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FACT Files Appeal With TN Supreme Court Concerning Marriage Licensing Laws

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (August 10, 2018)—The following statement regarding an Application for Permission to Appeal filed today with the Supreme Court for the state of Tennessee in the case of Grant v. Anderson may be attributed to David Fowler, counsel for the Constitutional Government Defense Fund (CGDF), an initiative of The Family Action Council of Tennessee, Inc.:

Today we have asked the Tennessee Supreme Court to hear an appeal in a case seeking to have the state’s judiciary decide questions of great constitutional importance arising out of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that involved state laws governing the issuance of marriage licenses.

Assumptions are being made about the meaning of Obergefell’s holdings that, if unchecked, represent a seismic shift in the judiciary’s treatment of vital constitutional principles regarding the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government and the division of powers between state and federal governments.

For the first time in history, it is being assumed that the United States Supreme Court can require a local official in a state to issue a statutorily defined and authorized license that no branch of state government has every authorized that official to issue. Obergefell is being treated as a de facto amendment by a federal court of a state’s statute.

Unfortunately, the lower courts have refused to take up these questions, dismissing the lawsuit on the grounds that even ordained ministers who are licensed by the state to solemnize marriages for legal purposes have no right to know what effect Obergefell may have had on the laws they administer for the state. This frustrates the express purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act, which is to allow those affected by a law to resolve uncertainties surrounding that law.

The application today asks that the state Supreme Court take up an appeal to determine whether our clients should finally have their day in court.

CGDF has a similar lawsuit involving different parties that is pending in Bradley County Circuit Court. That lawsuit was not dismissed, but a ruling on the merits in that court has been deferred by the judge pending action by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

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California Mall Removes Greg Laurie Crusade Billboards

Billboards advertising evangelist Greg Laurie’s upcoming August 17-19 crusade at Angel Stadium were removed from Fashion Island, an outdoor mall in Southern California, after several complaints and one “serious threat.”

The billboards featured an illustration of Greg Laurie holding a microphone in one hand and a Bible in the other, along with featured worship leaders and other information about the event. Nothing about the posters was intrinsically hateful, violent, or discriminating.

Nevertheless, a second version of the ad was submitted with no images, simply the words “Harvest,” the dates, and some of the musical artists’ names. The company refused to run the new ad and refunded Harvest’s money.

The Irvine Company advertising contract stated that “management reserves the right to not display any materials that could be constructed as vulgar or offensive.”

Said Harvest Executive Director John Collins, “It’s sad that our culture is at this degree of intolerance.”

This is the 29th year of the SoCal Harvest crusade and it typically draws 90,000–100,000 people.

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InterVarsity Files Lawsuit Over University of Iowa’s Policy Limiting Religious Student Groups

InterVarsity Graduate Student Fellowship filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Iowa on Monday for being kicked off campus for requiring group leaders to be Christians and sign a statement of faith.

The University of Iowa also de-recognized and removed 37 other student groups that held to similar faith policies, including Chinese Student Christian Fellowship, Young Life, the Latter-day Saint Student Association, the Imam Mahdi Organization, and the Sikh Awareness Club. Since last spring, university leadership has been pressuring religious student groups to comply with the university’s human rights and discrimination policy, which ultimately violates the religious beliefs of these organizations.

“Banning religious groups from having religious leaders just flattens diversity and impoverishes the campus,” notes Becket attorney Daniel Blomberg with the law firm representing InterVarsity.

The only religiously based group that is still noncompliant with the university’s newest policy and has not yet been kicked off campus is Business Leaders in Christ because of pending litigation and a temporary injunction barring its banishment.

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Defending the Religious Liberty of School Sports Coaches

This week, First Liberty and law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of football coach Joe Kennedy, who was suspended by the Bremerton (Washington) School District in 2015 for praying after school football games.

The lawsuit, filed in 2015, was dismissed and the dismissal was affirmed by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

First Liberty argues that the coach had a First Amendment right to pray on the 50-yard line after football games, since he did so privately and never forced others to pray with him.

Those supporting this latest legal effort through multiple amicus briefs include legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden, Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and the Texas High School Coaches Association.

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AZ Pharmacist Fired for Refusing to Fill ‘Transgender’ Hormone Prescription

A Fountain Hills, Ariz., CVS fired a pharmacist who refused to fill the “transgender” hormone prescription for “Hilde” Hall, a biological man who identifies as a woman.

Hall got no explanation from the pharmacist as to why the prescription was not going to be filled, so Hall had the prescription filled at a local Walgreens. Hall subsequently filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy after sharing the story as a blog post on the American Civil Liberties Union website.

After the story broke, CVS issued a public apology. CVS Senior Director of Corporate Communications Mike DeAngelis noted that the pharmacist’s behavior “does not reflect our values or our commitment to inclusion, nondiscrimination, and the delivery of outstanding patient care.”

While Arizona law expressly protects the conscience rights of pharmacists not to fill abortion-related prescriptions and says companies must accommodate pharmacists’ religious convictions, the protection does not extend to dispensing other controversial prescriptions, such as hormone treatments.

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