legislators

Same-Sex "Marriage" In Iowa Decreed By State Court

But it couldn't happen here, right? That's why there was no need for a Constitutional Marriage Amendment in 2006. Sure. That's what the opponents said.  Unfortunately, as we've seen in Iowa today (see New York Times), and in various states where courts force "civil unions" or same-sex "marriage" on its citizens by arbitrary decree, constitutional amendments absolutely are necessary.

The fact is, we have a judiciary that is no more interested in interpreting law than it is in giving up their salaries. Rather, they think of themselves as super legislators, not needing the imprimatur of the electorate as the legislature does, which is where law is made, which is why legislators are elected and judges are not. But, who cares about that?

Even though representative democracy was what this country was founded on, to certain judges — such as the ones in Iowa, New Jersey and Massachusetts — the electorate and its representatives don't matter. If these judges don't like something, they decree it and hand it down from on high, what the people think and expect be damned. If this doesn't make the case for constitutional restraint through each state's amending process, nothing does. At least in Virginia we're safe . . . just as we told we needed to be.

Who Says Bloggers Can't Fill The Gap?

Hopefully, you've perused the March 3 News Stand. In it, I bring to readers' attention an article by The Washington Post's Marc Fisher who laments that economic downsizing has led to a reduction in media coverage of state government in Richmond and Annapolis. Among the Mainstream Media, he notes, several newspapers have reduced the number of reporters at the capitols, about half as many in Virginia as there used to be, and that only one Virginia television station still maintains a bureau in capitol square. Alas, he maintains, despite the explosion of new media —blogs in particular — it isn't enough to fill the gaps left by the reduction of full-time journalists. Says who? While we won't be pretentious enough to claim bloggers fill the exact same role as political beat journalists, especially the old-fashioned five W's objective reporters — those days disappeared along with the buggy whip manufacturers anyway — we can say, speaking for ourselves, that bloggers have more than replaced what passed for electronic media coverage of the legislature. Never more than sound byte "journalism," exactly how much depth do viewers get from one- and two-minute television reports, or 30-second updates on radio?  

Perhaps Mr. Fisher should have looked at our blog during session (see Capitol Square Diary) and our YouTube page. Everyone should. At last count we had 23 videos posted there, almost all concerning the General Assembly, and many of them from committee hearings. Not five- or 10-second sound bytes, but full testimonies and questions and answers between committee members and witnesses, not to mention the committee votes. Ahh, the votes.

Often what passes for news coverage of devious parliamentary gimmicks that kill bills without the legislators going on record is the media's complyingly innocuous, "the bill died in committee." But how? We show you! Which is something, that no matter how many television or radio station bureaus there are, never seems to be told. We don't let the politicians escape, unlike the Mainstream Media. I'm not sure why Mr. Fisher doesn't think that's laudable.

The fact is, the new media is here and will continue to grow in outlets as well as users, evolve in its delivery mechanisms (we were just getting used to blogs, then Facebook, when Twitter came around), and increase in importance. If that's to the Mainstream Media's demise, so be it. But if the MSM is at least partly responsible for its own demise for its complacency in  seeing the future, it surely is fully responsible for its diminishing presence by its lack of depth of coverage and its flat-out distortations of its coverage of politics and policy.

Apparently, what matters most to MSM apologists is numbers — after all, what can legitimize the biased MSM other than to say tens of thousands read their publications or watch their broadcasts? It certainly isn't in the quality or depth of coverage. But the velocity of change in information consumption is happening faster than a Dick Saslaw foot-in-the-mouth comment. So new media audience numbers will grow in time. Of course, expecting the MSM to acknowledge that is like expecting them to cover a Dick Saslaw foot-in-the-mouth comment. It rarely, if ever, happens.

