A Judge Was Asked To Perform A Same-Sex Marriage. How He Responded Got Him Attacked Immediately

A judge in Toledo, Ohio, awaits word from an ethics board, appointed by the state’s supreme court, after declining to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony earlier this month.

Municipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell, 71, informed a lesbian couple through his bailiff that he would not be able to officiate over their marriage ceremony. The bailiff told the couple the judge didn’t perform “these types of marriages,” according to Carolyn Wilson, 51, one of the woman to be married.

The Toledo Blade reports that after about 45 minutes, the two were married when another judge, William M. Connelly, Jr., stepped in.

“You wait so long for this opportunity,” Wilson said of the ability to marry. “Because we wanted to handle it civilly, we didn’t think there would be any issue at all.”

The situation was “embarrassing” and “put a damper on the day,” she told the Toledo Blade, especially since McConnell didn’t come out to meet her and her partner. (The other woman said she didn’t want to be identified because of her employer.)

In a statement released two days later, Judge McConnell explained his actions:

On Monday, July 6, I declined to marry a non-traditional couple during my duties assignment. The declination was based upon my personal and Christian beliefs established over many years.

I apologize to the couple for the delay they experienced and wish them the best. The court has implemented a process whereby same-sex marriages will be accommodated. I will continue to perform traditional marriages during my duties assignment.

I am also seeking an advisory opinion from the Supreme Court of Ohio at this time as to whether or not I can opt out of the rotation. Upon receipt of the advisory opinion from the Supreme Court, I will abide by its decision.

Ohio Supreme Court Spokesman Bret Crow said McConnell’s “request would need to go before a board appointed by the court that handles conduct and ethics matters involving judges,” the Associated Press reports.

Nick Komives, executive director for Equality Toledo, said the organization is looking for an apology from Judge McConnell.

“They didn’t deserve to be humiliated; they didn’t deserve to be inconvenienced,” he said of the couple. “That’s just wrong, and we won’t tolerate it. It is his duty to perform this ceremony, and if he’s not willing to perform his duties, he needs to step down.”

Judge McConnell cannot be dismissed as a right wing, intolerant judge. He is a Democrat who has been a leader in Toledo’s NAACP, Urban League and Legal Aid Society. His passion for the law was borne out of his experience living through the Civil Rights era. (Judge Connelly, who stepped in to perform the ceremony, is a Republican).

Lucas County Democratic Party Chairman Joshua Hughes told the Toledo Blade that the party was “disappointed” with Judge McConnell’s refusal to marry the couple.

“Notwithstanding Judge McConnell’s long history of service to this community, it is disappointing that Ms. Wilson and her wife were delayed in the exercise of this right by Judge McConnell,” Hughes said in a written statement.

The Toledo Blade reports:

This isn’t the first problem in implementing same-sex marriages in Lucas County.

Charles Shaffer, county probate court administrator, said the committee that oversees three rotating ministers who perform weddings in the Lucas County Courthouse will discuss how to handle two of the ministers, The Rev. John Oliver and the Rev. General Frank Sherman, who have said they will not perform same-sex weddings.

The Rev. Sandra Frost, the third minister, was called in June 26, the day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationally, to marry any same-sex couples who applied for a license. She has been “on-call” to perform such ceremonies when the other two are scheduled, Mr. Shaffer said.

Caleb Dalton, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Daily Signal that governments should balance the First Amendment free exercise of religion interests of Judge McConnell and others against the state’s requirement to perform same-sex marriages.

“The ability of the couple to find someone to solemnize their ceremony in 45 minutes illustrates that there is no substantial government interest in forcing this judge to violate his sincerely held beliefs,” he said.

Dalton, litigation counsel with the Christian legal organization based in Arizona, added:

We have over 200 years of experience of balancing religious beliefs with other important legal and social issues, and every American, whether they’re a public official or a private party, should be able to live and work according to their beliefs. Permitting a judge, a clerk, or any other official to refer a public service to another willing public servant doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights. And yet forcing people to participate in what they view as an inherently religious ceremony would trample on hundreds of years of Western civilization’s development of freedom and tolerance of diverse views.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Liberals Who Tried To Shut Down Scott Walker Just Got Smacked Down In A Big Way

The Wisconsin Supreme Court gave Governor Scott Walker a victory just as his presidential campaign launched earlier this week.

