Brett Gaspard

 

GASPARD: Resistance to marriage ruling essential

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Public Officials Are Right to Stand Opposed

In a shameful break with human history and legal precedent, the Supreme Court has radically and tyrannically altered the definition of Marriage as it has been universally acknowledged since the origins of mankind. This usurpation of power demands civil resistance.

Commencing from the foundation of our civilization, marriage has been a sacred religious institution, and no government or court has the power to redefine it without violating the traditional order of society and the hallowed institution of marriage itself, including the religious liberty of those upon whom the new definition is forced.

While government should correctly have no sacred place in marriage, it chose to license the holy institution for the purpose of publicly recording the consecrated bond and lawfully recognizing its existence. Unfortunately, the government quickly moved to regulate and tax marriage – and more recently opted to perform and sanction secular union ceremonies – thus helping to culminate in the current crisis of religious identity we now face.

Truly, it would have been altogether unreasonable for someone to say that the traditional institution of marriage was in any way opposed to the good order of society or religious precedent. This is why there has not been nor could there be an objection from any public official or government body relative to the marriage of one man and one woman.

The revised and expanded definition, however, is most certainly an affront to the historical order of civilization and religious precedent. On this point there can be no argument. This is why the intolerance of those who demand that every person accept the new meaning of marriage is not only outrageous, but is quite frankly the very definition of intolerable.

Clearly, those who hold fast to tradition and their religious values are not the ones who have changed; they are not the ones who are attempting to force a new idea, belief, or explanation for the institution of marriage upon others.  Why then do so many people find it unreasonable for anyone – whether in their public or private capacity – to resist the innovation, to demand due process, or to argue the point of religious freedom?

This point is no less salient for the hundreds and thousands of public officials who accepted a position that at once respected their religious values and principles – especially relative to the institution of marriage – but now purports via judicial fiat something radically new. Sadly, many folks are arguing that these principles apply to private citizens only, and are actually demanding that public officials resign from office. That argument is patently false.

Yet, even aside from the religious liberty perspective, one cannot deny other key issues and facts. In Kentucky, for example, all elected officials and many public employees take an oath to uphold the constitution of that state.  And, while the People have the ability to amend or alter that revered document, the courts do not carry such authority. Specifically, the courts may only render an opinion or ruling relative to the validity of a law in accordance with the Constitution. In other words, the “Law of the Land” as so many folks clamor is embodied only in the language of the Constitution itself, not any ruling whatsoever by the Court.

To be clear then, the Kentucky Constitution states explicitly: Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky.

With this in mind, the more provocative question facing the people should not be whether a small number of county clerks are refusing to issue marriage licenses, or asking for their individual religious beliefs to be protected, but rather why the rest of us aren’t suing those county clerks who have been issuing secular union licenses in opposition to their oath.

Frankly, while it’s easy to understand why most public officials would be frightened to resist the ominous force of the Court and subsequent mob of people expecting conformity, it’s also reasonable to believe that most county clerks not only share that same fear, but furthermore don’t recognize the full complement of their rights under the Kentucky and U.S. Constitutions. Therefore, we must boldly encourage those willing to make a stand.

Ultimately, the preservation of our Christian heritage and American culture demands that emboldened patriots – and especially those who are passionate about their religious traditions – stand and be counted in opposition to the completely radical usurpation of power by the supreme Court of the United States. It is not an expression of liberty, nor does it reflect a mature understanding of the convictions which led to our nation’s founding, to accept judicial fiat in place of government of the People, by the People, and for the People.

Religious liberty set aside, the United States of America is a Constitutional Republic. We pledge allegiance to the flag, and to the Republic for which it stands.  We honor the lives of those who fought and died so that we may live free in a nation that acknowledges human rights are derived by God, not man.  We boldly proclaim that government derives its power from the consent of the governed, and not from those who hold offices of authority or preside over courts and tribunals. We cherish a Bill of Rights articulating certain inviolable freedoms and praise a Constitution which enumerates restricted powers to the federal government, and reserves authority over all other matters to the States, or to the People.

