Opt-Outs are Unreliable: Part 2Nov. 08, 2018
In a previous post I provided an example of how there are inherent administrative pitfalls that make “opt-out” policies simply unreliable.
Now it appears that an opt-out policy is unsatisfactory because it doesn’t go far enough for those it was designed to benefit. Last month, parents of students at Robious Middle School in Chesterfield County heard that the school had decided not to sing certain songs at a Christmas concert because a few students complained that the songs contained references to Jesus. Aside from the fact that the Supreme Court has ruled that religious songs are permissible in public schools, what’s puzzling about this instance is that the County considers religious music to be an appropriate part of a school’s overall education enrichment. Their policy on religious beliefs and customs provides the following:
This policy recognizes the pluralism of religious beliefs of citizens and the significance of religion in Virginia's history. The historical and contemporary values and the origin of religion may be explained in an unbiased and objective manner without sectarian indoctrination.
Music, art, literature, history, world language and drama, among others, having religious themes or bases are permitted as a part of the curriculum for school‑sponsored activities and programs if presented in a prudent and objective manner and as a traditional part of the cultural and religious heritage.
The use of religious symbols that are a part of a religion may be permitted as a teaching aid or resource provided such symbols are displayed as an example of the cultural and religious heritage and are temporary in nature.
Within the County’s religious beliefs and customs policy is what amounts to an “opt-out” accommodation, which states:
[i]n that spirit of respect, students and staff members may be excused from participating in activities that are contrary to their religious beliefs unless there are clear issues of compelling public interest that would prevent it. [Emphasis added]
Under the current mechanics of an opt-out policy, a student is afforded the opportunity to be excused from an activity or curriculum that conflicts with his or her beliefs, while still permitting the other students to continue to participate.
That’s not what happened at Robious Middle School.
Instead of exercising the discretion afforded by the County’s policies, the teacher decided to eliminate all religious themed music from the production because parents of students simply did not find the opt-out accommodation adequate. That means that students who wanted to sing songs containing religious overtones were denied that opportunity.
What happened at Robious Middle School actually rendered the opt-out policy null and void.
Using this same rationale, it would be like saying that if one or more students who object to the human sexuality component of FLE instruction on religious or moral grounds and elect to opt-out should result in the school’s decision to eliminate all materials dealing with human sexuality for all students.
It appears that the County would have been much better off with an “opt-in” policy, whereby parents could have made their decision to allow their children to participate in the production based on the types of songs that were going to be performed.
We Voted! Now What?Nov. 07, 2018
Another election has come and gone. Virginia is among the states that saw a noticeable shake-up.
Virginia will be sending three new Democrat Representatives to Washington. Unfortunately, Elaine Luria, Jennifer Wexton, and Abigail Spanberger have all expressed support for efforts to keep abortion funding, and will advance the radical “LGBTQ+” ideology that undermines truth and religious liberty. Despite appealing to voters as moderates, all three received hearty endorsements from The Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading organizations promoting the radical LGBTQ agenda.
Notably, defeated Republicans Scott Taylor (VA-2nd) and Barbara Comstock (VA-10th) had both supported different liberal agendas in Washington, and yet that clearly did not appease the liberal voters who replaced them yesterday. On the other hand, Dave Brat lost his seat even though he tirelessly supported life, marriage, families and freedom throughout his two terms. It’s hard to say what factors all played into these different outcomes, but it is clear that Republicans appeasing a liberal agenda does not secure victory. We encourage newly-elected 5th District Representative Denver Riggleman to never attempt to appease liberal factions as he takes votes on matters of life and marriage. If you are in the 5th District, today might be a great day to congratulate him and send him a note about how he can represent you best!
We want to congratulate one candidate who never tries to appease a different agenda. Former Chairman of the Conservative Caucus Delegate Ben Cline won the election to replace Bob Goodlatte in the 6th Congressional District! This election, and the election of Jennifer Wexton, trigger two special elections to replace them in the Virginia House of Delegates and in the Senate, respectively.
In the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party actually picked up a several seats, further solidifying its control. Some suggest that confirmation of Justice Kavannah was a decisive factor in those outcomes. Democrat Senators who voted not to confirm Kavanaugh faced a backlash, losing several seats. Democrat Senator Manchin, who defied his party to uphold the Kavannah confirmation, won. These results should mean that qualified and honorable Supreme Court Justices and other federal judges will be easily confirmed in the years to come.
The divided party control of Congress, with Democrats controlling the House of Representatives and Republicans controlling the Senate, will likely stymie any major legislation from passing over the next two years.
Last night also brought one new addition to the Virginia House of Delegates, Joe McNamara in the 8th district special election. To learn more about his positions on issues, check out our voter guide for that race.
One outcome from yesterday worth celebrating is that West Virginia and Alabama both passed Constitutional Amendments stating clearly that there is no right to abortion in their state and that no state funds will be used for abortions! These are among the growing number of states working hard to protect unborn children and defund the abortion industry. Unfortunately, national funding for the abortion industry will likely continue because of yesterday’s Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives. Barring a miracle, no budgets that defund Planned Parenthood will pass under their control.
So what now?
Keep all of our Representatives and our Senators in your prayers.
Support good candidates in these special elections coming up. The Family Foundation will be keeping you updated on all the developments as they come very quickly.
Contact your Delegate and your Senator in Richmond to let them know you support life, marriage, parental rights, and religious liberty. They will face a heavy onslaught from the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Virginia, Planned Parenthood, the Equal Rights Amendment supporters, and many others. They need to hear from you now and all throughout the General Assembly session.
The Family Foundation will be here every step of the way. We appreciate your support, and look forward to seeing you during the General Assembly in January.
P.S. Pastors Day at the Capitol will be on January 9th. Pastors, Save the Date and plan to join us on the first day of the session to pray for civic leaders and learn more about the policies coming up in Richmond.
Opt-outs are Unreliable: Part 1Nov. 06, 2018
Public school “Opt-out” policies are simply unreliable.
