Virginia is Leading the Way in Protecting Faith-based Organizations
BREAKING: Teacher Refused to Lie About Gender - Fired from West Point High School Tonight
Virginia is Leading the Way in Protecting Faith-based OrganizationsDec. 07, 2018
I was proud of the Commonwealth of Virginia last week. Unfortunately, we don’t get to say that a lot these days.
During a panel discussion on religious liberty protections for faith-based foster care and adoption placement agencies in Washington D.C., a representative from Kansas said they used Virginia’s religious conscience statute as a model for their own legislation to provide religious protections for organization’s and allow them to continue placing foster and adoptive children with a mom and a dad who share their beliefs about marriage. The Family Foundation played a central role in helping lawmakers pass Virginia’s religious conscience legislation in 2012.
Virginia’s conscience clause for foster care and adoption placement agencies allows private agencies to deny or approve placements based on religious or moral reasoning, and it prevents the state from rejecting the private placement agency’s license because of its religious or moral positions (see § 63.2-1709.3 of the Code of Virginia). Without these protections, organizations with deeply held religious convictions would be excluded from Virginia’s foster care system.
More importantly, without these protections 5,370 children in Virginia’s foster care system, including over 700 children ready for adoption, could be without a home because exclusion of these faith-based agencies dilutes the pool of available foster parents who can provide a loving home.
Many states do not have religious liberty protections for these types of organizations, and as a result they are faced with a dilemma - either ignore their religious convictions and continue operating, or stop contracting with the government to provide foster care and adoption placement services and close their doors for good.
This is exactly what occurred in the City of Philadelphia, formerly a beacon of independence and religious liberty, which terminated the contracts of two prominent faith-based agencies on the grounds that their traditional Christian values violated the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination by contractors on the basis of “sexual orientation.” The decision to terminate the contracts was in response to a complaint filed by a same-sex couple that was denied a placement by one of the agencies because their lifestyle was deemed to be contrary to the organization’s deeply held religious beliefs on marriage, which ensures children will have the benefit of a married mom and a dad.
A U.S. District Court Judge in Pennsylvania upheld Philadelphia’s decision, ruling that “DHS and Philadelphia have a legitimate interest in ensuring that the pool of foster parents and resource caregivers is as diverse and broad as the children in need of foster parents and resources.” In other words, the court favored the diversity of the foster parents more than respecting the constitutionally protected religious beliefs of qualified foster care and adoption organizations, even though its decision would actually guarantee fewer foster parents, fewer resources, and a less diverse pool of caregivers.
So much for the free exercise of religion…and common sense.
Thankfully, cases like this have been prevented in Virginia because of its strong religious conscience protections for faith-based foster care and adoption placement agencies. However, this will not likely stop the ACLU and other left-wing groups, emboldened by the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage, from collectively seeking to remove any barriers they deem to be a threat to their efforts to redefine the family unit. Claire Gastanaga, Executive Director for ACLU of Virginia, makes this clear when she wrote that all foster children deserve forever homes regardless if it is with a “single parent, two moms or two dads, or another kind of family unit.” Ergo, a family with one mom and one dad is now viewed as just “another kind of family unit.”
For the time being, let’s take delight in knowing that there is religious liberty in Virginia, but let’s also remain vigilant in our defense of it.
BREAKING: Teacher Refused to Lie About Gender - Fired from West Point High School TonightDec. 06, 2018
Tonight, after an open hearing lasting more than 5 hours before the West Point School Board, Peter Vlaming was fired from his job. The five member school board, without comment, rubber-stamped the superintendent’s recommendation that he be terminated.
What did this beloved High School French teacher of seven years do to warrant this decision?
He dared to stand on his deeply-held convictions by not complying with the school administration’s directive that he refer to a female student by male pronouns.
It's unfortunate that those who demand tolerance the loudest want to punish anyone who does not conform. The West Point School Board has introduced a brand new ideology about human nature and insisted that Mr. Vlaming embrace it by setting aside his deeply held - and constitutionally protected - faith.
While Mr. Vlaming was willing to use the student's preferred name and avoid referring to the student with female pronouns, that did not satisfy the school administration, who told him that he MUST affirmatively use male pronouns for the female student.
The administration insists that by not using male pronouns, Mr. Vlaming violates school board policy and cited the Office of Civil Rights policy regarding gender discrimination. However, the school failed to inform the teacher that this federal administrative guidance was rescinded in 2017, prior to the current situation.
The public hearing was held in the Chorus Room, only allowing 38 members of the public to sit in on the meeting. There were well over a hundred people who tried to attend the meeting in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. Students and parents sat in the hallway watching a live-stream of the hearing when they learned they could not get into the room.
The support for Mr. Vlaming was inspiring.
Several students testified passionately about the way Mr. Vlaming shows genuine care and respect to all the students in his classroom. He had a spotless record with West Point High School to substantiate their personal testimony.
In all of this, we can clearly see that the addition of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to nondiscrimination policies is not an innocuous move that will merely protect vulnerable students. These policies are being used to punish anyone who does not agree with the ideology of the day and to coerce good people to speak a message they fundamentally disagree with at the threat of their livelihood.
While Mr. Vlaming lost his job tonight, this fight is far from over. He may have many long years of appeals in this case. At the same time he, his wife, and their four children between the ages of 1 and 10 have just lost their sole source of income.
Please pray for the Vlaming family.
We at The Family Foundation will continue to fight tirelessly in Richmond to ensure that the General Assembly does not pass these coercive and destructive nondiscrimination policies.
Legal Abortion and Limited GovernmentDec. 05, 2018
This is a Guest Blog by The Family Foundation friend, Mark Shepard. Mr. Shepard is a former state senator from Vermont, and now resides in central Virginia with his family. This article previously appeared in various publications, and is reprinted with permission.
In an October 27 debate for the U.S. Senate seat in Vermont, current Senator Bernie Sanders, an unapologetic self-avowed socialist, made the following statement (go to minute 23:45):
I must tell you that I get tired of many of my conservative colleagues who talk about getting the government off the backs of the people. They want to deregulate everything. But when it comes to a women's right to control her own body, well they think that state government and federal government should be right in there telling every woman in this country how she can control her own body or whether she can control her own body.
Sanders' comment went unchallenged during the debate; yet the limited-government case against legalizing abortion is solid.
