pro-family

TFF President Cobb Honored With Prestigious Weyrich Award

Last night, Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb won the prestigious Paul Weyrich Faith Community Leader of the Year Award at the annual Weyrich Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. The Weyrich Awards are presented annually in honor of the late conservative leader Paul Weyrich, who served as the first president of the Heritage Foundation and who later founded the American Legislative Exchange Council. Here is the news release we issued last night:

 Cobb Honored With Prestigious Weyrich Award

RICHMOND – Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb received the "Faith Community Leader of the Year Award" at the Weyrich Awards Dinner last night in Washington, D.C. The Weyrich Awards are presented annually in honor of conservative leader Paul Weyrich, who served as the first president of the Heritage Foundation and who later founded the American Legislative Exchange Council.

During her brief acceptance remarks Cobb said:

"I’m extremely honored to have been nominated and even more so to accept this award. It is a testament to the work of everyone at The Family Foundation, from the board of directors to my staff, and it's for all of us that I am so privileged to be recognized by such a distinguished group. Any success we have had is also the result of Almighty Providence. Our team does what we do and often we discover God shows up and does the rest.

"I know that those conservative icons that came before us, like Paul Weyrich, faced far more difficult odds and major challenges than we do today, but their faithfulness to our principles and their strategies ushered in an era of conservatism that brought great prosperity and freedom to our nation. Our challenge is to remain as faithful, as vigilant, and as strategic as they were."

The Weyrich Awards are presented annually to recognize "those who have made a major contribution to advancing the cause of liberty through organizations and media and whose work reflects beliefs, principles and convictions that are harmonious with Paul’s own values."

The Family Foundation of Virginia is a non-profit organization whose mission is to apply faith and founding principles to politics and culture. The Family Foundation researches the issues being debated in Richmond and provides analysis and ideas to both citizens and elected officials. The Family Foundation is Virginia's oldest and largest pro-family public policy organization.

 

Judging By The Score

In sports, it's often said, "The game was closer than the final score indicates," or, "It wasn't as close as the score indicates." It reveals that the final score is not always indicative of how close, or not, a game may have been. Often, there’s more to the story. The most popular document created by The Family Foundation Action is our semi-annual General Assembly Report Card. In it you’ll find the "score" of every member of the General Assembly based on their legislative votes on Family Foundation priorities over a two-session period. The snap-shot of votes taken by their elected representatives gives citizens a good idea of where their legislators stand on key issues.

The Report Card also serves as a reminder to legislators that they can’t hide from the public. Every session our legislative team is asked over and over again by legislators, "Will this be a score card vote?" The message is: the Report Card matters. Legislators, at least those who are in more conservative districts, want to be able to prove their pro-family "credentials" with a good score. On the flip side, more liberal legislators often trumpet their low scores as proof of their "progressive" values. All in all, everybody wins!

Well, except that no document, or score, is a perfect reflection of the whole game. We make clear on the Report Card that it isn't meant to be used as a measure of one's personal faith. It is a great measure, as close as we've been able to come up with, of one's commitment to conservative, pro-family, pro-life principles, but it really is just part of the story. It's based only on votes and can't measure one's motives or reasoning behind a vote. That's for the legislators to explain to their constituents.

Some of the "100 percenters" on the Report Card are tried and true heroes of our values. They lead, they vocalize our values, they carry our legislation, and they work behind the scenes to advance our agenda.  Some "100 percenters," however, simply vote right when the time comes, but either offer no help or actually work behind the scenes in some instances to derail our agenda. At the same time, legislators who vote against our position in some situations may lead more than some "100 percenters." An example of that would be Delegate Todd Gilbert, who was our Legislator of the Year for 2013 with a score of 95 percent on the Report Card. But Delegate Gilbert leads on, fights for and carries our legislation.

And sometimes, there are issues that are just very complicated, though our position is very clear, that makes a vote more difficult to understand. For example, at last year's veto session, an amendment to a "Healthcare Exchange" bill relating to ObamaCare that prohibited the insurance companies in the exchange from offering abortion coverage was a high priority for The Family Foundation. The amendment passed and is now part of the law. But a couple of House of Delegates members, Barbara Comstock and Rick Morris, voted against the amendment. Was it a vote against life?  Well, no. They made it clear to us that they will not vote in favor of anything having to do with ObamaCare. It wasn't about the amendment; it was about the overall policy. Of course, we also made it clear that if we're going to have an exchange, we had the responsibility to make sure it included pro-life language. Also, last year, Delegate Bob Marshall voted incorrectly on a floor amendment granting special protections based on sexual behavior, but he did so out of an objection to how the House was operating on amendments, and not the underlying policy. Again, something that is impossible to explain in the Report Card.

The best answer to the problem is t make sure you know your legislators. The Report Card is the absolute best document in Virginia to get a picture of how dedicated to pro-family, pro-life values our legislators are during a two-year period. But if you see a vote that you don't understand, call them, or call us. Ask. Dig deeper and learn more. Stay involved during session so you know what’s happening and how your delegate and senator are voting. We don't want the Report Card to be the final authority, we want it to be a document that doesn't just educate, but motivates you to learn more and get more involved.

Don't just read the final score. Watch the whole game.

