The 2018-2019 Report Card is Here!May. 03, 2019
The Family Foundation Action today released the 15th edition of its non-partisan General Assembly Report Card. This educational document informs citizens on key votes taken by the General Assembly during the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions that relate to the issues of life, marriage, parental authority, religious liberty, and constitutional government. Click the icon below to view the new Report Card to see how your legislators voted:
It is our hope the 2018-2019 Report Card, along with Voter Guides that will be distributed this fall, will help motivate citizens to vote and enable them to make informed choices. All 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 Virginia Senate seats are up for reelection, which will be held Tuesday, November 5th. Voters will also have the opportunity to review the scores of several legislators seeking re-nomination by their party prior to the June primary elections scheduled for Tuesday, June 11th.
As with each Report Card distributed over the years, hundreds of votes taken by the legislature during the past two years were reviewed. The first page of the Report Card explains the criteria used in determining which votes to include. Non-partisan and broad-based, the Report Card seeks not to benefit one party or candidate over another, but to equip voters with the information they need to make an informed choice when they go to the ballot box.
This year’s Report Card has fourteen “100 percenters” in the House of Delegates and three in the state Senate.
To order additional copies of the Report Card to distribute in your church, community groups, or to like-minded friends and neighbors, click here or contact The Family Foundation Action at 804-343-0010 or at email@example.com. A suggested donation of $.25 per copy is encouraged to help defray costs of printing and distribution. Please also consider sponsoring the distribution of 100, 500 or even 1,000 Report Cards with a donation of $25, $125, or $250. Checks should be made out to "TFF Action" and mailed to 919 E. Main Street, Suite 1110, Richmond, VA 23219, or you can pay by credit card here. Thank you for your support!
The mission of The Family Foundation Action is to protect families and promote responsible citizenship by giving Virginians the tools they need to hold their elected officials accountable. The Family Foundation Action is not a PAC and does not endorse candidates. Therefore, please be advised that political campaigns and candidates for public office may not use either The Family Foundation or The Family Foundation Action logo for any campaign-related publications. Any such use of these logos is not authorized and should be ceased and corrected immediately.
The Family Foundation Action is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(4) organization and paid for this informational communication. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
Love Them Now and Love Them LaterMay. 02, 2019
“So you kill them now or you kill them later. You bring them in the world unwanted, unloved, you send them to the electric chair. So, you kill them now or you kill them later.”
- State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham.
That was the shocking and horrifying comment made on the floor of the House of Representatives of Alabama on Tuesday. The comment was made during a debate to severely limit abortion in that state.
It is difficult to even understand what Representative Rogers is claiming here. The next day he made additional comments to a pair of Alabama reporters and seems to believe that every child who is unwanted will grow up to be addicted to drugs, suffer starvation, and be executed by the State or die in prison.
This is a hopeless viewpoint. It is the view that no one can overcome their circumstances and rise above their humble beginnings.
He ignores every example of great people who did overcome harsh and cold upbringings to be great men and women who advanced noble causes in this land. People from all centuries have overcome a loveless childhood to bless America. Just to list two examples, both Oprah Winfrey and Benjamin Franklin overcame terrible childhood experiences to be incredible blessings to the world.
Representative Rogers ignores the power of the human spirit to overcome hardship. We do not have to either kill a child now or kill the child later. Those children have strength and beauty, and they can overcome the hardship of being unwanted and unloved.
More than that, Representative Rogers ignores the beauty of adoption. How many children were unwanted by their birth parents, but were received into the loving arms of adoptive parents? Hundreds of famous examples exist, but thousands if not millions of cases exist which we will never hear about or read about.
So many people have lived beautiful lives and loved deeply on this earth despite not being wanted or loved by their parents. Killing them is not the best option.
Just because someone is “unwanted” and “unloved” by their birth parents does not mean they should be killed. We should love them, not kill them.
We should love them now and love them later.
A New Casino In New Kent County?May. 01, 2019
If it looks like a casino, feels like a casino, and plays like a casino, it’s probably because it is one, or might as well be. Last week, New Kent County, outside of Richmond, officially opened one such establishment.
According to the new “Rosie’s Gaming Emporium” at the Colonial Downs facility, which was sold to politicians last year (over our persistent arguments to the contrary) as ‘the only thing that can save live horse racing in Virginia’: “Our 600 [Historical Horse Racing (HHR)] Machines look, feel and play like the games you know and love!” (Click here to watch their video demonstration of one of these “HHR” machines.)
