Ben Johnson

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

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 25, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – 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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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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