Restitution For Eugenics Victims Tops TFF's Legislative Agenda

The Family Foundation of Virginia today released the highlights of its 2014 legislative agenda, highlighted by joining a bipartisan effort by Delegates Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) and Patrick Hope (D-47, Arlington County) to provide restitution to victims of Virginia's eugenics policy. Other priority legislation The Family Foundation supports includes bills protecting religious liberty, allowing homeschool student sports participation ("Tebow bill") at public schools, budget amendments to ban state funding of Planned Parenthood and to align Virginia with the federal Hyde Amendment, and the Pain Capable Unborn Child Act. It will oppose Obamacare expansion of Medicaid, adding sexual orientation to Virginia's non-discrimination laws, the expansion of gambling, tax increases, attacks on crisis pregnancy centers, and the removal of religious exemptions for home schooling. Here is The Family Foundation's official statement on its legislative agenda:

"The 2014 General Assembly will be very focused on jobs, the economy, the budget, mental health reform and rightly so, but our elected officials are capable of handling both economic and social issues," said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation. "The General Assembly spends the overwhelming majority of its time on non-social issues but those don’t merit quite the attention. Our goal is to be the voice of Virginians who care about values issues and recognize that we cannot have a strong, stable economy until we renew our moral standards."

A top priority of The Family Foundation is legislation ensuring religious liberty and free speech protections for public school students at graduations and other public ceremonies. Recent incidents of speech censorship at public school graduations around the country offer evidence that religious speech is being targeted. Legislation has been introduced that is modeled after existing state law in Texas and Mississippi, neither of which have been challenged in the courts. The legislation tracks U.S. Supreme Court decision language. 

"Public school students should not be targeted for discrimination simply because their speech reflects or includes their religious beliefs,” said Cobb. "The Constitution is clear and should be applied to students when they are speaking at public school events. It is a disgrace that American students are censored by government officials from simply mentioning their faith at a graduation ceremony, and that shouldn't happen in the birthplace of religious freedom."

Another priority will be restitution for victims of eugenics. First introduced last year, this legislation would provide a small financial payment to those whom the state physically denied the ability to have children. Eugenics was practiced in Virginia for nearly two decades, resulting in an estimated 8,500 victims.

"Virginia has apologized for eugenics, but that’s little comfort to those few surviving victims who had their ability to have children taken away from them by an atrocious government act. The idea that the government can deem some worthy of life and others not should be revolting to every American. And while this small amount of money cannot begin to undo the wrong, it is one way to hold a government accountable for its actions and, hopefully, to prevent anything like this from happening again."

The Family Foundation also will again support legislation that allows homeschool students to try out for sports at the public school they would otherwise attend. Commonly referred to as the "Tebow Bill," this simple policy of fairness to families who pay taxes in support of local public schools would affect a very small number of Virginia home school athletes. Numerous other states have adopted similar policies with no negative affect on athletic programs or public schooling.

The pro-family organization will also oppose the expansion of so-called Obamacare through Medicaid. Despite promises by the federal government to pay ninety percent of the costs in future years, it is clear by the unfulfilled assurances that people would be able to keep their own insurance and doctors and that there is serious risk to future state budgets by expanding.

"There is no question that we need to figure out new and compassionate ways to deliver health care to the truly needy in Virginia," said Cobb. "But every day Virginians are seeing the abject failure of Obamacare to fix the problems that we face. We need a new national dialogue on a real fix for our health care system that provides actual care and assistance and doesn't bankrupt our economy."

"Neither political party in Virginia has a mandate on anything, which leaves all ideas up for debate, discussion and compromise," said Cobb. "Values-driven Virginians expect their elected officials to represent them and their principles, and we’ll be there to make sure they do.”

 

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.

Time For Pro-Lifers To Leave The Republican Party?

As Virginia Republicans meet this weekend for their annual "Advance," there will be plenty to talk about. From this year's election results to this week's stunning announcement in the Virginia's governor race (which we were one of the first to blog about), there's plenty of debate going on between the so-called "establishment" and the "grassroots" of the Republican Party. As usual, the primary target of some in the debate is pro-life voters. Many words have been spilled from pundits and politicians over this debate, not just this year, but in nearly every election cycle as far back as many of us can remember. It's important to recall that in 1980 the political experts told Ronald Reagan to "tone down" the rhetoric on abortion and talk only about the economy. Of course, most will remember that the 1980 election focused almost entirely on the economy, foreign policy and moral decay. Abortion wasn't a major "theme" of the election or of Reagan's agenda.

But when asked, he wasn't ashamed to be pro-life. In fact, he used the opportunities his leadership position presented to persuade people to his position — one he believed most Americans shared. Was he offensive? No. Was he restrained? Never. He simply was willing to talk and sought to convince people of the legitimacy of his position that the unborn should be protected.

Unfortunately, in our culture of "all or nothing" politics, even those seeking to be incremental and strategic in advancing conservative causes with reasoned rhetoric are labeled and attacked as "putting ideology ahead of winning."

It's time we pro-life, pro-family, pro-limited government, pro-religious liberty conservatives require the candidates we support hold strong, principled — dare I say — ideological positions, but who also are able to persuade people in a logical, approachable, reasonable way that those principles are really what is best for America and our commonwealth.

Why must we so often have to choose between angry belligerence and cowardly silence? Is there no room in the Republican Party tent for reasoned, rational and principled pro-life voters? Certainly, as evidenced by this year's Democrat convention, there's little room in that party's tent for pro-lifers.