The Family Foundation has consistently argued that opt-out policies fail to provide parents a reliable means for ensuring that their children are excused from school activities and curriculum that conflict with their worldview without the potential for ridicule, embarrassment, or unwarranted questions.
Consider opt-out accommodations for family life education (FLE). We have long articulated that parents have the primary responsibility of teaching their children values and morals about human sexuality, not school administrators. However, opt-out policies give the false impression that the school is the best environment for teaching on this subject, and that parents can only exercise their parental authority by electing to excuse their child from such sensitive FLE instruction. Further, opt-out options only subject students to embarrassment and ridicule by having them leave the classroom, in front of their peers, before FLE instruction begins.
At least they are giving parents a secure means to remove their children from FLE instruction, right? Not really. The opt-out policy does not always achieve its intended goal.
A few years ago one of my children was not properly removed from the FLE component of instruction time. My wife and I signed my child’s opt-out form, submitted it to the teacher, but the teacher accidentally removed the wrong student and left my child in the classroom for FLE instruction. The teacher, who is an outstanding educator and arguably one of the best teachers in our children’s school, simply made a mistake. Unfortunately, the oversight resulted in a violation of our parental authority and forced my wife and I to address some topics that our young child was not prepared to consider just yet. The teacher offered a sincere apology, which we accepted, and we all moved forward. I doubt all parents, if in the same situation, would have been as forgiving and understanding.
Nevertheless, clerical or administrative errors like this are inherent in the opt-out policy, and it is likely that oversights such as this occur often and simply go unreported. Also, you cannot dismiss the unnecessary burden that is placed on the administrators and teachers to ensure that oversights such as this do not happen.
In order to avoid these potential pitfalls, the best solution is to apply an “opt-in” approach to FLE instruction. This would ensure that only students with proper approval and documentation will be allowed into a classroom in which FLE instruction was being offered. If a school is able to work with hundreds of parents and students to assign them to their desired electives, then it should be expected that it can also work with parents to decide if an FLE class is right for their child.
Sexual Abuse Double Standard?Nov. 05, 2018
Last week Attorney General Mark Herring announced that his office was launching an investigation into potential child sexual abuse and cover up in the two diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Virginia.
The Family Foundation applauds law enforcement and the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Virginia for committing to fully investigate all claims and to ensure that children are kept safe.
Anyone who abuses a child should be reported to law enforcement and punished to the full extent of the law. It is good to know that Attorney General Herring will have the support of the two Bishops in Virginia as he undertakes this investigation into sexual abuse within that religious institution.
While it is great that he is investigating child sexual abuse in this case, we want to know why he refused to investigate child sexual abuse when it was connected to the abortion industry.
Why did Attorney General Mark Herring release an advisory opinion four years ago telling the medical community that they do not have to report sexual abuse of minors?
His opinion then was that no report of the sexual abuse needed to be made by nurses who knew that a 14-year-old girl was pregnant. Even though he admits that a 14-year-old who is pregnant is proof positive that a “Class 4 felony” has been committed against her, he didn’t seem to think reporting that abuse was important in those cases.
Instead of vigilantly pursuing justice for these young girls who have been sexually abused, Attorney General Herring was content to let their stories disappear. Why was he less gung-ho to investigate sexual abuse back then?
Perhaps it was because these cases were coming out of the abortion industry.
Back in 2014, the Attorney General narrowly interpreted the meaning of the law so that sexual abuse cases in the abortion industry wouldn’t come to light.
What is the difference between the question in 2014 and the question today? Perhaps the horrific account of abuse within the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania made a difference?
Wouldn’t the horrific account of children being murdered in an abortion clinic in Pennsylvania also make a difference?
Attorney General Herring is right to be concerned about child sexual abuse. It is right for law enforcement to investigate possible abuse.
We urge him to not only investigate the Catholic Church, but the abortion industry as well.
All children should get protection from the law. They should never be sent back from an abortion to suffer sexual abuse in lonely isolation.
Attorney General Herring was wrong in 2014. We hope he’ll change his mind.
A Person is a Person, No Matter How Many WombsOct. 31, 2018
In case you missed the news, a baby boy has been born after being carried in the wombs of two different women!
Stetson is the healthy baby boy who was born to Ashleigh and Bliss earlier this year. He was conceived using traditional IVF procedures, but then he was incubated inside Bliss’s womb before being transferred to the womb of Ashleigh, where he grew until birth.
The fertility experts who made this medical marvel possible call it Effortless Reciprocal IVF. It is being celebrated for creating more options to same-sex couples who want to have children.
Options. Our society now uses the word “options” to talk about how children can be made.
This kind of language treats children as commodities. It is dehumanizing. The language of “it” and “clump of cells” and “embryo” all treat unborn children as if they are not people, but just biological masses that have no value.
This dehumanizing language is at the center of the abortion mind set. If the unborn are not human, then abortion is not horrific. So the language used helps to avoid the conclusion that the unborn really are human beings.
News articles on this story frequently use the pronoun “it” to describe Stetson while in the womb. Yet these stories also celebrate the fertility breakthrough because “the same baby” was carried by two women.
Well, which is it? Was Stetson a baby while Bliss was carrying him, or was “it” an embryo?
The story of this remarkable fertility treatment undermines the entire narrative of the abortion industry. Stetson is a remarkable baby because he was inside of one woman’s womb before being transferred to a different woman’s womb. He was carried by both.
There wasn’t an embryo carried by one woman and a baby carried by another. Bliss carried Stetson when he was very small. Ashleigh carried him all the way until birth. Now both Bliss and Ashleigh take turns holding him in their arms.
Stetson is not a commodity. He is not an “it.”
The headlines get it right. Stetson is the first baby to be carried by two different women.
He was Stetson as an embryo while in the womb of Bliss, and he was still Stetson as he grew in the womb of Ashleigh. And he is still Stetson now.
