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  • Linda Barnette has issued marriage licenses in Grenada County, Mississippi for 24 years. On Tuesday, she resigned.


    “I choose to obey God rather than man,” Mrs. Barnette wrote in her one paragraph resignation letter to the Grenada County Board of Supervisors.


  • “I am a follower of Christ and I believe strongly that the Bible is my final authority,” she wrote. ‘The Bible teaches that a marriage is to be between a man and a woman. Therefore, because of the recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, I can no longer fulfill my duties as Circuit Clerk and issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.”


  • “I told my supervisors a while back if it happened, I would tender my resignation,” she told me. “I had already decided in my heart that I could not issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. It’s my Christian belief. As a follower of Christ, I could not do it. The Bible teaches it is contrary to His plan.”


  • In a review of Hood County Clerk Katie Lang’s emails obtained through an information request, her comments to staff were strident: “We are not issuing them because I am instilling my religious liberty in this office.
  • After Attorney General Ken Paxton — the state’s civil lawyer, not a primary legal authority on county matters — advised clerks to defend religious freedom but expect lawsuits, Ellis County Clerk Cindy Polley wrote: “Does it seem to anyone else the AG is putting it back on us?”

    “HELP!” Brewster County Clerk Berta Rios Martinez wrote. “I just had my first gay couple come in for a marriage license and I ran them off!! … Did I do right? HELP!!!”

  • “Why didn’t [Abbott] say ‘The state of Texas WILL NOT ISSUE same sex marriage licenses. If you want to sue, sue the State.’ Instead, he hung us all out to dry, threw us under the bus.”

  • with the SCOTUS decision the gay rights revolution is now nearly complete. The big question is: What’s next?

    The gay rights revolution will continue to fine-tune laws related to inheritance, taxes, job discrimination, family rights (that of surrogate parents vs. same-sex parents) and—now—divorce and custody issues. Getting the right to marry was the easy part—now comes the reality of marriage itself with all its hearthstones and heartaches! Rights for transgendered people (think Caitlyn Jenner) will need to be considered, and it’s entirely possible that the state could get out of the marriage business altogether and leave it entirely up to individuals.

    And then there’s atheists, agnostics and secular humanists—who have been following the strategy of the LGBT community in “coming out” campaigns to show that we are just as moral, just as worthy and just as good citizens as believers.

    The animal rights revolution has been underway for as long as the gay rights revolution, but it’s a different animal (if you will), given the cross-species leap we have to make to expand our moral consideration, which is not easy to do. But the trends are in the right direction in terms of our sympathies with preventing harm and suffering to more and more species. Chimps are being retired from medical research, cattle farms are becoming more humane, the killing of marine mammals such as whales and dolphins is nearly universally taboo, along with cock fighting, dog fighting, and bull fighting, and hunting and meat eating are both in decline.

  •  The left will destroy the things you care about, because you care about them. It will destroy them because that gives them power over you. It will destroy them because these things stand in the way of its power. It will destroy them because a good deal of its militant activists need things to destroy and if they can't attack you, they'll turn on the left in a frenzy of ideologically incestuous purges.
     The left's social justice program is really a wave of these purges which force their own people to hurry up and conform to whatever the Party dictated this week. Examples are made out of laggards on social media to encourage the rest to stop thinking and start marching in line. As Orwell knew well, these shifts select for mindless ideological zombies while silencing critical thinkers.
  • The purpose of power is power. The left is not seeking to achieve a set of policy goals before kicking back and having a beer. The policy goals are means of destroying societies, nations and peoples before taking over. If you allow it a policy goal, it will ram that goal down your throat. It will implement it as abusively as it can possibly can before it moves on to the next battle.
  • You can't work out a truce with tyrants. You can give in or stand up to them. There's nothing else.

  • Even more than anti-discrimination employment laws, there is a significant philosophical divide between libertarians and many gay activists, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and state-level civil rights commissions over the responses to religious business owners not wanting to provide their goods and services for gay weddings. We're now seeing additional suggestions that religious colleges could be punished for not accommodating gay couples, and even an early suggestion that churches should not have non-profit status any longer.