In the end, I am reminded of the motto drafted by Benjamin Franklin for the first Great American Seal, which included a symbolic scene from Exodus depicting Moses in a manner to express that he acts by the command of God.  This same motto would later be adopted for the personal seal of Thomas Jefferson: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

Right now, perhaps the best expression of our obedience to God and rebellion to tyrants is to support the handful of public officials willing to make a stand, and resist the intolerant pressure to renounce our religious values by those who would ridicule us into submission. Let us not be willing to surrender our religious and cultural heritage. Let us stand and fight.


GASPARD: May public officials refuse same-sex ceremonies?

Photo: GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

The White House is illuminated in rainbow colors after US Supreme Court’s historic ruling legalizing gay marriage. Photo: GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

Any logical person acknowledges that recognition of an act, principle, decree, law or set of beliefs does not necessarily constitute acceptance or participation. Likewise, most Americans hold in the highest of esteem their individual and collective rights to free speech, peaceable assemblies, redress of grievances, freedom of the press, and religious liberty – and therefore readily agree that demands by public authorities to participate in a forced contract, ceremony or act is tantamount to tyranny.

Thus conceding, it seems evident that any court or government which seeks to compel a person to codify a ceremony, participate in a civil action, or issue a license against their deepest held religious beliefs – whether such individual serves as an public officer or private citizen – would be a flagrant violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and represents an unprecedented assault on religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and the Bill of Rights; the reaction to which should immediately call for rejection of the directive, refusal to participate in the compelled ceremony, and open redress of grievance against any police action that may result in the unconstitutional detainment or arrest of an American citizen.

Justice Kennedy, writing for the one vote majority decision in the Opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States issued on June 26, 2015 relative to homosexual marriage, stated that “there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character.” Clearly, the opinion does not and should not compel a citizen – even in a public capacity – to participate in an act that would violate their First Amendment rights.

Still, one must be clear that the Court may not of its own authority issue laws, enact legislation or enforce its dictates, as those roles fully belong to other branches of the government, or are reserved to the States. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the People to resist any and all autocratic directives that would seek to encumber this delicate separation of powers, especially when the usurpation violates the most basic and fundamental right to religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

It should be abundantly understood that the Supreme Court – although in its Opinion declares there is no lawful basis for States to refuse recognition of same-sex marriage – may still not direct public officials, or any person whatsoever, to perform ceremonies against their will, as any attempt to do so would represent a clear violation of the First Amendment and Bill of Rights. This issue is separate from legal recognition.

Nevertheless, in spite of these well-reasoned and historically grounded explanations, there is little doubt that supporters of homosexual unions will seek to force others – especially public officials – to perform ceremonies on their behalf in opposition to the very principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience that gay and lesbian couples have otherwise advocated.

Aside from religious liberty, while many contend that homosexuals have an equal claim to the traditional definition of marriage between one man and one woman – and indeed five unelected justices have now said as much – the historic definition, codification and scientific observation of traditional marriage and its efficacy are undeniable. Hence, the contemplative antagonist would note the impossibility of natural procreation between same-sex partners, and rightfully proclaim that changing the definition of marriage is inconsistent with the design of nature, for which scientific observation confirms.

Ultimately, it would be reasonable to concede that two individuals may enter into a contract for any legal purpose, including a civil union. And, by the changing opinions and social constructs of modern society, it is evident why two people of the same sex may wish to memorialize their bonds. However, the push to change the definition of marriage and recent ruling to force recognition of the same represents a radical departure from history. Accordingly, if demands for those who object to participating in acts that codify the new definition against deeply rooted religious beliefs hold, social revolt should not be a surprise.


GASPARD: KY Primary election offers voters extraordinary opportunity

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The upcoming primary election offers voters an extraordinary opportunity to select from among four highly qualified candidates to be the next republican nominee for Governor of Kentucky.

As GOP Chairman of one of the largest conservative strongholds in the state, I am often asked my views on various political races, and usually happy to oblige with a response. In doing so, although, I initially like to articulate the key responsibilities of republican officers.

