IRS Deems Anti-God Satanists a "Church"May. 14, 2019
If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was hoping to improve its image after the recent controversy that involved delaying the tax-exempt status to certain qualified conservative groups, it certainly didn’t help its cause by giving The Satanic Temple (TST) tax exempt status under the category of “church” last month.
One would think that a government agency in charge of collecting taxes form hardworking citizens – and is not exactly a favorite of most Americans – would steer away from avoidable controversy or at least exercise more caution in its decision-making. Yet, last month the IRS issued a ruling letter that grants 501c3 tax exempt status to TST located in Salem, Massachusetts, historically recognized for the famed “Salem Witch Trials” that took place there. Now TST will be able to receive tax-deductible donations in the same way that churches and other charitable organizations do.
In a day and age when businesses - and even some government agencies - allow people to choose from a multitude of gender options, the IRS decided in this case to ignore the alternative tax-exempt categories and treat TST as a church.
Up until the tax-exemption was issued, TST was actually categorized as a “religious organization.” Unlike a bona fide church, a religious organization doesn’t necessarily have an established place of worship or the characteristics of a traditional church like a formal religious doctrine or regular religious services and education programs. It may have as one of its principle purposes to advance religion, but that alone does not automatically qualify it as a church.
Churches have been, and should continue to be, treated as a special protected status in significant part because they have for centuries proven to make contributions to our communities through their moral teachings and charitable actions, which go far beyond what any government is capable of offering.
However, by awarding federal tax-exempt status to TST by designating it as a “church” like any other, the federal government gives credence and a greater societal platform to a group of rebel-rousers who are decidedly “nontheistic” with no regard for traditional religion, and who actively engage in political activism for the primary purpose of disrupting American piety and its social mores. That’s the complete opposite of what churches have historically existed to accomplish.
Once again, another unaccountable administrative agency goes rouge in its decision-making.
All of this underscores the necessity for citizens to keep a watchful eye on the actions of federal and state government agencies. It’s why The Family Foundation is committed to following Virginia’s administrative rulemaking process and publicly commenting on regulatory actions that will restrict religious liberty, take away parental rights, or diminish the role of churches in our Commonwealth.
If left unchecked, administrative agencies will continue to make poor decisions - like the IRS did - that jeopardize the effectiveness of churches and threaten religious liberty.
The Governor Couldn't Resist!May. 10, 2019
The state budget process is finally over, and with it came some big wins and also disappointments. Last week Governor Northam submitted his final actions on the budget to the House of Delegates. They included leaving in place the federal “Hyde Amendment” language, which ensures taxpayers will not be forced to pay for abortions of babies with supposed disabilities, and vetoing a modification to the existing Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) program that would have stopped nearly $2 million from being funneled to the abortion industry.
For more details about these budget provisions, you can read about them here on our blog.
We cannot overstate how important of a win it is for the protection of pre-born babies to have the Hyde Amendment language included in the budget, especially given the complete disregard for human life that was on full display during session this year. This achievement is the result of strong legislators willing to stand firm for the protection of pre-born babies, as well as the unwavering resolve of The Family Foundation, the Virginia Catholic Conference and the Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL) to push for these types of protections year after year.
In the end, the Governor did not accept the Hyde Amendment language willingly, since he was actually prohibited by the Virginia Constitution from vetoing that particular type of budget amendment. Of course, he couldn’t let the Hyde language stand without offering this hypocritical comment indirectly criticizing pro-life conservatives: "the General Assembly's action is cruel and out of touch with the difficult reality some families face." Remember, this is the same Governor who tried to explain that leaving a baby on a table after a failed abortion while the parents and physician had a discussion over whether or not the baby should live or die, was somehow morally acceptable.
The Governor’s actions also demonstrated his total commitment to Planned Parenthood by vetoing an amendment introduced by Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12, Glen Allen) to limit “LARC” funds to only the purchase of IUD devices. His veto, which will continue to allow millions of dollars in grants being allocated to the abortion industry, was simply a ‘wink and a nod’ to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to say “I’ve still got your back.”
All of this goes to show how elections have consequences, and how important it is for voters to be aware of the values that their legislators espouse. That’s why The Family Foundation Action works so hard to create a General Assembly Report Card to show you exactly how legislators voted on specific legislation that has a significant impact on families.
