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Meet The New Kim Davis: Anti-Gay Texas Clerk Still Won’t Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

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Molly Criner Compares Her Fight Against Same-Sex Marriage to Standing Up to Nazi Germany. ‘I 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 Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. 

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. 

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 — even though she acknowledged she’s not a constitutional scholar. 

“One of the first things said was that I don’t have to do it, but my deputies can, and I can fulfill my Christian conscience that way, but for me that wasn’t an option when I prayed about it,” Criner said. “I would be delegating my authority — that’s just like me doing it.”

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. 

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 court’s decision declaring those laws unconstitutional. 

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“Am I obligated by law to issue a marriage license? I am. But I’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, “I’ll have to evaluate that the day it happens.” 

Republican Sen. Bob Estes responded by referencing the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which establishes that federal law takes precedence over state law. 

GOP Sen. Brian Birdwell 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 Lang’s office to issue the license, and granted the couple a $44,000 settlement. 

“Your testimony, Ms. Criner, is telling of the circumstances we face today,” Birdwell said. “Is ‘supreme’ — in this case talking about the Supreme Court — 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? I’m of the mind that it isn’t, because it’s legislating from the bench.” 

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.” 

“I don’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 doesn’t wish to sign it and validate it as a person, that the office can validate it.” 

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.” 

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 — 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. “I hope everybody really likes me when it’s over, and I hope I still have a home, and I hope I’m not in jail, but I really can’t think about any of that. I just leave it in the hands of God.” 

Watch Criner’s testimony during Wednesday’s hearing by going here, then advancing to the 2:04:00 mark.  

 

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Democrats Discredit GOP Claims on IVF as Republicans Try to Regain Ground After Fallout

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One week after the Alabama State Supreme Court ruled frozen human embryos are “children,” causing several medical institutions to pause their in-vitro fertilization (IVF) programs, Alabama and the GOP have seen tremendous nationwide anger, upset, and confusion from the left and the right over the decision, the Christian nationalist chief judge, and the Republican Party that set this in motion.

Now, GOP lawmakers and political groups are trying to regain ground after some Republicans quickly embraced the decision that, as White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre predicted Tuesday, would cause “exactly the type of chaos that we expected when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and paved the way for politicians to dictate some of the most personal decisions families can make.”

“As a reminder,” Jean-Pierre added, “this is the same state whose attorney general threatened to prosecute people who help women travel out of state to seek the care they need.”

President Joe Biden condemned the Alabama ruling: “The disregard for women’s ability to make these decisions for themselves and their families is outrageous and unacceptable.”

But U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) cheered his state’s Supreme Court, while appearing to not fully grasp what IVF is.

READ MORE: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’: Biden Campaign Blasts Trump Christian Nationalism Plans

“I was all for it,” he said of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling, calling young people “our number one commodity.”

But when pressed, Tuberville declared, “I’d have to look at the entire bill, how it’s written, I have not seen it,” referring not to legislation but the ruling.

And when told that women will now not be able to have IVF treatments, Tuberville repeatedly replied it was “unfortunate.”

On Thursday night, speaking to a group of religious broadcasters, Donald Trump denounced the Alabama ruling and vowed to protect IVF. On Friday, the beleaguered Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) issued a memo directing Republicans to defend IVF. Also Friday, the Attorney General for the state of Alabama, mentioned earlier by the White House Press Secretary, effectively suggested he would ignore the state supreme court’s ruling, promising to not prosecute IVF families, as ABC News reported.

But Democrats are making clear that despite whatever claims or promises Republicans make, the IVF ruling is the direction conservatives are taking the Republican Party.

READ MORE: Smirnov Scandal: Experts Call for Investigations, Warn GOP of Possible Conspiracy Charges

“First Republicans banned abortions so women couldn’t terminate a pregnancy. Now they are coming for IVF so women can’t begin a pregnancy. The GOP agenda is about one thing: government control of women,” observed U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) (photo).

CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox reports a new NRSC memo “instructs [GOP] candidates to reject clearly and concisely government attempts to restrict access to IVF.”

Just hours later, Sen. Murphy responded, saying, “umm the chairman of the NRSC sponsored the bill to ban IVF.”

He added, “newsflash: no matter what they tell their candidates to pretend, when they get power they use it to control women.”

The NRSC’s goal is to help get Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate. It is chaired by Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, a MAGA Republican and member of the Senate’s Pro-Life Caucus.

As Bloomberg’s Matthew Yglesias notes, Senator Daines is an original co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act.

The Center for American Progress’ Colin Seeberger adds, Daines “quite literally has been a longtime co-sponsor of the Lifetime at Conception Act, which would establish legal protections for the unborn just as the Alabama Supreme Court ordered and has led to the suspension of fertility care across AL.”

Meanwhile, Media Matters’ Matthew Gertz notes that the “text of GOP‘s most recent platform claims that ‘the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed’ and calls for a constitutional amendment that would ban all abortions — and jeopardize IVF — by granting 14th Amendment rights to fetuses.”

READ MORE: Why Was GOP’s Star Witness Re-Arrested? He May Have Been Trying to Flee the Country: Report

Indeed, as The New York Times reported, far-right Christian conservative Tony Perkins, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBTQ extremist group Family Research Council, called the Alabama Supreme Court ruling a “beautiful defense of life and the Alabama Constitution.”

Friday afternoon Donald Trump followed up his vow to protect IVF with a social media post that claims in part, “Under my leadership, the Republican Party will always support the creation of strong, thriving, healthy American families. We want to make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder! That includes supporting the availability of fertility treatments like IVF in every State in America. Like the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Americans, including the VAST MAJORITY of Republicans, Conservatives, Christians, and Pro-Life Americans, I strongly support the availability of IVF for couples who are trying to have a precious baby.”

