The End of Mothers and FathersMay. 17, 2017
Men can’t be mothers. Women can’t be fathers. The fact of it is so self-evident, that it seems wholly unnecessary to state. And yet, even as I write this, I’m struck by the inescapable impression that many among us now not only disagree with this proposition, but actually believe it to be “immoral” to maintain.
Demonstrating just how widely this new viewpoint is being embraced, just a few weeks ago, Dove, a household name in skincare products (also my former soap bar provider), produced this ad about mothers, wherein it features a couple – a male and a female – and their new baby. In the ad, the man (with long hair and a tank top, but otherwise clearly a man) explains how both he and the woman are the child’s biological parents but that both of them “are the moms.” The camera focuses in on him cradling his baby suggestive of a typical new mother, and then later films him saying “there’s no one right way to do it all.” Amazingly, Dove picked the hashtag “#RealMoms” for its agenda-driven campaign.
The problem is that there’s nothing “real” at all about this man being his child’s “mother.” The moment this man contributed his half of the child’s DNA, he indisputably became the child’s father. Meanwhile, that child – like all children – critically needs him to live up to his fatherhood role. Yet Dove seems to be doing its best to legitimize and normalize a destructive falsehood – one that will have devastating consequences for that man, his family, his child, and for society at large. Sadly, Dove is not alone. It is but one of many examples in this recent push towards mass delusion.
Unfortunately, throwing science and reason to the wind has not been limited to select private entities or even to a rapidly changing culture. This pervasive disavowal of fundamental truths is permeating all levels and every branch of civil government.
Consider Knox County, TN, whose courts for the first time last week granted a woman all the legal rights of a “husband” in her same-sex “divorce” proceedings. Despite Tennessee’s clear statutory language of a “husband” and a “wife”, the judge determined that because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell opinion eviscerating the definition of civil marriage, the “law” required him to designate the woman as a “husband”, without regard to the fact that only males can be husbands.
But it’s even worse than that. Because the woman was granted all the legal rights of a “husband,” she was also legally recognized as the “father” of the child that her partner birthed through artificial insemination. In the “law” it seems, women really can be fathers after all. Or, at least in the imaginary world we’ve created for ourselves in post-Obergefell America.
The problem is that when both the culture and the law nullify all meaningful distinctions between moms and dads to make them essentially interchangeable, then any and all significance of moms and dads evaporates along with them. Consequently in such a world, moms and dads no longer matter. And suddenly what we once celebrated as being intrinsically unique and worthy of being set apart, cherished, and encouraged is now no more special than any other person or thing. And since a mom and a dad are no longer considered a necessary and complementary part of a whole, there is no reason to be concerned about the absence of one or both in the life of a child.
Yet the fact remains, no matter what anyone says and no matter how fervently the culture strives to exchange the real world for a pretend world of its own making, kids will always need a mom and a dad. Many decades of social science leave no doubt about it. And even when that isn’t possible for every child, it’s still true that every child has the best opportunity to flourish when they have both a mom and a dad who play a central and distinct role in their lives. And not only that, but women will continue to be best suited for the nurturing role that only mothers can uniquely fulfill in their child’s life. And likewise, men will continue to be best suited for the corrective and affirming role that only a father can uniquely play in the life of his child.
Thus, despite this new movement’s relentless pursuit to shatter these notions, it can never actually succeed in doing so. That doesn’t mean, however, that it won’t have the effect of shattering a whole lot of lives in the process of trying. We have a responsibility to help ensure that doesn’t happen, because moms and dads are treasures of incomparable worth, and nothing and no one could ever take their place in the life of a child.
If ever we took that for granted, let this be our wake-up call.
Booing God in ChesterfieldMay. 12, 2017
It seems that booing God and America’s distinct religious heritage has come to Virginia, the birthplace of religious freedom, even taking place just a few miles from the very place where the Statute for Religious Freedom passed into law.
Needless to say, the overtly anti-faith wing of the secular left is no longer a small segment to be ignored, but has become the dominant force on the left driving not just an anti-faith political movement, but sadly, an entire political party.
In case you didn’t see it in news coverage of this week’s Town Hall meeting in Chesterfield with local Congressman Dave Brat – oh wait, you couldn’t have since none of the multiple media stories about the event mentioned it – the crowd repeatedly booed any reference to God. From the start, where the crowd booed the pastor of the church where the event was held and booed when the name of the church was mentioned, the crowd was openly hostile to the idea of faith.
But topping it off were the resounding boos that came when Congressman Brat dared state that our rights come from God:
Of course, as rejecting the principles on which our nation was founded becomes more celebrated, the more of this we’re going to see. The secular left is unrestrained and unashamed of its hatred for God and God-fearing Americans. Obviously, there are many on the left who believe that rights are granted to us by government (i.e. man), therefore making government their god. They don’t seem to understand (or maybe they do?) why a government that has the power to grant rights also has the power to eliminate them.
Yet again, the media failed to mention any of this in its coverage. Why? Do they agree with the protestors? Or are they concerned that if Virginians were made aware of this kind of anti-faith action on the left they’d quickly reject it? Media bias is revealed just as much in what it chooses not to report as what is does report. Ignoring the anti-faith booing is yet another example.
Our response to this hostility cannot be to behave in a similar way. We know the truth, and as Thomas Jefferson said in the Statute for Religious Freedom, “that truth is great and will prevail, if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict.” Our response must simply be to remain informed of the truth of our religious heritage, and its importance in maintaining a civil society. And we must be willing to teach our kids, inform our friends and neighbors, and vote only for those who do not arrogantly believe that they are the source of our freedom.
No Conversion AllowedMay. 03, 2017
There’s a growing movement afoot which seeks to legally ban licensed counselors from helping minors overcome same-sex sexual attractions or to reconcile struggles in accepting their own gender. In Virginia, we’ve staved off bills recently that would do just that (2016 -HB 427, SB 262, SB 267). These efforts gained more traction last week when a group of 68 Congressmen (all Democrats) introduced what they’ve titled the “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act”, which would make it illegal – potentially even criminal – for “any person” to assist a minor in changing their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” Not surprisingly, however, such persons remain free to “provide assistance to an individual undergoing a gender transition” or to “provide acceptance, support, and understanding of a client or facilitate a client's coping, social support, and identity exploration and development.”
So let me get this straight: At the same time the new Left insists that adolescents as young as five years old be unconditionally supported in “changing” their birth gender and in “exploring” the outer reaches of their sexual curiosities, they are actively demanding that those same kids be legally barred from receiving professional counseling to overcome certain sexual thoughts and feelings they may develop along the way, even when those feelings are unwanted or unhealthy?
That’s right, kids. You have an absolute right to trust your feelings when they contradict biology, social science, and traditional morality, and we’ve even got an endless supply of adult counselors lined up to affirm you in them. But if you so much as think about changing your mind, then you’re out of luck – since, after all, we care so much about your “health” and “safety.” Oh, and by the way, anyone who tries to help you may be a fraudulent criminal.