In a recent opinion piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a well-known political commentator made the statement that wherever I go, "a fight breaks out." Truth be told, I believe The Family Foundation has been very good at using reasonable and logical arguments to persuade people to our position, never personally attacking people or throwing "rhetorical bombs" that drive people away. After 10 years of doing this, we're still attacked by the media as the group that "picks fights," while it falls at the feet in worship of those who were arrested on the Capitol steps in violation of the law, and who daily use vile, vulgar rhetoric (click links to see examples).

Let's face it: We live in a commonwealth where those who believe that women making the sad choice of abortion should enter sanitary facilities with emergency equipment are attacked by the media and secular left as "extreme" and "out of touch." All the while, those who support abortion through the ninth month of pregnancy (as our president does) are considered "centrist." That's the environment, that's the playing field. We can whine all we want about how unfair it is, or we can do something about it.

We live in a culture of cynicism and skepticism making it even more difficult to persuade. But giving up is not an option, and neither is compromising our principles. We, the whole of the conservative movement — not just social conservatives — must figure out a way to improve our message. Then, perhaps more importantly, find new ways to go around the Mainstream Media to get our message out. Blogs aren't enough. Social media isn't enough. Cutesy Facebook posters won't cut it.

Could the answer be going back to the basics (and hard work) of grassroots organization and mobilization? It's how conservatives changed the course of the nation before. Its successes are proven.

So, back to the question at the top. Is it time for pro-lifers to leave the Republican Party? Frankly, trying to answer that question is a colossal waste of time. While many are debating it, secularist liberals are unified and mobilized to take our state. Let's stop arguing about 30-year-old partisan struggles that may never be resolved. Let's start telling others about our principles, and let's put together the plan that will save our commonwealth.

General Assembly Pages And Interns Needed

General Assembly session is quickly approaching, which means The Family Foundation is in the midst of important preparations. One of the critical elements of our preparations includes finding student interns and pages to assist our legislative team in our advocacy work in our Richmond office. Both our intern and page programs offer students a valuable opportunity to experience the activities of a General Assembly session firsthand. There will be unique opportunities to observe legislative committee meetings, floor sessions of the House of Delegates and Senate, and much more. Candidates for the intern and page positions must have a pro-life, pro-family perspective on social issues and a Biblical worldview of the roles of politics, government and the church. The Family Foundation's 2013 General Assembly team will begin session work Monday, January 7 and conclude Friday, February 22. Those desiring more information, or those interested in serving, should contact Jessica Cochrane by phone at 804-343-0010 or by e-mail at Jessica@familyfoundation.org.

Intern Program (College)

Interns assist staff in actively monitoring legislation, attending General Assembly committee meetings, research and writing, assisting with our Virginia Stands for Life prayer walk and rally, and helping with social media and video projects. Candidates for this position should be available at least two full days per week, but preferably more. The optimal candidate for this position would be organized and self-motivated, able to work without constant supervision, and have some skill in research and writing. Both credit and non-credit internships are welcome. Parking is provided and housing can be arranged if necessary.

Page Program (High School)

Pages are responsible for the efficient maintenance of information within The Family Foundation's General Assembly Operations Room and information exchange between The Family Foundation and the members of the General Assembly. Pages assist Family Foundation legislative staff in the accomplishment of their daily tasks, delivery of information to the General Assembly building, and administrative responsibilities in the development department. Pages are encouraged to work at least two (half or full) days per week. The more days a page is in the office, the more he or she will learn and experience.

Tomorrow Is Almost Here: The Election Is In Your Hands

What seems like one of the longest presidential campaigns in history comes to a conclusion tomorrow (we hope!) as Americans go to the polls. Pundits and prognosticators are predicting a close election, with Virginia being one of the states that the experts believe is still hanging in the balance. As national Christian leaders remarked last week, one state — Virginia — can determine the outcome of the entire country's future. Does that motivate you to vote and get others to the polls? I know I don't have to tell you about the importance of tomorrow's vote. Obviously our nation is in a tenuous place, morally and economically, and whether or not one election can change our course or not remains to be seen, but we have a clear choice between presidential candidates on both moral and economic issues. For weeks, The Family Foundation Action has worked to ensure that pro-family, pro-life voters are identified, educated and mobilized. I know pastors around Virginia have been encouraging their congregations to vote the principles of life, marriage and religious liberty when they make their decisions tomorrow.

If you haven’t yet, please review our 2012 Presidential and U.S. Senate Voter Guide at vavotes.net and be sure that your friends and family have seen it as well. I believe it presents very clearly where the candidates for President and the U.S. Senate stand on issues that are important to you and me.

Please remember the new voter ID requirements in Virginia. You can learn more about what you need to bring with you to vote at the State Board of Elections website. Also, if you have any doubt about your polling station's location, please click here to find it. It's important that you show up at the right place! Polls are open from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m.

Remember also that there are two state constitutional amendments on the ballot. The Family Foundation Action supports both. Question 1 would protect property rights and limit the government’s power of eminent domain. You can read more about this amendment by clicking here and here.

Question 2 is a technical change to the constitution regarding when the General Assembly’s veto session is held during years when veto session falls on a religious holiday.

Everyone who walks into a voting booth tomorrow will "vote values." The question is whether they will vote for the things they value or the things God values.

The answer is now in your hands.

 

Paid for by The Family Foundation Action and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

 

Do It Today: Register To Vote!

