President Barack Obama on Thursday praised the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage as a “victory for American democracy” but clashed with his African host over gay rights, yahoo.com and AP report. Obama said recognition of gay unions in the United States should cross state lines and that equal rights should be recognized universally. It was his first chance to expand on his thoughts about the ruling, which was issued Wednesday as he flew to Senegal, one of many African countries that outlaw homosexuality. Senegalese President Macky Sall rebuffed Obama’s call for Africans to give gays equal rights under the law. “We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality,” Sall said, while insisting that the country is “very tolerant.” A report released Monday by Amnesty International says 38 African countries criminalize homosexuality. In four of those—Mauritania, northern Nigeria, southern Somalia, and Sudan—the punishment is death. These laws appear to have broad public support. A June 4 Pew Research Center survey found at least nine of 10 respondents in Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria believe homosexuality should not be accepted by society. Papi Nbodj, a 19-year-old student who stood by the road to the presidential palace to see Obama’s arrival, said homosexuality is against the religious beliefs of most in Senegal. “We are in a Muslim country, so we certainly cannot have it here,” he said. “And for me it’s not OK to have this anywhere in the world.”

Other news:

  • In the wake of this week’s Supreme Court decisions on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, pastors are being challenged to pick up the banner and continue to fight for traditional, Biblical marriage, onenewsnow.com reports. The court sent Prop. 8 back to state courts saying supporters of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman do not have legal standing. In a separate ruling on Wednesday, DOMA—in part—was declared unconstitutional. Both were 5-4 decisions. Rev. William Owens, president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, fears the rulings will only accelerate the erosion he sees in communities that are “already plagued with problems” and he believes is occurring in society in general. “It appears that society, the president, [and] the court did not think about the children and history,” he told OneNewsNow. “No society has sustained itself when they started this type of downward moral path.” Owens went on to say that people of faith should no longer slumber on the issue. “The church didn’t step up to bat on this,” he stated. “It is a wakeup call—and the people have not been awakened the way they’re going to be awakened when they see the consequences of this type of ruling.” While the high court in its rulings did not legalize homosexual marriage, it also did not define marriage as between a man and a woman. Owens says traditional marriage needs to be protected, and that his organization is going to become more aggressive—especially in challenging pastors. A traditional marriage group says all isn’t lost in light of Wednesday’s Supreme Court decisions sending Prop. 8 back to the courts and declaring part of DOMA unconstitutional. “First of all, I think we have to put away the white flags,” said National Organization for Marriage spokesman Thomas Peters. “You know, we had two narrow Supreme Court decisions handed down. They’re both wrong, but they’re not disastrous for us. There’s a clear path forward in Congress and the states and in the hearts and minds of our neighbors on protecting the true definition of marriage.” Thomas said homosexual rights activists wanted a redefinition of marriage from the court but didn’t get it. And while the two Supreme Court decisions left little room for celebration for either side of the marriage argument, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver told OneNewsNow that he found something disturbing in the majority opinion: “Justice [Anthony] Kennedy essentially said that anyone who believes in marriage as one man and one woman—an institution that predates, in fact, religion and all civil authorities, that transcends time and history and space and culture and ethnicities—that anyone who believes in that institution as one man and one woman has to be a bigot, has to be someone who is mean-spirited, is demeaning, and is frankly an enemy of humanity.” Staver considers that insulting to all Americans and to states that have passed constitutional marriage amendments. He believes the decision will lead to more court challenges in the states.
  • During a speech at the National Right to Life convention on Friday, pro-life Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Democrats in the Senate don’t really care that abortionists like Kermit Gosnell kill babies in what is essentially infanticide, lifenews.com reports. Cruz opened by thanking pro-life advocates for their efforts. “Thank you for that commitment to those who are most vulnerable among us, despite the ridicule of the mainstream media,” he said. Cruz recalled the story of when his older daughter was getting ready for her unborn younger sister to be be born. And he remembered how his daughter offered his unborn child her blanket to cuddle with and chew on for security. “It is amazing that, as a two-year-old, child, Caroline was able to understand something that Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid don’t understand. Without life there is no liberty, there is no pursuit of happiness. The ability to take life is the ultimate power and the ultimate deprivation of our God-given rights. I have been honored to have the opportunity to defend life,” he said, recalling his time as Solicitor General of Texas—when he would stand strong in the courts to defend the right to life. Cruz said that “Texas led the states” to defend the ban on partial-birth abortions. He also mentioned winning a unanimous battle at the Supreme Court to defend parental notification on abortion. Cruz applauded the courts for defending Texas’ right to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
  • A conservative Christian group in Kentucky has called for a boycott of PNC Bank over its support for gay pride events, The Christian Post reports. Dr. Frank G. Simon, director of the American Family Association of Kentucky, sent out a “Call to Action” on Monday outlining the reasons for boycotting. “PNC Bank supports and promotes homosexuality by sponsoring Gay Pride Parades and festivals across America, including the Kentuckiana Pride Festival held in Louisville last weekend, June 14–15,” wrote Simon. “I ask you to join me and give a clear message to PNC Bank—tell them you are boycotting their bank until they agree to remain neutral in the culture war and stop supporting homosexual events.” The usage of boycotts against pro-gay businesses has been performed by both state chapters and the national AFA in the past, including a recent nationwide boycott against Home Depot over its support for same-sex marriage. Tim Wildmon, president of the national AFA, and Bryan Fischer, director of Issues Analysis at the national AFA, told The Christian Post via e-mail that they support “state affiliates in the decisions they make in their own states, as long, of course, as they’re consistent with our mission as an organization.” “The state affiliates are in a better position than we are to determine the situation on the ground and what the best course of action is to defend the family in their own states,” wrote Wildmon and Fischer. “The AFA has made effective use of boycotts over the years, and we support our state affiliates when they use that tool at home.” Wildmon and Fischer also told CP that it was unlikely that a nationwide boycott would be made of PNC Bank over its support for LGBT events. “We reserve our AFA boycotts for business[es] that have a nationwide footprint, such as Home Depot. Since PNC is not in every state, a boycott of PNC makes more sense at the state level,” wrote Wildmon and Fischer.
