Lesson from Idaho: Conservatives need to vote!

At this point it doesn’t matter whether you support same sex “marriage” or not, free speech is under attack and the 1st Amendment is being circumvented.

Just this weekend, a case has arisen in Idaho, where city officials have told ordained ministers they have to celebrate same-sex weddings or face fines and jail time.

The Idaho case involves Donald and Evelyn Knapp, both ordained ministers, who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel. Officials from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the couple that because the city has a non-discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, and because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the couple would have to officiate at same-sex weddings in their own chapel.

The non-discrimination statute applies to all “public accommodations,” and the city views the chapel as a public accommodation.

On Friday, a same-sex couple asked to be married by the Knapps, and the Knapps politely declined. The Knapps now face a 180-day jail term and $1,000 fine for each day they decline to celebrate the same-sex wedding.

A week of honoring their faith and declining to perform the ceremony could cost the couple three and a half years in jail and $7,000 in fines.

Government to Ordained Ministers: Celebrate Same-Sex Wedding or Go to Jail

“It will never effect you,” I’ve been told a hundred times.  At other times my Christian friends and distant relatives have reminded me that politics might not be something we should be so involved in.  This past spring a good friend and distant relative encouraged me to “pull back” because, maybe Christians should focus on something else?  While she was right to a certain extent (do I really need to help people who will back-stab me?) and I have taken her counsel to a point, I see stories like the Couer d’ Alene wedding incident and they remind me WHY I am involved in politics and how I first became involved.

I am involved because I care for my country, its direction and if I don’t do something, who will?  Who will take a stand for our families, for LIFE, for traditional marriage and the Bill of Rights if we do not?  I’ve heard it from Christians for years that we don’t belong in politics and that churches should not encourage and educate their members about civic responsibility from a Christian perspective.  Others tell me that unless a candidate or official shares all of my values, they aren’t worth bothering to support.  I’m sorry, have you ever met someone you agree with 100%?  Well, if you have, I think you need to take a look at reality.

Imagine– if instead of sitting back and letting others take control– voters had elected officials in Couer d’ Alene who believed in the First Amendment, there wouldn’t be a pending fight and an attack on the 1st Amendment rights of ministers in their city right now!  The 1st Amendment is clear:

first-amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Lack of involvement and unwillingness to take a stand (well, I might add, along with the problem of a sinful nature!) are the reasons why we now have leaders punishing ministers for refusing to conduct a same sex “marriage” that violates their beliefs.  We should be active in our communities, taking a stand, holding elected officials accountable and making our voice heard.

Last week I posted a couple brief paragraphs about each state-wide and congressional candidate in a blogpost here.

VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!  And when you vote, remember your conservative values!  Then after you’re done voting, please encourage a half dozen friends to vote the right way as well!

A newsletter from the New Mexico Center for Family Policy shares some important information that voters should be aware of regarding judges:

Vote 2014: NM JPEC is not a Good Source of Judicial Information

Many conservative New Mexicans would like to make good decisions about whether to retain or not retain sitting judges, but it is difficult for them to find a source of accurate information to guide their decisions. As a result, many New Mexicans do not cast a vote in the retention elections. Others vote “do not retain” down the board, a practice that I admit I take when in doubt. Some voters simply select “retain” for all judges, regardless of their records. We do not recommend this choice.

Where does a voter go for good information? We want to emphasize a source that is NOT a good place to look: the NM Supreme Court’s Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. Like the fox watching the henhouse, survey input for this site comes primarily from the judicial and legal community and its cottage industry, perpetuating persons and issues that are known problems in the New Mexico legal system. In fact, in my former capacity leading a watchdog organization over the family and children’s courts in New Mexico, I typically advised seekers to check their site, then vote the opposite of what is recommended, since the system has a tendency to boot out judges who go against the grain to change the system, leaving us perpetually stuck with a judiciary that has been the butt of jokes and righteous indignation throughout the nation. Let me put it this way: the JPEC is not your go-to source for information regarding the moral character (personal or professional) of New Mexico judges and their decisions.

