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04/19/2007


Religious Rights Group Files Suit To Defend Religious-Based Discrimination

Gortz Haus

A few months ago a gay couple in Iowa were turned away from an art gallery wedding venue that they wanted to use for their own wedding because their homosexuality violated the religious sensibilities of the Mennonite owners. A discrimination case was pursued by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.

A few days ago the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an 11-count lawsuit against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and wants the Commission to rule that the Odgaard's refusal to host a same-sex wedding in their public art gallery wedding venue was not a violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act.

A spokesperson for the Becket Fund engaged in some contradictions, claiming that they didn't want to eliminate homosexuality as a protected class, just to allow the Mennonite beliefs of the Osgaards to supersede the civil rights of Lee Stafford and his fiancee.

The spokesperson also said “To our knowledge, no Iowa or Federal court has ever forced anyone to participate in a religious activity against their will. Doing so now would abandon Iowa’s history of being the vanguard of protecting individual freedom, and out of line with state and federal law.” This is true that no state or federal law has forced people to unwillingly take part in a religious ceremony, but state and federal laws have ruled that public venues and public services cannot discriminate based on orientation, and venues that have discriminated have lost those legal battles.


Joe Biden Says Gay Marriage is 'the Civil Rights...Issue of Our Day' — VIDEO

Biden

Vice President Joe Biden attended Tom Harkin's (D-IA) steak-fry fundraiser on Sunday, a Democratic confab typically seen as the place where candidates get their feet wet for a forthcoming presidential race.

Biden spoke about Syria, and Obama's economic policies, but he also spoke about gay rights, defending his Meet the Press interview in May 2012 at which he came out for same-sex marriage, sprinting ahead of Obama on the issue.

Said Biden at the Harkin event over the weekend:

“A lot of people criticized me for speaking out, not long ago, about gay marriage. I could not remain silent any more. It's time we stopped talking. It’s the civil rights of our day. It’s the issue of our day.....That's why the president eliminated DOMA, Don't Ask, Dont' Tell. That's why he came out against this notiong that marriage can somehow be recognized in one state and denied in another. And when it comes to the rights of - you know the president's phrase, and I'll paraphrase this slightly - that everybody in America should have the dignity to choose who they love and marry who they choose. He believes that but not just because it's a human right because it's about treating everyone with dignity.

Watch Biden's remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Joe Biden Says Gay Marriage is 'the Civil Rights...Issue of Our Day' — VIDEO" »


Pastor Raped Teen Boys To Help End Their 'Homosexual Urges': VIDEO

Brent

Youth pastor Brent Girouex from Council Bluffs, Iowa has admitted to having sex with teenage boys during his tenure at Victory Fellowship Church in order to "to help [them] with homosexual urges by praying while he had sexual contact with [them]," United Press International reports.

Girouex, 31, who is married with four children, was arrested last year on 60 counts of suspicion of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist:

In February Girouex confessed to Council Bluffs police detectives that he had sexual relations with four young men starting in 2007 to help them gain "sexual purity" in the eyes of God. However, at least eight men have come forward with complaints that the pastor molested them.

Girouex told investigators that the longest relationship he had with any of the victims lasted four years. He said that it started when the boy was 14 years old and that the "mutual" contact took place 25 to 50 times. The victim, who is now an adult, told investigators the real number of times was between 50 and 100 times.

Three of the victims who came forward told authorities the sexual encounters took place at Girouex's house. They all said that they went there to be helped with "sexual purity."

“When they would ejaculate, they would be getting rid of the evil thoughts in their mind,” Girouex allegedly told detectives.

VicA judge originally sentenced Girouex to 17 years in prison before he "suspended it to allow Girouex to get sex offender treatment and probation," according to KCCI News. Girouex will remain on probation for 5 years, the maximum time allowed by law. Girouex's wife however, thinks her husband should be in prison:

"If that's what it takes to get him away from people, then yes," said Erin Girouex. "I don't want (my children) anywhere near him."

Erin Girouex said that what they want is for other victims of sexual misconduct to stand up and speak out before it's too late.