HUGE Response In Defense of Faith-Based Counselors!Apr. 23, 2019
We recently alerted our supporters that faith-based counselors are under attack in Virginia. I asked for your help to push back against this targeted ideological bigotry by submitting a comment on the Town Hall website addressing the Board of Counseling’s proposed Guidance Document that seeks to punish licensed counselors simply for affirming biological realities and instilling a healthy sexual outlook in children.
Nearly 600 commenters weighed in, including many Family Foundation supporters. And we were thrilled to see that, as of the close of the comment period last Wednesday, we estimate that around 75% of the comments condemned the Board’s efforts to silence counselors and deny children access to the critical counseling services they need in order to work through unwanted struggles and confusion in their sexuality.
Thank you to all of you who took the time to weigh in and stand up for counselors and children in Virginia. In doing so, you helped advance the cause of free speech, religious liberty, parental rights, patient autonomy, and truth itself.
Now the Board will have to provide some form of written response to all of the comments. Whatever the Board of Counseling ultimately decides to do, they will at least have to contend with and answer to hundreds of compelling comments as to why they should not – and by law, cannot – implement this policy.
We’ll keep you posted on what happens next. Thank you for your valuable help on this!
Action Alert: Proposed Regulations to Punish and Silence Faith-Based CounselorsMar. 19, 2019
Since the radical Left has tried and failed year after year in the legislature to silence counselors from sharing with clients the self-evident realities of human identity and sexuality, the current administration is now eyeing an alternative path to accomplish this censorship: administrative regulations. The state Boards of Counseling, Psychology, and Social Work have now begun the process of adopting Guidance Documents and full-scale regulations to stifle licensed professionals’ free speech rights, with the direct consequence of denying patients their basic right to direct the objectives of the counseling they seek.
ACTION: Click HERE to enter a comment on the townhall.gov website, and tell the VA Board of Counseling not to punish licensed counselors for helping patients overcome their unwanted sexual feelings by affirming biological realities concerning male and female. (Click on “Enter a comment”)
To learn more about the context of the issue, read our blogs about it here and here.
The public comment period to weigh in on this ideologically-driven movement officially begins today and will end on 4/17/19. The Board of Counseling members need to hear from the public about why this action would be wrong, dangerous, and unconstitutional.
The health regulatory boards have labeled the practice of helping someone overcome unwanted same-sex attractions or gender dysphoria as “conversion therapy,” when in reality it should more rightly be characterized as “Biological Affirmation Counseling.” Notice how extreme the Board’s definition of “conversion therapy” is in its draft Guidance Document and how much of an obvious double standard it sets up:
“For the purposes of this guidance ‘conversion therapy’ … is 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 any gender.”
BUT THEN, the Board continues…
“’Conversion therapy’ does not include counseling that provides assistance to a person undergoing gender transition or counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding of a person or facilitates a person's coping, social support, and identity exploration and development, including sexual-orientation-neutral interventions to prevent or address unlawful conduct or unsafe sexual practices, as long as such counseling does not seek to change an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity in any direction.”
In other words, counselors are ALLOWED to help a minor client to explore and facilitate same-sex feelings, attractions and behaviors, or even to “change” their sex altogether, but they are strictly PROHIBITED from helping a minor client struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions from developing a natural and Biblical sexual ethic, or aiding a child dealing with gender dysphoria in learning to embrace his or her biological status as either male or female. So, children can change in one direction, but not the other.
The Board’s “guidance” to counselors is clear and simple: If you hold to the natural, biological, historical and/or Biblical understanding of human sexuality, be prepared to lose your professional license.
We cannot stand idly by and let this happen. Please CLICK HERE to leave your comment to the Board of Counseling!
URGENT: Oppose the Extraordinary Rule ChangeFeb. 19, 2019
The so-called ERA is really the "Everything Related to Abortion" amendment. ERA activists from across the country are getting desperate to pass it. Last week a woman from New York was arrested for laying down in front of Speaker Kirk Cox's office and refusing to move. She was arrested, again, yesterday for indecent exposure as she stood in front of the Capitol in a pose imitating our State Seal. On the same day, a man from California came to join a group of protesters, connected to Antifa, marching down Main street. This Californian man was arrested for vandalism after he threw red dye in the fountain.
It's not just the radicals from New York and California who are desperate to pass the ERA even after it has been defeated time and time again. Delegate Hala Ayala has now introduced an "extraordinary measure" to try to pass this amendment. Delegate Ayala was one of those who supported the radical abortion bill that Delegate Tran introduced this year. You can see a list of all of the Delegates who supported that bill (which would have allowed "Birthday abortions" - abortions on the day the child would otherwise be born) by watching this video:
Delegate Todd Gilbert, who brilliantly exposed the lengths of Delegate Tran's abortion bill, has introduced his own rule to combat Delegate Ayala's. His would reaffirm that the ERA cannot be pulled out of our committee system without 2/3 of the Delegates approving it.