If anyone was somehow fooled before into believing that all this had something to do with horses, the evidence is now undeniable: These are simply lined rows of slot machines in an atmosphere that by any ordinary description is a casino. And there are plans in the works to put the same Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums in various locations across the state, including on Midlothian Turnpike in South Richmond, in Vinton, and in Hampton – all by the end of the year.
As I told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The only winner of expanded gambling in Virginia is the gambling industry itself. The promised panacea of increased revenue to the state never seems to materialize, and the cost to the community of broken homes and families can be devastating.”
For many reasons, it is clear that this effort has never primarily been about the cherished past-time of thoroughbred horse racing. That was evident when the industry stakeholders who influenced the Virginia Racing Commission stripped from its draft regulations any requirement for a minimum number of live race days at the tracks. Meanwhile, their stated intention is to change the regulations to allow for an unlimited number of these slot machines to be placed around the state (currently capped at 2,000). We need only to look at the model in other states to recognize it is merely casino gaming by another name, serving as a lucrative cash-cow for a select few business interests, all under the guise of “horse racing.” A classic example of “crony capitalism”, the government grants monopolies to a favored few, to the great detriment of countless others.
Not only are these ‘miniature casinos’ destined to lead to the many social problems experienced everywhere these predatory establishments crop up, but as Senator Louise Lucas correctly noted after the bill authorizing it passed in 2018, it’s "the camel's nose under the tent," adding that she saw little difference between machines that allow historical horse race betting and slots. Senator Lucas, who has for many years been pushing for casinos in Virginia, is very pleased by all of this because of how it is opening the door to full-scale casinos throughout the state. (For a brief history of how this came to be in 2018, read our blog about it here.)
While we have every intention to do all we can to resist that very real and imminent prospect, it’s hard not to say “We told you so.”
In related news, it was revealed yesterday that in Kentucky, where this same scheme has been underway for a few years now, the “HHR” industry stakeholders paid for their own regulations to be written and for years had been paying for the testing services of their own machines with virtually no direct oversight from the horse racing commission. In other words, the gambling industry was in charge of ensuring that their own machines were not cheating people. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.
Sadly, that is not so different from the kind of incestuous relationships we have witnessed between the government and gambling industries here. When thinking about these issues, it is always helpful to keep in mind that gambling operations owe their success largely to creating the most effective ways to swindle people out of their money.
McAuliffe Called In By State Democrats As Substitute Off Weak And Desperate Abortion Party BenchApr. 25, 2019
McAuliffe Called In By State Democrats As Substitute Off Weak And Desperate Abortion Party Bench
- by Guest Blogger Stephen J. Rossie
Former Virginia Governor Terry McAullife announced last week that he would not seek the Democrat nomination for president in 2020. Instead, now that the commonwealth's top three statewide abortion-on-demand Democrats have been rendered politically radioactive, he will heed the begging call of Virginia's abortion-on-demand legislative candidates, who desperately need a rainmaker to replace the mega campaign cash they expected to raise from the now politically toxic Governor Ralph Northam, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring.
But what's the difference? During his election campaign in 2013, McAuliffe proudly boasted of being a "brick wall" for Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, which in turn flushed him with millions of dollars in donations. The bought-and-paid for McAuliffe delivered with over-the-top and unprecedented "veto ceremonies" in which he vetoed commonsense legislation supported by a majority of Virginians, such as diverting funds that go to the profit-turning abortion industry to true women's non-profit health providers. In short, he supports the same ghoulish abortion-on-demand and infanticide legislation in the infamous bill introduced by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax County) and shockingly rationalized by Northam, a pediatrician by trade, during an interview that disturbed the entire country.
Now, desperate to increase their flailing chances because of the gross embarrassment Northam, Fairfax and Herring have brought to our commonwealth with their hypocrisy on race and women and their gross support of infanticide, House and Senate Democrats — desperate to win a majority to implement New York and California style laws on abortion, exorbitant taxes and restrictions on religious liberty, parental rights and free speech — have offered McAuliffe the consolation prize of another nomination for governor in 2021 since his fledgling presidential bid went belly up in exchange for his to work this fall to prop up their campaigns.