"We just encourage other victims that you have what it takes, you have a voice, and to come forward and to report what's happened so it doesn't happen again," [Emily] Baker, [wife of one of the victims] said.

Erin Girouex is filing for divorce, but the hang-up is that her husband wants to see their children.

Watch a news report about the horrific crimes AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Pastor Raped Teen Boys To Help End Their 'Homosexual Urges': VIDEO" »


Ethics Board Keeps Its Chair As NOM Continues to Lose in Iowa

Brian BrownTowleroad previously reported on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board's decision to investigate the National Organization for Marriage for the alleged violation of state campaign financial disclosure law. NOM's president, Brian Brown, subsequently posted an inflammatory response, accusing the board's chair, Megan Tooker, of "bias" and "unprofessionalism", and calling for her removal from the case. The board voted unanimously Wednesday not to remove Tooker from the case, and opted to proceed with the investigation. 

Tooker told the Associated Press that she is careful not to make any sort of biased statements during meetings or to the press, and said that accusations such as this are common from PACs and candidates from throughout the political spectrum. "I never take that into account nor should I. The staff never takes that into account, it's irrelevant. The only thing we care about is whether or not groups, candidates, and PACS comply with Iowa laws," she said. The board's vice-chairman, John Walsh, also offered his support for Tooker, and told press that he finds NOM's accusations to be unfounded since they cannot produce evidence of any wrongdoing. "It's all irrelevant because facts will determine this case. I don't know why we're having this extended argument about our counsel who in my opinion has done nothing wrong."

With NOM backed into a corner, it chose to set its sights on another target: the openly-gay Republican politician who filed the first complaint to the IECDB, Fred Karger. The group posted an article on their official site attacking Karger and calling him a "serial, frivolous case filer". NOM regional director Chris Plante said in the post that “it's an effort to silence people who would stand for marriage in the public square, who would criticize and critique our politicians and judges who redefine marriage against the will of the people." The group also falsely claims that it does not have to disclose its donor list under Iowa law, and that Karger is only filing the complaint to "silence" their "voice". 

Fred-KargerLuckily, the Des Moines Register's Editorial Board disagreed with NOM, calling the board's decision to keep Tooker "wise":

"The case against Tooker consisted of a couple of quotes lifted from an earlier board meeting in which she used strong words to disagree with NOM’s interpretation of the law in response to board members’ questions. Whether her language was too strong is a matter of interpretation, but it’s her job to give the board legal advice.

"NOM also said Tooker may be biased against the group because she worked as a law clerk for one of the three justices removed by voters in 2010. This, too, is a stretch: Her clerkship ended before the court considered the marriage case, and the fact that she worked for a member of the court who was later removed by voters is not, by itself, evidence that she can’t objectively interpret Iowa law....

"Whatever the ethics board decides, it is safe to say NOM will continue to wage a battle to protect the identities of its donors. If it prevails, the Legislature will have to rewrite the law to make clear that the source of money used to support or defeat candidates or ballot issues must be publicly reported."

As for the group's accusations against Karger? At present, they have yet to back it up with any sort of legal proceeding. Thus, it appears that it is simply a way for NOM to scare supporters into giving even more donations. 


NOM's Brian Brown Attacks Iowa Ethics Official For Supposed "Bias" And "Unprofessionalism"

NOM Blog
In the wake of Iowa's supreme court ruling that legalized marriage equality in the state, the National Organization for Marriage launched a campaign attacking three of the court's justices, in attempt to get them replaced. According to a complaint filed by Fred Karger, NOM resorted to some questionable fundraising tactics during the campaign, and refused to disclose the names of their donors after repeatedly being asked to do so. 

