More Gambling Will Hurt Virginia FamiliesJul. 27, 2018
Although Virginia has historically been a gambling free state - minus the state lottery, charitable gaming such as bingo, and horse-track betting – it has been recently bombarded with a torrent of gambling expansion efforts. In March of this year, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe announced its plan to build a $700 million casino in the near future. In April, the governor signed a bill that legalized historical horse-race machines, devices which essentially function like slot-machines. Then, in May, the Supreme Court gave states the authority to regulate its own sports betting laws, which means that Virginia will soon face a strong push for its legalization.
Consequently, even though gambling is not typically an issue on most Virginians’ radar, it is important to now give it thoughtful consideration as the gambling issue begins to loom large on the horizon. For a host of reasons, the recent move towards wide-spread gambling is dangerous and careless public policy.
First of all, the U.S. is already enduring a major gambling addiction problem, as nearly 10 million people struggle with a gambling habit. A sudden expansion of gambling opportunities would dramatically exacerbate the problem. Studies have shown that the existence of a gambling facility roughly doubles the number of problem and pathological gamblers within 50 miles. If the mere presence of a physical casino doubles gambling addiction, then one can only imagine the ramification of having access to gambling on a smartphone, which is exactly what could occur if sports betting is legalized. Combining the dangers of gambling with the instant access of smartphones would almost certainly lead to an explosion of gambling addictions. An increase in gambling addiction is of grave moral concern, since gambling addiction inflicts significant damage upon the individual, the family, and the common good of society.
The consequences of gambling on pathological gamblers are often severe and difficult to remedy. Casinos thrive off of the losses of problem gamblers, which constitute about 35 to 50 percent of casino revenue. It is no surprise, then, that many pathological gamblers are afflicted with crippling financial loss, including massive debt, bankruptcy, and even homelessness. Financial ruin, along with the other ramifications of gambling addiction, contributes to the high rate of suicide attempts for pathological gamblers.
The second victim to fall prey to the harmful consequences of chronic gambling is the family. In addition to the obvious financial burden of mounting gambling debt, chronic gambling also creates tension and instability in the home. Many communities even report an increase in domestic violence and child neglect in correlation with the arrival of casinos. The financial, physical, and emotional problems drive many families to the breaking point, as 53.5 % of pathological gamblers have been divorced, compared to 18.2 percent of non-gamblers.
Eventually, the problems of wide-spread gambling extend to the entire community. Studies have shown that casinos significantly increase crime, including robbery, aggravated assaults, auto theft, burglary, larceny, rape, and murder. Also, due to a variety of factors, including the increased crime, each pathological gambler costs society about $9,393 per year. In order to compensate for the increased financial burden of pathological gamblers, the government faces immense pressure to increase taxes. Although they cannot be empirically measured, there are numerous other social consequences brought by gambling that can be clearly seen and felt by all.
In view of these realities, a sudden and massive expansion of gambling would be a tremendously imprudent public policy decision. High stakes and easy accessibility are a lethal combination that would inflict considerable damage upon Virginia. While gambling may not be intrinsically immoral, it contains within itself an inherent capacity for substantial harm. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to curtail the expansion of gambling whenever the opportunity arises. If gambling is allowed to run free and unhindered, it will inevitably sink its teeth deep into the fabric of our society.
By James Rossi
James is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a student at Christendom College.
The 'Wedding Wars' Come to VirginiaJul. 25, 2018
You’ve no doubt heard about the trouble with cake baker Jack Phillips in Colorado, florist Barronelle Stutzman in Washington, and other creative professionals who refused to lend their artistic talents to same-sex weddings in recent years. Now that trouble has come to Virginia.
Brett and Alex Sandridge, owners of the wedding photography and videography business Gardenia Weddings, have become the latest victims of intolerance. The young married couple faced immediate backlash after politely telling a same-sex couple that they “would not be the best match to film [the] wedding.” Brett and Alex made this decision because of how important it is for them to remain true to their beliefs. You can read about it here:
WDBJ 7: Same-sex couple claims Charlottesville-based photographer discriminated against them
CBS 19 News: Charlottesville-based wedding photographers refuse to serve same-sex couple
Brett and Alex probably had no idea that their small act of declining their artistic services in accordance with their conscience would ignite such a firestorm. Within 24 hours they had experienced a huge amount of backlash and a smear campaign so big that Facebook deactivated their page. Outraged crusaders from everywhere flooded the page with so many negative reviews that it may even put them out of business for good.
Sadly, this is what has come to be expected for anyone who doesn’t fully embrace – and even lend their artistic talents in celebration of – the judicially-created concept of same-sex marriage.
What’s unique about this situation is that it appears to be the first major flashpoint of the “wedding wars” within Virginia. Our state has enjoyed relative immunity from the merciless targeting of conscientious business owners in the wedding industry in large measure because Virginia has wisely declined to add the classifications of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (“SOGI”) to our nondiscrimination laws. We know that such a law would be used to punish religious business owners, and we continue to point out this connection every chance we get. (Read my recent Op-Ed in The Roanoke Times about it.)
It is worth noting that Brett and Alex Sandridge are experiencing the market equivalent of a tar-and-feathering for their decision without any non-discrimination law on the books to punish them for their convictions. The free market – all on its own – acted with incredible swiftness to address the “harm” that this same-sex couple felt in being turned down by Gardenia Weddings. (The highly connected and instantaneous world of social media brought about a kind of swift response that a court could never dream of offering.) Now the Sandridges are on the verge of losing everything within just days of their decision because it was not in lock-step with the demands of the uncompromising Sexual Revolution. Now just imagine how terrible it would be for them if the same-sex couple had access to a “nondiscrimination” law with which they could use as a weapon against these business owners and tie them up in expensive litigation for years.
This situation certainly puts to rest the oft-repeated argument that Virginia needs SOGI laws because LGBT people are unprotected in society. Far from being unprotected, those identifying as LGBT have an army of motivated supporters ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice– and in this case, even a long list of other wedding photographers all too eager to bless the couple with a free wedding photo/video package. It is clear that the only people in this scenario who may need more protection are the faith-based owners of Gardenia Weddings.
The ERA Does Not Help WomenJul. 25, 2018
Recently, there has been a renewed push by radical feminists to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution, which removes any legal distinction between men and women through its broad and rigid language. The ERA states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” It conspicuously lacks any language that provides for reasonable exceptions. Instead, its inflexible language could potentially invalidate any law that recognizes the inherent differences between the sexes.