So much for “self-determination” of the patient, the cardinal rule of the counselor-patient relationship.
There are, of course, a number of obvious problems with this concept (too many to list here). Chief among them is that most Americans identify as being a part of a major faith group (e.g. Christian, Jewish, Muslim), and the traditional views of at least the top three involve moral guidelines and truth claims about the nature of male and female and human sexual behaviors. This “law” runs roughshod over these long and deeply held views and makes no exemptions for those who hold them. Both those who counsel and those who seek counsel would now be prohibited by law from incorporating their faith when seeking resolution to a crisis of identity.
The second obvious (and frankly so brazenly preposterous as to defy belief) problem is the blatant double-standard which provides that counselors may only affirm a child when they seek to entertain and indulge certain sexual thoughts, feelings, and inclinations, BUT that counselors may never affirm or aid a child when the child (or his parents) seeks to challenge or correct certain sexual thoughts, feelings, and inclinations – especially and particularly those sexual inclinations which diverge from natural human behavior. In other words, only certain feelings will be sanctioned, and only those ones which tend to be profoundly damaging to children. This places faith-based counselors in a true ethical dilemma, while at the same time depriving a child of the guidance they need during the most critical window of time for healthy emotional realignment, with the effect of further solidifying the child’s misguided feelings about themselves and others.
But maybe worst of all, this policy shamelessly declares, in essence: ‘No, you can’t change – not even if you want to. What you feel is the essence of who you are. Accept it, embrace it, and don’t let anyone help you see a better way for your life – especially those people who may actually know what they’re talking about. And by the way, not only are you incapable of – and now prohibited from – changing, but there’s not a thing wrong with you. You’re perfect just the way you are. And since perfect people don’t need fixing, any effort to help you do so is futile and actually harmful to you.’ (Note the very first line of the bill: “Congress makes the following findings: (1) Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender nonconforming is not a disorder, disease, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming.”)
But for people of faith, and particularly Christians, this view goes against everything they believe about the human condition. (i.e. That every person is imperfect and broken; that they are unable to fix themselves on their own; that by the power of God through the message of truth and love, a person can be transformed into someone new; that God will help them overcome temptations and even change their desires; that God’s design for their sexuality is far better for them than any other way, and that all others will lead to disappointment, dissatisfaction and ultimately destruction.) Such an edict, then, is wholly incompatible with the religious freedom of most Americans.
Ultimately, to tell a person that they cannot change and that there is no one who can help them do so is to tell them that there is no hope.
But in fact, there is hope. People can and have changed. And with the aid of professional counseling, countless many youth have learned to cope with struggles which plagued them, and they’ve gone on to flourish in their lives. And why would it not be so in the area of their sexuality or gender? Even the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association acknowledge, for example, that as many as 98% of gender-confused boys and as many as 88% of gender-confused girls eventually accept their chromosomal sex by adolescence or adulthood if allowed to do so.
The real harm to children in these situations is in preventing them from getting the help they need in their time of conflict. And because that’s precisely what these measures would do, and because we know that there is always hope for people who want to change, we owe it to our children to do everything in our power to ensure these policies' defeat in every place they may be found.
It's Your ChoiceMay. 03, 2017
As public schools across the Commonwealth are beginning to prepare for next school year, many are alerting parents about the so-called “required” human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for girls entering the 6th grade.
But saying there is an HPV vaccine requirement is misleading because the General Assembly included a parental opt-out when it passed the controversial law in 2007. You may remember the debate when the powerful pharmaceutical company Merck, pushing its drug Gardasil, spent millions of dollars in marketing the drug nationally trying to convince state legislatures to require its vaccine. Only two states (and Washington, DC) fell for the pitch – Virginia and Rhode Island. But questions about the safety of the drug and the fact that HPV, as then Governor Tim Kaine said, “is not communicable in a school setting,” led lawmakers to give parents the option of not subjecting their rising 6th-grade girls to the series of shots.
Unfortunately, some schools are apparently not being forthright with that detail.
Consider, for example, a flyer being distributed by the Chesterfield County Public Schools that states, “The HPV vaccine is required for all girls entering sixth grade,” with no mention of the parental opt-out.
If you have a rising sixth-grade girl and your school is pushing you to vaccinate for HPV and you do not want to, it’s your choice. You can click here to see the law (print it out and bring it to the school if you have to!).
Regardless of whether you think the vaccine is necessary or not, it’s important that you as a parent at least know you have a choice in the matter and that you be able to exercise your authority to make decisions in the best interest of your children.
If you don’t think it’s a good idea for your child, it’s totally up to you – no explanations needed. That’s the bottom line.
Suing Terry McAuliffeApr. 24, 2017
No matter what you think about abortion centers or the standards of health and safety that govern them, there is one thing on which we should all agree: The law matters.
It would seem to be a matter of bi-partisan concern, then, when over the course of more than three years, the Virginia Department of Health, at the prompting and with the aid of the Governor and Attorney General, engaged in actions which violated numerous provisions of the Administrative Process Act, various other sections of the Virginia Code, and Gov. McAuliffe’s own Executive Order clarifying the rules of the regulatory process. In doing so, the Department impermissibly expanded its amending of six regulatory sections to a total of twenty-one sections, and the public was effectively shut out of the process. Their goal: to roll back as many of the health and safety standards for abortion centers as possible in order to shield the abortion industry at all costs. (With over 1,400 individual violations cited in VA’s abortion centers since 2012, is it any wonder?)
The Family Foundation and others fought the Department every step of the way. We warned them that their actions could lead to costly litigation. Those warnings fell on deaf ears. Eventually, political might won out, as the watered-down standards were rammed through. The administration’s actions appear to be unprecedented in the extent of their lawlessness. Sadly, over the past four years, such actions have come to be expected of this administration when it comes to providing cover and resources for abortionists like Planned Parenthood.
Yet in a society where the rule of law has the final word, political might cannot make “right.” The rule of law must reign supreme. Not even the king himself is above the authority of the law. (See The Magna Carta) The Family Foundation still believes this, and that’s why we’re suing Governor McAuliffe’s Department, Board, and Commissioner of Health.
Some notable pro-abortion activists have suggested that this suit is simply a “last-ditch attempt” to maintain the previous health and safety standards. Well, yes, that’s what lawsuits typically are – a party’s last resort in vindicating the rights to which they are legally entitled. Having exhausted all other political and administrative remedies, we are now left with one of only two options: Lie down and watch the law be trampled, and with it, the lives and health of vulnerable women and babies, OR appeal to the third branch of government, the courts, to ensure the law is upheld as we continue to fight for women and babies.
We’ve chosen the latter.
The rule of law and its impartial application to every person – big and small, powerful or weak – is what holds us together as a society and fosters peace and stability more than anything else. It is indispensable to freedom, and it is our principal safeguard against tyranny. In any contest, our side may not always win, but we are able to accept temporary defeats when we know that all sides played by the same rules agreed to from the start. But when one side ignores the rules and cheats in order to win, we expect – even demand – their “gains” to be reversed. It can be no different with Terry McAuliffe’s Department of Health in its illegal reversal of many of the critical health and safety regulations for abortion centers in the state.
