Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 08.27

Newsworthy

Conservative conservation. Environmentalism has long been an issue "owned" by the left. It's provided big-government, command-and-control policies to solve environmental problems, and conservatives have not been able to articulate a coherent conservation ethic as an alternative. No longer is that the case. The Heritage Foundation has released Environmental Conservation: Eight Principles of the American Conservation Ethic. It's a publication that has the potential to change the conversation about environmentalism in America. The document is a collection of essays by leading conservative thinkers and policymakers, including former Secretary of the Interior Don Hodel. Among its key principles: "A deep respect for the wonder, beauty, and complexity of our environment. It reflects every American's aspiration to make America's environment cleaner, healthier, and safer for future generations, and it draws its strength from the most powerful force for improving our environment-free people." The publication is free and downloadable.

Supreme challenge to marriage. A Boston gay rights group appealed a case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 22-the sixth group so far to challenge the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In this case, Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) represent 13 people in (or widowed from) same-sex "marriages" in Connecticut, Vermont, or New Hampshire who seek federal benefits related to marital status. Under DOMA, such benefits are allowed only to married couples of the opposite sex. Bill Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation, told CitizenLink that pressure is intensifying for the high court justices. "The DOMA cases are the kinds that the Supreme Court would take," he said. "If the Supreme Court does not hear these DOMA cases, it means DOMA might not be enforced in states like California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. And that creates a weird situation."

Vermont innkeepers settle. The Roman Catholic owners of a Vermont bed-and-breakfast inn agreed last week to pay a total of $30,000 to a lesbian couple that wanted to hold same-sex wedding reception on their property. The O'Reilly family, who own the Wildflower Inn, must pay $20,000 to a trust fund the lesbian women set up, and $10,000 to the pro-homosexual Human Rights Commission. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit in 2011, after Katherine Baker and Ming-Lien Linsley contacted the inn about their reception. Jim O'Reilly said his family settled because he had little choice: "No one can force us to abandon our deeply held beliefs about marriage. Our beliefs haven't changed, but we do have lives to live, a family to love, a business to grow, and a community to serve. Small businesses like ours cannot match the limitless resources of the government and the ACLU. Ongoing litigation like this can cripple any small business and the livelihood of its owners, so we're relieved to put this ordeal behind us."

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They said it would never happen. The first civil union between three people in Brazil has generated outrage from the religious community there. The civil union, conducted by a "notary officer," is between a man and two women. It happened about three months ago but was made public only recently. The Brazilian Supreme Court cleared the way for civil unions in May 2011, with a 10-0 vote that declared same-sex unions a "family entity."

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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