HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Forever embedded in American democracy by the founders, the Supreme Court of the United States is quite simply the "guardian of our constitution" and the final arbiter of the rules under which our society functions.
It's been 4 years since Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court decision granting same sex couples the right to marry. A right guaranteed by both the due process clause and the 14th Amendment.
This week’s panel Chris Tritico, FOX 26 legal analyst; Michelle Byington, conservative attorney; Craig Jackson, Professor, TSU Thurgood Marshall School of Law; Bob Price, Associate Editor of Breitbart Texas; Carmen Roe, Houston attorney; Judge Eric Andell, “Three Amigos” KSEV Radio.,discuss whether or note the conservative lean on the court will be come apparent in future rulings and whether the issue of religious freedom will be a stronger point.
WASHINGTON (AP) - June 17, 2019 The Supreme Court decided Monday against a high-stakes, election-year case about the competing rights of gay and lesbian couples and merchants who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings.
The justices handed bakers in the Portland, Oregon, area a small victory by throwing out a state court ruling against them and ordering judges to take a new look at their refusal to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
The high court's brief order directs appellate judges in Oregon to consider last term's Supreme Court ruling in favor of a baker from Colorado who would not make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The court ruled that baker Jack Phillips was subjected to anti-religious bias in the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's determination that he violated state anti-discrimination in refusing to bake the couple's wedding cake. The Oregon appellate ruling came before the court's decision in Phillips' case.
But the import of the order is that it keeps the case off the docket for a term that will end in June 2020 amid the presidential election campaign. The justices already have agreed to decide in their election-year session whether federal civil rights law protects people from job discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The larger issue weighing the rights of LGBT people against the religious objections of merchants remains unresolved. Another dispute involving a florist from Washington state who would not create flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding is headed back to the Supreme Court.
The high court took the same tack last year in the florist's case. Taking a second look at the case, the Washington Supreme Court concluded earlier in June that there was no animosity toward religion in court rulings that florist Barronelle Stutzman broke the state's anti-discrimination laws by refusing on religious grounds to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay couple. Stutzman owns Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington.
The justices could consider Stutzman's appeal in the fall.
The Oregon case had been in Supreme Court limbo for months, sometimes signaling behind-the-scenes negotiation over what to do. There were no noted dissents or other explanation for the delay in Monday's order.
The case involves bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, who paid a $135,000 judgment to the couple for declining to create a cake for them in 2013. The Kleins' bakery was Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon. It has since closed.
The dispute began when Rachel Bowman-Cryer went to the bakery with her mother in January 2013. They met with Aaron Klein, who asked for the date of the ceremony and the names of the bride and groom.
When told there was no groom, Klein said he was sorry but the bakery did not make cakes for same-sex weddings. According to documents from the case, Rachel and her mother left the shop, but returned a short time later. As Rachel remained in the car, in tears, her mother went in to speak with Klein.
The mother told Klein she had once thought like him, but her "truth had changed" when she had two gay children. Klein responded by quoting Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - June 29, 2019 Leaders of the Evangelical Covenant Church voted to defrock a Minneapolis pastor and expel his church for permitting gay marriage.
The Rev. Dan Collison had his credentials removed by a 77% vote at the Evangelical Covenant Church's annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, on Friday night.
Leaders also voted to expel Collison's First Covenant Church, a founding member of the 134-year-old denomination.
Collison, who became a pastor at First Covenant in downtown Minneapolis in 2009, told the Star Tribune he was "not surprised" but "saddened" after he was voted out.
"I feel grounded in the path we have chosen. I feel grateful for the pastors and churches who stood up for us. I feel compassion to those caught in the middle," Collison said.
The ECC says First Covenant is free to keep operating as a church and can keep its church building. First Covenant says Collison will continue serving as lead pastor.
A First Covenant staff member officiated at an off-site wedding of two women from the church worship band in 2014. It also put out a "love all" statement that said it welcomes members of the LGBTQ community to participate in the church, including serving in leadership roles. It also says it offers pastoral care, including weddings, "to all in our congregation without regard for ability, race, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation."
ECC leaders also voted Friday night to remove another pastor, Rev. Steve Armfield, a retired Michigan minister who officiated his son's same-sex wedding in Minneapolis. Armfield also was accused of violating the denomination's same-sex marriage ban.
Leaders had recommended that Collison, Armfield and First Covenant be forced out because they violated Evangelical Covenant Church policies on human sexuality, specifically "celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in heterosexual marriage."
"The ECC is mindful of the complexity, the sensitivity and the pain that matters of human sexuality can bring," said Michelle Sanchez, an ECC executive minister. "We talk about the desire for both freedom and responsibility as a denomination. Those two things were coming into tension in this case."
First Covenant Church was founded by Swedish immigrants in 1874. For decades it was one of ECC's largest churches nationally, until membership declines began in the 1970s. Today, the denomination has about 875 churches with 280,000 members nationally. It is headquartered in Chicago.
"I hope this historic church someday changes its mind and then returns to our family," ECC President John Wenrich said in a statement.
Armfield, an ECC pastor for 47 years, also was suspended in 2017. He had served an ECC church in Red Wing, Minnesota, in the 1970s before moving to Michigan. He officiated his son Matthew Armfield's wedding in 2017.
"It is so unbelievably upsetting to see my father, Dan, and my fellow members of First Covenant experience the hate, deceit and actions that go against the teachings of love and inclusion that Jesus Christ preached," said Matthew Armfield, who attends First Covenant.
Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com