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Judge’s ruling puts polygamy on the way to legal recognition

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Ben Johnson
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SALT LAKE CITY, December 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge may have put polygamy on its first step to legal recognition, striking down part of a Utah law that criminalized plural marriage.

The lawsuit was brought by Kody Brown, star of the TLC reality series Sister Wives. Brown lives with Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn, and their brood of 17 children. However, he is legally married only to Meri.

Utah, a majority Mormon state that had to outlaw polygamy before being admitted to the union in 1896, deems living together in the manner of a polygamous couple a felony.

U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups ruled on Friday that the state could continue to ban polygamy “in the literal sense – the fraudulent or otherwise impermissible possession of two purportedly valid marriage licenses.” But it could not arrest people who voluntarily choose to live together in a common law plural marriage.

Waddoups cited the legal precedents that led to same-sex “marriage” and abortion-on-demand in his 91-page ruling in Brown v. Buhman.

Waddoups cited Lawrence vs. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that ruled a Texas anti-sodomy law “unconstitutional.” The ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, cited foreign law in its legal reasoning and played a large role in two Supreme Court cases this summer striking down bans on gay “marriage.”

The judge also used the legal framework that granted a constitutional “right” to abortion-on-demand, saying polygamy in all but name fell under the couple's right to privacy.

Waddoups said legal precedent since courts outlawed polygamy have resulted in “a significant strengthening of numerous provisions of the Bill of Rights, and a practical and morally defensible identification of 'penumbral' rights 'of privacy and repose' emanating from those key provisions of the Bill of Rights.” The “penumbral” quotation is taken from Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court precedent that created the “right to privacy” later employed as the basis for a constitutional “right” to abortion in Roe v. Wade.

In essence, he said, the couples had the right to arrange their sexual life as they wished, as long as they did not hold more than one marriage license at a time.

Critics said the ruling eroded legal protections given to children and significantly harmed society.

“This ruling confuses the private desires of individuals with the institution of marriage as a whole,” Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute told LifeSiteNews.com. “I have no doubt that these individual women and Mr. Brown are living this plural marriage lifestyle voluntarily. What I dispute is that they are the only ones affected by changing the law to permit plural cohabitation or plural marriage.”

“Polygamous societies look very different from monogamous societies,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews. “In polygamous societies, wealthy men are at a huge competitive advantage over men of average means. The wealthy men, in effect, take more than their share of women. This triggers a whole series of reactions. The society begins to sanction the marriage of younger and younger women, sometimes no more than girls, to satisfy the demand for brides. The men grow more and more possessive and treat women more like possessions and less like people.”

“I challenge the advocates of legalized plural marriage to find an example of a polygamous society in which these things have not happened,” she said.

Following this summer's setbacks on gay “marriage,” family advocates say society is increasingly putting adults' libidos ahead of children's health.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, asked, “Can we as a society any longer even define marriage coherently?”

"Throughout history, marriage has been future-oriented, focused on the next generation and the best interests of children. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad,” he said. “However, redefining marriage to fulfill the desires of same-sex couples or polygamists only moves society away from this vital public interest and creates social chaos.”

Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), agreed.

“This is what happens when marriage becomes about the emotional and sexual wants of adults, divorced from the needs of children for a mother and a father committed to each other for life,” he said. “Polygamy was outlawed in this country because it was demonstrated, again and again, to hurt women and children.”

“Sadly, when marriage is elastic enough to mean anything, in due time it comes to mean nothing,” he added.

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Polygamy advocates rejoiced at the decision.

"Now that we're no longer felons, that's a huge relief," Anne Wilde, the co-founder of the pro-polygamy group Principle Voices told The Associated Press. "This decision will hopefully take away the stigma of living a principle that's a strongly held religious belief."

Brown, who belongs to a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot known as the Apostolic United Brethren Church, also said his case had been founded on religious liberty.

“While we know that many people do not approve of plural families, it is our family and based on our beliefs,” Brown said in a statement. “Just as we respect the personal and religious choices of other families, we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs.”

Moore responded, “When reality TV scenarios drive our judicial decisions, we’ve truly reached a strange time in American life.”

Conservatives said the decision vindicated their longstanding argument that, if gay “marriage” were legalized, there would be no way to continue to forbid polygamy, or perhaps incest.

Rick Santorum said on Twitter, “Some times I hate it when what I predict comes true.” Santorum said in 2003 the Lawrence decision would lead to polygamy.

“We have warned of this slippery slope for years,” said Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Same-sex 'marriage' is the abolition of marriage and will destroy the most basic foundation of family and civil society.”

Aside from pro-family groups, the shocking decision made few waves at the national level.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, made a far more restrained response, saying today that he had not yet read the decision but would “much rather see decisions on social issues” made by elected legislators instead of unelected judges.

But opponents of the ruling say it is the substance, rather than the process, of legitimizing polygamy that concerns them.

“No one is taking responsibility for the systemic changes to marriage,” Dr. Morse told LifeSiteNews, nor thinking about “how a change in the laws that seems to protect individuals turns out to have long-term, systemic affects that harm lots of people.”