The House of Delegates will make this decision on Thursday! Please contact your Delegate today to tell them you support life, you Celebrate Womanhood, and your oppose the ERA. And if there is any way you can join us in Richmond to sit up in the House Gallery, your presence would be a great encouragement!
The pro-ERA activists are planning a "sit-in" during the Session on Thursday. If you can, please come to the Capitol at 9:30 a.m. and join me in the Gallery to show our support for the Delegates who oppose the ERA!
Celebrating Womanhood, NOT ERAsing it.Jan. 25, 2019
This week the Virginia House of Delegates Privileges & Elections Subcommittee defeated the outdated and dangerous effort to ratify the so-called Equal Rights Amendment. The Family Foundation celebrates the decision of these brave delegates who saw through the nice-sounding language of equality and recognized the concerning consequences of an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would treat women and men exactly the same.
Delegate Ransone, Subcommittee Chair, has faced fierce backlash for taking her stand against the ERA Watch her speak about her position and experience with oppostion in a speech on the floor of the House of Delegates here.
Today The Family Foundation was joined by friends from Concerned Women of America, Young Women for America, and Students for Life of America to thank Delegate Ransone and all of the others who voted to defeat the ERA.
It was a fantastic day with lots of smiles and great interactions with legislators!
You can use our Citizen Action Link to thank all of the Delegates as well as all of the Senators who have voted against the so-called ERA. Click here to email them today!
If anyone would like to join us in Richmond to meet with their legislators, please let me know. I would be happy to schedule a meeting so that you can meet with, encourage, and pray for your Senator and Delegate. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a meeting today.
Statute on Religious LibertyJan. 16, 2019
Today, January 16th, is Religious Freedom Day. On this date in 1786 the Statute for Religious Freedom, penned by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted not far from where I’m writing this.
The statute, which remains in effect today (theoretically, at least), says that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
It’s probably no news to you that modern progressive liberals reject the concept expressed so beautifully by Jefferson. In fact, just today, progressives showed their disdain for not just the spirit of religious liberty, but the law itself.
Here in Richmond, Judge Patricia West was nominated to the State Corporation Commission, a powerful body that regulates industries like power and energy. The position on the SCC has been vacant for some time. Judge West, a law professor at Regent University, who also served both Governor George Allen and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has a long and distinguished record of service.
But for liberals, all that is irrelevant. Instead, they are going into full-blown hysterics because at some point in time Judge West expressed a belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
Such a position, perhaps motivated by Judge West’s faith, should automatically disqualify her according to secular liberals in Virginia. Ignoring Jefferson’s words that “opinions in matters of religion” should not “diminish” anyone’s role in the public square, they go on the offensive against all those who hold deeply held beliefs that contradict their own, imposing a Constitutionally forbidden religious test that reeks of anti-Christian bigotry.
Not only are liberals on the offensive against Judge West, they are also attacking Vice President Mike Pence’s wife Karen for taking a job teaching at a Christian school in Virginia that requires its employees to adhere to Christian teaching on marriage and human sexuality.
You know, a Christian school, guided by Christian doctrine, hiring Christian people who at least try to live by, well, Christian teachings.
Such is just too much for the secular left and “mainstream” media in today’s Virginia.
The attacks seen today are a reminder of just how much work we have to do to restore religious freedom in our Commonwealth. Given that more than two-thirds of Americans can’t name more than one or two of the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution’s First Amendment, including religious liberty, one can only imagine how few are familiar with Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom.
So, the words of the Statute follow. I encourage you to forward it to your friends and family to honor Religious Freedom Day and to help us in our effort to restore religious liberty for all:
"Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who, being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, have established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical, and even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors, for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though, indeed, those are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet, neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he, being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rules of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere, when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, 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, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That 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 that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.
"And though we well know that this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that, therefore, to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind; and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right."
The Danger of Federal AidDec. 19, 2018
This year Virginia took the proverbial “carrot on a stick” and accepted federal aid to expand Medicaid. This aid was promised through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare. What would happen if that federal aid were no longer available?
