What Does South Bend and Virginia Have in Common?

This weekend we were horrified to hear about the remains of over 2,000 aborted babies discovered at the Illinois home of abortionist Ulrich Klopfer who died earlier this month.  This gruesome discovery reminds us of the darkness that pervades this life-ending industry whose champions include people like Kermit Gosnell who operated a horrifying abortion facility and also collected aborted babies as trophies.

The Illinois and Indiana Attorneys General, as well as federal authorities, have launched what we hope will be a thorough investigation into the recent discovery of these remains, as well as Klopfer’s South Bend, Indiana abortion practice.

It’s the Gosnells and Klopfers of the world that Virginia pro-life legislators have specifically sought to prevent with necessary health and safety laws and regulations, which protect women who make this unfortunate decision and save some lives in the process.  It's why The Family Foundation vigorously defended important health and safety regulations in court against the Board of Health which sought to eliminate necessary requirements and oversite.  And it’s these very laws and regulations that Planned Parenthood and their cohorts are seeking to have overturned in Whole Women’s Health v. Oliver, in which a decision by Judge Hudson is expected to be handed down any day.

What’s interesting is that after Klopfer’s South Bend facility was shut down for violating health and safety regulations, abortion advocates blamed so-called “TRAP laws,” which they say impose overly burdensome standards, administrative requirements, and basic health codes, for the closing.  These are the same arguments that have been made in Whole Women’s Health v. Oliver.  Ironically, Whole Women’s Health recently opened an abortion center in South Bend – without having to comply with state licensing requirements due to a court injunction.

This news has national implications, but in a strange twist there is a unique connection to the Whole Women’s Health federal case and the upcoming Virginia elections this fall.

Democratic presidential hopeful and Mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg, who recently stated that abortion is permissible until the baby breathes his or her first breathe, has been an ardent supporter of a Whole Women’s Health clinic that began operating in South Bend.  But not only is he an ardent supporter, he personally tried to ensure their monopoly on vulnerable women by vetoing a rezoning request to allow a pregnancy resource center to operate next door to the abortion center.  The pregnancy resource center eventually secured a properly zoned location directly across the street from the abortion center to offer support for women facing crisis pregnancies.

Now Buttigieg is being embraced by some pro-abortion legislators during campaign stops in Northern Virginia.

But it should be of no real surprise that pro-abortion Virginia legislators would embrace Buttigieg and his radical pro-abortion stance, since they perfectly align with the abortion-up-to-birth for any reason bill introduced this year by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax) and Governor Northam’s comments defending infanticide.

Last week Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) said that “the work of a lifetime is the work of two afternoons” if the majority changes hands in November.  Pro-abortion liberals are poised to usher in “Buttigieg-Tran-Northam” abortion values that will diminish the sanctity of life, threaten the lives of the women, and lead to another Gosnell or Klopfer if they gain control of the General Assembly this November 5th.

Please join us in doing whatever you can to make sure that doesn’t happen!

Transforming Virginia “in Two Afternoons”

“The work of a lifetime is the work of two afternoons.”

That’s all it’ll take, according to Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D – Arlington) at a recent town hall event, for House Democrats to pass every one of their prized progressive policies if they are able to regain the majority in Virginia’s General Assembly this November. In the span of a few days, just months away from now, Planned Parenthood and their cohorts at NARAL-Pro Choice Virginia intend to use the Democrats to reverse 40 years (the work of a lifetime) of hard-fought pro-life gains! 

His point is essentially correct, and this should motivate every freedom-loving Virginian to do anything they can to prevent it. If “Kathy Tran Abortion” supporting candidates take the majority in the House of Delegates, the outlook for Virginia becomes very bleak, and Virginia could soon look like California or New York. Liberals would also have to take over the state Senate, too, but they’re only one seat away with lots of opportunities. Even at 20-20 (It’s currently 21R – 19D), the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (D) breaks all ties, and we know how that will go.

According to Blue Virginia, here are a few of the “progressive” policies modeled after New York that will likely be advanced in Virginia if the majority changes hands:

  • Ratification of the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), which would enshrine abortion into the U.S. Constitution;

  • Repeal the religious exemption for childhood vaccinations that violates parents’ religious beliefs

  • Prohibiting biologically affirming counseling, or so-called “conversion therapy,” for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria

  • Decriminalization of marijuana for recreational use; and

  • Codifying Roe v. Wade into state law, guaranteeing women’s “right” to an abortion up until birth, regardless of whether the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

Far Left groups recognize this and are investing millions of dollars in support of Democrats to turn Virginia blue this November. Make no mistake, pro-abortion and LGBTQ groups are acutely aware that if Democrats can pick up just one or two more seats, there will be almost nothing that can stop them from ramming through every radical policy to further diminish the sanctity of life, marriage, the family, and religious freedom.

 Yet as true as it may be that Democrats could pass a lifetime of work in just one Session next year, it’s just as true to say that if we elect conservative, pro-life candidates this November we can protect a lifetime of pro-family and pro-life achievements.  There’s still time to preserve what remains of our strong foundation!

 The first thing you need to do is register to vote.  With this election being one of the most important in our lifetimes, it is imperative that pro-life, pro-family Virginians show up like never before to cast their ballots on November 5. Secondly, consider volunteering to speak on behalf of candidates who share your values by door knocking, attending campaign events, or writing op-eds to the newspaper. Don’t forget that in 2017 the House majority was literally decided by pulling Delegate David Yancey’s name out of bowl to determine the winner of House District 94, which ended in a tie.  This year, it could be your voice and activism that changes the mind of a voter, maybe even THE voter who decides the outcome of a race.

 Together, we can fend off the radical forces that seek to undermine our foundational principles that for a lifetime have shaped our culture for the good of all. And together, for our Commonwealth and its next generation, we must.

 

 

 

VA Health Boards are Literally Banning the Gospel

The Virginia Boards of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work have recently decided to wage an unprovoked war with the object of destroying not only basic human biology and the rights of Christian professionals in these fields, but in fact the very message of the Gospel itself.

Seeking to use the coercive power of the state to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” these health boards are on a zealous pursuit to punish any licensed counselor, psychologist, or social worker merely for speaking with a minor client with the aim of helping them to reduce or eliminate unwanted feelings of same-sex sexual attractions or gender dysphoria. In other words – for aiding a young person, in a culture of unprecedented confusion, to recognize and embrace their personhood as God designed – a fully, biological, immutable, unmistakable male or female with a complementarian sexual nature and body. 

These McAuliffe-Northam appointed Boards have now made it their official position to condemn “conversion therapy” because (citing the American Counseling Association) “it does not work, can cause harm, and violates our Code of Ethics.” In doing so, they reprehensibly ignore – and even deny the very existence of – countless individuals who through counseling have found healing and transformation from their LGBTQ-defined past. Not only is change and wholeness possible for people seeking to overcome those very real feelings, but many who obtain therapy go on to lead far healthier and happier lives. That’s according to their own personal testimonies – read some of them at CHANGED, Fearless Identity Inc., and Freedom March

In spite of this undeniable proof, these Boards actually maintain that giving professional guidance to a confused and developing child towards accepting the biological realities of their unchangeable sex is categorically HARMFUL to the child! Despite having received a combined total of zero client complaints ever from this therapy, these Boards are nevertheless going out of their way to ensure that any licensed professional counselor, psychologist, or social worker who dares to assist a child in this way will face losing their state-issued license to practice altogether.

