Institute of Marriage

Research & Studies

Calling Something a Marriage Does Not Make It a Marriage

- Reversing the SCOTUS Ruling

- First Amendment Defense Act

- New  - Currently  - Updates  - Done

- Steps to Abolishing Same-Sex Marriage

- Limiting Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

- New  - Currently  - Updates  - Done

- A Different Court This Time

- Same-Sex Marriage License Obstacle

- New  - Currently  - Updates  - Done

Reversing the
April 2017

Can the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage be reversed; or otherwise can same-sex-marriage be abolished?


For starters, three-fourths votes by state legislators can amendment the Constitution that would reverse the court’s ruling. That is how Prohibition was repealed in 1933.


Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court can overrule itself. It happened in 2003 when Congress passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, in response to the court in Stenberg v. Carhart ruling that the partial-birth abortion ban in Nebraska had been ruled unconstitutional.


Likewise in 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed itself in Gonzales v. Carhart to uphold Congress’s Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. 


Another scenario of what could happen with same-sex marriage is Congress pass a law banning it, which, of course, would be unconstitutional and challenged in the courts.


In that scenario eventually it would reach the higher court, which would then revisit arguments against same-sex marriage and depending on the Justices, reach a different ruling than the past one.





First Amendment Defense Act

February 8, 2019


The "First Amendment Defense Act" (FADA) was first introduced in the 114th Congress which met from January 6, 2015 to January 3, 2017; but was never put to vote.[1] Legislation not enacted by the end of a Congress is cleared from the books.


Senator Mike Lee of Utah and 21 other Republicans reintroduced the FADA in the 115th Congress which met from January 3, 2017 to January 3, 2019.[2]


While FADA is the short titled of the bill, the longer official titled reads:


"A bill to ensure that the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as a union of one man and one woman, or two individuals as recognized under Federal law, or that sexual relations outside marriage are improper."[3]


In reintroducing the bill, Senator Lee stated the FADA again was "designed to prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals or institutions based on their beliefs about marriage."


"What an individual or organization believes about the traditional definition of marriage is not — and should never be — a part of the government’s decision-making process when distributing licenses, accreditations or grants," Senator Lee said. "The First Amendment Defense Act simply ensures that this will always be true in America — that federal bureaucrats will never have the authority to require those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage to choose between their living in accordance with those beliefs and maintaining their occupation or their tax status."[4]


The reintroduced FADA made two notable changes compared with its earlier version. It excluded from the bill’s protections publicly traded for-profit entities, federal employees, federal contractors and certain health care providers. The bill also expanded its scope to protect those whose religious beliefs put them in opposition to same-sex marriage or any marriage recognized under federal law. The reintroduced bill retained text, however, which frames the bill as responding to "conflicts between same-sex marriage and religious liberty."


Again the bill was never put to vote, thus cleared from the books and with a democrat controlled House it is doubtful we will see its reintroduction in the 116th Congress.


President Trump promised to sign the FADA if and when it is presented to him.




[1] HR 2802; S 1598

[2] S 2525

[3] Id.

[4] See,




The Colorado Bakery Case


Repose From Earlier Date

November 9, 2018

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges[1] legalized "same-sex marriage" across the country, there have been a number of high profile court cases against businesses and business owners who, for religious reasons, declined to apply their creative skills to gratifying or approving of same-sex marriage.


The first of these cases to reach the U.S. Supreme Court was Masterpiece v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission,[2] involving a Colorado cake artist who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding reception.


In the summer of 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood (suburb of Denver), Colorado, and requested that its owner, Jack C. Phillips, design and create a cake for their wedding. Jack declined to do so on the grounds that he does not create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of his religious beliefs.


Jack believes that decorating cakes is a form of art through which he can honor God and that it would go against God to create cakes for same-sex marriages.


Later in legal briefs the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who represented the two men, citing an Administrative Law Judge pointed out that the couple was directed to the "consulting table" to discuss with Jack the cakes creation and design:


"They introduced themselves as 'David' and 'Charlie' and said that they wanted a wedding cake for 'our wedding.'  Phillips informed [them] that he does not create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings.  Phillips told the men, 'I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.' The couple immediately got up and left without anything else being said."[3]


The couple then made a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Division, alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). After the Division issued a notice of determination finding probable cause, the couple filed a formal complaint with the Office of Administrative Courts alleging that Masterpiece discriminated against them in a place of public accommodation in violation of CADA.


An administrative law judge issued an order finding in favor of the couple, which was affirmed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The order required that Masterpiece (1) take remedial measures, including comprehensive staff training and alteration to the company’s policies to ensure compliance with CADA; and (2) file quarterly compliance reports for two years. The Colorado Court of Appeals subsequently affirmed the Commission’s ruling.


The two men married not in Colorado where same-sex marriage at the time was not legal; but in Massachusetts.[4] Additionally, they received from another bakery a “free” rainbow-themed custom cake.[5]


Jack started his family owned business Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993. From day one he has integrated his faith into his work, even closing the shop on Sundays.


Designing and creating specially commissioned cakes is a form of art and expression, Jack explains, the pinnacle of which is wedding cakes.


While he serves everyone there are certain cakes Jack cannot let himself create, such as those with Halloween or adult themes—or in this case, same-sex weddings cakes.


