Marriage Amendment

Fate Of The Marriage Amendment To Be Determined "Soon"

The Family Foundation was joined yesterday morning in Norfolk by Concerned Women for America, FRC Action and hundreds of Christians from churches across Eastern Virginia as we stood up in support of marriage, the Virginia Constitution and in solidarity with the brave and principled attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom. Alliance Defending Freedom was in court officially representing the Clerk of the Court of Prince William County, Michele McQuigg, a former member of the House of Delegates, who is seeking affirmation of the Marriage Amendment in her position, which is charged with issuing marriage licenses. Oral arguments for the challenge to the Marriage Amendment were heard with U.S. District Court Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen, who promised to make a timely ruling, and said, "You'll be hearing from me soon."

Lawyers for the plaintiffs asserted the amendment, passed by 57 percent of Virginia's voters, was unconstitutional, arguing marriage was a fundamental right and that the institution was not ultimately about children but was instead a symbol of freedom, comparing same-sex marriage to marriage allowed only among freed slaves. Attorney General Mark Herring attended the hearing to watch his solicitor general argue on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys argued the government's interest in marriage is in the upbringing of children by a mother and a father and that there exist no constitutional grounds or precedent to change the law to allow for homosexual unions. Its attorney skillfully outlined how marriage is the one and only relationship that is absolutely essential to the future of humanity. In yet another attempt of the liberal left to redefine beyond recognition an important term, plaintiffs actually stood before the judge and stated that "same-sex couples pro-create."

Outside the hearing, traditional marriage supporters held a rally as well as a news conference that included Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb, Josh Duggar from FRC Action, Alison Howard from Concerned Women for America, and Bishop E.W. Jackson of S.T.A.N.D. Supporters of natural marriage numbered in the hundreds, while only a dozen people supporting same-sex marriage protested outside.

Of course the media's coverage was predictably skewed. For a real representation of what happened, see the video and picture below. More photos from the rally can be seen on our Facebook page. Then, please follow this link and sign the petition asking Attorney General Mark Herring to do his job and defend the Virginia Constitution!

The real news.

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From left, Josh Duggar of FRC Action and a star of TLC's 19 Kids and Counting; The Family Foundation's Victoria Cobb; Alison Howard from Concerned Women for America; and Bishop E.W. Jackson of S.T.A.N.D. 

Updated Statement By TFF President Victoria Cobb Regarding AG Herring's Decision Not To Defend Marriage Amendment

STATEMENT FROM VICTORIA COBB, PRESIDENT OF THE FAMILY FOUNDATION OF VIRGINIA, REGARDING ATTORNEY GENERAL'S DECISION TO NOT DEFEND CONSTITUTION

The decision by the Attorney General is not surprising, but it is disappointing and frightening. It's disappointing that he wouldn't be clear about his intentions on this issue while campaigning for the office. More importantly, it's frightening that politicians like the Attorney General feel that they can pick and choose which aspects of the constitution they deem worthy to defend and apply. Whether one agrees with the marriage amendment or not, the idea that over a million Virginia citizens can be left defenseless by the Attorney General after legally voting for an amendment that he himself supported is chilling.

It is well settled that laws of the commonwealth are presumed constitutional. The burden is on the party challenging the law to demonstrate that it is unconstitutional. In Virginia, the Attorney General is responsible to defend all the laws of the Commonwealth, whether he personally agrees with them or not. This has been the standard for decades and has separated Virginia from other states where the Attorney General is more of a political activist. Attorney General Herring is pursuing his personal political views rather than defending the constitution of the commonwealth.

It is unprecedented for an Attorney General not only to refuse to defend a state law or Constitution, at least by hiring outside counsel, but is actually taking a position against his client, the people of Virginia. This is the action of an activist Attorney General, not someone dedicated to the rule of law.

The Attorney General claims he is making his decision based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions from last year, but neither of those decisions struck down or in any way invalidated state marriage amendments. One had nothing to do with a state amendment. The other involved the Attorney General of California not defending that state’s marriage amendment, and the Supreme Court dismissed the case saying that the citizens didn't have standing before the court.

 

Proposed Constitutional Amendments Killed Quickly In House Sub-Committee

In a kind odd of legislative twin-killing, the House Privileges and Elections Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments offed two proposed state constitutional amendments this morning. Governor Bob McDonnell's proposal to restore voting rights to certain felons, HJ 539, carried by Delegate Greg Habeeb (R-8, Salem), took the first hit, even with Ken Cuccinelli, making a rare Attorney General witness appearance before a sub-committee, in favor. The first hint that the resolution was going down, before a packed General Assembly Building Fourth Floor West Conference Room, with interested persons spilling well out into the hallway, was when the sub-committee rolled all proposed resolutions on the subject, including Delegate Habeeb's, into HJ 535, patroned by Democrat Delegate Charniele Herring of Alexandria — saving the large Republican majority from killing a Republican governor's legislation. ("Rolling" is a consolidation of similar bills into another existing bill to streamline a committee's meeting agenda.)