Now consider that, according to a recent Gallup poll, a full 75% of Americans self-identify as Christian. The basic message and belief of the Christian faith, boiled down to its essence is that, while every person is affected by, even enslaved to, and spiritually dead in their sinful state, God stepped in and made a way for us to be made holy and new. Through faith in His son Jesus, God makes us spiritually alive with a new nature subservient to His will for us, and no longer captives to our old inclinations or ways of thinking. That, in a nutshell, is what Christians call “the gospel.” (Gospel means “good news.”)

Yet these Boards’ new position stands in direct opposition to the central claim of the gospel, which Christians recognize as the great – and only – hope for mankind. With these policies, the Boards are actually preaching a false ‘anti-Gospel’ message to every child struggling with sexual hurt, confusion, and brokenness that:  a) There is nothing wrong with them, b) That they cannot possibly be healed, and that there is no hope for a renewed mind no matter how much they may desire it, and c) The real sin would be to seek to mend what they recognize as broken inside of them. The Apostle Paul preached just the opposite:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Note the pivotal phrase in that passage: “And such WERE some of you.” That is to say, some of them used to be characterized, controlled, or defined by those old passions and habits (including homosexuality, which was very culturally acceptable at that time), but not anymore! For those who had experienced the transformational power of the “good news” of Jesus, they were gone. As Paul reminded them, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Romans 12:2 offers further evidence of the same message: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Whether or not these Boards comprehend that they are targeting and rejecting the very essence of the Christian faith, it doesn’t change the direct impact on Christian professionals’ resulting inability to incorporate the transformational power of the Gospel into their therapy for many who need it and are desperately seeking it. Their policies effectively guarantee that countless struggling and confused children will not be able to receive that guidance from a licensed professional, making it that much more difficult for them to thrive in the body in which they were created – and at the most critical developmental time in their life for those struggles to be addressed and resolved.

Hence, for Virginia’s health regulatory Boards to ban “Conversion Therapy” is for the government to officially deny the validity and power of the Christian Gospel to transform hearts, minds and lives, AND to deny licensed professionals, by threat of force, their fundamental right to share this Gospel with clients who are open to, and even seeking it.

If the Boards are successful in their attempt to do this, it would certainly mark the beginning of a new era in our civil and political landscape. And if somehow they prevail, and the courts do not correct their error, let us pray that those licensed professionals who have themselves experienced the transformative power of the gospel will have the courage to say to those in authority, just as the Apostle Peter did in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Stafford School Board Ignores Parents’ Concerns

Late last night, just after midnight in a still-packed room, after four hours of public comments from over 100 speakers, the Stafford County School Board narrowly voted 4 - 3 to approve two nondiscrimination policies that elevate “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a special protected class, ignoring the cries of an overwhelming number of concerned parents in attendance.  The policies give the district’s Superintendent virtually unlimited latitude to interpret and implement them as he sees fit  - including the use of bathrooms, showers, and changing facilities - without any control or approval by the Board.

Adding insult to injury, the Board voted 4-3 against a motion to allow the Board’s legal Memo from their attorney to be made available to the public for the sake of transparency. The four members clearly have something they don’t want the public to know, since the Chairwoman revealed that she was voting against the policy because she agreed with the legal advice the Board was given!

Our Policy team, Todd Gathje and Josh Hetzler, attended the meeting, along with many dozens of parents and allies in the fight against these dangerously misguided policies, and spoke to both the policy and legal consequences they will bring.

2019-9-10 Josh and Todd at Stafford.png.jpg

You can watch the entire recorded meeting HERE and read the policies for yourself at the following links:

Proposed New Policy 2420 (Student Services: Nondiscrimination, Equal Education Opportunity). 

Proposed Revisions to Policy 4107 (Human Resources Services: Nondiscrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity, Anti-Retaliation).

Over and over again proponents of the policies, including some Board members, claimed that they had NOTHING to do with bathrooms or locker rooms.  And yet, they cited as their primary justification for the policy just one isolated incident last year involving a female student claiming to be “transgender” who was left in the hallway during an emergency drill instead of in the sex-segregated locker rooms with the other students.  If these policies aren’t about allowing students and staff into opposite-sex bathrooms, showers, and changing areas, what are they about?  After all, they already have policies prohibiting bullying and harassment of any student.

Of course, this has everything to do with bathrooms, access to locker rooms, and changing facilities!  In fact Gavin Grimm, the female student from Gloucester County at the center of a major court case involving access to bathrooms, who also spoke last night, explained in an interview that transgender students don’t deserve the stigmatism of having to use single occupant bathrooms.

The School Superintendent, who has every intention of taking this as far as possible, will now be able to establish onerous guidelines for all students, teachers and administrators to follow within every context of the public schools, with very little oversight by the Board.

These policies have opened the door for every student to have unrestricted access to all sex-specific facilities - including locker rooms, showers, or bathrooms of the opposite biological sex - so long as the student merely claims to identify as that sex.  This violates every student’s fundamental, constitutionally protected, right to bodily privacy and will force them into situations that make them feel uncomfortable or fearful.  In addition to concerns about privacy, these policies will compel students, teachers and administrators to use phrases or pronouns that conflict with their beliefs about the biological realities of males and females, or be reprimanded by the school. Many of the parents alluded of former West Point High School teacher, Peter Vlaming, who was recently fired for this very reason after that school board passed a similar policy.

All of this will happen notwithstanding the clear and vocal opposition of parents, who see their fundamental right to control their children’s education and upbringing being eroded and their children now being put in danger by people who might abuse the policies for wrong purposes.

What happened in Stafford last night could be coming to your county, as many school boards have been watching closely to decide whether to consider similar policies.  While we are saddened and outraged by what transpired last night, we will not stop fighting these horrible policies that work to destroy the very fabric of our society.

To all the parents, students, pastors, and concerned citizens in Stafford who submitted comments or spoke out last night, thank you for engaging in this critical battle! As long as this policy stands, this fight is not over.

Board of Health delays action on Abortion health and safety standards ... For Now!

Today the Virginia Board of Health decided to delay the process of watering down abortion center health and safety standards until its December meeting, in front of a noteworthy pro-abortion crowd.  This decision comes several months after The Family Foundation won an important case to undo the illegal regulatory changes made to the standards during Terry McAuliffe’s administration. Despite the large pro-abortion crowd in attendance, and heavy police presence, the Board delayed action pending a decision in the Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver case recently heard in Federal District Court in May/June.

Our staff was at the meeting to speak on behalf of the women who are at severe risk if these regulations are overturned and the thousands of unborn lives tragically ended through abortion.

unnamed (5).jpg

While the Board deferred a vote on its proposed changesthe proposed regulations make dramatic alterations to all 38 regulatory sections of the chapter governing abortion facilities.  In fact, they go even further to prevent important and basic oversight of abortion facilities.  The proposed regulations elevate administrative convenience and profit above the health and safety of women seeking an abortion by replacing commonsense health and safety requirements with loosened standards that essentially free abortion providers from any accountability.

For several years, we’ve seen at least a thousand regulatory violations from inspection reports conducted in abortion facilities across Virginia. They have lifted the veil on just how careless, unsanitary and inhumane this industry truly is which endangers the lives of so many women.  One example is the Virginia Health Group, which was so bad that even Gov. McAuliffe's own Health Commissioner shut it down within hours of an inspection of the facility that was triggered by a patient complaint.  As you can see, these regulations help ensure some accountability by revealing the pervasive darkness of an industry that has proven to care more about profiting off of the vulnerably of women facing difficult life decisions.

At the very least, the women making such a terrible – often desperate or coerced - choice should be in a facility that meets basic safety standards, but the $1 billion abortion industry opposes even minimum infection prevention standards, inspection of equipment, and even record-keeping requirement.