Karger's compaint subsequently launched an investigation by the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board after the group voted unanimously to pursue it. NOM President Brian Brown was obviously not happy, a fact that likely surprises no one. Anyone familiar with Brown's history of distorted and inflammatory remarks could likely expect a stong reaction, which he promptly posted on NOM's blog. In the post, Brown chose to especially single out the board's chair, Megan Tooker, alleging a few bold accusations:

"The people of Iowa are entitled to the highest standards of ethical conduct and independence from the state’s top ethics officer, but Megan Tooker has shown herself to be biased and incredibly unprofessional in her handling of the complaint against NOM. Ms. Tooker worked for one of the justices we helped remove from office in 2010 and which is the subject of the complaint she is evaluating. At a minimum this presents the appearance of a conflict of interest. Furthermore, her comments to the media reveal deep-seated animosity toward our position and are grossly inaccurate, prejudicial and inappropriate. We demand that she be removed from having any role in evaluating the complaint filed against us.

"By blatantly misrepresenting our position in the media, Ms. Tooker has in effect convicted us in absentia, without conducting any investigation or receiving any evidence. She’s prejudiced our case by lying to the media about our position on critical matters, and then declaring us to be ‘absolutely wrong’ and ‘absolutely false’ in our defense of the complaint. Clearly, this is not the kind of ethical behavior one would expect from the state’s top ethics officer, someone charged with conducting a fair and impartial investigation into the facts, and then carefully applying the facts to the law. Rather, it shows the deep bias she holds toward us for having helped unseat her former employer."

Brian BrownAs was noted by ThinkProgress, Tooker's former employer, the supposed justice in question, was not the only judge to issue the decision in favor of marriage equality--the decision was unanimous, and NOM was only able to remove three of the four justices in that Iowa supreme court. Furthermore, Tooker was not the only member of the board to vote in favor of the investigation. That decision was also unanimous. Even if Tooker was as biased as Brown's claims painted her to be, there was an entire rest of the board to help counteract that.

ThinkProgress also reported on an event that took place in Iowa over the weekend, during which Brown attacked Karger, the person responsible for the compaint that launched the investigation. "Karger told On Top magazine that Brown 'just began to lash out at me' and was 'clearly bothered.' Indeed, NOM has been fighting to hide the source of its funding in every state it has campaigned, so Brown may well have reason to be concerned that the ruse could soon come unraveled."

According to an update, NOM is now using the investigation as yet another excuse to solicit donations on their official site. 


Iowa Ethics Board to Investigate National Organization for Marriage

An Iowa ethics board is set to investigate claims that NOM violated state law by not disclosing its donors in a campaign to oust Supreme Court justices, the Des Moines Register reports:

KargerThe Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously to investigate the National Organization for Marriage, saying that if the allegations against it are proven true, the marriage group’s actions would violate state law.

The decision to investigate is a triumph for Republican former presidential candidate Fred Karger (pictured), who filed the complaint against the National Organization for Marriage on June 13. Karger said the D.C.-based group spent $635,000 in 2010 and about $100,000 in 2012 to try to oust four of the justices who were part of a unanimous 2009 decision that allowed same-sex marriage in Iowa.

“We caught them,” Karger told reporters after today’s meeting. “I’m so grateful to the ethics commission.”

You can read a copy of Karger's complaint HERE.

NOM responded with anger to the investigation:

Usatoday_brown"The National Organization for Marriage has violated no campaign finance rules in Iowa, and we decry the decision by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board to open an investigation," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "This inquiry is a witch hunt spawned by a delusional homosexual activist who fancies himself becoming the president of the United States and who is a serial filer of frivolous allegations against us whenever we stand up for traditional marriage. The complaint is another attempt to shut down criticism of activist judges and politicians who wish to redefine marriage."

NOM was a major contributor to the 2010 campaign in which voters successfully removed three sitting justices of the Iowa Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice, after the Court voted to redefine marriage in the state. The campaign finance complaint was filed by Fred Karger, a homosexual activist who ran for president of the United States in 2012. Karger has filed complaints against NOM in Maine and California, but no state has ever ruled that NOM violated state campaign rules.

"All that the decision today means is that Karger has alleged actions that, if proven true, would possibly constitute violations of campaign finance rules. But the allegations are dead wrong and the Board action today in no way means that the Board agrees with Karger's frivolous allegations," Brown said. "We are concerned about the continual use of the legal system by Karger and other homosexual marriage advocates who are intent on denying us and the people of Iowa their civil rights to defend marriage as God created it."


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