Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, August 20, 2018

Vatican Expresses Shame and Sorrow Over PA Child Abuse Scandal

From the Guardian:

The Vatican has expressed “shame and sorrow” over the sexual abuse of at least 1,000 children by more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania, and has said Pope Francis is “on the side” of survivors.

In response to the publication on Tuesday of a detailed grand jury investigation into abuse in the state over a 70-year period, the pope’s spokesman issued a statement on Thursday saying “the Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors”.

“There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow,” said the statement issued in the name of Greg Burke, the director of the Holy See press office.

“The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”

Read more here.

August 20, 2018 in Child Abuse, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Faith-Healing Couple Pleads Guilty to Negligent Homicide After Child Dies

From The Daily Beast:

Two members of an Oregon church that believes in faith healing pleaded guilty to negligent homicide this week in the death of their newborn daughter, who spent hours struggling to breath without ever receiving medical treatment.

Travis and Sarah Mitchell—who prayed over their dying child instead of seeking medical care—were sentenced to six years and eight months in prison on Monday, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote said in a statement.

“We should have sought adequate medical care for our children and everyone in the church should always seek adequate medical care for our children,” the couple said in a statement.

Read more here.

July 24, 2018 in Child Abuse, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Supreme Court Rules Against Women in NIFLA v Becerra

From NBC News:

This week the United States Supreme Court ruled against women. Or at least, it ruled against women who might be looking for information about their reproductive rights.

And things are likely to get worse. On Wednesday, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on so many important issues including gay rights, affirmative action and abortion, announced that he is retiring from the high court. We will only continue to see more harmful decisions when it comes to the ability of women to control what happens to their bodies.

The court's decision in the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra is just the tip of the iceberg. While there can be no doubt that we must zealously guard the First Amendment rights of those who do not wish to speak, particularly when that speech contravenes their religious beliefs, those rights are not absolute. At some point they must give way to public health concerns and the need to provide patients and would-be patients with accurate information.

Read more here.

July 5, 2018 in Abortion, Alternative Reproduction, Current Affairs, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Religious Freedom As An LGBT Issue

From The Hill:

On June 1, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a proclamation for Pride Month, acknowledging the human rights violations that LGBT people face worldwide. However, the International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 — an annual survey on the state of religious freedom in 195 countries released on May 28 — offers a mixed bag for LGBT people at a time when religious liberty increasingly is used as a pretext to license discrimination in the United States. In the months ahead, the State Department should more forcefully promote an inclusive vision of religious liberty that all can enjoy.

In the aftermath of U.S. marriage equality, the rhetoric of religious liberty increasingly has functioned as an excuse to refuse service to LGBT people, women, and others in the United States. Lawmakers have invoked religious freedom to justify discrimination in areas as diverse as employment, education, health care, housing and public accommodations. Similar campaigns pitting religious liberty against LGBT rights have begun abroad, including in debates over marriage equality in Australia and Romania.

Read more here.

June 21, 2018 in Current Affairs, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Iceland Wants to Ban Circumcision

From BBC News:

The draft law would impose a six-year prison term on anyone guilty of "removing part or all of the [child's] sexual organs", arguing the practice violates the child's rights.

Jewish and Muslim leaders however have called the bill an attack on religious freedom.

Iceland would be the first European country to ban the procedure.

The country is thought to have roughly 250 Jewish citizens and around 1,500 Muslim citizens.

Read more here.

March 18, 2018 in International, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

First Amendment Defense Act Permits Discrimination

From Human Rights Campaign:

HRC responded to a bill introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), called the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), which seeks to permit discrimination by individuals, many businesses, and non-profit organizations against same-sex couples, single parents and unmarried couples:

The bill, cosponsored by 21 Senate Republicans, would bar the federal government from ameliorating discrimination against same-sex couples, single parents, and unmarried couples when an entity evokes a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction. Under FADA, individuals, many businesses and non-profit organizations using taxpayer funds could openly violate non-discrimination policies or refuse to serve same-sex couples. As long as they claimed their actions are based on their belief about marriage, the government would have little recourse.