With this election being one of the most important in our lifetimes, it is imperative that pro-life, pro-family Virginians register to vote, make an informed decision and cast their ballots on November 6. Just as other demographic groups are mobilizing, Christians should fully participate in faithful citizenship in our representative democracy. It is our Christian duty to fully participate in our country's future.

But while Election Day is less than a month away, today is the deadline to register to vote! 

If you are not registered to vote, or know of people who are not — members of your church, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors — use and share this information. Too much is at stake in this election. Know the issues. Educate others. Register to vote and cast your ballot! You can learn more at The Family Foundation Action's voter education site, vavotes.net.

If you haven't already done so, register to vote today! If your friends, family, and neighbors haven’t yet registered and are eligible, let them know that today is the deadline! Won't you take a few minutes out of your day today to download a form, fill it out and ensure it is postmarked by today? Or forward this information to others and encourage them to register? Or even go in person to your local registrar, library or DMV, and maybe take someone with you for such a crucial election that will impact not only our future, but our present? It's simple:

To register to vote, click this link to visit the Virginia State Board of Elections website, print the form that will appear and get it postmarked by today; or go by your local registrar's office, public library or DMV to pick up a voter registration form. Click here for more information.

Then encourage others to do so: Forward them this link via e-mail or post it on your social media sites. But please be sure to register to vote, then cast your ballot. If you are not available to vote on November 6, you can vote in advance (click here to learn more).

For the time being, though, be sure to register to vote. Then examine the candidates for all offices: President, U.S. Senate, House of Representative, and any local offices that may be on the ballot in your city, county or town, as well as the all-important ratification vote to secure your property rights from eminent domain in the Virginia Constitution. Click here to view our 2012 Voter Guide to learn which candidates will take responsibility for the issues that face our nation today and best reflect your foundational Judeo-Christian principles.

Gala Update: 24 Hours And Counting To Get Your Tickets

Tickets are still available for The Family Foundation of Virginia Annual Gala, but you need to act quickly! Fox News contributor and AFR Talk Radio host Sandy Rios will emcee and former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Santorum is known for his courage to stand for life, marriage, family and faith whatever the cost — personal or political. He has consistently and eloquently fought the battle in the public arena, often by himself. His inspirational and motivational story is sure to increase the level of enthusiasm and momentum we now have here in Virginia to further the pro-life, pro-family, traditional values movement. Here's a sample of Mr. Santorum's dogged defense of the traditional family and saying what many are afraid to admit: That stable, traditional families are the foundation of a stable, civil and prosperous country.

 What the politicians won't say: The truth — that traditional families are the key to a stable, civil and prosperous country.

We hope to see you Saturday evening for a spectacular evening of food, fellowship and discussion. Tickets and information are available online by clicking here or by calling The Family Foundation at (804) 343-0010. But hurry. The Gala is just a few days away and there’s no time to wait!

Gala Update: New Santorum Book Autographed And Discounted; Fox News Contributor Sandy Rios To Emcee

This Saturday, Rick Santorum will personally sign a copy of his new book, American Patriots, for you. We even have the book for a discount off the list price — only $15! But you need to register right now for The Family Foundation's Annual Gala, where he will be the keynote speaker. More than 1,100 pro-family Virginians will be uniting to show the liberal mainstream media we're not discouraged by their cooked polls.

Family Foundation Gala keynote speaker Rick Santorum explains the fundamental connection between the traditional family and marriage with the economy and everything else.

We also are pleased to announce that Fox News contributor Sandy Rios will emcee the Gala. Host of Sandy Rios in the Morning on AFR Talk, Mrs. Rios writes for The Daily Caller, Townhall.com and Real Clear Politics, and has appeared on a number of conservative talk shows, including The Sean Hannity Show, The Glenn Beck Show and The O'Reilly Factor. She is a past president of Concerned Women for America.

Family Foundation Gala emcee Sandy Rios on Fox News defending unborn life and refuting taxpayer funded birth control against liberal myths. 

We hope to see you Saturday evening for a spectacular evening of food, fellowship and discussion. Tickets and information are available online by clicking here or by calling Candace at The Family Foundation at (804) 343-0010. But hurry. The Gala is just a few days away and there's no time to wait!

General Assembly Votes to Ensure Judicial Integrity

Tuesday morning with the clock approaching 2:00, the House of Delegates voted to not appoint to a judgeship Tracy Thorne-Begland (see roll call vote). After spending more than twelve hours debating and voting on budget amendments and discussing issues in their respective caucuses, retired military members of the House led the charge during debate over Mr. Thorne-Begland, expressing serious concerns over his actions while a member of the U.S. Military. As we posted late last week, Mr. Thorne-Begland has a long history of political activism and received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy after going on national television to announce that he had violated federal law, the so-called "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy enthusiastically signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in the early 1990s. More recently, he has made public statements that reveal a personal political agenda that runs contrary to the Virginia Constitution and statute. Many of these concerns did not come to light until after he had been deemed qualified to be a judge by the General Assembly's Courts of Justice Committees.

Today, Virginia Democrats and Equality Virginia lashed out at General Assembly members and The Family Foundation for last night’s votes. Unable to answer the concerns about Mr. Thorne-Begland’s statements, they have predictably resorted to name-calling. Democrat Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran said:

It is difficult to consider last night's vote without using the word "bigoted," just as it's difficult to consider this period of unified Republican government without using the word "disaster.”