In the words of ERA supporters themselves, “the ratification of the ERA would at long last end the legal distinctions between men and women in the United States of America.” The fear that any reasonable legal distinction would be removed is not merely a matter of speculation, but has been realized in states that have adopted an ERA. For example, the Supreme Court of Washington cited their state’s ERA in ruling that all schools must open their sports teams to both sexes. Even more significant than the particular details of the case is a statement from one of the justices that illustrates just how sweeping and uncompromising the ERA’s language really is. He states,
“With some qualms I concur in the result reached by the majority. I do so, however, exclusively upon the basis that the result is dictated by the broad and mandatory language of Washington's Equal Rights Amendment. Whether the people in enacting the ERA fully contemplated and appreciated the result here reached, coupled with its prospective variations, may be questionable. Nevertheless, in sweeping language they embedded the principle of the ERA in our constitution, and it is beyond the authority of this court to modify the people's will. So be it.” (emphasis added).
The removal of all legal distinctions between men and women would be devastating for several reasons, but first and foremost because it fails to recognize God’s natural order. Sacred Scripture, reason, science, and common human experience clearly reveal that God, in his infinite wisdom, created mankind male and female. Since God created men and women in His own image and likeness, both possess an intrinsic and equal dignity. At the same time, God also created them with unique yet complementary natures. Instead of denying this eternal truth, the law should take the distinct natures of men and women into account in appropriate circumstances. One evident example is designating separate bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and changing facilities in public spaces for the sake of privacy, dignity, and safety. Various physical and strength-related distinctions are also appropriate in many circumstances, such as the military or team sports.
When stripped of its shallow soundbites and boiled down to its essence, the ERA is nothing more than radical feminism’s attempt to abolish the unique and God-given dignity of women in exchange for a futile attempt at complete sameness with men. We should see the ERA for what it truly is: an affront to the dignity of every woman. We know that in woman, as in men, God has created a beautifully unique nature that should be celebrated and cherished. While the Left fashions itself as the champion of diversity, the ERA reveals the egalitarian commitment that drives this dangerous vision of equality. In reality, the Left’s worldview rejects the authentic diversity of men and women in favor of a corrupted understanding of equality as sameness. Even at the risk of being called sexists, people of faith and decency must continue to fight for the unique dignity of both men and women before it is lost to the ever devouring throngs of radical feminism.
By James Rossi
James is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a student at Christendom College.
What is Being Taught in Your School?Jul. 23, 2018
On Friday the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution calling on state legislators to protect children from exposure to unsuitable content in sex education (“Family Life Education”) classes across the nation. Click here to read the Resolution Protecting Students From Exposure to Potentially Unsuitable Content by Supporting a Parent's Right to Grant Prior Written Consent for Sex Education.
This resolution was brought forward by Virginia’s National Committeewoman, Cynthia Dunbar. The resolution was passed unanimously by the full General Session.
"I'm thrilled this resolution passed.” Cynthia Dunbar said, “This should not be a partisan issue. Parents everywhere deserve the right to know what their children are being taught, and afforded an opportunity to consent to it."
She is right on. Parents deserve the right to know the content of the curriculum their children are being taught about sex and sexuality, and schools should have to get parental consent before exposing their children to that content.
Although Virginia law currently requires the FLE curriculum be made available to parents for review, we know that in Western Albemarle County salacious videos were shown to 14-year-old girls without ever being available for parents to review.
Parents in Fort Worth Texas were not allowed to review the materials in their children’s sex-ed classes, and the Attorney General of Texas issued a statement reminding the school district that the law requires the disclosure of these public documents.
Here in Virginia, school districts across the Commonwealth have been dragging their feet when asked to provide parents the Family Life Education curriculum taught to their young children. Parents in Loudoun County were refused access to the full curriculum, and told that they could only review it all during a three day review session coming up in late August – after school has begun.
I am so glad that the Republican National Committee has adopted this resolution in support of parental authority. The other political parties should do the same.
The Family Foundation is working to get legislation passed through the General Assembly to accomplish the goals set forth in the resolution. Indiana has already taken significant steps toward that goal. You can help us by signing this petition. Use your voice to urge the Virginia General Assembly to protect children from unsuitable content, and to protect parental authority.
You can also help keep your school district accountable by reviewing the Family Life Education there. If you would like to be involved in this effort in your school district, please email me, Sean Maguire, at email@example.com. I’d like to be in touch with you about how to effectively approach your school district to find out what is being taught in Family Life Education.
Schools have to get prior parental permission for their children to be involved in something as innocuous as music ensembles. There is no reason why schools shouldn’t have to get parental permission before exposing children to the sensitive and ideologically charged content of Family Life Education.
"Nazis" - Yep, The Supreme Court Just Went ThereJul. 17, 2018
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against California and in favor of the speech and conscience rights of pro-life pregnancy support centers in the case of NIFLA v. Becerra. A Virginian could read the opinion, determine that we have no similar compelled speech law in the abortion arena, and promptly close the book on it. Not so fast, though. In light of the Virginia’s brand new 2018 budget, this case might also have something to say to our state lawmakers.
It’s hard to read the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of NIFLA and not envision railroad crossing bars with red lights and loud bells coming down stopping the government from crossing what the Justices clearly see as a bright line of freedom. Particularly illuminating is the Court’s depth of discussion on the concept of “professional speech.” The Court described professional speech as a potential class of speech that could inappropriately be used by the government to compel a subset of citizens or businesses—the professionals— to express a government approved message. Nestled in the multi-paged warning that government can easily usurp a profession and compel speech violating our first freedoms are examples from history where “governments have ‘manipulated the content of doctor-patient discourse’ to increase state power and suppress minorities.” (p.12 of the majority Opinion) Specifically, it puts Chinese physicians being dispatched to convince peasants to use contraception on rhetorical par with doctors in Nazi Germany holding and making decisions based on the required government opinion that the collective health of the people was more important than the health of an individual - the result of which was tragic, mass murder.
There is an unwritten rule in politics—a rule that is oft repeated within our office walls to ensure compliance— that nothing, regardless of its reprehensible nature, should ever be compared to Nazi Germany. No person or government should be compared to Nazis. No amount of deaths - even abortion with its obvious parallels - should be compared to the Holocaust. We strictly comply with this rhetorical canon not because the analogy might not hold, but because, among other prudential reasons, we don’t want to contribute one word or thought that, if misinterpreted, could result in a victim or family’s experience being diminished. Let each unique awful atrocity stand on its own. (Besides, for some of the unconscionable occurrences we’re witnessing in our own time, there are and need be no comparisons.)