Urging the Supreme Court to Overturn RoeOct. 26, 2018
A man in Alabama shot and killed his wife and unborn child. He admits that he killed his wife, but argues that he shouldn’t be held responsible for killing their child.
The jury of his peers did not listen to that argument, and convicted him of double-homicide under Alabama law. He was sentenced to death.
He appealed the decision all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court, arguing that the death penalty was inappropriate in the case because he only killed one person, not two. His argument was that the unborn child (being between six and eight weeks old) wasn’t viable, and shouldn’t be counted as a person.
Alabama’s law directly answers his objections. The Brody Act protects even “nonviable fetuses from homicidal acts.” This man’s murderous actions constitute double-homicide under Alabama law.
The Supreme Court of Alabama unanimously upheld the conviction and the sentence. One of the justices of that court went even further, calling on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Justice Parker agreed with the decision, and wrote a separate opinion to argue that Roe v. Wade must be overturned. He notes that the Brody Act protects all unborn children from homicide – except for in the case of abortion. He calls this the “Roe exception.”
Because of the Roe exception, the state cannot protect unborn children from abortion. Justice Parker says that this exception is “patently illogical.”
Justice Parker has urged the Supreme Court to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision, and to allow states to protect unborn children from abortion. Why can the law protect a child from a gun, but not from the forceps of an abortionist?
This powerful opinion from Justice Parker comes just weeks after Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the United States Supreme Court.
Perhaps now is the time that Roe v. Wade will be overturned?
I join Justice Parker in stating that it is my hope and prayer that the Supreme Court will do so. I join him in this appeal to the Supreme Court to set things right by overturning Roe v. Wade.
You can also join Justice Parker in calling on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade by signing the online petition. Click here to tell the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Roe exception is the last remaining obstacle to the states' ability to protect the God-given respect and dignity of unborn human life. I urge the Supreme Court of the United States to reconsider the Roe exception and to overrule this constitutional aberration. Return the power to the states to fully protect the most vulnerable among us. – Justice Parker, Concurring Opinion in the case of Jessie Phillips v. State of Alabama, 2018
Board of Health to Amend Rules for Abortion Centers . . . Again!Oct. 15, 2018
The abortion lobby is at it again. After years of regulatory efforts under the McAuliffe administration to significantly undercut the common-sense health and safety standards for abortion centers (which led to our ongoing lawsuit against the Board of Health after it broke the law repeatedly in the process), Ralph Northam’s administration has decided that his predecessor didn’t go far enough.
Earlier this month, the Board of Health published an official Notice of its intent to carve up the regulations governing abortion center standards even more. But the way it went about it is truly unprecedented. Unlike the normal process of specifying the types of changes a state agency intends to make to certain regulatory sections and then seeking public comment on them, the Board of Health has simply decided to leave the entire Chapter wide open to any and all changes that suit their fancy, based upon whatever their pro-abortion cohorts call for through public comments.
They have effectively set up a free-for-all smorgasbord of handouts to the abortion industry, in which the Board has given itself the boundless ability to do whatever it wants. While this latest stunt is probably unlawful, our experience reminds us that the law is no obstacle to the abortion-minded Board of Health. With a pending lawsuit that appears likely to overturn most of the Board’s previous changes to these very regulations, you would think they would eventually learn a lesson.
Nevertheless, this does present a prime opportunity to provide the Board of Health with recommendations for health and safety measures that will actually help protect vulnerable women and children and hold this notoriously shady industry to account.
It’s important that we make sure the pro-life, pro-women, pro-safety message is heard and well represented.
Follow this link to the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall to leave your comment urging the Board of Health to implement strong health and safety measures that will protect vulnerable women and hold the abortion industry accountable. (See below for a list of suggestions.)
Years of inspection reports have produced evidence of hundreds of egregious safety violations inside these abortion centers. And most of those were reported under the McAuliffe administration’s own oversight. One abortion center was even closed down after Governor McAuliffe’s own Commissioner of Health suspended its license after a 70-page report of violations.
Virginia’s abortion facilities need more oversight, not less. Share your thoughts about this with the Board of Health today!
Here are a few changes we recommend the Board make:
Reinstate all of the health and safety measures the Board unlawfully watered down during its last amendment process.
Require all OLC inspections to verify that ultrasounds have been performed at least 24 hours prior to every abortion performed.
Require annual inspections on abortion facilities instead of biennial.
Remove the ability of the Commissioner to grant permanent variances.
Reinstate the definition of "first trimester" as being the first twelve weeks from conception, not "13 weeks and 6 days after last menstrual period."
Reinstate the ability of the department to deny, suspend, or revoke the license to operate an abortion facility for violating "any provision of Article 1 (§ 32.1-123 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of Title 32.1."
Reinstate the requirement that abortion facilities provide information on post-abortion counseling to its patients.
Reinstate the requirement that the abortion facility ensure that it has removed all of the fetal body parts from inside of the female patient upon the performance of an abortion.
Reinstate the requirement that abortion facilities report to OLC any incidents reported to the malpractice insurance carrier.
Reinstate the reasonable design and construction standards that provided for things such as hallways wide enough to carry patients out on stretchers in cases of emergency.
Planned Parenthood’s Stealth Accounting PracticesOct. 15, 2018
It is widely understood that Planned Parenthood’s primary funding source, close to $500 million, is derived from Medicaid reimbursements. Abortion supporters attempt to make the argument that, under the law, Medicaid reimbursements can only be used for “family planning” services. While that may be the case, it does allow Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to divert funds otherwise used for family planning toward abortion services. It’s nothing short of devious accounting.
During the Medicaid expansion debate in Virginia this year, we warned legislators that Medicaid expansion and other grant programs would permit Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to line their pockets with state funds in order to help them carry out their abortion practice.
Last month, the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood announced that it is planning to open a new abortion center in the East End of Richmond, which is projected to double the number of Richmond clients to 20,000 visits per year. In fact, the abortion provider has already purchased property and plans to invest upwards of $5 million in its renovation. The location of the new Planned Parenthood is in one of Richmond’s more impoverished areas, and will seek to exploit and misguide new Medicaid enrollees.
