If same-sex marriage became legal today, would your church and pastor be protected from lawsuits brought by homosexual activists? In June, the U.S. Supreme Court may decide that homosexual marriage should be a legal right in all 50 states, a decision that would threaten the religious liberty of all who support Biblical values. However, legal experts suggest there are several ways to protect your church from possible sexual-orientation discrimination lawsuits. Alliance Defending Freedom has published several suggestions and guidelines for what churches should add to their bylaws in order for them to protect their religious beliefs. ADF believes there are seven essential items every church should include in its bylaws, including a formal church membership policy and a statement about the church's religious beliefs regarding marriage. For more information, click here and share this information with your pastor and church leaders and even more details are available at the link in the first paragraph.
In a surprise vote Monday afternoon, the Senate General Laws Committee, by a vote of 8-7, reported SB 701 to the full Senate. This bill would add sexual orientation to the state's hiring policy of non-discrimination. A similar bill died in the same committee last year, but Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester) changed her vote. If this bill is successful, it would be the first time in Virginia history that sexual orientation would be elevated to a protected class in the law. A vote is likely by the end of the week.
Debates over similar legislation during the last several legislative sessions revealed no evidence of widespread discrimination. In fact, according to The Washington Post, there are "thousands of homosexuals" working in state government. Both previous governors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, signed executive orders against discrimination, and Governor Bob McDonnell issued an executive directive stating that his administration will not discriminate against homosexuals. In fact, since 1992, a span of 18 years, an allegation of discrimination has taken place at a rate of just over one per year, and few, if any, have been found to be true discrimination.
This is a solution in search of a problem.
In addition, SB 701 will open the Commonwealth of Virginia to costly litigation by people who fail to qualify for employment but sue the state based on this proposal. SB 701 would open private businesses and faith-based entities to similar litigation. The words of an Equality Virginia lobbyist reveal the true intent of the legislation: she stated that voting for the bill that would add sexual orientation to the state government hiring policy was a "baby step."
A baby step toward what? In response, we presented the committee with the argument that passing the legislation is a "baby step" toward requiring private businesses, and faith-based ministries that receive state funding, to hire homosexuals. This has already happened in other states, including our neighbor Maryland.
Elevating sexual orientation to a protected class, despite the fact that homosexuality is not immutable, would create an entirely new level of protection — protection based on one's sexual behavior. Senators need to hear from you today!
When the General Assembly convenes tomorrow, there will be at least one social issue that the media and the radical secular left will be promoting — adding sexual orientation to the Commonwealth's "non-discrimination" laws. While spun by groups like Equality Virginia as simply allowing "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Virginians to be who they are, have a more secure financial future and build stronger families," changing the Commonwealth's current law to be even more expansive than federal protections brings a host of problems to Virginia. Current Virginia non-discrimination laws mirror federal law for a variety of reasons, including court precedent. In Virginia, evidence that discrimination against homosexuals is taking place in state government, or anywhere for that matter, is less than compelling. According to the Department of Human Resource Management, which tracks allegations of discrimination, from 1992 forward there were 24 registered complaints based on sexual orientation, amounting for fewer than 2 per year. Among these 24 complaints in an 18-year period, not all complaints can be assumed to be founded. In fact, from July 1, 2009 – March 9, 2010, only three complaints of sexual orientation discrimination were filed; and as of the March date, none had been deemed "founded."
Even The Washington Post admits that . . .
thousands of homosexuals work in state government.
Testimony on this kind of legislation in past General Assembly sessions has essentially been about a "fear" of discrimination, a fear not based on actual incidents of discrimination. Sadly, much of that fear is fueled more by the scare tactic fundraising efforts of groups like Equality Virginia than it is by reality. Unfortunately, while Governor Bob McDonnell has made it expressly clear that discrimination in his administration will not be tolerated, and evidence of discrimination is non-existent, some homosexual state workers live in fear because of the rhetoric of homosexual rights groups. In fact, a few weeks ago, Equality Virginia sent out a fundraising e-mail alert focusing on our opposition to adding sexual orientation to "non-discrimination" laws.
Unfortunately, recent incidents across the nation have exposed the agenda of militant homosexual rights groups as being about far more than "equality" or "stronger families." It is very clear, after viscous rhetorical attacks on businesses that simply adhere to a traditional view of family structure, the attempted public humiliation and job discrimination against people who simply sign petitions that support marriage amendments, or the attempt to force faith-based ministries that help families and children to abandon their beliefs about family structure, there is far more to the "non-discrimination" effort that meets the eye.
While theoretically, the General Assembly will attempt to avoid "social issues" at the bequest of political pundits and the media, it will be interesting to see if those same media types and pundits label the "non-discrimination" effort as "distracting" and "divisive" social issues that should be avoided. Regardless, we will stand up to the hateful rhetoric of the secular left and encourage the General Assembly to maintain our current law.
As we told you last week, this Friday, the Virginia State Board of Health will vote to finalize permanent safety standards for Virginia’s abortion centers. Since the start of the effort to finally bring some level of health and safety to these facilities, the largest entity in the abortion industry — Planned Parenthood — has claimed that upgrading their facilities to meet minimum safety standards would be too costly. I guess it's all about where you spend your money.