Before you say this is impossible, you should remember that a legislative repeal of Obamacare was just one vote away in the U.S. Senate, and that some courts have already ruled Obamacare to be partly or entirely unconstitutional. A legislative repeal of Obamacare or a U.S. Supreme Court ruling finding Obamacare to be unconstitutional is not out of the realm of possibility.
In fact, last week U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor issued another crucial blow to the legitimacy of Obamacare. In a case brought by twenty state Attorney Generals, Judge O’Connor ruled that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which repealed the individual mandate penalty, rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional. According to Judge O’Connor, removal of the individual mandate would cause the entire law to be invalidated because the individual mandate is so intricately interwoven within all of the provisions of the law.
If this ruling makes its way to the Supreme Court and is upheld, then a number of provisions within the law would be invalidated, including: coverage of pre-existing medical conditions; children staying on the insurance plan until the age of 26; expanded Medicaid coverage for low-income persons; and the mandate that employers with a staff of at least 50 workers provide coverage or pay a penalty.
So what impact would this ruling have on Virginia’s Medicaid expansion if it were upheld by the Supreme Court?
In May 2018, Virginia lawmakers passed a budget that expanded Medicaid starting in January 2019, adding an estimated 400,000 new patients to the Medicaid rolls. Under the ACA, states that expanded Medicaid (including Virginia) pay 7 percent of the expansion costs while the federal government pays 93 percent. Come 2020, Virginia will be responsible for 10 percent of the costs while the federal government pays for the remaining 90 percent. In terms of dollars, Virginia is expected to receive approximately $2 billion from the federal government for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 to cover the cost of Medicaid.
A repeal of Obamacare would leave Virginia on the hook for all of these costs and create a substantial hole in the state budget! If that’s not bad enough, Virginia also faces a $462.5 million shortfall in existing Medicaid funding, unrelated to expansion, as a result of underestimated expenses related to treatments for elderly and disabled people.
The Virginia state budget does contain a mechanism known as the “kill switch” that would end Medicaid expansion if federal funding is ever stopped. But would Virginia really end Medicaid after it has been fully expanded and stop coverage for 400,000 low-income people depending on it? Or would lawmakers deem the program “too big to fail” and increase taxes to keep it afloat?
Medicaid expansion was made possible because of the promise of federal funding to help states afford the additional costs with increased patient enrollment. Promises of funding from the federal government can easily be broken. But because Virginia’s expanded Medicaid is dependent upon this promise, we are forever beholden to federal stipulations and mandates, and are also at risk for Grand Canyon-sized budget shortfalls should the funding ever go away.
Perhaps this recent ruling on Obamacare could serve as a wake-up call to Virginia lawmakers when they are faced with future opportunities to take the bait of federal aid, especially as we move into the 2019 General Assembly session.
Over-dependence on federal funds can make it difficult to determine who should be held accountable for the actual spending and policy outcomes. Reliance upon federal aid also makes it difficult to implement fiscal policies that reflect the socio-economic disposition of the state. If lawmakers no longer feel the constraints of only having state revenue to spend, they are more likely to increase spending without restraint.
Remember what Milton Friedman famously said, “nobody spends somebody else’s money as wisely as he spends his own.” It is therefore important to remind our elected officials to be good stewards of the tax revenues generated from the hard-earned income of Virginians.
Great Hopes For New Supreme CourtJul. 11, 2018
With the big news of President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the possibility of a conservative majority on the Court (i.e. 5 of 9 Justices who attempt to read and apply the Constitution as written) is now within reach. This opens up exciting possibilities for the years ahead. We remain prayerful that whoever the next Justice is, he or she will faithfully uphold the Constitutional rights and protections of all people (no matter how small or weak), while vigorously reinforcing the Constitutional constraints on government (no matter how big or powerful).
In many ways, it seems as if there was never so much on the line as in this cultural moment. And here we are, about to witness the biggest political fight of a generation unfold before our eyes over the confirmation of a single judge who could tip the balance of the highest court in the land. And while we should never be fooled into thinking that any one governmental official is the answer to solving all our problems, we should also never underestimate the impact of just one person, used of God for His purposes and in His timing, appointed to a place of influence within government. (For some good Biblical examples, see Esther, Daniel, Joseph, Nehemiah, etc.)
In Virginia, there are many issues at stake, chief among them life and marriage. Given that President Obama packed the Richmond-based Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals with far-left leaning judges over the course of eight years, the need for another chance at a fair hearing on important cases is critical. Take, for example, the major lawsuit the abortion industry filed last month challenging the constitutionality of basically all of Virginia’s laws putting common-sense restrictions on abortion. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are planning to undo with a few judges what The Family Foundation has fought for decades to implement and defend in the legislature. With a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, not only could that be prevented from happening, but the so-called “right to abortion” could actually be overturned altogether.
