House debates stripping federal courts of jurisdiction over gay marriage
By MARK SHERMAN
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal judges should keep their hands off marriage, House Republicans said Thursday, pressing for passage of legislation to give states final say over recognizing same-sex unions sanctioned elsewhere.
Federal judges, unelected and given lifetime appointments, "must not be allowed to rewrite marriage policy for the states," Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., said at the start of a debate tinged by election-year politics.
Republican leaders predicted easy passage for the Marriage Protection Act, a week after the Senate dealt gay marriage opponents a setback by failing to advance a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions.
The legislation would strip the Supreme Court and other federal courts of their jurisdiction to rule on challenges to state bans on gay marriages under a provision of a 1996 federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman
Letter To IRS Says Pastor Crossed Line
By Doug Thompson
Arkansas News Bureau
SPRINGDALE — Ronnie Floyd, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Springdale, is accused of crossing the line between church and state in a complaint to the IRS that challenges the church’s tax-exempt status as a religious organization.
The complaint about a July 4 sermon was sent Tuesday to the Internal Revenue Service by the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, according to Barry Lynn, its executive director.
“No church in U.S. history has ever lost its tax-exempt status for being too political,” Alan Damron, the church’s associate pastor for community impact, said Wednesday.
The church has provided transcripts of the sermon in the complaint to an attorney and been advised that it “in no way” violates IRS rules, he said
European Commission Enforces Equality Directive
The European Commission has announced that it is taking legal action against six member states that have failed to transpose two anti-discrimination Directives. Austria, Germany, Finland, Greece and Luxembourg will be referred to the European Court of Justice for failing to implement Directives, which prohibit discrimination on racial or ethnic origin, age, disability, religion and sexual orientation. The Directives should have been incorporated into national law last year.
The deadline for transposing the Racial Equality Directive into national law was July 19 whilst the deadline for the Employment Framework Directive passed in December of last year. The Council adopted these Directives in 2000, requiring legislative changes in all 25 EU Member States, and they are intended to widen the scope of protection.
The Employment Framework Directive prohibits discrimination against people on the grounds of age, disability, religion or belief and sexual orientation and vocational training. The five member states mentioned above along with Belgium have failed to fully transpose this Directive and the Commission’s decision means that the Member States in question have two months to reply to a ‘Reasoned Opinion’ from the Commission.
For those Member States which have already adopted legislation transposing the Directives (including the United Kingdom) the Commission is now examining the national laws of each State to make sure that they conform in full with the provisions of EU law.