We will continue to monitor the Board’s actions and expose how they do nothing but allow the abortion industry to continue to line their pockets with blood money from vulnerable women.

Important Back-to-School Reminders!

For many families across Virginia, this week marks the start of the 2019-2020 school year.  It’s exciting for parents to watch their kids begin a new grade level filled with all kinds of hopes and expectations.

In the midst of all the excitement, however, it’s critical that parents remain mindful of several issues that they and their children will encounter.  More each year it seems parents are bombarded with a host of policies that conflict with their family’s values or religious convictions, so it’s all the more important that you are aware of what these policies are in your school district.

Below are a few significant school policies that you should be aware of as your child enters this new school year.

1.      Family Life Education Opt-Out – At the start of each school year, parents have the opportunity and the legal right to review the school’s family life education (FLE) curriculum (i.e. “Sex Ed”) and decide if they want to “opt-out” their child from participating in this instruction.  FLE topics can be quite sensitive, and often include explicit sexual and graphic content. If you wish to opt your child out of FLE, make sure to get your school’s Opt-Out form, fill it out, sign it, and send it in. To find out what is being taught, look on the school district’s website or contact the school.

2.      Anti-bullying/Suicide content review Beginning this school year, parents now have the right to review any audio-visual materials containing graphic sexual or violent images used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools.  And just like with FLE, parents have the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.  Don’t forget to inquire about any anti-bullying/suicide content at your child’s school this year!

3.      Immunization requirements – Every school year, the list of public school immunization requirements seems to grow, and with that comes more chances for them to conflict with parental preferences.  Currently, a student attending a Virginia public school is required to have the immunizations listed on the Department of Health’s website here. However, not all vaccines are required, such as the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV). (For more information about this, please read the Focus on the Family statement here.) Additionally, the state Code provides for a religious exemption from ALL vaccines for students whose parents submit an affidavit to the school stating that the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the student's religious tenets or practices. 

4.      Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Policies – Are you aware of any “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) policies at your child’s school?  Does the possibility of a student of the opposite sex entering the bathroom or changing room with your child concern you?  Some school boards around Virginia have been implementing extreme nondiscrimination policies for students and staff by adding special (SOGI) protections.  In order to protect the safety and dignity or your child, it’s important that you are aware of any such SOGI policies that have been adopted by your local school board and how they impact your child.

These reminders are not meant to overwhelm you or diminish the excitement of the new school year, but rather to encourage you to remain active in your child’s school.  Our public schools should never be used as a laboratory for social engineering or become a place that is constantly challenging the rights of parents to direct the education or welfare of their children. They should be a safe place for students to enjoy the opportunity to learn and grow, develop long-lasting friendships, enjoy fun extra-curricular activities and prepare for their future, without all of the drama induced by radical ideologies.

We hope that all parents and children have a wonderful and successful 2019-2020 school year!   

It’s Women’s Equality Day…Because Women Already ARE Equal!

Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment. On August 26, 1920, the Secretary of State certified the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote. It was an important moment in United States history that ensured women along with men had a voice in our democratic process.

In honor of “Women’s Equality Day,” Governor Northam illuminated the Governor’s mansion over the weekend with purple, gold and white lights.

VAratifyERA held a small rally yesterday on the steps of the Virginia Capital, followed by a “party” at the Governor’s mansion, to celebrate “Women’s Equality Day” and to officially kick-off their 2020 campaign to ratify the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

The Left is determined more than ever to make Virginia the 38th state to approve the ERA after failing ratification by one vote in the Virginia House of Representatives this year.  Last year, Illinois became the 37th state to formally approve the ERA, leaving ratification of the amendment and recognition under the U.S. Constitution only one state shy of the 38 needed.

The Family Foundation has long argued that ratification of the ERA is a moot issue because it failed to receive approval by the requisite number of states by the 1982 deadline, as ruled in the case NOW, Inc. v. Idaho.  Not only that, but the ERA is also a moot issue simply because in our current culture it is not needed.

While there are certainly women who experience inequitable treatment, these situations are nearly always instances where the culture needs to align with the law, not reasons to add more laws.  If properly brought to court under the dozens of laws, their situation should be rectified. It is unfortunate our society still devalues women in so many ways but Virginia laws do not.  In fact, most states like Virginia already have laws in place to address some of the real or perceived disparities between men and women, such as equal pay for equal work.

So, if basically everyone agrees that women and men should be, and are, equals under the law, you might ask why not just go ahead and pass the ERA, which simply 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”?

That’s because a closer examination of the ERA makes it clear that it has less to do with equality and more to do with making men and women the same, as well as enshrining abortion into the U.S. Constitution.  The reality is the ERA is a Trojan Horse intended to advance radical Left-wing objectives such as unrestricted taxpayer-funding of abortion and special legal rights based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”  Moreover, the language in ERA sets up the ability for liberal judges to interpret the term "sex" to mean something other than biological male and female, as numerous federal courts have recently begun to do with statutes with that term, resulting in special legal rights to people on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The direct effect of this has been to trample on religious liberty and conscience protections.

For more examples of the destructive outcomes of the ERA should it ever be ratified, read our blog here.

Groups like VAratifyERA are masking their effort to enshrine abortion into the Constitution and redefine the term “sex” into whatever satisfies their ideological hunger with a deceptive statement that seems innocent and reasonable.  Don’t be fooled or swayed by their tactics.

We don’t need a constitutional amendment to affirm something that is already true – that women are equal and deserving of all the rights and privileges under the Constitution of the United States.

Gov. Northam Wants to Lock Teens in Transgenderism. Stop Him.

Disgraced Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has directed his Board of Counseling to punish any counselor who responds to a teen’s cry for help to accept her own physical biology. 

That’s called putting politics in front of people. 

You have heard of these bans. They’re sometimes called bans on “conversion therapy.” LGBT activists describe nightmarish scenarios of cruel methods used on “gay” people to make them “straight,” without any real evidence, to get what they really want: sweeping bans to outlaw not only cruel methods, but all therapy. Even talk therapy. 

They are speech bans, pure and simple.

Eighteen states have already thrown their teens under the bus. Democrats in Virginia have tried and failed to impose these speech bans through the legislative process. So Northam is doing it through the back door, through executive branch planned regulations.

They ban speech about unwanted same-sex attraction, but also about unwanted transgender feelings.

The regulations would ban talk therapy that “seeks to change” a young person’s “gender identity,” including “efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions.”

Gosh, that almost sounds like these regulations would stop Fairfax County public school “sexperts” from trying to convince little boys that they might really be girls. 

But read on. The regulations specify that the ban does not prohibit counseling “that provides assistance to a person undergoing gender transition” or that provides “acceptance” and “support” for a person’s “identity exploration.” 

You got that? It’s a one-way street. Under Northam’s ban, counselors are only allowed to use words that promote transgenderism—they cannot use words to help someone avoid it. 

As a philosophical matter, this is outrageous. Its legality is dubious.

But look at the real-world impact of this policy.

Say a girl suffers from gender dysphoria. Say at some point she “socially transitions” to living as a boy. Maybe she got the idea in her Fairfax County Sex Ed class. Now she wants help living as a girl. 

Governor Northam wants to make sure she can’t get it. 

Ah, but if she wants help living as a manthat she can find. 

It’s a one-way ratchet. It’s the Hotel Transgender. You can check in, but you can never leave.

If you live in Virginia, you can tell Governor Northam what you think of his proposed regulations. He is playing politics with real people’s lives. And partisan politics should not be used to ban biology-affirming counseling for patients who want it. 

August 7th is the deadline to offer comments on the initial stage of the planned regulations. 