In a sweeping 4-2 decision, the court ruled that the governor’s 2012 recall-election campaign and conservative groups had not violated the state’s campaign finance laws. Additionally, justices chastised prosecutors in the case for the tactics they used in conducting the “unconstitutional John Doe investigation.”

As reported by Western Journalism, since Scott Walker took office in 2011, he and his supporters have faced the state’s controversial “John Doe investigations” initiated by Democrats, which have been described by conservatives as witch hunts in search of a crime.

The tactics used in these investigations have often involved pre-dawn home raids by armed police officers, where computers, phones, and documents are seized by the state. Those who are the subject of the investigations are prohibited, under force of law, from speaking about it to even friends and family.

A John Doe investigation, according to the statute, is a legal proceeding that a judge authorizes to investigate “any conduct that is prohibited by state law and punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.” It is like a grand jury investigation; but rather than falling on a jury of one’s peers to determine if there is likely criminal activity warranting prosecution, the entire process is overseen by a judge.

Conservatives have charged Democrats with hand-picking judges known to be sympathetic to their cause to green-light investigations into Walker and others.

The present case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court concerned whether the Walker campaign had unlawfully coordinated with conservative groups, including the Wisconsin Club for Growth, during his 2012 recall campaign. Walker was the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall campaign.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, writing for the majority, found that collaboration between issue groups and campaigns was not illegal. Further, he ordered prosecutors to return all records they seized and destroy any copies they made of them.

The majority ruled that the campaign finance statute is over-broad and vague, and therefore impinging on the First Amendment rights of free speech and association.

Gableman added that the case gave the court “an opportunity to re-endorse its commitment to upholding the fundamental right of each and every citizen to engage in lawful political activity and to do so free from the fear of the tyrannical retribution of arbitrary or capricious governmental prosecution. Let one point be clear: our conclusion today ends this unconstitutional John Doe investigation.”

The justice further chastised prosecutors for their use of “pre-dawn, armed, paramilitary-style raids.”

At a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Thursday, Walker responded to the ruling, saying he was happy the Supreme Court sided with his campaign. “As folks in Wisconsin’s will tell you, I’ve gone through these battles so many times. I don’t get too up or too down, I’m pretty even keeled in all this,” the Washington Post reported him as saying. “So we’re pleased; it’s just one more thing that allows us to take a step moving forward.”

According to the Journal Sentinel, “Francis Schmitz, the special prosecutor leading the investigation, said he was reviewing whether to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. He could ask the nation’s high court to review Gableman’s and Prosser’s decisions to stay on the case or how the majority interpreted the First Amendment right to free speech.”

“The decision represents a loss for all of the citizens of Wisconsin — independents, Democrats and Republicans alike,” Schmitz said in a statement. “It defies common sense that a Wisconsin resident of average means who gives $25 to a campaign has his or her name publicly reported under the law but, according to this decision, someone who gives, for example, $100,000 to a group which closely coordinates with the same campaign can remain anonymous.”

David French, who has reported extensively on the topic of Wisconsin’s John Doe investigations for National Review, writes: “The abuse has been stopped, but this victory — important as it is — will be hollow indeed if there is no accountability. For the raid victims and their families, justice is still long-delayed. If prosecutors do not face any real consequences for their actions, then justice — ultimately — will be denied.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Bill Of Rights’ Most Important Liberty: Religion

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, listed non-negotiable, constitutionally guaranteed freedoms in specific order, unchanged since 1791. James Madison, its chief architect, listed freedom of religion first; then speech, press, assembly, petition, right to keep and bear arms, and freedom from forced quartering of military members in one’s home.

Freedom from civil government overreach and interference was essential to establishing sustainable civil order and a just rule of law; the first ten amendments — only 468 words — were added to protect what the Founders considered “preexisting rights” from federal government “encroachment.”

Freedom of religion was un-mistakenly listed as the first freedom of the Bill of Rights. And the term “religion” was well-understood from its original context, derived from the State of Virginia’s Bill of Rights. In Article 1, Section 16, Virginia’s Bill of Rights defines “religion” as “the duty which we owe to our Creator… the manner of discharging… [of which] can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.”

