Tag Archives: U.S. Supreme Court

5 Year Old barred From San Diego School Because She Has Lesbian Parents

A five-year old girl is at the centre of a fight that pits freedom of religion against non-discrimination rights.

It’s a fight that some say could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.

The girl learned a few days before school started that she was no longer welcome at the place where she had attended both preschool and summer school.  The reason, according to one of her mothers, is the school doesn’t want anything to do with homosexuals.

Sheena, who asked 10News not to use her last name said

They told us, ‘oh this is not about your child,’ but it is about my child,” said

Sheena is a stay-at-home mom.  Her wife, Lashaune, is in the Navy and is now away on deployment.

If we knew from the beginning that this was unacceptable, they didn’t condone or believe in this, if it was such a big deal, we would have never started her off there. I would never put my child’s emotional wellbeing in an unstable setting like that.”

Sheena told Team 10 she and her wife were summoned to the school the Friday before Labor Day, where they were shown to a room to meet with the pastor.  After a prayer, Sheena said the pastor dropped the bombshell.

It was heartbreaking. I didn’t finish the conversation with them when they took us in the room because I just, I didn’t want to look at them any longer.  I just couldn’t believe that they did that.”

Now the mothers are looking for an attorney to file a civil rights lawsuit against the school.

A woman, who only gave the name “Kailyn” and described herself as the director of Mt. Erie, told Team 10 the school has a non-discrimination policy. When asked whether it was discrimination to bar the 5-year old from attending kindergarten because her parents are lesbians, Kailyn responded:

The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. We don’t condone any sinful lifestyles.”

Sheena provided Team 10 with a copy of the school’s parent and student handbook, which was revised in June 2015.

On page four, right after the statement of nondiscrimination it reads:

Mt. Erie Christian Academy is a religious, Bible-believing institution providing education in a distinct Christian environment, and it believes that its biblical role is to work in conjunction with the home to mold students to be Christ like.

On those occasions in which the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to or in opposition to the biblical lifestyle that the school teaches, the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student.

This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, living in, condoning or supporting sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices; or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principles of the school (Leviticus 20:13a; Romans 1:21-27; Matthew 19:4-6; I Corinthians 6:9-20).”

On page 14 of the handbook under the section entitled VALUES, it reads:

MECA seeks to: Teach students the importance of loving and respecting each other, because all people are valuable in God’s eyes, regardless of physical, social, economic, ethnic, or other factors.”

Sheena said her family is loving and respectful. The fact that there are two moms isn’t unusual.

What does our family life have to do with anyone else? Like no one’s gonna be in danger.”

San Diego attorney Eugene Iredale said the First Amendment gives Mt. Erie freedom of religion, allowing it to bar a student whose parents’ lifestyle doesn’t meet their religious beliefs.

Iredale sai

Religions and religious institutions, that do not in their activity receive public money, have the right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation if that is part of their religious tradition.”

According to filings with the federal government, Mt. Erie does not receive any public funds.

Iredale said both California and federal cases have upheld the right of private institutions to bar membership based on religious beliefs.  That is exactly the opposite of discrimination laws that pertain to publicly-funded programs and businesses that cater to the general public.

Now the question is where do you draw the line? If you have a religion that believed in human sacrifice or amputation of the arm or the hand for theft, would we permit that in the interest of permitting the free practice of one’s religion? I don’t think so, and one could argue that psychologically… this is as devastating to the little 5-year-old girl as some of those other vicious practices.”

Iredale said he believes that in the next five to 10 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will have to decide a case like the one involving Mt. Erie because of changing public policy regarding homosexuality.

Sheena said she’s ready to fight for it.

I want my baby to be safe when she grows up. I don’t want her to ever have to be discriminated against because of her lifestyle. That’s not fair.”

Meanwhile, her daughter waits to be accepted to a new kindergarten.

She told Team 10

I miss my friends. I miss my teachers.”

Cathy Sakimura, deputy director and family law director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights added.

This type of policy is out of touch with reality.”

Sakimura said barring Sheena’s daughter from school could create a culture of fear among children at the school, allowing children to think it’s not OK to be LGBT or divorced.

She hopes the Mt. Erie situation will start an important conversation within the church community, one that leans toward better acceptance. She said many parents within the church and school community may be ready to change the policies to better reflect that.


Puerto Rico Plans For Epic Celebration For Marriage Equality

More than 60 same-sex couples are preparing to exchange vows as part of a mass wedding in Puerto Rico to celebrate a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the socially conservative U.S. territory.

Organisers say the event will take place Sunday in San Juan’s colonial district.

Event organiser Ada Conde said Wednesday that while the majority of couples are Puerto Ricans, others from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Venezuela are participating.

Conde had filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have her gay marriage recognised in the U.S. territory prior to the Supreme Court decision.

Puerto Rico has since struck down laws that prohibited same-sex marriage and the recognition of such marriages.

Michigan to Pay $2M in Legal Fees After Loosing Battle Against Same-Sex Marriage

Lawyers for a Hazel Park couple who helped legalise same-sex marriage across the nation asked a federal judge to force the state to pay more than $1.9 million in legal fees.

Hazel Park couple 02

Hazel Park couple 01

The request puts a price-tag on the state of Michigan’s failed opposition to a landmark case that lasted more than three years. It comes almost exactly one month after the U.S. Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage in the United States.

Court records describe a shoestring battle and hardship endured by lawyers whose clients couldn’t afford the fight. One lawyer sold her house to keep alive a case that ended in a landmark ruling.

Lawyers Carole Stanyar and Dana Nessel wrote in a federal court.

This case was both rare and difficult because plaintiffs’ counsel were defending members of an historically unpopular minority. Although public opinion has shifted considerably in the years that this case has been pending, when filed, a decided majority of the Michigan population were opposed to marriage by same-sex couples.”

Lawyers for Hazel Park couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, whose relationship was at the heart of the Supreme Court case, said if anyone is suffering from sticker shock over the legal fees, blame the state for waging a protracted fight.

There was no immediate comment from spokeswomen for Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney Bill Schuette, the public official who served as the face of opposition in the case.

The request includes fees for six lawyers even though the couple’s legal team included eight attorneys, seven law clerks, multiple paralegals and experts from Boston, New York, San Francisco and Lansing. The six lawyers each billed $350 an hour.

The questions presented were unquestionably novel, complex and difficult. This was the first trial in history challenging the Michigan Marriage Amendment, and Michigan’s statutory marriage and second-parent adoption bans.”

Rowse and DeBoer were unable to pay their lawyers, Stanyar wrote in a filing Saturday. Stanyar said she sold her house to help bankroll the historic legal fight.

Hazel Park couple 02

She said the fee request will be among the largest, if not the largest, legal bill tied to the marriage equality fight nationwide.

Raising the funds for this litigation was exceedingly difficult. This was a difficult, hotly contested ,emotion-charged lawsuit from start to finish…”

Last month, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, a ruling that President Barack Obama called a “victory for America.”