We wish that we could have issued a list of endorsements for you regarding all NM judges who are involved in the 2014 general election, but we do not endorse candidates; we provide information. And as you will see below, that information takes a lot of time to collect and distribute to voters. This year we have chosen to highlight a few of the decisions and judges who have made the most obvious strides in stepping over New Mexico law, ruling in ways that violate the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, the family and religious freedom (moral conscience protection).

Vote 2014: The Truth about New Mexico Judges

Dear Conservative Voter,

The NM Center for Family Policy issues this letter to educate New Mexico voters regarding the decisions of three members of the state judiciary whom we believe deserve special attention because of their recent decisions: NM Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez (statewide) and Second Judicial District judges Alan Malott and Nan Nash (Bernalillo County). Our mission is to promote the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, the family and religious freedom. Combined, the decisions of these judges as relayed below have taken New Mexico down a path that addresses all four of these areas, and not in a positive way. Voters have the opportunity in the upcoming November 4 election to do something about it.

Justice Edward Chavez

Key case: 2013-NMSC-040 Elane Photography, LLC v Vanessa Willock

This case questioned whether NM small business owner Elaine Huguenin had the right to refuse to photograph a same-sex “wedding” ceremony because of the convictions of her beliefs. Justice Chavez ruled that she did not have that basic moral conscience protection right, thereby defying the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The shocking decision rocked the nation because of its glaring lack of regard for this fundamental right, effectively forcing Elaine (and all NM business owners) to violate their own moral consciences in order to do business in the state. Justice Chavez boldly declared, “The New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act is inapplicable to disputes in which a government agency is not a party.” Actually, this Act was designed to protect people like Elaine Huguenin from the very same kind of government strong-arming that Justice Chavez wielded in his decision. Does he consider himself to be above government when he overrides state policy and legislates – his way – from the bench?

Key case: 2014-NMSC-003 Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

New Mexico has a very loose definition of marriage in Article 40 of the Statutes which does not define the gender of parties to be married. In August and September of 2013, eight of 33 NM counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Lawsuits were filed, and eventually the issue made its way up to the NM Supreme Court. Justice Chavez issued the ruling in this case which rendered same-sex marriage the law of the state, bypassing the NM Legislature and creating law from the bench by doing so. Again, his decision was noted on a national level for its judicial activism in taking the matter into his own hands rather than leaving it up to the people of the state. He stated in his opinion: “Neither responsible procreation nor the traditional institution of marriage constituted an important government interest to preclude same-gender marriage… the tradition of opposite-gender marriage only established that the discrimination against same-gender marriage existed for a long time.”

Judge Alan Malott

This Bernalillo County judge was the first to rule on the Elane photography case mentioned above. He ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, as did Justice Edward Chavez.

Judge Nan Nash

Key case: D-202-CV-2012-02909 Ratified “Aid in Dying”

This Bernalillo County judge ushered in euthanasia for the state from the district bench. A terminally-ill patient (that was at the time in remission from cancer) and two physicians brought a claim against the Bernalillo County District Attorney and the State Attorney General “to clarify that when physicians provide aid in dying, they do not violate New Mexico law”. In spite of the new term “aid in dying” coined therein, the plaintiffs wanted legal permission to perform euthanasia. The New Mexico Assisted Suicide Statute (NMSA 30-2-4) renders it a fourth-degree felony to deliberately aid another in taking his own life. Judge Nash stated: “In administering an aid in dying prescription to a… patient, a physician is providing the means for the patient to achieve that patient’s death… and therefore deliberately aiding that patient in ending her or his life.” Pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Nash cites Bishop 2009-NMSC-036: “When the literal meaning of a statute would be absurd, unreasonable, or otherwise inappropriate in any application, we go beyond the mere text of the statute.” With this rabbit, she steps over the law of New Mexico and concludes: “This Court cannot envision a right more fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican than the right of a… patient to choose aid in dying… The Court therefore declares that the liberty, safety and happiness interest of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying is a fundamental right under our New Mexico Constitution.” As a district court judge, Nan Nash thought that upending our laws regarding the right to life was her prerogative.

Conclusion

All three judges need 57 percent of all voters who state a preference on their ballots concerning them to choose to retain them in order for them to hold on to their respective seats. Conversely, if over 43 percent of the voters choose not to retain them, they will be deposed from their powerful positions…

Read the entire New Mexico Center for Family Values Newsletter

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