In this case, Delegate Herring's version became the resolution of record and, therefore, as the third ranking House Democrat, much more favorable to the sword. It died on a 6-1 vote to "pass by indefinitely" with one of the two sub-committee Democrats (Delegate Johnny Joannou of Portsmouth) voting with the GOP members. Sources indicate that many Republicans not only had serious policy questions about the content of the proposal, but took exception to a lack of notification by the governor — they heard about it for the first time Wednesday night during his State of the Commonwealth Address.

HJ 665, meant to repeal Virginia's Marriage Amendment, and patroned by Delegate Scott Surovell (D-44, Fairfax), met a similar fate, but for different reasons. On policy, the conservative sub-committee completely disagreed with Delegate Surovell's rationale, no amount of time for discussion would've mattered, and there was no need for parliamentary disguises. The people have spoken on this one and at least three-quarters of the states are in agreement — trying to portray maintaining the definition of traditional marriage as "extreme" is disingenuous at best. The sword fell swiftly via voice vote with only Democrat Algie Howell of Norfolk opposing the motion to pass by indefinitely.

Candidate Kaine's Marriage "Pirouette"

North Carolinians overwhelmingly voted one week ago to define marriage as between one man and one woman in their state constitution. The same day, Virginia U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine was asked about his position on the issue. Kaine’s answer was anything but clear. In fact, his obfuscation led the National Journal to label his attempted response “policy pirouettes" (see Shane Goldmacher at Hotline On Call blog). Kaine said:

The number one issue is should committed couples have the same legal rights and responsibilities and the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. I believe in the legal equality of relationships. Is it marriage, is it civil unions, is it domestic partners? I kind of let that one go.

The crowd and reporters kept pressing, but Kaine remained steadfastly vague. His remarkable press session is chronicled here at the Washington Post's Virginia Politics Blog by Ben Pershing.

In 2006, then Governor Kaine publicly opposed Virginia’s marriage amendment, going so far as to campaign against the measure that eventually passed with 57 percent of the vote. Just a few months before, while a candidate for Governor, Kaine gave The Family Foundation Action the following response to a candidate survey question about the measure:

I have long supported Virginia law that declares marriage to be between a man and a woman, and I support a Constitutional amendment.

Incredibly, just days after being sworn in as governor, Kaine reversed his support for the ballot measure and urged the General Assembly to keep it off the ballot. (The legislation calling for the measure passed the 2005 General Assembly but had to pass again in 2006 to be placed on the ballot.)

At one point during the press availability last week, Kaine indicated that "marriage" is little more than a label, saying, "I think the labels actually get in the way of the issue."

But marriage isn't the only issue on which Kaine has shifted since running for governor in 2005. Relatedly, at that time, he told The Family Foundation and the media that he opposed homosexual couples adopting, but supported Virginia law allowing homosexual individuals to adopt. Late in his administration, however, he introduced a regulation that would have prohibited child placement agencies from considering homosexual behavior at all when choosing parents for adoption. Last year, he said that unmarried homosexual couples should be able to adopt if a judge determined it was in the best interest of the child (contrary to the Virginia Constitution and statute).

One has to wonder why Kaine continues to dodge the question if opinions on the issue of marriage are shifting — as constantly asserted as fact by same-sex marriage supporters and mainstream media. Of course, while progressives insist that Americans are shifting in their opinion on the definition of marriage, they are 0-31 when it comes to marriage amendments at the ballot box. Candidate Kaine knows that.

Conveniently in 2005, Kaine invoked his Catholic faith in response to his position on the death penalty. No mention of Church teaching on this issue. Hmmm. Our guess, however, is that whatever he says on the issue while on the campaign trail doesn't really matter. History has proven that Tim Kaine's position is likely to change as soon as Election Day is over.

Virginians Support Same-Sex Marriage? Not So Fast . . .

The Sunday before Election Day 2006, a Richmond Times-Dispatch headline screamed that polling showed the Marriage Amendment campaign had tightened. The poll said that the amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman was supported by a slim 49-45 percent margin. That was the closest poll we had ever seen on the issue. Two days later, the amendment passed by a 14 point margin, 57-43 percent. How could the T-D poll have been so wrong just two days prior to the vote?

Polls taken over the years on the definition of marriage have wavered more than Tim Kaine on gay adoption (remember, running for governor in 2005 he opposed homosexual couples adopting, but now he's in favor of it). For example, Gallup polling on the issue of homosexual marriage went from 46 percent support in 2007, down to 40 percent in 2008 and 2009, but back up to 44 percent in 2010. So it doesn't surprise me at all that a Washington Post media poll of 1,000 people has found that, according to the Post, "Virginians are closely split on gay marriage" — and that the rest of the state's mainstream media ran with it.

But are they really?

The truth is that polls have been overwhelmingly disconnected from reality when it comes to the issue of homosexual marriage. One need look only as far as the 31 states that have had the issue put to the voters, and in every case the traditional definition of marriage has won, including California.

The longer I am involved in politics, the more dismissive I have become of most media polling. Many experts believe that, particularly on the issues of abortion and homosexuality, a lot of people tell a pollster what they think the pollster wants to hear. On the issue of same-sex marriage, while a few media polls indicate that people support it, in the 31 states where it has gone to the ballot the people have overwhelmingly rejected it. One might tell their neighbor they are open to homosexual marriage, but when the reality is in front of them in the voting booth, traditional marriage still resonates instinctively, intuitively, justly . . . morally.