Interestingly, today, the people of North Dakota will vote on an amendment to their state constitution that protects religious liberty and would ensure that faith-based organizations that faithfully and effectively provide services to the poor, needy, underserved and orphaned are not discriminated against by the state.
And guess what organization is the largest single financial contributor to the opposition to the amendment?
Planned Parenthood. To the tune of $1 million!
To put that in perspective, the ACLU has given one-tenth that amount and the largest individual donation from an actual citizen of North Dakota is $1,000.
NARAL, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and other radically secular and pro-abortion groups are also working to oppose religious freedom, but not nearly to the level of Planned Parenthood. Of course, Planned Parenthood has a budget of over $1 billion (a third of which comes from you, the taxpayer) to throw around.
Unfortunately, it appears unwilling to spend some of that money toward improving health standards at its abortion centers in Virginia, or elsewhere, but instead are spending it on opposing religious liberty.
This effort exposes Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry as being just as anti-religious liberty as their leftist friends. One of their primary targets has been faith-based pregnancy resource centers that offer alternatives to abortion, real support for women in crisis, and life-affirming counseling. They are the biggest threat to the abortion industry's bottom line, and Planned Parenthood has sought to shut these facilities down all over the country, including here in Virginia.
Interestingly, opponents have also argued that the amendment would allow "conservative church entities to opt out of anti-discrimination laws and other legislation intended to advance the public good" (anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation). Yet, we've been told over and over again in Virginia by supporters of so-called anti-discrimination laws that churches and religious organizations are safe and not their target.
Not that we believed them.
Please pray for the people of North Dakota today as they vote on this important — and precedent-setting amendment.
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.
Just two months before leaving office, former Governor Tim Kaine left Virginians an unwanted present in the form of proposed changes to adoption guidelines for private agencies (see the Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). These proposed regulations — by a Social Services Board still dominated by Mr.Kaine's appointees — slowly working their way through the process, seek to force private adoption agencies to place children in foster care or for adoption with parents irrespective of faith or sexual orientation. It would force faith-based adoption agencies to either abandon their principles or cease providing adoption services (as did Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, after more than 100 years, when that state's Supreme Court imposed such regulations by judicial fiat). The proposal under discussion here goes far beyond any policy currently in Virginia law. The Virginia Code clearly details who is eligible to adopt. In § 63.2-1201.1, it plainly states:
Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit any child to have more than two living parents by birth or adoption, who have legal rights and obligations in respect to the child, in the form of one father and one mother.
There is no mistaking Virginia's intent. The current regulatory proposal, which includes prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation, contradicts the intent of the General Assembly.
Nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, whether enshrined in law or implemented through internal constructs, and regardless of their legal weight, highlight the inevitable and unavoidable clash between the unalienable fundamental right of religious liberty and the postmodern era of sexual freedom. While one may agree or disagree with the actions of individuals or private organizations that express their faith in these ways, their fundamental right to do so is at risk with these proposed regulations. Faith-based family organizations have assisted children for decades without unnecessary intervention by government entities. It is very clear that homosexual special interest groups have no concern with preserving religious liberty in pursuit of their political agenda.
Upon learning about these proposed regulations weeks ago, The Family Foundation immediately contacted the governor's office. At that time, we were assured that Governor McDonnell does not support the current non-discrimination proposal and the current proposal would not stand. To ensure our voice was known where it needed to be, we submitted our official public comment and encouraged pastors to do so as well. After the public comment period closed, Governor Bob McDonnell publicly weighed in, telling the Washington Post:
I know I had said during the campaign that I would essentially keep our adoption laws — which I think are good — the way they are now. … I don’t think we ought to force Catholic Charities to make [the proposed regulations] part of their policy or other similar situated groups. Many of our adoption agencies are faith-based groups that ought to be able to establish what their own policies are. Current regulations that say you can't discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin I think are proper.
Since then, concern has mounted based on the circulation of incorrect information stating Governor McDonnell must act by April 15. However, this is an incorrect interpretation of a section of the Code (§ 2.2-4013) that details the time frame for the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action stage, not the proposed stage. The public comment website shows that the adoption regulations are completing the proposed stage, not the NOIRA stage.
A chart published by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget is extremely helpful in understanding how the circuitous regulatory process works: The proposed adoption regulations currently are in the bottom box of the middle column (not the second box of the first column). Correct reading of Virginia Code and regulatory process shows that the Board of Social Services has no less than 15 and no more than 180 days from April 1 (April 16 through September 28) to adopt the proposed regulations and submit them for full executive branch review. As displayed in column three of DPB's chart, the proposed regulations must then pass several more reviews prior to final acceptance, including reviews by DPB, the corresponding cabinet secretary, possibly by the attorney general (see Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's stated disapproval in the Washington Post) and the governor, then go through at least one more public comment period. The Department of Social Services already has amended the regulations and will present these changes to the Board of Social Services at an upcoming meeting. During any of these stages, the governor can reject or make changes to the proposal.
This adoption proposal, which tramples religious liberty, is a significant overreach through regulation into uncharted waters prohibited by Virginia Code and Virginia Constitution and will not be tolerated. The Family Foundation has been actively involved in seeing that these proposed regulations are not adopted and will continue to monitor the issue very closely.