Before making that case, it is important to note that Sanders does not present the situation with any intellectual honesty. First, there are at least two lives in every abortion and they must both be considered. Second, framing the right to abortion as solely a women's freedom issue is disingenuous. Plenty of data makes the case that abortions are pushed far more by men, who want sex without responsibility, than by women wanting to abort their children. Threats and abuse toward women, already trying to navigate a stressful situation, are both real and widespread.
While Sanders' focused on the "hidden" lives of the unborn, the real issue is: where does human life get its value? Abortion supporters give the state the greatest power possible, which is setting the scale that determines the relative value of human life. While the state may not be "pulling the trigger," the state is removing itself from its most important duty to protect innocent human life and thus is fully culpable. Moreover, often the state encourages the killing by paying the killer.
Ensuring government does not have the power to choose what innocent lives are and are not expendable is very much a limited-government position. It is keeping the ultimate power over life and death out of the hands of government. In terms of our federal government, setting the value of innocent human life is not among its enumerated constitutional powers. By contrast, a government empowered to arbitrarily legalize killing of innocent life is an unlimited-government.
Our aim should be that our government equally protects all people, which is in keeping with our national creed, "... that all men [people] are created equal, ...." Let that be the goal we strive for, rather than Sanders' low view of humanity, where some people are created more deserving of "the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness [truth]" than other people, as determined by those wielding the power of government.
Once the door is opened to treat some lives different than others, there is nothing holding that line in place. It is all arbitrary.
Five state governments have now taken on the power of determining when a person's life is of such little value that suicide, with the state's blessing, is promoted. To see where this road can lead, we only need to look at the Netherlands and elsewhere, where the practice of euthanasia is decades old.
Consider the implications of Sanders' dream of government-controlled healthcare with healthcare being a "human right." Unlike the right to own property, which is limited by availability and personal finances, Sanders' healthcare right is being sold with no such limitations. Government will pay for everything. Yet raising taxes enough to cover unlimited access to healthcare will never be politically or economically viable. How will that right be reconciled with the reality of a limited budget?
Real pressures will force real solutions, and while suicide might start as an option for those whom government deems low-value, as pressures build, that option will turn into the "responsible" choice. What keeps the line from moving from the "terminally" ill to the disabled or any other group deemed to be more of a liability than an asset to the state? Who defines disabled? What about people who challenge the direction of the state or those who do not stick to "politically correct" scripts?
Giving government the awesome power to set value to human life undoes the very concept of unalienable human rights. Rights become totally at the will of those wielding government power. Government can do no wrong because government is the definer of right and wrong. There is no higher authority. The concept of innocent until proven guilty and due process are a façade, used when it serves those in power, and otherwise disregarded. There no longer is a rational case for the Second Amendment. Government is supreme and we made it that way by elevating the state above individual human life.
While the limited-government case against legalized abortion is solid, getting to that point from where we are is no small task. It requires a fundamental cultural shift toward valuing the individual person regardless of his or her station in life. While government can force behavior to a large extent with its use of force, it cannot move hearts and a cultural shift is truly a heart shift. A heart shift comes from the free market place of ideas.
Political campaigns and debates, like where Sanders expressed his confusion, can be a great place to stir deeper thinking. But the level of change needed requires all of us that value human life to help those within our sphere of influence better understand how elevating government above individual human life truly undermines all human rights.
If you would like to publish a guest blog on The Family Foundation website, please email Sean Maguire at email@example.com.
Virginia Teacher Suspended for not Using Male Pronouns for Female StudentDec. 05, 2018
Have you heard about the West Point High School teacher who has been placed on administrative leave because he refuses to sign a paper promising to refer to a female by the student's preferred male pronouns?
Mr. Peter Vlaming is the French teacher at the High School, where he has taught for seven years. He inadvertently referred to the student as “her” on two occasions. The student prefers to be called by male pronouns.
In response, the School Administration put Mr. Vlaming on administrative leave and has told him he must never refer to the student as a female. The Administration told him to sign a paper stating that he would never refer to the student as a female – a directive that would violate his religious convictions. Mr. Vlaming said he is more than willing to use the student’s newly adopted name and to avoid pronouns that would be offensive to the student, but says that he cannot in good conscience use male pronouns in addressing the student. For that, he is now facing a public hearing where he may be fired!
If you are able to, please attend the public hearing to support Mr. Vlaming tomorrow. Your peaceful presence will be a comfort to him as he faces this attack for simply following his conscience.
Thursday, December 6 at 3:00 p.m.
West Point High School chorus room
2700 Mattaponi Ave, West Point, VA 23181
Please sign this petition in support of Mr. Vlaming, and in support of the right of all teachers to obey their conscience. No School Administration should be able to compel teachers to violate their religious convictions.
Sign the petition today to support Mr. Vlaming!
Sports Betting - It’s All About Tax RevenueDec. 04, 2018
The constant barrage of casino news was complicated further last month with news that there is some interest in legalizing sports betting in Virginia. Delegate Marcus Simon (D – Falls Church) told Fox 5 news that he will be introducing legislation to legalize sports betting in Virginia, and believes that there is some openness to it within the General Assembly. To facilitate the sports wagering, Delegate Simon is exploring the possibility of using historical horse racing machines, which were legalized in Virginia this year.
The Supreme Court’s May 2018 decision in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, which held that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) violated the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, has made it possible for states to legalize, regulate, and tax sports betting. Before this decision, a person seeking to make a sports wager had to visit Nevada, wager with an offshore gambling website, or call a local bookie to place an illegal wager.
Of immediate concern is the potential for more unethical and illegal bribery within professional and collegiate athletics. Remember the infamous 1919 Black Sox scandal or Pete Rose? Maybe you are more familiar with the FBI investigation into NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who bet on games he was actually officiating? There are also numerous instances of bribery within college athletics, one of the more infamous examples being the Boston College point shaving scheme that involved mob bosses. An impressionable 18 to twenty-one year old college athlete could easily be swayed to drop a pass, fumble the football, strikeout, or miss an easy lay-up in exchange for a thousand dollars.
According to Delegate Simon, the reason behind his sports betting legislative proposal is to capture the lost tax revenue incurred when Virginians cross over to Maryland to gamble at MGM. This sentiment was affirmed by Secretary of Finance Aubrey Lane, who commented at a State Lottery meeting back in July that there will be a big push among some General Assembly members to legalize sports betting “[b]ecause, as you all know, there are significant monies involved in [sports gambling] – very significant.”
When it comes to sports betting, as well as casino gambling and historical horse racing machines, it seems the primary rationale for its legalization is more tax revenue. In other words, some policymakers are hoping to collect additional tax revenue from Virginians to spend on various government programs and, therefore, expand an already bloated state budget.