In fact, what McAuliffe couldn't do legislatively during his term because of a pro-life majority in the General Assembly, he tried to do administratively through an illegal regulatory process that The Family Foundation successfully defeated in court this Spring. Now, he looks forward to returning to the Executive Mansion with a Democrat majority to finally pay off his abortion industry benefactors once and for all.
Now that McAuliffe is back in Virginia to shore up the Democrats' bench, maybe he will take some time finally to answer some unanswered questions, such as what exactly did he discuss with disgraced former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in advance of his wife's (eventually failed) Virginia Senate campaign in 2015.
Stephen J. (Steve) Rossie is a Richmond-based public and government relations’ consultant. He has been a General Assembly lobbyist for The Family Foundation and others since 2006, was the founding TFF Blog Editor (2007-2014) and has written about Virginia government since 2007, including his column, Capitol Square Diary. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
Faith-Based Counselors Under AttackApr. 10, 2019
They’re at it again! A few weeks ago, I told you about an attempt by a state agency to target and punish faith-based counselors who would simply help a minor work through struggles with unwanted sexual attractions or gender dysphoria. Now, there are several state licensing boards with clear ideological motives that are aiming to do the very same thing. This time, it’s the Board of Counseling, and they need to hear from you!
If you commented on the Board of Psychology’s proposed Guidance Document in response to our last Action Alert – thank you! – but please don’t let that stop you from submitting a comment to the Board of Counseling, too!
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 males and females. (Click on "Enter a comment")
These liberal-leaning health boards are attempting to overwhelm those opposed to this censorship by promulgating regulations on multiple fronts. The intended goals of their combined regulatory actions are to promote the radical LGBTQ agenda and prevent minors and adolescents from being able to acquire the counseling they prefer to give them relief from unwanted sexual feelings.
One of the more alarming aspects of the Guidance/regulations put forward by these Boards on this practice is it creates a blatant double standard whereby counselors would be free to help minor clients explore and possibly cultivate same-sex feelings or even to “change” their gender, while simultaneously prohibiting them from helping minor clients flee from unwanted same-sex attractions and embrace natural sexual expressions and/or their true gender. The consequence of violating this policy could be the state-imposed loss of their professional license, and that is simply unacceptable. Licensed counselors have a responsibility to speak honestly with their minor clients about life’s fundamental truths, and any state policies that compel them to repress those truths during counseling would lead to real ethical dilemmas, not to mention damage to those children. (You can read more about this here on our blog.)
We cannot stand idly by and let this happen. Please CLICK HERE to leave your comment to the Board of Counseling!
Clearly the Board has demonstrated its hostility towards counselors who uphold these natural, biological and/or Biblical viewpoints of human sexuality, and its willingness to violate any and all free speech and conscience protections in order suppress these deeply held beliefs.
The last day to submit public comments on the state Board of Counseling’s proposed Guidance Document to censor licensed counselors’ free speech rights is April 17th.
Budget Update: Victory for Life!Apr. 04, 2019
We are thrilled to tell you that, at yesterday's "Veto Session" in Richmond to consider the Governor's vetos and budget recommendations, the House of Delegates rejected Governor Northam's attempts to make taxpayers pay for abortions and to funnel millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood! This is a huge win for the protection of unborn life, and a great end to a day that began with Virginia's first-ever (and highly successful) statewide March For Life at the Capitol.
For more details of the pro-life budget provisions that were successfully defended yesterday, read about them here on our blog.
The Governor's amendment to keep millions in tax dollars flowing to abortion facilities was defeated 50-49, and his amendment to fund abortions failed on a vote of 50-45. We want to thank several Delegates who made compelling floor speeches in support of the pro-life language, including Delegates Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun), who has been a champion for the budget's "Hyde Amendment" language, Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), and Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg). Look out for videos of these and others like them on our Facebook page soon - The Family Foundation Action.
Believe it or not, there is still one more round left to go in the budget process. It will now be sent back to the Governor, who will have a final veto opportunity. With yesterday’s success, we crossed another major hurdle in protecting life in Virginia. It's a great day to be a pro-life Virginian! Thank you for all your support and prayers.