Senator Donald McEachin (D-8, Richmond), who put forth Mr. Thorne-Begland's name to be a judge in the first place, said:

The GOP took Virginia back to the bigotry and mean-spirited prejudice of the 1960s.

Delegate Mark D. Sickles, (D-43, Fairfax) said in a statement:

And, it shows that legislators are more concerned about the Family Foundation scorecard than Richmond's District Court.

Equality Virginia also took aim at The Family Foundation, saying:

(The legislature) allowed fear mongering and shrill personal attacks by the Family Foundation … to derail Richmond lawyer Tracy Thorne-Begland’s election to the bench simply because he is an out gay man.

Of course, our position since this was first brought to our attention last week has been concern about public statements and political activity, and a violation of the military oath, that demonstrate a willingness to put a personal political agenda above all else. That was our concern. On Friday, Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) also announced public concerns over the nomination and spoke in opposition to it during last night's debate.

Former military members of the House of Delegates, led by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), Rich Anderson (R-51, Woodbridge) and Mark Dudenhefer (R-2, Stafford), spoke passionately during the House floor debate about their concern over Thorne-Begland’s violation of his military oath. Each made the case that the real issues here concerned integrity, truth, duty and an oath of office. The integrity of the courts was at stake with this vote, they argued.

Several legislators worked for several days to bring to light the concerns over this nomination. We thank each of those legislators who worked both behind the scenes and took strong public stands in the face of vile attacks by liberals.

As has been the case almost since the day after conservatives won majorities in the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate in November, Virginia liberals have been on the rhetorical attack. Regardless of the issue, they resort to mean-spirited name-calling, misinformation and bullying. They redefine issues and assert false motivations to their opponents. After losing election after election, you would think Virginia's Left would finally figure out that they are on the wrong side of these issues, but with the help of some in the Mainstream Media and the editorial pages, they continue to attack pro-family legislators simply for standing up for the truth. Their hope is, of course, that Virginians will be bullied into silence on these important issues.

The General Assembly is tasked with reviewing and certifying judges. If that is little more than a rubber stamp, it means nothing. It has a duty to block judges deemed unqualified or unfit for the bench. Last night, legislators simply did their job.

Governor McDonnell Signs Religious Liberty Protections

Governor Bob McDonnell yesterday signed into law one of The Family Foundation's highest legislative priorities for 2012 — conscience protections for faith-based child placement agencies (SB 349 and HB 189). With the governor's signature the bill becomes law on July 1. The law provides strong, explicit conscience protections for adoption and foster care agencies, ensuring those agencies cannot be forced to violate their beliefs, nor punished for following them when placing children. It also means that birthparents and prospective adoptive parents can continue to choose agencies that share their values.

Please click here to thank Governor McDonnell for signing the legislation.

Also, please send a note of thanks to the patrons of the legislation. Both Senator Jeff McWaters (R-8, Virginia Beach) and Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) withstood the hysteria of the homosexual lobby, its defenders in the legislature and their bullying tactics to see this legislation through. They deserve a great deal of appreciation for standing firm during a difficult battle — one where opponents attempted dozens of amendments that would have watered down the bill and used misleading rhetoric to describe the legislation. These are not easy battles to fight, and legislators who are willing to stand tall and carry these important pro-family bills must receive our gratitude (not only now, but during the session, as well, when the heat is the hottest). It's not easy to pass a bill of this magnitude, much less in its first year, but 93 out of the General Assembly's 140 legislators voted for legislation.

Click here to send a thank you note to Senator McWaters (SB 349).

Click here to send a thank you note to Delegate Gilbert (HB 189).

Faith-based child placement agencies do incredible work helping children and families, and have done so for decades.  Unfortunately, because of these ministries' belief that children should have both a mom and a dad, homosexual activists unsuccessfully tried to shut them down last year through the state's regulatory process. This tremendous victory for religious freedom comes as we witness the Obama administration's unprecedented attack on the free exercise of faith in the public square and, in fact, is forcing religious institutions into actions contrary to their beliefs. As a result of this legislation, Virginia has shielded regulations with a stature and will be one of only two states to provide conscience protections for faith-based child placement agencies. We hope that our victory will serve as a model for other states.

We also would like to express our appreciation to our friends at the Virginia Catholic Conference for their tremendous advocacy on this issue, as well as leaders from numerous faith-based organizations across Virginia who came to Richmond multiple times to testify, strategize and provide wise counsel regarding their marvelous work.

Governor McDonnell's signing of this important legislation is a tremendous victory for religious liberty and an affirmation of the critical role faith-based organizations play in providing hope and security for thousands of children and families in Virginia. The governor and the General Assembly have recognized the importance of ensuring these agencies continue to do the marvelous work they have done for decades.

Regardless of the assertions of opponents, this legislation does not in any way change current law regarding who can adopt in Virginia; it simply confirms that faith-based agencies will not be discriminated against by the state simply for acting according to their faith principles. While the media will likely parrot the false claims of legislators and opponents to this new law, the truth is that this bill simply protects the status quo. We thank Governor McDonnell for his support of this legislation throughout the process and for signing it into law (click here to send him a note of thanks).

 

Winning DOES Matter: Starting Tomorrow, Help Change The Future Of Virginia!