So, when Justice Thomas in the majority opinion quotes from a Law Review that compares anything to Nazi Germany, it demands our attention. Interestingly, in NIFLA, we find that it was government working through its doctors to entice peasants to go on contraception. While the details of that situation were not elaborated, the fact that it was a program intended for the poor seems to be relevant, with an underlying sentiment that if the poor would simply stop reproducing, the government would benefit.
Herein lies the alarming parallel to this year’s budget. For the first time, our state budget included $6 million that is intended specifically to incentivize healthcare and abortion “professionals” (if that term can be used for those who take the life of the unborn) to encourage low-income women to use long active reversible contraception. In both discussions and floor speeches surrounding the budget item, government officials can be heard expressing the underlying sentiment that if the poor would simply stop reproducing, the government would benefit (less money spent in welfare type programs, criminal reform, and the list go on). Although one could argue that our government is not requiring Planned Parenthood and others to encourage low-income women to go on contraception, being handed money to do so will presumably achieve the same effect. If the program our budget funded comes anywhere close to what the majority Opinion tacitly compares to Nazi Germany, it’s a good indication that it should never have been funded.
I’ve got a better idea for our state government: How about, instead of funneling millions of taxpayer dollars into a long-term contraception program for low-income populations, let’s celebrate every new life as a gift rather than a burden. And let’s promote strong families as the only viable and sustainable means of reducing dependency on publicly-funded programs.
What's Mark Herring Doing?Jul. 16, 2018
By now you’ve probably heard that on Friday, Attorney General Mark Herring filed a motion asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the $1 billion abortion industry against Virginia’s pro-life laws.
Some may have been surprised at the Attorney General’s action, given he’s one of the most pro-abortion elected officials in Virginia history. I wasn’t. And I can say why in three words.
Justice Kennedy retired.
The lawsuit, brought by Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and others, asked the court to find unconstitutional Virginia’s abortion center safety standards, 24-hour waiting period, informed consent, a requirement that only doctors can perform abortions and a requirement that second and third-trimester abortions take place in hospitals. (Read our recent blog about it here.) The abortion industry was counting on Kennedy, the swing vote in two of the most atrocious pro-abortion decisions since Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 and Hellerstedt two years ago, to once again come to its rescue.
The Casey decision gave us the “undue burden” concept that claimed any law that caused an “undue burden” for a woman seeking an abortion was unconstitutional. Hellerstedt found Texas abortion center safety standards unconstitutional because, in their words, they were, guess what- an “undue burden.”
But Mark Herring clearly saw that with Kennedy’s retirement and the possibility that his replacement will most likely come to very different conclusions when it comes to abortion laws, the lawsuit brought by the abortion industry could actually give the Supreme Court the opportunity to uphold all of Virginia’s reasonable pro-life laws. He simply doesn’t want to take that risk.
But that’s not the only deception in Mark Herring’s motion.
Hidden deep within his office’s “analysis” is the Attorney General’s handout to the abortion industry: the argument that because abortion centers are defined as “hospitals” in the Code, it is legal for these centers to not only perform abortions during the first trimester, but during the second trimester as well.
The problem, of course, is that this wasn’t the General Assembly’s intent at all, as evidenced by the past six years of implementation of the 2011 law. In fact, there are several different types of “hospitals” in Virginia law, including nursing homes and mental health facilities – places where you certainly wouldn’t want to have surgery! Neither of those, nor abortion centers, are “general” hospitals, which is where the General Assembly always intended second and third-trimester abortions to take place because of the possibility of serious complications.
But the Attorney General had to give his friends at Planned Parenthood something, so he once again chose to undermine Virginia law in a way that favors the abortion industry’s bottom line – and puts women’s health at risk.
Despite the Attorney General’s actions, The Family Foundation is preparing to help defend our hard-fought pro-life laws. Perhaps a lawsuit that was intended for evil will end up being used for good.
Great Hopes For New Supreme CourtJul. 11, 2018
With the big news of President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the possibility of a conservative majority on the Court (i.e. 5 of 9 Justices who attempt to read and apply the Constitution as written) is now within reach. This opens up exciting possibilities for the years ahead. We remain prayerful that whoever the next Justice is, he or she will faithfully uphold the Constitutional rights and protections of all people (no matter how small or weak), while vigorously reinforcing the Constitutional constraints on government (no matter how big or powerful).
In many ways, it seems as if there was never so much on the line as in this cultural moment. And here we are, about to witness the biggest political fight of a generation unfold before our eyes over the confirmation of a single judge who could tip the balance of the highest court in the land. And while we should never be fooled into thinking that any one governmental official is the answer to solving all our problems, we should also never underestimate the impact of just one person, used of God for His purposes and in His timing, appointed to a place of influence within government. (For some good Biblical examples, see Esther, Daniel, Joseph, Nehemiah, etc.)
In Virginia, there are many issues at stake, chief among them life and marriage. Given that President Obama packed the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals with far-left leaning judges over the course of eight years, the need for another chance at a fair hearing on important cases is critical. Take, for example, the major lawsuit the abortion industry filed last month challenging the constitutionality of basically all of Virginia’s laws putting common-sense restrictions on abortion. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are planning to undo with a few judges what The Family Foundation has fought for decades to implement and defend in the legislature. With a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, not only could that be prevented from happening, but the so-called “right to abortion” could actually be overturned altogether.
Virginia is also facing a significant campaign this coming year to remove from the state constitution our Marriage Amendment declaring that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. But now with Justice Kennedy gone (he authored the 5-4 opinion three years ago redefining marriage), the game has changed, and that opinion is ripe for being challenged and overturned. If that happens, Virginia’s Marriage Amendment would immediately go into effect once more – but not if it’s removed before then. And keep in mind, it is the redefinition of marriage by the Court that has driven most of the religious liberty conflicts popping up all across the country.
Even in a political environment where hyperbole is the new norm, it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that this Supreme Court appointment may be the most consequential political decision in decades and for several decades to come. If ever there was a time for fervent prayer, it is now.
The Family Foundation has a weekly prayer focus through Team Timothy. Please consider joining us in prayer every Tuesday morning by contacting Sean Maguire at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-343-0010 ext. 240.