(Many significant words and phrases used to write the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution were selected from preexisting documents and individual state constitutions’ declarations of rights, which provided more detailed definitions.)

Virginia’s Bill of Rights legally defined “religion” as a means to secure freedom from government coercion, which enabled a foundational protection for other freedoms.

The Bill of Rights, by defining religion, allows people to believe and act by “reason or conviction” without fear of being coerced to violate their “dictates of conscience.” In this way, religion is jurisdictional — the Bill of Rights ensures that the government cannot force a citizen to violate his/her conscience.

Madison articulated in Memorial and Remonstrance:

The Religion…of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men…cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator… This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.

Madison believed that citizens were first “subject[s] of the Great Governor of the Universe” who must first make their “allegiance to the Universal Sovereign” before they could consider being a “member of Civil Society.”

He considered religion first and foremost “immune” from any and all civil authorities. The wording used for the First Amendment’s two religion clauses was specifically straightforward: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” All matters of religion were exempted from civil authority.

Madison asserted:

…in matters of Religion, no mans right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.

As a legal and jurisdictional matter, Madison asserted that all men are first subject to God as an immutable fact based on the Christian worldview (Mark 12:17, Psalm 24:1). It was imperative to specify that no government could ever have authority over one’s relationship with God. Understanding that even governmental authority itself originates from God (Romans 13:1), moral standards could not be mutually exclusive from rule of law.

Furthermore, freedom of conscience, under the jurisdiction of freedom of religion, established the next four freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. They include freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peacefully assemble, and freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances. These four freedoms granted constitutional security for “residual sovereignty” of the people, not the government.

The Bill of Rights ensured freedom of religion as the foundation for all other liberties. No other amendments would be possible if freedom of religion had not first been guaranteed as an unalienable right.

BruceW

This column was first published on Constitution.com.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Gun Shop In The Heart Of Lib Land Could Face THIS Because Its Name ‘Offends’ Locals

Image for representational purposes only.

A small gun shop in downtown St. Croix Falls, Wis., could soon come under pressure from the city council to change its name that a number of residents have said they find offensive — the store’s name is F-Bomb Ordnance.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the newly opened retail store with its website printed on the windows — F-Bomb.net — has drawn complaints that the euphemism for a certain expletive isn’t appropriate for a public area.

“During an unusually packed-house city council meeting last week, about a dozen people spoke out against the signage, Mayor Brian Blesi said.

“‘Residents have expressed that our nuisance ordinance contains language that this graphic violates,’ he said, adding that the city council will take up the issue during a meeting Monday,” according to the Pioneer Press article.

One of the owners of the store whose name has caused an explosion of controversy in the small Wisconsin town is Dr. Geoff Gorres. The newspaper quotes him as defending the name of his business as a First Amendment right.

“…’we don’t control how other people are offended,’ he said. ‘There are a lot of things that offend me in America, and I just have to deal with them,’” reports the Pioneer Press.

Coverage of the controversy on TheBlaze notes that Dr. Gorres says the store won’t be moving or changing its name.

…Gorres, who is also an emergency room physician and a U.S. Navy veteran, said the fact that his shop sells firearms “absolutely” is a factor in the controversy. He clarified, “If the name of our business was F-bomb Records, I don’t think that we’d be having this discussion.”

The store’s website cites the close association the business enjoys with a number of retired military and active law enforcement personnel.

Our principal members are military veterans or active law enforcement officers – one of our members is head of the Response/SWAT team in the region locally. Another was a Air Force Special Tactics Veteran. We have a network of law enforcement and military members we’ve been supplying for years….

CBS Minnesota notes that the discussion at Monday night’s city council meeting in the small western Wisconsin town with some 2,000 residents will center on the store’s possible violation of a certain ordinance.

“The question is, ‘Can that be displayed prominently on our main street?’ and so that’s the question really in front of the city council,” [Mayor] Blesi said.

On Monday, the city council will decide if having the name on the business violates the city’s nuisance ordinance.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Religious Freedom, Where Art Thou?