    The freedom to choose with whom to associate is a fundamental human and Constitutionally protected right. The ability to engage freely in commerce another one. Anybody with any doubts about the importance of free commerce to human liberty is encouraged to ask a nearby Venezuelan about the alternatives. As such, libertarians have consistently been supporting the rights of religious businesses and individuals to say "No thanks" to potential customers.

  • A wedding cake is not a right. A wedding photographer is not a right. Everybody has the right to engage in commerce. We have the right to buy and sell our services and goods, but it must be voluntary on both ends of the exchange. Nobody has the right to force the baker, the photographer, or anybody else to work for them in a free country. The exchange of money doesn't make it acceptable.


  • That's obviously not the case here. Nobody has presented a credible argument that gay couples have been completely unable to buy wedding cakes or rent photographers. There is no actual "harm"—just inconvenience. The vast majority of businesses across the country are more than happy to serve gay citizens. A handful of holdouts in non-essential services is not a good reason to bring to bear the full force of government to fix. It is callous and selfish to use the state to go after small businesses and try to extract fines from them or shut them down over a problem that barely even exists anymore. It is very clearly an effort to punish people for holding disfavored opinions or positions, something that used to happen with great frequency to gay people and their allies. Flipping the switch on who is punished by the state is not justice. Turning the machine off entirely is what we should all be calling for. On this issue libertarians will likely continue to stand with the religious holdouts for the foreseeable future, even if it's on "the wrong side of history." It's on the right side of liberty.


  • Currently, the tax-exempt status of such religious institutions (and schools, from pre-schools through graduate schools and seminaries), is protected under law. But not for long if Oppenheimer has his way.


    He acknowledges the social good that many churches do, and the risk that charitable giving would drop if tax exemptions and deductions were removed. But his idea — drive charity away from churches and give it to the government instead — would further concentrate power in the hand of the state, a concentration the Constitution never envisions and which history tells us is profoundly dangerous. Given the massive inefficiencies and waste of federal “compassion” programs, not to mention the profound intergenerational dependence it has created, this idea is embarrassing on its face. Yet it’s one advanced with dead seriousness by Oppenheimer and his compeers in the anti-religious Left.

  • A federal appeals court on Wednesday afternoon directed the district courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to issue final orders ending enforcement of the states’ respective bans on same-sex couples’ marriages.
  • In the Texas case, in which the trial court had struck down the ban, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion by Judge Jerry E. Smith, wrote that “the injunction appealed from is correct in light of Obergefell, the preliminary injunction is AFFIRMED.”


  • In all three cases, the appeals court ordered the trial courts to act on the final resolution of the cases “by July 17, 2015, and earlier if reasonably possible.”


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  • The damage to democracy is bad enough, but it is greatly compounded by the damage to American federalism. The federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate marriage, nor does it have a roving license to promote “dignity,” “autonomy,” or any of the other amorphous phrases contained in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion. If the Constitution granted anything like that kind of authority to the central government, the document would never have been ratified. In Federalist No. 45, James Madison assured readers that, under the proposed Constitution, the states would remain sovereign over “all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people” (emphasis added).


  • Fundamental rights are blunt instruments because they leave lawmakers very little room to accommodate practices inconsistent with such rights. In the new regime, courts will likely hold that states are prohibited from placing any burden on the right to same-sex marriage unless it furthers a compelling state interest. Indeed, Justice Kennedy’s opinion makes numerous references to Loving v. Virginia, the case that struck down bans on interracial marriage. Never mind that the opposite-sex nature of marriage spans all eras and all cultures, whereas the anti-miscegenation laws struck down in Loving are a relic of the relatively brief Jim Crow era; for the Court, both are expressions of rank prejudice. If traditional marriage has the same moral status as Jim Crow, then how can one compromise with its adherents?