They Taught Kindergarteners What?Mar. 27, 2019
Have you heard about the recent upheaval in response to Arlington County Schools’ efforts to indoctrinate Kindergarteners with radical gender theories without parents’ consent? We first became aware of the situation when The Washington Post reported on it earlier this month. (Watch our video about it on our Facebook page, and please "Like" and "Follow" our page.)
According to the Post, “Students throughout the country were expected to participate in the National Education Association’s annual Read Across America Day. It was the first time the union partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group for LGBT civil rights.”
As part of this ‘reading day’ in partnership with the leading national LGBTQ advocacy group, Ashlawn Elementary brought in a prominent LGBTQ advocate and a self-described “transgender woman” to read a book called “I Am Jazz” to 5-year olds. “I have a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender. I was born this way,” the advocate read to the students from the book. Here's an excerpt from the Post’s article that should give you chills:
After her reading, McBride told the children, “I’m like Jazz. When I was born, the doctors and my parents, they all thought that I was a boy.”
“Why?” asked a girl in a blue sweater and ponytail.
“Because society, people around them told them that was the case,” McBride said. “It took me getting a little bit older to be able to say that in my heart and in my mind, I knew I was really a girl.”
The kids began discussing hair.
“Can some girls have short hair?” McBride asked. “And can some boys have long hair?”
Yes, the youngsters seemed to agree, answering in unison.
“Anyone can be anything,” one girl chimed in. [End of article]
Do you see how effective something like this can be in deceiving young children about their God-given design? Is it any wonder that some reports show a 4,000 percent increase in children identifying as the opposite sex over the past 10 years?
Fox 5 reported on this a day after the Post’s article, stating that: “The school district says parents were notified by a letter ahead of time and were allowed to opt out of they chose. However, to their knowledge, no one did.” That made us wonder what this “letter” actually said. Had parents actually been told about all of this? So we checked it out, first by reaching out to the school principal for a copy (with no success), and then through an official Virginia Freedom of Information Act request. They got the message, and we got the letter.
And what do you know…we noticed that the letter never even hinted at an opportunity for parents to opt their children out of this event. Nor did it say anything about an LGBTQ transgender activist reading to the children and discussing these topics with them. We also confirmed that the principal only sent the letter out in English, despite having a significant number of families in the school whose parents speak another primary language.
After our team unveiled what various news outlets were evidently uninterested in discovering, we let our coalition friends know, and this story quickly spread like wildfire, being featured on places like Townhall, The Federalist, The Daily Wire, Life Site News, and One News Now, as well as various talk and radio shows.
There is much we could say about all this, but we think all of this sufficiently speaks for itself. Be assured that we will continue to closely watch, unveil, and call out these increasingly frequent attempts to indoctrinate children into these destructive ideologies. And if you learn of something happening in your locality, please let us know so that we can address it. We all must be more vigilant than ever.
Your support makes our vigilance possible. Please consider making a donation today to help us continue our work!
Pro-Family Tax Reform [General Assembly Update Part 5]Mar. 22, 2019
For our final edition of the 2019 General Assembly recap, The Family Foundation is thrilled to report on the successful tax reform that passed this year and was signed by the Governor.
After the Trump administration signed the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that went into effect in 2018, Virginia soon realized it was set to receive an unanticipated windfall in state revenues of nearly one billion dollars. Leading up to the 2019 General Assembly session, the legislature had to decide what to do with all that extra money.
Thankfully, they chose to give the $1 billion back to the taxpayers. In what marks one of the biggest state tax reform measures in modern memory, the legislature worked out a plan that would return that revenue to the people who were actually paying it. HB 2529 (R-Hugo) made a number of positive family-friendly changes to Virginia’s tax code, including:
Increasing the state standard deduction from $3,000 to $4,500 for individuals and from $6,000 to $9,000 for couples, which will take effect with next year’s tax filings;
Retaining the current deduction on state and local taxes, instead of adopting the $10,000 cap in last year’s federal tax changes; and
Providing taxpayers a credit of $110 for individuals and $220 for couples filing jointly to be distributed in October
During the year leading up to the 2019 session, The Family Foundation was apart of a workgroup coordinated by the Thomas Jefferson Institute to put forward a proposal for what to do about the windfall in revenue that was coming to the state. Along with several other conservative groups, we helped craft and jointly endorsed a tax reform plan that looked a lot like the one that ultimately passed.
This was a very big deal, even as it didn't get nearly as much attention in light of all the other issues during the session. By keeping taxes low, we help keep government small, limited, and thereby less likely to infringe upon the liberties we hold so dear. This was a major highlight of the 2019 session and we were proud to play a part in its success.
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!
Will Virginia Become Las Vegas? [General Assembly Recap PART 4]Mar. 15, 2019
Besides issues involving life and abortion, this year became the year of gambling. There were at least 15 bills to expand gambling in Virginia, including full-scale Vegas-style casinos in as many as five cities, the legalization of sports betting and online gambling, expansion of the Lottery, and the commercialization of charitable gaming. We had our work cut out for us to educate and provide testimony on the many reasons why these predatory industries are a bad bet for Virginia fiscally, economically, and socially.
With over 50 well-paid lobbyists roaming the Capitol halls on behalf of the gambling interests that flooded the Commonwealth this year, in the end SB 1126 (D-Lucas) was the last bill left standing, and the House and Senate versions of the bill could not be further apart. Then late on a Saturday evening, while no one else was at the Capitol and the session was wrapping up its last full day, the bill's conference committee members met to “resolve” the significant differences in the House and Senate versions.
Unfortunately, and to our great surprise, what they created in this back-room deal was a bill that would seem to satisfy the deep pockets of the numerous gambling interests and billionaire benefactors. The legislature essentially threw the entire gambling 'wishlist' – full-scale casinos in five or more cities, college and professional sports betting, online gambling, etc. – into one giant gambling bill. Only one casino in each city would be allowed, and only investors who can put up a minimum of $200 million in capital investments would qualify. (Hence, why we called this "crony capitalism", with the government granting monopolies to favored parties.)
The bill does require a commission to first “study” the matter and provide a report in only about 7 months from now, but with something of this magnitude, a half-year study is nowhere near long enough to show they're serious. The bill also stipulates that casinos have to be approved by the city residents in a voter referendum, but gives no say to the countless people in the adjacent localities who will also be impacted, while also ignoring the fact that big-money interests will likely pump millions into a local referendum to effectively buy the support they'll need. The bill also requires the legislature to pass the bill again next year in order for it to become law, so at least there is still time to influence legislators on these policies.
This gambling 'omnibus' bill reflects a combination of ‘kicking the can down the road’ to give the General Assembly another year to figure out exactly how much and what kinds of new gambling they want to foist upon Virginians, and also a strong legislative 'tipping of the hand' suggesting that they’re primed to expand gambling in one way or another no matter what this “study” uncovers or recommends.
A big part of the challenge this year was that the General Assembly was so preoccupied with other important matters like the ERA, tax reform, abortion and infanticide, and the improper behavior of our top three elected officials, that there was virtually no time - and no real opportunity provided - to engage in any serious policy discussions on the issues of casinos or sports betting. Much more robust discussions need to take place before the General Assembly thinks about making such a major shift in public policy.
Also noteworthy, HJ 658 (R-Pogge), a Constitutional Amendment we drafted that would have required statewide approval of any casino gambling the legislature were to pass, never made it out of committee. The bill was modeled after Florida, whose citizens voted last November by a 71% margin to put this requirement into their state constitution.
The debate over major new gambling schemes in Virginia is far from over. There is still much work and education to be done on these issues over the next year. Stay tuned as things continue to develop.
Tell the Governor NO Tax Dollars for Abortions!Mar. 14, 2019
The General Assembly added three critical pro-life amendments to the state’s budget that will: 1) limit public funding of abortions, 2) strip millions of tax dollars otherwise flowing to abortion facilities through the “LARC” program, and 3) require the Department of Health to report its reasons for approving state-funded abortions. They are now awaiting action by the Governor.
ACTON: Please contact Governor Northam and urge him to agree to these important pro-life budget amendments!
These critically important pro-life provisions hammered out by the House and Senate make this one of the most pro-life budgets we’ve seen in decades. Here is some additional context on each amendment and why they are so important:
1) Limiting the Public Funding of Abortions – “Hyde Amendment”
Introduced by Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33, Hamilton), this measure will bring Virginia in line with the majority of states that align their policies with the federal Hyde Amendment, which limits taxpayer funding for abortions to situations involving rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Current Virginia law allows the state to also pay for elective low-income abortions of unborn children with disabilities. This horrific practice forces taxpayers to fund the death of an unborn child if two physicians who work for the Department of Health think it’s justified. Every life has intrinsic value, regardless of physical or mental challenges, and every child is worthy of life.