Governor McAuliffe, you leave us no choice. We’ll see you in court.
Why Tire Scraps MatterApr. 19, 2017
Seminal moments often involve otherwise obscure storylines. This is especially true in the law. Consider, for instance, a present case before the U.S. Supreme Court, wherein a major doctrine of religious liberty hinges on shredded tires and preschool playgrounds.
The Court hears oral arguments today in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. It involves a church in Missouri, Trinity Lutheran, that applied for a state program that reimburses nonprofits for the purchase and installation of rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires. The program is intended to reduce the number of used tires in the state’s landfills while at the same time providing a safe place for children to play. The church hoped to use the funds to replace its existing playground, covered with pea gravel – which it describes as “unforgiving” and having “hard, jagged edges” – and grass.
The state ranked Trinity Lutheran’s application 5th out of 44 it received. And although the state awarded 14 grants, it denied Trinity Lutheran’s application, citing a provision of the state constitution that prohibits money from the state treasury from going “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.”
And hence, we get an epic school yard fight on our hands, with the “free exercise clause” on the one side and “establishment clause” on the other.
Here’s the basic struggle in constitutional laymen’s terms: A state has a (U.S.) constitutional obligation to not act in a way which officially favors one religious sect over another. Thus, a state has to be careful about how it spends public money so as to avoid actions which have the practical effect of “establishing” a certain religion (e.g. the Church of England). At the same time, a state has a constitutional obligation to not act with disfavor towards religion and religious entities, or to officially favor one religious sect over another, or even to favor non-religion over religion.
Needless to say, sometimes it can be a very tricky task for a state to perfectly meet both obligations.
Some spectators argue that Missouri’s constitutional provision is consistent with the First Amendment’s prohibition against a state establishing religion since it essentially says “no public money for ANY church.” Others say Missouri’s categorical denial of public benefits to churches infringes on the free exercise of religion because the state is demonstrating hostility towards religion and religious institutions, rather than treating them on equal terms with other entities, regardless of their religious viewpoint.
As with all legal disputes, it’s critically important to keep in mind what is and what is not being disputed. The case is NOT addressing whether or not it’s a good policy idea for the government to give certain grants for certain projects – like funding tire scrap playgrounds. It’s also not about the wisdom of churches accepting public funds or benefits. The important question here is: If the state decides to provide various benefits to the general public, should some organizations be automatically excluded from access to those benefits solely because of the organization’s religious character or views?
If the First Amendment means anything at all, the answer must be no. Our constitutional republic was established to protect and to foster religion, not to exclude it from the public sphere altogether – which is precisely what Missouri’s amendment does. Read plainly, the Missouri provision would prohibit policemen from responding to an altercation on the church property. It would prevent the fire department from putting out a church fire. These notions, however, are absurd to any reasonable person. And yet in these examples lies the same principle that should permit a church to have equal access to a grant program that provides funding for safer playground surfaces.
Moreover, it can hardly be said that providing funding for safer playgrounds has the effect of establishing a state religion. It may be altogether different if the facts involved sending a group of church members on a mission trip to Haiti for the purpose of evangelizing the people there, but that’s just not the situation here.
Significantly, Virginia’s constitution contains a similar amendment. (These are often referred to as “Blaine Amendments”.) Article IV, Section 16 states, in relevant part, “The General Assembly shall not make any appropriation of public funds, personal property, or real estate to any church or sectarian society, or any association or institution of any kind whatever which is entirely or partly, directly or indirectly, controlled by any church or sectarian society.” Religious entities in the Old Dominion, therefore, have an equal size stake in the outcome as Trinity Lutheran of Missouri.
This case is sure to have far-reaching implications. Bound up in Trinity Lutheran’s quest for tire scraps is the determination of whether or not a significant piece of religious liberty will prevail. The issue is before us now because Trinity Lutheran recognized that rubber tire scraps were of some real value to them. Little could they have known just how valuable those same tire scraps would be for the rest of us.
 Some of the factual language in this paragraph was taken from scotusblog.com.
UnconscionableApr. 12, 2017
I try, really try, to understand the issues we deal with from the perspective of those on the “other side.” Sometimes, some have valid, logical arguments, with which I simply disagree. Other times, I find it impossible to even comprehend their position.
Now and then, I find their position not just incomprehensible, but unconscionable.
Recently, it was revealed that a woman in Chesterfield county “self-aborted” her unborn baby in the later stages of her pregnancy – the third trimester. She then buried the child in her back yard. The autopsy found that the woman had used a combination of drugs and “penetrating injuries to the head” of that nearly fully developed baby to kill them.
The ACLU’s response? Anger that the police would dare charge the woman with a crime.
“No woman should fear arrest or jail for ending her own pregnancy…it appears that this is another example of overreach…in an attempt to shame and punish [the woman] for her circumstances.”
It’s bad enough that groups like the ACLU and their friends in the abortion industry are perfectly comfortable with fully developed unborn babies being killed days or even hours before birth, a position with which a large majority of Americans disagrees. Americans object to abortion after the mid-point of pregnancy when they believe it’s being “performed” in something at least resembling a medical facility. Oh, and it’s downright barbaric. In Virginia, abortions after the first trimester must be done in a hospital because killing a baby that is nearly fully developed is complicated and somewhat dangerous – for the mother that is. It’s downright deadly for the baby.
The medical examiner in this case couldn't determine what the woman used to “penetrate” the head of her unborn child enough to kill it. I wonder, was the child kicking when she did it? Could she feel her child moving around as she killed them? Had she never heard of adoption? If her circumstances were so dire, why wait until the last days or weeks of the pregnancy? For a few hundred bucks Planned Parenthood would have gladly taken the baby’s life months earlier.
If you’ve seen a sonogram of a baby in the third trimester you know. You see the humanity. You recognize the dignity and the worth. As a pro-life community, we believe that dignity and worth don’t suddenly materialize at some random point on the continuum of life that is undeterminable. It’s there from the moment of conception because it comes from our Creator, not from our judgment. But while some may not believe that, many become uncomfortable with taking the life of unborn children at some random point during pregnancy when through sonogram you can see the child’s face, see their features; they move, they smile, they live. At what point does our humanity require us to say no?
For the ACLU, sadly, that point doesn’t exist. Don’t want the child? Kill them. Don’t worry about when, where or how, just do it.
Like I said, unconscionable.
"It's Abortion, Stupid."Apr. 07, 2017
Remember the days when liberal democrats and their media allies unmercifully attacked conservatives anytime social issues were mentioned in a campaign? Such things were a “distraction” from “kitchen table” issues that matter, they claimed. Candidates should speak only of economic issues and stop talking about “divisive” social issues. “It’s the economy, stupid,” was the mantra.
What a difference one Supreme Court appointment makes.