Lawmakers who are sympathetic to sports betting (and other forms of gambling) in Virginia argue that it would generate additional tax revenue that is lost when Virginians travel to other states to indulge their proclivity for gaming activities. Yet, Virginia resident gamblers are already expected to report all of their gambling winnings on their federal and Virginia tax returns (see Tax Ruling 14-73).
What’s really going on here is that some elected officials are envisioning hitting the “revenue jackpot” from new out-of-state gamblers who would visit potential sports betting and other gambling establishments in the Commonwealth, as well as Virginians who are otherwise new to the gambling scene. While this would result in an initial positive revenue impact, there is no guarantee this would produce the significant tax revenue they are promising, and here are some reasons why:
Based on casino history, consumer demand for gambling is fairly static and is less likely to create new gamblers.
Gamblers are a creature of habit and may continue wagering in another state.
If a competitive tax rate is not selected, then gamblers will resort to illegal methods of gambling. Many sports gamblers will likely continue using untaxed ways to make their wagers.
Sports leagues will eventually want a piece of the profits, which will impact the odds and cause legal sports wagering to become less appealing.
It’s safe to conclude that sports betting will most likely not generate the large sums of tax revenue for the Commonwealth that some are expecting. That being said, we should not risk creating more ethical problems for professional and college athletics, increasing crime rates, and further tempting gamblers struggling with addiction for the sole purpose of generating more tax revenue.
It’s my hope that policymakers will ultimately come to this same conclusion, and recognize that sports betting and other forms of gambling are just simply bad for Virginia.
SOCE Witch Hunt - Is Your Pastor the Target?Dec. 03, 2018
“Help Us Uncover Hidden Conversion Therapy Programs” is the call to action in a recent article about Sexual Orientation Change Effort Bans. It is a call for children and students to report parents and pastors to the LGBTQ watchdogs so they can “scrutinize” the conduct in question and work toward “stronger oversight” of church activities that might be “conversion therapy” in disguise.
Excuse me for having images of Communist leaders using children to spy on Christian parents come to mind. That’s exactly what this sounds like.
The LGBTQ community despises “conversion therapy” in any form. They blame conversion therapy programs for causing emotional trauma. Conversion therapy is even blamed for suicides. Support for conversion therapy is viewed as wishing that certain people were dead. If you support conversion therapy, you are, at best, considered indifferent about whether “LGBTQ children” live or die.
Seen as a matter of life and death, no wonder many hate it.
What is it that is being hated?
That is my question.
What is “Conversion Therapy?”
Failed legislative language in Virginia defined “conversion therapy” as, “any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender.”
That definition includes the reprehensible practice of electrocuting children to create an aversion to certain images. (Which is already illegal.) The definition also includes a youth leader who teaches Biblical Sexual Ethics and urges his listeners to avoid all sexual immorality. (That would be an effort to change behavior.)
I went to a Christian University and joined a support group for young men who are attracted to the same sex. We gathered together under a campus pastor to study Biblical Sexual Ethics and to encourage one another to walk in holiness.
My experience there was like any other Bible study with a focus on sexual purity. I didn’t feel any pressure to “change” my “sexual orientation or gender identity,” but I was exhorted to avoid sexual sin and to follow Christ with my whole heart.
I would never have thought to call my experience “conversion therapy.” Those meetings do fit the legislative definition, though. There was an effort by the leaders to change behavior.
One man who was at my side at these meetings has changed his mind about pursuing the Biblical Sexual Ethics taught there. As he walked away from that understanding, he also adopted a different position about the Bible study. He now calls it “conversion therapy,” and condemns it.
Hearing someone use the label “conversion therapy” to describe this group was shocking to me. This wasn’t the nasty and cruel emotional manipulation that pushes people toward suicide! It was a gentle older pastor who simply cared for these young men and pointed us to the truth of what the Bible says.
That pastor was engaged in “conversion therapy” according to the political forces trying to ban the practice and root it out from every corner of the church.
Now those political forces want you to report any “hidden” conversion therapy programs that might be taking place in youth groups or churches. They warn that the programs might be “masquerading as innocuous religious youth groups or family counseling programs.”
Is it really a masquerade, or is it honestly just an innocuous religious youth group?
The group I was part of was not evil. Its purpose was not to push young people to “change” their “sexual orientation.” The call to sexual purity promoted in that group was the exact same call made to any students: remain sexually pure and obey Scripture.
That call to remain sexually pure and obey Scripture is exactly what is being attacked by a conversion therapy ban.
What a Difference Showing Up MakesNov. 28, 2018
Does it really matter if people show up to government meetings to make public comment?
Sometimes it is hard to see the difference it makes when people speak up at school board meetings, County Board of Supervisor meetings, or in the General Assembly. Does it really matter if anyone speaks in support or opposition to a policy during public comment periods? Can those few minutes really make any difference?
I assure you, it does.
Over the past two weeks I have seen what a difference public testimony can make.
National organizations pushing for the passage of the so-called Equal Rights Amendment have been trying to get county Board of Supervisors to pass resolutions supporting their legislative agenda. They have had significant success.
Despite the fact that the ERA is a moot issue (having failed to meet the 1982 deadline), and despite the fact that no one can point to any positive legal change that the ERA would accomplish (since women and men are already equally protected under the 14th amendment), this effort to pass county resolutions has been very effective.
In the 17 jurisdictions that have been targeted to pass these resolutions, 14 have passed them (or added the issue to their legislative agenda), 2 are considering the resolutions, and only 1 decided not to pass such a resolution.
That one jurisdiction that decided not to pass the ERA resolution was Prince William County.
What makes Prince William County different from Powhatan County and all the others that passed the ERA resolution?
In Prince William County, there were dozens of women who spoke up in opposition to the ERA. Those voices made a difference. The Board of Supervisors chose to reject the ERA resolution after hearing that testimony.
Your voice makes a difference.
Where speakers spoke up in Prince William County, the ERA failed without getting anyone to second the idea. But when six people spoke up in support of the ERA without opposition in the city of Chesapeake, the resolution passed unanimously.
Speak up. You can speak at your local county or city leadership meetings, your school board meetings, and here in Richmond during the General Assembly.
If you want more information about speaking up in your local government meetings or in Richmond, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (804) 343-0010 ext. 240.
P.S. Here is another example of the power of speaking up. Last night so many people spoke up at the Loudoun County School Board on the question of the religious exemption for homeschooling that that Board was moved to reconsider the question they had already decided.