The ramifications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage two weeks ago extend far beyond the institution of marriage itself. With the ruling, people of faith are perhaps intentionally set in the crosshairs of an intolerant, fascistic secular movement on the left that proscribes adherence to religion-based tenets which are thought to be antithetical to their secular, politically correct orthodoxy.

Government treatment of religious institutions will inevitably change as a result of the ruling. During oral arguments before the court in April, Solicitor General Donald Verrelli, arguing the administration’s case for same-sex marriage, responded to an inquiry from Justice Samuel Alito verifying the religious institution conundrum. Verrilli responded: “I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.”

That issue is rearing its ugly head with increasing frequency. A Christian cake-baker in Oregon, citing faith as justification, declined baking a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. As a result, the state Bureau of Labor slapped the proprietors, Aaron and Melissa Klein, with a $135,000 penalty for declining the request. The nuptials claimed they had been “mentally raped” by the Kleins’ refusal to bake their cake. The state has also issued a gag order, preventing the cake shop proprietors from talking about the case. It was not enough for the state of Oregon to deny free exercise of the Kleins’ religion; with the gag order, the state stripped them of their freedom of speech as well.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s happening all over the country. Some church ministers are now reluctant even to express explicit support for traditional marriage or denounce homosexuality from the pulpit, for fear of recrimination from the Rainbow Mafia and excoriation from the mainstream media. As fundamental as the traditional definition of marriage is to society, and to biblical dogma, this is tantamount to restricting discourses on the Decalogue from the rostrum.

It seems there’s a segment of the population that is so intent on making sure the whole world is tolerant toward their favored group, that they’re willing to be intolerant themselves toward those of disparate convictions. In other words, they themselves are bigoted toward those to whom they allege bigotry. And fearful that the Christian world may “force their will” upon them, the Rainbow fascists have no compunction about forcing their ideology on the rest of society. Like William F. Buckley said years ago, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

If tolerance is a virtue, it is one that should be demanded of both sides of an issue, not just the politically incorrect one. And if bigotry (intolerance of those who hold different opinions) is to be abhorred by society, it must be equally abhorred by the politically correct crowd.

And even though the state of Oregon denies it, there is this pesky “guaranteed” right of free exercise of religion. Unlike the assumed “right” to marry whoever or whatever one desires to, free exercise of religion is actually written into the Constitution with the First Amendment. But it’s no wonder so many people, even government officials in Oregon, are so ignorant of the Bill of Rights. A recent poll indicates that only 19% of the American populace knows that the Constitution guarantees free exercise of religion.

So now with the strident, politically correct movement afoot across the fruited plain, and the fascistic, bullying enforcement of the Rainbow totalitarians, assumed (not even implicit) rights trump guaranteed (explicit) rights embedded in our nation’s founding documents! And yet to think these elected officials place their left hands on the Bible, raising the right arm to the square, and solemnly swear to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The hypocrisy and duplicity is so conspicuous that only in the face of such a constitutionally illiterate population could they assume to have any credibility whatsoever.

The Liberty Institute published a report last year, before all of these latest assaults on religious liberty, titled “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion,” which documented over 1,200 recent cases of hostility toward people and institutions of faith. These battles are not being waged by the right, but by the left, that faction of the political spectrum that avers such tolerance and “open-mindedness.” You know, that segment that is so fearful of the guaranteed right of freedom to exercise one’s religion that they force their own secular religion of political correctness upon those whom they denounce excoriatingly.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in the Court’s ruling, stated: “Those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” Chief Justice John Roberts, in the minority statement, acknowledged the imminent dilution of religious rights resulting from the Court’s ruling. He wrote: “The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise‘ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”

In an age where presumed rights trump assured constitutional rights, we can only assume the bullying from the left will accelerate as their own bigotry continues to eviscerate religious freedom. Perhaps Christian churches should adopt some of the tenets of Islam, like the death penalty for sodomy; for the secular left displays much greater tolerance toward Islam than Christianity.

When presumed “rights” take supremacy over explicit, constitutionally assured rights, we are no longer a nation governed by the rule of law. We have morphed to a fascistic, bullying system ruled by the capricious expectations of the prevailing politically correct crowd, bolstered by judicial fiat and enforced by a seemingly omnipotent government. The secular left has won another round, but the assault against our constitutionally assured liberties is far from over!

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth