Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Plaintiff in 1962 landmark school-prayer case reflects on his role

The United States Supreme Court in the 1962 case of Engel v. Vitale found unconstitutional the reciting of a prayer every morning in the public schools of the State of New York. The sole surviving Plaintiff of that case is Steven Engel, now 82 years old. The First Amendment Center has an article here where Mr. Engel recollects his role in the case and gives a view as to his role on some contemporary issues as well. Engel is opposed to moment of silence laws, vouchers and teaching intelligent design (he calls it a contradiction in terms). The article provides an interesting perspective from a plaintiff of one of the landmark Supreme Court cases removing prayer from the public schools.

Ohio Library Sued For Requiring Opposing Viewpoints On "Controversial" Speech In Its Community Room

Liberty Counsel filed suit today in Youngstown, Ohio, against the Newton Falls Library Board of Trustees after the group's application to use the Newton Falls Public Library Meeting Room was denied when library officials deemed the subject of traditional marriage to be "controversial." The suit argues that the Library Policy violates the First Amendment.

The Library Policy states that the Community Room is available to "nonprofit organizations" for "programs of a civic, cultural or educational nature." However, the Policy also states the following: "If a program deals with a controversial subject, then all sides of the issue must be presented." Liberty Counsel applied to use the Community Room for specific dates at the end of May and on June 6 or 13, 2005. The application stated that the meeting would present a biblical perspective on traditional marriage. The meeting would include prayer and scripture reading. Kerry McCrone, the library director, denied the application on May 23. With the denial, the library director sent back a copy of the Policy with language highlighted stating that if a program deals with a controversial subject, all sides of the issue must be presented. In other words, the Policy requires that any time a "controversial subject" is discussed, the opposing viewpoint must also be presented.

Library officials ought to know that a policy which purports to ban "controversial" speech is unconstitutional. Under the library policy, any member of the public may use the Community Room to conduct a meeting on any topic so long as it is not controversial, in which case the library requires the speaker to present the opposing view. This library policy would require meetings designed to show support for our troops to include anti-war protesters, like Cindy Sheehan. The government can not compel its citizens to violate their conscience in order to express their viewpoint.

Monday, August 29, 2005

AMA Journal Editor Criticized For Biased Fetal Pain Study

Following criticism, AMA Journal editor, Dr. Catherine DeAngelis , claims she was unaware that "unaware" that the lead author of the study is a former attorney for the abortion advocacy group NARAL. LifeNews.com has the entire story.

Same-Sex Marriage - Have the Best Interests of Children Been Considered?

Citizen Impact Canada, a group described as "dedicated to equipping Canadians for the effective expression of faith-based principles in the public square," has posted a very enlightening testimony on its Web site from a woman who grew up in a homosexual household. The testimony includes links to various sources and research to support the thesis that endorsement of same-sex marraige puts children in jeopardy. Here are some quotes from the article:

"My name is Dawn Stefanowicz, I grew up in a homosexual household during the 60's and 70's in Toronto exposed to many different people, the GLBT subcultures, and explicit sexual practices. I am currently writing a book, soon to be published, on this experience. As well, I was a witness at the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill C-250 (hate crimes), and I have presented at the local school board.

My biggest concern is that children are not being discussed in this same-sex marriage debate. Yet, won't the next step for some gay activists be to ask for legal adoption of children if same-sex marriage is legalized? I have considered some of the potential physical and psychological health risks for children raised in this situation. I was at high risk of exposure to contagious STD's due to sexual molestation, my father's high-risk sexual behaviours, and multiple partners. Even when my father was in what looked like monogamous relationships, he continued cruising for anonymous sex."