If the past two days aren't evidence enough that the Virginia Senate must change, we honestly don't know what is. In a 48-hour period since Wednesday, the Senate, where Democrats hold a 22-18 majority, has passed several bills that undermine the values of Virginia while defeating common sense measures that would reduce the number of abortions and advance a culture of life. On Wednesday, it passed legislation adding sexual orientation to state government's non-discrimination law (SB 747), a bill that gives state government agencies the ability to provide domestic partner benefits (SB 1122), and a proposal that is an attack on Virginia's abstinence centered family life education policy (SB 967).
In yesterday's Senate Education and Health Committee, five pro-life bills were defeated, including legislation that would have provided women seeking an abortion an opportunity to view an ultrasound (SB 1435); created wrongful death protections for the unborn (SB 1207 and SB 1378); and criminalized the act of coercing someone to have an abortion (SB 1217). The committee also rejected a bill that would prohibit health insurance companies that provide elective abortion coverage from participating in the state-run exchanges required by President Obama's federal health insurance scheme (SB 1202).
As in past years, the Senate has proven to be a killing field for pro-family, pro-life legislation, as well as the source of bills that undermine Virginia's values. The question now becomes, are pro-family Virginians finally tired of this? If so, this November all 40 members of the Senate face re-election. Let's face it — having the truth and the facts on our side, having a professional team of advocates to influence legislators, having a grassroots network across Virginia simply isn't enough. We have to change the people who sit in that chamber.
This year is our opportunity to break through this barrier and change the future of Virginia. We need to add more conservative voices to the Senate. When it had a Republican majority in the past the outcome wasn't much better. We need principled conservatives in office. The Family Foundation and The Family Foundation Action will do everything possible to ensure that Virginians know exactly what the stakes are — and which candidates stand with us and which stand against us — as the elections approach. Please click here to learn more about our Ignite Campaign and how you can help.
Please also know that there are several members of the Senate (15) that voted with The Family Foundation on every one of the bills. We thank them for their stand on principle. We especially thank those Senators who carried pro-life legislation this year, including Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Ralph Smith (R-22, Botetourt) and Bill Stanley (R-19, Chatham).
Today, the Senate General Laws Committee considered two bills that are high priorities of the homosexual lobby in Virginia. One, SB 747, would add sexual orientation to the state's hiring policy of non-discrimination. In an 8-7, straight party line vote, the committee reported the bill to the full Senate. Testimony in favor of the bill varied from the usual members of Equality Virginia and homosexual state employees, to the Virginia Education Association (is this about educating "the children"?), a member of the AFL-CIO board and a Universalist Unitarian minister who stated that she represented, "I hope, all reasonable religions."
According to the Washington Post on October 30, 2009:
. . . state government, in which a 110,000-strong workforce undoubtedly includes thousands of homosexuals. ...
If testimony were to be taken at face value, one would believe that our state government operates under a "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy, where each of those thousands of employees would be fired when their orientation is discovered. However, no such policy exists and the facts confirm this.
According to the Department of Human Resource Management, which tracks allegations of discrimination, from 1992 forward there have been 24 registered complaints based on sexual orientation. Among these 24 complaints in an 18-year period, not all complaints can be assumed to be founded. From July 1, 2009-March 9, 2010 three complaints of sexual orientation discrimination were filed, but as the March date, none were deemed "founded." Should this bill be successful, it would be the first time in Virginia history that sexual orientation would be elevated to a protected class in the law. Thankfully, the committee did have the sense to defeat an even more comprehensive bill on sexual orientation non-discrimination. The bill, SB 797, would have added sexual orientation to Virginia's Human Rights Act, and in doing so, would potentially force faith-based organizations, religious daycare centers and schools to hire homosexuals against their conscience. While proponents claimed this would simply be a policy statement by the Commonwealth, everyone knows policy statements turn into judicial decisions, administrative regulations, and lead to future more detailed laws. The bill failed on a 7-7 vote, with Senator Chuck Colgan (D-29, Manassas) not voting.
Efforts to increasingly sexualize our children will be at an all time high this fall. The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization, recently selected its Richmond Chapter to conduct a pilot program to promote the homosexual agenda in 60 Central Virginia middle schools. GLSEN works through its local chapters with the goal of imposing its morality on today's youth. GLSEN explains its mission this way:
Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, we work to educate teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike. We recognize that forces such as racism and sexism have similarly adverse impacts on communities and we support schools in seeking to redress all such inequities.
"Heterosexism"? (For that matter, "impacts"?)
In the next few months, GLSEN Richmond will contact the guidance director of each of the targeted 60 middle schools and provide them with a "Safe Schools Kit." This kit contains information encouraging the guidance director to create a "safe environment" for "LGBTQ" (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or "questioning") students and specifically encouraging them to decrease bullying based on "real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity."
Delegate David Englin (D-45, Alexandria) introduced a bill in 2009 that singled out bullying on the basis of sexual orientation. A House sub-committee passed a substitute bill instead, since the General Assembly previously passed comprehensive bullying reform a few years prior that does not single out any particular group, but applies to all students equally. Bullying, no matter the content and no matter the target, is not tolerated in Virginia public schools, making GLSEN's middle school initiative that much more inappropriate and unnecessary.
GLSEN's materials regularly undermine both parental authority and religious teaching. They seek to separate children from their families and from their faith upbringing.