What gave Planned Parenthood incentive to establish a new abortion center in Richmond you might ask? Simple: Medicaid. In the Richmond Times Dispatch article announcing the new facility, the CEO of The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, Paulette McElwain, stated that they were motivated by the General Assembly’s passage of expanded Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals.
In addition to expanded Medicaid, there have been two Planned Parenthood affiliates approved for the LARC pilot program, a two year, $6 million pilot program approved through the budget to provide long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) to its clients.
While the Medicaid dollars and LARC grants will not fund abortions directly, it will allow Planned Parenthood to redirect non-Medicaid funding streams to support their primary mission – performing abortions. Money is fungible, and Planned Parenthood has learned how to cleverly use this to skirt federal and state laws in order to use taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.
Some states, most recently South Carolina, are taking direct action to thwart this devious accounting practice. This month the South Carolina House of Representatives voted to uphold the Governor’s line item veto of a budget measure that would have funneled about $15.8 million in state “family planning” funds to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Last year the South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster also boldly issued an executive order disqualifying abortion facilities from being Medicaid providers (that executive order has been challenged in court by Planned Parenthood). Governor McMaster said in a statement: “[t]here are a variety of agencies, clinics, and medical entities in South Carolina that receive taxpayer funding to offer important women's health and family planning services without offering abortions.”
South Carolina has stood up to the powerful abortion industry and its lobbyists to cut off its funding, which ultimately support abortion practices. It is time for Virginia to do the same, and disqualify any health care clinics that carry out abortions from becoming eligible for Medicaid reimbursements.
As we unwrap Medicaid expansion that was delivered to Virginians through the biennium budget this year, we are now beginning to see some of our predictions related to the abortion industry come to pass. Nevertheless, we will remain steadfast and diligent in our defense of the unborn and the protection of all women who are being influenced by Planned Parenthood and its abortion cohorts.
Senator Amanda Chase: The Face of CourageOct. 12, 2018
I’m going to guess that Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) surely did not foresee the severity of the backlash that would come her way before she unflinchingly stepped up to the podium at last week’s “Conversion Therapy Work Group” meeting, during which she cautioned against a policy proposal guaranteed to significantly undermine parental rights, patient autonomy, free speech, religious liberty, and the very notion of truth itself. I also get the distinct impression that, had she been able to foresee the consequences ahead of time, she wouldn’t have changed a thing. The General Assembly could really use a few more legislators with that kind of courage, fortitude, and moral clarity.
As soon as Senator Chase posted about her involvement in the meeting on her Facebook page, the sharks began circling, and the madness inherent in the so-called “conversion therapy” discussion ensued. Passions ran high on all sides, but especially among those disinclined to recognize objective biological realities. Critical comments are to be expected towards legislators, but this was at a different level. And that was just Facebook.
Two days later, Senator Chase was being lambasted by Richmond2Day, which seemed to mostly take issue with the fact that she often provides retorts to statements from hostile constituents on social media. The real story here should be that Senator Chase actually takes the time to personally acknowledge and interact with her constituents - even the ones who disagree with her on various issues. A legislator who actively listens to and engages with her constituents? How refreshing. Moreover, she even talks openly about current issues on her weekly radio show, including this topic, which was featured on last week's show.
But what was it about this particular situation that caused Senator Chase to become the object of so much fury? She had the audacity to stand up on behalf of the General Assembly, struggling children, concerned parents, professional counselors, and people of faith and declare that children should be able to receive professional guidance when they are experiencing unwanted same-sex attractions or confusion about their biological sex, that we should trust parents to seek therapeutic methods that are in the best interest of their children and in accordance with their faith, and that we should permit counselors the professional latitude to help their clients through a variety of reasonable methods. I suspect that what really sent some over the edge, though, was that Senator Chase dared to stand before a body of mostly liberal bureaucratic "professionals" and clearly imply that, when it comes to the new radical agenda to force misaligned sexual identities onto vulnerable children, "the emperor has no clothes."
Plenty of others also showed up to share a similar message, including professional counselors, individuals who had received such counseling, pastors, and citizens of goodwill. But none besides Senator Chase had to subsequently face the firing squad - because she's an elected official, and well, elected officials are supposed to know to stay away from such "controversial" issues. For the sake of our Commonwealth and the many people impacted by this proposal, I'm glad Senator Chase didn't shy away from speaking the truth on such an explosive, but critically important, matter. The Family Foundation was there to address the Work Group, but we were grateful to have had a legislator lay the groundwork for our cause up front.
The Family Foundation stands resolutely behind Senator Chase and any other legislators who stand up to fight for children, parents, counselors, free speech, and religious liberty. Others are definitely out there, but our Commonwealth could use a few more.
America's Biggest Serial Killer and Our LawsuitOct. 11, 2018
Did you know that the most prolific and successful serial killer in American history was convicted and jailed for multiple life-sentences just five years ago? The Philadelphia man killed hundreds of victims over the course of a few decades without getting caught. He was finally caught after an unrelated drug investigation. He was convicted for the first-degree murders of five of his countless victims.
This story is shocking. It is horrific. And the major news media was all but silent as it happened.
Why were they silent? Because Dr. Kermit Gosnell was an abortionist and his victims were the survivors who were born alive in his abortion clinic.
Very few people know that America’s Biggest Serial Killer was an abortionist. NPR won’t even allow this fact to be printed.
Stories like this one remind us why the health regulations in Virginia are so important. This serial killer was only able to continue his decades-long killing spree because the State of Pennsylvania refused to regulate abortion clinics.
The Family Foundation is currently involved in a lawsuit to enforce Virginia’s abortion facility regulations which the McAuliffe administration unlawfully obliterated. We must enforce these regulations so that we never have a Kermit Gosnell in our Commonwealth.
This story needs to be told. And this weekend it is finally being told in movie theaters across the country.