  • In a health care decision giving hope to opponents of the federal birth-control coverage mandate, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that Hobby Lobby stores won’t have to start paying millions of dollars in fines next week for not complying with the requirement, foxnews.com reports. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver decided the Oklahoma City–based arts and crafts chain can proceed with its case and won’t be subject to fines in the meantime. The reprieve gives Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. more time to argue in a lower court that for-profit businesses—not just currently exempted religious groups—should be allowed to seek an exception if the law violates their religious beliefs. The company had sued to overturn the mandate on grounds that it violates the faith of founder and CEO David Green and his family. The appeals court remanded the case for more argument, but the judges indicated Hobby Lobby had a reasonable chance of success. “Sincerely religious persons could find a connection between the exercise of religion and the pursuit of profit,” the judges wrote. “Would an incorporated kosher butcher really have no claim to challenge a regulation mandating non-kosher butchering practices?” More than 30 businesses in several states have challenged the contraception mandate. Hobby Lobby and a sister store—Christian booksellers Mardel Inc.—won expedited federal review because the chain would have faced fines Monday for not covering the required forms of contraception. The U.S. Department of Justice has argued that allowing for-profit corporations to exempt themselves from requirements that violate their religious beliefs would be in effect allowing the business to impose its religious beliefs on employees. Lawyers for the Green family called the ruling a “resounding victory for religious freedom.” The Greens “run their business according to their Christian beliefs,” said Emily Hardman, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Hobby Lobby. Americans United for Separation of Church and State said the judges were wrong to say Hobby Lobby had a case. “This court has taken a huge step toward handing bosses and company owners a blank check to meddle in the private medical decisions of their workers,” executive director Barry Lynn said in a statement. “This isn’t religious freedom; it’s the worst kind of religious oppression.” The 10th Circuit opted to hear the case before eight active judges, not the typical three-judge panel, indicating the case’s importance. Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit will now head back to U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, which earlier ruled against Hobby Lobby’s religious exemption request. Hobby Lobby calls itself a “biblically founded business” and is closed on Sundays. Founded in 1972, the company now operates more than 500 stores in 41 states and employs more than 13,000 full-time employees who are eligible for health insurance.
  • The government watchdog that exposed IRS targeting of conservative groups gave a blunt response to Democrats’ claims that the agency also targeted liberals: It never happened, foxnews.com reports. “We found no indication in any of these other materials that ‘Progressives’ was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention,” IRS Inspector General J. Russell George wrote in a letter to Democrats. Democrats have since turned on the IG’s office, claiming it is only telling half the story. But Republicans used the letter, and a House hearing on Thursday, to counter that narrative—getting the current IRS chief to confirm that, in fact, there’s no evidence to date that progressives were targeted.
  • Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) posted an op-ed piece in which he lays out why he will be voting no on the Gang-of-eight’s amnesty bill, freedomoutpost.com reports. The primary reason is because it does not secure America’s border first and says that the proposed legislation does not provide “serious reform” to immigration law. While he says that no one is seriously contemplating that illegals who residing in the U.S. leave, apparently Senator Paul has not spoken to this author or countless other Americans who not only contemplate that concept, but advocate it. However, even though he is not contemplating that, he does believe we should secure the border first. He went on to speak about immigration reform and what it must be. “Any immigration reform must expand legal immigration and the work visa program, so we don’t find another 12 million undocumented workers here a decade from now. The Gang of Eight bill actually decreases the number of agricultural workers visas. If work visas are less than what the market demands, the workers will come illegally and we’re right back where we started.” Paul wants to secure borders before immigration reform takes place. He introduced an amendment known as the “Trust But Verify Act,” which would “make immigration reform contingent upon Congress writing strong border security plan, Congressional votes on border security every year for five years, completion of a double-layered border fence, two new national security visa screening programs and protection against the Obama Administration forcing American citizens to carry around a biometric national identification card.”
  • Why are people so shocked when kids act out what they are being taught in public schools? a report in godfatherpolitics.com on sexual violence in grade school asks. “In the 1960s, the courts took God, the Bible and prayer out of public schools. Biblical creationism was replaced with godless evolution. Kids were taught that they are nothing more than just another animal and that it’s all about survival of the fittest and strongest. When kids started shooting other kids in school, the public was outraged, but the kids were just acting out what they were being taught. Now we seem to be witnessing an increase in sexual assaults within the public school system, but they are different than the assaults of the past. The sexual assaults we are hearing about are same-sex assaults.”