2) Stopping the “LARC” Funds from Flowing to Abortion Providers
Introduced by Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-12, Glen Allen), this measure would modify the Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) program she initially helped introduce that ultimately made it into last year’s budget (over our strong objections), now limiting the use of those funds to only the purchase of the IUD devices by the Department of Health – ensuring that no more actual dollars will go to Planned Parenthood through this program. This amendment comes after the program resulted in nearly $3M in grants being allocated to the abortion industry with very vague language defining its use. While some of that money has already been allocated, we believe in the principle of “better late than never.”
3) Requiring the Health Department to Report its Reasons for Approving State-Funded Abortions
This amendment requires the Department of Health to report monthly on the number of state-funded abortion procedures it approved, along with its rationale for approving these “fetal abnormality” abortions for low-income women. In the past, the Department has refused to divulge its reasons for approving these state-funded abortions, and we speculate they are construing the term broadly, especially as the yearly totals continue to increase. Assuming, however, that the Governor is not able to strip out the Hyde Amendment language, there would no longer be any abortions to report for this provision.
More Threats to Religious Freedom Than Ever [General Assembly Update Part 3]Mar. 13, 2019
This year we faced a record-setting 32 bills aimed at advancing the “LGBTQ” agenda, which not only has a corrosive effect on the family and society, but always inevitably leads to conflicts with religious liberty and conscience rights. These bills included attempts to add special rights for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” (SOGI) to virtually every area of the law. (e.g. in housing, employment, businesses, public accommodations, health insurance benefit requirements, apprenticeships, hate crimes, assisted conception/surrogacy, etc.)
Numerous bills sought to completely erase distinctions between men and women by making the Code language “gender neutral.” Others sought to: make it virtually effortless for anyone to legally "change" their sex on official documents, establish gender-neutral dress codes for boys and girls in schools, require insurance companies to pay all the costs of a person's [completely unnecessary] "sex reassignment/transition" therapies and surgeries, and scrub all traces of Virginia’s one-man/one-woman marriage statute and Constitutional Amendment from the books.
Incredibly, we helped defeat 31 out of 32 of those efforts to redefine male, female, moms, dads, wives, husbands, and the family as created by God (and self-evident in nature). These bills would have generated serious conflicts with religious liberty, conscience, and privacy rights, while undermining some of society's most basic and fundamental truths. We cannot overstate how big a deal these results are.
Unfortunately, one bill – HB 1979, a profoundly anti-family and anti-life bill – did pass despite our best efforts to convince legislators of its harms. It now awaits the Governor’s expected signature. This legislation, sold as a bill to "fix" some of the "barriers" to assisted conception and surrogacy contracts, signifies a dramatic and harmful policy shift concerning the creation and treatment of human life, the rights of children, the legal basis for parenthood, the significance of marriage, and the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. It was purportedly designed to make it easier for same-sex couples to create children they are otherwise incapable of producing naturally. But the bill went much further than even that by effectively allowing for the commodification of lab-created babies who no longer need to have any genetic tie to either "parent", and also by allowing any unmarried single person to contract with someone to acquire a baby - thus purposely ensuring a child is born without a mother or a father. You can read a more complete overview of the issue on our blog here.
The most important bill this session designed to protect religious freedom was SB 1778 (R-Newman), which sought to protect the free speech and religious exercise rights of counselors as well as the ability of minors struggling with their sexual identity to receive meaningful counseling. (A national movement has dubbed this “conversion therapy.”) While the bill initially prevailed on a vote of the full Senate, it was unfortunately derailed due to an unexpected tactical move the following day, despite the known fact that several state health regulatory boards are planning to prohibit counselors and psychologists from providing this type of counseling. You can read the full story of this bill on our blog here.
Overall, it was a highly successful year on this front, but we do not expect it to get easier from here. Much credit belongs to various members of the House leadership for strategically and courageously heading off the many serious threats to religious liberty and to the very fabric of civil society.