Witching Hour In The GAB/Elevators Part 2

No matter how much I, you, we disagree with certain legislators, we — activists, lobbyists, policy people — still must work together with them. Where we work with them is in the General Assembly Building, where relationships are built that every now and then trump philosophy. We share the GAB — delegates, senators, staff, security, lobbyists, media, activists, visitors, you name it. Everyone is cordial and we all get along (see GAB elevator post here). Delegate so-and-so may have trashed one of our priority bills last week, yet you see him in the hallway and you can still share a friendly conversation about last night's State U basketball game. Except for Thursday. There are six primary elevators in the GAB and most minutes of that day that's not enough. You're trying to get to the 8th floor to catch Delegate so-and-so again and they are all full. You finally get one and people are stopping on each floor. At the witching hour when the four caucuses begin, forget about it. Still, everyone keeps their anxieties in check and is friendly. But Thursday, a senator who is hostile to our agenda was rushing to make an elevator I was on. I quickly hit the open door button and saved this senator a wait this senator obviously didn't want. The senator thanked me and I said, "You're welcome." Then, trying to really break the ice and establish something more than an across-the-committe-room-dais-rapport with his person, and with a smile as big as the Chesapeake, I made a joke as old as Jamestown.

"I hope you'll remember this the next time one of our bills is in front of your committee."

The senator's reply was a crass, "My, you're all gracious." Wow! That's what I get for trying to be nice, charming and witty. Oh, well. Turn the other cheek and remember, they're not all that way. Next time, I'll still hold the elevator for this senator. But I've learned to hold the jokes with this senator as well.

Virtual Lobby Day This Thursday And Live Blog Interview With AG Bob McDonnell!

As you know by visiting our blog, The Family Foundation has taken seriously our pledge to not only use the "New Media" to communicate our traditional values message, but to lead the way in it (click here to read what we've done with YouTube, Facebook and Twitter). As an example, we now take our own video and place it on YouTube and on our blog. More exciting is the power of the Internet to involve grassroots activists directly and increase our effectiveness at influencing policy, especially during the incredibly fast pace of the General Assembly — where legislators read their constituents' concerns over specific bills on their laptops at their desks on the House and Senate floor! 

With that in mind, we are going full force with our annual Virtual Lobby Day on February 5. If you have ever been to Richmond for our "in-person lobby day" you know face-to-face contact with your legislator is important. But you can leverage that by staying in touch with him or her throughout session. So on February 5 we are modeling our Virtual Lobby Day as we would a conventional one.

First, instead of meeting with your delegate and senator on a given topic, we will provide a topic for you to e-mail them about. Hint: February 5 is Planned Parenthood's lobby day here, so that gives you an idea of what our topic will be. Imagine the power of several thousand e-mails arriving in legislators' e-mail boxes as Planned Parenthood activists meet with them! Although in-person meetings such as our lobby day and Pastors Day (also on February 5) always will be important, new technology creates a whopping impact as well; one that can't be ignored.

Also, instead of hearing speakers, you will be able to follow two interviews on our blog with two very interesting lawmakers, one from each party. Names forthcoming. Additionally, you can watch or listen to both the House and Senate proceedings from the Internet every day. (See link on the blogroll.)

But we are especially excited to have Attorney General Bob McDonnell participate for the second straight year in a live blog interview. All you have to do is leave a question on this thread or our original thread (click here and see who's already asked what). He will then answer the questions posted on that thread live at 2:00 on February 5. You can read his answers as he posts them or read them later at your convenience. 

While we thank everyone who attended our Lobby Day in January, we look forward to your just-as-important participation in Virtual Lobby Day on February 5! Look for our e-mail alerts with more specifics and check back here as well throughout this important week at the General Assembly.

We also encourage you to forward this link to friends and family who you think are interested in issues affecting traditional family values and encourage them to sign up for alerts at the link at the upper left corner.

Kumbayah Moment Of The Day

Here's a first. We've had Quotes of the Day, reported on odd bills and other unusual public and behind-the-scenes moments around the capitol and during the General Assembly over the last year. This was something different, however. I was in Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee. Not that I had any business there, but it was the only place to corner a senator I needed to speak to on an important bill. (Tip of the Day: This is how you lobby legislators — you stake them out.)