If you hadn’t noticed, as the campaigns for statewide office in Virginia – particularly governor – continue to ramp up, abortion is becoming one of, if not the primary, issue. For secular progressives that have complete control of the Democrat party these days, the freedom to take the lives of unborn children is the linchpin of their entire agenda. And protecting that freedom up to birth (and for some of them beyond birth) is the one and only issue of importance. That, and making sure the government continues to force you to fund Planned Parenthood. And with the specter of a potentially revamped U.S. Supreme Court that actually reads the Constitution, no issue is more important.
So, you can imagine the hysteria in the $1 billion abortion industry when all three Republican candidates for Governor last weekend expressed support for repealing theRoe v. Wade decision that invented the right to abortion! Apparent front-runner Ed Gillespie was the primary target of the industry and it’s media allies, with the Washington Post fretting in its headline, “Gillespie: ‘I would like to see abortion be banned.’”
Que the outrage.
Let’s face it, with the complete failure of Terry McAuliffe as Governor and the takeover of the Democrat party in Virginia by the Bernie Sanders wing, they can’t talk economics. Consequently, social issues are all they have, with abortion being front and center. As a result, the secular left is counting on Planned Parenthood and its vast war chest of campaign money to save the day for Democrats in the Commonwealth. If Republicans running for everything from school board to governor think they are going to be able to dodge the issue this time around, they have another thing coming.
So it was good to see all three Republican candidates for governor make their position on Roe v. Wade clear. Earlier this week, Republican candidates for Lt. Governor Bryce Reeves and Glenn Davis were asked at a candidate forum hosted by The Family Foundation in Richmond what their priorities would be to reduce the abortion rate in Virginia (Jill Vogel, also running for LG, planned to attend but was not able to be there due to last minute meetings in DC.). Each expressed thoughtful ideas on the issue.
But let’s face it, even if at some point in the next decade that decision is reversed, the issue simply returns to each state to decide what will be legal and what won’t.
In the meantime, how we can continue to reduce the abortion rate in Virginia – which has dropped more than 30 percent in the last five years! – is paramount. Restoring reasonable abortion center health and safety standards gutted by Governor McAuliffe is a start. Prohibiting abortion after the mid-point of pregnancy when science indicates unborn child feel pain is another step in the right direction. Reducing the regulations that make adoption cost prohibitive for so many families is yet another. But those things are only going to happen if pro-life Virginians awaken from their slumber and make sure a pro-life governor is elected in November.
Planned Parenthood is counting on its media allies to enrage pro-abortion voters by attacking pro-life candidates so those voters will turn out in droves. Those pro-life candidates that stand up to that hysteria and unashamedly make the case for life deserve our support. Without it, you can count on another four years of Planned Parenthood owning the executive mansion.
The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
On TargetApr. 07, 2017
In case you haven’t heard, apparently, despite nearly a year’s worth of scoffing denials by the retailer’s officials, Target isn’t doing so well.
Paint me shocked!
Plummeting sales and stock can be blamed on the weather only so many times before any thinking person starts to suspect that perhaps there’s more here than we’re being told.
Now comes a story in the Wall Street Journal where sources with Target claim that the announcement about a policy allowing men in women’s restrooms in the name of tolerance was never actually approved by the boss. It was just a blog post that got a little out of hand. And, oh, the CEO now claims he wouldn’t have approved the announcement because he thought, well, just maybe, there might be a backlash.
Of course, the CEO and others, along with the media and even many market “experts” claimed for the past year that there has been no backlash and that Target’s plummeting sales and stocks are due to the weather or other unusual market forces. Weather and market forces that weren’t, however, having any effect on Target’s biggest competitor, Walmart. Odd.
And that $20 million plan to add private restrooms to stores had nothing at all to do with the backlash that wasn’t really happening. Just move along…
Now, I’m not a big fan of “boycotts” in general, and measuring their impact is pretty near impossible. But you have to admit that when 1.5 million people say they aren’t going to shop someplace anymore, it might have a bit of an impact. And that doesn’t include those who may have decided to not shop there but never signed any petition or pledge. Regardless, the fact that the retailer’s sales have dropped in every quarter since the announcement can’t be simple coincidence. Apparently, now, a year later, officials are starting to admit it.
Target’s biggest worry? Those who figured out they never needed Target in the first place, and discovered online shopping at Amazon. Not sure there’s a blog post correction that can fix that.
Of Retirements and VetoesApr. 06, 2017
Wednesday's one-day “Veto Session” at the General Assembly proved to go largely as expected, primarily along party lines, with the Governor’s legacy cemented as the most obstructionist executive in the history of the Commonwealth.
Since ascending to office four years ago, Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a record 111 bills – with none being overridden by the legislature. A two-thirds majority of those present for the votes is necessary to override a veto, and with no Democrat courageous enough to go against the hysterical “progressive” base that demands nothing less than absolute devotion to its dogmas, overrides were impossible.
With the Governor’s vetoes of many common-sense bills, several of which protected life, rights of conscience, and parental authority, there was plenty for state legislators to consider as they voted. But the day began with the shocking retirement of 24 year House veteran and chairman of the House Courts of Justice committee, Republican Dave Albo. This came on top of the recently announced retirements of Richmond area Republican Delegates Jimmie Massie and Peter Farrell. With the retirement of Speaker of the House Bill Howell already announced, it’s clear the House of Delegates will take on an entirely new flavor next year. We appreciate all the work of Delegates Howell, Albo, Massie and Farrell, with whom we have worked on many issues over the years. They will all be missed.
After nearly two hours of farewell speeches, the House finally got down to business and began the process of reviewing the Governor’s vetoes and dozens of amendments to bills, including the state budget. The Senate methodically worked through its bills dealing with the Governor’s actions as well.
The good news was the House once again rejected the Governor’s repeated effort to expand Medicaid under the failed Obama “Care” government health insurance scheme.
No vote to override a veto showed the left’s dogmatic adherence more than the failure to override the veto on HB 2191, a bill from Delegate Steve Landes giving parents a say when schools want to teach sexually explicit material to kids. When the bill passed the House in February it received 74 votes, meaning several Democrats voted yea. But today, they fell in line with their party and voted with the Governor.
Also in the House, the veto of Delegate Nick Freitas’s HB 2025, which would protect religious charities and schools from government discrimination because of their beliefs about marriage, wasn’t challenged with a vote. However, Delegate Freitas correctly pointed out that in the Governor’s own reasoning for vetoing the bill, he made the argument that religious charities are protected by the first amendment and statute for religious freedom – which means the Governor essentially argued why his own Executive Order discriminating against religious charities is unconstitutional! Remarkably, the Governor’s explanation says, “I veto House Bill 2025, which would shield from civil liability those who actively discriminate against same-sex couples. I vetoed this exact same bill last year, and my rationale for that veto remains the same.” Except we amended the bill this year to remove the civil liability part, which means, of course, it isn’t the “exact same bill”, but apparently neither the Governor nor his staff actually read the bill! You just can’t make this stuff up.
