chris freund

Delegate Todd Gilbert Named TFF’s Legislator Of The Year

On Friday, we presented Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) with The Family Foundation's 2013 Legislator of the Year Award. The presentation was made at the Valley Family Forum's annual dinner in Harrisonburg. This year, Delegate Gilbert was the House patron for one of our most consequential legislative priorities, legislation that protects the freedom of association and freedom of religion rights of student groups on public college campuses. This followed his leadership last year on legislation that protects the rights of faith-based child placement agencies to operate according to their religious beliefs. Both bills protecting our liberty have become models for the rest of the nation. About receiving the award, Delegate Gilbert said:

I was surprised and honored to be named The Family Foundation's Legislator of the Year. The Family Foundation and I have teamed up in the last few years to do some amazing work protecting religious liberty and traditional moral values, and together we have accomplished some great things for Virginia.

Delegate Gilbert's solid pro-life, pro-family voting record is complemented only by his leadership in his caucus, in committee, and on the floor of the House, where he is more than willing to stand — no doubt much to the chagrin of some around him — to defend life, marriage and religious liberty, and to take on those legislators who seek to undermine our values and principles.

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Delegate Todd Gilbert (L) receives The Family Foundation Legislator of the Year Award and congratulations from TFF Vice President for Policy and Communications Chris Freund.

Delegate Gilbert's leadership has made him the target of the secular left, and in particular Equality Virginia. The state's largest homosexual organization has targeted Delegate Gilbert because of his strong stance on religious liberty and his opposition to adding protection for sexual behavior to the state's non-discrimination law. In an environment of hostility, where the very phrase "social issues" or "values issues" causes some of our elected officials to reflexively run for cover, the media hysteria over anything pro-life or pro-family, and the secular left's endless rhetorical assault on conservative legislators — plus a clear cultural shift away from Godly principles and a too often silent church — few legislators are willing to lead like Delegate Gilbert.

It is always an honor to present an award to legislators of conviction who put principle before politics to advance our shared values. Congratulations to Delegate Gilbert for winning this year's Legislator of the Year award. We look forward to continuing to work with him on protecting and advancing our values.

My Life Is Worth Living

I write this with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am pleased to announce that efforts to repeal the updated informed consent law that allows a mother to view the image of her unborn child prior to deciding to have an abortion; to overturn abortion center safety standards; and to redefine "birth control" to include abortifacients, were thwarted on 8-7 party line votes this morning in the Senate Education and Health Committee. Even earlier in the morning, a House sub-committee defeated an attempt to repeal the safety standards  on a unanimous, bipartisan vote. However, the Senate committee also killed SB 826, which would have eliminated state funding for abortions of children with disabilities, 8-7 as well. My heart grieves that the policy of the commonwealth will remain a policy that denies the intrinsic worth of every life, no matter the challenges they may or may not face.

First and foremost, The Family Foundation would like to extend its utmost gratitude to Senator Tom Garrett (R-22, Louisa) for his bravery and impeccable defense of life through his willingness to patron and actively advocate on behalf of SB 826. Make sure his courage and sacrifice do not go unnoticed. Please contact Senator Garrett (district22@senate.virginia.gov) to express your thanks for his principled stand despite dissuasion from those both outside and within his party.

Parents of children with disabilities, a perinatal nurse, representatives from pro-life organizations (including The Family Foundation), and a lobbyist for the Virginia Catholic Conference who, although diagnosed with cerebral palsy, defied all predictions and now lives life to the fullest, testified on behalf of SB 826. The Catholic Conference lobbyist boldly challenged members of the committee to tell him that his life is one not worth living! One father, who attended with his adopted daughter who was born without limbs, testified about his adopted son, George. Born without arms, George has become an accomplished guitar, cello and piano player, and has played for bands with national acclaim, including the Goo Goo Dolls.

George, who would qualify under current law to be aborted with taxpayer funds, proves that he is not "incompatible with life." Click here to view a moving video of George's family — many of whom would qualify to be aborted with taxpayer money under the current law. The perinatal nurse spoke to her experience of providing palliative care to the unborn and newly born, and the healing that even a few hours of life of a severely disabled newborn brings to a hurting family.

The opposition then stood up and made claims that abortion is the "compassionate choice." It was unconscionable on the heels of such moving, emotional testimony from disabled children, adoptive parents, and a perinatal nurse. In an unfortunate end to the debate, Senator Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake), bowing to political pressure, joined all seven Democrats to defeat the bill.

The  committee then considered the bill to repeal the updated informed consent law. This legislation was passed last year to allow women the opportunity to see a picture of their unborn child prior to making a life-altering decision. While ultrasounds were protocol prior to the legislation (the abortion industry even admits it), abortionists were hiding the picture from women to prevent the possibility of women changing their minds, reducing profit. This window into the womb is powerful and, no matter the choice of a woman, it allows her a more informed choice and reduces regret. Ultimately, the ultrasound addition to informed consent is about requiring an abortionist to turn the screen. The Family Foundation testified to the importance of this law. Abortion activists, Planned Parenthood, the Virginia chapter of NOW, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, the ACLU, and the Medical Society of Virginia testified in favor of repealing the ultrasound law. However, the committee was not convinced and defeated it.

