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Religious Tolerance logo

North America attainment of gay marriage
(a.k.a. same-sex marriage, SSM), LGBT equality etc.

Part 2 of 3 parts:

2015-AUG to 2016-JAN inclusive:
Gay marriages became available
across North America, almost (cont'd).
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We use the acronym "SSM" to represent "same-sex marriage."
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons
and transsexuals. "LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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During the second half of 2015, there were four main U.S. locations where same-sex couples initially had difficulties obtaining marriage licenses:

  1. Kentucky: Kim Davis, the county clerk in Rowan County, KY violated her oath of office and the U.S. Constitution by refusing to issue marriage licenses to all couples. She based this decision on her conservative Christian faith which views same-gender sexual activity as an "abomination" that is strongly rejected by God. In doing so, she either ignored her Christian obligation to follow the Golden Rule, or did not think that it applied in her case.

    In common with most other conservative Christians, she felt that the U.S. Constitution guaranteed her the religious freedom to discriminate against sexual minorities. Unlike most county clerks, she interpreted her signature on a marriage license as indicating her legal, moral, and religious approval of the couple's subsequent marriage. Most clerks and constitutional experts regard a signature as merely indicating that the couple has met the legal requirements to marry in the state. After she refused to obey a direct court order to issue licenses, she spent a few days in jail, and quickly became a hero to those who oppose marriage equality. The matter was quickly settled with a compromise arrangement. Deputy clerks in her office are now routinely signing marriage licenses in her place.

  2. Alabama: County clerks in nine of the state's 76 counties refused, on religious grounds, to issue marriage licenses to all couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex. Similar to Kim Davis in Kentucky, they violated their oath of office and either ignore or discount their obligation as conservative Christians to follow the Golden Rule. Same-sex couples in those counties have had to travel a short distance to an adjacent county to obtain their marriage licenses.

  3. American Samoa: Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, writing for Lambda Legal, said that it is important to understand that the people of American Samoa are U.S. nationals. They are not U.S. citizens. 1

    As nationals, individuals and couples in the territory do not necessarily enjoy all the same freedoms and guarantees as do U.S. citizens. 2,3 Since early 2015-JUL, he territorial government has been considering how it will respond to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell. It may require a court case to resolve the situation. Meanwhile, it seems that one part of the High Court's ruling may commit the Government of American Samoa to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who have been legally married elsewhere and who returned or moved to American Samoa. However, this would also probably require a lawsuit in order to obtain clarity.



  4. Native American jurisdictions: Some do not recognize gay marriages, and thus do not issue licenses to same-sex couples. However, couples can obtain licenses and marry elsewhere in North America. Since there are more than 600 such jurisdictions in the U.S., it will probably take many years -- perhaps generations -- to resolve the issue of marriage equality there.

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2015-DEC-19: The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), a federal bill to legalize discriminatory acts against the LGBT community:

Senator. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced FADA to the federal House as H.R. 2802 on 2015-JUN-17. It states:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage."

Under the existing First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, governments are prohibited from prosecuting people because of their beliefs about anything. Thus the word "believes" in the act is redundant. It may have been added in order to frighten people into thinking that, if the bill is not passed, that the federal governent will start to prosecute people because of their beliefs.

The core of the bill is the word "acts." If FADA is passed into law, then any act of discrimination against one or more members of the LGBT community would be allowed if it involves same-sex marriage or same-gender sexual activity by a couple who is unmarried, and if the discriminatory action is based upon the perpetrator's sincere anti-LGBT beliefs. In other words, it is a "freedom to discriminate" bill. It is not a "freedom to hate" bill because freedom to hate any group is already guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Six Republican candidates for the presidency have signed a pledge sponsored by Heritage Action for America , American Principles Project, and FRC Action which is the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council. 8,9 The pledge states:

"If elected, I pledge to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) and sign it into law during the first 100 days of my term as President." 11

The six candidates are: "Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum." 11

In addition, four candidates did not sign the pledge but have expressed public support for FADA publicly. They are: Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, and Donald Trump. 11

Three conservative non-profits, all of whom have been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, have supported FADA. They are the Family Research Center, the American Family Association, and Liberty Counsel Action. In addition, the National Organization for Marriage has also indicated their support.