Virginians Need Tax Relief More Than Amazon DoesNov. 21, 2018
Many Virginians are learning they will likely see an increase in their state income taxes when they file their 2018 tax returns, while we learned last week that Amazon will begin receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in public incentives to move part of its headquarters to Northern Virginia.
Eight hundred million dollars ($800 million) in public incentives, to be exact.
That is how much it is costing Virginia to bring Amazon and part of its anticipated $2.5 billion headquarters to Crystal City in Northern Virginia. It was announced last week that Amazon and the Commonwealth agreed to an incentive package that is filled with all sorts of grants and tax breaks in exchange for promises to build a 4 million square foot facility and create at least 25,000 new jobs. This is welcome news for Northern Virginia and those 25,000 new employees who are promised to earn at least $150,000.
But what about the rest of Virginia? What does the Governor and the General Assembly intend to do next year to provide much needed tax relief to many hard-working Virginia taxpayers all across the Commonwealth who will likely see an increase in their income taxes this year?
While the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) jump-started the national economy by cutting individual and corporate income tax rates, increasing the standard deduction, and making numerous other adjustments, it inadvertently created a tax disparity for Virginians by eliminating or reducing certain federal exemptions and increasing the federal adjusted gross income (AGI) for many taxpayers, which is the starting point for the Virginia tax return. The TCJA compensated federal taxpayers for these adjustments by nearly doubling the standard deduction, but Virginia made no such changes to its own tax code, including its own standard deduction which is not even half of the new federal standard deduction.
What does this mean for individual and married couples when they file their Virginia tax return in 2019?
Since Virginia requires taxpayers to follow the same filing statuses they use for the federal return, and it is likely that more taxpayers will switch from itemized deductions to the higher standard deduction, many Virginians will be forced to use a much smaller state standard deduction. So, while federal taxes may be lowered for many Virginians in 2018, a portion of that relief could be offset by an effective increase in state taxes from unadjusted state tax provisions.
Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne is projecting that this will lead to a tax surplus of $594 million in 2019, and growing to nearly $1 billion by 2024. Policymakers are now trying to decide what to do with this anticipated windfall. The Governor’s plan is to use the additional revenue to make the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundable, but that would only benefit a very small portion of Virginians, specifically ones who currently pay little to no income taxes. Not surprisingly, some members of the General Assembly want to use the additional revenue to pay for increased Medicaid costs, education and other programs.
The obvious solution should be tax reform measures that would benefit all Virginians!
The Family Foundation believes that the fair and equitable decision should be to return the “windfall” back to all Virginia wage-earners who helped create it. Let’s reform an antiquated tax code and eliminate the tax disparity that is likely to impact many Virginians this year. We believe the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s (TJI) tax reform plan released yesterday offers the commonsense adjustments to Virginia’s tax code that will provide needed relief to many individuals and small businesses across the Commonwealth.
Here are the primary reform measures that the TJI tax plan proposes: i) conform Virginia’s tax code to the federal tax code and the TCJA; ii) increase Virginia’s standard deduction from $3,000 to $6,000 for individuals and from $6,000 to $12,000 for married couples filing jointly; iii) reduce the corporate tax rate from 6% to 5.5% beginning in 2019; and iv) indexing Virginia’s individual tax brackets, personal exemptions and standard deduction to increase with the rate of inflation.
We strongly support this tax reform proposal because it will allow Virginians to keep more of their own money to use in the way that makes the most sense for themselves and their families.
If politicians recognized that an incentive package with tax relief was needed to lure a TRILLION dollar company like Amazon to Northern Virginia, then they should also recognize that hard-working Virginians are also in need of some tax relief to lessen their financial burdens.
The Future Looks MadNov. 20, 2018
Western society is quickly moving towards complete madness. The effort to celebrate absolute self-determination is out of control. Our neighbors are now demanding that courts overthrow reality in order to protect feelings.
We were all shocked when the argument was first made that “gender” is a social construct and so birth certificates can be changed to reflect the internal feelings of the individual, regardless of whether it matches their biological makeup.
Most recently, in the Netherlands a man, Mr. Ratelband, is demanding that a court change the age on his birth certificate to reflect the age he feels.
How could Mr. Ratelband, who is 69, defend this outrageous demand?
“Because nowadays, in Europe and in the United States, we are free people,” Ratelband said in an interview. “We can make our own decisions if we want to change our name, or if we want to change our gender. So I want to change my age. My feeling about my body and about my mind is that I’m about 40 or 45.”
Are we the “free people” that Mr. Ratelband claims we are?
He is right that we are free to change our names. There are plenty of cases throughout human history of people changing their names. (Abram and Sarai had their names changed to Abraham and Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Saul to Paul, Cardinal Ratzinger to Pope Benedict, etc. etc.) Does the ability to change our names mean we also can change our gender and our age?
No, of course not. A name is a human construction for identifying an individual. A name is given and can be changed by individuals.
Changing one’s name is completely different from “changing” one’s biology or age. There is an obvious difference between what a person or thing is called and what a person or thing really is.
Gender is a product of biology, and age is a product of time. We do not control our own biology and we do not control time.
This frantic effort to conform reality to our feelings is leading us to chaos.
When courts began to allow people to “change” the legal recognition of biology, they opened the gates for people like Mr. Ratelband to demand a change to age. Where will this end? Can we legally demand to be recognized as taller than we are? Can we have a court decree that we have a higher IQ? That we are wealthier? That we run faster than we do?
Reality is under attack. We’re entering a mad age where reality will be denied by our neighbors, and where insisting upon reality will be considered a hate crime.
Don’t live up to those labels. Even as we stand for the truth, we should never hate any of these individuals. Everyone who is denying reality is motivated by something. Very often it is a deep confusion and pain that we can’t begin to comprehend.
We must love these, our neighbors, even when they deny reality. When they claim that our loving insistence on the truth is hatred, we must continue to stand for truth in love.
Opt-Outs are Unreliable: Part 2Nov. 08, 2018
In a previous post I provided an example of how there are inherent administrative pitfalls that make “opt-out” policies simply unreliable.