Yesterday, we wrote about some of the plans already in place by The Family Foundation Action, as well as some that will happen a bit later during the campaign season, to ensure that pro-life, pro-family legislators are elected during this November's General Assembly elections — particularly in the Virginia Senate. As they say, if you want to change Virginia, change the Virginia Senate. This year presents a superior opportunity to elect a conservative majority (on the full spectrum of issues) to the entire General Assembly. The Winning Matters 2011 voter education and mobilization campaign is more than handing out voter guides and report cards (or sharing them online), as important as that is. To realize the momentous goal we envision requires a team and that means the involvement of as many grassroots activists and concerned citizens as possible. Toward that end, we have joined with two of the nation's best grassroots training organizations — The Leadership Institute and American Majority — to teach several grassroots workshops in the next several weeks. Participants will learn a full range of important campaign functions, the same tactics campaign professionals use: everything from get-out-the-vote secrets, social media tools, coalition building and more.

You know, your basic community organizing. So, please plan on joining us at a workshop near you. You will find it very informative, eye opening and of inestimable value in affecting this November's 2011 General Assembly elections — and by extension, the direction of the commonwealth.

Fredericksburg: American Majority

This Saturday, July 16, at Faith Baptist Church, 4105 Plank Road, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Advance registration, only $25, includes lunch and all training materials. Click here to register.

Martinsville/Collinsville: Leadership Institute

Saturday, August 6, at Collinsville Victory Fellowship Church, 3790 Virginia Avenue, beginning at 9:00 am. When registering, enter "family" in the promotion code box on the right side of the page and click "submit code" prior to filling out any other information. This will entitle you to The Family Foundation discount cost of only $10! Click here to register.

Salem/Roanoke: Leadership Institute

Saturday, August 13, at National College, 1813 East Main Street in Salem, beginning at 9:00 a.m. When registering, type "family" in the promotion code box on the right side of the page and click "submit code" prior to filling out any other information. This will entitle you to The Family Foundation discount cost of only $10! Click here to register.

Fairfax: American Majority

Saturday, August 20, at Centreville Baptist Church, 15100 Lee Highway, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Advance registration, only $25, includes lunch and all training materials. Click here to register.

Newport News: Leadership Institute

Saturday, August 27, at the Academy of Dance, 12877 Jefferson Avenue, beginning at 9:00 a.m. When registering, type "family" in the promotion code box on the right side of the page and click "submit code" prior to filling out any other information. This will entitle you to The Family Foundation discount cost of only $10! Click here to register.

TFF Action Report Cards Go To Second Printing, Winning Matters Already Up And Running!

At the May press conference where we released The Family Foundation Action's 2011 General Assembly Report Card, it was suggested by one reporter that the document was no longer relevant (see video). It only took one month, but we proved him completely wrong, showing that conservative grassroots activists in Virginian are engaged in an unprecedented manner for the off-off-off year General Assembly elections in November — where control of the Virginia Senate is at stake. The Family Foundation Action printed, then distributed 60,000 Report Cards throughout the commonwealth, but only four weeks later ordered a second printing of 60,000 more. A waiting list for copies proved The Report Card clearly is in very high demand. By the time this year's elections are over, we may exceed our largest ever Report Card printing and distribution: The current record is 100,000 copies in 2009, a statewide election that drew national media attention. Several candidates for statewide office then had voting records reflected in the Report Card (these numbers do not reflect how many Report Cards were/are viewed or downloaded from TFF Action's web site). So, a great big thank you to everyone who has purchased Report Cards and distributed them to your church or civic groups.

The Family Foundation Action also recently placed its first two 2011 Winning Matters field staff — one in the Hampton Roads and one in Martinsville — as part one in its election year voter education and mobilization plan. The field staff will connect with churches and other groups to organize voter registration drives, distribute voter education materials (including the Report Card and voter guides), and get out the vote efforts. TFFAction's plan is to place many more field staff throughout Virginia to ensure that pro-family, pro-life voters are educated and mobilized for November's crucial elections. In addition, The Family Foundation and Family Foundation Action have several grassroots and pastor training classes scheduled for July, August and September in Fredericksburg, Roanoke, Fairfax, Hampton Roads, Danville and Martinsville.

In 2009, pro-family Virginians turned out in record numbers, in part, due to the Winning Matters campaign. TFF Action's plan this year is to expand on those efforts, as there still are vast numbers of Christian conservatives unregistered to vote (and your engagement to get them registered will be crucial). Those members of the General Assembly who think that so-called values issues don't matter are in for a rude awakening. Pro-family Virginians are looking forward to sending a very clear message this November, particularly in Virginia Senate races.

Copies of the Report Card are available by contacting The Family Foundation Action at 804-343-0010 or at the TFF Action web site. Don't worry about supplies. TFFAction will print more and they can be downloaded, e-mailed and posted to social media sites as well.

Just last week, Planned Parenthood announced it had placed one new field staff in the Roanoke area. No doubt that this $1 billion organization will do all it can to defeat pro-life candidates this November. We must ensure that pro-life, pro-family Virginians are educated and mobilized to elect candidates who believe in protecting human life. We cannot let Planned Parenthood and their cohorts at NARAL-Pro Choice Virginia reverse the victories we have enjoyed!

If you would like to contribute financially to our efforts please click here to our secure donation page.

Are Your Legislators 100-Percenters? It's Never Too Late To Say Thank You!