Click here for the entire article.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Faith-Based Abstinence Group Defunded

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will withdraw funding from "The Silver Ring Thing", a group that promotes abstinence education, stating that the program "includes both secular and religious components that are not adequately safeguarded." There are many news articles on this situation, including one from Agape Press. The Bush Administration's position is in direct conflict with the policy of promoting the involvement of faith-based organization in social services.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Colorado Library Changes Policy After Federal Lawsuit

A public library in Colorado recently changed their policy after Liberty Counsel's federal lawsuit. The library policy would not allow a group to use the library's meeting room unless the group also brought in an opposing viewpoint for any "controversial" topic. The government certainly does not have the right to require you to espouse a viewpoint with which you disagree. That is one of the fundamental principles of the First Amendment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mathew Staver on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews Tonight

Liberty Counsel President and General Counsel, Mat Staver is scheduled as a guest on Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC tonight. The topic is yesterday's bizarre ruling by the California Supreme Court stating that children can have two mothers. On the opposing side will be Joe Solomon of the Human Rights Campaign.

The show airs at 7:00 tonight and 3:00 a.m. tomorrow (ET). Transcripts of the show should be posted on MSNBC's web site within 24 hours.

To view our press release on the California Supreme Court ruling, go to http://lc.org/pressrelease/2005/nr082205.htm

Monday, August 22, 2005

California Supreme Court Rules That Children Can Have Two Lesbian Moms

Today the California Supreme Court ruled that children can have two moms. Liberty Counsel filed amicus briefs in all three of today’s cases on behalf of Kristina Sica. Liberty Counsel urged the court to protect the right of a biological mother to direct the upbringing of her children without interference from a nonparent, former same-sex partner.

In K.M. v. E.G., EG, with ova donated by KM, and inseminated by a sperm donor, gave birth to twins on December 7, 1995. KM signed the standard Consent Form for Ovum Donor, which states that she waives any claim to the children born from the donated eggs. At EG’s insistence, KM did not disclose to anyone that she was the donor. Nor did EG agree to permit KM adopt the child at birth. After the couple separated in March 2001, KM filed a petition to establish a parental relationship with the twin five-year old girls. The Supreme Court, in a 4-2 decision, found KM to be a parent. “A woman who supplies ova to be used to impregnate her lesbian partner, with the understanding that the resulting child will be raised in their joint home, cannot waive her responsibility to support that child. Nor can such a purported waiver effectively cause that woman to relinquish her parental rights.” Two of the justices filed dissenting opinions, criticizing the majority for creating new law that contradicted the plain language of the statute.

In Elisa B. v. Emily B., the Supreme Court adopted an “intent test” for determining parentage, concluding that a woman who agreed to raise children with her lesbian partner, supported her partner’s insemination, and received the resulting twin children into her home and held them out as her own, is considered a parent under the Uniform Parentage Act. As a result, Elisa B, as the non-biological partner, could not disclaim responsibility to financially support the children. The Court explained that there is no “reason why both parents of a child cannot be women.”

In Kristine H. v. Lisa R., the biological mother, while seven months pregnant, and the lesbian partner had obtained from the Superior Court a judgment declaring both of them parents of the unborn child. Two years after the child was born, the biological mother filed a petition to set aside the previous judgment. The lesbian partner filed a separate action for custody of the child. The California Supreme Court refused to invalidate the agreement. In this case, like the two companion cases, the Supreme Court explained that in California, a child can have two moms.

Today’s ruling defies logic and common sense. By saying that children can have two moms, the court has undermined the family. This ruling establishes a policy that essentially says moms and dads are mere surplus. Thousands of studies conclude that children need moms and dads, not two moms and two dads, but one of each. Gender does matter to children. Today’s ruling underscores the importance of amending California’s constitution to preserve marriage as one man and one woman. The people of California will not put up with such nonsense.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

San Diego Rejects Child Evangelism Fellowship

A preliminary injunction hearing is set for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. PT before federal district Judge Irma Gonzalez on Child Evangelism Fellowship’s (“CEF”) lawsuit against the San Diego City Schools. Liberty Counsel filed suit on behalf of CEF in June because the District charges discriminatory fees for use of school facilities by Good News Clubs, which are religious, after-school clubs for elementary school children sponsored by CEF.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hearing on California Marriage Amendment

A hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. PT tomorrow in Sacramento Superior Court before Judge Raymond Cadei on Liberty Counsel's lawsuit challenging the prejudicial title and summary issued by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer for the marriage amendment proposed by VoteYesMarriage.com. Liberty Counsel litigation attorney Mary McAlister will be presenting
the argument.

