Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Lawsuit Filed Against NY Marriages; Group’s Lawyer Believes “God’s Law” Should Be Recognized Over “Man’s Laws”

Jim Burroway

July 25th, 2011

Twenty-four hours after New Yorkers began enjoying the fresh air of marriage equality, anti-gay activists filed a lawsuit against the New York state Senate challenging the process by which marriage equality became legal. New Yorker’s (sic) for Constitutional Freedom allege that the legislature violated the Open Meetings law, suspended normal voting procedures, denied public access to legislators, and failed to send the bill to proper committees. A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the group’s lawsuit, saying “The plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the state of New York. The suit is without merit.”

Because of the separation of power doctrine, this lawsuit is likely dead on arrival. Each branch of government is free to establish the rules under which that branch operates, and courts are loathe to cross those lines of separation and order one branch to abide by a different set of rules when those rules were established by that branch for the conduct of its business.

Rena Lindevaldsen

But the lack of basic understanding of the law comes as no surprise when one considers that the lawyer representing New Yorker’s (sic) for Constitutional Freedom is none other than Liberty Counsel’s Rena Lindevaldsen.  You may recall that she was the lawyer for Lisa Miller, who kidnapped now nine-year-old Isabella after a court awarded custody of the child to her other mother, Janet Miller Jenkins. The FBI’s investigation led to the arrest of an accomplice who aided in the abduction, and showed that persons associated with Liberty Counsel were significantly involved in the conspiracy. Last May it was revealed that Lindevaldsen and Mat Staver, who heads Liberty Counsel, and who both teach at Liberty University’s law school, taught their students to choose “God’s law” over “man’s law.” When they presented a case remarkably similar to the Miller case to their students, they gave higher marks to students who said that Miller should be advised by their lawyer to engage in “civil disobedience” and ignore the court order.

Lindevaldsen’s views are as extreme as they come. Last year, she spoke at a so-called “Truth Academy” put on by the SPLC-certified hate group Americans for Truth, headed by Peter LaBarbera. Lindevaldsen told the small gathering, “We need to work to completely eliminate public schools — government schools — and push a Christian/Biblical model of educating our children.” She also equated civil unions to promiscuity, and talked about LGBT equality and “religous and first amendment freedoms” as a zer0-sum game. She also spoke of her resentment in having to observe the First Amendment’s separation of church and state:

When they ask me to be secular in my argumentation, they’re asking me to give up Truth. They’re asking me to give up my best weapon which is the absolute reality that I know from God. They’re asking me to go over onto their playing field and use their weapons that they chose for me.

This partly explains Chris Geidner’s observation that Lindevaldsen made a striking style decision in writing her brief:

One of the striking, though not surprising, quirks of the lawsuit is its constant insistence of using quotation marks around all mentions of marriage that relate to same-sex couples:

Immediate and irreparable harm will occur if injunctive relief is not granted insofar as couples will be “marrying” pursuant to a law that is invalid and, ultimately, could result in the invalidation of those “marriages.”

The move, whether its aim or not, has the effect of making the lawsuit look more like a political than a legal document.

In reality, the document is neither legal nor political. It’s religious.

Comments

POST COMMENT | COMMENT RSS 2.0

homer
July 25th, 2011 | LINK

When “God” shows up in court and sits his 6,000-year-old butt in the witness chair, then maybe that will mean something. But unless this deity actually shows up, then these idiots don’t have a case.

Lindoro Almaviva
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

Why is this woman still a lawyer is a mystery to me. Why and how has she evaded a bar inquiry is an even bigger mystery

Steve
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

The thing that grabbed my attention in the NYCF/Liberty Counsel’s filing is that, besides being amateurish/political, it references no precedent.

The overriding message I’ve taken from following the Prop 8 and DADT trials (as well as first-hand experience) has been that precedent is key… which precedents do the plaintiffs claim as relevant, or do they contest on the basis of new arguments?

Or, did I miss it somewhere, that the NYCF’s filing cites past NY State laws nullified by court action?

In Maggie Gallagher’s CBN interview, she named the need to pass a state constitutional amendment, but not that the NYCF lawsuit was key to rescinding marriage equality, right?