Jack’s case is considered by many a major test of a clash between laws that ban businesses open to the public from refusing services based on sexual orientation and claims of religious freedom. Around the nation, businesses like bakeries, florists and photography studios have said that forcing them to serve same-sex couples violates their constitutional rights.


The question before the U.S. Supreme Court when it finally reached there was: "Whether applying Colorado’s public-accommodation law to compel artists to create expression that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment."


However, the U.S. Supreme Court instead issued what is referred to as “a narrow ruling” or one that is tailored to the case specifically.


On June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Jack,[6] the key points of which are:[7]


– The Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s decision in favor of a gay couple who wanted a wedding cake violated constitutional rights not to base laws on “hostility to a religion,” the court said. The baker’s claim that he was using his voice and artistic expression to create a cake has a “significant First Amendment speech component and implicates his deep and sincere religious beliefs.”


– The Colorado commission’s decision was “inconsistent with the state’s obligation of religious neutrality.”


– Religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are, in some instances, "protected forms of expression," the court ruled. Colorado law that protects gay people’s rights to buy products "must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion."


– The commission was inconsistent, the ruling said. It decided in at least three other cases that bakers acted lawfully when they refused to create cakes that demeaned gay people or gay marriage. Those other rulings occurred while the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop was pending, the Supreme Court noted.


– The commission’s treatment of Masterpiece Cakeshop showed a "clear and impermissible hostility" toward the baker’s religious beliefs, the high court ruled. Some of Colorado’s commissioners even disparaged the baker’s faith as "despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical," comparing the baker’s religious defense to defenses used to justify slavery or the Holocaust, the Supreme Court said.


– Society has "come to the recognition" that gay people cannot be "treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his opinion. However, religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are "protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression."



[1] Obergefell v. Hodges, No. 14–556, 576 U.S. ___ (2015).

[2] Masterpiece v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111, 584 U.S. ___ (2018).

[3] See, (The discussion between Jack and the couple lasted less than 30 seconds.)

[4] See,

[5] See, (“Craig and Mullins received a free rainbow-themed custom cake from another local business.”)

[6] See,; and

[7] Interpreted by and quoted from The Denver Post at


Repose From Earlier Date

August 15, 2018

Jack is facing another legal challenge, this time by an attorney in transition from male to female who filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.


"On the very day that the Supreme Court decided to hear Jack’s case in June of 2017, an attorney called Jack’s shop asking for a custom cake. The attorney wanted a cake that would be blue on the outside and pink on the inside in order to celebrate that attorney’s transition from male to female."


"This time, he’s going on the offensive. Now the transvestite cake patrol is out requesting goodies they know full well he won’t make. He’s suing and we hope he wins a shipload of money."


Quoting the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who is again representing Jack.[1]


On the same day which the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review Masterpiece v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111, Jack received a call from attorney Autumn Scardina requesting that Jack make for him a custom cake for his gender transition celebration. "Similar calls followed in the weeks and months to come, with requests for cakes featuring sexually explicit messages, marijuana, Satan, sex toys, and more."[2]


Jack declined each of these requests, which he believes came exclusively from Scardina, who then filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) for discrimination on the basis of gender identity; which just three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling again issued a probable cause determination.[3]


This time having gone on the offensive a lawsuit was filed on Jack’s behalf in the U.S. District Court, against the Director and all members of the CCRC, the Colorado Attorney General and Colorado Governor. See, Complaint in footnote.[4]



[1] See,

[2] See,

[3] Id.

[4] See,


December 18, 2018


On December 18, 2018, state officials argued for Jack’s lawsuit to be dismissed, but the judge said he was inclined to let the case move forward and would issue a written ruling later.


U.S. District Court Judge Wiley Daniel said he would not make any final decisions during a hearing Tuesday in Denver, but he indicated that he was inclined to allow the case to continue. Daniel also said he likely would deny a request by cake shop owner Jack Phillips’s attorneys to stop the state’s investigation into whether Phillips discriminated against a transgender woman when he refused to make a cake for her.


“This case needs to find a forward track,” Judge Daniel said after explaining his decisions.



January 4, 2019

Less than a hour ago U.S. District Senior Judge Wiley Y. Daniel DENIED the motion to dismiss, which allows Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Elenis, No. 1:18-cv-02074, to move foreward.

The Conclusion of the order reads:


Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 64) is DENIED IN PART AND GRANTED IN PART as detailed in this Order. Accordingly, it is Case 1:18-cv-02074-WYD-STV Document 94 Filed 01/04/19 USDC Colorado Page 52 of 53 53 ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss based on the abstention doctrines under Younger, Pullman, Burford, and Colorado River is DENIED.


It is FURTHER ORDERED that Attorney General Coffman’s Motion to Dismiss the claims against her based on the Eleventh Amendment is DENIED.


It is FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Phillips’ challenges to C.R.S. § 24-34-701 for lack of standing is DENIED.


It is FURTHER ORDERED that Director Elenis’ and the Defendant Commissioners’ Motion to Dismiss Phillips’ claims against them for compensatory, punitive, and nominal damages is GRANTED and those claims are DISMISSED.