Virginia is also facing a significant campaign this coming year to remove from the state constitution our Marriage Amendment declaring that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. But now with Justice Kennedy gone (he authored the 5-4 opinion three years ago redefining marriage), the game has changed, and that opinion is ripe for being challenged and overturned. If that happens, Virginia’s Marriage Amendment would immediately go into effect once more – but not if it’s removed before then. And keep in mind, it is the redefinition of marriage by the Court that has driven most of the religious liberty conflicts popping up all across the country.
Even in a political environment where hyperbole is the new norm, it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that this Supreme Court appointment may be the most consequential political decision in decades and for several decades to come. If ever there was a time for fervent prayer, it is now.
The Family Foundation has a weekly prayer focus through Team Timothy. Please consider joining us in prayer every Tuesday morning by contacting Sean Maguire at email@example.com or 804-343-0010 ext. 240.
Huge Win For Life, Pregnancy Centers, and Free SpeechJun. 27, 2018
Yesterday, we received great news! The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers and Free Speech in the case NIFLA v. Becerra.
In a huge win for pro-life pregnancy centers and free speech, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California state law that would have forced pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion services and to express a message that conflicts with their fundamental beliefs. For medically licensed pregnancy centers, the law required them to post or distribute a statement pointing the way to abortion. For unlicensed pregnancy resource centers, the law required them to post signs and state in all their digital or print advertising they are not medically licensed clinics – squelching their ability to get their own message out.
It is refreshing to hear the U.S. Supreme Court affirm the rights of conscience and free speech for pro-life pregnancy resource centers over the government’s unconstitutional law targeting these centers in order to compel them to advertise for the abortion industry.
Justice Kennedy used incredibly strong language in condemning the California law in his concurrence:
“The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of ‘forward thinking.’ But it is not forward thinking to force individuals to ‘be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.’ It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come. Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.”
Given the way the abortion industry appears to be directing Virginia's top officials, we hope Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring are paying attention. Long before he became Governor, then-Senator Northam tried to compel Virginian pro-life pregnancy centers to speak in similar ways to what California has tried. The Family Foundation defeated that effort with your help.
I am pleased that the Supreme Court has stood up for free speech, and our team at The Family Foundation will use these same arguments to protect Virginians from future unconstitutional speech codes that imperil our liberties.
Standing Up for Free SpeechMar. 21, 2018
It was cold and raining hard in Washington, D.C. yesterday. A crowd of several hundred still gathered in front of the Supreme Court all morning in spite of the bad weather. Half the crowd was there in support of the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), the other half was there representing NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood.
Inside the Supreme Court, Mike Farris from Alliance Defending Freedom was arguing against the State of California in support of free speech. The Justices on the Supreme Court listened to the importance of protecting pro-life pregnancy centers in California from being compelled to advertise abortion.
The State of California passed a law known as the “Fact Act” which would force pregnancy resource centers to post notices about abortion access. ADF was joined in their arguments by dozens of “amicus briefs” (arguments to the court in support of a position) – including one that The Family Foundation signed. The government should not be able to force anyone to support a particular viewpoint – especially one as important as life.
Hundreds of people from across the country gathered outside of the Supreme Court to support the pregnancy resource centers and freedom of speech. Hundreds of other people stood outside to oppose the pregnancy resource centers and to support the Fact Act.
I was there with Victoria Cobb representing The Family Foundation. Victoria Cobb spoke in support of free speech, and warned that the kind of state power being used in California has already been proposed in Virginia. It was back in 2010 that then-Senator Ralph Northam proposed a bill which would have compelled every pregnancy resource center in Virginia to post a big notice on the front door of their clinics – scaring women away from these places which are designed to help them.
I tried to speak with those from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, to ask them why they support the Fact Act. No one was willing to talk to me. So I asked several activists to hold a pro-free speech sign, telling them that there was a new law which requires everyone in front of the Supreme Court to hold the signs from the opposing side.
Not surprisingly, no one was interested in holding those signs. They didn’t like the idea that the state would compel them to hold a sign promoting an idea directly opposed to the reason they were there. They understood that such a regulation would be unjust.
Hopefully all nine of the Supreme Court Justices understand this, too. We expect a decision to be announced sometime this summer.