Please go to the Virginia Town Hall website HERE, click on “Enter a comment,” and tell Northam’s Board why this counseling ban is a very bad idea!

By Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow of Legal Studies at Family Research Council

It's a magnet for crime!

“Nothing to see here. We have this all under control.” At least that’s what Rosie’s Gaming Emporium (owned by Colonial Downs), a venue with historical horse racing machines that look and act like casino-style slot machines, is hoping you will believe.

In the past three months since it’s opened, police have been contacted 50 times about criminal and deviant behavior at Rosie’s New Kent location. And since its July 1 opening, the Richmond Police have been called to Rosie’s Gaming Emporium on Midlothian Turnpike 12 times in just the first ten days.

That’s more than one visit per day since the Richmond location opened!

The list of crimes includes: stolen wallets, assault in the parking lot, indecent exposure, harassment, intoxication, grand larceny, physical altercation, and trespassing.

Oh, but there is no need to worry according to Colonial Downs, because it has addressed safety concerns by hiring 40 security guards at the Richmond location alone, and has apparently increased its surveillance of the parking lot area.

That’s a relief. I feel so much better now.

However, while I am certain that Colonial Downs has acquired highly capable and qualified security personnel, the focus of their work is geared more towards protecting the patrons that are at the venue or preventing any disruptions to the gaming atmosphere. Let’s face it, if a casino or any other gaming establishment hires security guards to monitor the facility then their first level of interest is going to be to protect the “house.”

But we have to be somewhat fair and say that what’s happening in and around Rosie’s is not entirely their fault. If we are even a little honest with ourselves, we should admit that what’s happening at Rosie’s has less to do with their quality of security and more to do with the fact that casinos and casino-style gaming venues are a magnet for all kinds of crimes and deviant behavior.

The Department of Justice and the National Institute of Justice have found significant links between gambling, crime, drug use and arrestees. According to one study, problem gamblers are 84% more likely to use hard drugs and 31% are more likely to binge drink. We also know that 3 out of 5 problem gamblers use criminal activity to fund these addictions. Gambling also leads to the human exploitation of various kinds, as problem gamblers are 260% more likely to hire a prostitute.

Those who enjoy frequenting places like Rosie’s might as well get used to the uptick in drugs, crime and prostitution, given that this is the pattern with almost all casinos. It only took the first ten days to prove true for Rosie’s.

Look no further than Atlantic City, NJ, which went from 50th to 1st in the nation in per capita crime after casino operations began in the 1970s.

Maybe this year Rosie’s should consider making a special charitable donation through its “Give Back” program to the Richmond Police and New Kent Sheriff’s Office for all of their time they will spend investigating crimes at its Richmond and New Kent locations.

The NEA Finally Admitted It!

Last month the National Education Association (NEA) adopted Business Item 56 that makes official its support for abortion – something we have suspected for years.  Once again, the NEA, and by extension the Virginia Education Association (VEA), have shown us that they are less about education and more about advancing an ideologically liberal agenda. This has become abundantly clear in their VEA fund endorsements made earlier this year, a list where you won’t find a single pro-life candidate.

Business Item 56 states the following:

“Furthermore, the NEA will include an assertion of our defense of a person's right to control their own body, especially for women, youth, and sexually marginalized people. The NEA vigorously opposes all attacks on the right to choose and stands on the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.”

On average, a public school teacher pays the NEA $192 in annual dues.  In return teachers are able to take advantage of benefits like shopping discounts, life insurance plans, and student loan forgiveness programs.  The NEA, despite their best efforts to convince us otherwise, uses the dues to pay for political activities that often conflict with a teacher’s personal convictions.  Now with the adoption of Business Item 56, the NEA will use a percentage of teachers’ dues to fund its political activities to specifically promote abortion.

The NEA, the largest teachers’ union in the United States with 2.2 million members, says its mission is to “advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world.”  Clearly their adoption of an organizational policy supporting Roe v. Wade and the abortion industry is inconsistent with its stated mission and elevates a liberal ideology above the interests of its members.  The position expressed by the NEA will be in direct conflict with the values and principles that many teachers hold regarding the sanctity of life.

But there are several alternatives to the NEA without the political agenda.  That’s right, a public school teacher doesn’t have to join the NEA to receive helpful benefits and be part of a network of likeminded teachers dedicated to teaching our youth.

Instead public school teachers should consider joining one of the following groups:

1.    American Association of Educators (AAE) - AAE is a non-profit professional association that serves thousands of teachers across the country.  They describe themselves as a “national, non-union, professional educators' organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation” that seeks to promote professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda.” (Emphasis added.) 

As a member of AAE, a teacher will receive many of the same benefits that the NEA “promises,” including liability insurance, shopping discounts, scholarships, grants, and legal services, but with a lower annual membership fee.

2.    Christian Educators Association International (CEAI) – A teacher interested in being part of a Christian-based organization should consider CEAI, which offers many of the same benefits but with a missional component.  In addition to membership benefits such as legal services, insurance and store discounts, CEAI provides a ministry to equip teachers to be “missional educational leaders.”

3.    Virginia Professional Educators - VPE is a nonprofit professional group for Virginia teachers that also provides many of the same benefits the VEA offers, but at a lower cost and without the “partisan politics and controversial social agendas of teacher unions.”  VPE is a growing professional group for teachers with several thousand members.

It’s time to dismantle the illusion that the only professional group for teachers is the NEA.  Teachers should be made aware that there are other groups that offer professional development without the stress of being connected to political positions that may conflict with their personal beliefs.

How is this possible?

This week, Virginia politicians from both sides of the aisle and many in the media are trumpeting CNBC’s announcement that the Old Dominion is once again the “Best State for Business.” 

CNBC’s survey was based on criteria like, economy, infrastructure, quality of life, education, technology business friendliness, etc. 

But, according to many politicians – from former Governor Terry McAuliffe and current Governor Ralph Northam – to state Senators and Delegates of both political parties, and a host of special interests, quite frankly it should be impossible for Virginia to be the best state for business.

Why?

Well, according to these so-called “progressive” leaders, Virginia isn’t very “open and welcoming.”  You see, for the better part of the past decade, the media and political class have claimed that businesses and education leaders and technology gurus and everyone else it seems wouldn’t come to Virginia because the General Assembly hasn’t elevated “sexual orientation and gender identity” to protected classes.

Oh, and those anti-women “anti-abortion” laws are terrible for business, too.

Oops.

Of course, none of the rhetoric spouted by those claiming that Virginia’s economy suffers because the Commonwealth has chosen to minimally protect unborn children and religious liberty is true.  For the most part, low tax and regulation states are at or near the top of the “Best States for Business” list, while those with the most extreme pro-abortion and pro-LGBT laws tend to linger at or near the bottom.  Why? Because smart business leaders don’t base economic decisions on anything other than economic facts, not emotional hysteria (even Amazon decided to come to Virginia). 

This won’t stop the rhetoric, however, or the bills.  There’s little doubt that we’ll see Delegate Kathy Tran’s infamous abortion-at-any-point-through-birth bill again in 2020.  We’ll see the dozen or so bills elevating sexual behavior to special status in our laws, threatening religious liberty and making many religious small business owners left feeling rather, well, unwelcome. 

But the line will stay the same – if we don’t pass these bills the economy will suffer. 

Except it won’t.  Virginia’s economy will do just fine as long as taxes are relatively low and the regulatory environment is somewhat less crushing than neighboring states.  Businesses go where they can make money – which for most business owners is sort of the point. 

By the way, CNBC ranked New York state, which adopted its own version of Delegate Tran’s “welcome to everyone except babies” 27th. 