During the abortion center safety debate, the abortion industry lined up speakers praising abortion centers and the "good work" they do. One man, an OB-GYN, testified on behalf of the abortion industry and praised the safety of the abortion procedure and stated that he was unaware of any abortion complications — a fascinating proclamation since emergency responders have arrived to at least two abortion centers in Virginia in the very recent past, and abortion center licensure inspections report at least four complications during abortion procedures.

A woman who testified is an employee at A Capital Women's Health Clinic (an abortion center in Richmond). She wore a t-shirt that read, "Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been keeping an eye on your vagina, so we're keeping an eye on him." After she pleaded for repeal of the regulations (based on false claims), Senator Garrett questioned her about the specific deficiencies found at her center and whether or not she believed those deficiencies constituted "safety and health" for women. The deficiencies included that the sponge used to clean instruments is only changed once per week; and three of nine employees have access to controlled substances, yet are not licensed by the Board of Pharmacy.

The woman did not provide sufficient explanations , but instead diverted to another portion of the bill in an attempt to distract from the truth — abortion facilities are not focused on the health and safety of women. Chris Freund testified for The Family Foundation, reporting the results of the Virginia abortion center inspections: bloody procedure tables, unsterilized and blood splattered equipment, untrained staff and more — more than 100 violations in only 20 abortion centers, even though the inspections were announced in advance! He also noted that the same year the bill enabling the regulations passed, this same committee defeated a bill that only required an inspection, a license and emergency life saving equipment. He also noted the lack of credibility of pro-abortion advocates who now claim to support inspections when they so vigorously opposed them for years.

While we are disappointed by the failure of the committee to acknowledge the value of life and pass SB 826, The Family Foundation is encouraged by the common sense of the committee to block the repeal of the update to the informed consent law and abortion center safety regulations. The Family Foundation will continue to support life, no matter the worth others may place on that life. Again, please contact Senator Tom Garrett (district22@senate.virginia.gov) and express your sincere thanks for his courage today.

Board Votes To Delay Adoption Regulations 30 Days, But No Change Is Expected

The Virginia Board of Social Services yesterday voted to delay the implementation of recently approved adoption regulations under the threat of costly litigation from the ACLU and Equality Virginia (see The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). In a not unexpected decision, the vote will allow for 30 days of additional comment, beginning September 12. As we noted yesterday, however, with Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli opposing the old proposed regulations on several grounds, opponents will only succeed in dragging out the process longer and perhaps set the stage for a legal action challenging Virginia law. In April, the VBSS voted 7-2 to adopt new regulations for Virginia's private adoption services. The regulations approved did not include a proposal that would have discriminated against faith-based adoption agencies by forcing them to adopt children to homosexuals. Despite having nearly two years to make their case through the regulatory process, organizations such as Equality Virginia and the ACLU claimed that the decision to not include the discriminatory language was done so without adequate information (see the AP via wral.com).

After losing the vote in April, Equality Virginia and the ACLU threatened to sue if they did not get an additional public comment period (see The Richmond Times-Dispatch). During the initial public comment time, more than 1,000 Virginians commented on the proposed regulations, with only around 30 in favor. On average, proposed regulations receive less than two dozen comments.

At yesterday's meeting, a host of representatives from the homosexual lobby spoke in favor of the additional comment period (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). Some of the speakers honestly stated that they believed allowing homosexuals to adopt should take precedence over the religious liberty rights of faith-based organizations.

When the comment period is opened we will encourage you to make your voice heard on this important issue. It is clear that homosexual groups intend to use the additional 30 days to get as much publicity as possible. We must make sure that the Board of Social Services hears from Virginians who believe in religious liberty.

Admin's notes: Family Foundation staff is quoted in every cited link in the post above. Please click those links to read further. In addition, we were cited on the National Organization For Marriage Blog (click here).

Also, Family Foundation Vice President for Policy and Communications Chris Freund was featured in coverage from WTVR/CBS6 in Richmond (immediately below) and on Charlottesville's WVIR/NBC29 (click this link)

30 days more. The homosexual lobby and ACLU couldn't wait to slow down the process. 

Transcript Of Shad Plank Interview

Click here to read the transcript of the online interview Family Foundation Vice President of Policy and Communications Chris Freund participated in earlier today with The Shad Plank blog on the big abortion center licensing vote yesterday. The Virginia Senate, yesterday, passed a bill mandating the Board of Health to institute regulations on abortion centers. It was historic in several ways: Not only did it pass, but it was the first time ever that such a bill even got on the Senate floor. In addition, the vote tied at 20, necessitating a rare tie-breaking vote by Lt. Governor Bill Bolling.

