Rebecca Millette

Pro-life victory for Baltimore: pregnancy center sign ordinance deemed ‘unconstitutional’

Rebecca Millette
Rebecca Millette
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BALTIMORE, MD, January 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – U.S. District Judge Marvin J Garbis ruled last week that the law requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs stating they do not refer for abortions or birth-control is “unconstitutional.”

The ruling is a major victory for Baltimore pregnancy centers and the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore that challenged the 2009 ordinance earlier last year. 

Originally approved in November 2009, the ordinance stated that a pro-life pregnancy center must “provide its clients and potential clients with a disclaimer substantially to the effect that the center does not provide or make referral for abortion or birth-control services.”

The Archdiocese of Baltimore, with representation from Gallagher, Evelius and Jones firm in Baltimore, challenged the ruling in August 2010, arguing that such a law was a violation of First Amendment rights and unfairly targeted pro-life pregnancy centers while not requiring signage for pro-abortion centers.

The lawsuit also contended that the city’s ordinance required pregnancy centers to state falsely that they do not provide birth-control services. The suit said that abstinence education and natural family planning are both “medically recognized means of birth control.”

In a 29-page opinion, Judge Garbis wrote:  “The Court holds that the Ordinance violates the Freedom of Speech Clause of Article I of the Constitution of the United States and is unenforceable.”

“Whether a provider of pregnancy-related services is ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice,’ it is for the provider – not the government – to decide when and how to discuss abortion and birth-control methods.”

Thus far, the signs were never posted because the city of Baltimore agreed to await the outcome of the court case, the Baltimore Catholic Review reported.  The ordinance would have enforced a $150 fine for pregnancy centers that did not post such a sign.

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore, who took an active part in the court challenge and proceedings, said (http://www.archbalt.org/news-events/press-releases/court-decision.cfm) the court ruling was “a clear victory both for pregnant women in need of assistance and for First Amendment principles we treasure in a free society.”

Pro-life pregnancy centers in Baltimore, which include one housed in the St. Brigid Catholic Church, are an “integral part” in the aid provided to pregnant women, said the archbishop.

“In Baltimore, these centers assist thousands of women every year who are trying to embrace the gift of life in their unborn children. And this ruling allows the important and compassionate work of these pro-life pregnancy centers to continue without interference from Baltimore City which sought to target these centers because they are pro-life.”

David W. Kinkopf, an attorney with Gallagher, Evelius and Jones, who represented Archbishop O’Brien in an August hearing on the issue, said the judge “got it right” and the ruling was a “great victory” for pro-life pregnancy centers and the Freedom of Speech, reported the Baltimore Catholic Review (http://www.catholicreview.org/subpages/storyarchnew.aspx?action=9410).

“We think the judge got it right when he basically said there’s no place for the government to single specific speakers out for unfair speech regulation,” Kinkopf said. “The kind of speech these pregnancy centers are engaged in is not commercial speech -it’s deeply personal, moral and very important speech that deserves the full protection of the First Amendment.”

Kinkopf expressed optimism that the ruling would have a national impact as other jurisdictions consider similar legislation.

New York City is currently facing a similar bill.  Edward Mechmann, a lawyer for Archdiocese of New York, who works for the Family Life/Respect Life Office on public policy issues, said the Baltimore court decision is significant for “all pro-lifers across the nation, particularly here in New York.”

“The essential structure and premise of New York’s Intro 371 is identical to the Baltimore law” said Mechmann, “sign and disclaimer requirements compelling speech by pregnancy centers that do not promote abortion, a lack of viewpoint neutrality that is designed to ‘disfavor’ only those centers that do not promote abortion, and a complete lack of any proof that there is a pattern of systematic — or any — deception being practiced by these centers here in New York.”

“In effect, the Baltimore decision drives a stake through the heart of Intro 371,” said Mechmann.  Now the New York city council has to consider serious questions posed. “Will you persist in passing a law that you now know to be unconstitutional?  Or will you fulfill your oath of office to support and uphold the Constitution of the United States?”

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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.

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

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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