ACT NOW: House Vote on Medicaid Expansion THURSDAY!Feb. 21, 2018
This week, the House of Delegates released its two-year budget proposal, and unfortunately, the House budget includes the abysmal Obamacare plan to drastically expand an already unsustainable Medicaid program. The House will be voting on this budget proposal tomorrow - Thursday - on the Floor!
URGENT ACTION: Email your Delegate and urge him or her to Vote AGAINST Medicaid Expansion TOMORROW!
After eight years of holding the line and refusing to "take the bait" for this massive federal power grab, all while witnessing significant spikes in healthcare costs in the states who did take it, the House plan would now capitulate to the specious promise of "free money" from the federal government to pay for healthcare.
If the House goes through with this plan, we can be sure of one thing: the size of government (and the federal government's reach into this state) will grow substantially. Medicaid already eats up 30% of our state budget (it was around 5% when it began) and already covers 1.1 million Virginians. Adding up to 400,000 more able-bodied Virginians to our Medicaid rolls, without adding a single doctor, clinic, or hospital to treat them, will only make the program even more unsustainable than it already is. And, we know from experience that every time the government grows, our liberties and our wallets shrink with inverse proportionality.
We believe there are steps the General Assembly can take to ensure that more Virginians who need healthcare can get it and keep it. There are countless people who have real needs, and we should be looking for meaningful ways to help them meet those needs. But drastically expanding an already out-of-control federal program is not the right answer, and worse - it will leave us bankrupt in the end, or leave our kids and grandkids strapped with debt they cannot repay. Obamacare Medicaid expansion has never worked, and it won't suddenly start working now, even with the House budget's attempt to mitigate some of the problems.
CLICK HERE to contact your delegate and urge them to reject a budget that expands Medicaid TOMORROW on the House floor!
Tell the House: Reject Medicaid ExpansionFeb. 19, 2018
On Sunday, the House of Delegates released its much anticipated proposed two-year state budget. As we worried it might, the proposal includes Medicaid expansion in Virginia. After eight years of holding the line and refusing to "take the bait" for a massive federal power grab, corresponding spikes in healthcare costs, and virtually guaranteed new tax liabilities for hardworking Virginians, the House plan would now capitulate to the specious promise of "free money" from the federal government to pay for healthcare.
ACTION: Email your Delegate and urge them to REJECT Medicaid Expansion in Virginia!
Whether the House's plan to drastically expand Medicaid coverage is the result of political will, pressure, or fear on the part of House Republicans, or whether it is more reflective of the possibility of them seeing "the writing on the wall" given the closely divided partisan power balance, one fact remains the same: the size of government (and the federal government's reach into this state) just got a lot bigger under this plan. And we know from experience that every time the government grows, our liberties and our wallets shrink with inverse proportionality.
While the plan would include some helpful attempts at reform, we know that government welfare programs always increase in demand and cost overtime. Virginia already has 1.1 million of its citizens receiving Medicaid, which has become the single greatest expense each year in our budget. Adding up to 400,000 more able-bodied Virginians to our Medicaid rolls will make the program totally unsustainable, especially without adding enough new doctors to treat them. And while it is often claimed that the federal government - not the state - will be on the hook for all or most of the funding involved, we should stop for a moment and ask ourselves: Where does THAT money come from? From us! While tax increases may not be immediate, they are inevitable if this policy goes through.
The plan purports to include a “Taxpayer Safety Switch,” which will make sure that if the federal government ever backs out of its commitment to pay for the cost, the plan will end. But when is the last time the government ever began giving an entitlement benefit that it later took away? It's a totally empty promise, and every one of the legislators knows it.
While some Virginians would no doubt receive needed healthcare under this plan, we shouldn’t buy into any illusions that any of it is “free” – either in dollars, or the countless other costs to overall quality, ease of access, or the chipping away of our liberty.
We are encouraged to find that the House budget does include “Hyde Amendment” language, prohibiting state funding for abortions except for in the narrow cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life. However, it does not include a prohibition on state dollars flowing to Planned Parenthood. In fact, there is included in the plan a pilot program that would spend $6 million on certain long-acting contraceptive devices for low-income women, most of which would flow directly to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
While the House’s proposal is incredibly disappointing in these ways, the budget battle is far from over. We need your help in contacting your House of Delegates member and urge the House to abandon this folly, and return to their staunch and principled resistance of the last eight years.
Please CLICK HERE to contact your delegate and urge them to reject this massive growth of government entitlements and further takeover of the healthcare system.