For that matter, NOM is publicizing the NYCF filing while continuing its history of not officially affiliating with the legal action in any fashion which might lead to testifying under oath.

David C.
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

In reality, the document is neither legal nor political. It’s religious.

In fact, the document is simply nonsense and follows an emerging pattern: Liberty Counsel creates these “cases” in an attempt to test the legal separation of church and state. It’s objective is to throw enough against the wall hoping it will get a case that makes it high enough to make some significant dent or hole in the wall between secular government and the ideology of christianists. It is a systematic effort to use religious freedom against freedom of religion and above all an effort to insert religion where it is heretofore been forbidden to go.

Liberty Counsel is an insidious organization that seeks to undermine the principals upon which the republic was founded. It’s lawyers should be disbarred.

JCF
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

I agree, it’s [sic] lawyers SHOULD be disbarred!

[Hey, we should be precise on *our* use of the apostrophe, too!]

Speaking of grammar— man, if only the wingnuts had to PAY for the bandwidth every time they use scare-quotes: “Marriage”, Oh NOOOO!

;-/

Christine
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

Are Staver and Lindevaldsen being investigated for their possible role in helping Lisa Miller?

Does anyone know??

Ste Carlson
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

How ironic that an organization that calls itself “New Yorker’s (sic) for Constitutional Freedom” should be working to oppose marriage equality.

Richard Rush
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

When they ask me to be secular in my argumentation, they’re asking me to give up Truth. They’re asking me to give up my best weapon which is the absolute reality that I know from God.

If Lindevaldsen wants to use her “truth” and “absolute reality” as weapons to regulate the lives of others, it is thoroughly reasonable to demand that she present compelling evidence of universality so that I can remove the quotation marks. Many millions of people have different “truths” and “realities,” so why should I accept hers as correct?

A god with the intelligence, power, and skills to create the universe could easily provide the evidence. And since that god created humans with the capacity to discern and evaluate evidence, surely s/he would view that as a reasonable request, wouldn’t s/he? So, if that god does not provide the evidence, isn’t it because s/he can’t, is waiting for the right time, is busy with other matters, or simply refuses? Doesn’t it reveal a lot about the character of a god when s/he creates people with the ability to process evidence, but eagerly punishes them for eternity if they don’t believe things for which s/he has not provided evidence?

So, Rena Lindevaldsen, either provide the evidence or admit that your religion provides no legitimate basis for your imagined entitlement to regulate the lives of others.

Priya Lynn
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

Jim said “In reality, the document is neither legal nor political. It’s religious.”.

Zing! Good one Jim.

Richard said “Doesn’t it reveal a lot about the character of a god when s/he creates people with the ability to process evidence, but eagerly punishes them for eternity if they don’t believe things for which s/he has not provided evidence?”.

It sure does Richard, and it doesn’t say “God is love”.

Regan DuCasse
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

I’m with you there Ste. They are calling themselves NY’ers for Constitutional Freedom, but the Constitution IS man’s law.
Once again, obvious ironies and hypocrisy are ignored among these people and they have absolutely no shame of it.

They expect the Constitution to give THEM all the rights and protections, but will invoke it exclusively against gay people as an instrument of discrimination.
Totally against it’s creed and mission statement.

Apparently God cannot show up to confirm THEIR ideals as validated by HIS seal of approval or signature anywhere. As long as God isn’t showing up as a witness to their testimonies, it’s fair to assume that it’s just us folks relying on what we must. The Constitution and Bill of Rights for everyone.

Regan DuCasse
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

Maybe LU can continue to churn out such horrendously bad lawyers. They’ll lose their cases and they’ll be incompetent in every court they appear in.

I don’t know how things are for the state bar in VA. But in Illinois, Matthew Hale was denied a law license because of similar extremist views. They were directed at Jews and blacks as much as homosexuals but the state bar requires the ability to perform to the extent that ETHICS requires.

There may be some merit in disbarring these people who participated in a child abduction after a legal decision they didn’t want to obey. And now, they are expecting (or demanding) that religious beliefs subvert secular laws written into state and federal statutes.
I can’t believe the arrogance of these people.
But I hope they are hoisted on their own pitard because of it.