Now it appears that an opt-out policy is unsatisfactory because it doesn’t go far enough for those it was designed to benefit. Last month, parents of students at Robious Middle School in Chesterfield County heard that the school had decided not to sing certain songs at a Christmas concert because a few students complained that the songs contained references to Jesus. Aside from the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that religious songs are permissible in public schools, what’s puzzling about this instance is that the County considers religious music to be an appropriate part of a school’s overall education enrichment. Their policy on religious beliefs and customs provides the following:
This policy recognizes the pluralism of religious beliefs of citizens and the significance of religion in Virginia's history. The historical and contemporary values and the origin of religion may be explained in an unbiased and objective manner without sectarian indoctrination.
Music, art, literature, history, world language and drama, among others, having religious themes or bases are permitted as a part of the curriculum for school‑sponsored activities and programs if presented in a prudent and objective manner and as a traditional part of the cultural and religious heritage.
The use of religious symbols that are a part of a religion may be permitted as a teaching aid or resource provided such symbols are displayed as an example of the cultural and religious heritage and are temporary in nature.
Within the County’s religious beliefs and customs policy is what amounts to an “opt-out” accommodation, which states:
[i]n that spirit of respect, students and staff members may be excused from participating in activities that are contrary to their religious beliefs unless there are clear issues of compelling public interest that would prevent it. [Emphasis added]
Under the current mechanics of an opt-out policy, a student is afforded the opportunity to be excused from an activity or curriculum that conflicts with his or her beliefs, while still permitting the other students to continue to participate.
That’s not what happened at Robious Middle School.
Instead of exercising the discretion afforded by the County’s policies, the teacher decided to eliminate all religious themed music from the production because parents of students simply did not find the opt-out accommodation adequate. That means that students who wanted to sing songs containing religious overtones were denied that opportunity.
What happened at Robious Middle School actually rendered the opt-out policy null and void.
Using this same rationale, it would be like saying that if one or more students who object to the human sexuality component of FLE instruction on religious or moral grounds and elect to opt-out should result in the school’s decision to eliminate all materials dealing with human sexuality for all students.
It appears that the County would have been much better off with an “opt-in” policy, whereby parents could have made their decision to allow their children to participate in the production based on the types of songs that were going to be performed.
We Voted! Now What?Nov. 07, 2018
Another election has come and gone. Virginia is among the states that saw a noticeable shake-up.
Virginia will be sending three new Democrat Representatives to Washington. Unfortunately, Elaine Luria, Jennifer Wexton, and Abigail Spanberger have all expressed support for efforts to keep abortion funding, and will advance the radical “LGBTQ+” ideology that undermines truth and religious liberty. Despite appealing to voters as moderates, all three received hearty endorsements from The Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading organizations promoting the radical LGBTQ agenda.
Notably, defeated Republicans Scott Taylor (VA-2nd) and Barbara Comstock (VA-10th) had both supported different liberal agendas in Washington, and yet that clearly did not appease the liberal voters who replaced them yesterday. On the other hand, Dave Brat lost his seat even though he tirelessly supported life, marriage, families and freedom throughout his two terms. It’s hard to say what factors all played into these different outcomes, but it is clear that Republicans appeasing a liberal agenda does not secure victory. We encourage newly-elected 5th District Representative Denver Riggleman to never attempt to appease liberal factions as he takes votes on matters of life and marriage. If you are in the 5th District, today might be a great day to congratulate him and send him a note about how he can represent you best!
We want to congratulate one candidate who never tries to appease a different agenda. Former Chairman of the Conservative Caucus Delegate Ben Cline won the election to replace Bob Goodlatte in the 6th Congressional District! This election, and the election of Jennifer Wexton, trigger two special elections to replace them in the Virginia House of Delegates and in the Senate, respectively.
In the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party actually picked up a several seats, further solidifying its control. Some suggest that confirmation of Justice Kavannah was a decisive factor in those outcomes. Democrat Senators who voted not to confirm Kavanaugh faced a backlash, losing several seats. Democrat Senator Manchin, who defied his party to uphold the Kavannah confirmation, won. These results should mean that qualified and honorable Supreme Court Justices and other federal judges will be easily confirmed in the years to come.
The divided party control of Congress, with Democrats controlling the House of Representatives and Republicans controlling the Senate, will likely stymie any major legislation from passing over the next two years.
Last night also brought one new addition to the Virginia House of Delegates, Joe McNamara in the 8th district special election. To learn more about his positions on issues, check out our voter guide for that race.
One outcome from yesterday worth celebrating is that West Virginia and Alabama both passed Constitutional Amendments stating clearly that there is no right to abortion in their state and that no state funds will be used for abortions! These are among the growing number of states working hard to protect unborn children and defund the abortion industry. Unfortunately, national funding for the abortion industry will likely continue because of yesterday’s Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives. Barring a miracle, no budgets that defund Planned Parenthood will pass under their control.
So what now?
Keep all of our Representatives and our Senators in your prayers.
Support good candidates in these special elections coming up. The Family Foundation will be keeping you updated on all the developments as they come very quickly.
Contact your Delegate and your Senator in Richmond to let them know you support life, marriage, parental rights, and religious liberty. They will face a heavy onslaught from the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Virginia, Planned Parenthood, the Equal Rights Amendment supporters, and many others. They need to hear from you now and all throughout the General Assembly session.
The Family Foundation will be here every step of the way. We appreciate your support, and look forward to seeing you during the General Assembly in January.
P.S. Pastors Day at the Capitol will be on January 9th. Pastors, Save the Date and plan to join us on the first day of the session to pray for civic leaders and learn more about the policies coming up in Richmond.
Opt-outs are Unreliable: Part 1Nov. 06, 2018
Public school “Opt-out” policies are simply unreliable.
The Family Foundation has consistently argued that opt-out policies fail to provide parents a reliable means for ensuring that their children are excused from school activities and curriculum that conflict with their worldview without the potential for ridicule, embarrassment, or unwarranted questions.
Consider opt-out accommodations for family life education (FLE). We have long articulated that parents have the primary responsibility of teaching their children values and morals about human sexuality, not school administrators. However, opt-out policies give the false impression that the school is the best environment for teaching on this subject, and that parents can only exercise their parental authority by electing to excuse their child from such sensitive FLE instruction. Further, opt-out options only subject students to embarrassment and ridicule by having them leave the classroom, in front of their peers, before FLE instruction begins.
At least they are giving parents a secure means to remove their children from FLE instruction, right? Not really. The opt-out policy does not always achieve its intended goal.