Victory: "Hate crimes" bills defeatedJan. 17, 2018
We’re not even a full week into the 2018 legislative session, and we already have some good news. Two bills dealing with "hate crimes" were defeated in the Senate Courts of Justice committee yesterday. One of them, Senate Bill 112, would have introduced the dangerous concepts of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” into the Code, while also making it easier for providers of interactive computer services (like Facebook) to censor anything that it or other users considers to be “inciting hatred” towards people with those characteristics.
If you’re not familiar with them, a "hate crime" is a special category of criminal act where the act is shown to be motivated by certain kinds of thoughts and feelings towards the victim. If the “hate” was inspired by or directed at one of the items on the government’s list, then you’re guilty of an additional crime – a “hate crime.”
This means that a person could be subject to a separate criminal penalty, including jail time, not for the act they committed, but for their thoughts and opinions. In Virginia, conviction of a hate crime carries with it a “mandatory minimum” of 30 days in jail.
One can clearly see the slippery slope created by this sort of “thought crime”. What sort of thoughts, values, or motivations might the state try to criminalize next?
Regardless of the motivation for victimizing another person – whether based on someone’s sex, age, disability, veteran status, race, religion, “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” etc. – a person should be punished for the crime they commit and not because of the kind of hatred they felt in doing so, even if we all find their particular motive reprehensible.
Supreme Court to Require Abortion Advertisements?Jan. 16, 2018
“Forcing a pro-life group to advertise for abortion has to be unconstitutional, yet that is what California’s Reproductive FACT Act does.”
So says the petitioners, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), in the upcoming case before the Supreme Court, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.
NIFLA is a Virginia based organization that represents over 1,400 pregnancy resource centers across the country. They give pregnancy resource centers legal advice and help them to convert to medical facilities. That change allows the pregnancy resource centers to provide limited health services – including ultrasounds – which are valuable services for underserved pregnant women.
NIFLA represents several pregnancy resource centers in California.
The conflict coming up to the Supreme Court arises out of the California Reproductive FACT Act, which went into effect in 2016.
This law requires all pregnancy resource centers in California to prominently display several notices to anyone entering their facility. Among these notices required by law is this statement:
Pro-life pregnancy resource centers are being specifically targeted by this law, which doesn’t apply to other organizations that serve pregnant women. Only pro-life pregnancy resource centers have to provide these large notices about free access to abortions.
This is viewpoint discrimination. The state of California is only targeting those who hold a particular viewpoint on the question of abortion. It is clear that the goal of the law, from the start, was to target pro-life pregnancy resource centers. The committee that passed this bill stated that the existence of pro-life pregnancy resource centers in California is “unfortunate.”
Government compelling pro-life pregnancy resource centers to prominently advertise for abortion services is a terrible violation of the First Amendment. It forces anyone who wants to counsel women away from abortion to advertise for the very thing they are working to prevent.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to prevent this law from going into effect in California. It is now up to the Supreme Court to hear the case and protect free speech in California. The case should be heard sometime this summer.
WWJD: What Would Jefferson Do?Dec. 20, 2017
What’s going on at the venerable institution founded by the Senior Statesman from Virginia, Mr. Jefferson? The University of Virginia appears to be straying not only from its deep roots of freedom, but from the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions as well. The UVA Student Council recently denied the application for recognition of a conservative free-market group, “Young Americans for Freedom” (YAF), claiming that YAF’s membership requirements were a violation of the terms and conditions for approval outlined in University policy.
According to their website, “A student organization is ineligible for CIO [Contracted Independent Organization] status when the organization restricts its membership, programs, or activities on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, and family and genetic information.”
Evidently, political clubs established for the sole purpose of advocating certain political viewpoints can’t condition membership upon political beliefs. The same goes for faith-based clubs.
However, aside from the obvious logical issues with that, there’s at least one little problem with the policy. It violates the law. Fortunately for YAF, attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) made sure they knew it.
“That the freedoms of speech and of the press are among the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained except by despotic governments; that any citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, nor the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances.”
More precisely, UVA’s policy directly conflicts with a state law passed in 2013 on behalf of The Family Foundation, which provides that:
“[A] religious or political student organization may determine that ordering the organization's internal affairs, selecting the organization's leaders and members, defining the organization's doctrines, and resolving the organization's disputes are in furtherance of the organization's religious or political mission and that only persons committed to that mission should conduct such activities.”
Game. Set. Match.