Is this what you've intended your tax dollars to be used for in our public schools? GLSEN is encouraging students to question and ultimately reject what they learn from their parents and church community regarding sexuality. While no child should be bullied, the fact is that GLSEN and other pro-homosexual groups are using harassment as a way to promote a dangerous lifestyle and attack the values taught by families across our commonwealth.
Contact the guidance department at your local middle school and urge them to reject the GLSEN "Safe Schools" agenda. Additionally, if you have a child enrolled in a Central Virginia public middle school, get especially involved in your child's education this fall and keep an eye on what your child is being taught. Our schools should be safe — in the true sense of the word — and our children protected from liberal indoctrination.
If you are interested in what former Governor Tim Kaine has been up to since he left office in January, below is a truncated version of a letter sent to DNC members recently. Let's just say he's taking a lot of "pride" in his work. The letter was sent for Mr. Kaine by Organizing for America, President Barack Obama's nationwide community organizing group, which is an official "project of the Democratic National Committee." The president also declared June "Gay Pride Month" (see CBN News).
From: Tim Kaine
Subject: Share your voice this Pride Month
LGBT Americans have helped build the Democratic Party into what it is today. And, as a leader of the party, I'm proud of our role in the struggle for equality.
That's why it's important to me — and to the future of this party — that we hear from you.
At times the pace of progress has not been as fast as some — myself included — would like. And, while equality cannot be achieved overnight, the President and our Democratic leaders in Congress have made important strides over the past 16 months to address barriers that LGBT Americans face.
- Last year, we passed the Matthew Shepherd & James Byrd, Jr., Federal Hate Crimes Act — which expanded the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation and gender identity and became the first federal law to provide protections for transgender Americans.
- In April, the President issued a directive, making critical changes to federal regulations and allowing gay and lesbian Americans to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners.
- And now we are on the verge of living up to President Obama's pledge to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The House just passed historic legislation to end this discriminatory policy, and the full Senate is getting ready to vote in the coming months.
But we are not satisfied. And we are not finished.
We must remain committed to making greater strides toward the fundamental American principle of equality.
Make your voice heard:
Thanks, and happy Pride Month,
Governor Tim Kaine
The Washington Post ran a recent Sunday edition story that suggested a chasm has developed between Governor Bob McDonnell and social conservatives. According to the article, some have become disheartened and feel the governor has let them down while others are more willing to be patient and give the governor time. So, what does The Family Foundation think of the governor's first 100 plus days? Understanding the context of events is always key to accurate analysis. So let’s remember that for the past eight years social conservatives in Virginia have been isolated from the governor's office. Both previous governors were at times openly hostile to traditional values issues. Governor Mark Warner gave $25,000 to the Commonwealth Coalition, the organization that opposed the Marriage Amendment, and regularly opposed our agenda (hear in his own words what he thinks of Christian conservatives). Governor Tim Kaine openly campaigned against the Marriage Amendment and also opposed much of our agenda (though he did work with us on several marriage initiatives). Add to that the fact that in November 2008 Virginians voted for Barack Obama for president, and political pundits (as usual) proclaimed social conservatism dead. Any candidate who wanted to win had to disavow caring about the unborn and marriage and stick to one thing and one thing only — money (well, the economy).
Enter Bob McDonnell. A long time friend of social conservatives and leader on many of our issues, values voters were energized by a candidate they could call "one of us." While campaigning, candidate McDonnell steered clear of social issues unless asked, focusing on exactly what the "experts" said he had to focus on — the economy. Some social conservatives expressed frustration that McDonnell wasn't more vocal on abortion and other social conservative causes, but many understood that the political climate was such that the majority of voters were most concerned about their personal well-being with an economy in recession and a federal government spending us into oblivion.
On Election Day, social conservatives voted for McDonnell in droves. Exit polling showed that nearly half of McDonnell's voters were self-identified evangelicals. Clearly, they believed that Bob McDonnell was going to be their guy in the Governor's Mansion. As with any constituency, those votes did not come without expectations, and they were high expectations at that.
Once sworn in, he went to work on his campaign promise to bring Virginians a balanced budget without higher taxes, and job development. Most agree that the governor has largely fulfilled those promises — though some are concerned with increased fees in the budget. During his administration's first General Assembly session the governor was relatively quiet on social issues, though his administration did vocally support abortion center safety legislation in the Senate Education and Health Committee. He also renewed an executive order concerning non-discrimination in state hiring practices, but did not include "sexual orientation" as had been done by the two previous governors (though Governor Warner did it in the last month of his administration).
Of course, things didn't go perfectly for the new administration. Social conservatives were particularly disappointed that he chose to issue an "executive directive" concerning hiring practices that included "sexual orientation," and we explained those concerns to him both publically and privately. He did, however, sign the Health Care Freedom Act, the first legislation of its kind in the nation that hopefully will protect Virginians from being forced by the federal government to purchase health insurance. He also protected Virginians from being forced to pay for low-income elective abortions (a major pro-life victory) and ensured that Planned Parenthood can't use the money they make off of their new license plate to perform abortions.
Now, we are just passed the first four months of his four-year term, and some conservatives are expressing disappointment, even outrage, with the governor's actions thus far. Interestingly, I was interviewed for the Post article long before its publication date, and at the time, we were encouraging the governor's office to take a more pro-active approach on social conservative issues. In particular, the discussion surrounded the pro-life budget amendments the governor chose not to introduce — defunding Planned Parenthood and failed embryonic stem cell research. On that issue I said to the Post:
We want him to do more, and we will continue to ask him.