It is FURTHER ORDERED that Governor Hickenlooper’s Motion to Dismiss Phillips’ claims for prospective relief against him based on the Eleventh Amendment is GRANTED and he is DISMISSED.


Dated: January 4, 2019.




March 5, 2019

Today (3-5-19) the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) dismissed its action against Jack Phillip. In response, Jack and his ADF attorneys dropped its counter-lawsuit. [1], [2]


Media and other overages state that the CCRC had no choice after it was exposed by what ADF called "overwhelming evidence" that revealed clear hostility toward religious freedom. Elsewhere, ADF shared:


 “As a Christian, your faith is at the very core of who you are, and it naturally guides your art. You should never have to forsake your beliefs in order to create, even though it seems the culture may be demanding just that. Simply put: you have the freedom to use your God-given creative talents only for projects that are consistent with your religious beliefs, and we are dedicated to helping you protect that freedom.” [3]


[1] See,

[2] See, VIDEO: (Victory for Jack Phillips as overwhelming evidence of government hostility emerges. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission finally abandons its harassment of cake artist who prevailed at US Supreme Court).

[3] See,…/big-win-for-jack!-colorado-ends-crusade-….


July 10, 2019

A third legal action against Jack has been filed in Colorado state court, by Autumn Scardina, the transsexual the state earlier filed in behalf of but then dropped the lawsuit. The newest lawsuit claims Phillips discriminated against Scardina and used deceptive and unfair trade practices.


A formal statement was later distributed on Jack’s behalf by Alliance Defending Freedom, stating:


“A new lawsuit has been filed against Masterpiece Cakeshop that appears to largely rehash old claims. The State of Colorado abandoned similar ones just a few months ago. So this latest attack by Scardina looks like yet another desperate attempt to harass cake artist Jack Phillips. And it stumbles over the one detail that matters most: Jack serves everyone; he just cannot express all messages through his custom cakes.”



See, ADF Article, at


See, Scardina’s Complaint, at


See, Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Complaint, at




Florist Sued After Declining Flower Arrangement for Same-Sex Marriage


Repose From Earlier Date

November 8, 2018

It is a case many are well familiar with. Barronelle Stutzman who has been a florist for more than 30 years is sole owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington.  She has served and employed people who identify as LGBT for her entire career.


One such customer and longtime friend of hers, Rob Ingersoll one day asked her to create a flower arrangement for his upcoming marriage to another man. In her own words as read in The Seattle Times, Barronelle acknowledged that she “knew he was in a relationship with a man and he knew [she] was a Christian. But that never clouded the friendship for either of [them] until he asked [her] to design something special to celebrate his upcoming wedding.”


She declined his request because of her religious faith and the two of them talked about it. Rob assured her that he understood. She then suggested three others nearby florists who would be willing to do the flower arrangement for him. Barronelle felt that they parted as friends still.


Word of what happened spread got out via social media resulting in the Washington State attorney general deciding to take matters into his own hands and sued her. On top of that, Rob who she had been friends with for all those years and his partner, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), also sued her.   


Eventually the two cases were consolidated. Each of the Washington state court’s hearing the case decided against Barronelle. In July 2017, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) representing Barronelle petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take her case.


On June 25, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to the Washington Supreme Court, after vacating that court’s decision and instructing it to reconsider her lawsuit in light of the decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  Arlene’s Flowers Inc. v. Washington, Supreme Court No. 17-108.


The Seattle Times


ADF Article


U.S. Supreme Court Docket


Washington State Court Docket


September 9, 2018

Court Schedule (preceding court making decision):


Appellants' Opening Brief, not to exceed 50 pages in length: October 10, 2018.

Respondents' Response Briefs, not to exceed 50 pages in length: November 9, 2018.

Appellants' Reply Brief, not to exceed 25 pages in length: December 10, 2018.

Amicus Briefs, not to exceed 20 pages in length: December 21, 2018.

Answers to Amicus Briefs, not to exceed 20 pages in length: January 7, 2019.



Court Order


March 5, 2019

On March 5, 2018, the States of Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and West Virginia and Kentucky, jointly filed an amici curiae brief in support of Arlene’s Flowers, Court No. 91615-2.




Amici Curiae Brief's%20Flowers/Washington%20v.%20Arlene's%20Flowers.pdf


March 5, 2019

On June 6, 2019, the Washington Supreme Court ruled its state courts did not act with religious animus when they ruled that Arlene's Flowers broke the state's anti-discrimination law by declining on religious grounds to create flower arrangements for a same-sex marriage. It will again be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.



Court Ruling


September 11, 2019

Petition for a writ of certiorari filed September 11, 2019. (Response due October 15, 2019)


Court Docket

Steps to Abolishing
Same-Sex Marriage
April 2017


There are steps to abolishing same-sex marriage, which have been identified as:


Step 1: Weaken the protections of same-sex marriage (in various states there are subtler efforts already underway);


Step 2: Strategically appointing Republicans in key positions (already done); and


Step 3: Set up constitutional conflicts in the states, forcing the issue before the courts to again be heard (the easiest of the three steps).


According to Matt Braume contributor to The Huffington Post, referencing the National Organization for Marriage. See, Could Republicans Undo Marriage Equality? Yes—And Here’s How, The Huffington Post, December 19, 2016.