I strongly recommend this movie, which I saw at a special preview showing, to you and your families. It is a courtroom drama that shows the failure of the government to protect innocent lives. This movie also strongly rebukes the mainstream media for their failure to report this sensational criminal trial as it was happening.
While the source material of the story is intensely emotional and disturbing, the filmmakers have done a great job to avoid any graphic content that would upset viewers. This movie will make you think, and it should make you angry about what we are doing in our society. Check your local theater listing to find a showtime and see this movie. The true story of the sordid work of the abortion industry enabled by the government and ignored by the mainstream media must be told.
The Family Foundation will tell this story and continue to hold our own government accountable to protect Virginians from killers like Gosnell. Thank you for your support.
The "Gay Cake Row" Across the PondOct. 10, 2018
You’ve heard of Jack the Baker of Masterpiece Cakeshop, right? He’s the Christian man who won his case at the Supreme Court this year.
Now you should hear about Daniel and Amy McArthur of Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland. Today they finally won their case at the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court.
Both cases were about whether nondiscrimination laws can be used to force bakers to create custom cakes celebrating gay marriage.
Four and a half years ago, Ashers was asked to make a custom cake with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and the phrase “Support Gay Marriage” on it. The clerk accepted the order, but the Reformed Presbyterian Christian family who owns the business decided this message would conflict with their deeply held religious beliefs. So they refused the order.
The cake would have cost £36.50. Instead of looking for another bakery to make the cake, the customer, gay rights activist Gareth Lee, brought a lawsuit against Ashers for discrimination.
His case was initially successful. The lower courts ruled that refusing to make this custom cake was discrimination against Mr. Lee on the basis of his sexual orientation. It is against the law in the United Kingdom to discriminate on that basis.
The appeals have continued in Northern Ireland, and the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom finally reached a decision this morning. The Supreme Court unanimously agreed with what the McArthurs and Ashers have been saying all along: “We did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself.”
Lady Hale of the Supreme Court gave the opinion of the court.
This unanimous decision in favor of the Christian bakery owners made it clear that “nondiscrimination” cannot be interpreted as a right to force Christians to celebrate something they disagree with.
“The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr. Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”
After four and a half years, freedom of speech has prevailed in the United Kingdom. It cost the taxpayers over £200,000 in legal fees that the State provided to Mr. Lee through the “equality commission.”
Facing the prospect of hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs for the years-long legal battle would have silenced many Christians. But the McArthurs stood their ground and won their case.
Bakers in Colorado and in the United Kingdom have had to fight all the way to the Supreme Court because of nondiscrimination laws that were used as weapons against them. If we pass “nondiscrimination” laws that uphold “sexual orientation” as a protected class, then we can expect to see it happening to Virginian bakers as well. And that’s just the bakers.
The Family Foundation will continue to stand against these destructive policies in Virginia. Thank you to all of our supporters who make this stance possible.
State Bureaucrats: 'You Can't Change'Oct. 05, 2018
“Quackery,” “fraudulent,” “dangerous,” “harmful,” “ineffective,” “no legitimate purpose,” “abuse in every way, shape, and form,” "torture."
These are some of the words used today by members of the Conversion Therapy Work Group and of the public to describe the process of licensed professionals helping children to cope with and even overcome their unwanted same-sex desires or the confusion they’re experiencing about their true gender as either male or female.
With such explosive feelings against this method of treatment – which they have termed “Conversion Therapy” – you might think they could point to some pretty shocking evidence.
As it turns out, one by one the representatives of the various medical boards openly admitted that they were not aware of ANY complaints having been received by their respective agencies about this practice. Meanwhile, they simply refuse to acknowledge the real-life examples of those who have found help and healing through these therapeutic methods – pretending, it seems, as though these people don’t exist.
Our team was there to address the work group’s proposal from a policy, a constitutional, and even a personal perspective. We also rallied counselors, pastors, and concerned citizens to show up to express their opposition.
In listening to all of the workgroup's discussion today, there were two key themes that ran throughout their remarks:
1) A licensed professional must choose between their profession or their faith, but they cannot possibly practice both at the same time. (A view that is totally misinformed and patently unconstitutional) And,
2) Parents cannot be trusted with acting in the best interest of their children. (Delegate Patrick Hope, who has patroned the “conversion therapy ban” bill in the House for several years, actually stated: “The reason I brought this bill is because I do think the government’s role is to take care of kids.”)
And then there was the unspoken but obvious implication by nearly all the members, that any religiously-motivated convictions that lead parents to seek counseling for their struggling child in this way are simply wrong, dangerous, and illegitimate.
Think about what they’re really saying through this policy to children with very real sexual struggles: You cannot change. You are what you feel, and you are destined to remain that way, unless of course you wish to modify your body or your behavior in an unhealthy and unnatural way. There is no help or hope for you, even if you desire it.
Now consider how that message flies in the face of what the Christian faith teaches:
I Corinthians 6: 9-11 – 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
By this policy, these bureaucrats directly attack the very ESSENSE of the Gospel message – the basis of the Christian faith, which declares that through the power of God, every person can actually be transformed through the renewing of their heart, mind, and soul.
Clearly, this battle is about so much more than what appears on the surface.
Today’s meeting did not take any actions, but they will recommend that several regulatory boards in Virginia do take action to ban “conversion therapy.” We anticipate that many boards will propose regulations that are a direct threat to religious liberty and parental authority. As we continue to meet this threat head on, we will keep you up to speed as things unfold. Thank you to everyone who spoke up at today’s meeting with passion and clarity. We will let you know when the next opportunity to speak comes up.
Drag Queens, Toddlers, and the Biblical FamilyOct. 01, 2018
On Saturday I was at the Joint Use library in Virginia Beach. I got there just in time to see over a dozen children walking out with paper crowns and colorful masks on.
Playfully I bowed to the children with crowns on their heads, showing proper respect for their “majesties” as they walked by. I was joining their imaginary exploration of what it would be like to be royalty.