Social issues such as abortion and homosexuality have dynamics at play that I don't think can be measured with simple media polling. Asking 1,000 people a simple question doesn't generally get to the core of complex issues. It makes for interesting editorial page fodder, but I doubt too many people take it seriously, except for the so-called "progressives" who will no doubt champion the media poll and bring the issue before the next General Assembly. I suspect some will even attempt to make it a campaign issue (funny, I thought it was all about the economy).

But I also find it interesting that the same "progressives" reject professional (not media) polling that shows an overwhelming number of Virginians support school choice. You see, polling can work both ways, which is why no one should base their beliefs or agenda on it. Sure, professionally done, in depth issue polling can provide insight, but hastily done media polls done over a weekend for the mainstream media isn't something I want to base any policy decision on. I certainly wouldn't want to base the future of our children on it.

Eric Metaxas, Bob Marshall, Chris Freund: Speaking Engagements You Won't Want To Miss

There are some events taking place next weekend around the commonwealth featuring exceptional speakers on a variety of topics. I encourage you to take advantage of one or more of these great opportunities. On Saturday, November 20 from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., former Family Foundation Gala keynote speaker Eric Metaxas will be in Richmond at the Richmond Center for Christian Study to discuss his new book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and Spy (see Wall Street Journal review). Metaxas was on of our most popular gala speakers, mixing humor, a profound intellect and theological principle in his address. He is also the author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. His presentation is at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 1101 Forest Avenue. For more information, click here.

Also on Saturday, Family Foundation Vice President for Policy and Communications Chris Freund will participate in a panel discussion on conservative principles at the annual Republican Party of Virginia Advance in Tyson's Corner. For more information click here.

On Sunday, November 21, from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. in the Virginia Commonwealth University Student Commons Theater, 907 Floyd Avenue,  Delegate Robert G. Marshall (R-13, Manassas), a patron of the 2006 Marriage Amendment to the Virginia Constitution that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, will defend the amendment against Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director at the Human Rights Campaign. The event, sponsored by the First Freedom Center, is free and open to the public. Parking is available at the parking deck at 801 West Main Street, across the street from the Commons.

Who Could Follow Mike Huckabee?

How about Mike Pence! In case you missed yesterday's big announcement, we ended months of speculation as to who the mystery keynote speaker is for The Family Foundation's 25th Anniversary Celebration Gala. I am absolutely thrilled to announce that it will be Congressman Mike Pence!

Congressman Pence describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order!" An outspoken advocate for the values we share, he has been named one of the 20 most influential conservatives in America and has repeatedly received the "True Blue Award" from the Family Research Council for his commitment to the family and sanctity of human life. An April 2006 profile in U.S. News and World Report said Pence "has emerged as a powerful force" in Congress. If you have not heard Congressman Pence speak you are in for a real treat!

We plan to make the 25th Anniversary Celebration a night to remember. For a quarter decade, The Family Foundation has been on the front lines of policy decisions in Richmond and we have much to celebrate! From parental consent to abortion to the Marriage Amendment to defunding elective abortion, our victories list is long. I hope you will join us to celebrate the legacy of Walt Barbee, Anne Kincaid and others.

The gala is Saturday, October 9, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Dinner is at 6:30 p.m. with a private sponsors' reception and photo line beginning at 5:15. Details for the evening are being finalized, but if you would like to be sure you receive an invitation, please e-mail your name, address and phone number to us at gala@familyfoundation.org. We also expect to announce other special activities surrounding this once-in-a-lifetime event that will make the gala a can't miss event. For more information, visit our Gala Web page or call 804-343-0010.

The invitation will include details of the sponsorship benefits including the private reception, and photo line. A discounted hotel group rate is being negotiated for people desiring to spend the night in Richmond. So please mark your calendar today and plan to be in Richmond the evening of Saturday, October 9, to hear Congressman Mike Pence at The Family Foundation's 25th Anniversary Celebration Gala!

McDonnell's First 100 Days: The View From The Family Foundation

The Washington Post ran a recent Sunday edition story that suggested a chasm has developed between Governor Bob McDonnell and social conservatives. According to the article, some have become disheartened and feel the governor has let them down while others are more willing to be patient and give the governor time. So, what does The Family Foundation think of the governor's first 100 plus days? Understanding the context of events is always key to accurate analysis. So let’s remember that for the past eight years social conservatives in Virginia have been isolated from the governor's office. Both previous governors were at times openly hostile to traditional values issues. Governor Mark Warner gave $25,000 to the Commonwealth Coalition, the organization that opposed the Marriage Amendment, and regularly opposed our agenda (hear in his own words what he thinks of Christian conservatives). Governor Tim Kaine openly campaigned against the Marriage Amendment and also opposed much of our agenda (though he did work with us on several marriage initiatives). Add to that the fact that in November 2008 Virginians voted for Barack Obama for president, and political pundits (as usual) proclaimed social conservatism dead. Any candidate who wanted to win had to disavow  caring about the unborn and marriage and stick to one thing and one thing only — money (well, the economy).