See also, Donald Trump’s Supreme Court

Won’t Just Overturn Gay Marriage and Abortion Cases, The Daily Beast, November 9, 2016.


The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), founded in 2007, says it was created "in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures," that it "serves as a national resource for marriage related initiatives at the

state and local level."





Free Speech Fairness Act

Reversing the Johnson Amendment


May 1, 2017


On May 4, 2017, President Trump signed a Presidential Executive Order effectively telling the IRS not to enforce the Johnson Amendment of 1954 which was a ticket to censor the speech of pastors, churches, and other nonprofit entities on issues related to candidates and elections.  


The Johnson Amendment resulted in IRS tax code (501(c)(3) prohibits nonprofit organization including churches from participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.



December 14, 2017


A measure within the recent federal tax bill would have took it a step further, with legislation that would have removed altogether the IRS tax code barring churches from endorsing political candidates.


However, the Senate’s parliamentarian struck out the language overturning the Johnson Amendment, stating it "did not meet Senate rules that require elements of the tax bill to have something to do with the budget."


Essentially, the Johnson Amendment which result in Section 501(c)(3) gives tax-exempt status to a church as long as it “does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing for statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”


It greatly restricted the free speech of pastors and churches. The words “in opposition to” were added in 1986. Ass’n of the Bar of the City of N.Y. v. Comm’r, 858 F.2d 876, 879 (2d Cir. 1988).


 This does not end the push to remove altogether the Johnson Amendment, but is only a minor set back, various Senators say.





City Punishing Farmer Who

Denied Same-Sex Wedding on His Private Property


March 12, 2018

The City of East Lansing, Michigan, wanted to deny a vendors application to a Farmer who 22 miles away denied a same-sex couple’s request to marry on his private property.

Steve Tennes, along with his wife and five young children own and operate 120-acre apple orchard farm in Charlotte, Michigan. Steve is also a military veteran.

In 2014, Steven denied a same-sex couple uses his property for their wedding; citing his religious conviction. Later Steve posted on his Facebook page his religious views on same-sex marriage.

Some 22 miles away the City of East Lansing, where Steve sold his apples in the markets, after becoming aware of the incident two years earlier, in 2016 asked Steve to stop selling in the City’s markets.

Finally in 2017, the city of East Lansing denied Country Mill Farms' vendors application, citing a newly amended vendors policy. The policy included a new stipulation stating vendors must comply with the city's nondiscrimination civil rights ordinances both at the market and as "a general business practice."

With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), in May 2017 a complaint on behalf of Steven was filed in court against the City of Lansing stating its new policy, among other things, "violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution as well as state law that prohibits Michigan cities from regulating activities outside city boundaries."

On September 15, 2017, the U.S. District Court issued a lengthy Opinion and Order Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction, stating that Steve had "Plaintiffs have established a substantial likelihood that the City of East Lansing’s decision to deny Country Mill’s vendor application for the 2017 East Lansing Farmer’s Market violates [his] freedom from speech retaliation and their free exercise of religion."

The court’s Order forced the City of East Lansing to grant Steven a vendor’s application, as the case moves forward.

Per the court’s additional Case Management Order on January 18, 2018, a settlement conference is scheduled for October 2, 2017; final pretrial conference is set for April 15, 2019; and if needed a trial date will be noted thereafter.


Preliminary Injunction Order,; cf.…/country-mill-farms-v-city-of-east-la….
Court Docket…/country-mill-farms-llc-v-east-lans…/; and/or…/Country_Mill_Farms,_LLC_et_al_v_East….


November 28, 2018

A settlement conference was rescheduled for February 6, 2019.



January 30, 2019

January 24, 2019, Country Mill Farms filed a Motion for Summary Judgment.


January 30, 2019, the settlement conference set for February 6, 2019, was cancelled pending further order (outcome Motion for Summary Judgment).


April 12, 2019, motion hearing set for Motion for Summary Judgment.




Court Docket


Motion Summary Judgment


September 6, 2019

A settlement conference was rescheduled for December 11, 2019.





City of Phoenix Says No To Art Studio: Christians Must Promote

 Same-Sex Marriage


October 26, 2017

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski are the owners of Brush & Nib Studio in Phoenix, Arizona. They believe that God called and equipped them to be artists, that they must glorify God with their artistic talents and artwork, and that they cannot do anything in their art business that violates their religious beliefs or dishonors God.


In that spirit Joanna and Breanna wanted to include on their website for Brush & Nib Studio a statement informing prospective customers of the religious inspiration behind their art, their religious beliefs about art and marriage, and how their beliefs impact the artwork they create and their artistic message.


 Also in their statement they wanted it to read that they cannot "create any artwork that violates their vision as defined by their religious and artistic beliefs and identity,” such as art “that demeans others, endorses racism, incites violence, contradicts their Christian faith, or promotes any marriage except marriage between one man and one woman," such as same-sex marriage.


However, city ordinance § 18-4(B), as city officials pointed out, demanded that Joanna and Breanna instead use their artistic talents to promote same-sex wedding ceremonies and also forbid them from publicly communicating the Christian beliefs that require them to create art celebrating only marriages between one man and one woman.


