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Is Obama’s lackluster response on Boko Haram tied to Nigeria’s gay ‘marriage’ ban?

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By Kirsten Anderson
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Rep. Steve Stockman speaks at the 2013 Liberty Political Action Conference (LPAC) in Chantilly, Virginia. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

A U.S. congressman who led a delegation to Nigeria to investigate Boko Haram in June has accused the Obama administration of withholding key information that could help the Nigerian military fight the Islamic terrorist group, which has all but taken over the northern part of the country.

Rep. Steve Stockman, R-TX, suggests a key reason is the administration’s opposition to Nigerian “social policy.”

In the first six months of this year alone, Boko Haram has killed more than 2,000 civilians, and in April, the group kidnapped hundreds of young girls from a school in Chibok with the intention of selling them as sex slaves. Most of the girls remain missing.

“We have information that would help the Nigerian military take back their country and get back those girls,” Stockman told World Net Daily earlier this month. “The mistake on our side – the United States’ side – is that we have laws preventing us from sharing that information with the Nigerian military. And one of the reasons is that we don’t like some of the social policy of the Nigerian government.”

An unnamed source told World Net Daily that the specific policy in question was Nigeria’s ban on same-sex “marriage,” which makes it a crime to enter into any sort of formalized homosexual union, or to in any way assist with one.

"We have laws preventing us from sharing that information with the Nigerian military. And one of the reasons is that we don’t like some of the social policy of the Nigerian government."

It is unclear to which law Stockman was specifically referring, but Amnesty International government relations manager Adotei Awkei told ABC News in May that the Leahy Law, in particular, has “been a major source of frustration for the Nigerians, who’ve wanted U.S. assistance.” 

The Leahy Law bars the U.S. Department of State and Department of Defense from providing assistance to foreign military units if there is credible evidence that they have committed “gross human rights violations,” defined as murder of civilians, torture, kidnapping, and/or rape. It also leaves room for the U.S. government to give or withhold aid on a case-by-case basis for lesser human rights offenses. The law, passed in 1997 and named for its sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, does not explicitly take into account a nation’s treatment of homosexuals, but Sen. Leahy vowed in January to push for a companion law banning aid to foreign countries that criminalize homosexual behavior.

Asked directly by LifeSiteNews whether Nigeria’s stance on homosexuality had impacted U.S. response in the region, a State Department spokesman who insisted on anonymity was evasive.

“Over the last few months the U.S. has continued to support our Nigerian partners as they have led efforts to combat Boko Haram and return the Chibok girls,” the spokesman told LifeSiteNews by e-mail.  “We have provided intelligence support, personnel, and other tactical and material support. We remain committed to helping Nigeria bring back their girls and helping the region to establish a durable and integrated approach to combating the regional threat of Boko Haram.”

But the spokesman added, “Our stance on LGBT rights is also clear. LGBT rights are human rights. In Nigeria, we’ve spoken out against the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition act. This is a law that not only criminalizes same sex marriage, but also restricts freedom of association, expression and assembly for all Nigerians.”

“We continue to engage extensively at the highest levels of government with the police and with regional and local officials to press the message of nonviolence and non-discrimination,” the spokesman continued. “We are also providing support to civil society, and we’re monitoring closely the implementation of SSMP and its impact on the LGBT persons and their allies. We’ll take appropriate actions as needed.”

Pressed further on whether the Leahy Law might be used to justify withholding information from Nigerian officials, the State Department spokesman said, “The Leahy law prevents the U.S. from providing assistance using funds authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act to security force units or individuals when we have credible information that they have committed a gross violation of human rights. ‘Gross violations’ are defined in statute, and include torture and other forms of cruel and unusual punishment, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, rape, and prolonged arbitrary detention.”

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“We may or may not withhold assistance to units that have been involved in other forms of misconduct or have been implicated in other forms of human rights violations, depending on the facts for other policy or legal reasons,” the spokesman added. “We’ve been very open about our concerns about Nigeria’s human rights record.  Promoting respect for human rights is a key aspect of the assistance we provide.  In this instance, and in all of its counterterrorism operations, we call on Nigeria to protect civilians, respect human rights, address impunity, and address the underlying causes of the conflict.”

LifeSiteNews reached out repeatedly to Rep. Stockman’s office for clarification on his remarks, but were told he was out of town for the week and unreachable for comment.  Multiple staffers told us they were unaware of what law to which Stockman was specifically referring, and all said they were unfamiliar with the situation.

One staffer suggested LifeSiteNews contact the office of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, who accompanied Stockman on the June trip to Nigeria.  Mike McQuerry, Jackson Lee’s communications director, was initially cooperative and told LifeSiteNews he was trying to determine whether there was any truth to Stockman’s accusations, but after two days of follow-up, McQuerry stopped returning LifeSiteNews’ emails.

LifeSiteNews also reached out to Amnesty International and the Nigerian Embassy for comment.  Amnesty International said government relations manager Adotei Awkei was out of the office for the week and unavailable for comment. Three calls to the Nigerian Embassy’s main switchboard went unanswered.

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Lisa Bourne

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

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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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