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Homophobe Who Sued Congressmembers Over Their Pride Flags Loses Case

Pride flag

Chris Sevier sued four members of Congress for displaying the flag, making the bizarre claim that it was a religious symbol.

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A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a man who objected to four members of Congress displaying the LGBT Pride flag outside their D.C. offices.

The suit was brought last year by Nashville resident Chris Sevier, the same anti-LGBT activist who recently lost a lawsuit in which he sought the right to marry his laptop computer, clearly a stunt aimed at undermining marriage equality. In his suit against the Congress members, Sevier made the bizarre claim that homosexuality is a religion and that by flying the Pride flag, the officials were violating the constitutional prohibition on government establishment of religion.

Judge Randolph D. Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia didn't buy Sevier's argument. "If the mere acceptance of homosexuality -- or support for gay rights--constitutes a 'religion' for Establishment Clause purposes, then the same conclusion would presumably follow for any value judgment about how people should or should not live their lives," Moss wrote in an opinion filed Monday. "The Establishment Clause's meaning is not so capacious."

Moss further wrote, "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." He added, "Common sense ... forecloses Sevier's claim."

In his suit, Sevier described homosexuality as a "sect/denomination of the 'sex-based self-asserted' religion of 'western postmodern expressive individualism moral relativism,'" the judge noted. "Sevier offers no legal support for this proposition. Instead, he has presented the Court with thousands of pages of news clippings and affidavits from his supporters expressing their opposition to homosexuality, and more recently, with filings from other litigation in which he alleges similar injuries."

Sevier sued U.S. House members Susan Davis and Alan Lowenthal of California, Don Beyer of Virginia, and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, all Democrats. "The rainbow flag is a symbol of commitment to full equality, freedom, and love and I will continue to display it outside my D.C. and San Diego offices," Davis said in a press release. "It's clear this misguided lawsuit was completely without merit and the court has said as much with this dismissal. These lawsuits attacking equality only strengthen my resolve to fight to fulfill our nation's principles of liberty, freedom and equality."

Lowenthal, of Long Beach, issued a statement Wednesday, saying, "I will continue to proudly fly the Pride Flag outside my office as a symbol of love, peace, equality, and humanity to every visitor to Capitol Hill," according to Long Beach's Press-Telegram. "I will never give in to intolerance, even when cloaked in the guise of legality."

Sevier told the Press-Telegram he considers the Pride flag a symbol of secular humanism, which some religious right activists contend is a religion. He said members of Congress have the right to display the flag inside their offices, but having them in the hallway of a government building is an unconstitutional establishment of religion, just as a Ten Commandments display would be. "Sevier also said he believes LGBTQ advocates have sought to persecute and indoctrinate others who do not share their views," the paper reports.

Sevier is also pushing antipornography bills in various states. A bill he persuaded Rhode Island legislators to introduce would block all online pornography unless a user paid a $20 fee. The bill is nicknamed the "Elizabeth Smart law," after the Utah kidnapping victim who was forced to watch porn during her captivity. Smart has sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that her name not be used in connection with the legislation. This week the bill's sponsor, Sen. Frank Ciccone, withdrow it, the Associated Press reports.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.