The Family Foundation Action released its 2010-2011 General Assembly Report Card in late spring and several delegates and senators scored a 100 percent pro-family voting record. That's quite a commitment to the pro-family, limited government philosophy — lawmakers were "scored" on 20 key votes over the 2010 and 2011 sessions of the General Assembly. It also shows the consistency that comes from holding fast to time-honored conservative principles. While it is still the political "off season," and the time consuming and hectic nature of campaigns and legislating is taking just a bit of a break, we encourage you to, if you haven't already, look over the Report Card (click here) and see how your delegate and senator fared. If either or both scored reasonably high, you may want to drop them a thank you note. If either or both scored 100 percent, you really should send them a thank you note.

When the General Assembly is in town each winter, we encourage pro-family Virginians to engage and stay in touch with their legislators. But asking them to vote for or against certain bills isn't all that staying engaged means. It also means thanking them, when deserved, for a job well done. They will appreciate it and you will establish an even more credible relationship with them.

So, please contact them and thank them for their support of pro-life, pro-family, limited government legislation. Because of their 100 percent voting record, we are able to celebrate many important legislative victories. From abortion center safety to property rights protections, Virginia is a better place to live today because of the pro-family votes of your representative.

Our elected officials take a lot of criticism, so in these days of hyper-anti-politician sentiment (and soon-to-come campaign smears from the hyper-left), it's important to encourage and support those elected officials who vote our shared values and take strong stands on values-based issues. Please take just a couple of minutes to look up your legislators' score and thank those who scored high, especially the "100-percenters."

Look up your delegate and senator

Look up their 2010-2011 Family Foundation Action Report Card scores

Our Gala Speaker On October 8th Is . . .

Herman Cain!

Pastor, radio host, business mastermind, CEO, non-politician, and a champion for pro-life, pro-family policies, Herman Cain is a rising star within the conservative movement and a favorite amongst the Tea Party. While likely best known for his role as former chairman and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Mr. Cain also is remembered as the one who articulately challenged former President Bill Clinton on the negative effects of HillaryCare on small businesses during a widely publicized nationally televised town hall forum in 1994.

Not one to mince words, Mr. Cain recently spoke at The Heritage Foundation (see Heritage.org) and blasted Planned Parenthood. Referring to Planned Parenthood's founding purpose of killing black babies, Mr. Cain said, "It's not Planned Parenthood. No, it's planned genocide. You can quote me on that." (See Talking Points Memo.) He supports fully defunding Planned Parenthood.

A real life rags-to-riches story, he is the son of a chauffeur and a cleaner who has not always had life easy. However, he has accomplished much in his 66 years: a Masters degree from Purdue University, service in the U.S. Navy, associate pastor at a Baptist church, beating stage IV cancer, several executive positions at major corporations, president of the National Restaurant Association, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and senior advisor for the 1996 Dole-Kemp presidential campaign to name only a few of his significant accomplishments. A Georgia native, he is married to his wife, Gloria, and his a father and grandfather.

You won't want to miss hearing Herman Cain address the annual Family Foundation Galaon Saturday evening, October 8, in Richmond (see today's Richmond Times-Dispatch). As with the last two years when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Congressman Mike Pence inspired crowds of 1,000, Herman Cain's personal story will encourage, motivate and energize you for the future. Join other like-minded folks at this one-of-a-kind event that has become a "must attend" for conservative Virginians and a "who’s who" for politicians and elected officials.

The Gala will again be held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Details, including information on sponsorship packages, tickets and program advertisements, will be forthcoming in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, we hope you'll reserve this date on your calendar.

Additional information also will be provided via e-mail and online at our Gala page (click here). To receive the information by mail, please call us at (804) 343-0010 or e-mail Gala@FamilyFoundation.org.

Family Foundation's 2011 General Assembly Report Released

Each year, The Family Foundation compiles a General Assembly report — essentially a retelling of the past session along with Family Foundation commentary and insider information. We recently released our 2011 report, Strong Families, Strong Virginia (click here). With our digital version, as with last year's report, some images are interactive — a click will direct you to related videos of committee hearings, Family Foundation television interviews, candidate campaign promises and more (all of which are archived on our YouTube channel). This integrated, digital approach provides an insider look at this past General Assembly session and provides as thorough a review as can be found anywhere as to what happened and what effect the actions taken will have on pro-family Virginians. To order a hard copy of Strong Families, Strong Virginia, send $3.00 (cash or check, to cover printing and shipping expenses) to: The Family Foundation, 919 East Main Street, Suite 1110, Richmond, VA, 23219 (write “2011 GA Report” in the memo line or include a note). You also can pay online by credit card by clicking here (be sure to type “2011 GA Report” in the comments box).

Religious Freedom In Virginia Adoption Protected, Sexual Orientation Not

Late this afternoon, the Virginia Board of Social Services voted 7-2 to accept new regulations for adoption agencies that do not include formerly proposed non-discrimination protections for homosexuals. This is a victory for religious liberty and means that faith-based adoption agencies can continue serving Virginia's children and families without being forced to violate their faith principles. The previously proposed regulations that included sexual behavior protections were replaced by Commissioner of Social Services Martin Brown after it came to light that adding sexual orientation to protected status would have been in conflict with existing federal and state law, and the Virginia Marriage Amendment. The attorney general's office issued a letter to the board informing it of the conflict and, acting on that advice, as well as public comment, the commissioner made the appropriate changes.