Predominantly, the key role of party officials is to promote the values and principles outlined in the GOP platform. Further, it is incumbent upon us to recruit, educate and support candidates for office. Equally important – though far more stressful – is the need to hold elected officials accountable to those values and principles, especially in light of their written pledge to honor the party platform.

Aside from these core tasks, whether or not elected officials and party officers choose to back particular candidates in primaries is a completely independent decision. In the past, I have opted to help recruit and endorse high caliber candidates to run for office because I believed them to be exceptional choices able to move our nation back towards its constitutional roots – strong voices such as Senator Rand Paul and Congressman Thomas Massie. Happily, both of these gentlemen ran very clean, upbeat and positive campaigns focused on the issues. They won in landslides.

Unfortunately, in this year’s republican gubernatorial election to be held next week on May 19, Kentucky voters have been confronted with an alarming degree of misinformation and smear attacks completely unrelated to the actual voting record or public statements of the candidates. Sadly, no matter how often folks say they dislike negative advertising and are not influenced by it, the data continues to validate this type of campaign strategy works. We must change that reality.

Let’s start that process by setting the record straight now. We ought to make note that allegations of a personal nature should be viewed with much skepticism. Elections should be based on issues. Voting records are fair game. Personal attacks involving family or business are usually not, and should be quickly spurned. That being said, the following is what we know about the candidates:

halFormer Louisville Metro Council member Hal Heiner was the first person to announce. He is a prominent developer who has personally infused millions of dollars into his campaign war chest. His principal issue has been a focus on creating jobs, but has been called to account for supporting tolls in Louisville, helping move jobs to Indiana, and opposing local concealed carry ordinances.

 

comerAgriculture Commissioner James Comer was the second candidate to enter the race. He is a former state legislator and earned a reputation for leading the hemp initiative in Kentucky. Having served in elective office for some 15 years, his public record is the most extensive. Commissioner Comer has earned kudos for cleaning up the Agriculture Department, but has also been chided for votes to supersize legislator pensions, increase the gas tax, enable tolls, and escalate the minimum wage.

JusticeScottRetired Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott was the third person to join the fray. Although lagging far behind in the polls, he is popular in Eastern Kentucky and well-known in political circles for being honest, direct and colorful. Like all judges, he has made decisions that please some while upsetting others. A former paratrooper, Scott recently jumped from an airplane to gain attention for the campaign. His most notable issue has been the support of expanded gaming and casinos.

rsz_download_2Louisville businessman Matt Bevin was the final republican who filed to run for Governor. While he is best known for challenging Mitch McConnell to represent Kentucky in the United States Senate, Bevin has also gained national attention for his successful pension management background, chiefly due to the looming debt and pension crisis facing our Commonwealth. As a Tea Party favorite, Bevin has been the recipient of constant negative advertising, even though nearly every accusation has been thoroughly rebuffed or disproved. Only time will tell if the damaging attacks hit their mark.

Having been an extremely engaged volunteer activist for 20 years, I can state with confidence that most contested elections involve a high level of anxiety and division among the respective factions. Some people pick sides due to a genuine divergence of philosophy. Others have a serious difference on key issues. Still more line up behind one team or another because that’s what friends are doing. I’ve even witnessed decisions made based on negative rumors, proving false advertising does work. Ultimately, it is incumbent upon We, the People, to weigh all the factors important to us – including the urgent financial and social issues confronting our families – then cast our vote for the candidate who best and most consistently represents our values and principles.

Therefore, after spending this entire election cycle allowing the campaigns to unfold, the candidates to articulate their positions and clarify statements, I am reluctantly ready to share my comments – reluctant because all four candidates are worthy of consideration and certainly present a stark contrast to Jack Conway this fall. In presenting my thoughts, it should be made explicit that I am a steadfast constitutional conservative who strongly supports the Republican platform and patently views abortion as the greatest evil in our land crying to Heaven for vengeance.

