HIGHLAND — A former Arizona sheriff who won a U.S. Supreme Court case over federal gun laws took aim Saturday at a judge's ruling last month that allows same-sex marriage in Utah.
Richard Mack said the U.S. Constitution was written to protect God-given, innate rights.
"You're never going to convince us that homosexual marriage is one of those innate, God-given rights. It's not," he said. "If you read the Bible, you will plainly and simply see that it's not."
His comments about gay marriage drew loud applause from about 200 people crammed into the Highland Community Center. They came during an hourlong speech focused on states' rights.
Mack, former sheriff in Graham County, Ariz., created the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association about three years ago to "take back America county by county, state by state."
Speaking of the gay community he said parents have rights and "we choose not to teach that to our children and we don't want you teaching it to them either. Don't shove your agenda in our faces or down our throats. We don't want any more of your gay appreciation parades."
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby's ruling last month that struck down Utah's voter-approved law defining marriage as between a man and a woman drew many people to Saturday's event. Some of them signed up to organize opposition to his decision that the state has appealed.
"There are a lot of people who are upset about this," said Cherilyn Eagar, a conservative political activist who is organizing the opposition. "It's really up to we the people at this point. Our governor is not with us on this. We have a state legislature that won't even call a special session. Our federal delegation has been silent about this."
Eagar said the governor and state lawmakers have the power to tell the federal government that Utah will not enforce Shelby's ruling.
Mack also set his sights on local and state elected officials who he said don't follow the Constitution. He said their job is to "keep the federal government impotent and off our backs and out of our lives."
"Was this judge who nullified marriage in Utah federal? Then somebody should erect some barriers against him," he told the crowd that included several state legislators and county and city officials.
In 1994, the National Rifle Association recruited Mack as a plaintiff in one of nine lawsuits against the Clinton administration over the 1993 Brady Law which required federal background checks on firearms purchasers. In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled in Mack's favor, finding that federal agents may not force local law enforcement to require those background checks.
Mack now tours the country speaking about states' rights with theme that "the federal government is not our boss."
Joe Wolverton, who described himself as a "constitutional" attorney, threw out words like secession and treason while talking about states' rights and federalism in his remarks to the crowd.
The federal government does hundreds of things every day that are not in the "contract," so states have the right to rescind it, he said.
"We are absolutely within our right to secede from a political union that no longer answers to the demands of liberty and justice," he said.
Wolverton also went after elected officials who he says have betrayed the country.
"Have we elected traitors? Yes we have, absolutely. Both parties continue to grow the federal government and burden the states and the people."
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