Our Team Has You Covered: Special Session, LGBTQ+ meetings, and more

News out of Richmond yesterday focused entirely on the General Assembly, which convened a rare Special Session on gun control at the call of the Governor in response to the deadly shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal building on May 31. (Read our critique of the Governor's rhetoric in our blog entitled Why We Need More "Thoughts and Prayers") Realizing that this gathering was little more than a political exercise to boost the Governor’s party in November’s election, we used the opportunity to meet with as many legislators as possible to discuss other important pro-family issues.

The day was over as quickly as it started.  Leaders from both chambers sent the handful of bills introduced to be studied by the Virginia State Crime Commission, and moved to reconvene on November 18.

While some of our Policy team was at the Capitol for the Special Session, others were monitoring the Department of Health's presentation on "Virginia's LGBTQ+ Health Equity Symposium and Data Collection for LGBTQ Populations."

Yes, this is what our state government is busy doing! And we’re here to make sure that someone is watching, speaking, and acting on behalf of your values.

The Symposium overview, provided by the state's "Transgender Health Services Specialist", centered largely on recommendations for the state to change its medical processes, forms, and state employee training and policies to fully incorporate transgender ideology into state government. (See sample below.)

2019-7-9+LGBTQ+Sypmosium+Overview+Presentation+-+Collecting+Demo+Data+on+Gender+Identity+Slide.jpg
2019-7-9 LGBTQ Sypmosium Overview Presentation.png

It was clear from this meeting that our state government is seeking to eliminate what it believes are “social stigmas” because, according to them, that is the cause of higher levels of HIV, stress, anxiety and even clinical depression in those identifying as LGBTQ+. While its important to treat every person with the utmost dignity and respect and to help every person struggling with physical and mental health issues, it's dangerous of the Department of Health to overlook the reality of the negative health consequences directly associated with these lifestyles.

The Department of Health is also pursuing the same radical compelled speech that caused West Point high school teacher Peter Vlaming to get fired.  As the presenter of the study stated, "people need to use preferred pronouns, even if they're uncomfortable with it."  Here are some more troubling things we learned at the meeting:   

  • Planned Parenthood was touted for its services to LGBTQ+ patients

  • The Department of Health intends to implement questions involving gender identity, “sex assigned at birth”, and “preferred gender pronouns” into all its patient intake forms.

  • LGBTQ+ training needs to be done with all VDH staff, and possibly with all state employees.

  • The Governor is currently looking to hire a Director of Equity and Inclusion to implement all of the presenter's recommendations for implementing these policies throughout all state agencies.

Of course, any of these changes would infringe on many state employees’ deeply held religious and personal convictions. Commissioner Norman Oliver understands this and stated that to implement these recommendations would “require a cultural change within the state agencies" that he expected to take place in between one to two years.

There are so many important issues to stay on top of in our Commonwealth, and we are here working hard – often in several places at once – to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks as we seek to preserve and promote strong families. We appreciate your continued partnership and prayers.

Changing Hearts and Minds About Abortion

A majority of Americans are decidedly not “pro-choice.”  This is according to a recent Gallup poll  in which 49% of respondents reported that they consider themselves pro-life, compared to 46% who identify as “pro-choice.”  This marks the first time since 2013 that a majority of survey respondents in a major poll identify as pro-life.

The notable shift in polling shows that hearts and minds can be and are being changed, which is arguably more important than any law we could pass.  You see, we don’t have to wait until the legislature passes laws that limit abortions or until Roe v. Wade is overturned in order to end this scourge on our society, though we should still work diligently to make those happen.  We can actually have an immediate impact in our communities by changing the hearts and minds of people on this issue.

That being said, public opinion on abortion has no doubt had a significant impact on abortion policies across the country, resulting in a flurry of laws aimed at either curbing abortion or expanding it.

The ideological Left and abortion advocates nationwide are going crazy over new laws in Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri that establish important restrictions on abortion in those states.  So much so, that they are passing their own radical abortion-on-demand bills in states like Illinois and New York that will allow abortion for any reason up until the moment of birth.

The issue of abortion has become so heated of late that in response to Georgia’s “Heartbeat Bill”, Hollywood is actually boycotting the state.  Hollywood elites and abortion proponents seem to be concerned about the strong possibility that a case will come before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges its current Roe v. Wade precedence, especially as the makeup of the Court is trending more and more strict constructionist.

Last month we concluded our “No Pink Lights Over Richmond Tour” around the Commonwealth in which we discussed legislation concerning the sanctity of life.  We were encouraged to receive positive feedback and great participation.  During the Q&A Session following one of the presentations, a participant asked what our thoughts were on the recent heartbeat legislation being pushed in other states and whether we could expect something like that here in Virginia.  Given what transpired in Virginia this year, it would not be surprising to see “Heartbeat” legislation introduced next year.  But let’s more fully unpack the context of the heartbeat legislation.

In an attempt to start the process of challenging Roe v. Wade, Alabama passed a law that makes it a felony to perform an abortion except in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, effectively eliminating the practice of abortion in the state.  Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law on May 15, 2019 and issued the following statement:

"No matter one's personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable.  As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions.  Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973.  The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur."

The Alabama law sets in motion what will inevitably become a contentious and long legal battle that will take years to traverse the court system.  Only time will tell if the case ever makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Regardless, this law was clearly a bold move to return the issue of abortion back to the states by forcing the Supreme Court to finally reconsider (and overturn) the landmark 1973 decision.

Meanwhile, at the federal level, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced the “Abortion is Not Health Care Act”, which could disincentivize some abortions by disallowing taxpayers from deducting abortion costs from their taxable income.  Under Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code, abortion expenses paid during the taxable year that were not covered by insurance, by the taxpayer, his/her spouse, or a dependent may be deducted from income if they exceed 7.5% of their adjusted gross income.

These legislative actions represent two important approaches to policy-making with slightly different intended purposes.  The first approach, which is the primary purpose of the Alabama law, is to impose certain restrictions on abortion that would trigger a legal challenge that is intended to reach the Supreme Court.  The second approach is a pragmatic form of policy-making meant to restrict, defund, and limit abortions.  While the later approach doesn’t strike at the heart of the abortion issue like the Alabama law, it is extremely valuable for keeping an abortion industry that desperately wants conduct its activities uninhibited in check. 

For example, the legislature in Virginia has incrementally imposed vital protections for mothers, such as informed consent, 24 hour waiting periods, requirements that second trimester abortions to be performed in hospitals, and ultrasound requirements, to name a few.  These pragmatic laws force abortion providers to follow strict rules so as to at least ensure the safety and informed consent of vulnerable women considering such a consequential decision.  For the abortion industry, however, they are seen as an impediment to more profit.  These achievements didn’t happen overnight, and they could easily be eliminated if legislation like Delegate Kathy Tran’s bill (HB 2491) is ever passed. 

We know these vital protections and safety standards work because they were vigorously challenged by the abortion industry in Falls Church Women’s Center v. Oliver.  For a summary of this case and what happened during the bench trial, you can read our blog posts “Falls Church v. Oliver", "The Plaintiffs Rest",  "Defense Makes Its Case", and “Case Closed”.

The reality is that until the Supreme Court is filled with the right-minded judicial philosophy necessary to overturn Roe v. Wade precedence, we must continue to share our hearts for the unborn and exercise compassion for mothers struggling with this decision.That’s where the greatest change is going to happen.

