Hilary White

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Clergy, legal experts not buying ‘protections’ for churches in UK gay ‘marriage’ law

Hilary White
Hilary White
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LONDON, January 30, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Promises of “safeguards” for churches in the UK’s proposed gay “marriage” law are empty and unenforceable, given the UK’s Equalities law and connections to the European Union, according to a top legal expert.

According to Aidan O’Neill QC, wording in the bill, scheduled to go to the vote on February 5th, that he government claims makes it illegal for the Church of England and Church in Wales (Anglican) to conduct same-sex “weddings” is “eminently challenge-able”. O’Neill has told the government that the wording is in fact illegal, and will be overturned straight out of the gate.

The comments come in response to a blog post by Maria Milller, the Culture Minister who introduced the bill on Friday, in which she said, “I have always been crystal clear that I simply will not introduce any new law that does not provide protection for all religious organisations and individual ministers of religion.

“Our Bill will both protect and promote religious freedom in this country, so that religious organisations can continue to act according to their own doctrines and beliefs.”

The legislation contains wording that forbids the Anglican churches, as the officially established church, from conducting same-sex “weddings”. But this does not extend to the Catholic Church and other Protestant denominations or religious groups like Jews or Muslims.

Miller wrote, “Tolerance is a two-way street,” adding that the government has taken its cue from the “Quakers, Liberal Jews and Unitarians – who said they wanted the opportunity to marry same-sex couples, and so we decided to build that into our plans.”

“After all, we are very clear that this decision is entirely up to individual religious organisations and their ministers, but in principle who are we to stop those religious bodies from conducting same-sex marriages if they want to? Allowing them to do so promotes religious freedom.”

O’Neill’s concerns were echoed today by Education Secretary Michael Gove who said that government could be “powerless” to stop teachers being sacked for refusing to teach “gay marriage.” The Daily Telegraph reports that “a senior source” in the department of education said the UK is not “in control” of its own legal situation and that the ultimate decision might “inevitably” be made by the European Court of Human Rights.

The source said, “We have had legal advice; the problem is that there is this inherent uncertainty about such matters.”

“These are all under the control of nine guys in Strasbourg, it is just fundamentally uncertain because Britain isn’t in control of this.”

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Gove is not alone among ministers in expressing doubts. It is now estimated that at least 100 MPs will vote against the bill, although this is far too few to defeat it.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has also raised concerns about the ‘robustness’ of protections. Hammond said that “gay marriage” is not a priority for voters, adding, “I believe the introduction of civil partnerships has removed the elements of practical discrimination that existed against those in same-sex relationships.”

“I do not believe there is a compelling reason to prioritise legislation to go further at the present time and I have concerns about the robustness of the protections for religious organisations that are being put in place.”

While the government continues to focus almost exclusively on the potential conflicts for clergy, Aidan O’Neill has already given testimony to the government’s consultation that creating “gay marriage” in law would automatically throw a wide array of lay religious believers and other conscientious objectors into conflict with their employers and leave them open to litigation with little or no legal recourse. He particularly highlighted teachers as those who could be sacked for refusing to endorse same-sex “marriage,” and also argued that parents would have no right to withdraw their children from classes that endorse gay “marriage.”

Meantime, no one in the Christian community seems to be willing to trust the assurances that they will be protected from being forced to violate their consciences. Earlier this month, 1067 Catholic priests, including 13 bishops and abbots, signed a letter warning of a return of formal persecution of believing Catholics should the change go through. In an interview, the new archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, said he could see himself ending up in prison for his refusal to bow to the zeitgeist’s interpretation of marriage.

At a meeting with concerned Catholic lay groups this week, Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark said he remains unconvinced that the government’s promises of a “quadruple lock” in the bill will stand up in court. He warned that Catholic schools might face a similar fate as the Catholic adoption agencies that were either closed or forced to secularise when the government enacted the Equality legislation requiring them to consider same-sex “couples” as adoptive parents.

John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children has said that the emptiness of government promises has already been demonstrated dozens of times. Smeaton wrote today that since the passage of the Abortion Act 1967, successive governments have repeatedly promised and failed to protect conscientious objectors to the various gains of the Sexual Revolution, from abortion to explicit “sex education” in schools to enforcing acceptance of homosexuality.

The government’s promises are ringing even more hollow in the face of a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights in a set of four cases brought by Christians complaining of religious discrimination in the workplace. A week before the government brought its marriage bill forward, the ECHR ruled against three of the plaintiffs, ruling in two cases that Christians with conscientious objections were not allowed to refuse to participate in same-sex civil partnerships or counsel same-sex couples.

The ECHR found that the sacking of relationship counsellor Gary McFarlane and of marriage registrar Lillian Ladele were “not disproportionate” and that the sanctions were in keeping with employers’ legitimate “equality and diversity policies”. Under the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, the European courts have the power to overturn the laws of member states if they are found to conflict with European law.

In dozens of cases large and small, Christians have been the targets of homosexualist activists using the current Equalities law to punish any public opposition to the political agenda. From these cases alone experts have said that it is clear that the new law will affect ordinary working people in a wide range of professions outside the clergy, including marriage registrars and government officials of any kind, nurses, building managers, teachers, amateur street preachers, foster parents, counsellors, hoteliers and bed and breakfast owners.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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