Ben in Atlanta
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t often feel called upon to testify. I believe in nothing but God. If I didn’t have God’s stamp of approval I simply would not be. I know what beats my heart and breathes my breath.

I have a little twist for you.

“Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I do not have to stop and build a condo. Surely goodness and mercy shall both lead and follow me all the days of my life and the Lord shall have a home in my heart forever.”

You can not rob this man of his faith. It’s not yours to take.

justme
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

I’m delighted that all the crazies have absolutely nothing left to fight with except the crazy. I welcome their insidious plan and I’m thrilled that they’re losing and being exposed to the public as lunatic bigots at the same time.

Probably the only good thing the nut in Norway has done in his misbegotten life is shine a light on how utterly insane our own nuts are.

Organized religion loses more and more followers every year. The only problem is that they’re not losing them fast enough. Still, that means each day is better than the last.

Victor
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

Ben – “You can not rob this man of his faith. It’s not yours to take.”

Fair enough.

Recognize though that faith is personal. It has influence only within one’s own skin and requires no basis in reality, reason, experience or common sense. It is important to recognize this limitation.

While attempting to deprive someone of their faith is folly, using faith to justify ANY policy–especially one which deprives them of activities with equal or greater substance–for anyone but one’s self is even more repugnant: the impact is not merely personal, but social, possibly institutionalized interference. Laws for a society must have greater basis than faith to have merit, to be just.

b
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

Alls I gotta say about that…individual from Liberty is just this:

WOW. Ok NOW this is just getting to be BEYOND ridiculous and into a whole new realm of CRAAAAAA-ZAAAAAAY!

This is not to say that she or any of the other folk carrying on this rhetoric don’t still weild considerable influence on many people who have the power to make decisions. But still, come ON! By now I think I’m almost more depressed FOR them because of just how SILLY and RIDICULOUS these comments truly are. I mean what with her talking about how “we need to completely eliminate public schools” and that her best legal weapon is the “absolute reality I know from God”, I gotta wonder just what kind of chemicals is she filling up in HER coffeepot????? I mean REALLY.

Seeing marriage equality become reality for New York just has completely gotten rid of any fears whatsoever of them having ANY possible leg to stand on as far as ALL of us and our civil rights are concerned. Also, seing the kind of ugliness and just complete inanities come forth out of these persons’ mouths just makes me almost embarassed that I even let such things get to me at one point.

One final note: I never ever thought homophobic vitriol would get me to say the following but gosh oh golly it has in fact done so:

MY but the future for the LGBT community just looks sooo damn BRIGHT!!

Thank you all kindly, I very much appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts here. To all of the moderators and regular commenters of this blog, you all ROCK!! :D

Timothy Kincaid
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

Richard

A god with the intelligence, power, and skills to create the universe could easily provide the evidence. And since that god created humans with the capacity to discern and evaluate evidence, surely s/he would view that as a reasonable request, wouldn’t s/he? So, if that god does not provide the evidence, isn’t it because s/he can’t, is waiting for the right time, is busy with other matters, or simply refuses? Doesn’t it reveal a lot about the character of a god when s/he creates people with the ability to process evidence, but eagerly punishes them for eternity if they don’t believe things for which s/he has not provided evidence?

Priya Lynn,

It sure does Richard, and it doesn’t say “God is love”.

While both of you come from without the faith, you’ve identified a couple of the paradoxes of Christianity and points of division of its various factions.

We all know all about the religion of Rena Lindevaldsen. It floods from her in torrents across the pages of lawsuits and press releases.

Her god is a demanding fellow who has dictated the minutia of her life in the Bible (which he wrote by means of placing the exact words in the mind of the human authors for them to write down on paper, making him the true author). It is literal and exact, without error, and not subject to interpretation other than her own.

It there is discrepancy between Scripture on the one hand and evidence on the other, then the evidence is bogus. No need to double check, no need to think, it’s just wrong. It doesn’t matter what is true (small t), she knows the TRUTH. And if she places what is known above what is taught, then she is doubting God and has no faith and places her eternal soul at risk of separation from God.