I stand by those words. Once something is in the budget it is difficult to remove it. While we trust that Planned Parenthood will not receive any taxpayer money during this administration, we continue to believe that adding such language to the state budget will protect taxpayers in future years.
But remember the context of my Post interview:
In between my interview with the Post and the article's publication — several days — the governor fulfilled an extremely important campaign promise and reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prohibition on prayers offered by state police chaplains. In a press release I said we were "thrilled" with the governor's action, and we are. This was an important and courageous action and Virginians are better off for it. We also asked you to contact Governor McDonnell and thank him as well.
So, how is the governor doing? (Honestly, I think social conservatives need to take a deep breath, and remember that there are still three years and seven months left in this administration. We have to remember the victories he has delivered, while knowing that there is still a lot to be accomplished. But we are confident that the governor understands the concerns we have. There are pressing issues facing our commonwealth and the governor needs to address those issues. At the same time, the culture of Virginia must also be a priority for this administration. We will continue to encourage him to take the lead on family issues that are the foundation to the very economy he is trying to fix (see more of my comments in another article on this topic in the Richmond Times-Dispatch).
The Family Foundation is determined to be strategic in our efforts. We understand the political climate is hostile and we have to accept that incremental victories are victories nonetheless. Those who demand "all or nothing" tend to receive nothing. We are encouraged by the recent actions of Governor McDonnell and continue to believe he will fulfill his campaign promises.
Former Charlottesville Daily Progress reporter Bob Gibson refers to much of what passes as fact in our world today as "designer information." There's no doubt that politicians, the media and groups on both sides of issues play fast and lose with the facts. Last night we witnessed some of that on the floor of the Virginia Senate surrounding debate over the abortion funding amendment. Some of the claims made were, to be polite, creative. Which brings us to the current leader of the free world (yeah, I know, but stick with me here) and his own personal PR firm, the Mainstream Media. President Obama is clearly one who can craft a message out of just about anything and make it fit his agenda, and there are few in the MSM willing to call him out on it and risk being thrown out of the press pool. The White House is the Madison Avenue of "designer information."
Case in point was last week's announcement by the White House that same-sex partners could no longer be denied visitation rights at the nation's hospitals. Homosexual rights groups rejoiced at this monumental "civil rights" moment (never mind they already could do this). In fact, in Virginia, the General Assembly passed useless legislation a few years ago saying this very thing. No one objected because it wasn't necessary. Anyway, the media said the president had been emotionally touched by a story out of Florida where a lesbian had sued a hospital over not being able to visit her partner. The story was oft repeated, and has been for a while.
Except it isn't entirely accurate.
The Family Research Council reports the details here. According to the hospital:
The most important piece of information to consider from our side of this story is that the charge nurse on duty the night Ms. Pond was in our care — and the person who made all visitation access decisions that evening — is herself a lesbian with a life partner. In addition, numerous members of the medical team working in our trauma unit are openly homosexual. We can assure you that Ms. Langbehn was not treated differently because of her sexual orientation.
Oops. But then again, don't count on too many Americans learning of this tiny little discrepancy between fact and messaging.
Annotations & Elucidations Recent History Repeating Itself
Not only was the Confederate History Month proclamation by Governor Bob McDonnell deja vu from past controversies over such proclamations, it was recent history repeating itself : Only a few weeks ago, the governor issued an "executive directive" which seemingly watered down his own executive order that did not recognize sexual orientation in state hiring policy. At least this time, no one can blame the attorney general. Speaking of the AG, you know liberals' attention is diverted when the headlines are absent an attack in him. In National News, Nancy Pelosi is urging Bart Stupak to seek re-election. That ought to help him, and Dems everywhere, as the AP reports, just wish health care would go away. Which ignites the question: Why they'd vote for it!? Elsewhere, Harry Reid is begging for help while Michael Steele may have weathered his storm, and the Census Bureau admits to more problems (surprise me not).
Please check out Analysis and Commentary today. We proudly introduce another outstanding source upon which we draw upon: The American Spectator. Long one of my favorites, it brings incisive insight to the great issues of the day with a great array of writers, all while appropriately belittling the left as the occasion calls. But it's not afraid to hammer Republicans deserving of the beating. Today, W. James Antle, III, exposes Republicans already abandoning the "Repeal and Replace" war cry. Meanwhile, George Neumayr expounds on the left's campaign against the Catholic Church and the Pope. Also, Joseph Shattan may surprise you on what man was most responsible for electing Barack Obama, and why. In addition, Bobby Eberle, Dick Morris, Paul A. Ibbetson and Matt Towery all have unique takes on the president, the mid-term elections, technology and politics, and the culture, respectively.