Regardless, even though the House and Senate could not garner the votes necessary to overcome the Governor’s vetoes, our message was heard clearly in the General Assembly yesterday. And credit where credit is due, despite secular leftist and media hysteria on these bills, for the most part Republicans in the General Assembly stood their ground and voted correctly.
The frustrations over the Governor’s vetoes of common sense legislation that protects religious charities, unborn life, taxpayers and parents’ rights must now be translated into action. The next Governor of the Commonwealth will either carry on the obstructionist tradition or be a conservative leader who will side with a majority of Virginians and sign these key bills.
Which Governor that is will be up to you.
Send a Message to Warner and Kaine!Apr. 05, 2017
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine announced he plans to oppose confirming Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat. Likewise, Virginia’s other Senator, Mark Warner, issued a statement earlier this week that he also plans to oppose Gorsuch’s confirmation.
Both cite Gorsuch’s refusal to claim support for abortion “rights” as their reason for opposing this highly qualified jurist – and notably – one for whom members of their party unanimously confirmed to join the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.
CLICK HERE to urge Senators Kaine and Warner to do the sensible thing, and confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court!
According to Kaine, “After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his testimony and past decisions, I’ve observed that he has repeatedly taken an activist approach to cases involving a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health.” Presumably, Sen. Kaine is referencing Gorsuch’s majority opinion in the Hobby Lobbycase (which was soon after affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court) where the courts held that Hobby Lobby had the right, consistent with its religious liberty, to provide health insurance to its employees that excluded coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.
Sen. Warner said, “Despite his impressive academic credentials, Judge Gorsuch’s record and evasive responses – even refusing to answer questions regarding his views of cases like Roe v. Wade and Citizens United – do not give me confidence that he possesses a judicial philosophy that will serve the American public well.”
Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine portray themselves as "moderates," with the help of a friendly media. But their voting records and rhetoric have become more and more out of touch as their party lurches to the extreme left. Now, both are taking their cues from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU by opposing Gorsuch.
Both Senators need to hear from real Virginians like you that their vote against Gorsuch is a vote against Virginia. It's a vote against the Constitution. It's a vote against freedom.
Contact both Senators now and urge them to confirm Neil Gorsuch for the Court!
Rare Bipartisan VictoryMar. 28, 2017
During a General Assembly session, The Family Foundation takes a position on over 100 pieces of legislation. We try to keep you informed on as many as we can, but often we will work on proposals that never get the attention they deserve.
Case in point is a bill that thankfully on Monday Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law.
The proposal, HB 1709, requires schools notify parents if their child is involved in an incident of alleged bullying within five school days. Patroned by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41, Springfield), the bill was amended during the process to give schools fourteen school days – or almost three full weeks – before having to involved parents. Let’s face it, Amazon can deliver packages to third world countries faster than that! We believe parents are the key to their children thriving and that parents should be informed, notified and included as soon as possible when their children are suffering from or being accused of bullying. Three weeks is far too long.
And while the education establishment always claims it wants to involve parents, they allege it’s just too hard or too expensive to quickly pick up a phone and call a parent. We disagree.
Virginia’s definition of bullying is such that it requires very serious, repeated acts. Bullying is a serious problem, and parents should be involved as soon as possible if their child is a victim. And, if their child is suspected of bullying, they should know they are being investigated by the school.
The bill ended up in a “conference committee” on the very last days of session, where a handful of negotiators from the House and Senate worked out the final five-day time period. We’re thankful to Delegate Filler-Corn for working with us on this important issue, and for those conferees for seeing the wisdom of involving parents.
Governor ObstructionMar. 24, 2017
Governor Terry McAuliffe spent Thursday celebrating the fact that he’s proven to be the most obstructionist Governor in Virginia history.
Earlier this morning, Hillary Clinton’s top cheerleader went live on air with WTOP radio to veto bills (SB 2314/HB 2025) that would have provided modest protections for pastors, churches, and peaceful religious organizations and schools by prohibiting the state from discriminating against them because of their religious or moral beliefs about marriage.
The vast majority of Virginians, nearly two-thirds according to polling by Mason-Dixon, believe that, at a minimum, religious entities should be able to hold traditional beliefs about the institution of marriage without facing retribution from the government. But once again, Governor McAuliffe sided with the radical LGBT lobby and the ACLU in claiming that protecting the faiths of countless churches, religious schools and religious organizations amounts to discrimination and even going so far as to say it equates to “demonizing people”, according to his official statement. The Governor, of course, is all too comfortable with demonizing anyone who happens to disagree with him!
In reality, these bills would have ensured that a religious charity couldn’t be denied equal access to state benefits because of its belief in traditional marriage – something the Governor is trying to do through his Executive Order 61 – and that Virginia students who attend Christian universities or colleges like Liberty, Regent or Patrick Henry wouldn’t be denied access to Virginia’s Tuition Assistance Grants because those schools have policies based on marriage between one man and one woman.
His vetoes were a record 90th and 91st of his term, but sadly, he wasn’t done. This afternoon, he announced the veto of several bills that would have advanced parental rights and provided more educational opportunities for Virginia families.
The Governor proudly vetoed HB 2191, which simply would have provided parents of public school students an opportunity to review and opt their child out of materials they find sexually inappropriate. You may remember that a similar bill met with fierce opposition last year from the education cabal in Richmond as well as the secular “progressive) left. This year, Delegate Steve Landes (R-25, Verona) narrowed the bill to define “sexually explicit” simply as things that are currently against the law under the criminal sexual assault statute, but that still wasn’t good enough for the Governor.
In addition, he vetoed bills which would create a full-time public virtual school option for up to 5,000 new students in Virginia, allowing them to choose, with no tuition, from over a dozen approved education providers. He also vetoed two bills that would allow two or three school districts to band together to form a regional charter school district where each district would have to have at least 3,000 enrolled students and at least one school that failed to be accredited for at least two of the previous three years.
The Governor once again sided with the antiquated, failing, one-size-fits-all education establishment against families and children who want more options and the freedom to choose the school that best fits their needs.
The reality: elections have consequences. Virginians have the opportunity to correct the McAuliffe error later this year. Advancing the values we cherish, like religious freedom, life and education freedom require a governor who not only shares our values but has the courage to fight for them. Four years of Terry McAuliffe’s contempt for the beliefs of a majority of Virginians are enough.
Governor Sued!Mar. 21, 2017
Family Foundation Announces Impending Legal Action
- McAuliffe Administration Notified Today -
RICHMOND–The Family Foundation of Virginia today announced that the administration of Governor Terry McAuliffe has been notified of impending legal action regarding violations of state law by the Department and Board of Health during the abortion center health and safety standards regulatory process.
“Over and over again during the nearly three-year process of amending the standards, the administration and Board violated the Administrative Process Act, the state law that provides the framework for regulatory action, the administrative code, and the Governor’s own Executive Order 17 regarding the regulatory review process,” said Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation. “Regardless of one’s belief about the need for basic health and safety standards for abortion centers – or of any regulation for that matter – we all have to agree that a regulatory body cannot act outside the law when it wields extraordinary power over business, commerce and health care. We have the Administrative Process Act for that reason, to provide legal boundaries and process for unelected regulatory bodies, to provide transparency and public input throughout the regulatory process, and to be able to hold these agencies accountable when they go beyond the scope of their authority.”