Ironically, while city officials took extra issue with that part of the statement which read "[w]e believe that God created marriage as a life-long union exclusively for one man and one woman";  city officials also acknowledged that businesses were permitted to publish their beliefs supporting same-sex marriage.


Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit (Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix) on behalf Joanna and Breanna in May 2016, based on the First Amendment and other laws violated. The case is pretty simple in that no American, including artists, should have the government force them to create art against their artistic and religious beliefs.


Both the Maricopa County Superior Court (Case No. CV 2016-052251) and the Arizona Court of Appeals (Case No. 1 CA-CV 16-0602) refused to side with Joanna and Breanna. Their case is again being appealed.



October 1, 2018

Briefs have been filed asking the Arizona Supreme Court to review the case; including a number of friend-of-the-courts (or Amicus) briefs. In one such brief by Arizona lawmakers interestingly points out:


“Given the happy variety of Arizonans’ backgrounds in our state melting pot, the question posed in this case could take the following forms out [of] a myriad: May Arizona’s government require a fine art painter with a public portraiture business and who is a self-avowed feminist to create a portrait that features the denigration of women? May Arizona’s government force a Muslim cartoonist who openly commissions his work to the public to accept a request to create a cartoon image of the Quran’s desecration? Perhaps Arizona’s government may require a Jewish sculptor for hire to create a work denigrating the Torah? … This is no parade of horribles, no hyperbole; they are permissible consequences of affirming the [Court of Appeals].”

Amici Curiae in support of Petitioners Brush & Nib: 11

Amici Curiae in support of Respondent City of Phoenix: 6



Plaintiff’s Brief

Lawmakers’ Brief

ADF Article


January 22, 2019

Video of Arizona Supreme Court oral arguments on January 22, 2019, in Brush & Nib vs. City of Phoenix, CV-18-0176-PR, can be seen at:

A summary prepared by the Arizona Supreme Court staff including the Facts and Issues of this case, identifies two issues being considered by the court:


(1) Does Phoenix violate the Arizona Constitution’s Free Speech Clause when it forces commissioned artists to create custom artwork—consisting of words and paintings— conveying messages they object to and when it bans commissioned artists from publishing a statement explaining the artwork they can and cannot create?


(2) Does Phoenix violate Arizona’s Free Exercise of Religion Act when it uses criminal penalties—including jail time—to force commissioned artists to create custom artwork expressing messages that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs and when it bans religiously motivated speech?



September 16, 2019

Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Phoenix's Brush & Nib Studio, no longer have to make custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples, Arizona’s top court ruled today.


Today in a 4-3 decision, the Arizona Supreme Court declared that the Phoenix nondiscrimination ordinance is in violation of the constitution. It further declared that Brush & Nib Studio is not required under the Phoenix ordinance to design same-sex wedding invitations. [1]


The court explained, "The rights of free speech and free exercise, so precious to this nation since its founding, are not limited to soft murmurings behind the doors of a person's home or church, or private conversations with like-minded friends and family. These guarantees protect the right of every American to express their beliefs in public. This includes the right to create and sell words, paintings, and art that express a person's sincere religious beliefs.


"The City of Phoenix cannot apply its Human Relations Ordinance to force Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski, owners of Brush & Nib Studios, to create custom wedding invitations celebrating same-sex wedding ceremonies in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs. Duka, Koski, and Brush & Nib have the right to refuse to express such messages under Article 2, Section 6 of the Arizona Constitution, as well as Arizona's Free Exercise of Religion Act.”


In other words, the ordinance giving special protection rights to LGBT cannot be used to force artists to create custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples and business owners have the right to choose who they do business with.


“‘Today freedom won,’ ADF Attorney Jonathan Scruggs said. ‘A government that can crush Joanna and Breanna can crush us all.’ Scruggs noted that they're watching similar cases in other parts of the country, and hoping the issue will eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”




See, Arizona Supreme Court ruling,

See, Alliance Defending freedom (ADF) article,!-arizona-supreme-court-upholds-freedom-of-two-phoenix-artists?fbclid=IwAR1thvCYVJG78tKGXWICEtN8lcgLRQJRl-dyTRHDCpV0TQQZw2YqWNggHvs.

See, Phoenix Times article,




The Bakersfield's Bakery Case


February 8, 2018


In a religion verses same-sex marriage case, Kern County Superior Court Judge David R. Lampe ruled against the State of California, which took legal action against Cathy Miller for her refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage.


Cathy Miller of Tastiest Bakery in Bakersfield, California, for religious reasons refused to create a cake for a same-sex couple — stating she could not create a cake for the couple’s wedding because same-sex marriage clashed with her Christian faith. She instead referred them to another bakery.


Judge Lampe ruled in Cathy’s favor, saying her actions were protected by the First Amendment, because making a cake can be considered an act of artistic expression.

The ruling allows Miller to continue denying wedding cakes to same-sex couples until the case returns to court in June, 2018.





June 14, 2018

This case ended in favor of Tastries Bakery.


After the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop, lawyers in this case issued a statement reading:


“We are pleased the Supreme Court has recognized the long held principle that government cannot show hostility to citizens who live and work according to their most deeply held religious beliefs. As we argued in our defense of Cathy, people of faith should not be persecuted for refusing to use their artistic talents to promote messages that violate their conscience. Cathy loves to serve all people at her bakery, including LGBT persons, but she will not compromise her unwavering belief in God’s design for marriage.