McDonnell apologizes for omitting slavery reference (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
McDonnell apologizes for omission of slavery (The Daily Press)
McDonnell sorry for omitting slavery (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)
Nearly half of US households pay no federal income tax (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Vulnerable Democrats are tiptoeing on health care (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Sen. Reid tells voters: 'I need your help' (AP/GOPUSA.com)
AP Sources: Dems urge Stupak to seek re-election (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Census Bureau concerned about head count problems (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Leahy won't delay hearing for appeals court pick (AP/GOPUSA.com)
GOP officials back Steele in conference call (AP/GOPUSA.com)
Republicans Against Repeal (W. James Antle, III/The American Spectator)
The End of History and the Last Pope (George Neumayr/The American Spectator)
Tax Freedom Day: Real or Imagined (Doug Bandow/The American Spectator)
Democrat Strategists Have It Wrong (Dick Morris/GOPUSA.com)
Techno-Politics: The War for Downloadable Supremacy (Paul A. Ibbetson/GOPUSA.com)
The Man Who Elected Barack Obama (Joseph Shattan/The American Spectator)
iPad vs. Obama Pad . . . You Decide (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)
America's Work Ethic Going the Way of France (Matt Towery/GOPUSA.com)
Theories and Reactions to Racial Theories (Thomas Sowell/GOPUSA.com)
The following is an excerpt from a statement I released today concerning Governor Bob McDonnell's recent "Executive Directive" regarding "sexual orientation." For the full statement, including several examples of "sexual orientation" conflicting with religious liberty, click here. For a PDF of the entire statement, click here. Below, you will find links to sourced research studies, a legal analysis and an action item.
Response to Governor McDonnell's Executive Directive No. 1
The reactions to Governor Bob McDonnell's recent decision to issue an "Executive Directive" that includes "sexual orientation" as a protected class in his administration's hiring decisions have been varied. While some, including the Commonwealth’s largest homosexual political group, Equality Virginia, who advocated for the policy change, have praised the Governor, they have also expressed disappointment that the Directive didn’t go far enough. Others have questioned why the Governor issued the Directive at all. Many are confused about its implications.
News outlets that increasingly have less print space for substance, only address the surface-level point of "discrimination." It is not acceptable, however, for thoughtful, forward-looking policy organizations to limit their review of the Directive in this manner.
At issue is not, in fact, the simple question of whether the Directive's undefined label of "sexual orientation" disqualifies one for a state job or requires special compensation/treatment in state employment. Instead, nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, whether enshrined in law or implemented through internal constructs, and regardless of their legal weight, highlight the inevitable and unavoidable clash between the unalienable fundamental right of religious liberty and the postmodern era of sexual freedom. It is a clash that isn't taking place simply in the realm of ideas, but in courtrooms across the country, affecting the lives of everyday Americans. Potentially, there is no greater threat to our Constitutionally protected right of conscience, and as importantly the right to exercise our faith publicly, than that of the continued advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) "rights."
And perhaps no one has put this battle more succinctly and honestly than respected Georgetown University Law professor, lesbian, LGBT activist and Obama nominee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Chai Feldblum, who stated:
There can be a conflict between religious liberty and sexual liberty, but in almost all cases sexual liberty should win. I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.
Those who advocate for the advancement of sexual behavior protections in our law have little or no room for those who have religious convictions on those issues. In her paper, Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion, Feldblum, who authored the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), argues quite openly that it is the primary goal of the LGBT political movement to elevate (either through legislation or the courts) homosexual orientation to moral equivalence with heterosexual orientation and to do so at the cost of religious liberty.
She admits in her assessment of the clash that, "we are in a zero-sum game: a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side," but "in making the decision in this zero-sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the [sexual] liberty of LGBT people."
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In responding to Governor McDonnell's Directive granting protection to LGBT people seeking employment or who are currently employed in his administration, Kent Willis of the ACLU takes Feldblum's statements to their logical conclusion:
We hope this is only the beginning, and that the Governor's example will inspire legislators to finally pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in both private and public sector employment. [Emphasis added]
Willis' may be the most honest statement thus far. As both Willis and Feldblum clearly articulate, there is no religious liberty interest that can withstand the interest of LGBT people to self-identify and express their identity publicly.
Late Wednesday afternoon, amidst growing tensions on college campuses, Governor Bob McDonnell issued a "Governor’s Directive," ordering those in the executive branch not to discriminate in their hiring practices (see here). His directive specifically referenced "sexual orientation." Governor McDonnell issued his directive in an apparent effort to ease the hostile atmosphere on our campuses and in the General Assembly. Four years ago, then-Attorney General McDonnell challenged Governor Tim Kaine’s executive order that added sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination policy, saying he didn’t have the authority to do so. It is still unclear exactly what legal weight, if any, a directive has, but media reports indicate that it does not have the same force of law of an executive order.
Much of the anger among college students has been generated by those who are supposed to be in authority at those schools — college presidents and administrators — who have criticized the advisory letter Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sent them last week. The letter stated that public colleges and universities with anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation are in conflict with state law. Instead of providing leadership, the college presidents and administrators have provoked anger and outrage with inflamed rhetoric.
A media backlash also was fed by heated and often mean-spirited rhetoric by a handful of General Assembly members, including Senator Donald McEachin (D-9, Henrico) who, in a floor speech earlier this week, referenced Governor McDonnell’s graduate school thesis, yelling on the Senate floor, "We are being governed by the thesis!" Joining in the daily diatribes were Delegate David Englin (D-45, Alexandria) and Delegate Joe Morrissey (D-74, Henrico). It was often insinuated that anyone who disagrees with adding sexual orientation to the non-discrimination policy is hateful and bigoted. But truth has been difficult to find in this debate.