Enter Bob McDonnell. A long time friend of social conservatives and leader on many of our issues, values voters were energized by a candidate they could call "one of us." While campaigning, candidate McDonnell steered clear of social issues unless asked, focusing on exactly what the "experts" said he had to focus on — the economy. Some social conservatives expressed frustration that McDonnell wasn't more vocal on abortion and other social conservative causes, but many understood that the political climate was such that the majority of voters were most concerned about their personal well-being with an economy in recession and a federal government spending us into oblivion.

On Election Day, social conservatives voted for McDonnell in droves. Exit polling showed that nearly half of McDonnell's voters were self-identified evangelicals. Clearly, they believed that Bob McDonnell was going to be their guy in the Governor's Mansion. As with any constituency, those votes did not come without expectations, and they were high expectations at that.

Once sworn in, he went to work on his campaign promise to bring Virginians a balanced budget without higher taxes, and job development. Most agree that the governor has largely fulfilled those promises — though some are concerned with increased fees in the budget. During his administration's first General Assembly session the governor was relatively quiet on social issues, though his administration did vocally support abortion center safety legislation in the Senate Education and Health Committee. He also renewed an executive order concerning non-discrimination in state hiring practices, but did not include "sexual orientation" as had been done by the two previous governors (though Governor Warner did it in the last month of his administration).

Of course, things didn't go perfectly for the new administration. Social conservatives were particularly disappointed that he chose to issue an "executive directive" concerning hiring practices that included "sexual orientation," and we explained those concerns to him both publically and privately. He did, however, sign the Health Care Freedom Act, the first legislation of its kind in the nation that hopefully will protect Virginians from being forced by the federal government to purchase health insurance. He also protected Virginians from being forced to pay for low-income elective abortions (a major pro-life victory) and ensured that Planned Parenthood can't use the money they make off of their new license plate to perform abortions.

Now, we are just passed the first four months of his four-year term, and some conservatives are expressing disappointment, even outrage, with the governor's actions thus far. Interestingly, I was interviewed for the Post article long before its publication date, and at the time, we were encouraging the governor's office to take a more pro-active approach on social conservative issues. In particular, the discussion surrounded the pro-life budget amendments the governor chose not to introduce — defunding Planned Parenthood and failed embryonic stem cell research. On that issue I said to the Post:

We want him to do more, and we will continue to ask him.

I stand by those words. Once something is in the budget it is difficult to remove it. While we trust that Planned Parenthood will not receive any taxpayer money during this administration, we continue to believe that adding such language to the state budget will protect taxpayers in future years.

But remember the context of my Post interview:

In between my interview with the Post and the article's publication — several days — the governor fulfilled an extremely important campaign promise and reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prohibition on prayers offered by state police chaplains. In a press release I said we were "thrilled" with the governor's action, and we are. This was an important and courageous action and Virginians are better off for it. We also asked you to contact Governor McDonnell and thank him as well.

So, how is the governor doing? (Honestly, I think social conservatives need to take a deep breath, and remember that there are still three years and seven months left in this administration. We have to remember the victories he has delivered, while knowing that there is still a lot to be accomplished. But we are confident that the governor understands the concerns we have. There are pressing issues facing our commonwealth and the governor needs to address those issues. At the same time, the culture of Virginia must also be a priority for this administration. We will continue to encourage him to take the lead on family issues that are the foundation to the very economy he is trying to fix (see more of my comments in another article on this topic in the Richmond Times-Dispatch).

The Family Foundation is determined to be strategic in our efforts. We understand the political climate is hostile and we have to accept that incremental victories are victories nonetheless. Those who demand "all or nothing" tend to receive nothing. We are encouraged by the recent actions of Governor McDonnell and continue to believe he will fulfill his campaign promises.

Attorney General Cuccinelli To Keynote Prince William Family Alliance Gala May 17

The Prince William Family Alliance will hold its Gala Dinner Monday, May 17, at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Manassas. A reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. with the dinner beginning at 7:30. The Prince William Family Alliance is affiliated with the Family Foundation and has done a tremendous job reinvigorating values voters in Northern Virginia over the last couple of years.  The Gala's keynote speaker is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. His topic will be, "The Constitution: Guardian of our Families." Tickets for the dinner are $50 each, and sponsorships are available. For more information, click here for a full-color Gala invitation flyer that details the event as well as ticket and sponsorship opportunities; read and/or print it, or forward it or this link to interested friends.

The Prince William Family Alliance is a 501(c)4 local grassroots affiliate of The Family Foundation of Virginia. PWFA has influenced public policy in Prince William County for several years. It distributes voter guides every election cycle, monitors local political and policy debates, and helped the Marriage Amendment carry Prince William County in 2006. We hope you will join us the evening of May 17!

Congratulations To Liberty Institute's Kelly Shackelford!

