Is the ground underneath the “gay” agenda in America beginning to crumble?
For the third time in just weeks, a court has ruled against the claim that the rights of homosexuals trump the Constitution’s protections of religious rights.
That has been the basis for most of the legal gains for the homosexual-rights agenda in recent years. Bakers, photographers, venue operators and other have been punished because they chose to be faithful to their religious beliefs.
The most recent ruling comes from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said magistrates in North Carolina can excuse themselves from performing same-sex “marriages.”
Earlier, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Mississippi law that protects the religious freedom of those who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and that gender is determined at birth.
It not only reversed an injunction imposed by a lower court – preventing the implementation of the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act – it went further and simply dismissed the case.
And just before that, WND reported, a state appeals in Kentucky ruled a T-shirt maker was required to treat all customers the same but was exempt from demands he promote homosexuality.
Just days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would decide whether a baker has a right to refuse to use his artistry to promote homosexuality, a ruling that likely will come in the fall.
The latest case involved magistrates in North Carolina who were represented by Liberty Counsel.
The group said the judges at the 4th Circuit gave the magistrates “a huge victory by ruling that the plaintiffs who opposed their religious liberty opt out of same-sex ‘marriage’ lacked standing to challenge the law.”
Liberty Counsel represented Magistrate Brenda Bumgarner and others. Bumgarner has an excellent record during her 10 years of service as a magistrate.
She sought a “religious opt out of performing ‘marriages’ for same-sex couples.”
Liberty Counsel filed a friend-of-the-court brief citing a state law it contends is constitutional that states: “Every magistrate has the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages under this chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection.”
The law had been created in 2015 when the legislature overrode a governor’s veto.
“We celebrate this victory for North Carolina magistrates who have the constitutional right to follow their conscience and rights to free exercise without fear of punishment,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel.
“The LGBT agenda seeks to steamroll over the conscience of everyone, including those who serve in the court system who believes in natural marriage. We were proud to defend Magistrate Brenda Bumgarner and others in this case as it sets a precedent and has an effect on all judges and their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
The court said: “Plaintiffs, simply by virtue of their status as state taxpayers, have alleged a personal, particularized injury for the purposes of Article III standing. Based on a century of Supreme Court precedent, we conclude that they have not.”
It continued with a quote: “In an era of frequent litigation, class actions, sweeping injunctions with prospective effect, and continuing jurisdiction to enforce judicial remedies, courts must be more careful to insist on the formal rules of standing, not less so.”
A team of same-sex duos had sued, claiming that as taxpayers they were being injured, because when a magistrate recused himself or herself from a marriage ceremony, someone else would have to fill in.
They said the recusals cost the state money, injuring taxpayers.
But they didn’t have standing, the court found.
“The plaintiffs … do not claim that the state has impeded their right to get married. Instead, they challenge the religious exemption as taxpayers who object to the alleged spending of public funds in aid of religion.”
However, the court said, in light of the Supreme Court’s “admonitions on the narrow scope of taxpayer standing, we affirm the judgment of the district court that plantiffs lack standing to press this claim.”
Earlier, at the 5th Circuit, the judges also found the individuals and homosexual advocacy organizations who challenged the state law also didn’t have standing to bring their claims.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys were part of the legal team representing Gov. Phil Bryant in the lawsuits, Barber v. Bryant and Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.
ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot reacted to the ruling.
“Good laws like Mississippi’s protect freedom and harm no one. The court did the right thing in finding that those who have challenged this law haven’t been harmed and, therefore, can’t try to take the law down,” he said.
Theriot explained that the sole purpose of the law is “to ensure that Mississippians don’t live in fear of losing their careers or their businesses simply for affirming marriage as a husband-wife union.”
“Those who filed suit have not and will not be harmed but want to restrict freedom and impose their beliefs on others by ensuring dissenters are left open to the government discrimination that has already occurred in states without protective laws like this one,” he said.
The organization explained state House Bill 1523 “protects citizens, public servants, businesses, and religious institutions from government reprisal for operating publicly according to their belief that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman.”
The governor signed the bill into law in April 2016, but a federal district court stopped its enforcement shortly thereafter.
AP reported lawyers for the same-sex promoters challenging the law say they will ask the full 5th Circuit to review the decision, or they will go to the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a decision from U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves that the law treats homosexuals unequally.
In the Kentucky case, WND reported earlier this month a state appeals court affirmed a ruling that T-shirt maker targeted by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission was allowed to decline to print a homosexual-promoting message on T-shirts.
It was Blaine Adamson, who, with his company Hands On Originals, was sued by the local Human Rights Commission for refusing to promote “gay” rights.
In the case, Adamson declined to promote homosexuality, and the Human Rights Commission ordered he “must print messages that conflict with his faith when customers ask him to do so.”
The lower court’s ruling in Kentucky said: “Nothing of record demonstrates HOO, through Adamson, refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question had a specific sexual orientation or gender identity. Adamson testified he never learned of or asked about the sexual orientation or gender identity of of Don Lowe, the only representative of GLSO with whom he spoke regarding the T-shirts.
“Don Lowe testified he never told Adamson anything regarding his sexual orientation or gender identity. The GLSO itself also has no sexual orientation or gender identity: it is a gender-neutral organization that functions as a support network and advocate for individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered,” the court found.
“Also, nothing of record demonstrates HOO, through Adamson, refused any individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations it offered to everyone else because the individual in question was engaging in an activity or conduct exclusively or predominantly by a protected class of people.”
The ruling said: “The ‘service’ HOO offers is the promotion of messages. The ‘conduct’ HOO chose not to promote was pure speech. There is no contention that HOO is a public forum in addition to a public accommodation. Nothing in the fairness ordinance prohibits HOO, a private business, from engaging in viewpoint or message censorship.”