Details of the administrative appeal were not released, but will be made available when the action is filed in Henrico Circuit Court within the next thirty days. The Family Foundation is paying the legal fees for one appellant in the appeal, Itzel Melendez, from Richmond. At a Richmond press conference today, Mrs. Melendez said, “In the past, I had occasion to visit an abortion center for the purpose of obtaining an abortion. I am participating in this case because I am concerned that without basic health and safety standards, abortion centers will operate in a way that could put my health at risk if I ever decided in the future that I needed their services. The standards that were in place were there to protect women like me from harm. Without them, I am no longer confident that my health would be protected.”
Cobb did reference one of the examples of where the pro-family organization believes the administration broke the law. She stated, “The agency violated the Administrative Process Act by amending entirely separate and unrelated regulatory sections that had not been included in the regulations’ “Proposed” phase. Several regulatory sections amended by the Board were not included in the “Proposed Regulation Agency Background Document” posted in townhall.gov, and these regulatory sections dealt with matters the public did not have an opportunity to comment on in accordance with the requirements of the law.
“In addition, several regulatory sections the Board amended were not even in the agency’s “Final Regulation Agency Background Document” posted in townhall.gov, let alone its “Proposed Regulation Agency Background Document”. The Code of Virginia requires that the notice requirement contain “(i) a statement of the date, time and place of the hearing at which the regulation is to be considered; (ii) a brief statement as to the regulation under consideration; [and] (iii) reference to the legal authority of the agency to act; ….” Yet, that never occurred for all of the regulatory topics for the sections that were not included in the agency’s “Proposed” regulations. This is an important matter of transparency – providing to the public a clear list what areas of regulation are intended to be reviewed and amended. The public and the entities being regulated should know from the beginning what areas of regulation the agency intends to change. By avoiding disclosing all the areas the Department and Board intended to amend they violated both the letter and spirit of the law.
“In this case, the Department and Board initially indicated they would review and amend only six areas of the regulations, and instead ended up changing more than 20. The public had no ability to weigh in on these changes until after the Board had already voted.”
Cobb said, “There is a specific, detailed, and yes sometimes cumbersome regulatory process that, whether we like it or not, is the law of Virginia. Without a framework, and without criteria and accountability for regulatory agencies, one can only imagine the damage that could be done in any arena by regulatory bodies.”
“The Family Foundation fully supports the actions taken by these appellants,” added Cobb. “It is unfortunate that the McAuliffe administration has in its ideological zeal consistently ignored or violated state law throughout this process, but it must be held accountable for those actions. The regulatory process has rules that must be followed. Again, this appeal is about that legal process and this administration’s ignorance of or disdain for that process.”
Appellants in the case who appeared at today’s press conference were Virginia Board of Health members Megan Getter and Henry Kuhlman, and Itzel Melendez of Richmond. The attorney representing Mrs. Melendez is Dan Carrell of Carrell, Blanton Ferris and Associates, Richmond.
March MadnessMar. 15, 2017
It’s “March Madness” all over again, appropriately playing out in the Tar Heel state – only this time without the basketball.
On March 23 of last year, in response to an outlandish ordinance passed by the City of Charlotte, North Carolina’s state legislature passed House Bill 2, daring to affirm what had always been the case – that in public facilities, men should use the men’s restrooms and women should use women’s. (Novel concept, eh?) And of course as we all know, protests soon-after ensued. Lawsuits were filed. And perhaps most notably of all, the NCAA and the ACC threatened to pull their basketball tournaments from the state if it did not repeal the law – a threat they made good on.
Well according to some North Carolina lawmakers, two can play this game.
In fact, some state legislators are seeking to challenge the NCAA and ACC’s tax-exempt status in response to their retaliatory removal.
According to The Associated Press, “The House members filed a bill Monday directing Senate and House leaders to file IRS complaints against the sports organizations. They would allege the groups are lobbying beyond what their charters allow through "economic retaliation" if House Bill 2 is not repealed.”
My, my, how the tables are turning. The other team picked up the ball, with time still on the clock.
Recall that it was these groups who warned North Carolina that its decision to protect women and children in bathrooms could cost the state millions. I doubt at the time the NCAA and ACC considered that their decisions could come with an equally steep price tag. The tax liability for organizations that large surely must reach into the millions.
I can’t say that I think this kind of economic warfare is a very constructive outlet for civil discourse. However, I do think that if the NCAA and ACC are going to “fire a shot across the bow”, they shouldn’t feel surprised or mistreated when the other side fires back. And no matter how many people love watching the basketball games they sponsor (myself included), the NCAA and ACC are not above the law, and they certainly don’t get to make them. May this be a poignant reminder to them of that reality.
Believe Not, Lest Ye Be JudgedMar. 10, 2017
In Wyoming, judges can no longer speak about legal hypotheticals, or at least if he or she happens to reach a hypothetical conclusion that strays from the Left’s strictly-enforced cultural orthodoxy. Accordingly, judges have no right of conscience, and their faith can play no role in the carrying out of their duties – or even apparently when they’re not engaged in any judicial duties at all.
This week, the Wyoming Supreme Court decided to publicly censure Judge Ruth Neely, a municipal judge in the small town of Pinedale, WY, for a comment she made back in 2014 in response to a reporter that she wouldn’t preside over same-sex “marriages” as a magistrate because doing so would cause her to violate her religious beliefs. On that basis, formal charges for ethics violations were brought against her, culminating in Tuesday's decision by the state’s Supreme Court.
According to the 3-2 majority decision, "This case is not about imposing a religious test on judges." (Gee, could have fooled me. Glad you made that clear.) "Rather,” the Court said, “it is about maintaining the public's faith in an independent and impartial judiciary that conducts its judicial functions according to the rule of law, independent of outside influences, including religion, and without regard to whether a law is popular or unpopular." (emphasis added)
That sounds reasonable enough on its face. After all, judges exist to apply the law impartially, as written. But what’s particularly troubling about this case is that when Judge Neely made her comments, no same-sex couple had ever asked her to perform a marriage ceremony for them. In fact, same-sex marriage was not even legal in Wyoming at that time! The U.S. Supreme Court did not impose the concept of “same-sex marriage” on all 50 states until June of 2015. This was a pure hypothetical, which wasn’t even legally possible at the time of her comment.
Furthermore, "Wyoming law does not require any judge or magistrate to perform any particular marriage, and couples seeking to be married have no right to insist on a particular official as the officiant of their wedding," Justice Keith Kautz wrote in the dissent. So even if same-sex “marriage” had been legal, Judge Neely was under no obligation to solemnize any particular marriages. In other words, no judge could be compelled to perform a wedding ceremony - for any reason or no reason at all. Well there you have it. End of story, right??? Wrong.