Can the States Redefine Marriage?Jul. 10, 2018
Guest blog by Jacquline Oster
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement, and President Trump has just nominated Republican Brett Kavanaugh to take his place. This means that Obergefell v. Hodges—which Kennedy authored—could be reversed, and states would regain the power to maintain their own marriage laws. Virginia’s marriage amendment, which a growing number are seeking to repeal, may become more than an artefact of Virginia’s constitution. Many right-leaning figures are, once again, trying to discern whether states have the right to redefine or even recognize marriage, while some argue that government “involvement” in marriage is contrary to human liberty.
Though we believe today that government should uphold and protect human freedom, we conceive of liberty as licensure to live and do as we please. But when we allow ourselves to be led by irrational fixations, whims, and ideas, we in fact become subject to the unnatural inclinations that we suffer in response to the Fall. In his encyclical, Libertas Praestantissimum, Pope Leo XIII writes that while “other animate creatures follow their senses, seeking good and avoiding evil only by instinct, man has reason to guide him in each and every act of his life.” Because this gift of reason allows us to know the Good and to freely choose the means through which we work to attain it, it follows that human liberty is inextricably tied to our rational faculty. Our intellects, however, have been corrupted by sin; therefore, we have laws to guide and perfect them as we submit to authorities who uphold the natural law as instituted by God. In his commentary on the words of our Lord (“Whosoever committeth sin is a slave to sin”), St. Augustine says that the intellect, because of its condition, “necessarily stands in need of light and strength to direct its actions to good and restrain them from evil. Without this, the freedom of our will would be our ruin.” Without legal structures to guide and reinforce us in good habits and ways of living, we would fall prey to the evil powers that weigh on our nature. It is foolish to think that the fullest expression of human liberty is an ungoverned life: to do so would deny the end to which we, as human beings, are ordered by God, whose created order provides a framework for human law. Although it does not enforce every aspect of the natural law, government must recognize certain fundamental truths that are essential for the wellbeing of society.
Those who view the institution of marriage chiefly as a sacrament or expression of religious belief may have forgotten that marriage is a natural and pre-Christian institution that was instituted by God in the beginning as the first society and foundation of a political community. Men and women benefit each other with the unique strengths that they bring to their union, which allows virtue to flourish through gifts of self-sacrifice and commitment. A traditional, legally-recognized marriage regulates and preserves both sexualities from opportunism and abuse, by empowering women with a husband’s protection and preventing men from indulging the roving, uncommitted tendencies to which they are often inclined. This complementary relationship is inherently ordered to the procreation and care of children, whom numerous studies have shown to fare better when they are raised by both mothers and fathers. A safe and stable environment, where children are nurtured by understanding mothers and challenged by affirming fathers, is essential for the continuation of the political community and the good that it upholds. No individual is complete and self-sufficient, and governments cannot function if they fail to recognize the fundamental relationships that allow societies to even exist. Marriage, which brings together the two most basic parts of humanity, is the cornerstone of them all.
The belief that states can supply new definitions of marriage, or that government should not recognize marriage at all, is an untenable position. If we think that the government has the right to safeguard human dignity and freedom—and if we think that it ought to promote human flourishing by affirming fundamental truths of nature such as the right to life, liberty, and property—then it can and should recognize the institution of marriage as it has and always will be: the exclusive, conjugal, and complementary union of a man and a woman who, through their similarities and differences, complete and perfect one another as they give life to new souls who will benefit from the strength of a father, the gentleness of a mother, and the security of their civilly-recognized union with each other.
In his dissenting opinion to Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Roberts claimed that, in its intentional misreading of what is clearly implied by the Constitution, the Supreme Court was abusing its power and violating the democratic process which, he believed, is enshrined in law and not in “any particular school of social thought.” While it is fair to acknowledge the bias and audacity of the justices who sought to redefine one of the most ancient social institutions, we should view the outcome of Obergefell v. Hodges not only as an affront to democracy, but as a failure of the government to rightly order society by recognizing an institution that is essential to human flourishing and manifest in the created order. The Supreme Court was wrong in its failure to uphold natural law, and so are any states whose constitutions allow for same-sex marriage.
Because the majority vote currently determines the principles and statutes by which we live, let us try to be a more virtuous people, committed to protecting the most basic realities of nature. We ought not to eliminate civil marriage, but to uphold the very structure that is the cornerstone of all civil societies. Only then will we be most free to achieve one of the greatest human ends: the gift of oneself to another who can, with his or her complementary nature, complete and perfect the other in a beautiful, indissoluble union that is at once sacrificial and life-giving.
 Leo XIII. “Libertas Praestantissimum.” The Holy See, 20 June. 1888, http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_20061888_libertas.html.
 Leo XIII. “Libertas Praestantissimum.” The Holy See, 20 June. 1888, http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_20061888_libertas.html.
 Johnston, Jeff. “Kids Need a Mom and a Dad – That’s What the Research Shows.” Focus On the Family. N.p., 27 Mar. 2018. Web. 10 July 2018.
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Jacquline Oster is a 2018 Grassroots Intern with The Family Foundation, and attends Thomas More College in New Hampshire.
FLE Opt-In Wins in IndianaJul. 06, 2018
Virginia’s public school Family Life Education (FLE) curriculum has been taking hits recently. In Fairfax County, changes were made to the curriculum - including statements that sex is assigned at birth, not a biological fact (language lauded by some as more inclusive and accepting of all students who walk the halls of the Fairfax schools). Many parents worry that such language, aside from being scientifically incorrect, will confuse children; other parents say it will liberate them.
There is now a statewide push to make FLE “opt-in” rather than “opt-out.” Currently, parents can opt their child out of FLE if they are able to locate the proper form, fill it out, and send it to their child’s school. Many – perhaps even most – parents are unaware of this possibility, and even fewer know what is being taught in the classrooms; they do not realize there is any reason to consider opting their child out at all. The opt-in route might require a bit more paperwork, but it would certainly make it easier for parents to make the decision if they know about the choice up front. One woman I spoke with aptly rephrased “opt-in” as “ask parent’s permission” before teaching FLE to their child.