Former Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer responded, asking: “Why would anyone believe this? In 2016, Trump pledged no cuts to Medicaid and then spent four years trying to gut the program.”

And as Axios reports, “House Democrats’ main super PAC is promising to pour money into attacking Republicans on fertility treatments in the wake of a controversial, first-of-its-kind Alabama Supreme Court ruling, Axios has learned.”

“Trump’s call came a day after President Biden’s re-election campaign blamed him for the ruling, noting his appointment of conservative justices to the Supreme Court, which overturned Roe v. Wade,” Axios adds. House Majority PAC, in a memo set to be released Friday, listed nearly a dozen current and former House Republicans in competitive districts who have co-sponsored at least one version of the Life at Conception Act between 2021 and 2023.”

See the social media posts and video above or at this link.

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Why Was GOP’s Star Witness Re-Arrested? He May Have Been Trying to Flee the Country: Report

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The re-arrest of Alexander Smirnov, the former FBI informant who allegedly may have provided House Republicans with Kremlin propaganda that was the basis for their efforts to impeach President Joe Biden and attack his son Hunter, raised some eyebrows on Thursday.

Smirnov, once considered House Republicans’ Jim Comer and Jim Jordan’s star witness, was re-arrested even after a magistrate judge ordered him released, and at his attorneys’ offices, raising eyebrows from even national security experts, insisting there had better be a good reason for it.

Now, according to a noted legal expert, it appears there was.

“A California judge seems to be suggesting [Smirnov’s] lawyers are complicit in his efforts to flee, in a remarkable line ordering detention for the FBI source whose lies propelled Biden impeachment efforts,” writes professor of law and MSNBC legal contributor Joyce Vance, a former U.S. Attorney.

READ MORE: ‘Insultingly Stupid’: Trump’s Move to Toss Out Classified Docs Case Torn Apart by Experts

U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II in his order wrote on Thursday: “It has come to this Court’s attention that counsel for defendant has sought an emergency hearing in the District of Nevada to arrange the release of Defendant Smirnov, likely to facilitate his absconding from the United States.”

After detailing Smirnov’s arrest and release, Judge Wright ordered his re-arrest, adding: “The U.S. Marshal Service is advised there is to be no deviation from this Order.”

Just Security’s Adam Klasfeld calls Judge Wright’s order “wild,” and adds that Smirnoff’s lawyers released “a terse statement about the extraordinary order.”

“They did not respond to questions about the language in the judge’s order suggesting a ‘likely’ aim to ‘facilitate’ their client ‘absconding from the United States.'”

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Vaccine-Laced Lettuce and Tomatoes? Tennessee GOP Lawmaker Worried

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A Tennessee Republican state lawmaker says he’s worried Tennesseans might overdose on vaccines if they eat too many tomatoes.

State Rep. Scott Cepicky claims vaccines can already be added to foods like lettuce and tomatoes, and to tobacco products, so he has filed legislation to require grocery store items containing vaccines to be labeled.

“University of California Riverside has already perfected the ability to put human vaccines into our lettuce right now,” Rep. Cepicky told his fellow lawmakers Wednesday while discussing his legislation. “Also, tomatoes, has the ability to do that also per UC Berkeley. And then big tobacco, RJ Reynolds and stuff has perfected the ability to put a human vaccine in tobacco products.”

NCRM could find no evidence supporting his claims, although researchers starting in 2021 were studying if it is possible to do so.

Cepicky, who has been endorsed by U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), warned, “there is no law, deeming those that when you go into a grocery store, you should know as a consumer, this head of lettuce is a head of lettuce. The head of lettuce right next week could contain a vaccine in it. All we’re saying is if it does have the vaccine in it, make sure it’s listed as a pharmaceutical so people can get the proper dosage.”

READ MORE: ‘Insultingly Stupid’: Trump’s Move to Toss Out Classified Docs Case Torn Apart by Experts

Facing some pushback from Democratic Rep. John Ray Clemmons, Cepicky went on to say, “This is more of a consumer protection bill right here, is to make sure that if you’re going in to buy tomatoes, and there’s a polio vaccine in there, that you are aware of what you’re buying has a polio vaccine. The problem you have is if it’s not treated as a pharmaceutical, being the size and difference between you and me, how many tomatoes do I have to eat to get the proper dosage versus how many tomatoes that you have to eat? And if you eat too many do you get a overdose?”

Asked if his legislation was necessity, Cepicky added, “Well, if you’d have a child that is allergic to a certain vaccine, and it’s not disclosed, when you go to buy that, that vegetable, whatever it is, and your child dies from that, I would think that having place is going to make sure that that is treated as a pharmaceutical so that the consumers know exactly what they’re buying.”

Anti-vaxers gained a foothold during the COVID pandemic, spreading false claims about vaccines. Last year the fact-checking website Snopes deemed it “false” that “mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines has entered the food supply via genetically modified plants bred to contain it or through the consumption of vaccinated livestock.”

“Claims regarding COVID-19 vaccines ‘in your salad‘ have persisted on the internet and recirculated due to misreadings or misinterpretations of several press releases or scientific research,” Snopes added, “Mike Flynn, during a September 2021 podcast appearance, referenced this research, describing it as ‘putting the vaccine in salad dressing.'”

READ MORE: Kremlin Infiltration of Congress Alleged by Ex-Trump Prosecutor: Republicans ‘Duped or in on It’

Flynn, the former Trump U.S. national security advisor, is a far-right Christian nationalist and Trump MAGA activist.

Tennessee lawmakers voted to move Rep. Capicky’s forward.

Watch Rep. Capicky’s remarks below or at this link.

 

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