Decision Comes One Day Before SCOTUS Hears Pivotal Anti-Gay Wedding Cake Baker’s CaseÂ
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a case from Houstonâ€™s appeal of a lower court ruling that said the right to a marriage license did not entitle same-sex couples to spousal benefits under employee insurance plans. The case, Pidgeon v. Turner challenged then-Houston Mayor Annise Parkerâ€™s announcement that the city would begin offering health insurance and other benefits to the same-sex spouses of city employees.
The case began in late 2013 when two Houston taxpayers sued Mayor Parker and the City of Houston after city officials determined that an earlier U.S. Supreme Court ruling,Â U.S. v. Windsor, striking down part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), required that benefits be equally available to the legal different-sex or same-sex spouses of city employees.
A Texas state district judge initially ruled in favor of the plaintiffs but the Texas 14th Court of Appeals overturned that decision in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s Obergefell ruling.
The plaintiffs then petitioned the Texas Supreme Court for review, which initially declined to hear the case. However, after a concerted campaign lead by Texas Republicans, Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton, the stateâ€™s High Court reversed itself and agreed to hear the case. That hearing took place on March 1, 2017. The plaintiffs and several “family values” Christian groups in Texas held that Obergefell didnâ€™t settle the question of whether married same-sex couples must receive same spousal benefits as different-sex couples.
In its decision released last June 30, the court ruled against Houston in its ruling, writing, â€œBut Obergefell is not the end either. Already, the Supreme Court has taken one opportunity to address Obergefellâ€™s impact on an issue it did not address in Obergefell, and there will undoubtedly be others.â€Â
LGBTQI legal rights advocacy group, Lambda Legal, in response to the Texas Supreme Court decision in June said:
â€œThis absurd contortion of the Obergefell ruling defies all logic and reason, especially in light of the Supreme Courtâ€™s explicit ruling on Monday that marriage is marriage and equal is equal. We will take steps to protect these families,â€ said Kenneth D. Upton, Jr., Senior Counsel in Lambda Legalâ€™s South Central Regional Office in Dallas. â€œThe Court was very clear in the majority opinion about the scope of what marriage entails.â€
â€œThis decision is political and is an example of why elected judges are bad for LGBT people and bad for judicial independence,â€ added Eric Lesh, Fair Courts Project Director at Lambda Legal.Â
The U.S. Supreme Court’s action returns the decision to the lower courts in Texas for further appellate action and although SCOTUSâ€™s action set no nationwide legal precedent, it still may give a boost to conservative efforts to limit the effects of its decision in the case Obergefell v. Hodges that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to gay couples under the Constitution. The case will now proceed in a Texas state court.
LGBTQI advocacy groups raised an alarm Monday as they see the Supreme Court’s actions as giving leeway to conservative groups and conservative justices to chip away at LGBTQI Marriage Equality. GLAAD’s Executive Director, Sarah Kate Ellis, noted in an emailed statement that the denial of certiorari in the Houston Case is troubling given that this ruling occurred one day prior to SCOTUS hearing oral arguments on another yet another case with serious implications for the LGBTQI community.
â€œWith all eyes on tomorrowâ€™s oral arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop religious exemptions case, the Supreme Court has just let an alarming ruling by the Texas Supreme Court stand which plainly undercuts the rights of married same-sex couples,â€ Ellis said. â€œTodayâ€™s abnegation by the nationâ€™s highest court opens the door for an onslaught of challenges to the rights of LGBTQ people at every step.â€
That case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,Â arrays Christian conservative groups against the LGBTQI community. The case was brought by another anti-LGBTQI family values legal group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing a Colorado bakery owner, and cake artist Jack Phillips.
Phillips claimed he couldnâ€™t design a custom wedding cake for two men who requested it sayting in court documents that â€œusing his artistic talents to celebrate a same-sex marriage would violate his Christian faith and his artistic freedom.â€
The High Court will have to decide between three constitutional rights: “sexual equality, freedom of religion and freedom of expression” in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Proponents of LGBTQI equality say that a decision in favor of Phillips would have a chilling effect on equality for LGBTQI people. The stakes are high, and could open the door for conservative businesses to spurn gay couples.Â
The Trump administration, around twenty American states, dozens of members of Congress and countless Christian and conservative pressure groups have backed Phillips.
Brody LevesqueÂ is the Chief Political Correspondent forÂ The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody atÂ Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com
To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page.
Image by Joe Ravi via Wikimedia and aÂ CC-BY-SA 3.0 license
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‘Progress and Resilience’: Biden in SOTU Will Remind Americans He Is ‘Building an Economy Where No One Is Left Behind’
President Joe Biden will remind Americans what life was like two years ago when he took office, and paint his vision of the future that builds on his long list of accomplishments as he delivers the State of the Union Address Tuesday night.
He is expected to focus on the economy, which has been greatly strengthened during his two years in office, as unemployment has dropped to a level not seen in nearly 54 years, and as the inflation that infects the globe continues to drop dramatically.
The President will also urge Republicans to continue to work with him — Biden has a historic record of bipartisan successes despite “razor-thin majorities.”
“The story of America is a story of progress and resilience,” the President is expected to say, according to excerpts from the White House. “We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it. That is what we are doing again. Two years ago our economy was reeling. As I stand here tonight, we have created a record 12 million new jobs – more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years. Two years ago, COVID had shut down our businesses, closed our schools, and robbed us of so much. Today, COVID no longer controls our lives. And two years ago, our democracy faced its greatest threat since the Civil War. Today, though bruised, our democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.”