Opt-in just won in the state of Indiana. On July 1 of this year, the Indiana Senate Enrolled Act 65 was signed into law, making it illegal for public schools to teach FLE to students without prior written consent from parents. One article that is not fond of the new law remarked: “Leave it to Indiana to require permission slips before students can receive an education.” This is not an issue of just any kind of education, though. No one is protesting children being taught math or geography. This is about the impressionability of young children and their exposure to things their parents should decide are appropriate or not for them to learn (at their current age or at all). As the foremost educators of their child, parents have the right to know what is being taught in the FLE program and the right to choose whether or not they deem it appropriate for their child. Schools already must obtain written permission before a child can attend a field trip, play on a sports team, or participate in band. As Senator Dennis Kruse, author of the Indiana bill, stated: “if anything needed an opt-in parental consent… it’s human sexuality study.”
Virginia should take heart and follow Indiana. We ought to value the minds and lives of our school children enough to ensure similar protections for them. And we ought to have the good sense to recognize that when it comes to children and such sensitive matters as sexuality, parents are a far better and more appropriate judge than the state.
The Family Foundation is collecting signatures on a petition calling for the General Assembly to make Virginia’s FLE “opt-in,” requiring schools to get parental permission before exposing children to sex ed. You can add your name to the petition online right now. Click here to sign the petition.
By Jordan Hodge
Jordan is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a graduate of Northeast Catholic College.
Huge Win For Christian Counselors!Jul. 06, 2018
Sometimes, victory is sweeter than we even realize. The recent major victory in the NIFLA v. Becerra case (read our blog about it here) wasn’t just great for the free speech and conscience rights of pro-life pregnancy support centers. As incredible as that was, the impact of the Court’s decision goes much further. The opinion includes strong language affirming the speech rights of all kinds of “professionals” – including counselors who are coming under increasing attacks. It’s an exciting development that we did not expect to come out of this case, and we intend to capitalize on it!
Of particular significance, the Opinion leaves little doubt that the so-called “conversion therapy” bans we see popping up in states everywhere would be declared unconstitutional if challenged. These laws prohibit licensed counselors – many of whom are also ordained ministers – from counseling a child experiencing gender dysphoria or confusion to embrace his or her true biological gender, or to overcome or navigate through their unwanted same-sex attractions consistent with Biblical precepts about human sexuality. To understand just how outrageous these initiatives are, I encourage you to read for yourself a Virginia bill that was introduced this year. We worked hard to help defeat that bill by just one vote.
Here are just a few of the strong statements the Court made about “professional speech” in its majority opinion:
- “As with other kinds of speech, regulating the content of professionals’ speech ‘pose[s] the inherent risk that the Government seeks not to advance a legitimate regulatory goal, but to suppress unpopular ideas or information.’”
- “Throughout history, governments have ‘manipulat[ed] the content of doctor-patient discourse’ to increase state power and suppress minorities: [citing as an example] In Nazi Germany, the Third Reich systematically violated the separation between state ideology and medical discourse.”
- “Further, when the government polices the content of professional speech, it can fail to ‘preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail.’ Professionals might have a host of good-faith disagreements, both with each other and with the government, on many topics in their respective fields. Doctors and nurses might disagree about the ethics of assisted suicide or the benefits of medical marijuana; lawyers and marriage counselors might disagree about the prudence of prenuptial agreements or the wisdom of divorce;”
- “‘[T]he best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market,’ and the people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail.”
- “All that is required to make something a ‘profession,’ according to these courts, is that it involves personalized services and requires a professional license from the State. But that gives the States unfettered power to reduce a group’s First Amendment rights by simply imposing a licensing requirement. States cannot choose the protection that speech receives under the First Amendment, as that would give them a powerful tool to impose ‘invidious discrimination of disfavored subjects.’”
Others have picked up on this connection to conversion therapy bans, too. Read further commentary from the Ruth Institute and The Christian Post.
As more professions are increasingly being caught in the crossfire (or crosshairs) of the Gender Revolution on account of their faith-based convictions, and as too many men, women, and children are being sacrificed as pawns in its relentless ideological quest, this Opinion could not have come at a better time.
Obergefell Split My CommunityJun. 28, 2018
Three years ago today my community was torn apart, the ideology of sexual identity was enshrined by the Supreme Court, and lives were ruined as restraint was cast off.
Obergefell is the Supreme Court opinion which was handed down by five of the nine Justices. Those five imposed their view of marriage on the rest of the nation.
I was in D.C. when it happened.
I stood up for marriage and spoke with several rainbow-clad activists about marriage. They didn’t want to hear about the social harm this decision would bring about.
I stood up against the radical social experiment that was being pushed on our society by the Supreme Court.
I stood up to protect our society from the harm that turning the law of marriage upside down would bring.
Here are some of the consequences of Obergefell which I saw coming even before the case was decided:
1. private individuals are being compelled to celebrate events they don’t agree with;
2. adoption agencies can no longer serve their communities because of their position on same-sex marriage;
3. pastors are facing state scrutiny and pressure for preaching about same-sex marriage.
There was another major consequence of Obergefell which I didn’t see coming. That is the number of personal friends I have who were prompted to change their lives by this decision.
It was a few days after Obergefell that my friend posted a blog declaring himself free from sexual norms. “I have always been gay,” my friend said, taking me by surprise.
The Supreme Court had ruled that “being gay” is part of our reality. Five members of the Court decided that there is something fundamentally different between men who are attracted to men and men who are attracted to women.
My friend embraced that difference as part of his identity, divorced his wife, and is searching for love in same-sex sexual encounters and romantic relationships.
My heart broke for him and his wife, and my heart is still breaking. I still don’t agree with the idea that he is somehow different from other men.
“You just hate gay people!” many of my friends on Facebook tell me because of my public opposition to the Obergefell decision. Again, they are following the lead of the five members of the Court who said that any opposition to same-sex marriage was based on “animus” or hatred.
The five Justices of the Supreme Court used their authority to give my friends permission to behave this way.
My friend agreed with the opinion of the Court and divorced his wife. Since he is “gay,” he doesn’t see how he could live any other way.
Social media users agreed with the opinion of the Court and told me that I am just a hateful bigot. Since all opposition is based on animus, hate must be overflowing out of my heart.
Obergefell split my community apart.
Huge Win For Life, Pregnancy Centers, and Free SpeechJun. 27, 2018
Yesterday, we received great news! The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers and Free Speech in the case NIFLA v. Becerra.
In a huge win for pro-life pregnancy centers and free speech, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California state law that would have forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion services and to express a message that conflicts with their fundamental beliefs. For medically licensed pregnancy centers, the law required them to post or distribute a statement pointing the way to abortion. For unlicensed pregnancy resource centers, the law required them to post signs and state in all their digital or print advertising they are not medically licensed clinics – squelching their ability to get their own message out.