Then I ran into someone who promoted something different than pretending. Joshua Martin, dressed as “Gillette Black,” was walking out of the children’s reading room where he had just led the “Drag Queen Story Hour” for dozens of toddlers. He was dressed up in an enormous wig and colorful outfit that reminded me of Wonder Woman.
This was part of a nationally promoted campaign to have drag queens read stories that affirm sexual and gender identities beyond “male and female” to children at local libraries.
Joshua Martin said that his goal for reading to children was to encourage them to be themselves, “no matter who they are.”
That’s the core of the disagreement between us. I call it imagination; he calls it true identity.
He believes that a person’s true identity is determined by their own feelings. I recognize that a person’s true identity is determined by the Creator who has made us in His image.
How did the community respond to this Drag Queen Story Hour? Well, one pastor spoke up.
He didn’t protest and curse this cultural darkness. Instead, he called together different Christians from across Virginia Beach to publicly proclaim what God has made good. He held the “Celebration of Biblical Family.” He held this celebration of truth and beauty in the same Joint Use library where the Drag Queen Story Hour had been held.
During this public event, several people shared about their own experiences with sexual brokenness and how the promise of the Gospel is so much better than anything the world can offer. The confusion of the world and the confusion in our own hearts cannot overwhelm the goodness of God.
Biblical families protect children from harm. My own father and mother, joined together in covenantal marriage for life, have guarded me from some of the immense suffering that many of my peers have gone through. I praise God for that blessing.
It was a joy to praise God publicly at the library on Saturday afternoon.
It isn’t hard to reserve a room and hold a similar event at your own local library. These are public institutions that cannot discriminate based on your message. All you have to do to hold your own celebration of the Biblical Family is to call the library, choose a date, and then invite your neighbors to join you. I’d love to join you, too!
Instead of shrinking back from our confused culture, we have the opportunity to make a huge impact by speaking the truth and shining the light into our communities.
We are the light of the world which is set on a stand and cannot be hidden. We do not curse the darkness, we light a candle.
Could Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Coming to Virginia?Sep. 28, 2018
We’ve spent two years participating in an administrative work-study group put together to analyze whether Virginia should legalize physician-assisted suicide (“PAS”). For our part, we made sure that the truth about the value and dignity of every human life – regardless of age or disability – was firmly and persistently made known. We provided solid data validating many of the moral, ethical, sociological, and scientific problems with PAS.
In short, we made it very clear that Virginia is no place for physician-assisted suicide.
Now the Joint Commission on Health Care has been presented with the Commission staff’s Final Report, and the legislative members of the Joint Commission will soon make a recommendation on whether it thinks the General Assembly should legalize PAS.
Please add your comment today urging the Commission members to reject PAS!
Five states now have some form of legalized PAS. While that’s a small number, it’s still five too many, and we cannot allow it to gain any grip in our Commonwealth.
The citizen comment period for this PAS study will end at 5:00 P.M. on October 15th. It’s so very important that the delegates and senators on this Commission hear from those of us who know the value of life.
CLICK HERE to send your comment to the Joint Commission on Health Care, because in Virginia, we don’t want or need physician-assisted suicide!
Will Virginia Ban the Truth?Sep. 26, 2018
This bill prohibited any licensed professional in Virginia from offering “Sexual Orientation Change Efforts” to people under the age of 18. Sexual Orientation Change Efforts was defined as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings toward individuals of the same gender” (Emphasis mine.)
That means that any child who is engaged in same-sex sexual behaviors cannot be counseled to change those behaviors by a licensed professional in Virginia! The ban would have even covered pastors who are also licensed by the state to provide counseling – and plenty are!
A dozen states, several cities, and the District of Columbia have all banned “Conversion Therapy” for minors. Virginia is not one of them, but now regulators may try to push this through without the legislature.
Our legislators in Richmond recognized that this proposed law was completely wrong. It violates free speech, religious liberty, and endangers children who should be able to receive helpful and godly counsel to avoid dangerous behaviors and to address the underlying issues likely contributing to certain feelings.
Now regulators are considering whether to impose this policy upon Virginians anyway!
The Department of Health Professions recently called for representatives from the boards of Psychology, Counseling, Social Work, Medicine, and Nursing to come to a meeting to “consider inclusion of such a prohibition in their unprofessional conduct regulations.”
This meeting will be held in Henrico on Friday, October 5, at 10:00 a.m.
We must speak up against regulations that would silence counselors who want to serve children and remain true to their deepest convictions. We must protect religious liberty. We must protect free speech.
Public Comment is invited at this meeting. Each speaker will be given up to 3 minutes.
Please take time during the morning next Friday, October 5, to attend and speak up at this Department of Health Professionals “Conversion Therapy Working Group.” If you would like help drafting something to say, I would be happy to help you write out a public statement. Please also pass this information along to your pastor and any counselors, doctors, nurses, or other licensed professionals you know.
As a personal note: I have been the recipient of counseling that encouraged me to change my behaviors with respect to my own same-sex sexual attractions. If this law had been in place when I was growing up, my pastors would not have been allowed – by state decree – to help me resist sexual temptations and to live in a godly way. The professionally licensed counselors I visited as a teenager helped me to live in accordance with the obligations I have as a male image bearer of the Holy God.
This law will silence those counselors, and would leave young men and women who are struggling like I was without any godly counsel in their lives.
These regulations will also go beyond what is done for children. A bill in California came incredibly close to being passed as a law that would ban Sexual Orientation Change Efforts for adults, as well. A ministry in New Jersey who serves adults who want to change their homosexual behaviors was recently shut down after a lawsuit was brought against them.
No counselors, doctors, nurses, or social workers should be treated as “unprofessional” when they stand up for what is true and what is best for children or adults. Please join me next Friday to speak up in opposition to any regulations that would silence these professionals.
Join me on Friday, October 5th, in speaking up against this regulation.