Parental Rights: Several Big Wins and a Few Near Wins [2019 General Assembly Recap Part 2]Mar. 08, 2019
2019 became a big year for parents. We fought hard to pass several important bills to afford parents more options, involvement, and oversight in their children’s education. These initiatives were often our most strategic and time-consuming legislative battles, even while they were frequently overshadowed by the more hot-button issues. HB 2107 (R-Ransone) was one great bill that has made it to the Governor’s desk. It provides parents the opportunity to review any audio-visual materials that contain graphic sexual or violent images used in conjunction with any anti-bullying or suicide prevention lessons in public schools, and the ability to exclude their child if they deem the materials too graphic.
Unfortunately, HB 2570 (R-LaRock), which would have required schools to obtain parents’ permission for their child to participate in the Family Life Education ("Sex Ed") lessons, failed in the Senate after passing the House with a hard-fought 51 votes. We made this a major priority this year, in light of all the new graphic and aggressively-ideological messaging that is being pushed onto kids in various school districts. We will keep fighting to make this common-sense policy a reality for families.
The flagship school choice initiative in Virginia – the Education Investment Scholarship Tax Credit Program – was successfully expanded to pre-kindergarten this year through the passage of SB 1015 (R-Stanley), and now awaits the Governor’s action. The program has been a huge success in recent years and continues to enable more children in families who cannot otherwise afford private education to receive a private scholarship to use towards a qualifying private school. It's another step towards ensuring that parents to have every opportunity to get the best possible education for their children, according to their values. SB 1590(R-Dunnavant) was another good education choice bill that would have expanded the online “Virtual Virginia” program to all public schools statewide. Unfortunately, after passing the Senate, it failed in the House.
Numerous bills sought to provide protections and opportunities for homeschooled students. Among them, SB 1275 (R-Black) would have allowed home-schooled high school students to participate in the federally-sponsored Junior ROTC program at their local school. After a hard-fought battle, having passed in the Senate, it was defeated on a tie vote in a House Committee. A bill to allow homeschool students to participate in the Driver’s Ed program at their local public school also unfortunately failed.
Finally, HB 2542 (R-Byron) is another great bill that passed and awaits the Governor’s action. It seeks to keep families together by allowing for the temporary delegation of parental or legal custodial powers to a trusted third party for families facing a crisis or extraordinary circumstances. Instead of having to enter “the system” of Social Services, qualifying parents could work with a licensed child-placing agency to have someone care for their kids for a limited time in order for them to work out family problems, deploy overseas for a combat tour, or other scenarios like these.
Overall, despite a few razor-thin losses on a couple of important bills we fought hard to advance, we are thrilled to report that 2019 saw significant gains for parental rights and options!
Life Stole the Show! [General Assembly Recap Part 1]Mar. 04, 2019
The 2019 General Assembly session wrapped up last Sunday, and in my 19 years with The Family Foundation, I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it. It was a whirlwind of major policy issues with game-changing implications, fought over in a raw and unpredictable political slug-fest marked by all the hype, drama and epic showdowns one could hardly expect from a primetime Hollywood storyline – and so much of it played out on a national stage. In Virginia’s Capitol of recent days, the truth is stranger than fiction. Yet from the midst of all the chaos has emerged one miraculous victory after another, and while this session didn’t end with a perfect record, we consider it a tremendous success. In Part 1 of our 2019 Session Recap, we highlight some of the issues involving life.
All 15 Abortion Bills Were Defeated (including "New York" counterpart and the so-called "ERA"), we have the most Pro-Life budget in decades, and we won a big victory in our Lawsuit over abortion facility regulations.
Roughly 15 bills to expand abortion in Virginia were introduced this year, and we are thrilled to report that ALL of them were defeated – including the infamous “New York” style abortion bill aimed at repealing essentially every restriction on abortion we’ve spent decades to put in place, and even allowing for abortions for any reason up to the moment of birth! And of course, there was also the whole fiasco of Governor Ralph Northam actually defending infanticide AFTER a baby is already born – and then doubling down on his position instead of backtracking or clarifying, with virtually every Democratic legislator and top official fully backing him up on it. A national firestorm ensued, and for the first time in a long time, we are actuallygetting to have a substantive public conversation about what abortion really is - and what many of our elected officials actually believe about it.