It is refreshing to hear the U.S. Supreme Court affirm the rights of conscience and free speech for pro-life pregnancy resource centers over the government’s unconstitutional law targeting these centers in order to compel them to advertise for the abortion industry.
Justice Kennedy used incredibly strong language in condemning the California law in his concurrence:
“The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of ‘forward thinking.’ But it is not forward thinking to force individuals to ‘be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.’ It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come. Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.”
Given the way the abortion industry appears to be directing Virginia's top officials, we hope Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring are paying attention. Long before he became Governor, then-Senator Northam tried to compel Virginian pro-life pregnancy centers to speak in similar ways to what California has tried. The Family Foundation defeated that effort with your help.
I am pleased that the Supreme Court has stood up for free speech, and our team at The Family Foundation will use these same arguments to protect Virginians from future unconstitutional speech codes that imperil our liberties.
Community Discourse Has Gotten Out of HandJun. 22, 2018
I occasionally think that life would seem much easier if we could forget that people we disagree with are human. Just as human as we are. Then I remember that we do. We often forget it in our everyday encounters with each other, especially in discussion of issues we disagree on.
This past week, I witnessed many people forget the humanity of their opponents at a school board meeting in Fairfax County. The agenda for the evening was extensive, and the heated and passionate debate surrounding the proposed changes to the Family Life Education (FLE) Curriculum only made it longer. Members of the community in favor of the proposed changes dressed in pink and purple, and those opposed to them came in green. Representatives from both of these color camps presented moving and well-spoken testimonies during the public comment period and received cheers from their respective sides. Everyone in the auditorium had come to defend something they strongly believed.
Disrespect reared its ugly head most prominently when discussion turned to two proposed amendments to the FLE changes. Board members hurled thinly veiled accusations at one another, and the unruly audience had to be brought to order over half a dozen times, twice by the pounding of a gavel. Emotion led many people to act disrespectfully towards one another that night. I was appalled by the shouting, the interruptions, and the undiluted anger coming from both camps.
At the end of the night, when I offered a smiling goodnight to three or four different men and women on their way out the door, I received scathing looks and no verbal responses at all. I was not a fellow human being. I was the enemy. I was wearing the wrong color. It broke my heart. I think on some level we know that anger and shouting will not change minds. When emotions run high, we often default to disrespect. However, there can be no meaningful dialogue and no true relationships if we keep disrespecting each other like this.
We need to be better than this. We need to remember that each one of us is created in the image and likeness of God and that even when we disagree, no one of us deserves respect any less. We need to walk into such situations as the school board meeting ready to give an account of our beliefs both in our words and our deeds, in our position on the issues and in our respect for everyone around us. The world we live in offers us plenty of opportunities to live out this call we have in Christ to love one another as God has loved us. In all areas of our lives, and particularly in public discourse, we must be unafraid to live as sons and daughters of Christ, witnessing to Him in our actions. This requires, at a minimum, that we respect one another.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
By Jordan Hodge
Jordan is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a graduate of Northeast Catholic College.
Wayfair and RoeJun. 21, 2018
Everyone is waiting with bated breath for the Supreme Court ruling in NIFLA v. Becerra. That’s the big abortion case – dealing with the speech law in California that forces pro-life clinics to advertise for abortion.
Today a different Supreme Court case was decided, which could have a huge impact on ending abortion. The case is South Dakota v. Wayfair, and deals with online sales tax.
What could this case have to do with abortion? How could a ruling about states collecting sales tax from online retailers have an impact on abortion?
The interesting thing about the 5 to 4 decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair is that it reverses two other Supreme Court cases from 1967 and 1992. The ruling in today’s Wayfair decision is that the 50-year-old rule about state sales tax for online shopping from those two past cases was “unsound and incorrect” and that both rulings “should be, and now are, overruled.”
This reversal of Supreme Court precedent was motivated by the change in economy and technology over a half century. Because technology and the economy have changed, the rule from the Supreme Court changed.
Now the two cases that were reversed today were named National Bellas Hess, Inc. v. Department of Revenue of Ill. (1967) and Quill Corp. v. North Dakota (1992) and they probably aren’t familiar names to any of us.
But imagine if those cases being reversed were named Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992).
Imagine if the half century of development in technology and the economy since abortion was legalized in this country led to a change in that Supreme Court ruling. Imagine if our understanding of the scientific reality that an unborn child is fully human and alive led the Supreme Court of the United States to rule that their previous decision about abortion was “unsound and incorrect.”
Back in 1973 when Roe was decided, the Supreme Court was able to pretend that the question of when life begins is not settled. That is nowhere near the case today. Thanks to the development of ultrasound technology we now have a window into the womb where we can watch the development of unborn life – which is clearly life.
The Wayfair case today has demonstrated that precedent can be overturned. The word from the Supreme Court is not final. Roe v. Wade will not stand forever.
I’m looking forward to a day, not long from now, when I will read the headline that the Supreme Court has ruled that Roe and Casey “should be, and now are, overruled."
Abortion Industry Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging VA's Abortion LawsJun. 20, 2018
Today, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a major federal lawsuit on behalf of several Virginia abortion centers challenging the constitutionality of several common-sense and long-standing laws regulating abortion. Having failed to repeal these life-affirming measures legislatively over and over, they are now throwing their lot in with the courts.
Just what are these laws the abortion industry finds so objectionable?
- Requirement that abortion facilities performing surgical and chemical abortions be licensed
- Requirement that abortions after 14 weeks gestation be performed at a hospital
- Requirement for a physician to perform the abortion
- Requirement of informed consent prior to an abortion, including an ultrasound 24 hours prior to an abortion
- Criminal penalties for those who perform abortions unlawfully
Yes, that’s right. Supposedly, these are the requirements that are causing an “undue burden” on women trying to access an abortion. This would be laughable if only it weren’t so despicable. The truth is that the abortion industry will let nothing stand in the way of it making another buck, no matter how reasonable or common-sense a practice may be in protecting vulnerable women and unborn children.
Sadly, this nationally coordinated effort is not a surprise. Neither is it surprising that they targeted Virginia. Attorney General Herring has been at their beck and call since the abortion industry helped buy his election. Virginians support common-sense health standards like ensuring surgeries – including abortion – are performed by actual doctors. As the industry continues to lose public support, fails in the legislature, and is cut off from taxpayer funding, they run to the courts for a lifeline.