Department of Health Professionals
“Conversion Therapy Working Group”
Friday, October 5, 10:00 a.m.
9960 Mayland Drive Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233
Parents: Get Involved In SchoolSep. 24, 2018
Keep your public school district from becoming just like Fairfax!
Fairfax County Schools may be excellent in their academic training, but their social engineering is out of control. This year the School Board voted to teach children that “sex is assigned at birth” and that abstinence is not 100% effective at preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Now the school board is paying Dr. Amy Przeworski to speak during their mental health and wellness conference this weekend. Perhaps Dr. Przeworski is the best candidate for the presentation, but one of her current projects is an online survey of “Coming Out in the LGBT Community,” and the questions in that 45-minute long survey skew very strongly toward an ideological position decrying “homophobia” and celebrating “diversity.”
Fairfax County Public Schools is buying into the LGBTQ ideology more completely every year.
So what does this have to do with you and your local school district?
The decision about who comes to speak at school events is made by various committees in the schools. Do you know who makes those decisions in your schools?
Would you be surprised to learn that you can help make the decisions about what speakers, events, programs, and mandatory staff training is pushed through your school district? You can.
Right now the Henrico County School District has formed an Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee to shape decisions about sexual orientation and gender diversity policies in those schools. The members of that committee have been required to undergo mandatory training from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC).
VCIC includes school resources on gender that say “All Teachers Should Be Trained to Overcome Their Hidden Bias,” and “It’s OK to Be Neither: Teaching That Supports Gender-Variant Children.”
Another group currently influencing school policies is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has resources for elementary and middle school students. Some of the resources promoting the radical LGBTQ agenda from the ADL include books like “PRIDE: the Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag,” and lesson plans about “Marriage Equality” for elementary and middle school aged children!
Is your school district being directed by the influence of the VCIC and the ADL with respect to the LGBTQ agenda? Would you rather have that influence?
You can be a guardian for those school children. You can be the voice of reason in the school system. Contact your local school district to find out ways that you can volunteer either with a Diversity Committee (like in Henrico) or another committee that makes decisions about what children are taught about sexuality and gender.
One way of getting involved is by joining the committees that already exist in your school district. You can also volunteer with programs operated through your local pregnancy resource center to provide abstinence education, like the “I Am Enough” curriculum, in the Family Life Education classes.
The main point is to be present and be involved in the education in your community, to shine a light in your community.
As you participate in your local school, it is important to be civil. Our speech should always be gracious, so that we can speak the words that make a positive difference in our communities.
Planned Parenthood is Racist, Classist, and AbelistSep. 19, 2018
According to the Planned Parenthood Glossary of Sexual Health Terms, “Eugenics” is “a racist, classist, and ableist movement to control who should and shouldn’t have children.”
Racism, classism, and ableism are all horrible ideas. These ideas say that a human being’s worth is based on their ethnicity, position, or abilities. Eugenics applies those ideas to reproduction, and says that only the “good” people should give birth.
Planned Parenthood is right to identify Eugenics in this way. It’s ironic, though, since Planned Parenthood was originally founded by a major advocate of Eugenics.
Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood (then called the Birth Control League) in 1921.
Margaret Sanger was a big supporter of eugenics. She held eugenic views until the day she died. Her views about promoting birth control as a way to “regenerate” the human race and eliminate “undesirables” were known around the world.
Even MSNBC admits that Margaret Sanger was a “proponent of eugenics.” She was clear in her public writings about her goal of using birth control to prevent the “chance and chaotic breeding” of the lower classes.
She believed that white people were the superior race, that those of intelligence and means were better than those who were uneducated and stupid, and that those who were sick, diseased, or mentally infirm should never reproduce. Margaret Sanger was racist, classist, and ableist.
The Pro-Life, Pro-Family view which is guided by Biblical Christianity is not racist, classist, or ableist. The Family Foundation works to protect every human life, no matter what their ethnicity, their position, or their abilities.
God created all people in His image, not just some. There are no degrees of value based on the place someone was born.
Margaret Sanger said that the Australian Aboriginal was “the lowest known species of the human family, just a step higher than the chimpanzee in brain development.” The Bible says that “God made man in his own image.” (Genesis 1:27)
Despite the fact that Eugenics is a racist, classist, and ableist movement to control who should and shouldn’t give birth, Planned Parenthood still celebrates their founder, Margaret Sanger, by giving out the “Margaret Sanger Award” every year.
The abortion industry giant still promotes abortion and birth control – particularly targeting minorities, economically disenfranchised, and weak populations.
Planned Parenthood was founded by a eugenicist, and continues to promote eugenic ideas. Biblical Christianity answers them by loving all people, because all people are made in the image of God.
Owner of Virginia Abortion Facility Has License RevokedSep. 13, 2018
We’ve just learned that Virginia’s most notorious abortionist has finally been stripped of his medical license in New Jersey, his home base of operation, by the state’s Appeals Court. This is encouraging news, since Stephen Brigham has been a lingering menace in the abortion industry for years, having been convicted of numerous crimes and found to be running a multi-state underground operation of illegal late-term abortions.
You may remember that one of Brigham’s abortion centers in Virginia was permanently shut down, after then-Governor McAuliffe’s own Health Commissioner suspended its license in April 2016, citing a 52-page inspection report full of egregious health and safety violations. The abortion center health and safety standards we fought hard to implement in 2011 made it possible for that to happen. Before abortion centers had oversight through these regulations, the Stephen Brighams and Kermit Gosnells of the world were left completely to their own devices.
Even though he is no longer licensed to practice in Virginia, Brigham still owns one abortion center here – Virginia Women’s Wellness in Virginia Beach. This latest development provides all the more reason to be diligent in making sure our abortion center health and safety regulations are robust and are being actively enforced.
That’s why we are currently engaged in a significant legal battle with the State Board of Health, which broke the law in numerous ways in order to strip the abortion center regulations of much of their force. We are determined to reinstate the original common-sense standards that helped lead to the closure of one-third of the state’s licensed abortion facilities. When these facilities are forced to live up to the same reasonable health standards as other realmedical clinics, so many of them continue to prove (through documented inspection reports) what we suspected all along – they are unsanitary, unsafe, and unfit to operate.
