Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
The cases are well known: The Colorado baker in trouble because he declined to violate his faith and promote same-sex “marriage” with his work, the Washington florist who made the same decision and the New Mexico photographer who was fined by the state for turning down a request to promote lesbianism with her services.
More and more people who adhere to the biblical definition of marriage are finding themselves in that no-win situation of being forced by “nondiscrimination” laws to endorse and support “alternative lifestyles.”
An attorney whose work on constitutional issues is well known says such conflicts shouldn’t happen. Matt Barber, vice president for Liberty Counsel Action, told WND that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is supreme, and local ordinances that demand people violate its precepts must fall.
But some place their own agenda above the Constitution, and therein lies the conflict, he said.
Not complicated. How about a clause that can be adopted as a separate ordinance or inserted as part of an existing nondiscrimination regulation that simply would point out that the First Amendment is supreme?
That’s the idea suggested by Scott Lively of Defend the Family, who has a long record of advocating for traditional marriage.
He’s proposing “The First Amendment Supremacy Clause.”
It states: “In no circumstance shall sexual orientation regulations superseded the First Amendment rights of individuals, churches and religious organizations to freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. For the purpose of this statute religious organizations are those whose policies or culture are substantially influenced by religious values, including but not limited to Christian bookstores, adoption agencies, hospitals, businesses, social organizations and student clubs on college campuses.”
It would allow municipalities or other branches of government to adopt nondiscrimination laws demanded by homosexuals without infringing on the constitutional rights of citizens.
Lively said there are efforts already under way in several states to establish such a provision, and more are expected.
“It is our right as Christians to speak the truth of the Bible, and to operate in religious liberty,” he said. “The First Amendment was designed to protect the speech and acts of Christian citizens.”
But he said in today’s America, the political correctness has assumed great power, and even some judges are deciding to opt for the “civil rights” of homosexuals and strip the constitutional rights of Christians.
“The focus of this … is to shift our focus back to what’s really at stake,” he said. “What’s really at stake in our culture are the fundamental First Amendment rights.”
He said it’s obviously best if localities don’t adopt privileges for homosexuals.
But if they are in place, adding the “Supremacy Clause” can right a lot of wrongs, he said
The Family Policy Institute of Washington has noted: “Around the country bakeries, doctors, counselors, court clerks and wedding photographers have been victims of the war on intolerance; specifically because of their beliefs about sexuality and marriage. All along the way, those tightening the noose around the neck of religious freedom have claimed to be allies. … That’s changing. Now that they feel they have the upper hand, they no longer feel the need to be tolerant.”
There, city officials want their city nondiscrimination plan to ban from participation in city government anyone who has “engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of …. sexual orientation, gender identity.”
The family group responded: “On its face, this is simply absurd. This is exhibit A in the case that some people are educated beyond their intelligence. This language quite clearly excludes everyone, including those currently on the city council, from being on the city council.
“I’m sure San Antonio will thrive under the leadership of Tarzan,” the group said, “who, after a global search, was found to be the only person eligible for public office because, by virtue of being raised by monkeys, he had truly never considered the questions of faith and religion long enough to develop a ‘bias.’”
Lively noted that when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were drafted, the first right on the agenda was religious liberty. But now there are cases in which universities demand Christian clubs allow atheists as leaders because of “nondiscrimination” laws.
Lively said the adoption of the proposed clause either would fix many of the problems, or it would let citizens know where their lawmakers stand.
“Even in liberal cities, legislators are not going to want to be seen by the public as favoring [First Amendment restrictions],” he said.
Sally Kern, a state lawmaker in Oklahoma City, said she and several others in her community are working on adding the provision to local regulations. Similar moves are under way in a couple of other states.
Kern told WND that such a move could prevent many of the controversies that are arising now as same-sex “marriage” is pushed by Washington.
She said traditional marriage advocates there are even looking at the option of taking the idea statewide.
A statement of intent that accompanies the clause says it is “designed to ensure that the
first principles of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, namely religious liberty and freedom of expression, are preserved and honored as essential values deeply rooted in our history and laws, as against the claims and reach of the newly invented category of law known as Sexual Orientation Regulations.”
The explanation continues: “It is the purpose of this legislation to clearly recognize and affirm that laws and policies based on sexual orientation, gender identity or like terms have no power to infringe upon or otherwise restrict the inalienable rights of Americans which are enshrined in the First Amendment, and which many generations of our citizens have shed their precious blood to protect.”
The clause does not “prohibit laws or policies designed to protect homosexuals and other persons who define themselves by the practice of non-traditional sexual conduct from discrimination.”
And it is only triggered when “a claim is asserted that SORs should trump the First
Barber told WND the bottom line is that no one in America should have to make such a statement.
But he said the campaign for same-sex recognition is a “juggernaut that does not seek balance.:
“They demand mandatory affirmation,” he said.
“Freedom of religion should automatically trump any notion of so-called gay rights, a newfangled idea that people should get preferred status based on sexually deviant behaviors,” he said.
Barber noted that during the framing of the Constitution, homosexuality would not have been considered a “right” but “an infamous crime against nature.”