So much for the “rule of law” – the Court’s insidious justification for silencing a conscientious judge. Judge Neely’s only error was failing to realize that she should never count on the law to stand in the way of the cultural Marxist agenda (within which the “LGBT” agenda subsists). (See Chief Justice Robert’s famous last words in his Obergefell v. Hodges dissent: “[The Constitution] had nothing to do with it.”) See, when you’re a judge, you’re supposed to look past the law any time it dictates or permits a result inconsistent with the prevailing liberal orthodoxy, which Judge Neely neglected to do. That’ll teach her.
But perhaps what is most frustrating about the Court’s statement is that it misrepresents the nature of “religion” and thereby dismisses its legitimate place in civil society, including in the lives of civil servants. Thankfully, one of Virginia’s own, Thomas Jefferson, had the foresight to articulate its meaning and significance, and his words stand as a pillar of freedom in Virginia’s Bill of Rights to this day:
Bill of Rights - Article 1, Section 16. “That religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” (emphasis added)
Well said, Mr. Jefferson. I shudder to think where we might otherwise be today without your wise words. Judge Neely, you're welcome in the Commonwealth anytime. And don't worry - you won't have to check your conscience at the border when you come.
A Day Without Whiney WomenMar. 08, 2017
First, let me say right up front, as a woman, I have nothing in common with the whiney women who are staging this pout-out other than, possibly, we have the same plumbing. I have taken pleasure for over 40 years in defining the difference between this type of woman and what I call, a Renaissance Woman.
Renaissance women are Winners not Whiners, Leaders not Followers, and most importantly, Victors, not Victims. Either you are one or aren’t. No one can turn you into one because it is a function of self-confidence, an optimistic view of the world, and refusal to be intimidated, marginalized, ridiculed or coerced into believing one point of view over another.
I remember years ago, debating Gloria Steinem on the Phil Donohue Show. I learned as a young woman that there was no way I was going to change the mind of this entrenched feminist who embraced socialist beliefs. So, I addressed my concerns to the audience and appealed to them to think for themselves and express their own opinions, apart from these self-appointed spokesmen.
I must have hit a nerve with the audience because there was a pile-on against Gloria and it was later reported that she was furious at Phil that he did not step in and defend her position.
Isn’t that rich? Here she is, a veteran TV personalty, very much my senior, claiming women are strong and don’t need men, yet she whined when one didn’t defend her against a young novice who had only done TV one other time.
That is who is marching today. They are privileged women who have had the luxury of spending four or more years in universities, sitting at the feet of their adored indoctrinators, who tell them they are victims and deserve safe places to be able to hear the echoed sounds of their own voices without trigger words that hurt their itty bitty feelings.
Yeah, girls, that’s not reality. I don’t have the luxury of not working today because I run my own business and lots of people depend on me to be here. I would be hurting myself and real people, not some politician or political cause by not working. These women are as embarrassing as the ones who wore pink vaginas on their heads the day after the inauguration telling everyone not to touch their private parts. Well, don’t wear them on your heads you goofy women. They demand respect yet show none for themselves. They want men to turn the other way when they march topless in the street and claim men are the ones with the issues when they happen to look at a topless woman. Seriously?
Who are these women and who in the world would ever hire them? They are the whiners who clog up a system, poisoning the atmosphere with their petty, selfish demands, and turn on a dime to accuse anyone of anything who doesn’t agree with them. They remind me of little wild animals that are cute to watch, until you get too close and they spring, biting your nose and clawing your face.
They have lost all credibility with real women who just shake their heads with embarrassment at the rantings of the Ashly Judds and Madonnas of their movement. Who on the “right” could say they want to blow up the White House and would not be sitting in jail today?
And why aren’t these women defending another woman, Ivanka Trump, who has two major department stores boycotting her line? Why aren’t they marching in support of her? Isn’t that just blatant sexism and misogeny? It is also a little anti-Semitic considering the fact that Ivanka is Jewish. Why aren’t they storming the doors of Nordstrom’s and Neiman Marcus, demanding they put her dresses and shoes back on the racks? Because … she is not one of them … thank goodness.
She is one of the renaissance women who got up today and went to work because dozens of people are depending on her to be the leader. She did not run to any organization or government agency to complain that she was a victim of a boycott. No, she put her big girl pants on and did what she does every day …. including today … she went to work. Because unlike these women today who think they will be missed … Ivanka truly will be missed because she actually is creating, building, doing, making, expanding, influencing, and fulfilling her destiny as … yes … a Renaissance Women.
So, with that one example we can see the distinction between the whiners and the winners, the leaders and the followers, the victims and the victors. And I can guarantee you that ALL those renaissance women are at work today, fulfilling their obligations, and making a positive difference in the lives of others. They aren’t out protesting, blaming someone else for their sad pitiful lives of empty anger directed at anyone who does not approve of their tantrums.
Look how these same women have trashed every conservative, Republican woman for years at the same time claiming they speak for all women. No, ladies, you don’t. We can speak for ourselves and our identity is not wrapped up in our sexuality, our political affiliation or our philosophical persuasion.
We are uniquely different and each of us has our own ideas, opinions, beliefs and do not need a movement to break glass ceilings. We broke those years ago, but still operate in shadows of success because the liberal establishment has determined strong women, who think for themselves, are dangerous and must be destroyed.
You can march and scream and cry and rant and rave all you want. Heh, it’s a free country … but do not claim you do that on my behalf against a man you hate, but who sits as the President of the United States, whether you like it or not.
Take a cue from the conservative women who lost twice to a man with opposing views to theirs. They kept their powder dry and reloaded in 2016 to elect people who understand that America is the greatest country in the world, that promotes freedom of expression and the choice in the way that is carried out.
Travel the world and see how women in many other countries are treated and decide if you would rather live there or not. Lot’s of people promised to move if Trump was elected, but I didn’t see one moving van pull into Beverly Hills to take gilded furniture to Canada. So much for that empty promise.
So, they should take the day to go shopping. At least they can do something positive by stimulating the economy. I think I saw a new line of “big girl pants” in Ivanka’s fashions. I would suggest all these whiney women, who embrace the idea that they are victims, follow the example of real women and go buy a pair … on line.
By Nina May, Founder and Chairman of The Renaissance Women
Sex MattersMar. 06, 2017
In a welcomed move, the United States Supreme Court this morning responded to the Trump administration’s recent guidance document on school locker rooms, showers and bathrooms by vacating the Fourth Circuit’s May 2016 opinion in the case of G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, instructing the lower court to rehear the case in light of this policy reversal.
The Court was brief and unobtrusive in its Order, writing only the following:
“The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for further consideration in light of the guidance document issued by the Department of Education and Department of Justice on February 22, 2017.”
This is good news for students and parents everywhere who care about the privacy, dignity and safety of public school children. Last year, the Obama administration radically distorted a federal law that is meant to equalize educational opportunities for women, putting the privacy, dignity and safety of school kids at risk.