"The First Amendment Defense Act is harmful legislation that would legalize state-sanctioned discrimination and undermine key civil rights protections for LGBTQ people,” said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. “Supporters of this legislation are using religious liberty as a sword to hurt LGBTQ families rather than staying true to our long tradition of it serving as a shield to protect religious expression from government overreach."

Read more here.

March 17, 2018 in Current Affairs, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Teens Fleeing Polygamist Communities Could Get More Legal Protection

From TIME:

Teenagers fleeing polygamous communities would get more legal protection from parents who could expose them to sexual abuse or forced marriage under a proposal approved Friday by a panel of Utah lawmakers.

If teenagers run away from home, anyone they run to must inform their parents within eight hours, said Rep. Walt Brooks said Friday. In some cases, that’s allowed adults to take teenagers back to polygamous communities even when they did not want to return.

“We’re a family friendly state, so we want them to be with families, but not if the family is going to hurt them,” said Brooks, a Republican from St. George, located near a well-known polygamous community on the Utah-Arizona state line.

Read more here.

March 11, 2018 in Current Affairs, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Virginia House Passes 'Solemnization of Marriage' Bill

From the Washington Post:

The House of Delegates on Thursday approved a bill aimed at protecting religious organizations that decline to perform same-sex marriages.

The measure passed on a largely party-line vote of 57 to 37, with four Republicans joining all Democrats in voting against it. Some supporters, including the bill’s sponsor, expressed concern about taking a position that has been widely criticized as endangering the rights of LGBT people.

Describing the bill as “something that has weighed a great deal on me,” the sponsor, Del. Nicholas Freitas (R-Culpeper), said he would prefer to “get the government out of the definition of marriage.”

Read more here.

February 7, 2017 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Why Indians Are Challenging Muslim Divorce Laws

From The Wall Street Journal:

India’s Supreme Court is considering petitions that challenge Muslim laws governing marriage on the grounds that they discriminate against women, a charged issue that risks angering the country’s orthodox Muslims.

A panel headed by the chief justice that is hearing the petitions directed the government this week to release an official 2015 report that looks at the impact of some of India’s religion-specific laws on women’s rights and recommends legal reform.

Among the petitioners calling for change is Shayara Bano, a Muslim woman whose husband, after 13 years of marriage, divorced her by triple talaq, a practice that allows Muslim men in India to leave their wives unilaterally and often instantaneously by saying “talaq,” meaning divorce, three times. Other similar petitions were put together by the court and are being heard at the same time.The next hearing in the case is expected in May.

The Indian constitution protects gender equality, but on issues of marriage, divorce and inheritance, different religious communities are governed by their own so-called personal laws. Whether a person is subject to those laws is usually determined by their religion at birth.

Muslim clerics and scholars have rebuffed demands for unifying personal laws into a common civil code for all Indian citizens—advocated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party—rejecting what they call attempts to interfere with their religious practices in Hindu-majority India. There are more than 170 million Muslims in the country out of a 1.2 billion population.

Muslim women’s rights groups argue that the practice of triple talaq misinterprets the Quran and is protected by orthodox Muslim men to perpetuate patriarchy. In her petition, Ms. Bano asks the court to declare it illegal as it “practically treats women like chattel,” infringes their “basic right to live with dignity” and violates their fundamental rights to equality and life guaranteed under the constitution.

Read more here.

 

April 7, 2016 in Divorce (grounds), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Hundreds of Mormons Leaving Church Over Same-Sex Marriage Stance

From NBC News:

Hundreds of people are formally renouncing their membership in the Mormon church in protest over a new policy that punishes same-sex couples and their children, an attorney assisting them said.

Utah lawyer Mark Naugle, 30, whose family split with the church 15 years ago, is offering his services pro bono to those who want help with the paperwork involved in getting off the rolls — which have 15 million members.

In the week since the policy was announced, 1,700 people have contacted him, he said.  "People are fed up and just don't want their name associated with the church any more," Naugle said.