Curiously, in their effort to promote the freedom to discriminate against the LGBT community, these religiously-based group are overlooking the Ethic of Reciprocity. This is commonly called the Golden Rule. It states that a person should treat other people as that person would wish to be treated in return. If one ollows the Golden Rule, then they will not discriminate against others on the basis of the latters' skin color, religion, race, nationality, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, degree of disability, etc. It is a foundational rule of behavior that Yeshual of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) required of his followers. Various wordings of the Golden Rule appear in all of the major world religions, and in philosophical thought.

By early 2016-FEB, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum had dropped their bid for the presidency, leaving four contenders in as signatories to the FADA pledge.

Kira Lerner, writing for Think Progress, said:

"If it become law, FADA would prohibit the federal government from stopping discrimination by people or businesses that believe 'marriage is or should be recognized [only] as the union of one man and one woman' or that ''sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage'." 9

Maggie Gallagher, Senior Fellow at American Principles Project, wrote:

"It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act is rapidly becoming a signature issue that unifies the GOP. ... Real, concrete protections for gay marriage dissenters appear to be just one election victory away." 9

The American Civil Liberties Union referred to FADA as:

“... a Pandora’s Box of taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples and their children." 10

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2016-JAN-06: Subsequent conflict in Alabama:

As noted above, nine counties in Alabama had been refusing to issue marriage licenses to all couples after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land. The other 58 counties in Alabama were routinely issuing licenses to qualified couples -- both those of the same-sex and opposite-sex. This caused a relatively minor inconvenience to couples in the nine counties who had to travel to an adjacent county to obtain a license.

On 2015-JAN-06, Chief Justice Roy S. Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court issued an administrative order stating that judges in all counties must stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. His order was generally ignored. One or two additional county clerks temporarily refused to issue such licenses, but reversed their decision by the next day. More details.

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2016-JAN-14: A New York State Appeals Court denied a business the right to discriminate against same-sex couple:

Cynthia and Robert Gifford own a farm in Schaghticoke, north of Albany in upstate NY. They grow crops there and have rented parts of the farm to the public as a venue for various events, which included religious and secular wedding ceremonies as well as wedding receptions. During late 2012, they refused to allow a same-sex couple to rent the facilities for their wedding. The couple complained under New York State's Human Rights Laws. An appeals court determined that the farm owners had violated the human rights of the same-sex couple, and fined the company that owns the farm. A detailed description of the case is available.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, "No Same-Sex Couple Left Behind: SCOTUS Ruling for the Freedom to Marry Would Apply with Equal Force to U.S. Territories," Lambda Legal, 2015-APR-24, at: http://www.lambdalegal.org/
  2. Fili Sagapolutele, "American Samoa Questions If Gay Marriage Ruling Applies To Territory," Huffington Post, 2015-JUL-10, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
  3. "American Samoa questions US gay marriage laws," SpasifikMag.com, 2015-Autumn edition, at: http://www.spasifikmag.com/
  4. Michael Stone, "Oregon Judge Found ‘Unfit’ After Refusing To Marry Same-Sex Couples," Patheos, 2016-JAN-28, at: http://www.patheos.com/
  5. Kathryn Blaze Carlson, "The true north LGBT: New poll reveals landscape of gay Canada," The National Post, 2012-JUL-06, at: http://news.nationalpost.com/
  6. "The first legal gay marriage is now certified. January 14, 2001: signed, sealed, delivered," Equal Marriage, 2004-JUN-30, at: http://www.samesexmarriage.ca/
  7. Adam Taylor, "What was the first country to legalize gay marriage?" The Washington Post, 2015-JUN-26, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/
  8. "FRC Action Praises Presidential Candidates for Pledging Support to the First Amendment Defense Act," PR Newswire, 2015-DEC-18, at: http://www.prnewswire.com/
  9. Kira Lerner, "Six GOP Candidates Pledge To Sign Anti-Gay Discrimination Into Law," Think Progress, 2015-DEC-19, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
  10. "The 'First Amendment Defense Act' Is The Next Attack on LGBT Rights," Media Matters, 2015-JUL-28, at: http://mm4a.org/
  11. "Six Presidential Candidates Pledge to Sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA)," American Principles Project, undated, at:https://americanprinciplesproject.org/
  12. "Gov. Wolf asks legislators to send him LGBT bills," Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 2016-JAN-28, at: http://www.post-gazette.com/
  13. Maeve Reston, "At Ted Cruz event, Phil Robertson calls gay marriage 'evil'," CNN, 2016-JAN-31, at: http://edition.cnn.com/

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Copyright © 2015 & 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2016-JAN-09
Latest update: 2016-FEB-10
Author: B.A. Robinson
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