We want to congratulate a dear friend of The Family Foundation and a true partner — Kelly Shackelford from the Liberty Institute in Texas, who successfully argued the Salazar v. Buono case before the U.S. Supreme Court. The court, in a 5-4 decision this week, ruled that a Cross could be displayed at a World War I memorial in a former national park (now in private hands) in California's Mojave Desert. Kelly, who heads the Texas family policy council, led the charge for the passage of the Texas Marriage Amendment, and is a true national leader. Some of you may remember that we brought Kelly to Virginia in 2006 to assist us in Marriage Amendment campaign strategy. He also was the keynote speaker at out annual Lobby Day in 2006. Way to go Kelly!

Virginia News Stand: April 28, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Cultural Conservatism's Comeback (Or Was It Ever Really Dead?)

Who said cultural conservatism is dead? In Virginia last week, there was bipartisan support to end taxpayer funding of elective abortion and within the last 24 hours two major blows for traditional values — and constitutional law — occurred. Yesterday, the Oklahoma Senate joined with the House there in a bipartisan vote to override Democrat Governor Brad Henry's veto of an informed consent bill which would requires women seeking abortions to see an ultrasound of her baby and receive certain information, not terribly different than a bill we have advocated for in the General Assembly the last several years. (There is always hope!) Then, earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a memorial Cross on federal land in the Mojave Desert can stay, reversing a lower court ruling.

But was cultural conservatism dead? Hard to believe that when each state that has voted on a Marriage Amendment has passed it. The truth is that there are certain truths in life and embedded in the constitution. Only when they are purposefully misinterpreted and laws misapplied to achieve agenda goals are they ever defeated. But defeat is not death. Values endure. We've seen that in the last 24 hours.

News

Gov discusses Confederacy, felons' rights, condoms (The Daily Press)

Va. ponies up millions to add Northrop (Washington Examiner)

Albemarle tea party crashes Fifth District chairman’s endorsement (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Audio

Ask The Governor (39:56) (WTOP/WTOP.com)

National News

Strict Abortion Measures Enacted in Oklahoma (New York Times)

States seek new ways to restrict abortions (USA Today)

High court supports Mojave cross in Calif. (AP/FoxNews.com)

High Court Says Mojave Desert Cross Can Remain (Wall Street Journal)

Sounding alarm on gonorrhea (Washington Times)

Poll finds Americans in an anti-incumbent mood as midterm elections near (Washington Post)

Reid: Senate to act on climate before immigration (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP eyes comeback for New England House seats (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Not us: Goldman execs deny wrongdoing in crisis (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Obama continues to hammer AZ immigration law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

AG: Court challenge possible on immigration law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Analysis

How Arizona became center of immigration debate (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

How Mexico Treats Illegal Aliens (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

Trying To Make People Like Us (Harris Sherline/GOPUSA.com)

Arizona's 21-Bottle Salute (Brent Bozell/GOPUSA.com)

The Return of 'Social Utility' (Tony Blankley/GOPUSA.com)

Pro-Life Bills Up Thursday In Senate Ed And Health

This Thursday the Senate Education and Health Committee will vote on several pro-life bills that are priorities of The Family Foundation. Please contact the members of the Ed and Health committee (see here) and urge them to pass the following bills:

HB 334 (Delegate Bob Marshall, R-13, Manassas): This bill would require that our Informed Consent law be updated to include information that has been published in a peer reviewed medical journal about the consequences of abortion on future pregnancies. Ironically, Planned Parenthood, which has accused pregnancy resource centers of disseminating information that is not "medically accurate," is opposed to this bill that requires the information given to women at Virginia's unregulated abortion centers to be exactly that —  medically accurate.

HB 393 (Delegate Matt Lohr, R-26, Harrisonburg): This legislation would require Virginia’s unregulated abortion centers to have on site life saving equipment, as well as require licensing and regular inspection. Currently, Virginia’s abortion centers are unregulated and uninspected.

HB 1042 (Delegate Kathy Byron, R-22, Lynchburg): This bill would require that unregulated abortion centers perform an ultrasound to better determine the gestational age of the unborn child prior to an abortion, and offer the woman seeking the abortion the opportunity to view the ultrasound. It would bring Virginia's Informed Consent law in line with modern medical technology.

If you are familiar at all with the Virginia General Assembly then you are aware just how antagonistic the majority of the Ed and Health committee usually is toward even the most reasonable pro-life legislation. On an annual basis, we see pro-life bills die on what we have begun to call "Black Thursday" — the last Thursday of committee hearings each session.

Why, bother contacting these legislators who seem so clearly opposed to protecting the unborn? There are several reasons:

First, past votes are not always indications of future action. Legislators change their minds. You may recall Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath), while running for governor, talking about "growing" as a legislator (he was referring to his flip-flop on the Marriage Amendment). We have worked with legislators who have become more and more pro-life over their time in the legislature, often through the education process associated with debate over these bills.

Which leads to a second reason, education. These bills offer us the opportunity to educate both legislators and the public on these important issues. They give you the opportunity to discuss controversial issues with friends and neighbors by talking about reasonable measures often supported by large majorities. Each time we present these bills to a committee we are able to reach more people with the message of the importance of protecting both the unborn and women who face a crisis pregnancy. You never know when a legislator is going to hear an argument that is going to change their opinion of a certain piece of legislation.