In addition, some legislators made the outrageous claim that, without a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation, Virginia is not "business friendly" and would not be able to attract new jobs. But several publications and organizations currently recognize Virginia as the best state in America to do business without having this policy.
Nonetheless, yesterday morning, Senator Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg), in a clear conflict of interest as an employee of the College of William and Mary, one of the colleges expressing outrage over the AG’s letter, amended an economic development bill introduced by the Governor with: "The Commonwealth of Virginia maintains an ecumenical atmosphere in its sexual orientation hiring policies in the private and public workforce."
Besides being a bizarre statement, it is a frightening overreach into the private workplace, which would include religious-based ministries and churches. Fortunately, on the floor of the Senate — because of the Governor’s directive — Senator Norment removed his amendment from the bill.
The Family Foundation has and continues to maintain that there is no need for special protections for homosexuals. As the issue was thoroughly debated and voted on multiple times throughout this year’s General Assembly, no evidence of discrimination was presented.
We absolutely agree with one statement in Governor McDonnell’s directive — that state employment should be based on "qualifications, merit and performance," regardless of one’s immutable or unimmutable characteristics.
Over the next several days, we will consult with experts to determine the legal ramifications of this directive, but we are concerned when the Governor’s action is being heralded as a step forward by the ACLU and the state’s largest homosexual lobby, Equality Virginia (Pilot on Politics).
In a statement, Kent Willis of the ACLU said, "We hope this is only the beginning, and that the Governor's example will inspire legislators to finally pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in both private and public sector employment."
Any thought that the groups and organizations behind this effort will stop at public employment is naive. It is very clear that they want to force private businesses — including churches — to abide by their morality.
Late last week, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli sent a letter to the state’s taxpayer funded colleges and universities informing them that, without General Assembly approval, they do not have the authority to issue non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation (see Washington Post). Apparently, the state’s public colleges and universities had issued such policies without the approval to do so (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). His opinion, initiated at the request of several interested parties, started a media firestorm. Essentially, the Attorney General, the office designated to instruct state entities on the law, told them to actually follow the law — Virginia law does not carve out discrimination protections for homosexuals, as it does for race, color, creed and national origin. But Democrat leaders and homosexual activists immediately pounced, calling Cuccinelli’s advice "hate," and vowed to revive legislation that died last week which would add sexual orientation to the Commonwealth’s anti-discrimination policy.
Today, several legislators literally screamed about the issue on the floor of the House of Delegates, all but accusing Attorney General Cuccinelli of hatred. They urged the House General Laws Committee to act on SB 66, which was defeated in sub-committee last week. However, committee chairman Delegate Chris Jones (R-76, Suffolk) cancelled the committee's last meeting. As today was the last day for committees to act on legislation in order for them to get to the floor before session ends, the issue is dead, again, for this year.
It is quite interesting to listen to proponents of this major change in Virginia’s public policy. In three separate presentations before committees and subcommittees, advocates for making sexual orientation a protected class have admitted that 90 percent of Virginians don’t think there should be discrimination. They have admitted that the last three governors have had policies, either written or verbal, that they will not allow such discrimination. At no point has any actual evidence of discrimination been presented. Late last year the Washington Post editorialized that there are "thousands of homosexuals" working in state government.
Usually, the General Assembly passes legislation to remedy a problem. They often defeat legislation that, as is said, is a "solution in search of a problem." That is exactly the problem with this legislation.
So what is the goal? It really is not about discrimination. It is about government recognition — acceptance — of the homosexual lifestyle. Make no mistake, this debate is a serious one and it will have long term consequences, not just for state government, but private businesses and, ultimately, our Marriage Amendment. The goal is not anti-discrimination — it is forced acceptance of a lifestyle that many Virginians find antithetical to their faith.
The rhetoric in the capitol today was heated and not very tolerant. It seems that those who oppose creating a special class for homosexuals are hateful and bigoted, which is an easy accusation to make when you have no other argument and no ability to make your case.
The past 24 hours have been good for Virginia’s homosexual lobby, at least in the Virginia Senate, where two key legislative initiatives passed. But there also is positive news for values voters in the House of Delegates. Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 66, legislation that would add sexual orientation (and "gender identity or expression") to the state’s non-discrimination in hiring laws (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Despite no evidence being presented anywhere in the process that discrimination is taking place, the bill passed 23-17, with one Republican, Fred Quayle (R-13, Suffolk), joining all 22 Senate Democrats who favored the measure.
Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg) argued against the bill during the floor debate, adding the fact that should this bill become law, the Commonwealth would open itself up for extensive litigation by those who claim they have been discriminated against regardless of their job qualifications.
Today, SB 451, legislation that would allow local governments to offer domestic partner benefits, and patroned by Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington), passed the Senate 26-14. This took place despite the fact that this legislation could have a significant fiscal impact on the Commonwealth through increased Standards of Quality funding. Republican Senators Quayle, John Watkins (R-10, Midlothian), Harry Blevins (R-14, Chesapeake), and floor leader Tommy Norment (R-3, Williamsburg) joined the 22 Democrats.
These bills still must be vetted in and voted on in the House. We encourage you to contact your delegates to defeat these unnecessary bills. If you do, we are quite hopeful that these bills will not find equal favor there.
