Jun 302015
 

An excellent editorial published in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News. It is worth the couple of minutes it will take you to read it.

Public servants’ religious beliefs do not trump same-sex couples’ rights

No one should deny government employees’ right to exercise religious freedom in their personal affairs, but there must be no ambiguity regarding their official responsibilities. They are constitutionally bound to uphold rights and provide government services without discrimination.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have equal rights to marry. Top Texas leaders must stop standing in the way by encouraging government employees to invoke a personal religious exception when asked to provide marriage-related services, such as issuing licenses or officiating at civil ceremonies.

Denton County Clerk Juli Luke struck the right tone regarding Friday’s ruling by stating, “Personally, same-sex marriage is in contradiction to my faith and belief. … However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law, and as an elected public official, my personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opened the door for judges, county clerks and other government employees to defy the ruling with an opinion Sunday that they may refuse to perform their official duties based on personal religious objections to same-sex marriage.

The opinion attempts to pit government employees’ First Amendment right to religious freedom against a Supreme Court ruling mandating the equal treatment of same-sex couples under the law. But this isn’t about personal religious freedoms; it’s about public servants’ duties under the Constitution.

Fortunately, it appears most Texas county clerks are honoring the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, a handful of clerks are raising religious objections and refusing to grant same-sex marriage licenses. The effect of the attorney general’s opinion was to sow confusion where clarity should reign: Same-sex marriage is now a constitutional right.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who requested Paxton’s opinion, appears to be among those misinterpreting the legal latitude of public servants. “No public employee, judge or justice of the peace should be forced to participate in activity contrary to the covenants of their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Patrick said.

State employees do not have discretion to selectively embrace the constitutional protections they agree with while rejecting those they object to, even on religious grounds. Constitutionally, governments — including their employees — must present themselves as religiously neutral.

Paxton suggested in his opinion that same-sex couples have ample options to go elsewhere should an employee refuse services on religious grounds. But it’s not the couple’s job to shop around for services from employees whose salaries are paid with tax dollars.

The exercise of free religious belief ends at government employees’ office doors. Texas leaders gain nothing by introducing confusion and erecting discriminatory loopholes now that the Supreme Court has made clear where it stands. Same-sex marriage is indisputably the law of the land.

Read that again. Carefully. “State employees do not have discretion to selectively embrace the constitutional protections they agree with while rejecting those they object to, even on religious grounds.”

Any government employee who refuses to perform his or her duties should be summarily dismissed. Period. End of discussion.

Weekly Address 06-27-15

 Posted by at 10:26  Politics
Jun 272015
 

“The Affordable Care Act is Here to Stay”

From the White House weblog:

In this week’s address, the President called the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act a victory for hardworking Americans across the country, whose lives are more secure because of this law. The Affordable Care Act is working, and it is here to stay. So far more than 16 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage. Nearly one in three Americans who was uninsured a few years ago is insured today. The uninsured rate in America is the lowest since we began to keep such records. With this case behind us, the President reaffirmed his commitment to getting more people covered and making health care in America even better and more affordable.

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Transcript after the break.

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Jun 262015
 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. Today, they have ruled that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right in all fifty states. No state, from this moment forward, is allowed to ban same-sex marriage. I honestly thought this would never happen in my lifetime. I was wrong, and I am amazed and delighted.

Republican heads are today exploding all across this great land, especially here in Texas.

The ruling of the Court may be read here. Basically:

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

The vote was, as expected, 5-4, with the four conservative members of the Court voting against equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

The ruling takes effect immediately.

A transcript of President Barack Obama’s remarks following the ruling may be read after the break.

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Weekly Address 06-20-15

 Posted by at 10:37  Politics
Jun 202015
 

“Creating New Pathways of Opportunity for Americans Like You”

From the White House weblog:

In this week’s address, the President spoke to his priority of growing the economy and opening new avenues of opportunity for hardworking Americans. While the United States has already made economic progress, with more than 12 million new private-sector jobs created over the past five years, there’s still more to be done.

That’s why the President has continued to press for strong, high-standard trade agreements that are good for American workers and good for American businesses. And it’s why his Administration has partnered with mayors and governors across the country on issues such as minimum wage and paid leave that impact hardworking Americans. The President discussed impactful initiatives like these in his address before the Conference of Mayors on Friday.

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Weekly Address 06-13-15

 Posted by at 09:52  Politics
Jun 132015
 

“Stand Up for American Workers and Pass TAA”

From the White House weblog:

In this week’s address, the President reiterated that his top priority is to grow the American economy and ensure that every hardworking American has a fair shot at success. It’s because of this commitment that the President has worked to enact smart new trade agreements that level the playing field for our workers, open new markets for our businesses, and hold other countries to the kinds of high standards that Americans are proud to hold ourselves to here at home. On Friday, Republicans and Democrats in the House took an important step by voting to help the United States negotiate and enforce high-standard trade deals. But they also failed to renew Trade Adjustment Assistance, despite the fact that it provides vital support to about 100,000 workers, and passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The President urged the House to pass TAA without delay so that more middle-class workers can earn the chance to participate and succeed in our global economy.

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Weekly Address 06-06-15

 Posted by at 11:08  Politics
Jun 062015
 

“Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month”

From the White House weblog:

In this week’s address, the President recognized Immigrant Heritage Month, an occasion that allows us to celebrate our origins as a nation of immigrants. The basic idea of welcoming people to our shores is central to our ancestry and our way of life. That’s why the President asked everyone to visit whitehouse.gov/New-Americans and share stories of making it to America.

And as we celebrate our heritage and our diversity, the President promised to continue to fight to fix our current broken immigration system and make it more just and more fair, strengthening America in the process.

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