Finally, these votes expose where legislators currently are on reasonable abortion measures. Several members of the Ed and Health committee are in districts that have a pro-life  constituency. These senators mask as "moderate," but their voting records on these bills have exposed their real positions. Next year, when these senators are up for re-election, the voters in their districts will know exactly where they stand on these issues because they will have a four-year voting record to look at. Voters will then be able to hold them accountable for their votes.

So, please do your part. Contact the members of the Ed and Health committee and urge them to support HB 334, HB 393 and HB 1042.

Policy Issue 4, Defending Values: Special Rights For Homosexuals

This is the fourth in a series of five policy statements on issues that will come before the 2010 General Assembly. The third, regarding constitutional government, can be found here. Each statement covers one of The Family Foundation’s five areas of principle. We will post the fifth issue by early next week.

As with every General Assembly session, the usual suspects will show up promoting legislation that The Family Foundation believes would be harmful to the family or to the values that we share. Of particular note this year, there again are several bills that attempt to extend special rights to homosexuals based on their lifestyle choice.

In the aftermath of Congress passing and President Obama signing legislation that added sexual orientation to federal hate crimes laws, there is legislation that would do the same in Virginia. As we argued against the federal extension, this is a solution in search of a problem. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that crimes against homosexuals are not being prosecuted, which was the original point of hate crimes statues.

There also is an effort to add sexual orientation to anti-discrimination laws, both for state government and localities’ hiring practices. This annual attempt at "gotcha politics" is of course intended to make anyone who opposes it appear discriminatory. Elected officials often are quizzed on whether or not they discriminate against homosexuals as if that should be a question on the employment application. Unfortunately for proponents, one of their biggest allies — The Washington Post — admitted in an editorial recently that there are "thousands of gays in state government." There is absolutely no need for this legislation and no evidence of any discrimination given the lack of claims from these thousands.

Also this year, there are additional attempts at expanding so-called domestic partner benefits. Several years ago, despite our warning that such a change would open a floodgate, the General Assembly passed legislation that allowed some businesses to contract with health insurance companies to grant benefits outside of the longstanding standards of "blood, marriage or adoption." Those standards were always intended to encourage and support marriages and families. Since then, there have been several attempts at expanding this loophole to life insurance, and there will be new attempts this year as well. Already, we’ve seen outgoing Governor Tim Kaine’s blatant political attempt to change state regulations in this area, knowing that the final decision maker will be Governor-elect Bob McDonnell. Unfortunately, in the General Assembly, when the principles of families and business compete, the family is often the loser.

Finally, in what will likely amount to a waste of everyone’s time, there is legislation seeking to repeal the Marriage Amendment passed by the voters in 2006. This bill will be introduced despite the fact that more 30 states now have marriage amendments and three statewide candidates that supported the Virginia Marriage Amendment won landslide elections in November.

We will be ever vigilant watching for other legislation that undermines our values and impacts our families. We will be at the capitol every day during session advocating on your behalf and against harmful legislation, and chronically it all here.

Policy Issue 1, Parental Rights: Resolution Against U.N. Treaty To Be Introduced In General Assembly

This is the first in a series of five policy statements on issues that will come before the 2010 General Assembly. Each one covers one of The Family Foundation's five areas of principle. The others will follow over the rest of the week.

There are days when I wonder if half the things we hear about in Washington, D.C., are real or if it’s all just a very bad nightmare. Some reports just seem so outrageous.

So when I saw a Fox News headline a few months ago that screamed "U.N. Report Advocates Teaching Masturbation to 5 year-olds," I had that, Oh, this is going to be another exaggeration moment. Certainly, even the U.N., as wacky as it is, wouldn’t publicly endorse such a foolish concept.

Then I read the report for myself. Believe me, the whole teaching-5-year-olds-about- masturbation-thing is just the tip of the iceberg. There is stuff in here that should make every parent who cares at all about their children shudder, starting with the line "teachers remain the best qualified and the most trusted providers of information and support for most children and young people."

Teachers? Really? So much for parents.

Until the November 2008 elections, things like the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (see our comment, here), something far scarier than the aforementioned U.N. report, were out there, but had little chance of being accepted by our Congress. The convention is such an assault on your right to parent I can’t really describe it. Essentially, the convention gives children "evolving" rights to choose religion, education, etc., regardless of what their parents say. Now, however, there is a serious effort in the United States Senate to force us to join the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, seriously threatening parental rights in our country, not to mention our sovereignty.

To combat this, parents across the nation are urging Congress to pass a parental rights amendment to the United States constitution. You can learn more about this cause at parentalrights.org.

To assist this effort, The Family Foundation is supporting a memorializing resolution in the 2010 General Assembly that would urge Congress to pass the parental rights amendment. Similar to legislation we supported in 2004 that urged Congress to pass a marriage amendment, a memorializing resolution sends a message to our federal representatives that we want them to protect the rights of parents to raise their children without government interference.

Although the resolution has yet to receive a bill number, it's patron in the House is Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown). We look forward to updating you on the progress of this legislation throughout the General Assembly and what you can do to help see it pass.