That stated, I believe it is imperative for elected leaders to be clear and unambiguous when it comes to the individual right to keep and bear arms, support of states’ rights, and the need to reject federal intrusion into our lives. After two terms under the socialist leaning agendas of President Obama and Governor Beshear, we immediately require a radical change of course and bold new leadership. We cannot settle for a measured response. Accordingly, here is my take on each candidate:

Will Scott is one of the nicest guys you could meet and an old school conservative, but even with a major surge is unlikely to catch the leading candidates. And, while we could discuss his strong and weak points, it seems unnecessary under the circumstances.

Hal Heiner remains statistically tied in the polls with the other leading candidates, but has seen his numbers slip after negative attacks aimed at Bevin and Comer. I have concerns with his reluctance to dismantle Kynect (the state-run Obamacare health insurance exchange) and his lack of focus on traditional conservative issues. Job creation is important, but we also need a leader who has a track record of fighting against federal government intrusion and defending constitutional principles.

James Comer has done a yeoman’s job arguing against federal government overreach and valiantly fought the Obama Administration to ensure hemp could be grown and studied in Kentucky. Further, despite being a tenured elected official, he has also made vital inroads with many Tea Partiers, but unsubstantiated claims that he abused his college girlfriend continue to plague him. Additionally, overcoming his past votes to increase legislator pensions and the fuel tax are difficult for some conservatives to swallow, though he has apologized for the pension faux pas. In the end, Comer’s path to victory will depend on his ability to hold enough support from Tea Party crossovers and establishment incumbents already lined up to pull him across the finish line.

Matt Bevin’s campaign has affably pitched him as “The Real Deal Conservative” in much of their outreach efforts and heavily played up the fact that he is the only military veteran and concealed carry permit holder in the mix to win. Unlike his counterparts, Bevin is also the only candidate who has not held elected office and can properly claim to be a political outsider. However, having faced the Washington Machine of Mitch McConnell in his first run for office and been the recipient of perhaps the most ugly attack ads and patently false accusations I have ever witnessed, the greatest hurdle Bevin faces in this campaign is clearing his good name as the same negative ads resurface.

In sharing my thoughts on the gubernatorial race, I have already exhausted more space than is typically expedient to read, but if you have followed along this far you can likely guess or already know the person for whom I will personally cast my vote. In fact, I purposely chose to highlight each candidate twice so readers could follow along with the process. Still, I want to reiterate the importance of republicans uniting after the primary in order to change regimes in Frankfort. We cannot afford to have another liberal leading in Frankfort over the next four years.

Just to be clear though, here is what I expect from elected officials and candidates: (1) Absolute commitment to conservative values and principles; (2) Unconditional support for the individual right to keep and bear arms; (3) Solemn devotion to the sanctity of life for all ages and a pledge never to harm innocent life in the womb; (4) An unwavering defense of States’ Rights and visible efforts to push back federal intrusion and overreach; (5) Complete respect for private property rights and outright resistance against infringements thereof; (6) Rejection of any federal program, regulation, or agency not specifically enumerated in the U.S. Constitution; (7) Extreme prejudice against any new or increased taxes, a willingness to repeal existing punitive taxes, and the solid recognition that our current tax code is broken and needs repair; (8) Fervent respect for both the United States and Kentucky Constitutions; (9) Gratitude for our men and women in uniform in all public service capacities; (10) Acknowledgement of our nation’s Christian heritage with obedience to the oath of office and reverence for the unalienable rights endowed to mankind by our Creator.

Because these principles are so important – and in light of the fact that most candidates for public office sign a pledge to uphold their Party Platform as well as swear an oath on the Holy Bible to defend the Constitution – I believe it is important to remind folks of them. All told though, there is little doubt that the four republican gubernatorial candidates are devoted to these principles. There may be differences in strategy and approach, but all seem to be men of deep personal faith. Yet, it is often that unique variance in style that tends to set bold leaders apart.

To that end, after much reflection, I agree with the Kentucky Enquirer’s endorsement of Matt Bevin for setting himself apart by “having clarity and specifics about his ideas” and being “most impressed with his focus on Kentucky’s looming public employee pension crisis – the same kind of crisis that threatened Cincinnati and helped send Detroit into bankruptcy.”