Salt Lake City realtor Joey Furtado, 42, became a Mormon as a teenager in Brazil and spent two years as a missionary before moving to Utah. But by 2001, he was disillusioned with his adopted faith and stopped attending services. But he said he never bothered to make it official, in part because he worried it would be a hassle.

"I have a friend who sent a resignation letter and months later had members of the church knocking at his door trying to reactivate him," Furtado said.

But after the church's declaration last week, Furtado decided to cut ties for good. "I am not a gay man. I have a girlfriend and two sons, so the policy does not affect me directly, but I have seen families in a situation like this," he said. "I don't want to have anything to do with them anymore ... enough is enough."

Leaving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn't require legal representation, but Naugle said that his forms simplify the process and he acts a buffer between clients and church leaders who may try to convince them not to leave.

Read more here.

November 16, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pope Francis Opens Divisive Vatican Meeting of Bishops on Family Issues

From USA Today:

Pope Francis on Sunday opened a three-week meeting of world bishops divided over divorce, homosexuality and cohabitation by re-affirming marriage as a sacred bond between a man and woman, while also gently saying the church should "seek out and care for hurting couples."

Following on the heals of the pope's 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States, Francis is overseeing this annual session of 270 bishops, known as a synod, which could play an instrumental role in the future of his reform-minded papacy and the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Crucial topics include divorced couples and those who have remarried in a civil service and whether they will be allowed to receive Communion.

Francis told the bishops meeting in Vatican City that when marriages fail, the church "should be a 'field hospital' with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support."

But he also reaffirmed that the church remain steadfast in "defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond," adding that it should "not be changed by passing fads or popular opinions."

Read more here.

October 7, 2015 in Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Why America's Small Businesses Aren't Cheering Same-Sex Marriage

From Forbes:

While many across corporate America cheered the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling supporting same-sex marriage, small businesses have legal room to interpret the law a different way.

While large companies like Coca-Cola, Tide, American Airlines, and Kellogg Company hailed last month’s Supreme Court’s pro-marriage equality verdict, posting heart-infused Tweets and rainbow-laden ads on the Internet, not all have been celebrating. Small businesses, particularly in the wedding industry, are likely to lament the landmark decision in the name of religion. Think the baker. The florist. The photographer. The stationery maker. The wedding singer. Because the products they sell are arguably expressive and an artistic creation that communicates a message, the law may be on their side.

Read more here.

July 20, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hindu Marriage Law Deferred

From The Tribune:

The minority Hindu community in Pakistan will have to wait more before they can register their marriages as the lawmakers today deferred till July 13 the final approval of the Islamic country's first Hindu marriage law.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights headed by Chaudhry Muhammad Bashir Virk met here to discuss and finalize a set of laws to formalize and facilitate registration of Hindu marriages.

An official said that the committee deferred the approval till July 13 when it is expected to approve a final draft of 'The Hindu Marriage Bill, 2015' and 'The Hindu Marriage Bill, 2014'. The minority Hindu community in Pakistan has been living without a marriage law since the country was founded in 1947.

The Hindus, who constitute 1.6 per cent of the Pakistan’s total population, have been struggling to get a specific law for the past 67 years to get their marriages legalized and registered.

Read more here.

July 8, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Despite the Supreme Court Ruling, Ministers Will Not Be Forced to Marry Gay Couples

From MLive.com:

Although the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage on Friday, ministers will not be forced to marry gay couples, said a professor who specializes in constitutional law.

"As of today, there are no laws in the state of Michigan requiring a minister to marry somebody they don't want to marry," said Devin Schindler, a professor for Western Michigan University's Cooley Law School.

"I don't think that is going to happen" in the future either, he said. "There are lots of arguments to the contrary," considering the religious freedoms under the U.S. Constitution that allow churches to set rules for membership and practices.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion for the Supreme Court case, explicitly addressed that question in the court's ruling.

"Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned," Kennedy wrote in his ruling. "The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered."

Read more here.

July 2, 2015 in Marriage (impediments), Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)