Molly Criner Compares Her Fight Against Same-Sex Marriage to Standing Up to Nazi Germany.Â ‘IÂ Just Have to Look at What God Said.’
Back in July, Irion County, Texas Clerk Molly Criner publicly declared that her office wouldn’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.Â
In an interview with The Christian Reporter News, Criner compared her plight to clerks in Nazi Germany who were asked to collect information about Jews but refused to do so.Â
Citing her belief that children are better off with a mother and father, Criner said she prayed about the issue extensively, becoming physically ill and not sleeping for four days. She considered resigning, but after reading the majority and dissenting opinions in Obergefell, she concluded that the court had overstepped its bounds â€” even though she acknowledged she’s not a constitutional scholar.Â
“One of the first things said was that I donâ€™t have to do it, but my deputies can, and I can fulfill my Christian conscience that way, but for me that wasnâ€™t an option when I prayed about it,â€ Criner said. â€œI would be delegating my authority â€”Â thatâ€™s just like me doing it.â€
On Wednesday, more than seven months later, at a Texas legislative hearing on the need to protect so-called “religious freedom,” Criner told state senators that no same-sex couple has requested a marriage license in tiny Irion County, which has a population of just 1,500. According to census data from UCLA’s Williams Institute, there were no same-sex couples living in Irion County in 2010.Â
Criner said two news reporters posed as a same-sex couple and requested a license in the wake of Obergefell, but she turned them away. She added that she’s torn between state statutes and the Texas Constitution, which contain prohibitions on same-sex marriage, and the high courtâ€™s decision declaring those laws unconstitutional.Â
â€œAm I obligated by law to issue a marriage license? I am. But Iâ€™m also obligated by law to issue a marriage license only between a man and a woman,” Criner said. “This is going to be something that violates my oath.”
Pressed by one senator about what she’ll do if a same-sex couple requests a marriage license from her office, Criner said, â€œIâ€™ll have to evaluate that the day it happens.”Â
Republican Sen. Bob Estes responded by referencing the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which establishes that federal law takes precedence over state law.Â
GOP Sen. Brian BirdwellÂ pointed to a case in his district, where a same-sex couple sued Hood County after Clerk Katie Lang turned them away. A federal judge ordered Langâ€™s office to issue the license, and granted the couple a $44,000 settlement.Â
“Your testimony, Ms. Criner, is telling of the circumstances we face today,” Birdwell said. “Is ‘supreme’ â€” in this case talking about the Supreme Court â€” is ‘supreme’ the adjective of court or is ‘supreme’ the noun? Is the Supreme Court the supreme branch of government and is it functioning within its role and its duties? Iâ€™m of the mind that it isnâ€™t, because itâ€™s legislating from the bench.”Â
But Birdwell then concurred with Estes, saying the supremacy clause means it’s up to federal officials “to check this the way we’re desiring them to check it.”Â
“I donâ€™t have a solution directly to what we share as a concern, Madame Clerk,” Birdwell told Criner. “I do know that right now, based upon your testimony and my experience in Hood County, that those that want a license to be married can obtain it, even if the elected officeholder doesnâ€™t wish to sign it and validate it as a person, that the office can validate it.”Â
In July, Criner said her deputy clerks don’t want to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples even if she delegates the authority to them. She added that because anyone “with 10 bucks and an Internet connection” can become a licensed minister and perform same-sex marriages, clerks are “the last gatekeeper.”Â
Criner also made it clear that she’s willing to be a martyr. She said she had considered the potential consequences of her decision, but ultimately they didn’t matter.
“I mean no disrespect to the same-sex couples who wish the benefits of marriage for their relations â€” no animosity toward them. I just have to look at what God said, and I have to look at the way our Constitution was based on what God said,” Criner told The Christian Reporter News. â€œI hope everybody really likes me when itâ€™s over, and I hope I still have a home, and I hope I’m not in jail, but I really canâ€™t think about any of that. I just leave it in the hands of God.”Â
Watch Criner’s testimony during Wednesday’s hearing by going here, then advancing to the 2:04:00 mark. Â
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‘Scared to Death’: Trump’s Prison Panic Admission Means He Knows He’s Doomed Says Legal Expert
Reacting to a report that Donald Trump has been quizzing his attorneys about what type of prison he likely will be sent to, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner stated that is not only an indication that he knows he’s going to be convicted but also an admission of guilt.
Speaking with MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart, the attorney was asked about a recent Rolling Stone report about Trump’s prison panic.
As Rolling Stone reported, Trump asked if he’s “be sent to a ‘club fed’ style prison — a place that’s relatively comfortable, as far these things go — or a ‘bad’ prison? Would he serve out a sentence in a plush home confinement? Would government officials try to strip him of his lifetime Secret Service protections? What would they make him wear, if his enemies actually did ever get him in a cell — an unprecedented set of consequences for a former leader of the free world.”
According to the attorney, Trump is revealing himself by asking for so many details.
“What does this tell you about Trump’s mindset?” host Capehart asked.
“It tells me he is scared to death” Kirschner quickly answered. “It tells me he has overwhelming consciousness of guilt because he knows what he did wrong and he knows he is about to be held accountable for his crimes. So it is not surprising that he is obsessing.”
“If he was confident that he would be completely exonerated, would he have to obsess about what his future time in prison might look like?” he suggested. “I think the last refuge for Donald Trump can be seen in a recent post where he urged the Republicans to defund essentially the prosecutions against him. which, to this prosecutor, Jonathan, smells a lot like an attempt to obstruct justice.”