While no candidate is perfect, our state desperately requires someone unafraid to take bold stances, but who also has the business savvy to spark economic growth and avoid financial calamity. Unlike other candidates, Matt Bevin has demonstrated that he is more willing to uproot federal programs. Further, he has managed to stake out a sharp contrast by highlighting his successful experience in the investment and pension business, his ability to turn around floundering companies, his humble roots and deep Christian faith, his military background, and his specific plan to build the economy.

Please vote for the candidate of your choice on Tuesday, May 19.


Brett Gaspard: The Toll Bells Chime for Thee

During the past several years, there has been significant public dialogue relating to tolling the Brent Spence Bridge, the double decker steel edifice which spans the Ohio River and connects north and south along the symbolic Mason Dixon line.

In no place has the debate been more rapacious than Northern Kentucky, where several large corporations have joined the Chamber of Commerce in an aggressive effort to curry favor for tolls and apply pressure on legislators to build a new bridge against popular public opinion.

Until the recent formation of Northern Kentucky United, there was no clear organization standing in opposition to tolls, though local Tea Party groups had been sounding the alarm for months. Additionally, several local municipalities and elected officials had come out strong against tolls, instead demanding our federal delegation find ways to allocate necessary funds for the project.

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The semantics of the debate has regrettably led to a great deal of cynicism and confusion, as is often the case when politics are involved. Therefore, the aim of this article is to clarify some of the confusion, while also articulating the position of the organization represented by this author.

First and foremost, everyone should understand that the most current construction models call for the Brent Spence to remain in service even after a new bridge is built. In fact, it will continue to carry significant interstate traffic and would be rehabbed and tolled under present proposals. This reality should dispel the false notion that the current edifice is in danger of collapsing.

While the Brent Spence is old, ugly, functionally obsolete and prone to accidents, it remains structurally sound according to reports. Still, it was not designed to handle the volume of traffic it now receives on a daily basis. The general consensus is that the majority of people would like to see a new bridge built and the old one rehabbed. Ultimately, motorists want the congestion to end and the risk of accidents diminished. Who couldn’t agree with those points?

In addition to the relatively unknown design factors just pointed out, another major element of the debate not being made clear is how the funding works and who is responsible. This is where politicians can really have a field day confusing the public – and the dialogue is about as easy to follow as a bouncing ball. To illustrate the matter, one need only refer to a joint appearance by President Barack Obama and Senator Rand Paul a few years ago using the Brent Spence as their backdrop, both of whom presented different strategies on how funding should be addressed.

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President Barack Obama speaks at the Cincinnati side of the Brent Spence Bridge
PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS | AP

Historically, funding for major highway projects require that state and local agencies contribute 20% before Washington picks up the remaining tab. Yet, early failures of Ohio and Kentucky to pony up funds had allowed members of our federal delegation to make excuses. Today, subject to which charts are used as reference, those excuses no longer exist. Both states have allocated funds and seem prepared to go the distance. Sadly, poor leadership by the Federal Highway Administration coupled with a lack of urgency and gridlock in Congress has caused failure.

While fingers have justifiably been pointed at President Obama, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House John Boehner, they all deserve a portion of the blame. Projects like these rise and fall on leadership. The truth is Washington has the authority to fund the project 100% if it so desires. Senator Paul alluded to this fact when he proposed legislation asking Congress to redirect money sent to build bridges in foreign nations to be used here in America on crumbling infrastructure in need of critical repairs now.

In light of the fact that Congress continues to fail us – even as our region boasts the two most powerful republicans in the country – taxpayers are forced to endure the needless threats of tolls being assessed on every commuter crossing the bridge. This not only costs motorists more to arrive at work, but you too dear reader will pay more for every commodity that crosses the river and every vendor who provides you with interstate services. To complicate matters, there is not one person who can commit in honesty to a promised toll amount, the traffic diversion rate as a consequence of folks attempting to avoid tolls, or if other local bridges will be tolled as a result.

While this column could go on to list the many nuances and risks associated with government getting into bed with private agencies on a project of this scope, it is suffice to say that public infrastructure is one of the most essential responsibilities of our government – one for which we pay significant fuel, vehicle and personal property taxes. The notion that we should allow our elected officials to find new methods of taxing the population for services they should already be providing is not only absurd, but also a reflection on us for not holding politicians accountable.