"The Supreme Court ruled that lower courts must balance the rights of religious persons and LGBT persons, and we are confident that on balance Cathy properly exercised her rights by respectfully offering to connect the LGBT couple that came into her shop with a rival baker who would gladly make their wedding cake. The only thing the couple was not offered was the right to force Cathy to violate her religious beliefs—that is not a right to which they are entitled."


Following that statement on June 14, 2018, California dropped its appeal to this case. California Kern County Docket No. BCV-17-102855 (Abandonment of Appeal).





Court Docket/Info


Eyewitness News, FOX 54




Bill to Make Same-Sex Marriage

Illegal/Parody Marriage


February 15, 2019

North Carolina 2019-20 Legislative Session: House Bill 65, the Marriage Amendment Reaffirmation Act.


In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court in deciding Obergefell v. Hodges effectively legalized “same-sex marriage” and invalidated state constitutional amendments banning it, including North Carolina’s.


HB 65 (see link below) seeks to nullify the Supreme Court’s decision in North Carolina and challenge its constitutionality nationwide.


It would declare same-sex marriage illegal in defiance of the Supreme Court; defining any marriage that is not between a man and a woman as a “parody marriage” and opposed to the "nature of the human species."


HB 65 comes in the wake of another, similar piece of legislation from the 2017-2018 legislative session, House Bill 780. While they both would make same-sex marriage illegal again in North Carolina, their methods are different. The latter did not make it out of committees before the end of the Session.




House Bill 65

Bill Tracking

Obergefell v. Hodges




Limiting Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

December 4, 2017


Same-sex couples can get married in Texas, but they will not have the same rights that heterosexual couples do.


On January 4, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the City of Houston’s request to review whether Houston taxpayers may challenge the city’s policy of providing spousal benefits to the homosexual partners of city employees.


At issue was whether after Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex spouses of public employees were entitled to spousal benefits, in Texas.


Petitioners Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks, as taxpayers argued that the City of Houston illegally provided such benefits. In response, the City of Houston asserted “governmental immunity” and "lack of standing" in an effort to get the case dismissed, without having to argue the actual arguments of the case.


On June 30, 2017, the Texas Supreme Court rejected the City of Houston’s effort to dismiss the case and in doing so dug into Obergefell v. Hodges—essentially limiting its scope, especially in how it is applied at the state level. See, Pidgeon v. City of Houston, No. 15-0688 (


Justice Boyd writing for the Texas Supreme Court in its 24-page opinion, said there is still room for state courts to explore the "reach and ramifications" of Obergefell v. Hodges, which did not fully address the right to marriage benefits. Id.


The City of Houston then sought certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court which, as indicated above, was denied. See, Turner v. Pidgeon, No. 17-424 (


Since this case began, more than 70 elected officials including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton have weighed-in, lending support for the plaintiffs, Jack Pidgeon and Larry Hicks. See,

A Different
Court This Time
April 2017


Since Obergefell v. Hodges, advocates for LGBT have made little progress on anything else; for every step they have taken forward they have been pushed back two. Nor does it look like it will be getting any better for them.


Three out of the five Justices who voted in favor of same-sex marriage are in their 80’s and a third, 79 years old and  not in the best of health. That means President Trump could be replacing even more justices, with conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

All indications are that Justice Kennedy, the swing vote and author of Obergefell v. Hodges is expected to retire probably earlier 2018.


Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage, last November said:


"We will work with President Trump to nominate conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, individuals who will adhere to the words and 

meaning of the constitution. Such justices

will inevitably reverse the anti-constitutional ruling of the Supreme Court imposing

same-sex‘marriage’ on the nation in the

Obergefell decision, because that decision lacked any basis in the constitution."


Of course, even just one additional conservative justice to the U.S. Supreme Court would be advocates for LGBT worst scenario. After that all that would be needed is a conflict on the issue

of same-sex marriage and the court could revisit its earlier decision.


October 6, 2018

On April 10, 2017, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch replaced Justice Scalia who had passed away.

On October 6, 2018, Justice Brett Kavanaugh replaced Justice Kennedy who retired.

Both Scalia and Kennedy voted in favor of same-sex marriage. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are considered to be conservatives.

President Donald Trump

Does Not Support Same-Sex Marriages



Pew Survey

Same-Sex Marriage


August 2017

A recent Pew Survey of 2,504 adults was conducted June 8-18, 2017, via landline and cellphone, with resulting indicating:


A slim majority of Americans (62%) support same-sex marriage, while 32% oppose it. That is 2% less than a poll by Gallup a month earlier.



Gallup Poll

Same-Sex Marriage


May 2019

A recent Gallup Poll survey of 1,009 adults was conducted May 1-12, 2019, via landline and cellphone, with results indicating:


Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say same-sex marriages should be recognized by the law as valid; lowest percentage the past two years, after peaking in 2018 at sixty-seven percent.

NOTE: Gallup is believed by many to structure polling in favor of liberal views, and frequently accused of inaccurate results. In July 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that Gallup agreed to pay $10.5 million to settle a case that it violated the False Claims Act and the Procurement Integrity Act. That same year the accuracy of Gallup polling on religious faith was also seriously questioned.