Participate In Live Blog Debate: TFF Vs. NARAL At The Shad Plank!

At 11:00 at The Shad Plank blog, The Family Foundation's very own VP for Policy and Communications, Chris Freund, will participate in a live blog interview about yesterday's historic vote to regulate abortion centers, which will include a representative from NARAL. Please click here and participate in the debate by leaving a question!

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.

More On The Cuccinelli Opinion: Hear The (Sort Of) Debate From WRVA

This morning on Richmond's Morning News With Jimmy Barrett on WRVA-AM, Family Foundation Vice-President for Policy and Communications Chris Freund was interviewed about the legal opinion issued by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the reaction to it. It wasn't a real debate, but immediately prior to Chris' appearance, Barrett's guest was Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, the lead lobbyist for Equality Virginia. Notice that she avoided Barrett's first question and, shall we say, gave an intriguing spin on the entire matter at hand. In fact, you can detect the skepticism in Barrett's voice and questions. Chris sets the record straight his turn at bat.

Click here to listen to the back-to-back interviews (9:24).

Virginia News Stand: August 11, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations The Answer Is . . . Abortion!

If Virginia's gubernatorial campaign was modeled after the game show Jeopardy!, where the answers are the clues and the questions are the answers, Democrat candidate Creigh Deeds' response to the word "abortion" would be, "What is the winning campaign issue?" It may be, but not the way he's going after it. First, he's the one way out of touch. As a well -publicized poll showed earlier this year, a majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life. But a super majority of Americans always have been against partial-birth abortion and for parental consent. So, who's the extremist here?

But what makes this a particularly odd move by Deeds is that he has simply proclaimed it! That is, out of nowhere, he has flat out declared this is the issue of the campaign. As if he declares the ground rules. Okay, maybe he does. So at the first and only debate, thus far, with Republican Bob McDonnell, Deeds said the "social" issues wouldn't be a big part of his campaign. Talk about decisive leadership!

Still, it remains funny that Deeds thinks he can make up the rules of the campaign (being far down in the polls does not dictate a position of strength); that he blurts it out of nowhere; that he contradicts himself; and, after all that, picks a losing issue.

Enjoy your briefing today from the News Stand. We are pleased to start off with video from WTVR/CBS6 in Richmond, which interviewed our very own Chris Freund about the Deeds gambit.

Video:

*Deeds goes after McDonnell on abortion (2:34) (WTVR-TV/WTVR.com)

  

The Family Foundation's Vice President-Policy and Communications Chris Freund is interviewed by Richmond CBS affiliate WTVR-TV/6.

News:

Economy, abortion rights focus of gubernatorial race (Richmond Times-Dispatch

Deeds picks off political scab: abortion rights (Roanoke Times

Deeds targets abortion issue (Washington Times)

Deeds Throws Abortion Gauntlet (Washington Post)

Commentary:

Desperate Deeds (Ramesh Ponnuru/Right Matters Washington Post Blog)

Great Opportunity For Students

As the General Assembly session approaches, we go into our annual G.A. preparation mode. Part of that is searching for student pages that can assist our legislative team in our advocacy work. These positions offer high school or advanced middle school students a valuable opportunity to experience the activities of a General Assembly session first hand. The Family Foundation General Assembly pages are responsible for the efficient maintenance of information within The Family Foundation's General Assembly Operations Room and between The Family Foundation and the members of the General Assembly. Pages assist Family Foundation legislative staff in the accomplishment of their daily tasks and routine administrative responsibilities.

There will be opportunities to observe legislative committee meetings, floor sessions of the House of Delegates and Senate and much more.

This is a great chance to see first hand the "inside story" of politics and lawmaking in Virginia.

The 2009 General Assembly session begins Wednesday, January 14 and runs for 45 days. Pages are encouraged to work at least two half days a week, preferably mornings. The more days pages are in the office the more they will learn and experience.

Students (or their parents) interested in serving as Family Foundation General Assembly pages should contact our Vice President of Policy and Communications Chris Freund at 804-343-0010 or by e-mail at chris@familyfoundation.org.

Social Issues In The Age Of Obama

Last Month, Chris Freund, vice president of policy and communications for The Family Foundation of Virginia, addressed the Tuesday Morning Group Coalition's monthly meeting in Richmond. He was part of a panel which discussed everything from the environment to economics. It's not a pretty picture. Scary, actually: card check, FOCA, partial-birth abortion on demand, liberal judges, God out of the public square entirely, "fairness doctrine," high taxes, cap and trade us into rationing energy, no drilling nowhere. You get the idea. So, while the media is sucking everyone into the new Era of Good Feeling ushered in by the "messiah," a little dose of reality (to find the entire panel and the topics discussed, click here):