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Christian Photographer Hauled before Commission for Refusing Same-Sex Job

LifeSiteNews.com
LifeSiteNews.com

By John Jalsevac

New Mexico, January 30, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The case of a Christian photographer who refused to photograph a same-sex "commitment ceremony", was heard before the New Mexico Human Rights Division on Monday.

A same-sex couple asked Elaine Huguenin, co-owner with her husband of Elane Photography, to photograph a "commitment ceremony" that the two women wanted to hold. Huguenin declined because her Christian beliefs are in conflict with the message communicated by the ceremony.

The same-sex couple filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Division, which is now trying Elane Photography under state antidiscrimination laws for sexual orientation discrimination.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a legal alliance that is dedicated to defending and protecting religious freedom, sanctity of life, marriage, and family, is currently defending Elane Photography.

"On Monday we defended Elane Photography in court, saying basically that no person should be required to help others advance a message that they disagree with," ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice-President of the Office of Strategic Initiatives, Jordan Lorence, told LifeSiteNews in an interview today. "That’s a basic First Amendment principle. The government is punishing Elaine photography for refusing to take photos which obviously advance the messages sent by the same-sex ceremony - that marriage can be defined as two women or two men."

In their complaint the homosexual couple has sought for an injunction against Elane Photography that will forbid them from ever again refusing to photograph a same-sex ceremony. They have also requested attorney’s fees.

"Depending on how far up the ladder this goes of appeal that could be a lot of money," said Lorence. "Hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Lorence said that the ADF is framing its case in a similar fashion to the 1995 Supreme Court "Hurley" Case.  "In the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade case the US Supreme Court said that the State of Massachusetts could not punish a privately run parade because it refused to allow a homosexual advocacy group to carry banners and signs in the parade. They said that would be compelled speech, ordering the parade organizers to help promote a message they do not want to promote. To apply the discrimination law that way violates freedom of speech.  We are making a similar kind of argument in this case."

Lorence said that this current case is demonstrative of a "tremendous threat" facing those with traditional views on marriage and family.

"I think that this is a tremendous threat to First Amendment rights. Those who are advocating for same-sex marriage and for rights based upon sexual orientation keep arguing, ‘We are not going to apply these against churches. We are going to protect people’s right of conscience. We are all about diversity and pluralism.’"

But, in practice, says Lorence, "Business owners with traditional views or church owners with traditional definitions of marriage are now vulnerable for lawsuits under these nondiscrimination laws. There are 20 states that have these laws where they ban sexual orientation discrimination. Most of the major cities in the United States also have these kinds of ordinances. So these are a big threat, as the federal government debates whether to make this a blanket nationwide law.

"We see that these [non-discrimination laws] are not rectifying some unjust discrimination, but being used to punish those who speak out in favor of traditional marriage and sexual restraint," he concluded.

Lorence said that the ADF is "cautiously optimistic that the commission will do the right thing." If the New Mexico Commission, however, decides against Elane Photography, Lorence said that the ADF would appeal the decision all the way up to the US Supreme Court if necessary.

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

Catholic Activist "Banned for life" From Publicly Criticizing Homosexuality
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/dec/07121306.html

Christian Political Party before Human Rights Commission for Speaking Against Homosexuality
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/nov/07112706.html

Alberta Human Rights Tribunal Rules Against Christian Pastor Boissoin
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/dec/07120306.html

Alberta Christian Pastor Hauled Before Human Rights Tribunal for Letter to Editor on Homosexuality
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/sep/05090204.html

U.S. Christian Camp Loses Tax-Exempt Status over Same-Sex Civil-Union Ceremony
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/sep/07091902.html

Methodist Camp Meeting Association Sues New Jersey for Civil Union Investigation
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/aug/07081501.html

Lesbian Couple Files Complaint against Church for Refusing Civil Union Ceremony
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2007/jul/07071011.html

Human Rights Complaint Filed Against Catholic Bishop for Defence of Traditional Marriage
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/mar/05033001.html

Homosexuals Seek to Shut Down Canadian Pro-Family Websites
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jul/06073106.html

CHRISTIAN COUPLE FORCED TO SHUT DOWN B&B FOR REFUSING HOMOSEXUAL COUPLE
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2001/may/01052302.html

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Gina Raimondo, Democrat candidate for governor of Rhode Island http://www.ginaraimondo.com/
Lisa Bourne

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Catholic school removes alumna’s photo after she endorses abortion in bid for governor

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

A Rhode Island Catholic school has removed the photo of an alumna from its halls after she endorsed abortion in her campaign for governor.