Why We Need More “Thoughts and Prayers”

Governor Northam just unveiled his “Gun Violence Prevention” legislation ahead of the July 9th Special Session, which he called in response to the recent shooting at a Virginia Beach municipal center. In his statement, he rightly points out that “We continue to lose too many lives to senseless and preventable acts of gun violence.” But it’s what the Governor said next – as his top-line messaging, no less – that should really get our attention.  

“Now is the time to act—Virginians deserve votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers,” he declared.

It sounds catchy, even clever. It strikes me initially as the kind of “tough talk” one appreciates in a chief executive from time to time. The problem is, it’s not true. But not only is it not true, the exact opposite is true.

Here’s what I mean. The Governor reveals his view of the world as being that if anything bad happens in society, it’s primarily because the government wasn’t big enough to prevent it in the first place, and therefore the necessary solution to every problem is more “votes and laws.” Under his philosophy, if we can just pass some more laws, so that the state can exercise maximum control over people, we will be able to ensure peace, order, and the preservation of life. A cursory review of the 20th century amply demonstrates the tragic folly of this theory.

But his worldview doesn’t stop there. He goes even further by indicating that Virginians do not need “thoughts and prayers” as a response or solution for evil and suffering that is hard to make sense of. To him, these are meaningless platitudes void of any real power or influence. The great irony here is that these are exactly what we need more of if we are to have any hope of preventing much of the evil in our midst, while the laws he seeks to enact could never stop anyone determined to carry out destruction.     

If we want to prevent evils in society, we should start by encouraging more “thoughtful” dialogue among people, especially when it is typically those in isolation and with misguided thinking who are most prone to hurting others in the ways we too often see. And we need more prayer – both in our individual lives and corporately. We have to realize that while every one of us has so very little control over others and society, we have the tremendous opportunity to appeal to the One who has all control. We must also recognize that it will require a much greater force than civil government to make men good. Only by loving one another, learning how to walk and communicate in love, and drawing strength and purpose from the God who IS love can we actually successfully prevent such great evil acts. I can’t say what “Virginians deserve”, but I know that is what they need.

The best way for anybody to experience that kind of thoughtfulness and to learn that kind of spiritual truth is in the context of a loving family. Every person enters this world and finds his or her identity largely in the context of a family. The solution for senseless acts of violence is not more government – it’s strong families. And in order to cultivate strong families, government has to stay out of the way.

So, to Governor Northam and all Virginians, I say: Now is the time to act – Virginians need more thoughtfulness and fervent prayer, not votes and laws.

These Important State Laws Take Effect Today

Every year on July 1st, hundreds of new changes to Virginia’s laws officially go into effect. Here’s a few The Family Foundation fought hard for and against that you may want to know:

TFF Supported

  • More educational options for parents and kids through expansion of the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit program (EISTC).The program has been a huge success in recent years and continues to enable more children in families who cannot otherwise afford private education to receive a private scholarship to use towards a qualifying private school. SB 1015 (R-Stanley) expanded this flagship school choice initiative to include pre-kindergarten.

  • More parental oversight and involvement regarding sensitive materials in public schools. HB 2107 (R-Ransone) provides parents the opportunity to review any audio-visual materials containing graphic sexual or violent images used in any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools, and the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.

  • More protection for property rights in eminent domain situations. SB 1256 (R-Ruff) creates an income tax subtraction for gain recognized by a taxpayer from a government’s taking of real property. Landowners should not have their property taken, only to be slapped with a new tax liability.

  • More parental authority regarding the delegation of temporary custody. HB 2542 (R-Byron) allows a parent or legal custodian of a minor to delegate temporary custody in limited circumstances for up to 180 days, with the assistance of a private organization, without government intrusion.

TFF Opposed

  • Expansion of assisted conception through surrogacy laws to remove any biological significance for parenthood. HB 1979 (D-Sullivan) allows non-married individuals with no biological connection to an embryo to contract with a surrogate mother to birth a baby for them. The negative consequences of this bill range from children growing up without any knowledge of one or both biological parents, no protections against “selective reduction” abortions, and no limitations on the proliferation of new lab-created human embryos. This recent article from The Federalist also gets at the fundamental problems with this kind of policy.

To see the full list of laws taking effect today, click here.

Primaries are Over, Now the Fun Begins!

Last weekend the Republican Party of Virginia officially ruled Scott Wyatt the winner of the highly publicized 97th House District nomination contest between him and Delegate Chris Peace, seemingly concluding what has been a heated primary season in Virginia all-around.  Several incumbents faced stiff competition from primary challengers, jockeying over who could appeal to their political base the most.  While most incumbents survived their contests, others, like Chris Peace, Bob Thomas and Roslyn Dance, were defeated by their challengers.

 The biggest story of this primary season, however, isn’t so much which candidates actually won or lost, but how the family values and limited government principles we believe in and fight for dominated many of the races.

Last year we warned lawmakers that expanding Medicaid would create a giant and ever-expanding budget expense, largely dependent on matching federal funds, and allow for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to expand their reach to more low-income Medicaid recipients.  In the 97th District, it appears that Medicaid expansion inspired many Hanoverians to use a convention to select Scott Wyatt as the Republican nominee over the incumbent Chris Peace, who strongly supported Medicaid expansion in 2018.  Similarly, voters in the 28th House District also displeased with Medicaid expansion chose Paul Milde over incumbent Bob Thomas.

In Southwestern Virginia, casino gambling proved to be a major issue as it inspired Michael Osborne to challenge (unsuccessfully) Israel O’Quinn for the 5th District seat in the House of Delegates.  O’Quinn carried legislation this year to allow the city of Bristol to hold a referendum to approve casino gambling.  On the Senate side, Delegate Todd Pillion secured the Republican nod for the 40th Senate District, as Ken Heath decided to run as an independent rather than a Republican.  While we’re not sure about Heath’s position on casino gambling, it is reasonable to suspect that Delegate Pillion – endorsed by retiring Senator Bill Carrico – will at the very least be supportive of legislation to approve government endorsed casino gambling in Virginia. 

This primary season, pro-life values were not only an issue in key Republican districts, but also some Democratic districts as well.  On the Republican side, incumbent Senator Emmet Hanger in the 24thDistrict had to fend off a challenge from Tina Freitas (wife of Delegate Nick Freitas), who criticized Hanger for his votes on Medicaid expansion and the “LARC” program –which funnels public dollars to Planned Parenthood, as well as his opposition to the Hyde Amendment (until this year)

Ironically, the most intriguing primary race may have been in the 16th Senate District between incumbent Roslyn Dance, a staunch pro-choice supporter, who was upended by former Delegate and self-proclaimed pro-lifer Joe Morrissey.  Though his past record doesn’t quite reflect his current “pro-life” rhetoric, it is interesting that he was able to win the primary with a position that is in stark contrast given his party’s progressive agenda on this issue. Of course, the race may have been more about a popularity contest as Morrissey was hardly a no-name challenger and carried a very flavorful past.

With the primaries behind us, no doubt the hot days of summer will be even hotter as the general election contests kick off into full swing.  There is only one certainly this November - the General Assembly, notwithstanding the new district lines, will have a lot of new faces in both the House and the Senate who are filling vacancies left by retiring legislators.  Here’s the list of retiring legislators whose seats will be filled with a new face in 2020:

  • Del. Dickie Bell (20th House District)

  • Del. Gordon Helsel (91st House District)

  • Del. Brenda Pogge (96th House District)

  • Del. Riley Ingram (62th House District)

  • Del. Matthew James (80th House District)

  • Del. David Toscano (57th House District)

  • Sen. Bill Carrico (40th Senate District)

  • Sen. Dick Black (13th Senate District)

  • Sen. Frank Wagner (7th Senate District)

Delegates Todd Pillon, Debra Rodman and Cheryl Turpin’s seats will also be filled with a new face now that they are running for the Senate this fall.

