SAN DIEGO -- A lawsuit arguing that homosexuality is a religion and that members of Congress who displayed a rainbow flag outside their offices violated the Bill of Rights is entering its second year as it makes its way through an appeals court.
The government lawyer representing Democratic Reps. Susan Davis and Alan Lowenthal of California, Rep. Donald Beyer, D-Va., and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., filed a motion on June 18 that asks the District of Columbia Circuit Court to uphold a lower court's decision to dismiss the lawsuit. The motion contends that the case by the plaintiff, Tennessee lawyer Chris Sevier, is "patently frivolous and its outcome is certain."
"I will fight this frivolous lawsuit no matter how long it takes," Davis said in a statement. "It just shows that attacks on equality and the LGBTQ community still exist and we will stand up to them at every turn. It also shows that the Pride Flag is needed more than ever. I'm confident the appellate court will rule on the side of equality."
A year ago -- just after San Diego's gay pride parade and festival concluded -- Sevier sued the members of Congress, claiming that the rainbow flag violates the Constitution's separation of church and state. He argued that homosexuality is actually a religion and that the colorful banner is one if its symbols. He sought $1 in damages, for members to be barred from displaying the flags and for the court to declare homosexuality a religion. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, and Sevier appealed to the D.C. Circuit.
Sevier said that the lower court "abused their discretion."
"The government can't engage in activities, directly or indirectly, that signify to the taxpayers that this is a religion that we're endorsing," he said over the phone.
The lawyer representing the House members argues in the motion that the lower court's decision to dismiss the case should be affirmed because the "emotional discomfort" Sevier experienced by seeing the flag isn't a valid injury and that he also failed to establish that he had a valid claim.
"Mr. Sevier's claims are so clearly meritless" that nothing significant will be achieved if they are more deeply evaluated, the members' motion says.
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While the lawsuit continues, the rainbow flag Davis displayed outside her office alongside the California and U.S. flags has been replaced. The original pennant was given to Delores Jacobs when she left her position as the CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center last month after 17 years in the position. A new rainbow flag now hangs in its place.
Sevier has a series of lawsuits that target same-sex marriage and is advocating for several bills in state legislature that undermine same-sex marriages. One he's advocating for in South Carolina defines marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman and everything else as "parody marriage" and " part of the religion of Secular Humanism."
Sevier, for his part, wants to be in a so-called parody marriage. He has previously sued, unsuccessfully, for the right to marry his laptop computer.
He said he's not opposed to LGBT rights.
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