Winning Matters' "Win The 37th"!

During the recently completed statewide campaign, Family Foundation Action, our sister organization, conducted its largest ever voter education and mobilization effort — Winning Matters 2009. We know those efforts were not in vain as a record percentage of values voters voted in the November 3 election. Our work, though, is not through, and your financial support is needed. In November, Virginians — to the great consternation of hyper liberals — resoundingly  chose Senator Ken Cuccinelli, with 58 percent of the vote, as their next Attorney General. However, his election created a vacancy in the Virginia Senate. Now, there will be a special election in the 37th Senate district (Fairfax County) on January 12, 2010, to fill out the remainder of the term. Because this seat is critical to advancing our pro-family agenda, we are planning to continue our Winning Matters efforts for the duration of this campaign. Our project manager and two area coordinators will continue their work on focusing, educating and mobilizing values voters for this upcoming special election.

Senator Cuccinelli has been a champion for issues that are important to the family and to Christians. He has been a leader in the fight to defund Planned Parenthood, protect property rights, bring transparency to government spending and strengthen marriage. In 2006, he was the only elected official who actively campaigned for the Marriage Amendment in Fairfax County. This year, he successfully shepherded the "Choose Life" license plate bill through both houses of the General Assembly.

It is vitally important that his seat be filled by another pro-family conservative. Senator Cuccinelli’s senatorial district has become very competitive. The last Senate race there was decided by only 92 votes. In a special election, the turnout is typically very low and every vote carries an even greater importance.

The Family Foundation plans to educate pro-family voters on the contrasting views of the two candidates and needs your gift to do so. Please donate today.

The Republican candidate for the seat is Steve Hunt, a long time conservative activist, and a former elected at-large member of the Fairfax County School Board. The Democrat candidate is Delegate Dave Marsden (D-41, Burke). Delegate Marsden did not live in the 37th Senate district but "moved" into a friend's house in the district to be eligible to run for the seat. He earned a 20 percent score on The Family Foundation Action’s 2008-09 General Assembly Report Card.

We believe it is every Christian’s sacred duty as a citizen to participate in the electoral process and vote their Biblical values. Our Winning Matters staff is dedicated to making sure that happens on January 12. To ensure that voters are educated about where the candidates for this Senate seat stand, we are producing a Special Election Voter Guide for the 37th Senate seat. This guide will not only educate voters, but also remind them of this special election — less than one month away.

But to do all that we have planned we need your support. We spent nearly all of the funds raised for Winning Matters during the general election. So, to support Winning Matters' efforts in this very important election, we hope that you will click here and send a special "Win the 37th!" Winning Matters contribution.

Respond To Governor Kaine's Same-Sex Benefits Proposal

Winning elections is one thing. But the real work is the constant vigil to ensure that those who got elected follow through on their promises and platforms. With a sweep of pro-family statewide officials and a wider majority in the House of Delegates after November’s election, it would be easy to sit back and watch. However, late last week Governor Tim Kaine (contact), already intent on creating mischief  for the incoming administration by proposing tax increases in the new budget he will introduce before he exits office, lobbed a grenade into the room when he announced his intention to expand health care benefits for state employees to include not only same-sex partners, but anyone living in a house with a state worker. A peculiar legacy indeed, but he's leaving office as he came in — promoting tax increases and special rights for homosexuals just as he did in his first week in office, despite campaigning to the contrary. Already, the state’s largest homosexual "rights" lobby, Equality Virginia, is actively promoting the change.

While expanding benefits to same-sex relationships is a clear violation of the Marriage Amendment passed by Virginia voters just three years ago, it is obvious that Governor Kaine has no intention to abide by it. Currently, only spouses and children are eligible for state health care benefits. Because these types of benefits have traditionally been "benefits of marriage," expanding beyond marriage violates both the spirit and the language of the Marriage Amendment. Health benefits have been tied to marriage for decades because the state understands it has a compelling interest in benefitting and encouraging marriage —ultimately because children benefit the most from marriage. As the vast majority understood in 2006 when 2.1 million of us voted in favor of the Marriage Amendment, we need to protect and elevate traditional marriage for our children’s sake.

Attempts at expanding this beyond marriage makes any and all relationships equal to marriage, thereby undermining that foundational institution. Interestingly, the "Notice of Intended Regulatory Action Agency Background Document" that announces the regulation change makes several astonishing claims, such as saying the proposal "should have little impact on the family or family stability."

Really? By allowing non-married couples the identical benefits as those who are married, does that not make marriage less necessary? The notice also claims that the only "alternative" to the proposal is nationalized health care, such as the current Congressional proposals.

Kaine’s plan, as proposed, borders on the ludicrous. It would seemingly allow a recent college graduate who gets a job with the state to add any and all of his or her housemates to his or her health insurance.

One of the most influential proponents of this type of domestic partner benefits has been the presidents of Virginia’s taxpayer funded colleges and universities, claiming that they can’t bring qualified professors to our college campuses because other states offer such benefits. Yet, only 16 other states currently offer such benefits.

