Ben Johnson

Obama places minority status, federal benefits at heart of anti-DOMA brief

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 25, 2013, ( – Completing the turn against traditional marriage he began more than two years ago, President Barack Obama filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The administration has placed access to taxpayer-subsidized benefits and tax breaks – as well as its belief the homosexuals deserve a special place as an underprivileged minority group – at the heart of its legal argument.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli filed the amicus curiae brief urging the court to declare Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional on multiple grounds, including an alleged violation of equal protection under the law.

The 54-page document also claims the justices must give greater deference to homosexuals, because “gay and lesbian people are a minority group with limited political power.”

The decision acknowledges that voters in three states – Maine, Maryland, and Washington – democratically approved marriage redefinition and six additional states redefined the institution at the legislative level of through judicial fiat. However, it counts 36 additional states that have passed laws or state constitutional amendments preserving marriage as an institution between one man and one woman since 1996.

That lack of electoral success, the Obama administration argues, proves that the Supreme Court should short-circuit the popular will.

DOMA, the brief states, is “the rare case in which deference to the democratic process must give way to the fundamental constitutional command of equal treatment under law,” decreed from the federal bench.

The administration also places access to federal subsidies and tax breaks at the heart of its case. “The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples,” the brief states.

The protagonist in the case United States v. Windsor, Edith Windsor, is a New Yorker who “married” her lesbian partner in Canada. She is suing because she must pay $363,000 in estate taxes that would not be owed by a married couple. President Obama has argued in favor of increasing the estate tax.

The same-sex “marriage” argument turns largely, not around equal process but giving homosexuals access to government welfare benefits and tax incentives originally designed for stay-at-home mothers. Some believe, like 20-year-old Tufts University junior Grianne Griffiths, believe that “turning the conversation to [federal] benefits is crucial in changing public consciousness.”

Others believe there is no discrimination in allowing states to set their own definition of marriage, and for the federal government to establish the definition of marriage for its own purposes.

The Justice Department brief states the law, passed before a single state legalized homosexual “marriage,” “targets” homosexual couples considered married under state law. This constitutes “a harsh form of discrimination that...does not substantially advance an interest in protecting marriage, or any other important interest.”

The Family Research Council disagrees, citing a growing body of research from its own social scientists and other scholars showing that an intact traditional family may be the greatest means of reducing child poverty, dropout rates, physical abuse, mental illness, and unemployment.

“Redefining marriage would have massive economic implications,” an FRC spokesman stated. “Only an administration blinded by its extreme social agenda would fail to recognize that.”

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Obama’s radical policies will undermine marriage and morality and ultimately will harm children and society,” agreed Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel.

The Obama administration entered the legal brief on Friday, known to politicians as “the Friday news dump,” a time that produces little media exposure for an unpopular action.

Obama has not yet determined whether he will file an amicus brief in the companion case over California's Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment protecting marriage. He has until February 28 to file such a document.

"If they decide to enter the case, their brief will probably be the most important before the court," said Richard Socarides, Bill Clinton's liaison on homosexual affairs. "The position of the government on how it thinks we should treat our citizens - what could be more important?"

Obama may have signaled reticence over the weekend, saying, “I have to make sure that I'm not interjecting myself too much in this process, particularly when we're not a party to the case.”

However, he is certain to have a substantial impact on the outcome. He appointed two of the justices who will decide on the case – Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

In February 2011, Obama took the unusual step of announcing he would no longer defend DOMA in court. The Justice Department began lobbying for the law, signed by President Bill Clinton, to be overturned that June.

His appointees have been outspoken on Proposition 8, as well. Obama named defrocked Methodist minister Harry Knox to the Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in 2009. Knox called faithful Catholics who supported Proposition 8 “foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression.”

The president has also shown a penchant of enacting pro-homosexual policies by executive order. “Where government has historically denied things like same-sex partner benefits for federal workers or military personnel, the Obama administration has just ignored the law and awarded them anyway,” noted an FRC spokesman.

The brief seems to admit it is on shaky legal standing, stating the government's position would fall apart if the High Court uses the typical standard for evaluating laws.

“The government has concluded that heightened scrutiny governs classifications based on sexual orientation and that DOMA Section 3 cannot be sustained under that standard. If the Court disagrees and applies rational-basis review, the government has previously defended Section 3 under rational-basis review, and does not challenge the constitutionality of Section 3 under that highly deferential standard,” the brief states. 

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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