Michael Gaynor
Michigan's harassing a Christian woman for exercising her First Amendment rights
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By Michael Gaynor
October 30, 2010

The First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of association would be eviscerated if a woman seeking another woman who shared her faith as a roommate can be punished for posting a notice on her church's bulletin board.

Would the State of Michigan prosecute a Moslem woman for posting a notice in her mosque to the effect that she is seeking a Moslem roommate?

It certainly should not, because doing so would be (1) unconstitutional and (2) STUPID.

But...the State of Michigan HAS cited a Christian woman for posting a notice at her church seeking a "Christian roommate."

The claimant, "Tricia Last Name Deleted," stated in her complaint that she was acting in good faith and had not filed her complaint for the purpose of harassment.

Is Michigan investigating those self-serving claims?

If not, why not?

Bob Unruh, in "Woman seeks 'Christian roommate,' state cites her for discrimination: Michigan alleges notice posted on church billboard breaks rules" (www.wnd.com/?pageId=218349):

"A single, 31-year-old woman in Michigan who posted a note on her church bulletin board seeking a 'Christian roommate' to share her residence has been cited by the state for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against those of other faiths.

"The complaint signed by Tyra Khan, a 'Civil Rights Representative' of the state of Michigan Department of Civil Rights, surfaced when the Alliance Defense Fund announced today it was representing the woman.

"ADF spokesman Joel Oster confirmed the organization sent a letter to the state explaining that such housing rules don't apply to people living in their own homes and wanting to share their resources."

ADF is absolutely right.

Where are the people who claim (wrongly) that the Constitution requires absolute separation of church and state?

What would the man upon whom they rely, Thomas Jefferson, say about that alleged violation?

Probably that the Constitution doubly protects the Christian woman, because the First Amendment's "Five Freedoms" include two relevant freedoms — free exercise of religion and association.

The phrase "a wall of separation between Church & State" does not appear in the Constitution, but it does appear in a letter from Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson's point was that, as a general rule, government is not entitled to tell people what they can and cannot do in the church of their choice.

The letter, dated January 1, 1802, from Jefferson to Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut, stated:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

The First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion and freedom of association would be eviscerated if a woman seeking another woman who shared her faith as a roommate can be punished for posting a notice on her church's bulletin board.

Michigan claims that under a federal regulation it is a "violation to make, print or publish or cause to be made, printed or published any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference" for a list of nondiscrimination categories, including religious belief.

What Congress cannot do under the Constitution is not doable by federal regulation.

How ridiculous are the Michigan authorities?

Does Michigan claim that it would be a violation for the woman who posted the notice to have orally announced at her church that she was looking for a Christian roommate, or for her minister to have mentioned it?

Amazingly, World Net Daily was told that the case had been determined to be legitimate and the investigation was continuing.

In Michigan, the inmates are running the asylum and helping with the harassment of a Christian woman for having the nerve to use her church to seek a female Christian roommate.

© Michael Gaynor

 

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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