National Roundup

Court: Baker who refused gay cake can't cite beliefs

DENVER (AP) - A suburban Denver baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple cannot cite his religious beliefs in refusing them service because it would lead to discrimination, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The decision is the latest victory for gay couples, who have won similar cases in other states. Gay rights supporters and religious freedom advocates have passionately debated whether individuals can cite their beliefs as a basis for declining to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony.

And it is bound to get more heated after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

In the Colorado case, Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, declined to make a cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. They were married in Massachusetts but planned to celebrate in Colorado.

After the ruling, Phillips faces fines if he refuses to make wedding cakes for gay couples. Phillips has maintained that he has no problem serving gay people at his store but says that making a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his Christian beliefs.

His attorneys have said they would consider appealing up to the U.S. Supreme Court. They said there are bound to be more cases where businesses' religious convictions clash with gay rights.

In recent cases elsewhere, a bakery in the Portland, Oregon, area that declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple two years ago was ordered to pay $135,000 in damages in July.

Two years ago, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that a photographer who wouldn't take pictures of a gay couple's 2006 commitment ceremony violated the state's anti-discrimination law.

And in Washington state, a florist has been fighting a lawsuit filed after she refused to provide services for a gay wedding in 2013.

Phillips' case started in Colorado's Civil Rights Commission, where Craig and Mullins filed their complaint. In December 2013, a judge for the commission ruled that Phillips discriminated against the couple and ordered him to change his store policy against making cakes for gay weddings or face fines.

Phillips then went to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Statue of Dred Scott opinion's author may move

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - A bust of the Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott opinion affirming slavery will likely be removed from City Hall in Frederick, Maryland, after a majority of elected officials said they support relocating it.

The Frederick News-Post reports four of Frederick's five aldermen say they support moving the sculpture of Roger Brooke Taney (TAW'-nee). Kelly Russell and Michael O'Connor voiced support Wednesday for the proposal by fellow Democrat Donna Kuzemchak (koo-ZAM'-chak).

Democrat Josh Bokee previously expressed support for relocating the statue. Republican Phil Dacey hasn't weighed in.

Republican Mayor Randy Clement says he'll consult the city's lawyers on the next steps.

The Dred Scott decision held that blacks had no rights as American citizens.

Taney practiced law in Frederick. His grave is in the city.

Gay couples denied marriage licenses by clerk

MOREHEAD, Kentucky (AP) - Local officials in the U.S. turned away two gay couples who sought marriage licenses on Thursday, defying a federal judge's order that said deeply held Christian beliefs don't excuse authorities from following the law.

The fight in Rowan County in Kentucky state began soon after the U.S. Supreme legalized gay marriage nationwide in June. County Clerk Kim Davis cited her religious beliefs and decided not to issue marriage licenses to any couple, gay or straight. Five couples sued and legal experts likened the case to the resistance some local officials in the South put up five decades ago after the Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage.

"I will say that people are cruel, they are cruel, these people are cruel," said David Ermold, who was denied a license to marry his partner of 17 years.

The clerk's office rejected the couples' bid for licenses just hours after U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning ordered her to comply with the Supreme Court's ruling.

Davis wasn't at her office Thursday, but deputy clerk Nathan Davis said the office was advised by its attorneys with a Christian law firm to continue refusing same-sex couples as it appeals.

James Yates and William Smith Jr., a couple for nearly a decade, were the second pair turned away Thursday. They also were turned away a month ago.

They held hands as they walked into the clerk's office, and gay rights activists shouted "Good luck!" from the street, holding signs reading "clerk not clergy" and "obey the law."

After the couple was denied, they joined the protesters.

"I still get frustrated sometimes, but then I take a deep breath and go on. I know it's going to get resolved. It's just a matter of when," Yates said.

Davis argued that issuing a same-sex marriage license that contains her signature is the same as her approving the marriage, which she said violates her Christian beliefs.

Judge Bunning rejected that argument in his ruling Wednesday, saying Davis has likely violated the U.S. Constitution's ban on the government establishing a religion by "openly adopting a policy that promotes her own religious convictions at the expenses of others."

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, has told Kim Davis to issue licenses or resign.

New York
 Judge tosses conviction from 1976 murder
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pennsylvania judge is vacating the murder conviction of a man who's been in prison for 34 years in the shooting death of a 15-year-old, citing new DNA evidence.

The New York-based Innocence Project says a senior visiting judge issued the order Thursday in Indiana County favoring 63-year-old Lewis Fogle. Fogle is being released on bond later in the day because he remains charged.

The judge's decision stems from a joint motion by the Innocence Project and District Attorney Patrick Dougherty (DOH'-her-tee).

Dougherty will review other evidence before deciding whether to retry Fogle. He will announce that decision Sept. 14.

Fogle has denied killing the girl in 1976. He was the only one of four people arrested in March 1981 to be tried.

Published: Fri, Aug 14, 2015