At the board meeting, representatives from The Family Foundation, the Virginia Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities of Arlington, the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists, America World Adoption and Bethany Christian Services testified against the original proposal that would have forced faith-based adoption agencies to either ignore their faith principles regarding marriage and sexual behavior or stop serving families and children. Organizations that serve children and families provided particularly compelling testimony. Andrew Brown, of America World Adoption, said that making sexual behavior a protected class would decrease the number of loving families available to adopt wanted, parentless children by forcing faith-based adoption agencies out of business.

However, the vote did not come without debate, beginning this morning with a failed motion to postpone the vote until August and ending late today with arguments by proponents of the sexual orientation language that they had not had enough time to review the new regulations. Representatives of Equality Virginia, the Gay Community Center of Richmond, Mothers and Others, and other groups argued that faith-based organizations should not be allowed to "discriminate" by following their beliefs. But homosexuals in Virginia can adopt — they must go through state or non-faith-based private agencies.

The most vocal proponent of homosexual protections was social services board member Trudy Brisendine, who made the argument that she had not had time to review the new regulations. This despite the fact that the previous proposal had been initiated by outgoing Governor Tim Kaine in December of 2009 and that regulations had been open for public comment since January. She asked, embarrassingly, at one point how a "child placing agency" is defined, requiring the board's legal counsel to point out that the definition was on page two of the proposal. It is certainly concerning that someone who has the power to vote on regulations that oversee “child placing agencies” doesn't know how they are defined or had not read the proposal thoroughly to know the term was defined — and at the beginning of the proposal no less. While her lack of preparation most likely won't make the news, imagine if that question came from a pro-family board member.

We thank the seven board members who voted correctly, the McDonnell administration and the attorney general for their attention to this matter, Commissioner Brown, and our pro-family partners who have worked tirelessly over the past several weeks on this important issue.

BREAKING NEWS: Senate Adopts Abstinence Education On 21-20 Vote!

It was a pro-life, pro-family sweep today at the reconvened "Veto" session of the General Assembly tonight. In addition to a dramatic abortion limiting 21-20 vote within the last hour, the Virginia Senate earlier voted by the same margin to concur with Governor McDonnell and the House of Delegates to restore abstinence education funding that former Governor Tim Kaine cut out of the state budget. As with the vote to ban taxpayer dollars from use in elective abortions in the ObamaCare state run health insurance exchanges, all 18 Republicans were joined by pro-life Democrats Phillip Puckett and Chuck Colgan to get to the magic number of 20 votes and a tie in the chamber allowing pro-life Lt. Governor Bill Bolling to break the tie in favor of the amendment. The funding, match money corresponding to a federal grant, was initially presented in the House budget but, in the final days of session, Senate conferees stripped it out in budget negotiations. But today, the House reiterated its position by a 69-29 vote, which sent it to the Senate. Senator Colgan (D-29, Manassas), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the amendment and urged its passage. Pro-abortion Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington) rebutted the argument, parroting Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Rights Action League, which claim abstinence education is ineffective (despite an Obama administration study that says otherwise).

The Family Foundation thanks Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, and the members of the House and Senate who ensured the success of these two important pieces of legislation that soon will become law, as well as all committed pro-life, pro-family Virginians who answered our call to contact their state legislators this week. More to come tomorrow about today's exciting developments.

Another Black Thursday? Life Bills in Senate Education And Health Committee Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning in Senate Room B beginning at 8:30, the Senate Education  and Health Committee will vote on three remaining life bills. Not known for its dedication to the sanctity of life, thus the moniker Committee of Death, makes Thursday's battle is an uphill climb. In fact, it typically waits until the last committee meeting of session each year to kill House pro-life bills, i.e., "Black Thursday." However, despite its reputation, it's important that each of the 15 senators on this committee hear from Virginia citizens who value life. Click here to get committee members' contact information and urge them to support HB2147, HB1428, and HB1440 Here is a short description of the bills the committee will vote on:   Abortion Funding Opt-Out for ObamaCare ObamaCare puts states in charge (see ObamaCare Lies) of their own health insurance exchanges for individuals and small businesses. If enacted today, Virginia potentially could include in its exchange health insurance plans that cover elective abortion. Pro-family citizens opposed to abortion would be mandated to fund this unethical destruction of human life. HB2147, patroned by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Rockbridge) is a bill that would prevent insurance plans in the Virginia health insurance exchange from providing abortion coverage. Five states have taken this step and several more are considering doing so, while Maryland and Pennsylvania will allow abortion coverage. This bill passed the House 60-36-2, but the Senate version died earlier this session in this committee 10-5.   Abortion Center Safety HB1428, patroned by Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Augusta), requires the regulation of abortion centers. This bill has only three simple conditions: an annual inspection, a requirement of life saving equipment on premises, and licensure by a state regulatory agency. Abortion center safety has received increased attention recently due to two unrelated events: a botched abortion originating in New Jersey and a "horror shop" abortion center in Philadelphia. Virginians must demand a higher level of professionalism and medical aptitude from abortion providers and facilities. This bill passed the House 66-33.   Wrongful Death HB1440, patroned by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) is a bill that would provide protection (civil recourse) for the unborn in cases where they lose their life due to the negligence of another. While Virginia's Code does include a fetal homicide law, the same unborn life, taken without intention or premeditation, elicits no civil penalty. Improving our civil law to recognize fetal manslaughter is essential. An unborn life is not only of value when it is wanted by the mother or when it is intentionally killed. This bill passed 62-36-1 in the House, but the Senate version died 10-5 earlier this session in this committee.