Waddoups, a well-respected private attorney, was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2008 without any previous judicial experience.  

Red alert! Last call.

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Opposing gay ‘marriage’ may demand civil disobedience: Louisiana bishop

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By Lisa Bourne

LAFAYETTE, LA, June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The bishop of the Catholic diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, is one of the nation’s Church leaders to come out strongly against the Supreme Court decision forcing all 50 states to recognize homosexual “marriage”.

Bishop Michael Jarrell reminded Catholics in a statement that the judiciary does not have the power to redefine marriage, and he opened the door to civil disobedience as a possible response to the June 26 Supreme Court ruling.

“Let me state very plainly that no human court has the authority to change what God has written into the law of creation,” Bishop Jarrell wrote in his statement. “This ruling is irreconcilable with the nature and definition of marriage as established by Divine Law.”

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“The marital covenant was established by God with its own proper nature and laws,” he continued.

Recognizing the tide of religious persecution across the country against those who hold the Biblical view of marriage, Bishop Jarrell addressed the issue of living one’s Catholic faith in light of the Supreme Court decision, and gave the green light to refuse to comply, even if it means breaking the law.

“I realize that this ruling will create conscience problems for many Catholics, especially those in public office,” Bishop Jarrell said. “In some cases civil disobedience may be a proper response.”

In an exercise of episcopal authority, the Lafayette prelate also issued a mandate that no representative of the diocese would enable homosexual “marriage” in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

“No priest or deacon of this Diocese may participate in the civil solemnization or celebration of same-sex marriage,” he declared. “No Catholic facility or property, including but not limited to parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions, or facilities belonging to benevolent orders may be used for the solemnization of same-sex marriage.”

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The bishop also cautioned against Catholics showing support for homosexual “marriage” by their presence at same-sex “wedding”.

“All Catholics are urged not to attend same-sex ceremonies,” he said.

The bishop said he hoped this October’s Ordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican would address issues brought about by “the alteration of the traditional law about marriage.”

Bishop Jarrell also expressed deep sadness at the Supreme Court ruling, and said while Catholics have great respect for everyone as children of God, the justices’ decision had no legal or moral foundation.

“As Catholics we have a profound respect for the dignity of all God’s children,” he stated. “Nevertheless there is no basis in law or in nature for altering the traditional definition of marriage, established by God from the beginning.”

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Lisa Bourne

Catholic News Service gives platform to head of union that gave hundreds of millions to pro-abort politicians

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By Lisa Bourne

June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The news service of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has published an article by the head of an organization that has given hundreds of millions of dollars to elect pro-abortion politicians.

Americans should listen to Pope Francis, at least when it comes to his message on poverty and economics, according to Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, an organization that has done arguably more to elect pro-abortion politicians than any other group in the last 50 years.

The union chief made his case in a June 22 guest column for Catholic News Service (CNS).

The AFL-CIO donated $200 million to Democratic politicians in 2008 alone.

LifeSiteNews contacted Catholic News Service about Trumka’s column in light of the AFL-CIO’s support for abortion, contraception, and homosexual “marriage," but CNS declined to comment.

On his way in the piece to pronouncing unity between the Church and big labor, Trumka touts Pope Francis’s recently reported high approval rating and the “newfound vigor” the Roman Catholic Church has added to its “traditional social doctrine” since his election.

“For much of the last century and more, the labor movement and the Catholic Church have stood together in solidarity for people who labor for a living,” he wrote in the CNS column. “Pope Francis lives and breathes this tradition.”

“Together, the Catholic Church and the labor movement stand for a new moral and political order,” he said.

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In his June 22 piece for Catholic News Service he wrote about helping to ease the pain and suffering for others as his reasons for praising Pope Francis.

“We believe in the duty to ease pain and to offer comfort to those who are suffering -- and not just with kind words, but with action,” Trumka opined. “That is why I am so heartened by our Holy Father Pope Francis.

Trumka, raised Catholic, writes his column for CNS with a Catholic voice, but the union he heads up supports contraception and homosexual “marriage”, along with abortion.

While the Church today holds The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers among its themes of Catholic Social Teaching, giving voice in the Bishops’ own news agency to the representative of an organization which has given hundreds of millions of dollars to pro-abortion politicians contradicts the USCCB’s very own document teaching on the need for Catholics to act in support of Catholic principles and policies in public life.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the USCCB’s Catholics in Political Life states. “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The nation’s top union also supports the so-called “free” birth control imposed as part of the HHS mandate, something many groups – including the USCCB itself – resisted being forced to provide.

“Women have fought hard for the right to safe, legal reproductive health services and the freedom to exercise that right,” the AFL-CIO Statement on Women's Access to Quality and Affordable Reproductive Health Care says. “The Affordable Care Act provides that women will receive preventative health care benefits, including FDA-approved methods of birth control, without co-pays or deductibles.”

Many of those forms of “birth control” may act as abortifacients.