But with last month’s letter rescinding that Obama-era policy and now the Supreme Court’s vacating the lower court’s decision that bowed to that radical departure from the law’s meaning, the legal tide is quickly turning on this issue. And if the Fourth Circuit stays true to its own logic when it rendered its first opinion – that gave a federal agency near absolute power in interpreting law – upholding the federal agency’s interpretation of Title IX, then we should expect their decision this time to go the opposite way, effectively meaning that “sex” would simply mean what it has always meant – biological male or female.
It’s common sense that boys should not be given access to girls’ showers and locker rooms. No one should expect young girls to undress and be exposed to a member of the opposite sex in intimate settings like showers and locker rooms. A Mason-Dixon poll conducted in January found that 57 percent of Virginians oppose allowing school children to use the shower, locker room or restroom of their choice. Reasonable Virginians can find a way to accommodate a small number of students struggling with sexual identity without compromising the rights of every other child. Perhaps now, we can finally begin to have that conversation.
'Standing' for the TruthMar. 06, 2017
This past week the Supreme Court of Virginia heard a rousing and highly technical case involving a transgender policy recently adopted by Fairfax County Public Schools. (It’s amazing just how technical the whole issue of male vs. female anatomy has become in political and legal circles, since most of us learned this stuff in kindergarten.)
Only, the Court never got to the merits of the case to decide whether Fairfax County has the legal authority to alter anatomical reality and render boys and girls indistinguishable in their student Code of Conduct. The hearing was limited to the issue of “standing”, or the ability of a Fairfax County student and his parents to even bring the lawsuit in the first place. So not exactly primetime territory for the Perry Mason’s of the world, but still fascinating stuff for legal and policy wonks, and very important stuff for average ordinary parents and students when it comes to protecting their rights. Yet even for us wonks in the room, to hear the judges and lawyers go round and round gave the impression that this thing is a real legal quagmire.
The issues revolved around the legal effect of what’s known in Virginia as the “Dillon’s Rule”. It’s a doctrine of statutory construction which basically says that local governing bodies (including school boards) have no authority to do anything except those things which have been expressly granted to them either in their charter, or by statutory laws in the Code of Virginia. Virginia courts have always applied the rule very strictly, so anything that falls outside of the expressed power just a little bit will typically be invalidated.
The student and parents maintain (as do I) that the school board’s addition of the concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in their student code of conduct is outside the bounds of what the General Assembly has permitted them to do. And therefore, in violating a state statute (not to mention a constitutional right), the Dillon’s Rule provides for the right to sue when a person has been harmed by that overreach. The arguments centered on this doctrine, its case-law, and the particular facts and claims in this case. It was clear that both sides felt that this situation was unique in the context of legal precedent.
As I watched the oral arguments, all of the rigmarole over nuanced and seemingly conflicting legal doctrines led me to ask one practical question, which I hope will cross the Justices’ minds, too: If a student has no legal ability to challenge an unlawful school policy that chills his free speech and threatens to punish him at any moment, and if parents likewise have no ability to sue a school to prevent their child from being harmed by an illegal and indefensible policy, how can justice ever be served in such scenarios? How can their legitimate grievances be addressed? Can schools simply take advantage of this apparent “loop hole” to create any policy they want to? The attorney for Fairfax County Schools seemed to concede as much. Clearly, the implications of the Court’s decision are significant.
As for my judicial punditry, my bet’s on a 4-3 split in favor of sanity and common sense. Then again, as the underlying issue in this case reminds us, common sense ain’t so common anymore. But it’s still alive and kicking, thanks to some courageous students and parents in Fairfax County unwilling to accept lawlessness in their schools.
Gone But Not Soon ForgottenFeb. 27, 2017
On Saturday, the General Assembly wrapped up its 2017 legislative session, one that saw some surprises, some wins, some losses, and some very big changes.
Amidst final action on dozens of bills on Friday and Saturday, the House of Delegates, unfortunately, failed to override Governor Terry McAuliffe’s veto of legislation that would redirect some taxpayer funds away from Planned Parenthood to real, comprehensive health care clinics. The vote predictably fell short of the two-thirds of the 100 members required to override a veto, something that hasn’t happened during Terry McAuliffe’s administration. Remarkably, a day earlier, the Governor listed protecting Planned Parenthood as a top priority, ahead of feeding starving children and ending the Opioid epidemic. Such is the case for someone whose few accomplishments in four years includes propping up the abortion industry.
Earlier in the week, the House of Delegates put the finishing touches on a resolution that could significantly rebalance power in Virginia government from unelected bureaucrats back to the people’s elected representatives where it truly belongs. By a vote of 52-46 the House, and 21-19 the Senate approved HJ 545, patroned by Delegate Chris Head (R-17, Roanoke). The House majority was supplied by 51 of the 66 Republicans and one Democrat, while the Senate vote was party line.
The resolution would allow the General Assembly, by a majority vote in both chambers, to repeal a regulation by a state government agency. A version of this proposal has been introduced from time to time over the last dozen years or so, but has never even reached the Senate floor.
In order for the resolution to go on the ballot for voters to ratify or reject in November 2018, it must be adopted by both chambers in the exact same language again next year, when a newly elected General Assembly convenes. No gubernatorial action is required.
The legislature also completed work on budget amendments for the final year of the biennium budget. The $107 billion budget includes language fought for in previous years that prohibits taxpayer funding of low-income abortions except in cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is at risk, along with funding abortion of unborn children with severe disabilities. Efforts to remove the disability abortion funding failed, but several budget negotiators were appalled at information we gave them showing that the number of disability abortions has more than doubled per year since Terry McAuliffe became governor, and committed to working on this in the next budget, when we have a new (and hopefully pro-life) governor.
In the coming days, we’ll be sending you several action alerts, urging you to contact Governor McAuliffe on bills that have reached his desk, including those that protect the religious charities from government discrimination, give more choices and information to parents regarding education, and protect free speech on college campuses.
This year’s session was also the last that will be held in the current General Assembly Building, commonly called the “GAB.” The decades-old structure, a hodgepodge of several buildings joined together, will be torn down in the coming year and replaced. During the four-year project, the legislature will move to the Pocahontas Building, which sits directly across Main Street from our office. Logistics for next year will be new for everyone, and many questions will remain unanswered until the legislature arrives in January. Regardless, we’ll keep you informed and seek your engagement wherever and whenever the General Assembly meets!
Finally, perhaps the biggest news out of Richmond in the final weeks was the retirement announcement of Speaker of the House Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksburg). Speaker Howell has been at the helm of the Republican House caucus for fifteen years, a time during which the Republican majority in the House grew, and we saw great success in our legislative agenda. Upon his announcement, House Republicans quickly confirmed that Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-66, Colonial Heights) will be the next Speaker, and Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15, Woodstock) will become Majority Leader. Delegates Cox and Gilbert are both previous Family Foundation Legislator of the Year award recipients and have worked with us on many legislative priorities over the years. We look forward to working with them in the future in their new roles.