The lawsuit, filed on August 1, argues that the Attorney General has a statutory duty to prepare an unbiased, accurate and nonprejudicial title and summary that reflects the chief purpose and points of the proposed amendment. Since the Attorney General is personally in favor of same-sex unions, it appears his office prepared an inaccurate and prejudicial summarydesigned to confuse the voters.

In legal papers filed in response to the suit, the Attorney General has already admitted that the ballot summary his office prepared is not entirely accurate. Still, his office is going to defendthe flawed title and summary.

Knowing and Protecting Your Religious Freedom

Dr. Larry Bates and Chuck Bates, co-hosts of a talk radio program, News & Views, interviewed Liberty Counsel's President and General Counsel today about his new book, Eternal Vigilance -- Knowing and Protecting Your Religious Freedom. The program will be archived online for the next 40 days. The Conservative Book Club called Eternal Vigilance the “most powerful and comprehensive handbook ever written on knowing – and protecting – your religious freedom.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Protection for Non-Traditional "Gender Identities"?

According to Worldnet Daily, "A Pennsylvania appeals court has upheld an Allentown ordinance granting special non-discrimination rights to homosexuals and those with non-traditional 'gender identities.'" One need not imagine the implications. In 2003, a local union forced Carbon County,
Pa., to reinstate a "transgender" prison guard in light of the Allentown ordinance.

Law School Welcomes Second Entering Class

This week is new law student orientation for the second entering class at Liberty University School of Law. Last night we had the opportunity to meet some of the new students. Many of them expressed interest in practicing constitutional law after graduation. Later today, Liberty Counsel President and General Counsel Mat Staver will have the opportunity to address the entire entering class. Potential students (and anyone else interested in law) should read the archive of the Dean's Blog, where Dean Bruce W. Green has eloquently published "thoughts and observations on the progress of founding a new law school, comments and recommendations on preparing for law school, reading, and other insights."

Mat is also scheduled to appear on The O'Reilly Factor tonight, along with our client, Lisa Miller. This topic will be her case, which will impact how states treat custody issues in same-sex unions. The O'Reilly Factor airs at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. ET.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Appeals Court Upholds Pledge Law

The AP reports that: "An appeals court on Wednesday upheld a Virginia law that requires public schools to lead a daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, rejecting a claim that its reference to God was an unconstitutional promotion of religion." Of course, students retain their constitutional right to opt out of saying the Pledge.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

California Marriage Amendment

Today Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court challenging the prejudicial title and summary issued by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer for the marriage amendment proposed by VoteYesMarriage.com.

A hearing on the suit will soon be set. The Attorney General has a statutory duty to prepare a title and summary that is accurate, reflects the chief purpose and points, and is not prejudicial for or against the proposed amendment. He failed to carry out his responsibility in preparing this title and summary. Read Liberty Counsel's news release here.

On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled that a San Diego country club must allow domestic partners of members to play golf for free if it allows spouses to play for free. "Domestic partners registered under ... the current version of the (California) domestic partnership law are the equivalent of spouses for the purposes of the Unruh Act and a business that extends benefits to spouses it denies to registered domestic partners engages in impermissible marital status discrimination," said the Court's opinion.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Religious Freedom Updates

You may already receive our "Liberty Alert" email updates, which are designed to keep you on the cutting edge of issues involving religious liberty, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. You may not realize that the federal government also sends email updates about religious liberty. The U.S. Department of Justice publishes "Religious Freedom in Focus", a periodic email update about the DOJ's Civil Rights Division and its efforts to protect religious freedom. You can be added to the list by emailing Jacqueline.Greene@usdoj.gov. The June/July email overviews a number of cases where the Civil Rights Division intervened to protect religious freedom.