LaSalle Academy of Providence took alumna Gina Raimondo’s photo down from the school’s Wall of Notables last week after she publicly stated she does not support the Church’s teaching on life and would work to support abortion.

"You know the Catholic Church has a clear position, and I have a clear position,” the state general treasurer said, according to ABC. “And I am clearly pro–choice and as I've said, I as Governor, support the decision in Roe v. Wade."

Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin responded the same day in statement on his Facebook page.

“It is always disappointing when a Catholic candidate for political office abandons the teaching of the Church on the dignity of human life for the sake of self-serving political gain,” he said. Such actions demonstrate an inexcusable lack of moral courage.”

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“Pope Francis has explained how evil abortion really is, that every aborted child bears the face of Jesus Christ,” he continued. “Similarly, I wish to remind Catholics of the Diocese of Providence, in the clearest terms possible: Abortion is a sin, and those who provide it, promote it and support it will be held accountable by Almighty God for the unjust death of unborn children.”

Raimondo, valedictorian of the 1989 class at LaSalle Academy, made her comments at Planned Parenthood’s Rhode Island PAC’s endorsement of her candidacy September 25. She said as well that she is “more pro-choice” than Republican candidate Allan Fung, and that she opposes the Hobby Lobby ruling in support of religious freedom for employers.

According to the Providence Journal, she also said she would oppose efforts to incorporate an option in the Rhode Island health insurance exchange that would exclude abortion or contraception. Raimondo also pledged to seek repeal of a 1997 Rhode Island law banning partial-birth abortion.

Drew Lagace, La Salle’s communications spokesman, told the Providence Journal the school took the photo down and didn’t want to elaborate. But he told the local NBC affiliate, “Her statements were very bold against the Church and the teachings of the Church.”

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Last Call! Can you donate $5?

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By Steve Jalsevac

This is it!

Today is the LAST DAY of our Fall Campaign. But with only hours left to go, we still need to raise just over $40,000 to reach our goal of $150,000

Will you help us now in this 11th hour to reach our goal? 

Please keep in mind that this is just the bare minimum that we need to raise just to keep our news service going until our next campaign! 

We need everyone who has not yet made a donation to do so right now!

The last few days of our quarterly campaigns are always the most stressful times of the year. The stakes are so high, because LifeSite’s existence depends upon the success of these campaigns. <

It is also stressful because we know that we have a responsibility to reach even MORE people with the truth about life and the family, and that we need to be doing even MORE reporting on critical life and family issues.

And yet, at the same time, I am filled with peace, knowing that this work is not our own work, but God’s, and that as long as we strive to do His will, He will always provide us with everything we need!

And I also know that I can always count on our readers to come through for us, no matter how worrisome things might look.

You always have!

And in return, I pledge to you LifeSite’s 100% commitment to doing everything in our power to spread the truth and to promote a Culture of Life, no matter how heavily the odds are stacked against us!

I know we can reach our goal today. 

Of the tens of thousands that will visit our site in the next few hours, I know there are at least 1,000 readers who could chip in just $40 to bring us to our goal. I know there are just 200 people out there who could give a $200 donation and help bring us to the finish line. Or, 500 people who could donate $75. 

It wouldn’t take much if everyone pitched in a little! Whatever you can give, whether its just $5, or $5,000 - every donation counts towards our goal.

It’s all in your hands now, and we thank you for helping us continue our mission!

We will leave the thermometer up on our site for a few more days as we collect mail-in donations. Don’t forget you can also make a donation by phone. Our staff would love to thank you personally for your support. 

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A man carries a sign during Long Beach's Gay Pride parade in 2012 of Newsweek's cover declaring Obama "the first gay president." Juan Camilo Bernal / Shutterstock.com
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Obama admin files first-ever lawsuits against employers who fired transgender workers

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By Ben Johnson

The Obama administration 's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed two lawsuits against employers who fired transgender employees, claiming that the businesses violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act's prohibition of discrimination against women. Last Thursday's lawsuits are the first ever filed by EEOC over what they deem transgender employment bias.