In Northern Kentucky, many municipalities have already passed resolutions against tolls and members of the General Assembly have generally stayed united against them despite sustained pressure from the Chamber of Commerce. As Chairman of the Boone County Republican Party, I am pleased to report that our organization passed one of the first resolutions against tolls over a year ago, and voted to support the newly formed Northern Kentucky United Against Tolls during our October meeting, at which time we also donated funds as a symbol of our commitment.

Moving forward, I hope you will join me in advancing the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project by encouraging legislators at the state level to remain united against tolls, to continue financing allocations in the road budget, and to apply pressure on our federal delegation to find the money. I also hope you will join me in thanking Senator Paul for proposing several positive solutions – including reallocating funds from pet projects like turtle tunnels and squirrel sanctuaries – so that the corridor can be built sooner rather than later.

One issue everybody agrees on is that nobody wants to be blocked by the bridge. It is also true that the faster it is built, the less money and time it will cost everyone. The river that separates us, although, is as symbolic as the Mason Dixon line – and in order to bridge the divide, we must be united in our efforts to demand accountability from our elected officials and politicians. Instead of them asking us for more money, let’s let them know that we believe the Toll Bells Chime for Thee, not for us. Only when they feel the heat, will they see the light. Let’s provide the heat.


Brett Gaspard: The job of Party Chairman

Brett GaspardServing as County Chairman of one of the largest and most influential local Republican Party organizations in the Commonwealth can at times be daunting. The job comes without any pay, but includes all the headaches associated with someone expected to referee a family feud.

Figuratively speaking, there is a giant target painted on your back. Some folks demand that you remain neutral. Others want you to pick a horse and support the so called best candidate. Still more think that the party apparatus should be used only to support incumbents. Most of all, let’s not forget the variety of specific personality conflicts that demand your attention.

Plainly, anyone involved in politics – or for that matter anyone with an opinion – realizes that a local party chairman cannot please all of the people all of the time, let alone please some of the people some of the time. The perception of neutrality is one thing; the reality is another.

For those who view political parties as organizations merely devoted to electing their nominees, they must first acknowledge and cope with an often contentious primary race, especially in areas heavily controlled by a single caucus. These early contests frequently pit candidates against one another who have wildly different viewpoints about governance. In many cases their values and principles are very similar, but their strategies and interpretation of issues are vastly different.

Whatever the public perception that exists, the reality of course is that the political party machine highly favors incumbents, making the traditional principle of competition upon which our great nation was founded dangerously marginalized. Therefore, it seems the toughest challenge we all face is working to ensure the broadest possible exchange of ideas among candidates.

Indeed, the rules of our Grand Old Party clearly articulate that we are a party of opportunity for all and favoritism for none. Furthermore, it is the purpose of our universal rules to encourage the broadest possible access and participation in Republican activities to every member. Beyond this, the only obligation that exists is strictly imposed on candidates, who must sign a pledge upon registering for office stating their solemn oath to uphold the principles of the party platform.

Contrary to popular understanding, most state and local GOP officers are elected to office much like their public counterparts, without pay, and consequently have significant freedom to pursue that level of leadership for which their respective roles and talents allow. Sadly, many officers become trapped in a paradigm that silences their voices due to a perceived need for objectivity.

The notion of objectivity on the issues, however, is completely opposite of what we should come to expect from our party leaders. Instead, we should embolden them to courageously stand for the values and principles outlined in our party platform, even to the extent of holding candidates and elected officials accountable to their solemn oath, and especially to the Constitution.

Admittedly, taking bold stances to hold others accountable and to ensure inclusive debate is not always the best way to make friends, but the legitimacy and success of our efforts demands that we prevent politics from degenerating into popularity contests and personal loyalty oaths. In the end, while each of us will ultimately support candidates with whom we most closely align, our greatest efforts should always be placed on educating each other and our neighbors on the issues, on defending our values and principles, and on preserving liberty for the sake of our children.