Watch below or at the link.
Image via Shutterstock
‘Vulgar and Lewd’: Trump Judge Cites Extremist Group to Allow Drag Show Ban
A federal judge in Texas known for a ruling that attempted to ban a widely-used abortion drug is citing an extremist anti-LGBTQ group in his ruling allowing a ban on drag shows to stay in place.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former attorney for an anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian legal organization, and a member of the Federalist Society, in his 26-page ruling dated Thursday cited the “About” page of Gays Against Groomers to claim, “it’s unclear how drag shows unmistakably communicate advocacy for LGBT rights.”
Judge Kacsmaryk, appointed by Donald Trump twice before finally assuming office in 2019, suggests the First Amendment does not provide for freedom of expression for drag shows, calls drag “sexualized conduct,” and says it is “more regulable” because “children are in the audience.”
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern adds, “Kacsmaryk’s conclusion that drag is probably NOT protected by the First Amendment conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression. It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people.”
Calling the judge “a proud Christian nationalist who flatly refuses to apply binding Supreme Court precedent when it conflicts with his extremist far-right beliefs,” Stern at Slate writes that Kacsmaryk ruled drag “may be outlawed to protect ‘the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.’ In short, he concluded that drag fails to convey a message, while explaining all the reasons why he’s offended by the message it conveys.”
Stern does not let Kacsmaryk off the hook there.
“From almost any other judge, the ruling in Spectrum WT v. Wendler would be a shocking rejection of basic free speech principles; from Kacsmaryk, it’s par for the course. This is, after all, the judge who sought to ban medication abortion nationwide, restricted minors’ access to birth control, seize control over border policy to exclude asylum-seekers, and flouted recent precedent protecting LGBTQ+ equality,” Stern says.
“He is also poised to bankrupt Planned Parenthood by compelling them to pay a $1.8 billion penalty on truly ludicrous grounds. And he is not the only Trump-appointed judge substituting his reactionary beliefs for legal analysis. We have reached a point where these lawless decisions are not only predictable but inevitable, and they show no sign of stopping: Their authors are still just settling into a decadeslong service in the federal judiciary.”
West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler penned the letter that sparked the lawsuit.
Titled, “A Harmless Drag Show? No Such Thing,” Wendler wrote: “I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it. Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not.”
Journalist Chris Geidner concludes, “It’s an extremely biased ruling by a judge who has established that he does not care about being overturned — even by the most conservative appeals court in the nation.”
Gaetz Praises GOP Congressman Who Echoes His Call for Change ‘Through Force’
U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL). largely seen as pushing Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s Republican-majority House of Representatives toward shutting down the federal government, is praising and promoting remarks made by a freshman GOP lawmaker that appear to suggest the use of violence. U.S. Rep. Eli Crane‘s comments, posted Friday (below), call for change “through force,” remarks echoing Congressman Gaetz’s recent comments which were denounced by an expert on authoritarianism as fascistic.
“The only way we’re going to see meaningful change in this town is through force,” wrote Congressman Crane, Republican of Arizona atop a three-minute video in which he frames what is now an almost guaranteed government shutdown as a “spending fight.” In his video he says, “the only way you’re gonna get any change in this town is through force.” Gaetz in August had said, “we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C.”
Congressman Crane is a former Navy SEAL. He has promoted the false “Big Lie” conspiracy theory that there was massive fraud in the election President Joe Biden won, and called “on the state legislature to decertify the 2020 election.” He is one of six House Republicans who voted against McCarthy’s speakership all 15 times in January.
“Congressman Eli Crane is a fountainhead of political courage,” said Rep. Gaetz Friday afternoon. “He holds the line.”
Crane recently came under fire for calling Black people “colored,” during debate on his legislation that would force the U.S. Armed Forces to not use any diversity requirements in its hiring practices.
Just days before he won his House seat last year, The Washington Post reported Crane had urged an “audience to look up an antisemitic sermon at a recent campaign stop.”
“Crane said that he was motivated to run because of ‘radical ideologies that are destroying this country’ and that he was most concerned about ‘Cultural Marxism,’ which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as an antisemitic baseless claim gaining traction on the American right.”
“He encouraged the audience to watch a speech by a right-wing pastor who blamed cultural change on a group of German Jewish philosophers and condemned Barack Obama for having a ‘homosexual agenda.'”
“If we don’t wake up,” Crane said, according to the Post, “if we don’t study what they’re doing, and if we don’t put people in influential positions that understand what this war is all about, what they’re trying to do and have and have the courage to call it out, we’re going to lose this country.”
In August, while standing next to Donald Trump at a campaign rally, Congressman Gaetz said, “Mr. President, I cannot stand these people that are destroying our country. They are opening our borders. They are weaponizing our federal law enforcement against patriotic Americans who love this nation as we should.”
“But we know that only through force do we make any change in a corrupt town like Washington, D.C. And so to all my friends here in Iowa, when you see them come for this man, know that they are coming for our movement and they are coming for all of us.”
At the time, Raw Story reported, “historian and author Ruth Ben-Ghiat called Gaetz comments alarming.”
“What he is saying is that they are not going to have change through elections or through legislation or through reform. They are going to have change through violence,” she warned.
“And that’s how fascists talk,” Ben-Ghiat added. “So, even if Trump is out of the picture, these are people who have adopted methods very familiar to me as a historian of fascism, that violence and corruption and lying that’s what the party is today.”
Image via Shutterstock
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