Missouri Family E-News

January 26, 2016

                         
NY Couple Fined for Standing By
Their Faith  

A New York State appeals court has upheld a fine of $13,000 against a couple who declined to host a same-sex union ceremony on their property.

Cynthia and Robert Gifford own Liberty Ridge Farm in rural Albany.  They renovated an old historic barn on their property.  The second and third floors of the barn are their living quarters.

The Giffords have made the first floor of their barn available for community events and celebrations, such as fall festivals, family reunions, and wedding receptions.

In September of 2012 Cynthia Gifford was contacted by a lesbian "couple" who wanted to hold their same-sex union ceremony and reception at Liberty Ridge Farm.

After discussing and praying about the issue, the Giffords informed the women that  they could not host the ceremony, because it would violate their religious convictions.  They could not live with the thought of an immoral ceremony being held not only on their property, but in their own home.

The lesbian "couple" filed a complaint with the New York Division of Human Rights, alleging that the Giffords had violated the state's public accommodations law.  That law includes a prohibition of discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

The Human Rights Division found the Giffords guilty of "sexual orientation" discrimination.  They were fined $10,000 and ordered to pay $3,000 in damages to the lesbian "couple" for their "mental pain and suffering."  They were also ordered to provide "sensitivity training" to their employees.

The Giffords appealed that decision in state court, and now the appellate court has upheld the judgement and the punitive fine against the Giffords.  The court said the fine was justified because of "the emotional injuries" the lesbian women had experienced.

Caleb Dalton, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, castigated the ruling.  "All Americans should be free to live and work according to their beliefs, especially in our own backyards."

"The government went after this family's freedom and their ability to make a living simply for adhering to their faith on their own property.   This is unwarranted and unconstitutional intrusion on their property," Dalton added.

ADF attorney James Trainor says this is an egregious case of "compelled speech."  "The Constitution prohibits the government from forcing anyone to help communicate messages that conflict with their core beliefs.  The Giffords welcome all people to the farm, but not all messages or events."

This is only the latest instance of totalitarian government behavior against Christians that includes exceedingly harsh fines.

In the most notorious case, an Oregon couple who owned a bakery were fined $135,000 by state labor officials because they declined to bake and decorate a cake for a same-sex ceremony. 

Once again this session the "gay rights" lobby is pushing for the passage of legislation in the Missouri General Assembly amending the state's anti-discrimination statutes.  These bills would also add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Missouri public accommodations law.

We encourage you to contact your legislators in Jefferson City and urge them to oppose bills that would make criminals out of Christians who stand by their convictions.

You can contact your state representative by using this link:
Missouri House

You can contact your state senator by clicking this link:
Missouri Senate
  

Listen to the Broadcast Version of the Jeff City Update online at 
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U. S. Supreme Court
Refuses to Revisit
Roe v. Wade Decision

The United States Supreme Court has rebuffed a challenge by a federal appellate court to reconsider its Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand.  The High Court refused to hear an appeal of lower court rulings striking down an Arkansas law known as the Human Heartbeat Protection Act.

The law was enacted by the Arkansas Legislature in 2013 over the veto of the state's pro-abortion governor at the time.  The statute prohibited a physician from performing an abortion if a heartbeat can be detected in a preborn child whose gestation is 12 weeks or greater.  Abortionists were required under the law to perform tests to determine "whether the fetus that a pregnant woman is carrying possesses a detectible hearbteat."

The law would have had the effect of prohibiting virtually all abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy.  A heartbeat can be detected in an unborn child as early as 22 days into a pregnancy.

The Arkansas law was a direct challenge to the Supreme Court's original Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 striking down state abortion restrictions,  and its Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992.  That decision reaffirmed the right of a woman to choose to obtain an abortion prior to the point at which the unborn child is deemed viable, and thus able to survive outside the womb. 

In the Casey decision, the Supreme Court declared that "a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability...Viability marks the earliest point at which the State's interest in fetal life is constitutionally adequate to justify a legislative ban on nontherapeutic abortions."

The Arkansas Heartbeat law was first struck down in March of 2014 by U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright, who ruled that it "impermissibly infringes a woman's Fourteenth Amendment right to elect to terminate a pregnancy."  In May of last year, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Webber's decision, saying they were bound by precedent to do so.

However, in its ruling, the 8th Circuit judges took the highly unusual stance of questioning the Supreme Court's abortion jurisprudence.  "Medical and technological advances along with mankind's ever increasing knowledge of prenatal life since the Court decided Roe v. Wade and Casey make application of Casey's viability standard more difficult..." the opinion states.

"Because a viability standard necessarily calls for a case-by-case determination and changes over time based on medical advancements, legislatures are better suited to make the necessary factual judgements in this area...To substitute its own preference to that of the legislature is not the proper role of a court," the opinion concludes.

Two months later, in July of last year, the same three 8th Circuit judges once again rebuked the Supreme Court for its constitutionally unsupported decisions on abortion.  The appellate panel affirmed another decision striking down a Heartbeat Bill in North Dakota similar to that in Arkansas, saying "United States Supreme Court precedent does not permit us to reach a contrary result."
The three appellate judges then proceeded to excoriate the Supreme Court's murky rationale in abortion cases.  "Although controlling Supreme Court precedent dictates the outcome in this case, good reasons exist for the Court to reevaluate its jurisprudence...The Court's viability standard has proven unsatisfactory because it gives too  little consideration to the 'substantial state interest in potential life throughout pregnancy,'" the 8th Circuit judges wrote.

"The Court has tied a state's interest in unborn children to developments in obstetrics, not to development in the unborn...By taking [these decisions] away from the States the Court has also removed the states' ability to account for advances in medical and scientific technology that have greatly expanded our knowledge of prenatal life, including that a baby develops sensitivity to external stimuli and to pain much earlier than was believed [when Roe was decided]," the appellate panel further wrote.

"Roe's assumption that the decision to abort a baby will be made in close consultation with a woman's private physician is called into question by declarations from women who have had abortions,"  the judges further wrote.  "These declarations state...that women may not be given information about the abortion procedure or its possible complications, and that the abortion clinics may function 'like a mill'...These declarations also show abortions may cause adverse consequences for the woman's health and well-being."

It is notable that the Supreme Court chose to ignore the knowledgeable and instructive challenge of the 8th Circuit Judges without any comment whatsoever.  They let stand the lower court rulings striking down the Arkansas Heartbeat law.  In so doing, they leave the United States with the most liberal abortion laws in the world.  The American holocaust of the unborn will continue unabated.

The posture of the Supreme Court is not only at odds with medical science, but with the overwhelming opinion of the American public.  The Marist Company recently conducted a survey on the abortion issue.  It found that 81% of Americans believe abortion should only be legal in the first three months of a pregnancy, or should only be allowed to save the life of the mother, or in instances of rape or incest.  Only 19% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal during the first six months of pregnancy, or throughout the entire pregnancy, which are the alternative state of affairs in states throughout the country.

We applaud the judicial integrity of Judges Lavenski Smith, Bobby Shepherd, and Duane Benton,  who wrote the appellate opinions in these cases.  Benton is a former Missouri Supreme Court justice.  It is most regrettable that the majority of justices on the Supreme Court do not share their respect for the inalienable right to life.

Joe's Signature

 

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