Two same-sex couples in Texas filed a federal lawsuit this week challenging the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2005. The couples argue that the ban unconstitutionally prevents them from enjoying the benefits of married couples, while the state's Attorney General Greg Abbott has vowed to vigorously defend the ban.
Lawyers for the couples said in court documents filed this week in the U.S. District Court in San Antonio that their clients are being unconstitutionally discriminated against by not being allowed to marry in the state, where in 2005, nearly 75 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. The lawsuit specifically argues that the June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act conflicts with state-to-state bans on same-sex marriage.
The two couples, Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin and Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano, are seeking an injunction to halt the state law banning same-sex marriage. "There is no rational basis, much less a compelling government purpose, for Texas to deny plaintiffs the same right to marry enjoyed by the majority of society," attorney Barry Chasnoff, who is representing that plaintiffs, said in a statement to the Associated Press. Currently, 16 states in the U.S. have legalized same-sex marriage, the most recent ones being Illinois and Hawaii. more >>
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled on Wednesday against the Christian owners of a bed and breakfast hotel who refused to allow a gay couple to stay.
"Sexual orientation is a core component of a person's identity which requires fulfillment through relationships with others of the same orientation," explained Lade Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, according to The Guardian.
"Homosexuals can enjoy the same freedom and the same relationships as any others. But we should not under-estimate the continuing legacy of those centuries of discrimination, persecution even, which is still going on in many parts of the world," Hale added in the decision. more >>
A family in New Jersey is arguing that a gay waitress' accusation that she was stiffed on a tip and written a message criticizing her gay lifestyle is completely false and fabricated. The family, who has asked to remain anonymous, has gone to a local media station to argue they did in fact leave the waitress a tip, and that they have the credit card statement to prove it.
Dayna Morales, an ex-Marine and server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, N.J., made headlines earlier in November when she claimed she had been stiffed on a tip from a family and received a note on the margin of the receipt that read: "I'm sorry but I cannot tip because I don't agree with your lifestyle and how you live your life," referencing her gay lifestyle.
Since Morales' story has gone public, she has received over $2,000 in donations from those seeking to right the alleged wrong of the alleged stingy diners, and she has indicated her plans to donate the money to the Wounded Warriors Project, a charity that provides services to severely wounded veterans. more >>
Hawaii's House lawmakers who voted against the state's bill that recently legalized same-sex marriage have received a stocking full of coal in the mail by an anonymous sender this past week.
The 19 members of the state's House of Representatives who voted against Hawaii Senate Bill 1 received in the mail last Thursday black boxes, each one containing a large lump of coal wrapped in a red pouch and nestled in a bed of green tissue paper. A note acompanying the strange delivery read: "You left a piece of your heart at the State Building when you voted on SB-1 [the marriage equality bill] […] Your lifestyle choice of judging others and ignorance is very unfortunate. Good luck in the next election."
The packages were tracked to their return address, which was listed as the Hilo Medical Center on the big island of Hawaii, but the center has denied any involvement with the prank. Since it is not technically illegal to send coal to state politicians, the legislators have said they have no intention pursuing the peculiar package's origins further. None of the state's senators who voted "no" on the bill received a package. more >>
After several stories of private business owners being forced to compromise their faith, a Christian organization in Oregon filed a ballot initiative aiming to protect business owners who refuse to participate in same-sex ceremonies from being served with lawsuits or other penalties.
The Oregon Family Council filed the proposal, entitled the Protect Religious Freedom Initiative, last week in response to the numerous lawsuits and complaints targeting businesses who denied service to couples planning same-sex ceremonies in the state and across the nation.
"A growing trend of silencing can be seen where business owners of faith or with conscientious objections are being forced to compromise their individual conscience rights or face harassment, persecution, penalties levied upon them by the state, and the possibility of losing their business for declining to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies," Oregon Family Council wrote in a news release announcing the initiative. more >>
A Virginia Christian college is considering reversing its policy that currently bans tenure-line faculty members from being in same-sex relationships.
Following a unanimous board order, Eastern Mennonite University President Loren Swartzendruber announced on Nov. 18 that the school would embark on a six-month "listening period" where students, faculty and staff would be asked to share input with the administration on whether the institution should reverse its ban.
During the period, "faculty will not be penalized for violating the policy, meaning some professors in same-sex relationships could keep their jobs or be hired," reported Insider Higher Ed. The board will subsequently vote per the recommendation of EMU's president. more >>