  • Legal experts are dubious that religious freedom arguments will protect public officials who not only refuse to participate due to their own beliefs, but also decline to make accommodations so that others who don't object can serve the public instead.


     Two things can happen if a Kentucky clerk won't issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple: They can resign, or go to jail, said Sam Marcosson, a constitutional law professor at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.

  • Clerks and probate judges hold the keys to marriage in counties around the country, and in many rural areas, there are few alternatives for hundreds of miles. Couples turned away could seek a court order, and a clerk who still refuses to issue a license could be jailed for contempt, Marcosson said.


     They also risk criminal official misconduct charges, said Warren County Attorney Ann Milliken, president of the Kentucky County Attorneys Association. The misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, is committed when a public servant "refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office."

  • The office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway encouraged any couples who are turned away to seek private counsel. Miller and Roberts contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky to represent them.


  • Notably absent from this top five -- though statistically speaking not far behind -- are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (6%, down from 14% in May) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (6%, down slightly from 10%). Both had been top five candidates in each of the last two CNN/ORC polls, and Walker had been in the top five since February.

  • Looking at how each candidate fares among those subgroups, conservatives split their support between Bush and Trump, 12% back each. Likewise, among voters age 50 or older, 14% support Bush and 14% back Trump. By contrast, among Republicans under age 50, Bush is the only candidate in double-digits with 23%, Trump has just 9% support. And moderate or liberal Republicans back Bush over Trump 27% to 10%.

  • Trump's competitiveness among those older and more conservative Republicans also helps explain Walker's and Rubio's declines. In April, 16% of Republicans age 50 or older backed Rubio, 14% Walker. Now, Rubio has just 6% among this group and Walker has 7%. Trump grew from 2% in May to 14% now.

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  • Polling generally suggests that same-sex marriage is not a top issue for most voters. A February CNN/ORC survey found that just 17 percent of Americans said the issue of gay marriage would be “extremely important” in choosing a candidate to support for president — the lowest of any of nine issues tested.


    But digging deeper provides a different perspective. Beyond the importance voters place upon it directly, gay marriage may have symbolic power because of the messages it sends to voters about the parties.

  • In the Republican column, the coefficient for gay marriage is large and negative, meaning that supporting it substantially reduces the likelihood that someone will identify as Republican. In fact, based on the regressions, the only variable more predictive of Republican identification is whether a person believes health care coverage is the government’s responsibility. Gay marriage is more important than classic “wedge issues” like guns or abortion in predicting whether someone identifies as a Republican.


  • That suggests that there are voters Republicans aren’t getting because of gay marriage, and it’s why Republicans who have their eye on the general election, like Bush, want to move on from the subject.


  • County clerks in Southern states that had struck a defiant tone on same-sex marriage began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples Monday, with state leaders pledging to protect the religious liberties of county workers who oppose such unions.

  • But many counties across the region said they were not ready to comply with the Supreme Court ruling that declared marriage a constitutional right for all Americans, with at least some waiting for firmer guidance from their state attorneys general. And some state leaders advised county officials that they may opt out of their duties if they have a religious objection to same-sex marriage.

  • “I’m aware of no general legal doctrine or precedent holding that county or other public officials are exempt from abiding by rights articulated by the Supreme Court in the event the religious beliefs of those public employees are in conflict with the federal right,” said Daniel Pinello, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

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  • I actually thought it was a virtue that I couldn’t get married, and I still do. Because the state and society wouldn’t accept gay couples, the gay community had to come up with their own ways of codifying their existence. Wedding announcements for same sex couples ran in gay papers, some gay couples adopted each other so that there would be some official recognition of their union, and enterprising couples looking for a big party founded the “commitment ceremony” (which sounded like it would be held for someone involuntarily entering an asylum). More important, not having a standard set of behaviors to pattern ourselves after, gay relationships became more varied. Each couple had to talk about what they expected of each other, who was able to have sex with whom, and just what the boundaries and expectations were for this union.