The employment regulatory agency's Indianapolis office sued R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, located in the Detroit area, for firing “Amiee” Stephens, a funeral director who was born male and wished to perform funeral duties in female attire.

The EEOC's Miami office sued Lakeland Eye Clinic in Lakeland, Florida, for firing Michael Branson in June 2011. Branson's lawyer, Jillian Weiss, states his co-workers “snickered, rolled their eyes, and withdrew from social interactions with” Branson after he showed up at work a few months into the job in drag demanding to be called “Brandi.”

Obama officials say that firing transgender workers violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because the employers allegedly fired transgender “women” who “did not conform to the employer's gender-based expectations, preferences, or stereotypes.”

However, that pivotal civil rights law does not mention transgender people nor homosexuals and recognizes neither as a protected minority group that is accorded special rights.

Nonetheless, the Obama administration contends that transgender males are actually women, so any employer who “discriminates” against them is guilty of discrimination on the basis of sex.

The EEOC wrote in its August 20 decision in Complainant v. Jeh Johnson that “While Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination does not explicitly include sexual orientation as a basis, Title VII prohibits sex discrimination, including sex- stereotyping discrimination and gender discrimination. The term ‘gender’ encompasses not only a person’s biological sex, but also the cultural and social aspects associated with masculinity and femininity.”

In other words, males who believe they are females really are females, and they are experiencing discrimination because they do not look like “other” women.

“Moreover, we have held that sex discrimination claims may intersect with claims of sexual orientation discrimination,” the EEOC continued.

EEOC General Counsel David Lopez told BuzzFeed that the Obama administration wants “to ensure employers aren’t considering irrelevant factors, like gender-based stereotypes or gender identity, in making employment decisions.” But business owners say the image projected by outside sales representatives, front office personnel, and other employees has a real impact on the customer's comfort and likelihood to do business with a company.

Mario Diaz, legal counsel of Concerned Women for America, told LifeSiteNews that the lawsuits are the latest push by the Obama administration to further the radical homosexual and transgender political agenda without persuading the American people first.

“The mainstreaming of transgenderism is a debate that is just beginning in our culture,” Diaz told LifeSiteNews. “The American people should debate the complex issues involved, and the legislatures should act based on the conclusions we reach as a society.”

“For the Obama administration to act unilaterally, once again, to force its conclusion about sexuality and morality on the nation is beyond reprehensible,” he said.

“Nevertheless, we can’t say we are surprised. This is why President Obama appointed celebrated homosexual activist Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission back in 2010, when we sounded the alarm about the implications of such an appointment.”

Homosexual activists were thrilled. Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the homosexual lobbying group Human Rights Campaign, called the lawsuits an “historic and a giant step” that “deserves immense praise.”

The new prosecutions are an attempt to implement a December 2012 Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) drawn up by Obama administration officials making "coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals under Title VII's sex discrimination provisions, as they may apply" as “a top Commission enforcement priority.”

And the Obama administration promises this is only the beginning. Robert E. Weisberg, regional lawyer for the EEOC's Miami district office, told Florida's Lakeland Ledger, "I sincerely hope that it serves as a teaching moment for the employer community on how the EEOC views the law and their intention to enforce the law — and for victims who might not have realized they have this type of relief available, to (encourage them to) come forward.”

He added that the “educational byproduct of a case like this can extend far beyond the parties in the lawsuit, which would be the real hope."

President Obama has worked like no other president to promote the redefinition of gender norms, from a biological reality to a malleable social construct.

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In late April, his administration stated that Title IX funding, intended to assist women pursue higher education, applies to transgender males, through the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development demanded that any renter who accepts Section 8 or HUD financing must rent their accommodations to homosexuals and transgender people.

In 2010, Obama named “Amanda” Simpson the Senior Technical Advisor to the Commerce Department, thought to be the first transgender presidential appointment.

Long before seeking the presidency, Barack Obama talked about aggressive federal action to promote social engineering in a 2001 interview on public radio. When conservative media outlets said this meant candidate Obama would use executive powers to promote his agenda in lieu of Congressional support, mainstream reporters such as the Associated Press and The Washington Post dismissed their claims.

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