A few years ago one of my children was not properly removed from the FLE component of instruction time. My wife and I signed my child’s opt-out form, submitted it to the teacher, but the teacher accidentally removed the wrong student and left my child in the classroom for FLE instruction. The teacher, who is an outstanding educator and arguably one of the best teachers in our children’s school, simply made a mistake. Unfortunately, the oversight resulted in a violation of our parental authority and forced my wife and I to address some topics that our young child was not prepared to consider just yet. The teacher offered a sincere apology, which we accepted, and we all moved forward. I doubt all parents, if in the same situation, would have been as forgiving and understanding.
Nevertheless, clerical or administrative errors like this are inherent in the opt-out policy, and it is likely that oversights such as this occur often and simply go unreported. Also, you cannot dismiss the unnecessary burden that is placed on the administrators and teachers to ensure that oversights such as this do not happen.
In order to avoid these potential pitfalls, the best solution is to apply an “opt-in” approach to FLE instruction. This would ensure that only students with proper approval and documentation will be allowed into a classroom in which FLE instruction was being offered. If a school is able to work with hundreds of parents and students to assign them to their desired electives, then it should be expected that it can also work with parents to decide if an FLE class is right for their child.
Sexual Abuse Double Standard?Nov. 05, 2018
Last week Attorney General Mark Herring announced that his office was launching an investigation into potential child sexual abuse and cover up in the two diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Virginia.
The Family Foundation applauds law enforcement and the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Virginia for committing to fully investigate all claims and to ensure that children are kept safe.
Anyone who abuses a child should be reported to law enforcement and punished to the full extent of the law. It is good to know that Attorney General Herring will have the support of the two Bishops in Virginia as he undertakes this investigation into sexual abuse within that religious institution.
While it is great that he is investigating child sexual abuse in this case, we want to know why he refused to investigate child sexual abuse when it was connected to the abortion industry.
Why did Attorney General Mark Herring release an advisory opinion four years ago telling the medical community that they do not have to report sexual abuse of minors?
His opinion then was that no report of the sexual abuse needed to be made by nurses who knew that a 14-year-old girl was pregnant. Even though he admits that a 14-year-old who is pregnant is proof positive that a “Class 4 felony” has been committed against her, he didn’t seem to think reporting that abuse was important in those cases.
Instead of vigilantly pursuing justice for these young girls who have been sexually abused, Attorney General Herring was content to let their stories disappear. Why was he less gung-ho to investigate sexual abuse back then?
Perhaps it was because these cases were coming out of the abortion industry.
Back in 2014, the Attorney General narrowly interpreted the meaning of the law so that sexual abuse cases in the abortion industry wouldn’t come to light.
What is the difference between the question in 2014 and the question today? Perhaps the horrific account of abuse within the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania made a difference?
Wouldn’t the horrific account of children being murdered in an abortion clinic in Pennsylvania also make a difference?
Attorney General Herring is right to be concerned about child sexual abuse. It is right for law enforcement to investigate possible abuse.
We urge him to not only investigate the Catholic Church, but the abortion industry as well.
All children should get protection from the law. They should never be sent back from an abortion to suffer sexual abuse in lonely isolation.
Attorney General Herring was wrong in 2014. We hope he’ll change his mind.
A Person is a Person, No Matter How Many WombsOct. 31, 2018
In case you missed the news, a baby boy has been born after being carried in the wombs of two different women!
Stetson is the healthy baby boy who was born to Ashleigh and Bliss earlier this year. He was conceived using traditional IVF procedures, but then he was incubated inside Bliss’s womb before being transferred to the womb of Ashleigh, where he grew until birth.
The fertility experts who made this medical marvel possible call it Effortless Reciprocal IVF. It is being celebrated for creating more options to same-sex couples who want to have children.
Options. Our society now uses the word “options” to talk about how children can be made.
This kind of language treats children as commodities. It is dehumanizing. The language of “it” and “clump of cells” and “embryo” all treat unborn children as if they are not people, but just biological masses that have no value.
This dehumanizing language is at the center of the abortion mind set. If the unborn are not human, then abortion is not horrific. So the language used helps to avoid the conclusion that the unborn really are human beings.
News articles on this story frequently use the pronoun “it” to describe Stetson while in the womb. Yet these stories also celebrate the fertility breakthrough because “the same baby” was carried by two women.
Well, which is it? Was Stetson a baby while Bliss was carrying him, or was “it” an embryo?
The story of this remarkable fertility treatment undermines the entire narrative of the abortion industry. Stetson is a remarkable baby because he was inside of one woman’s womb before being transferred to a different woman’s womb. He was carried by both.
There wasn’t an embryo carried by one woman and a baby carried by another. Bliss carried Stetson when he was very small. Ashleigh carried him all the way until birth. Now both Bliss and Ashleigh take turns holding him in their arms.
Stetson is not a commodity. He is not an “it.”
The headlines get it right. Stetson is the first baby to be carried by two different women.
He was Stetson as an embryo while in the womb of Bliss, and he was still Stetson as he grew in the womb of Ashleigh. And he is still Stetson now.
Urging the Supreme Court to Overturn RoeOct. 26, 2018
A man in Alabama shot and killed his wife and unborn child. He admits that he killed his wife, but argues that he shouldn’t be held responsible for killing their child.
The jury of his peers did not listen to that argument, and convicted him of double-homicide under Alabama law. He was sentenced to death.
He appealed the decision all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court, arguing that the death penalty was inappropriate in the case because he only killed one person, not two. His argument was that the unborn child (being between six and eight weeks old) wasn’t viable, and shouldn’t be counted as a person.
Alabama’s law directly answers his objections. The Brody Act protects even “nonviable fetuses from homicidal acts.” This man’s murderous actions constitute double-homicide under Alabama law.
The Supreme Court of Alabama unanimously upheld the conviction and the sentence. One of the justices of that court went even further, calling on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Justice Parker agreed with the decision, and wrote a separate opinion to argue that Roe v. Wade must be overturned. He notes that the Brody Act protects all unborn children from homicide – except for in the case of abortion. He calls this the “Roe exception.”
Because of the Roe exception, the state cannot protect unborn children from abortion. Justice Parker says that this exception is “patently illogical.”
Justice Parker has urged the Supreme Court to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision, and to allow states to protect unborn children from abortion. Why can the law protect a child from a gun, but not from the forceps of an abortionist?
This powerful opinion from Justice Parker comes just weeks after Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.
Perhaps now is the time that Roe v. Wade will be overturned?
I join Justice Parker in stating that it is my hope and prayer that the Supreme Court will do so. I join him in this appeal to the Supreme Court to set things right by overturning Roe v. Wade.