    That’s what I loved about being gay. We didn’t need the state, the church, our parents, or Emily Post telling us how we should live our wedded lives; we were making it up as we went along and finding new configurations and arrangements that worked for each individual couple rather than a one-size-fits-all approach to marriage that is so stifling it has lead to the skyrocketing divorce rate.

  • I can’t help thinking about my mother’s Aunt Bunny, whose life-long partner Mary Ellen was an accepted part of the family, though no one ever spoke of their commitment, and they certainly didn’t have a ceremony announcing it to the world.


    Aunt Bunny and Mary Ellen worked out the definition of their own relationship and were committed until they each passed away. Christian and I have done the same thing, and I hope that what we have will be as real and long-lasting as what they did. We’re happy to have the right, and we’re also happy to not exercise it. We didn’t need anyone’s seal of approval before, and we don’t need it now. Maybe that will wear off, as gay marriage becomes more of the norm, and the outlaw appeal of opting out loses some of its cache. But right now, just because we’re able to do it doesn’t mean we have to and doesn’t mean that we want anyone pushing their strictures upon us. We’ve worked out just how we want our relationship to work, and, frankly, our covenant is none of your business.

  • All of this is worrisome, and all of it should be resisted, but none of it represents an existential threat to the church. The only real threat is surrender — caving to the cultural, legal, and political forces demanding conformity. The church can and will survive persecution. It will not survive faithlessness. This is both a theological and historical truth.
  • Defiance, however, means more than merely ensuring that your church or your Christian school doesn’t change its policies. It means more than still donating to your church even if the day comes when you can’t deduct the contribution. It means a willingness to lose your job, your prosperity, and the respect of your peers. It means saying no every time you are compelled to applaud or participate in the sexual revolution. It means standing beside fellow Christians who face persecution or job loss — not just shaking your head and thinking, “There, but for the grace of God . . . ” It means having the courage to proclaim an opposing message — even during mandatory diversity training, even when you fear you might lose your job, and even when you’re terrified about making your mortgage payment. And through it all, it means being kind to your enemies — blessing those who persecute you.


  • Even in the U.S., Christians who’ve not yet faced these tests likely will, and soon. When they do, it is the church’s responsibility to ensure that they not do so alone. As the church stands, it must remember that our present troubles are meaningless compared to the deadly challenges facing the church in the Middle East. And, always, we must remember who controls our destiny.

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  • I actually think the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday hurts the Republicans in 2016. I think a lot of people whose votes they need will throw up their hands and walk away. They see a lot of Republican politicians declaring it time to move on. They see 300 Republicans, a lot of them from George W. Bush’s administration, supporting the decision. These cultural conservatives think it is time to get out of Dodge while the getting is good.


    The 300 Republicans who wanted this case to go away as a political issue, might find that the base they have relied on goes away with it. They will not expand their base with black and hispanic voters as small government, cultural liberals. They will lose more of their base as they move away from cultural conservatism altogether.


    Here is what I would say, though, to the conservatives thinking of departing for broad fields, no neighbors, and a life of small town values. The wildfire is burning. But, whether you think it nature or God, nature has a way of exerting itself and wildfires eventually run out of fuel or get rained on.

  • American society has lost its mind. It has come unmoored. Deviant is normal and celebrated. Right is ridiculed. Evil is good and good is evil. These things sort themselves out over time.


  • In short, there is nothing live-and-let-live about the way this movement has operated the past few years, and to pretend otherwise requires a willful blindness. Now, with Obergefell, the full furies have been released.

    As Justice <!--  --> Samuel Alito<!--  --> suggested in his dissent, thousands of Americans who never dreamed that the issue would affect them will soon get highly personal lessons in how the legalization of same-sex marriage by judicial fiat threatens their schools, their institutions and even their livelihoods. This is not your father’s culture war.

    A century ago, another Supreme Court justice famously wrote that the Constitution “is made for people of fundamentally differing views.” How far we have traveled since.