Gallup Poll

Numbers Same-Sex Marriage


June 2017

Two years after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriages across the nation, 10.2% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) adults in the U.S. are married to a same-sex spouse. That is up from 7.9% in the months prior to the Supreme Court decision in 2015, but only marginally higher than the 9.6% measured in the first year after the ruling. Gallup Poll, June 22, 2017.




Lawmakers Again Want to

Change Definition of Marriage


May 10, 2017

Nevada remains one of a number of states which define marriage as between a man and a woman; although the now democrat controlled legislature in that state wants to delete the now-defunct same-sex marriage ban in their state constitution.


As democrat lawmakers point out—seeing in the near future the Supreme Court’s reversal on same-sex marriage—“keeping the ban language means Nevada would automatically reinstate the discriminatory policy should a conservative high court someday overturn the decision that Supreme Court justices approved 5-4.” After Legalization, States Still Debate Gay Marriage, Alison Noon, Associate Press, February 22, 2017.


The earliest the Nevada definition of same-sex marriage would go on a statewide ballot for change is in 2020. In the mean time, due to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, Nevada’s definition of marriage is non-enforceable.




Effectively the Legal Right to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage


October 6,, 2017

See on this website Opposition page, "Effectively the Legal Right to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage" article, and much more.




"Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act"


July 6, 2017

On July 6, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in a 3-0 ruling lift the ban from a lower court that had blocked a Mississippi law titled the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act.


The law now enforceable, among other things, allow government clerks to opt out of certifying same-sex marriages(though only if the marriage is not “impeded or delayed” by their decision) and allow businesses to deny wedding-related services to same-sex couples if their marriage contravened “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”


Opponents had argued aggressively that part of the law they say allows religious organizations to engage in job and housing discrimination against LGBT people; allow public school counselors to refuse to work with LGBT students; and potentially force child-welfare agencies to place LGBT children with non-same-sex parents.


Reportedly it is the broadest religious-objections law enacted by any state. It protects three beliefs: that marriage is only between a man and a woman, sex should only take place in such a marriage, and a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.


Opponents say they will seek a full 5th Circuit Court review in hopes of again blocking the law from being enforced.


October 4, 2017

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit today refused to hear any more appeals and said it will not delay any further enforcement of the above law.

The law goes into effect October 10, 2017.



October 29, 2017

A gay rights group is getting one more chance at challenging the above law which took effect October 10, 2017.


"It is an equally transparent attempt to endorse particular religious beliefs as state policy," wrote the attorneys from the national gay-rights group Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund and the Mississippi Center for Justice.


Alliance Defending Freedom, who is defending the Colorado baker case which the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this December, also helped write the above Mississippi law.


January 8, 2018


Today, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal by LGBT activist in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, challenging the "Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act" claiming its religious-liberty protection actually established an official state religion in Mississippi, violating the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause.…/supreme-court-begins-2018-rejecting-ca…/…/367891-supreme-court-refuses-to-hear-c…




Amendment to Polygamy Laws


July 9, 2017

When one thinks of polygamy relationships, they may in the same thought think Utah or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Actually, the Mormons, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are commonly refered to, in 1890 officially abandoned the practice of polygamy relationships or marriages. But that has not stopped it. Today there are 30,000 polygamists in Utah.


Ironically, polygamy laws in Utah are the strictest of all states because they bar married people from living with a second purported “spiritual spouse” even if the man is legally married to just one woman.


In February 2017 the laws on polygamy in Utah got even stricter or at least the punishment did. The amendment to the already existing laws provide for harsher punishments, if those convicted of the crime of polygamy are also convicted of other crimes such as domestic abuse or fraud.


Even with the new harsher punishment, however, Utah’s Attorney General said the amendment does not change its long-standing policy that they will not go after otherwise law-abiding polygamists.


In the mean time, supporters of polygamy are steadfast on they will continue fighting for a change, arguing that for the same reasons that same-sex marriage is now legal across the country, so should polygamy be legal.


As supporters of polygamy continue their fight, supporters of incestuous marriages wait for their progress saying that a victory for polygamy is another victory for them.



See Opposition page, “The Door Same-Sex Marriage Opened”




Dismissed: Lawsuit Challenging

Law Magistrates Not Required to

Perform Same-Sex Marriages


June 28, 2017

On June 28, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in a 3-0 ruling dismissed a lawsuit angering same-sex couples.


The lawsuit was filed against North Carolina’s bill SB2, also known as the Marriage Recusal law. The law specifically gives magistrates the right to refuse to perform same-sex marriages if doing so would violate “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Clerks also have the right to refuse to issue marriage licenses under this law.


Any magistrate who files a refusal under this law, however, cannot perform any marriages for six months afterward. Also, the law requires counties to make other magistrates or staffers available to handle marriage licenses and same-sex weddings in the event of recusals.


The three judge panel from the 4th Circuit unanimously dismissed the couples’ lawsuit, saying that SB2 clearly had not hurt their ability to get married, and for that reason stated that the defendants did not have standing for the lawsuit.


Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, for the Court, wrote: “At the heart of this lawsuit is a debate over the extent to which religious accommodations can coexist with the constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”




Bills Affecting

Same-Sex Marriage

July 21, 2017

An update and replacement to the original posting April 10, 2017, pertaining to the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.