The irony of it all is almost more than one can bear. For starters, the club being denied recognition on campus (which includes access to meeting room spaces and potential Student Activity Fee funding), and therefore the ability to assemble for the discussion and expression of ideas, is called – wait for it – the Young Americans for Freedom. (Somehow I get the impression that the Young Americans for Anarchy would probably sail through uninhibited.)
But if that weren’t enough, this is after all the University founded by the immortal Thomas Jefferson himself, by whose direct hand much of Virginia’s Constitution and Bill of Rights as they still remain today were penned! Talk about a PR nightmare.
Though it is certainly not “gospel,” the folks at UVA would do well to screen their decisions by the simple principle of “WWJD” – or, What Would Jefferson Do? With rare exceptions, that’s got to get them to the right place.
As for this scenario, I can’t imagine Jefferson would need any deliberation at all in dispensing with the question of whether to recognize the Young Americans for Freedom. And that’s putting it mildly.
VA Federal Court Dismisses "Sexual Orientation"Oct. 04, 2017
A federal court in Virginia acknowledged last week that “sexual orientation” is not the same thing as a person’s “sex” under Title IX, which deals with civil rights in educational settings. In other words, “sex” still means male and female – the same as it meant when Congress wrote the law decades ago. As a result, Virginia schools and universities that receive federal funds shouldn’t fall prey to claims of discrimination based on the progressive left’s concept of “sexual orientation.”
Given that it is the “sexual orientation” portions of many non-discrimination laws and ordinances that are now being used to penalize and even criminalize people for their faith – people like Christian cake artist Jack Phillips, or Christian florist Barronelle Stutzman and many others – it’s critical that Virginians don’t invite in through our courts and legislature what has become a Trojan horse for many other states. It is for this reason that The Family Foundation has opposed legislation that would elevate sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to protected classes in Virginia law. We fear that such laws would further weaponize the government against those who choose to not participate in events that violate their faith.
This case is important because it affirms that no federal court in Virginia, including the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which encompasses the state of Virginia, has interpreted sex discrimination under federal law to include the concept of a person’s “sexual orientation.”
During the past two legislative sessions in Richmond, The Family Foundation has championed a religious freedom bill that would shield religious schools and charities from government penalties or the loss of benefits simply for observing policies consistent with their long-held religious beliefs about marriage. We helped get the bill to Governor McAuliffe’s desk both years, and both times he vetoed it.
Rest assured we’ll continue to fight for religious liberty and conscience rights for all. Hopefully this year we’ll get a Governor who will stand up for religious liberty. In the meantime, it’s helpful that Virginia’s state and federal courts are still holding the line.
Standing for the Rule of LawAug. 25, 2017
“The demurrer is overruled.”
That’s the critical language from the Henrico County Circuit Court Judge earlier this week rejecting the McAuliffe administration’s attempt to shut down a challenge to its lawless actions before the debate could even begin.
When earlier this year the State Board of Health, at the direction and aide of Gov. McAuliffe and Attorney General Mark Herring, ignored the law in at least 22 ways to peel back reasonable health and safety measures for abortion centers, four Virginians, with the help of The Family Foundation, decided to stand up and say ‘Not on our watch.’
If the inspection reports from Virginia’s abortion centers have shown us anything since they first began in 2012 (pursuant to health and safety standards implemented through regulations in 2011), it’s that abortion facilities desperately need oversight and accountability that, until then, they had completely been without.
For example, Virginia has abortion center operators like Stephen Brigham, who has had his medical license revoked in at least five other states and was arrested in Maryland in December 2011 and charged with five counts of first-degree murder and five counts of second-degree murder after police discovered 34 late-term aborted babies in a bloody freezer at one of his Maryland facilities. And only because of Virginia’s abortion center health and safety regulations that went into effect a month later in January 2012, one of Brigham’s Virginia abortion centers was shut down for good in April 2016 – and by Governor McAuliffe’s own Health Commissioner, no less.
Many hundreds of recorded inspections violations within the now fourteen-remaining facilities statewide have accounted for more than enough proof to demonstrate that women who enter these facilities are by no means safe. Now just imagine how unsafe those women will be in these facilities now that this administration has used the regulatory process to gut most of the substantive portions of those standards.
Certainly, of all people, a Virginia woman of child-bearing age is among those most affected by those actions and has the right to challenge them if they were undertaken illegally. Surely, that person has “standing” in court to demand that the administration follow the law they are tasked with faithfully executing. Well this week, a judge agreed.
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.
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.