All of this shows how important it is for voters to be aware of their state legislators and what they will do if elected (or re-elected).  A great way to learn more about your state Delegate and Senator is by reading The Family Foundation Action’s nonpartisan General Assembly Report Card, which shows you exactly how legislators voted on specific legislation that has a significant impact on families.

To order the 2018-2019 Report Cards for your church or community group, click HERE.

In addition to the Report Card, this fall we will also be distributing our non-partisan Voter Guides that compare the positions of candidates on important issues such as life, marriage, parental rights and religious liberty. Just like the Report Card, these Guides do not endorse or oppose any candidate or political party, but are meant to help voters learn more about where candidates stand on these important issues.

 This is a critical election, with pro-life and pro-family policies hanging in the balance.  Make no mistake, the ideological Left has already planned what they intend to accomplish if they have progressive-minded legislators elected into office.  According to Blue Virginia, here are the progressive policies modeled after New York that they plan to advance here in Virginia:

  •  Ratify the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), which would enshrine abortion into the U.S. Constitution;

  • Pass strict anti-sexual harassment laws (which we now always worry about their initiatives involving “sexuality”);  

  • Ban biologically affirming counseling, or so-called “conversion therapy,” for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, as 14 other states have done;

  • Decriminalize marijuana for recreational use; and

  • Codify Roe v. Wade into state law, guaranteeing women’s “right” to an abortion even after the 24th week of pregnancy, up until birth.

This is only the start of what they’ll do if legislators without conservative, family values are elected to office.All of this is to implore you to remain engaged, and use this time to encourage neighbors and friends to support candidates that will uphold our sacred and deeply held values.

It's Official! (Come See It For Yourself)

It's Official! (Come See It For Yourself)

t’s official. We’ve finally moved into our new building!

But it’s not just any building. A mid-nineteenth century four-story Greek Revival historic town house tucked among city sky scrapers in downtown Richmond, buttressed by a significant rear add-on with additional space, accented with a large and fully-enclosed courtyard and three walk-out balconies, all just a block and a half away from the state Capitol. And only by God’s unforeseen but abundantly clear leading, coupled with the faithful partnership of supporters like you, we are now the owners

The State’s New Policy on "Preferred Pronouns"

The Family Foundation has consistently opposed and successfully defeated bills each year aimed at adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to state employment matters, and with good reason. Yesterday, Governor Northam once again illustrated the dilemma with laws that sound tolerant but ignore objective realities.

Formally unveiling his “Employment Equity Initiative for State Agencies,” its stated purpose is to ensure that the “state employment application and compensation policies will promote fair and equitable pay.” Sounds reasonable enough, although one should always be wary of a government that “fixes” a problem of which no actual examples are ever shared.  This often points to a favorite expression in the halls of the General Assembly—a solution in search of a problem.

Upon closer review, one might legitimately question whether the problem to be “fixed” is not one of inequitable compensation among state employees, but the desire to advance an insidious policy shift to align with the LGBTTQQIAAP+++ agenda. The Governor’s Press Release goes on: “The streamlined application will eliminate salary history, school name, age indicator, and other fields with potential for unconscious bias; offer a preferred pronoun to highlight the state’s diversity and inclusion efforts;” (Emphasis mine.)

Preferred pronouns, of course, reflect the implicit – and now apparently, official – recognition of the erroneous notion that a person’s sex as either male or female may not actually have any correlation to what the rest of us must now be compelled to refer to them as. Under such conditions, one can NEVER safely assume that a person who looks like a man, talks like a man, identifies as a man, or even has male chromosomes (XY) should be referenced using male pronouns. If “gender” is now something entirely separate and unrelated to “sex”, then the ONLY way to avoid such the grave “error” of “misgendering” is to specifically ask each and every person right up front which pronouns he/she/it/they/etc. wish to be called (and then to keep them all straight and never forget). The Governor’s change to the state application process effectively formalizes this practice – and expectation – in all interpersonal interactions within state government. 

But as unwieldy and cumbersome (not to mention outrageous) as this may sound, it’s not nearly that simple. In today’s ever-evolving sexual paradigm, we’ve seen that pronouns will no longer be limited to the “traditional” binary and static male-female terms of he/him/his and she/her/hers. No, we will most certainly have to account for those who identify as NEITHER male NOR female, and those who identify as BOTH male AND female, as well as those who identify as one or the other interchangeably and perhaps sporadically throughout the day. And of course, we can’t forget about those who identify as having no gender at all. (What pronouns must we use for… such persons??)

And that’s just getting started. What of all of the other claimed “genders” besides male and female? What about the genderqueer, the genderfluid, the pansexual, the non-binary, the “others”, and the as-of-yet unknowns of infinite variety? Already, in common usage in some places, the following “non-binary” pronoun sets have been created: 

-          they/their/them/themself (for an individual)

-          "ey," "em," "eir," "eirs," and "eirself"

-          "zie," "zim," "zir," "zirs," and "zirself"

In theory and in principle, the list of made-up “pronoun” words could be endless. Consider this very real headline from 2016: University of Michigan student changes name to 'His Majesty' following new 'inclusive' pronoun policy  May this student, or in our case, any person applying for and working in Virginia state government insist on the right to be referred to as “His Majesty” – even when speaking of that person outside of [His Majesty’s] presence – simply because such person declares such a desire?

Some may charge me here with embellishing or claim I’m unfairly employing a “slippery slope” argument. In fact, I am only recognizing and applying the simple logic at the heart of this issue: If the only limitation on adopting an individual’s “preferred gender pronouns” (and then expecting everyone else to acquiesce in both their speech and conduct) is that each individual must merely declare them, then anyone can claim any pronouns at any time and impose their usage upon everyone.  The law, by its very essence, sets up parameters for behavior. By contrast, this policy sets up a paradigm within which there are no parameters, and is therefore the very definition of lawlessness.

We must next ask a question of even greater consequence: Can a Virginia state employee now be punished for conscientiously refusing to – or even accidentally failing to – use pronouns incongruent with their colleagues’ known biological sex? And if so, how? While it does not appear that these questions have yet been answered, we already watched a beloved West Point High School French teacher, Peter Vlaming, be fired simply for conscientiously declining to use male pronouns for a female student – even despite his efforts to avoid all conflict by not using any pronouns at all!

This termination was only possible after the School Board had passed a sexual orientation/gender identity policy. Can there be any doubt that the current and future administrations would absolutely purge anyone who would not buy into the new sexual orthodoxy to the point of speaking things they disbelieve and may even violate their conscience?

There are numerous other potentialities with this policy. For instance, will the person who identifies with different pronouns on his application but isn’t chosen for the position or even given an interview now have an easy claim of employment discrimination based upon “gender identity”? The state should expect to have to defend plenty of new lawsuits, to be sure. Moreover, which bathrooms will employees use who don’t identify as either male or female, or even any gender at all? Will new categories of bathrooms have to be installed to accommodate everyone’s use of the facilities?

Allow me to summarily diagnose what is really going on here: Whenever the truth is abandoned, even as a result of gender dysphoria, it leads to uncertainty and chaos in real people’s lives. And when, as here, that same abandonment actually becomes incorporated into the policies which implicate everyone – not just those who’ve chosen to abandon the truth – we will experience that uncertainty and chaos on a much larger and more palpable scale. These consequences are simply unavoidable. So get your popcorn, folks, and get ready to watch some very interesting and inevitable drama.  

Case Closed. Decision Still to Come.