President Biden will also say his “economic plan is about investing in places and people that have been forgotten.”
“Amid the economic upheaval of the past four decades too many people have been left behind or treated like they’re invisible. Maybe that’s you watching at home. You remember the jobs that went away. And you wonder whether a path even exists anymore for you and your children to get ahead without moving away. I get it. That’s why we’re building an economy where no one is left behind. Jobs are coming back, pride is coming back because of the choices we made in the last two years. This is a blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America and make a real difference in your lives.”
And he will call Republicans, who have already begun investigating him, his “friends,” saying: “To my Republican friends, if we could work together in the last Congress, there is no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress. The people sent us a clear message. Fighting for the sake of fighting, power for the sake of power, conflict for the sake of conflict, gets us nowhere. And that’s always been my vision for the country: to restore the soul of the nation, to rebuild the backbone of America: the middle class, to unite the country. We’ve been sent here to finish the job!”
The State of the Union begins at 9 PM ET.
Trump Pushes Meme Accusing DeSantis of ‘Grooming High School Girls’
The meme (below) appears based off a 2021 article by the HillReporter website that alleges DeSantis “was photographed partying with underaged students.”
“Darlington is a boarding and day school, for grades Pre-K through 12,” the report states. “In 2001, when DeSantis joined the staff of the high school, he’d have been in his twenties, with college and work in politics already under his proverbial belt. His students would have been high school co-eds, teenagers, some of whom would have been living on-campus. According to our whistleblower, he had a reputation among students for being a young ‘hot teacher’ who girls loved, and the girls in the photo are believed to have graduated in 2002, making them seniors at the time.”
Trump reposted the meme on his Truth Social platform Tuesday afternoon, writing: “That’s not Ron, is it? He would never do such a thing!” His remarks appear to be sarcastic. In a separate post Trump also wrote, “No way!”
In November, Insider, citing a New York Times article, reported, “Former students of Ron DeSantis said he was a ‘total jock’ who partied with students and thought it was ‘very special’ that he graduated from Yale.”
It also alleges, “Some students recalled DeSantis fondly while others remembered ‘unthinkable’ pranks he pulled on students.”
“Multiple students told the Times that DeSantis frequented parties with Darlington high school seniors and attended some events with graduates where alcohol was served,” Insider added.
A former student of DeSantis, who is now a teacher himself, said of DeSantis, “There’s a cruelty to the sense of humor. There’s a cruelty to the mentorship.”
That Times article on DeSantis also notes, “some students were taken aback by his comments on the Civil War and abortion.”
The Daily Beast, also citing Times’ reporting, adds that DeSantis’ former students “have accused the Florida governor of being ‘mean and hostile’ towards Black students, playing ‘devil’s advocate’ when teaching lessons about the Civil War, and teaching factually incorrect history to students.”
The Times piece also uncovers DeSantis’ future goals.
“DeSantis, then a 23-year-old graduate from Yale University, used to tell his students that he was bound for the White House,” The Times adds, citing his own students.
See the meme above or at this link.
Warmongering GOP Congressman Declares China Spy Balloon a ‘Sputnik Moment’ for America
A spy balloon that traversed the United States, its capabilities disabled by the Pentagon before being shot down into the ocean this weekend, is causing such alarm among the right that one Florida Republican U.S. Congressman has declared it a “Sputnik moment for America.”
America’s last “Sputnik moment” was in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched a satellite into space, leading Americans to see a technological gap between the two countries, heightening the Cold War and launching the space race.
“I believe that this spy balloon was a Sputnik moment,” U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) declared on Fox News Tuesday afternoon.
WATCH: The Pentagon tells Congress that China outpaces U.S. in missile launchers – @michaelgwaltz urges Biden to address the growing China threat in his SOTU speech tonight.
“He needs to describe it for what it is, which is the most serious adversary we have ever faced, … pic.twitter.com/24lbPjS8Tj
— America Reports (@AmericaRpts) February 7, 2023
It was a dire warning, despite the fact that the Pentagon has made clear China’s spy balloon posed no threat to the nation.
Waltz also told Fox News that America is “struggling to catch up” to China’s military technologies.
As it turns out, Congressman Waltz, who replaced Ron DeSantis in the House of Representatives, is fond of the term “Sputnik moment.”
Here he is in late 2021, declaring China’s hypersonic missile a “Sputnik moment.”
This hypersonic missile is the #CCP‘s “Sputnik moment” in their arms race with the U.S. after years of stealing, spying & buying its way to the top.
Wake up, America. We must step up efforts to protect our research, tech, assets & national security NOW, not later. pic.twitter.com/ABd2Ygirc7
— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) October 18, 2021
In a Fox News op-ed on Sunday, Waltz declared, “Like Sputnik, the Chinese spy balloon has drastically changed Americans’ sense of security.”
“A silver lining in the Biden administration allowing the Chinese spy balloon to violate our airspace is that the American public has received a similar wake-up call to the brazenness of Chinese spying,” he writes in his Fox News op-ed. “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Intelligence Committee, I can tell you the United States has been under an espionage assault from China for years, but much of it has been behind the scenes.”
China has been spying on the U.S. for decades, and the U.S. has been spying on China just as long. All spying is done “behind the scenes.”
Sunday, on Fox Business, Waltz repeated his “Sputnik” claim, calling the balloon a “national embarrassment,” and insisting “we need to get to the bottom of it.” On Monday, back on Fox News, Waltz continued his “Sputnik” remarks as well.
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