You can also join Justice Parker in calling on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade by signing the online petition. Click here to tell the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Roe exception is the last remaining obstacle to the states' ability to protect the God-given respect and dignity of unborn human life. I urge the Supreme Court of the United States to reconsider the Roe exception and to overrule this constitutional aberration. Return the power to the states to fully protect the most vulnerable among us. – Justice Parker, Concurring Opinion in the case of Jessie Phillips v. State of Alabama, 2018
Board of Health to Amend Rules for Abortion Centers . . . Again!Oct. 15, 2018
The abortion lobby is at it again. After years of regulatory efforts under the McAuliffe administration to significantly undercut the common-sense health and safety standards for abortion centers (which led to our ongoing lawsuit against the Board of Health after it broke the law repeatedly in the process), Ralph Northam’s administration has decided that his predecessor didn’t go far enough.
Earlier this month, the Board of Health published an official Notice of its intent to carve up the regulations governing abortion center standards even more. But the way it went about it is truly unprecedented. Unlike the normal process of specifying the types of changes a state agency intends to make to certain regulatory sections and then seeking public comment on them, the Board of Health has simply decided to leave the entire Chapter wide open to any and all changes that suit their fancy, based upon whatever their pro-abortion cohorts call for through public comments.
They have effectively set up a free-for-all smorgasbord of handouts to the abortion industry, in which the Board has given itself the boundless ability to do whatever it wants. While this latest stunt is probably unlawful, our experience reminds us that the law is no obstacle to the abortion-minded Board of Health. With a pending lawsuit that appears likely to overturn most of the Board’s previous changes to these very regulations, you would think they would eventually learn a lesson.
Nevertheless, this does present a prime opportunity to provide the Board of Health with recommendations for health and safety measures that will actually help protect vulnerable women and children and hold this notoriously shady industry to account.
It’s important that we make sure the pro-life, pro-women, pro-safety message is heard and well represented.
Follow this link to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall to leave your comment urging the Board of Health to implement strong health and safety measures that will protect vulnerable women and hold the abortion industry accountable. (See below for a list of suggestions.)
Years of inspection reports have produced evidence of hundreds of egregious safety violations inside these abortion centers. And most of those were reported under the McAuliffe administration’s own oversight. One abortion center was even closed down after Governor McAuliffe’s own Commissioner of Health suspended its license after a 70-page report of violations.
Virginia’s abortion facilities need more oversight, not less. Share your thoughts about this with the Board of Health today!
Here are a few changes we recommend the Board make:
Reinstate all of the health and safety measures the Board unlawfully watered down during its last amendment process.
Require all OLC inspections to verify that ultrasounds have been performed at least 24 hours prior to every abortion performed.
Require annual inspections on abortion facilities instead of biennial.
Remove the ability of the Commissioner to grant permanent variances.
Reinstate the definition of "first trimester" as being the first twelve weeks from conception, not "13 weeks and 6 days after last menstrual period."
Reinstate the ability of the department to deny, suspend, or revoke the license to operate an abortion facility for violating "any provision of Article 1 (§ 32.1-123 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of Title 32.1."
Reinstate the requirement that abortion facilities provide information on post-abortion counseling to its patients.
Reinstate the requirement that the abortion facility ensure that it has removed all of the fetal body parts from inside of the female patient upon the performance of an abortion.
Reinstate the requirement that abortion facilities report to OLC any incidents reported to the malpractice insurance carrier.
Reinstate the reasonable design and construction standards that provided for things such as hallways wide enough to carry patients out on stretchers in cases of emergency.
Planned Parenthood’s Stealth Accounting PracticesOct. 15, 2018
It is widely understood that Planned Parenthood’s primary funding source, close to $500 million, is derived from Medicaid reimbursements. Abortion supporters attempt to make the argument that, under the law, Medicaid reimbursements can only be used for “family planning” services. While that may be the case, it does allow Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to divert funds otherwise used for family planning toward abortion services. It’s nothing short of devious accounting.
During the Medicaid expansion debate in Virginia this year, we warned legislators that Medicaid expansion and other grant programs would permit Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to line their pockets with state funds in order to help them carry out their abortion practice.
Last month, the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood announced that it is planning to open a new abortion center in the East End of Richmond, which is projected to double the number of Richmond clients to 20,000 visits per year. In fact, the abortion provider has already purchased property and plans to invest upwards of $5 million in its renovation. The location of the new Planned Parenthood is in one of Richmond’s more impoverished areas, and will seek to exploit and misguide new Medicaid enrollees.
What gave Planned Parenthood incentive to establish a new abortion center in Richmond you might ask? Simple: Medicaid. In the Richmond Times Dispatch article announcing the new facility, the CEO of The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, Paulette McElwain, stated that they were motivated by the General Assembly’s passage of expanded Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals.
In addition to expanded Medicaid, there have been two Planned Parenthood affiliates approved for the LARC pilot program, a two year, $6 million pilot program approved through the budget to provide long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) to its clients.
While the Medicaid dollars and LARC grants will not fund abortions directly, it will allow Planned Parenthood to redirect non-Medicaid funding streams to support their primary mission – performing abortions. Money is fungible, and Planned Parenthood has learned how to cleverly use this to skirt federal and state laws in order to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.
Some states, most recently South Carolina, are taking direct action to thwart this devious accounting practice. This month the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to uphold the Governor’s line item veto of a budget measure that would have funneled about $15.8 million in state “family planning” funds to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Last year the South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also boldly issued an executive order disqualifying abortion facilities from being Medicaid providers (that executive order has been challenged in court by Planned Parenthood). Governor McMaster said in a statement: “[t]here are a variety of agencies, clinics, and medical entities in South Carolina that receive taxpayer funding to offer important women's health and family planning services without offering abortions.”
South Carolina has stood up to the powerful abortion industry and its lobbyists to cut off its funding, which ultimately support abortion practices. It is time for Virginia to do the same, and disqualify any health care clinics that carry out abortions from becoming eligible for Medicaid reimbursements.
As we unwrap Medicaid expansion that was delivered to Virginians through the biennium budget this year, we are now beginning to see some of our predictions related to the abortion industry come to pass. Nevertheless, we will remain steadfast and diligent in our defense of the unborn and the protection of all women who are being influenced by Planned Parenthood and its abortion cohorts.
