Thursday, March 29, 2018

Establishment Clause Challenge To Rainbow Flags Is Dismissed

In Sevier v. Lowenthal, (D DC, March 26, 2018), the District of Columbia federal district court dismissed a suit which sought to require four members of the U.S. House of Representatives to remove Gay Pride Rainbow Colored Flags that they have placed in the hallways outside their offices.  The suit, filed by a vocal opponent of the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision, contends that display of these flags violates the Establishment Clause, as well as the equal protection and due process clauses.  As related by the court:
In Sevier’s view ... the gay pride flag “is a ‘religious symbol’ for the homosexual denomination,” ... and its “placement ... amounts to [Defendants’] endorsement of a particular religion.... Sevier’s “sex-based self-asserted identity narrative is that he prefers to be married to an inanimate object.” ... So, according to Sevier, unless Defendants “install a flag that represents people who self-identify as polygamists, machinists, zoophiles, and heterosexuals,”... their actions “treat ... the homosexual denomination of ... the church of moral relativism with disproportionate favor”....
Rejecting plaintiff's assertions, the court said that plaintiff's claims are premised on his argument that homosexuality is a religion, but he has offered "no legal support" for the argument. The court continued:
To be sure, the governing case law does not precisely define the contours of what constitutes “religion.”... But that does not mean there are no easy cases.... Whatever else religion might entail, it at minimum requires adherence to one or more fundamental beliefs.... “Homosexuality,” by contrast, is not a set of beliefs at all. It is a description of a person’s sexual orientation.... The gay rights movement bears no trappings of “religion” as that concept is widely understood, and Sevier has not plausibly alleged that a reasonable person would perceive the display of the rainbow flags as religious in nature.
Long Beach Post reports on the decision.