The AFL-CIO’s support for abortion and birth control isn’t where the union’s advocacy for anti-Catholic initiatives stops. It encompasses homosexual activism as well.

Pride At Work is a nonprofit organization that represents LGBT union members and their “allies,” that “organizes mutual support between the organized Labor Movement and the LGBT Community to further social and economic justice.”

Pride at Work is an officially recognized constituency group of the AFL-CIO

The deeds of the AFL-CIO as an organization are not the sole illustration of how Trumka’s CNS appearance sends a conflicting message with regard to Church principles, but also statements embracing and advocating principles in direct contrast to the faith by the man himself.

“Working people believe in equality and fairness and that’s why we are happy to stand with millions of Americans and with President Obama in supporting marriage equality,” Trumka said in a statement supporting homosexual “marriage”.

When the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 defending marriage were overturned, he said they never should have been adopted in the first place.

“The Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 were radical and divisive laws that never should have been,” Trumka said. “Now, we can begin to fully clear the dark legal cloud that has hung over our nation.”

Trumka employs a childhood anecdote to frame his article complete with violence against his grandfather on the part of the profit-focused mining company that “owned everything,” in his Pennsylvania hometown.

“Pope Francis speaks for the church I grew up in when he calls for an organized moral response to the injustices of modern capitalism,” stated Trumka, whose salary level is around $300,000 per year according to unionfacts.com.

Trumka has been implicated in encouraging intimidation and deception to advance union goals, according to a report from the National Legal and Policy Center.

Trumka has also been accused of legitimizing violence. During a multi-state coal miners’ strike organized by the United Mine Workers in 1993, Trumka, as union president, ordered more than 17,000 miners to walk off the job, and explicitly told strikers to "kick the s--- out of" employees and mine operators defying union demands.

Homes were vandalized, shots were fired at a mine office, and power was cut to one mine, temporarily trapping 93 miners underground.

A non-union contractor, Eddie York, was murdered by a union member, shot in the back of the head as he drove past strikers at a West Virginia work site. Those trying to rescue the victim were attacked by a group of union members. The union member who shot the contractor went to jail, but no one else was disciplined for what took place.

Trumka told Virginian-Pilot in September 1993 regarding the incident, “I’m saying if you strike a match and you put your finger in it, you’re likely to get burned.”

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Supreme Court suspends Texas law that would have closed half of its abortion facilities

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By Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – About half of the abortion facilities in Texas got a reprieve from the Supreme Court on its last day in session.

Justices ruled 5-4 that, right now, the state of Texas may not enforce health protection laws that would have put all but nine of the state's abortion offices out of business. The court's conservative bloc – Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – objected, but Anthony Kennedy cast the decisive vote with the court's liberals.

At issue is whether the state may require abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and require abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety codes as other ambulatory surgical centers.

The temporary stay of Senate Bill 5 lasts until the justices decide whether they will hear an appeal from the abortion industry, which argues the law's provisions would unduly restrict a woman's access to abortion-on-demand.

“The U.S. Supreme Court was swayed, not for the first time in a week, by illogical arguments,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “By actively lobbying against common sense regulations that would make sure women have access to ‘safe, legal and rare’ abortions, Planned Parenthood and their allies are making a mockery of women’s health care.”

“The abortion industry cares only for their bottom line, and women and their prenatal children are merely dollar signs in their business cycle,” Hawkins said.

"Women and babies are being denied protections with the Supreme Court blocking pro-life legislation,” said Lila Rose of Live Action. “Contrary to what big abortion organizations would have us believe, the possible closure of abortion facilities is due to the refusal of these corporations to adhere to sensible and ordinary medical precautions. We look forward to the day that both the legislature and the Courts use their power to protect the most vulnerable among us."

State pro-life leaders regret the loopholes that they say put women's health at risk.

“Unfortunately, women who do not have abortions at any of the nine operating ambulatory surgical centers that perform abortions will continue to be subjected to substandard medical care,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.

The ruling does not permanently enjoin the state. It does not even guarantee justices will hear the case.

Should they decline, the law will go into effect in its entirety.

Last October, the Supreme Court allowed Texas to implement these measures while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considered its decision in a 6-3 verdict. However, it added that the state must allow abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen to operate subpar operations, defying greater protections for women, because closing those facilities would require women to drive a great distance to the next nearest abortion facility.

Earlier this month, a three-panel judge of the appeals court, based in New Orleans, upheld the health regulations. All three judges had been appointed by President George W. Bush.

Had the full requirements gone into effect, half of all the remaining abortion facilities in Texas would have closed.

The left-wing website ThinkProgress worried, if the High Court upheld the decision, it would mean that “Roe v. Wade is almost entirely dead.”

Today, representatives of the abortion lobby felt relief. "Our Constitution rightly protects women from laws that would create barriers to safe and legal abortion care, but Texas politicians have tried to sneak around the Constitution with sham regulations designed to close clinics’ doors," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a pro-life Republican, vowed to “continue to fight for higher-quality health care standards for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn.”

“I’m confident the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold this law,” he added.

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