After Tennessee lawmakers passed House Bill 1111 (also called Senate Bill 1085), Governor Bill Haslam signed the legislation into law on May 5, 2017, to take effect immediately. [1]

The new law requires that words in Tennessee laws to be interpreted as having their "natural and ordinary meaning." [2]


The new law does not explicitly cite "husband," "wife," "mother," and "father" as having natural and ordinary meanings based on the biological distinctions between men and women. However, it does state that any word undefined in state law must be used according to its "natural and ordinary meaning. The intent being undefined words mean what they meant at the time lawmakers put them into law."[3]


Some, including those in the LGBT community, see it as a way of denying same-sex couples the legal rights and protections granted to a "husband," a "wife," a "father" or "mother."


Two lesbian couples, each pregnant via artificial insemination, on May 10, 2017, filed a lawsuit. In it they claim the law interpreting words such as "mother" and "husband" in lesbian relations and marriages will interfere with nonbiological parents’ rights. [4]


Specifically, the two lesbian couples claim "a child born as a result of artificial insemination, with the consent of a married woman’s husband, is deemed to be the legitimate child of the husband and wife. Tennessee courts have interpreted the laws reference to 'husband' to include spouses of lesbians."[5]


The new law, the two lesbian couples say, "would change that interpretation and they are asking a court to give them the same protection given to male husbands." [6]


Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss which the Court on July 21, 2017, granted. [7]



[1] See,

[2] See,

[3] See e.g.,

[4] See,, and

[5] See,

[6] Id.

[7] See,




The Natural Marriage Defense Act

February 1, 2019


Three years ago, Tennessee introduced a bill that would “defend natural marriage between one man and one woman,” with the goal of barring same-sex marriages. The bill, referred to as the “The Natural Marriage Defense Act,” failed in the House of Representatives.


Another bill (HB 1111) did pass and was signed into law stating in pertinent part: "undefined words shall be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language, except when a contrary intention is clearly manifest." [1]


Liberals saw it as a way of denying same-sex couples the legal rights and protections granted to a "husband," a "wife," a "father" or "mother." A challenged to the new law in court failed. [2]




Republicans in Tennessee have reintroduced The Natural Marriage Defense Act (SB1282/HB1369) for their 2019 legislative session, in a new effort to prevent government officials from recognizing same-sex marriages. [3]


The bill would prohibit government officials, such as clerks who give out marriage licenses, from recognizing any ruling that affirms same-sex unions. It also specifies that they will not be arrested for failing to recognize same-sex marriages.


Additionally, the bill would require that Tennessee’s attorney general defends this law in any subsequent court challenges.


The Natural Marriage Defense Act declares that the Supreme Court’s decision in 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation is “unauthoritative, void, and of no effect.” [4]


[1] See here “Tennessee, Bills Affecting Same-Sex Marriage.”

[2] Id.

[3] See,

[4] Id.


June 3, 2019

Both, SB1282/HB1369 bills never advanced in committee during their legislative session. [1]


Republicans have vowed to reintroduce similar bills again in 2020.


A similar bill in Kansas (HB2320) remains active but was adjoined until January 13, 2020. [2], [3]



[1] SB1282/HB1369

[2] HB2320

[3] HB2320 Adjoined




Same-Sex Marriage

License Obstacle


May 2017


Texas Senate passed its bill (SB 522) allowing religious clerks to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and on May 9, 2017 referred to State Affairs.  


Under the new bill most couples would undergo the same process. But if any clerk has "a sincerely held religious belief" that prevents them from issuing a license, they will not be made to issue the license.


Instead, counties will be required to designate a county employee to serve as the "certifying official" when nobody else is willing to issue a license. If no county employee volunteers, the commissioner’s court can contract with somebody else to do issue the license—even if issued over the phone.




Tribal Attorney General

Same-Sex Marriage


April  16, 2017

On December 9, 2016, Cherokee National Attorney General Tom Hembree declared unconstitutional the tribal ban on marriage between “parties of the same gender.”


The decision carries the force of law and legalizes same-sex marriage in the Oklahoma-based Cherokee Nation, the second largest tribe in the United States, with about 300,000 members.


Still, the vast majority of Indian Tribes do not recognize same-sex marriage.





Photographer Can Refuse Same-Sex Wedding Photos


August 1, 2017

A photographer can reject job requests based on religious beliefs against same-sex marriage, says a Wisconsin county court and government officials.


Amy Lynn Lawson, owner of Amy Lynn Photography Studio in Madison, Wisconsin,

filed what is known as a "pre-enforcement challenge" lawsuit against the City of Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.


Ms. Lawson, who works out of her home, claimed that the city’s public accommodations ordinance and the state’s public accommodations law prohibit her from conducting her business, according to the dictates of her conscience and beliefs. Ms. Lawson argued the ordinance and law even force her to use her creative expression in support of activities she does not agree with, which includes same-sex marriage.


On August 1, 2017, Judge Richard Niess of the Dane County Circuit Court agreed and said in the coming weeks he would sign an order declaring that Ms. Lawson and her home-based business are not subject to the city’s public accommodations ordinance or the state’s public accommodations law. Both the state and the city agreed to this resolution.



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