April 4, 2018 at 2:29 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Rainbow flag lawsuit dismissed by federal judge in D.C.
Don Beyer, gay news, Washington Blade, rainbow flag

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer said he is proud to display the rainbow flag above his office door along with the American flag. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A federal judge in D.C. on March 26 dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Tennessee lobbyist and lawyer calling for forcing four U.S. House members to take down rainbow flags hanging above the door to their offices in two congressional office buildings on Capitol Hill.

Chris Sevier filed the rainbow flag lawsuit in March 2017 against U.S. Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). The lawsuit followed earlier lawsuits he filed against at least three states for denying his request to marry his laptop computer as a protest against same-sex marriage,

In a 21-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss said the claims Sevier made in the rainbow flag lawsuit that homosexuality is a religion and that displaying a “homosexual” flag in public buildings violates his constitutional right to be free from such a religion have no basis in law.

In his lawsuit Sevier stated, “The Plaintiff respectfully moves the Court to declare that the Gay Pride Rainbow Colored Flag is a ‘religious symbol’ for the homosexual denomination within the overall church of ‘western expressive individualism postmodern moral relativism.”

In the same lawsuit Sevier called on the D.C. federal court to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states and to reverse the high court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling that overturned state sodomy laws.

Moss’s ruling to dismiss the lawsuit came in response to a motion calling for dismissal filed by Sarah Edith Clouse, an attorney with the House of Representatives’ Office of General Counsel in her official role representing the House in legal matters.

“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,” Moss states in his ruling.

Aaron Fritschner, Beyer’s press secretary, called the lawsuit “frivolous” and said Beyer, whose district includes the city of Alexandria, is proud to display the rainbow flag above his office door along with the American flag.

Lowenthal, whose California district includes the city of Long Beach, released a statement praising Moss’s decision dismissing the lawsuit.

“The Pride Flag is a symbol of love, of peace, and diversity,” Lowenthal said. “It tells the story of the LGBT community’s past, present, and future. I fly it outside my office in support of every LGBTQ individual – those in my district, those in our nation, and those around the world,” he said.

Sevier couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. In his rainbow flag lawsuit he identifies himself as a “former judge advocate general, combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, D.C. lobbyist, overseas missionary, whistle blower, and recording artist.”

The Daily Beast reports that Sevier has filed numerous other lawsuits seeking to challenge same-sex marriage laws, including lawsuits in Florida, Texas and Utah calling on courts in those states to allow him to marry his laptop.

According to Daily Beast, Sevier in 2013 sued the Apple computer company on grounds that it failed to issue a warning when he bought his laptop at an Apple store in Tennessee about the harm that could come from using the laptop to view pornography on the Internet.

His lawsuit said the lack of a warning resulted in his becoming addicted to porn “with adverse consequences,” Daily Beast reports.

Ian Thompson, an official with the ACLU’s legislative office in Washington, characterized as baseless Sevier’s legal arguments in his rainbow flag lawsuit that homosexuality is a religion and LGBT rights laws could be challenged on religious grounds.

“This is an absurd argument, and we are confident that no court would ever take it seriously,” Thompson said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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