In fact, earlier this evening, a House General Laws Sub-committee defeated HB 1116, mirror legislation to SB 66. It was patroned by Delegate Adam Ebbin (D-49, Arlington). The vote was 5-3 with Delegates John Cosgrove (R-78, Chesapeake), Bill Carrico (R-5, Galax), Ed Scott (R-30, Culpepper), Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock), and Rich Anderson (R-51, Woodbridge) voted against the bill. This indicates that SB 66 has little hope for success in the House.
Legislation introduced by Senator Donald McEachin (D-9, Richmond), SB 66, seeks to add sexual orientation to the state’s hiring policy of non-discrimination. The bill was scheduled for a vote in the full Senate earlier this week but it was delayed, likely due to grassroots pressure. Certainly, thanks to concerned Virginians, there are some senators feeling the heat from home. After Senator McEachin withdrew an attempted floor amendment, SB 66 made it through the second read on the floor of the full Senate and is up for a final vote on Monday. If this unnecessary legislation is successful, it would be the first time in Virginia history that sexual orientation would be elevated to a protected class. Furthermore, there is no evidence that discrimination is taking place.
Even if you have e-mailed your senator, it is critical that you contact him or her again over the weekend and urge a vote against this impractical bill. We can prevent this legislation from crossing over to the House if we work together to stop it now. Additionally, the impact of defeating this bill on the Senate floor, rather than in the House, a more likely scenario, may provide needed momentum to defeat the rest of the pro-homosexual agenda. Click here for your senator's contact information or here to determine who your senator is.
Last week the Senate General Laws committee passed (see vote) legislation, SB 66, that will add sexual orientation to the state’s hiring policy of non-discrimination. If this bill is successful, it would be the first time in Virginia history that sexual orientation would be elevated to a protected class. The full Senate will vote (see contact list) on this legislation tomorrow! We urge you to ask your senator to vote against this unnecessary legislation.
While no one endorses discrimination of any type, there is absolutely no need for this proposal. In fact, according to the Washington Post, there are "thousands of homosexuals" working in state government. Both previous governors, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, signed executive orders against discrimination, and Governor Bob McDonnell has said publicly that his administration will not discriminate against homosexuals (see Washington Post). No evidence of discrimination was presented in committee when the bill was debated.
This is a solution in search of a problem. In addition, this legislation will open the Commonwealth of Virginia to costly litigation by people who fail to qualify for employment but sue the state based on this proposal. It also is a first step toward adding sexual orientation to private business hiring practice. We have seen in other states this gradual progression.
The bill also is impractical. To protect themselves against litigation, state agencies would have to begin asking job applicants about their sexuality, a clear invasion of privacy. State employment applications would have to be changed to include boxes to check for one’s sexual orientation, "actual or perceived," gender identity or expression.
Elevating sexual orientation to a protected class, despite the fact that homosexuality is not immutable, would create an entirely new level of protection — protection based on one’s sexual behavior. So, please contact your senator now and urge him or her to vote no on SB 66 — unnecessary legislation that elevates sexual orientation to protected status in Virginia law.
This is the fourth in a series of five policy statements on issues that will come before the 2010 General Assembly. The third, regarding constitutional government, can be found here. Each statement covers one of The Family Foundation’s five areas of principle. We will post the fifth issue by early next week.
As with every General Assembly session, the usual suspects will show up promoting legislation that The Family Foundation believes would be harmful to the family or to the values that we share. Of particular note this year, there again are several bills that attempt to extend special rights to homosexuals based on their lifestyle choice.
In the aftermath of Congress passing and President Obama signing legislation that added sexual orientation to federal hate crimes laws, there is legislation that would do the same in Virginia. As we argued against the federal extension, this is a solution in search of a problem. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that crimes against homosexuals are not being prosecuted, which was the original point of hate crimes statues.
There also is an effort to add sexual orientation to anti-discrimination laws, both for state government and localities’ hiring practices. This annual attempt at "gotcha politics" is of course intended to make anyone who opposes it appear discriminatory. Elected officials often are quizzed on whether or not they discriminate against homosexuals as if that should be a question on the employment application. Unfortunately for proponents, one of their biggest allies — The Washington Post — admitted in an editorial recently that there are "thousands of gays in state government." There is absolutely no need for this legislation and no evidence of any discrimination given the lack of claims from these thousands.
Also this year, there are additional attempts at expanding so-called domestic partner benefits. Several years ago, despite our warning that such a change would open a floodgate, the General Assembly passed legislation that allowed some businesses to contract with health insurance companies to grant benefits outside of the longstanding standards of "blood, marriage or adoption." Those standards were always intended to encourage and support marriages and families. Since then, there have been several attempts at expanding this loophole to life insurance, and there will be new attempts this year as well. Already, we’ve seen outgoing Governor Tim Kaine’s blatant political attempt to change state regulations in this area, knowing that the final decision maker will be Governor-elect Bob McDonnell. Unfortunately, in the General Assembly, when the principles of families and business compete, the family is often the loser.
Finally, in what will likely amount to a waste of everyone’s time, there is legislation seeking to repeal the Marriage Amendment passed by the voters in 2006. This bill will be introduced despite the fact that more 30 states now have marriage amendments and three statewide candidates that supported the Virginia Marriage Amendment won landslide elections in November.
We will be ever vigilant watching for other legislation that undermines our values and impacts our families. We will be at the capitol every day during session advocating on your behalf and against harmful legislation, and chronically it all here.