Meanwhile, all of this does not even take into account the most glaringly outrageous aspect of all – the fact that these centers kill thousands of babies every year. But rest assured, their days are numbered.
Child Birth Empowers WomenAug. 16, 2018
Yesterday morning, I shared with a reporter from World Radio how true feminism should embrace all aspects of my femininity and the meaningful ways in which I am different from men, while recognizing equal respect and dignity for both sexes. Equality doesn’t necessitate the denial of our profound differences. Nor should it, lest we miss seeing the great value that our differences can offer one another. Hence, in the context of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was the subject matter of our interview, the ideal of equality in the workplace must not require “sameness” between men and women to ensure merit-based compensation.
Sadly, it is this fundamental point where progressive feminism, like the brand Chelsea Clinton espouses, gets confused, and in turn actually harms true progress. The path of “sameness” (as in, our culture must nullify all real differences between men and women) supposedly requires abortion on demand because, in order to earn equal pay and make a contribution to Wall Street or K Street, women must enter these zones childless. For Chelsea to attribute the $3 trillion economic boom of women entering the workforce to Roe v. Wade, she clearly believes childlessness is key to success, and that pregnancy, which is a critical difference from men, detracts from our rightful role in the workforce.
In this moment, I struggle not to call her a flat-earther or a science-denier. Just last month, the Boston Globe noted recent studies that have observed neurological changes in women as a result of pregnancy. Science now reveals that women become both more empathetic and better multi-taskers as a result of the surge of hormones that occurs as we bring new life into the world. Coupled with the latest research on the value of emotional intelligence and the complexity of most jobs, it would appear that moms add more to the workforce than if we women pursue the path of sameness or remain childless through abortion.
I would add that even if having kids hasn't actually made me better at being a boss, they are still worth it. Every parent knows that having kids is actually pretty incredible, no matter what the implications are to their economic outlook, and they wouldn't trade their children for all the money in the world. Most people recognize that life is about so much more than the strength of the economy, and that relationships are of greater value than things or achievements.
So I say to Chelsea, come out of the dark ages, embrace your role as a mom, recognize motherhood as a unique advantage and joy for women, and abandon the misguided notions that suggest abortion is the path to prominent and powerful careers that will strengthen our economy. You've got everything reversed, Chelsea. Just imagine how much better off women and our economy would be with those 60 million unique and talented souls that have been brutally taken from us since 1973.
More Gambling Will Hurt Virginia FamiliesJul. 27, 2018
Although Virginia has historically been a gambling free state - minus the state lottery, charitable gaming such as bingo, and horse-track betting – it has been recently bombarded with a torrent of gambling expansion efforts. In March of this year, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe announced its plan to build a $700 million casino in the near future. In April, the governor signed a bill that legalized historical horse-race machines, devices which essentially function like slot-machines. Then, in May, the Supreme Court gave states the authority to regulate its own sports betting laws, which means that Virginia will soon face a strong push for its legalization.
Consequently, even though gambling is not typically an issue on most Virginians’ radar, it is important to now give it thoughtful consideration as the gambling issue begins to loom large on the horizon. For a host of reasons, the recent move towards wide-spread gambling is dangerous and careless public policy.
First of all, the U.S. is already enduring a major gambling addiction problem, as nearly 10 million people struggle with a gambling habit. A sudden expansion of gambling opportunities would dramatically exacerbate the problem. Studies have shown that the existence of a gambling facility roughly doubles the number of problem and pathological gamblers within 50 miles. If the mere presence of a physical casino doubles gambling addiction, then one can only imagine the ramification of having access to gambling on a smartphone, which is exactly what could occur if sports betting is legalized. Combining the dangers of gambling with the instant access of smartphones would almost certainly lead to an explosion of gambling addictions. An increase in gambling addiction is of grave moral concern, since gambling addiction inflicts significant damage upon the individual, the family, and the common good of society.
The consequences of gambling on pathological gamblers are often severe and difficult to remedy. Casinos thrive off of the losses of problem gamblers, which constitute about 35 to 50 percent of casino revenue. It is no surprise, then, that many pathological gamblers are afflicted with crippling financial loss, including massive debt, bankruptcy, and even homelessness. Financial ruin, along with the other ramifications of gambling addiction, contributes to the high rate of suicide attempts for pathological gamblers.
The second victim to fall prey to the harmful consequences of chronic gambling is the family. In addition to the obvious financial burden of mounting gambling debt, chronic gambling also creates tension and instability in the home. Many communities even report an increase in domestic violence and child neglect in correlation with the arrival of casinos. The financial, physical, and emotional problems drive many families to the breaking point, as 53.5 % of pathological gamblers have been divorced, compared to 18.2 percent of non-gamblers.
Eventually, the problems of wide-spread gambling extend to the entire community. Studies have shown that casinos significantly increase crime, including robbery, aggravated assaults, auto theft, burglary, larceny, rape, and murder. Also, due to a variety of factors, including the increased crime, each pathological gambler costs society about $9,393 per year. In order to compensate for the increased financial burden of pathological gamblers, the government faces immense pressure to increase taxes. Although they cannot be empirically measured, there are numerous other social consequences brought by gambling that can be clearly seen and felt by all.
In view of these realities, a sudden and massive expansion of gambling would be a tremendously imprudent public policy decision. High stakes and easy accessibility are a lethal combination that would inflict considerable damage upon Virginia. While gambling may not be intrinsically immoral, it contains within itself an inherent capacity for substantial harm. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to curtail the expansion of gambling whenever the opportunity arises. If gambling is allowed to run free and unhindered, it will inevitably sink its teeth deep into the fabric of our society.
By James Rossi
James is a 2018 Summer Policy Intern at The Family Foundation and a student at Christendom College.