One should always bring a newspaper or laptop to keep oneself occupied and/or amused during these situations because the legislation discussed can utterly bore you to sleep. (Not entirely bad when you're putting in 12-14 hour days.) On the other hand, these committee meetings where you have no bills to keep you interested sometimes pleasantly surprise you. Today was a case in point, where I witnessed our first ever Kumbayah Moment Of The Day.

Senator Louis Lucas (D-18, Portsmouth) introduced a bill that had something to do with special use ABC permits. Afraid her verbal demolition of a colleague's bill the previous day would hurt her bill's chances of clearing the committee, the flamboyant senator played meek. After introducing the bill and addressing the committee, she said:

"Senator Stuart, I apologize for what I said about your bill yesterday because I need your help now."

Replied Senator Richard Stuart (R-28, Montross):

"I never hold grudges. I like you too much to hold grudges."

The bill passed. Rest assured, though, this won't last — and the fireworks will return. Session is only three days old.

2009 Lobby Day Especially Crucial; Great Speaker Confirmed

We're busy counting down the days. But while we're all preparing for Christmas, we have a dual countdown — the start of the 2009 General Assembly. Believe it or not, it's less than three weeks until our lawmakers return to Richmond to deal with the in-deficit budget. That means also time to remind our legislators of the principles we expect them to protect and promote during this upcoming important election year, even with the budget as a convenient distraction.

You can do your part by joining us in Richmond for:

Family Foundation Day at the Capitol on January 19, 2009!

9:00 a.m. - Afternoon

Richmond Marriott

500 East Broad Street

At this free-of-charge event, you can meet with and encourage your legislators to, among other things:

» Support a proposal that adds a requirement to teach about the positive benefits of marriage in the Family Life Education curriculum.

» Address the Kaine administration's decision to forbid chaplains from praying in Jesus name;

» Make the state budget more transparent by placing it online and ensuring that it is easily searchable; and

» Encourage support of bills that update and improve Virginia's Informed Consent Law.

All you have to do is register, at no charge, by January 13. We'll arrange meetings with your delegate and/or senator. We take care of the details; you just need to be here on January 19. Especially now, when so many pundits and liberal politicians have pronounced conservatism and traditional values issues dead, we want to have hundreds of pro-family Virginians lining the halls of the General Assembly Building to show them and our lawmakers quite the opposite is true.

In addition, we've lined up great speakers, including legislators as well as Jordan Lorence, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, a nationally known expert on several issues that affect religious conservatives. He will specifically address religious liberty issues and the case of the Virginia State Police chaplains who resigned in protest when ordered to cease praying in Jesus' name.

As a preview of how good a speaker Jordan Lorence is, we've posted below a video of him speaking about one of our favorite subjects — lessons on the life of William Wilberforce.

So, we hope you make a special effort to get to Richmond on January 19. In order to register, contact Grassroots Coordinator John Smith at 804-343-0010 or e-mail him at john@familyfoundation.org.

We look forward to seeing you make a difference in Richmond on Monday, January 19.

Free Christmas Gifts!

For those who are looking for a Christmas gift for the person who has (almost) everything, or someone you need to get a gift for but don't want to spend a lot of money on, or for any reason in between, we have the solution:

Family Foundation of Virginia E-Mail Alerts!

After all, no one should be unprepared as the General Assembly gets set to meet in mid January. Whenever it convenes, anything is possible, and we cover the G.A. like no one else, with a team of lobbyists and volunteers unlike any organization in Virginia. We're just a block from the capitol and we're at every committee meeting, combing the halls of the General Assembly Building, in talks with legislators and have the best sources in the state. We let you know what they said, how they voted and who to contact on the important issues in time for you to make an impact. Believe it, they do listen.

Our alerts are well written and give you the blow-by-blow account of how a bill survived or got killed and who was responsible; explain the ramifications; and make you feel as if you were there. We also give you an overview of the session so you have a real feel for what the atmosphere is like.

So, for your favorite political junkies, for yourself, for everyone you think should be more aware, click here or the bold link above. It takes a minute to sign up. So feel free to create some electronic stocking stuffers not even Santa can deliver.