good conscience issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Also, in Alabama, the Supreme Court had asked for briefs before a Monday deadline last week on the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. Liberty Counsel, which had been involved in the case that resulted in probate judges being prevented from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after a singular Federal judge attempted to strike down Alabama's marriage amendment, filed a brief encouraging the state's high court: “When considering the Supreme Court’s Obergefell opinion, state Supreme Courts should contemplate the “decision’s substantial assault on the Rule of Law, Democracy, and Natural Law, and its necessary diminishment of the constitutional right to Free Exercise of Religion.”
The brief by Liberty Counsel points out that the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to follow the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the Dred Scott case, which said that blacks were not entitled to full protection as citizens. The Liberty Counsel brief also urged the Alabama Supreme Court to protect the religious freedom of its citizens.