Senator Amanda Chase: The Face of CourageOct. 12, 2018
I’m going to guess that Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) surely did not foresee the severity of the backlash that would come her way before she unflinchingly stepped up to the podium at last week’s “Conversion Therapy Work Group” meeting, during which she cautioned against a policy proposal guaranteed to significantly undermine parental rights, patient autonomy, free speech, religious liberty, and the very notion of truth itself. I also get the distinct impression that, had she been able to foresee the consequences ahead of time, she wouldn’t have changed a thing. The General Assembly could really use a few more legislators with that kind of courage, fortitude, and moral clarity.
As soon as Senator Chase posted about her involvement in the meeting on her Facebook page, the sharks began circling, and the madness inherent in the so-called “conversion therapy” discussion ensued. Passions ran high on all sides, but especially among those disinclined to recognize objective biological realities. Critical comments are to be expected towards legislators, but this was at a different level. And that was just Facebook.
Two days later, Senator Chase was being lambasted by Richmond2Day, which seemed to mostly take issue with the fact that she often provides retorts to statements from hostile constituents on social media. The real story here should be that Senator Chase actually takes the time to personally acknowledge and interact with her constituents - even the ones who disagree with her on various issues. A legislator who actively listens to and engages with her constituents? How refreshing. Moreover, she even talks openly about current issues on her weekly radio show, including this topic, which was featured on last week's show.
But what was it about this particular situation that caused Senator Chase to become the object of so much fury? She had the audacity to stand up on behalf of the General Assembly, struggling children, concerned parents, professional counselors, and people of faith and declare that children should be able to receive professional guidance when they are experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion about their biological sex, that we should trust parents to seek therapeutic methods that are in the best interest of their children and in accordance with their faith, and that we should permit counselors the professional latitude to help their clients through a variety of reasonable methods. I suspect that what really sent some over the edge, though, was that Senator Chase dared to stand before a body of mostly liberal bureaucratic "professionals" and clearly imply that, when it comes to the new radical agenda to force misaligned sexual identities onto vulnerable children, "the emperor has no clothes."
Plenty of others also showed up to share a similar message, including professional counselors, individuals who had received such counseling, pastors, and citizens of goodwill. But none besides Senator Chase had to subsequently face the firing squad - because she's an elected official, and well, elected officials are supposed to know to stay away from such "controversial" issues. For the sake of our Commonwealth and the many people impacted by this proposal, I'm glad Senator Chase didn't shy away from speaking the truth on such an explosive, but critically important, matter. The Family Foundation was there to address the Work Group, but we were grateful to have had a legislator lay the groundwork for our cause up front.
The Family Foundation stands resolutely behind Senator Chase and any other legislators who stand up to fight for children, parents, counselors, free speech, and religious liberty. Others are definitely out there, but our Commonwealth could use a few more.
America's Biggest Serial Killer and Our LawsuitOct. 11, 2018
Did you know that the most prolific and successful serial killer in American history was convicted and jailed for multiple life-sentences just five years ago? The Philadelphia man killed hundreds of victims over the course of a few decades without getting caught. He was finally caught after an unrelated drug investigation. He was convicted for the first-degree murders of five of his countless victims.
This story is shocking. It is horrific. And the major news media was all but silent as it happened.
Why were they silent? Because Dr. Kermit Gosnell was an abortionist and his victims were the survivors who were born alive in his abortion clinic.
Very few people know that America’s Biggest Serial Killer was an abortionist. NPR won’t even allow this fact to be printed.
Stories like this one remind us why the health regulations in Virginia are so important. This serial killer was only able to continue his decades-long killing spree because the State of Pennsylvania refused to regulate abortion clinics.
The Family Foundation is currently involved in a lawsuit to enforce Virginia’s abortion facility regulations which the McAuliffe administration unlawfully obliterated. We must enforce these regulations so that we never have a Kermit Gosnell in our Commonwealth.
This story needs to be told. And this weekend it is finally being told in movie theaters across the country.
I strongly recommend this movie, which I saw at a special preview showing, to you and your families. It is a courtroom drama that shows the failure of the government to protect innocent lives. This movie also strongly rebukes the mainstream media for their failure to report this sensational criminal trial as it was happening.
While the source material of the story is intensely emotional and disturbing, the filmmakers have done a great job to avoid any graphic content that would upset viewers. This movie will make you think, and it should make you angry about what we are doing in our society. Check your local theater listing to find a showtime and see this movie. The true story of the sordid work of the abortion industry enabled by the government and ignored by the mainstream media must be told.
The Family Foundation will tell this story and continue to hold our own government accountable to protect Virginians from killers like Gosnell. Thank you for your support.
The "Gay Cake Row" Across the PondOct. 10, 2018
You’ve heard of Jack the Baker of Masterpiece Cakeshop, right? He’s the Christian man who won his case at the Supreme Court this year.
Now you should hear about Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland. Today they finally won their case at the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court.
Both cases were about whether nondiscrimination laws can be used to force bakers to create custom cakes celebrating gay marriage.
Four and a half years ago, Ashers was asked to make a custom cake with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and the phrase “Support Gay Marriage” on it. The clerk accepted the order, but the Reformed Presbyterian Christian family who owns the business decided this message would conflict with their deeply held religious beliefs. So they refused the order.
The cake would have cost £36.50. Instead of looking for another bakery to make the cake, the customer, gay rights activist Gareth Lee, brought a lawsuit against Ashers for discrimination.
His case was initially successful. The lower courts ruled that refusing to make this custom cake was discrimination against Mr. Lee on the basis of his sexual orientation. It is against the law in the United Kingdom to discriminate on that basis.
The appeals have continued in Northern Ireland, and the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom finally reached a decision this morning. The Supreme Court unanimously agreed with what the McArthurs and Ashers have been saying all along: “We did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself.”
Lady Hale of the Supreme Court gave the opinion of the court.
This unanimous decision in favor of the Christian bakery owners made it clear that “nondiscrimination” cannot be interpreted as a right to force Christians to celebrate something they disagree with.
“The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr. Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”
After four and a half years, freedom of speech has prevailed in the United Kingdom. It cost the taxpayers over £200,000 in legal fees that the State provided to Mr. Lee through the “equality commission.”
Facing the prospect of hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs for the years-long legal battle would have silenced many Christians. But the McArthurs stood their ground and won their case.
Bakers in Colorado and in the United Kingdom have had to fight all the way to the Supreme Court because of nondiscrimination laws that were used as weapons against them. If we pass “nondiscrimination” laws that uphold “sexual orientation” as a protected class, then we can expect to see it happening to Virginian bakers as well. And that’s just the bakers.
The Family Foundation will continue to stand against these destructive policies in Virginia. Thank you to all of our supporters who make this stance possible.