Yesterday, abortion industry and the private counsel hired to defend Virginia’s laws made their closing arguments in federal district court in Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver, wrapping up a grueling two-week trial in which nearly all our state’s pro-life laws hang in the balance. My team and I, including our five new summer interns, were in the courtroom to witness every word.  

After failing year after year to pass legislation to achieve their ultimate goal of unfettered access to taxpayer-funded abortions performed by anyone in facilities with no oversight up until the moment of birth, the abortion industry turned to the courts – targeting Virginia to be its precedent-setting case in that goal. For a quick refresher on the overall case and some of what happened before and during the trial, be sure to look back at our blog posts. (“Surprise Miracle”, “Falls Church v. Oliver”, “The Plaintiffs Rest” and “Defense Makes Its Case”)

In yesterday’s closing statement, the lawyer for Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and Whole Women’s Health gave frankly an overstated, over-confident, and oversimplified summary of the facts in this case and how the U.S. Supreme Court’s precedents supposedly require the judge to totally throw out all of the following Virginia laws (some on the books since 1975):

-       “Window to the Womb" ultrasound law providing a woman the opportunity to view her ultrasound and hear the fetal heart tone if she wishes

-       Abortion informed consent materials

-       A 24-hour wait period after the ultrasound and prior to an abortion

-       All abortion center health and safety regulations

-       The requirement for 2nd trimester abortions to be done in hospitals, and

-       The requirement for having actual physicians perform the abortion procedure

Despite how reasonable these safeguards are for ensuring the health, safety, and informed consent of vulnerable women facing this permanent – and often conflicted – decision, the abortion industry has proven its willingness to sacrifice anything, and anyone, for the sake of money and power. It's quite revealing that the same industry that purports to be about women's health is doing everything it can to strip away things like health and safety standards, informed consent, and requirements that medical doctors be the ones to perform an invasive surgery. We pray that Judge Hudson sees right through the hollow (yet slick) legal arguments of the Plaintiffs. If his questions from the bench were any signal, we sense that on most of the issues involved, he does.

The attorney defending our laws kept her closing much more direct, succinct, and generally had solid legal arguments. The Defense’s closing highlighted the evidence throughout the trial, even brought forward by some of the Plaintiffs’ witnesses, that safety standards have greatly improved the facilities doing the invasive surgery of abortion, that ultrasound is a critical element of the abortion procedure, and that physicians are uniquely qualified to perform all types of abortion and deal with all potential complications.

Significantly, the Defense pointed out that the Plaintiffs did not put forward even a single Virginia woman of child-bearing age who could demonstrate any burden whatsoever in her ability to obtain an abortion as a result of these laws. “If there were such a woman,” said the Defense attorney, “surely the Plaintiffs, who perform abortions all across the Commonwealth every single day, would be able to provide one.” But they couldn’t. That is more than a little problematic for the Plaintiffs when the legal standard they must demonstrate is an “undue burden” on an actual woman pursuing abortion.

While some important points were omitted from her closing and several points were conceded unnecessarily (this was the Attorney General’s hired counsel, mind you), the attorney definitely put forward a laudable and even compelling defense of the laws. And that was encouraging.  

Now that the trial is over and all the documents and evidence are in, we are left only to pray for Judge Hudson’s wise discernment, his respect for our laws and the Constitution, and that he has a true appreciation for the gravity of his decision in terms of its impact on the lives and health of women, unborn children, federalism and the rule of law. Please join us in that prayer over the next several weeks.

Whatever the outcome of this case, The Family Foundation will remain ever-vigilant on behalf of Virginia families for the protection and promotion of every human life, and especially those most vulnerable among us. As soon as we learn of a decision in this case, we’ll let you know.

Abortion Trial: Defense Makes Its Case

This week, the Commonwealth is making its defense of Virginia’s common-sense pro-life laws under siege from the abortion industry in federal court in the high-stakes case of Falls Church Medical Center, LLC v. Oliver.  Today marked the end of Day 2 of the Defense’s case, as so far six expert witnesses have taken the stand.

Yesterday, four separate respected and long-time employees of the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Licensure and Certification (OLC) (all of whom, it should be noted, serve within the administration of pro-infanticide Ralph Northam, and all of whom served under former Governor Terry McAuliffe) hammered home their belief that the health and safety standards for abortion facilities through regulations first initiated in 2012 are reasonable, helpful, and clearly necessary for patient safety and care.

The witnesses included two experienced inspectors of the abortion facilities since 2012 who have personally witnessed and cited many of the 500+ horrific abortion facility violations, including those of the former Virginia Health Group in Fairfax, whose license was immediately and indefinitely suspended in April 2016 by Gov. McAuliffe’s own Commissioner of Health after a 70-page inspection report revealed violations so gut-wrenching that it was deemed to be an immediate danger to patient safety.

When the witness inspector recounted first entering that facility for an inspection that was triggered by a patient complaint, she described how “When we walked in, the things that we observed were very concerning to us.” She described a dirty patient waiting area, with furniture that was all stained and in disrepair, “filthy” carpets, and holes and graffiti on the walls. “And that was just the waiting area,” she remarked.

Other violations included dirty, unsanitized equipment, dried blood on surfaces, dust and debris on machines, stopped up toilets (where a nurse walked out into the hall with a plunger in her hands and then immediately went to begin a procedure without washing her hands), boxes of patient files stacked in the patient bathroom, poor infection control procedures, unmarked syringes laid on dirty desks and contaminated from one surface to another, and general failure of employees to wash hands before or after procedures. At one point, the physician, without washing his hands, put on gloves to perform a procedure, then came back to his office, took off the gloves, and immediately reached into a box of donuts with his unwashed hands. (And this is just what they do when the state inspectors are watching!)

One of the patient records that had been randomly pulled for auditing purposes showed that the patient had to be rushed to the emergency room because the physician had caused a laceration of her cervix while performing an abortion. The facility did not even have sutures on the premises to help stop the bleeding! This was just one abortion facility, on one occasion. But it really drove home the point about why regulatory oversight of these facilities is so critical. It really blew wide open the Plaintiffs’ attempt to claim that all of these health and safety oversight policies are burdensome and unnecessary.

Day Two of the Defense’s case showcased a Board Certified OBGYN, who laid out the strong case for why a 24-hour wait period prior to an abortion, a required ultrasound and informed consent procedures, and the limitation on performing abortions to physicians only are all well-justified laws for securing patient safety, care, and medical best practices. She also explained the serious potential complications of abortions at various stages of development, and why it was so important that later-term abortions be performed only in a hospital setting rather than a typical abortion facility patient room. The Plaintiiffs’ lawyer did everything she could to discredit her by targeting her Christian faith and life-affirming personal beliefs, including her associations with a CareNet pregnancy resource center, where she serves as the volunteer Medical Director, having performed over 1000 free ultrasounds in the past three years alone. They also took issue with her membership in AAPLOG (American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists). Sad, but not surprising.

Finally, an economist discredited the abortion industry’s expert testimonies which attempted to imply that these laws had somehow caused an undue burden on some Virginia women seeking abortions. The economist analyzed their testimonies and clearly showed how they had not shown any causal link between the laws and women’s ability to access abortion facilities, which is their burden to prove in this case, and the central issue in the case.

On Thursday, the Defense will wrap up it’s case, and the Plaintiff’s will bring in a few rebuttal witnesses on Friday. Then it’s on to closing arguments. Judge Hudson seems to be asking all the right questions throughout the trial, which indicates that he really gets what’s going on. Overall, I’d say the Defense has really, as they say, shown up ready to fight. And, well, that is much more than we expected. There is much reason for optimism, but cautious optimism to be sure.