In fact if there is discrepancy between political position based on dogma developed by tradition and only loosely tied to doctrines which are interpretations of scripture on the one hand and evidence on the other, then the evidence is bogus. TRUTH trumps truth.

(For example, because it is TRUTH that being a homosexual is sin; and because it is TRUTH that each person has a choice whether or not to follow Christ; then therefore it is TRUTH that being a homosexual is a choice, that homosexuality is not innate, that there is no such thing as sexual orientation, that no one is born gay, and that any evidence whatsoever that suggests some innate quality to homosexuality or some evidence of predetermined orientation is false, fraud, a lie. Because it doesn’t matter what a “so-called scientist” says on the stand, she has the TRUTH and it trumps evidence.)

And a big chunk of Christianity believes just like she believes.

However another big (but much less publicized) chunk has a different approach to faith.

Many denominations (and individuals in other denominations) see evidence of God’s intention in God’s creation. They don’t see faith in terms of ‘follow the words in the 2000 year old book’ but as a quest to know God better.

If there is conflict between the orthodox belief or the words in the Bible and what they see around them, they don’t dismiss evidence in favor of dogma but allow nature and observation accompany history and scripture in guiding their understanding of God’s Will.

God speaks to them through his creation and didn’t make his final unchangeable forever-literal communication through Paul 2000 years ago. Or, as the United Church of Christ puts it, “God is still talking.”

As these denominations came (or are coming) to the realization that gay is something that people are rather than what they do, and as closer communication and experience revealed no innate inferiority or flaw, this evidence of God’s creation is as strong an influence as the ancient words of Paul and they are able to apply principles from Scripture to newer understanding of humanity.

For example, if they see conflict between ‘God is Love’ and ‘gay people are an abomination’, they find the love principle to hold far greater weight than the rule about conduct written for a nomadic people traveling through a desert in ancient times.

One caution, this doesn’t mean that the believe the Bible any less, they just believe it differently. Rather than obsess over words, they look for principles. And the concept that ‘God is Love’ is given far greater authority than rules which distinguish roles for women. They see themes like ‘Jesus’ advocacy of the social outcast’ and find them more applicable than Paul’s instruction about what one church needs to stop doing.

You might say that the difference is that they look for the truth of the principles in Scripture rather than have a literal reading of Scripture dictate truth to them. Oh, and they don’t capitalize the word.

Timothy Kincaid
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

One additional thought…

The gay community and the African American community are cultural subsets of greater society. And as such, each of these communities has developed a dialect of its own, frequently utilizing words common to the greater community but applying a very different meaning. And as you get to even smaller subsets of these groups, you sometime end up with language that is completely foreign (watch RuPaul’s Drag Race to see what I mean).

The same is true for the cultural subset of conservative Christians. They too are a community with a unique dialect in which words have specific meaning. And while some of what they say sounds like insanity is because it really is a form of self-imposed delusion, some of it is simply a matter of not understanding the dialect.

We need to be careful when we respond. If its clear that we don’t know what we are talking about, we lose credibility with them and with those who may agree with us but think we are clueless.

Priya Lynn
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

You’re entitled to your opinion Timothy.

Timothy Kincaid
July 26th, 2011 | LINK

Ya know, Priya Lynn,

Maybe my comment really was too hasty. Perhaps I did attribute too much thought and perception to you when I noted that you had identified a point of contention in the faith.

I’ll try to keep that in mind the next time I think your comment worth noting or that a compliment is due.

b
July 27th, 2011 | LINK

to Timothy, regarding your second-to-last comment under this article, about the dialects within cultural subsets of society,

I gotta say that does make me look at the nature of their words in a different light. Not that that excuses the things they are doing to get such words to be the law of the land, but it does make me look at the nature of such groups and movements somewhat differently.

I still say our community’s future is looking pretty damn bright though. :)

Donny D.
July 28th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid wrote:

The same is true for the cultural subset of conservative Christians. They too are a community with a unique dialect in which words have specific meaning. And while some of what they say sounds like insanity is because it really is a form of self-imposed delusion, some of it is simply a matter of not understanding the dialect.

We need to be careful when we respond. If its clear that we don’t know what we are talking about, we lose credibility with them and with those who may agree with us but think we are clueless.

Good point.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required)
(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.