Objectively speaking, these requirements are about as basic as it gets for any medical procedure, let alone one that is both life-threatening and life-ending. Consider the ultrasound requirement, for example. They take issue with a requirement for an ultrasound before an abortion, even though an ultrasound is the medical standard of care prior to an abortion, not to mention necessary for determining the child’s gestational age as required by law. This is more than a power play by the abortion industry; it’s just plain reckless.
Pay attention to the onslaught of media coverage this suit is now getting. It’s worth noting that the media hardly bothers to cover our lawsuit over the abortion center health and safety regulations (still ongoing, and looking favorable), but when the abortion industry initiates a legal challenge with far less merit, everybody jumps!
We’re used to this sort of thing by now, but it is no less frustrating. What is most frustrating, however, is the potential for the abortion industry to subject vulnerable women to even greater peril at the hands of abortionists with even less accountability, and especially the possibility of many more lives being terminated if these hard-fought laws are somehow overturned.
It is yet to be seen who will step up to defend our laws or how it will be done. Don’t count on Attorney General Herring, although that is his job. We are, however, pleased to see that the House Republican leadership has spoken out strongly against this action, and even went so far as to suggest the possibility of the House defending these laws if the Attorney General neglects his duty. Stay tuned as we follow this case and look to step in wherever necessary to uphold these laws we have fought so many years to successfully defend.
The Real Roots of School ViolenceJun. 19, 2018
As the Virginia House Select Committee on School Safety gathers together to respond to recent acts of school violence, particularly ones perpetrated by students themselves, it allows an opportunity to reflect upon the causes of youth violence, and teenage behavioral issues in general. Although the Committee is a commendable attempt to increase safety in schools, it fails to address the root cause of these problems: the poisonous ideas permeating the school system.
Our public school system has instituted a violent separation between schools and God, religion, and morality. The absence of religion in schools was intended to create a neutral sphere for students. Neutrality, however, is an impossible endeavor, especially in an educational environment. As a result, our school system is just as value-laden as ever before. The only difference is that traditional Judeo-Christian values and ideas have been replaced with secular ones, whether explicitly taught or implicitly accepted.
We corrupt our children’s minds at an early age with these toxic ideas and yet we’re surprised when the ideas reach their logical conclusion. We teach our kids, for example, that man is nothing but an evolved ape, yet we’re surprised when they fail to treat human life as if it possesses intrinsic sanctity and dignity. We teach our children that there is no ultimate purpose or meaning to life, yet we’re surprised when they experience despair and depression. Perhaps most mystifying of all, we’re surprised when individuals behave as if objective, unchanging, universal morals don't exist when we teach that objective, unchanging, universal morals don't exist. Gee, I wonder if there could possibly be some kind of correlation.
In truth, the only thing that should surprise us is the fact that we are continually surprised. Ideas do not exist in a vacuum; they have consequences. Good ideas have good consequences and harmful ideas have harmful consequences. Consequently, these pernicious ideas currently pervading the school system may be harmless as theory but they are horrifying in practice.
So yes, implement any reasonable measure that strengthens school security and the protection of children. Add security guards, security cameras, and metal detectors if you want to mitigate the effects of the problem, but let’s not pretend that these will solve it. In addition to these measures, reducing youth violence and misbehavior would require drastic changes that our society is currently unwilling to make, such as allowing prayer in schools. Until it does, don’t expect violence in our schools to disappear.
By James Rossi
James is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a student at Christendom College.
School Board Votes Against ScienceJun. 15, 2018
Last night I was at the Fairfax County Public School Board meeting at the Luther Jackson Middle School. The room was packed with people wearing pink, purple, or green.
Those wearing pink and purple supported making changes to the Family Life Education, such as using the ideologically charged term “sex assigned at birth” in place of the scientifically accurate term “biological sex.”
Why do they argue that this change should be made? One man in purple said it was so that transgendered people can “follow their feelings.”
Those wearing green supported keeping science and reality at the center of the Family Life Education curriculum. “My son was my son before birth, and his sex was never assigned,” one mother in green said in opposing the recommended changes. “Everyone in the medical community referred to my unborn son as a ‘boy,’” never questioning the chromosomal reality that was revealed through blood work and an ultrasound before he was ever born.
Using the term “sex assigned at birth” takes away from the dignity of the unborn. Children who tragically die during pregnancy are no less the sons and daughters of those who love them.
Despite the 1,318 email comments received by the school board last week (83% of which opposed the term “sex assigned at birth”), the School Board rejected Board Member Elizabeth Schultz’s motion to postpone the vote until the parents could be adequately engaged. The Board members did not have any opportunity to read, much less discuss, those public comments prior to the meeting where they were to vote on the proposal.
Parents of all backgrounds throughout the community want to be engaged, but are not able to do so in such a short time, Shultz argued. “We must engage the public in a meaningful way. This is not happening.” She moved to postpone the vote until October.
Other members of the School Board, including Megan McLaughlin, opposed the motion to postpone. “Thousands is not 1.1 million.” McLaughlin said, referring to the size of Fairfax County. She said that the School Board should vote now, confident in these proposed changes because of the vetting by staff and other subject matter experts. She said that the FLE changes came “from those individuals who know this subject matter far better.”
Claiming to respect families, the School Board voted against Shultz’s motion and voted to pass the change to the term “sex assigned at birth” by 10 to 2.
Shultz responded to the statement about looking to subject matter experts by pointing out that 8 of 10 parents who participated in public comments on this subject opposed the change. “I will tell you that the most important educational experts that we should be listening to are parents.”
The School Board did not listen to these parents. They did not listen to the testimony from doctors and the scientific and medical community about why “biological sex” is the appropriate term. They voted overwhelmingly in support of the change to use the term “sex assigned at birth.”
Parents in Fairfax have an opportunity to make their voices heard when the School Board election happens on November 5th, 2019.
The Left's War On ConscienceJun. 11, 2018
During a congressional hearing last Wednesday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, testified in front of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. During the hearing, Bobby Scott (D-VA 3rd District) pursued an aggressive line of questioning, which highlighted a tragic religious liberty attack that has become increasingly common in recent years.
