Trump Administration Sides With Christian Photographer

We’ve heard time and again about Christian photographers, bakers, florists, and wedding chapel owners being dragged into court because they declined to take part in a same-sex wedding or ceremony.

Sometimes the Christian business owners win their cases. Other times they lose.

These court cases often center on local ordinances or state laws that give people special privileges or protections based on sexual-orientation or gender identity.

During the Obama Administration, we saw wave after wave of radical LGBT policies rolled out at the federal level.

However, we seem to be experiencing a little bit of a reprieve under the Trump Administration.

Recently the U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in a federal court in Kentucky arguing that the government cannot force a Christian photographer to photograph a same-sex wedding.

Alliance Defending Freedom is handling a lawsuit on behalf of photographer Chelsey Nelson over the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro “Fairness Ordinance.”

The ordinance grants special rights and privileges to people based on sexual-orientation and gender identity.

In the federal government’s statement about the lawsuit, the U.S. Attorney General’s office wrote,

The United States is committed to protecting the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, which include both the right to “the free exercise” of religion and “the freedom of speech.” . . . These freedoms lie at the heart of a free society and are the “effectual guardian of every other right.”

The statement goes on to say that forcing Chelsey Nelson to photograph a same-sex wedding would violate her First Amendment rights and that she probably would win any court case over the issue.

We have said before that religious liberty is a casualty of the radical efforts to redefine marriage.

Thankfully, the federal government is siding withe people of faith right now.

Hopefully this court case will result in better protections for the free exercise of religion in the future.

Arkansas Supreme Court Issues Good Ruling on Fayetteville Ordinance

Thursday, February 23, 2017

On Thursday the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a ruling effectively striking a Fayetteville ordinance granting special protections to people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Family Council President Jerry Cox released a statement, saying, “This is a good ruling. Laws about discrimination are best left to the state and federal governments. The City of Fayetteville overstepped when it passed this ordinance. I’m glad the Arkansas Supreme Court understood that and struck the ordinance down.”

Cox criticized the Fayetteville ordinance, saying, “The ordinance granted special protections for people based on sexual orientation and gender identity, but it failed to protect religious Arkansans. Under this ordinance, a minister could have been penalized for declining to solemnize a same-sex marriage, and people of faith who own catering services, florist shops, wedding venues, and so on could have been penalized for declining to participate in or cater to same-sex ceremonies. One of the founding principles of our nation is the free exercise of religion. Fayetteville’s ordinance penalized people for living and operating according to their faith. The Arkansas Supreme Court did the right thing in striking this ordinance.”


Understanding North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill”

North_Carolina_Locator_Map_with_USOver the past several weeks we have seen a lot of questions–and misinformation–about North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill”. What is this bill, and does Arkansas need one like it?

In a nutshell, North Carolina’s proposed H.B. 2 primarily does five things:

  1. It requires restrooms, locker rooms, showers, changing rooms, and similar facilities at public schools to be sex-specific, and requires each person to use the facility that corresponds to his or her biological sex.
  2. It requires restrooms, locker rooms, showers, changing rooms, and similar facilities at government buildings–like those at highway rest stops, public colleges, and so on–to be sex-specific, and requires each person to use the facility that corresponds to his or her biological sex.
  3. It allows these institutions to designate single-occupancy restrooms as available to any person, regardless of sex. That means a restroom with only one stall in it, for example, could be used by anyone regardless of his or her sex or gender-identity.
  4. It prevents cities and counties from enacting ordinances creating additional, protected classes–much like Arkansas’ Intrastate Commerce law passed in 2015 does.
  5. It allows businesses and other organizations to designate their restrooms as they see fit. That means if Target wants to let biological males use the women’s restrooms, Target may do so; if Walmart, for instance, wants to make sure a man or woman uses the restroom that corresponds to his or her biological sex, Walmart may do so.

It is entirely reasonable for the State of North Carolina to pass a law governing how government-owned and operated restrooms and similar facilities are utilized.

It is entirely reasonable for the North Carolina Legislature to reserve the power to recognize protected classes of citizens.

And it is entirely reasonable for businesses to decide biological males must use the men’s room and biological females must use the women’s room.

As to whether or not Arkansas needs a law like North Carolina’s, Arkansas passed a law in 2015 that prevents local governments from creating or recognizing any protected classes not found in state law; this should effectively prevent cities and counties from giving special rights or protections to people based on sexual orientation or gender identity–just as North Carolina’s bill does.

As far as the “bathroom” aspect of North Carolina’s bill is concerned, Arkansas’ lawmakers may want to look into legislation that would prevent some of the madness we have seen in states whose legislatures have not addressed public restrooms.

For example, last February a Seattle man entered the women’s locker at a pool twice–once while a girls’ swim team was present. When confronted, he told staff, “the law has changed, and I have a right to be here.” The police were not called, and no one was arrested. Our friends at the Family Policy Institute of Washington also recently wrote about a convicted sex offender trying to gain access to women’s restrooms and locker rooms.

Given the situations other communities are facing, it’s easy to understand why a state legislature would want to clarify the laws surrounding sex-specific facilities.