    Those seeking to crush all dissent from the new judicial orthodoxy on marriage will not always win, not least because the right to the free exercise of religion—in bald contrast to Mr. Kennedy’s right to dignity—is in fact in the Constitution. Still, however individual cases may turn out, by foreclosing the option for democratic debate and compromise the Supreme Court has ensured a bitter national harvest.

  • I am to the left of the people I have been describing on almost all of these social issues. But I hope they regard me as a friend and admirer. And from that vantage point, I would just ask them to consider a change in course.

  • Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.

  • Consider a different culture war, one just as central to your faith and far more powerful in its persuasive witness.


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  • I’ve supported same-sex marriage ever since I first heard the idea. And when I became a political columnist in the early 2000s—despite being the “conservative” at a good-sized newspaper—I was the only one at the paper (as far as I can recall) who unequivocally backed gay marriage publicly. Though I wasn’t gullible enough to believe I’d be persuading many readers, I was gullible enough to believe that my allies in the cause were merely concerned with “equality.”


  • As we dig out from the avalanche of half-baked platitudes about “love being love” and watch alleged news organizations and the White House adorn themselves in cheerful rainbows, we can look forward to the self-righteous mobs that will be defaming anyone who is reluctant to embrace the state’s new definition of marriage. Love is love, except when a person loves their God and follows the principles of their faith, evidently.

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  • How many backers of theoretical gay marriage will regret the reality of gay marriage? As a matter of policy, it doesn’t matter much anymore. And I have no moral qualms about same-sex marriage itself. I don’t believe it destabilizes the institution or ruins the lives of children. Then again, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, either. If same-sex marriage isn’t just a pathway to happiness, freedom, and equality for gay citizens, but a way to pummel religious Americans into submission, it will be a disaster.


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  • Some have also suggested that polygamous marriage should have a greater claim to legitimacy than same-sex marriage since it is far more rooted in history. But that argument misses a key factor in the cultural shift on same-sex marriage: gender equality as a central value of modern society. Historical polygamy is strongly linked to male dominance and female subjection—while monogamy arguably formed the basis of the transition from patriarchal authority to companionate partnership that eventually paved the way for same-sex unions.


    Despite the dire warnings of gay marriage critics and the pleadings of polygamy supporters, the logic of same-sex marriage does not inevitably lead to multi-partner marriage. Slate columnist William Saletan has argued that the key number is not two but one: “You commit to one person, and that person commits wholly to you.” (The word “monogamy” is derived from the word root for “one,” not “two.”)


    Logic aside, the prospective success of multi-partner marriage depends on whether the public mood will shift to support it, the way it has for same-sex marriage. Will such an evolution happen? It would likely a much tougher uphill battle, not least because “I want to make a full commitment to the person I love” is a far more sympathetic claim than “my needs are unfulfilled in a sexually exclusive relationship.” If social liberals in the academy and the media decide to champion non-monogamy as the next frontier of liberation and equality, they could make some headway in promoting acceptance of such lifestyle choices. But the likely result would be a new conflagration in the culture wars—particularly since, this time around, these choices do affect other people’s marriages.

  • From income-tax breaks to estate planning benefits to Social Security and insurance benefits to the right to make medical decisions for one’s spouse, there are all kinds of carrots dangled in front of Americans as rewards for getting hitched. Instead of putting unmarried individuals on equal footing with married people, the government has chosen to appease the masses by blessing another category of monogamous couples with the privileges of marriage—those of the same sex.


    This is discrimination, plain and simple. It discriminates against single people who have no formal romantic relationships and a growing number of people who identify as polyamorous, who maintain multiple romantic relationships at once. The government has no business incentivizing any type of romantic or non-romantic behavior. It has no business rewarding us or penalizing us based on our relationship status.

  • Since we’ve discovered polyamory, we don’t care about new houses or new cars or vacations. What really makes us tick is the idea of falling in love, over and over and over again. Now, we have the best of both worlds: the security of a steady, stable partner, to have and to hold, and the sense of adventure and excitement at the thought of the unknown, the possibility of new romance around every corner, the butterflies in our stomachs we never thought we’d get the chance to feel again.


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