Scott repeatedly pressed Secretary Azar in regards to Christian adoption agencies and their placement policies. Essentially, the issue involves the question of whether Christian adoption agencies should be coerced into violating their consciences by being forced to place children with same-sex couples. The hearing revealed Scott’s alignment with the increasingly mainstream Left on this issue, who are actively striving to force Christian adoption agencies to compromise their religious beliefs by allowing the placement of children to same-sex couples.
Sadly, many Christian adoption agencies have been given the choice between violating their most deeply held religious convictions and shutting down. As a result, several faith-based adoption agencies have already closed their doors, including the Catholic Charities in Boston, San Francisco, and Illinois. Among the frequent attempts by the Left to strip religious liberty away from Christians, this is one of the most damaging examples. Not only is the Left harming the Christians who are losing their religious freedom, but also the thousands of children who receive life-changing aid from these organizations. As Secretary Azar accurately pointed out in the hearing, faith-based adoption agencies “have a long history of providing social services to poor and underprivileged children as well as families, and if we take steps to exclude faith-based groups from our programs, it will harm them and harm efforts to support our programs.”
Indicative of the Left’s movement as a whole, they have chosen to place their radical ideology ahead of the well-being of these children. Unfortunately, the stories of Christian adoption agencies closing down is only a small piece of a much larger picture: the Left’s relentless attack on the religious liberty of faithful Christians. The battle against Christian adoption agencies is not about an attempt to ensure that same-sex couples can adopt children, for there are already numerous adoption agencies that are willing and happy to place children with same-sex couples. Instead, it is simply about the Left’s continued attempt to ram their radical ideology down the throats of faithful Christians.
As we witness time and time again, in the great irony of our age, a war of intolerance is being waged against Christians under the banner of “tolerance.” In this unique moment of history, Christians have to decide whether to obey the truths of their faith and the judgements of their conscience or bow down to the altar of tolerance.
By James Rossi
James is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a student at Christendom College.
Tyranny in BermudaJun. 08, 2018
Courts have been imposing same-sex marriages on nations around the world for over a decade, especially in the West. Usually the courts only have to do it once, but in Bermuda the court had to do it twice.
Back in May of 2017, the Supreme Court of Bermuda ruled that marriage licenses must be granted to same-sex couples. This reversed the practice of marriages on that island nation since time immemorial. The people of Bermuda did not approve of this judicial decree, and less than a year later the decision was reversed by the passage of the Domestic Partnership Act (“DPA”).
This week the Bermuda Supreme Court came back with a ruling that the DPA is unconstitutional, and that same-sex marriage must continue to be allowed in the British oversees territory.
Unelected Justices in Bermuda imposed their view of marriage on the people. The elected members of Parliament acted to reassert the voice of the people in their laws by passing the DPA. Now the unelected Justices have struck that act down.
It appears that the will of the people does not matter in Bermuda. The Legislature clearly doesn’t matter. The Supreme Court in that nation has taken all authority, and imposed its own views through these repeated rulings.
One of the most outrageous things I have read in my entire life comes from this most recent Supreme Court ruling:
“[T]he State cannot use the legislative process to pass laws of general application which favour some beliefs at the expense of others.”
Think about that.
What laws of general application can be passed if this is true?
The majority of people in Bermuda believe that the speed limit on their main roads should be 35 kilometers per hour. Young Bermudans, though, believe that the speed limit should be higher.
Is it now inappropriate for the Parliament to pass a law favoring one belief about the proper speed limit at the expense of the other?
Why are beliefs about marriage different than beliefs about a speed limit? Why are they different from beliefs about taxation, property, or murder?
This argument from the Supreme Court pretends to be neutral to all beliefs, but really it is an imposition of the belief of the justices over the belief of the people of Bermuda. It is tyranny.
All laws favor one belief over another. Bermudans should be able to determine for themselves, through the parliamentary system, what their recognized definition of marriage will be. Tyranny must be rejected, including the tyranny of pretend neutrality. The Bermudan people should ignore this ruling from their Supreme Court, and continue to operate under the law that they have passed in accordance with their belief about marriage.
Herring and Northam Say Stillborn Baby Not HumanJun. 05, 2018
By now, Virginians have come to understand that the abortion industry can look at a beating heart, watch a preborn child move his/her arms and legs in the womb, and still deny that it is a human. While their “blob of tissue” explanation has been scientifically shattered, they have been relentless in their denial of life, including an aggressive political campaign to ensure that women who have an ultrasound are prevented from viewing it. However, it’s still a little shocking to watch abortion sympathizers look at a human body outside the womb and still claim it is not a human being. Among those who are that extreme are several Virginia politicians, namely Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring.
Last month, Judge Chafin of the Franklin County Circuit Court issued an opinion confirming that a 30-32 week old stillborn child whose body was secretly discarded by its mother, Katherine Dellis, is in fact a human body and that its mother had therefore violated the law against concealing a dead body.
As I read the judge’s decision, I was, at the time, impressed that despite AG Herring’s deep political ties to the abortion industry, that his office had upheld the law and legally defended this stillborn child as a human being for the purposes of prosecution.
However, within just 3 short weeks of the judge’s ruling, Governor Northam requested an official opinion on the matter from the Attorney General’s Office in order to create the opportunity for Herring to reverse his office’s legal work and align themselves with the abortion industry. Making an opposite argument as they had in the court case, this new AG Opinion draws the conclusion that a “fetus,” even one that has been delivered and is outside the womb at 30+ weeks, is not a dead body. On Friday, Governor Northam took the extraordinary step of officially pardoning Katherine Dellis.
As one who has experienced loss from an ectopic pregnancy and who routinely shares the tears of mothers who have lost children through miscarriage and stillbirth, this official opinion is not only legally and morally wrong, it is inhuman and uncompassionate. These women have lost real human beings and those who have delivered a stillborn child know exactly how human their child was.
His opinion and the subsequent pardoning fly in the face of the fact that the Virginia Code goes to great lengths to address fetal death and even includes abortion in that definition in certain Code sections.
As I told Lawyer’s Weekly and the Washington Post when asked to comment on the unusual situation, Virginians should be alarmed that Attorney General Herring and Governor Northam have once again shown loyalty to their political base, not the law. Attorney General Herring ran on a platform of de-politicizing the office, but during his tenure he has done just the opposite.
Virginians’ representatives have articulated in statutes what human life is and our Attorney General must get his understanding of life from the law, not the abortion industry. Letting those who kill unborn children in the womb define who is and is not a dead body outside the womb is beyond unacceptable.