While the proposed benefit expansion will ultimately be decided upon by Governor-elect Bob McDonnell, who expressed reservations about it due to possible costs, proponents of the policy claim that there will be no cost to the state. However, such an expansion of benefits, certainly will increase the cost of health insurance for the state and consequently, Virginia taxpayers.

But don't think you can't do anything about this: There is a public comment period until midnight December 23, where the Department of Human Resources Management is seeking your opinion.

Please contact the Department of Human Resources Management by clicking here. 

Once on the site, click "Enter a comment" and express your opposition to Governor Kaine’s proposal.

The Base

In his thumping of Creigh Deeds Tuesday night, Bob McDonnell nearly garnered as many votes as . . . Marriage.

Yup, that's right. McDonnell's 1,160,365 votes (as of this posting) fell just 168,172 short of the 2006 marriage amendment. That proposal received 1,328,537 supporters. Talk about a "bipartisan," "center," "mainstream" vote, marriage is the model. 

We also found some interesting tidbits from Tuesday's exit polling (yes, I know, exit polling . . . but it makes for good fodder).

According to exit polling from CNN, 34 percent of those voting identified themselves as "Evangelical/Born Again" and, of that block, a whopping 83 percent cast their vote for Mr. McDonnell. Now, if you run the numbers that equates to nearly half of all voters that cast their ballot for McDonnell were of the "Evangelical/Born Again" group. (To our liberal friends, breath, breath . . . there you go, breath. It'll be ok. Breath . . . .)

So, as all the pundits, experts, campaign consultants, etc. inform us that the campaign Mr. McDonnell ran is the "model" for future GOP candidates, lets all remember that the "model" only works if "the base" is motivated. Otherwise, well, see John McCain. And Jerry Kilgore. And . . . well, you get the idea.

Poll: Vote For Your Favorite Campaign Gaffe, Uh, Moment

As Virginia's statewide campaign winds down, it's a time for reflection . . . what's been your favorite gaffe moment? There are many, to be sure. But we took the painstaking task of narrowing it down to seven. Creigh Deeds and Jody Wagner star in three each. All but one are below in video or audio form, and there's a link to our original report for the other. If you need a refresher, feel free to review them again — or watch/listen/read them again for old times sake and a good laugh. Or, if they are burned indelibly into your mind, vote straightaway. If you have another nominee, feel free to cast a write-in vote in our comments section. However, as tempting as it is, votes for the Deeds, Wagner or Shannon campaigns as a whole are not allowed. It's just not fair. Feel free to forward or share this link (especially to undecided voters).

 

The Deeds Dodge on taxes.

Marriage should be between a man and a woman except you shouldn't discriminate against same-sex couples.

I feel strongly both ways on the public option.

Steve Shannon's "Jeopardy!" moment. Where's Alex to make him answer?

Jody Wagner will have a lot of time to spend looking for the Lt. Governor's Mansion.

AUDIO CLIP (8:34): Jody Wagner's Rambling "Let's Be Clear" Interview With WRVA's Jimmy Barrett (click here).

BLOG POST: Jody Wagner Sticking With A VEA Accusation Against Bill Bolling That Even The VEA Retracted And Apologized For (read here).

Now, It's Shannon's Turn

We know why the three Democrat candidates for statewide office are reluctant to debate, even though they are behind in the polls — they either don't know their own positions (see Creigh Deeds tax and Marriage Amendment videos) or don't know much about the job they are seeking (see Jody Wagner video). Now it's Delegate Steve Shannon's turn to show his incompetence as he seeks election to attorney general, Virginia's second most important office. Tuesday, we commented on a debate he and his Republican attorney general opponent, Senator Ken Cuccinelli, had on WTOP-AM in Washington, D.C. It didn't go well for Shannon, then. Last night, in Prince William County, it got worse. Also, again, it wasn't broadcast. But we do have the magic of YouTube and, with his performance, Shannon might become a bigger video celebrity than Deeds, whose tax video has been seen by 50,000-plus people.  

In the video, Senator Cuccinelli asks Delegate Shannon to name the divisions within the attorney general's office and their functions. Shannon doesn't know! He says it's a gotcha question, as if not knowing the structure of the commonwealth's law firm is a trivial matter, and refuses to answer! (Hear the derisive laughs from the audience.) Does he think the governor doesn't have to know how many cabinet departments there are, or their functions? 

At the end, you can hear Delegate Shannon tell a reporter, "It's been a bad week . . . for Ken." If polls showing his opponent up by double digits is his idea of bad, no wonder he thinks he answered the question!

40 And 50 Year-Old Deeds

Not surprisingly, in all the fuss over "the thesis" is the complete inattention given to Democrat gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds' flip flops on social issues. He's says he's not for abortion, but calls opposition to partial-birth abortion "extreme;" he was against "special rights" for homosexuals (his words in his own campaign ad), and now says anything but special rights for homosexuals is somehow discriminatory; and he voted for the Marriage Amendment twice in the General Assembly to place it before the voters, but now wants it repealed. We're waiting for the Mainstream Media to pin him down on this and/or for the senator to come clean on his own. After all, to paraphrase Senator Deeds himself, he didn't write these things when he was 34 — he wrote them, spoke them and voted them in his 40s and 50s.