And as if that wasn’t intense enough, we faced (and defeated!) a nationalized effort to make Virginia the 38th and final state to ratify the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, which among many other terrible consequences, would likely be used to establish a new constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortion. Despite every last effort to make Virginia the last to fall in a proxy-war over abortion and seemingly every other Leftist agenda item, we pulled out a victory - with credit belonging to a lot of good people, and especially the courageous leaders in the House. You can read more about the epic battle to defeat the ERA this year on our blog here, here, and here. While many important matters were going on these past few months, the 2019 session became, without question, the year dominated by life.
Watch our short video clip about some of it:
There were also several good foster care and adoption bills that passed this year. We also saw, for the very first time, a bill introduced to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which failed.
HJ 715 (R-Byron), a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting public funding of abortion, unfortunately, did not go forward – this despite our initiating a Mason-Dixon statewide poll confirming that 56% of Virginians oppose tax-paying funding of abortions, while only 34% support it. (with 10% undecided) Read more about what happened to it on our blog here.
The session ended on a high note with the House and Senate agreeing to what appears to be the most pro-life budget in decades! We are thrilled to report that three critically important pro-life amendments have made it into the final budget that has gone to the Governor for approval. They would: 1) Limit the public funding of abortions with the "Hyde Amendment", 2) Stop the “LARC” program dollars from flowing to abortion providers, and 3) Require the Health Department to report its reasons for approving state-funded abortions.
Finally, right in the middle of all these, we learned that we won our two-year legal battle over the Board of Health’s illegal repeal of many common-sense health and safety regulations for Virginia’s abortion facilities! Read about our victory here.
What an incredible year it was for life! We have so much to be thankful for and excited about. Meanwhile, stay tuned for our Session recaps on the other important issues that matter most to you.
Local School Boards Teach Radical "Truth"Feb. 27, 2019
Last night I was at the Loudoun County School Board meeting, where the School Board added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to their Equal Opportunity policy by a vote of 5-4. Just one vote made the difference.
This policy change puts Loudoun County in the same place as West Point – where teachers like Peter Vlaming can be fired simply because they refuse to use pronouns to describe students which do not match their actual sex.
That position – that sex is determined by biology – was mocked by many in the audience last night.
“No one has asked how many girls are uncomfortable getting undressed in front of a male.” School board member Jill Turgeon said as she explained why she was voting against the policy change.
“Speak the truth!” a person shouted from the audience. “They’re not males!”
The heckler was ignoring the biological reality of male and female. Jill Turgeon responded calmly, “That is my belief, and I am entitled to it as you are to yours.”
“You can believe the Earth is flat.” The audience member said, continuing to heckle her while the Chairman called for decorum and threatened to clear the room if any more outbursts occurred.
School Boards across Virginia are imposing policies that teach our children that male and female are arbitrary concepts that can be changed throughout a person’s life.
This isn’t just happening in Loudoun County and NOVA. West Point has adopted these policies. Stafford will vote on a comprehensive Transgender policy in the coming months. Earlier this year, the Fluvana School Board voted to change their school logo for the Gay Straight Alliance club. Discussions are underway in Gloucester County about changing their policy. It is everywhere.
Every local school board will be asked to answer the questions of whether Male and Female really are different. There are orchestrated efforts to change the policies of every school across the Commonwealth.
This is a call to action. This is your time to stand up and speak the truth. The heckler said that biological boys who think they are girls are no longer male. That is not truth.
Boys and Girls are different. While compassionate policies for young people experiencing gender identity confusion and distress should be adopted, those policies should not deny biological facts. Those policies should not compel others to set aside their deeply held convictions and speak messages with which they disagree. And those policies should not violate the constitutionally protected rights of boys and girls to bodily privacy when undressing or changing.
You must get involved to accomplish these true and compassionate policies. Without you being involved at every step, more and more school districts will follow Loudoun and impose a policy that insists “They’re not males!” and that anyone who disagrees is equivalent to someone claiming that the Earth is flat.
So I am calling on you to attend your next School Board meeting.
Look up the agenda and get educated about what policies are being considered.
Introduce yourself to the school board members and ask them what they think about boys and girls being different.
Remind them that privacy matters.
And get involved in your next School Board election.
Find out who is running.
If no one is running that you can support with your vote, consider running yourself!
Elect good men and women who will speak the truth.
When you see a policy or candidate that is true, let me know. The Family Foundation is here to speak the truth. Will you join us?
Sean Maguire can be reached directly at email@example.com or by phone at (804) 343-0010 ext. 240.
Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Deserve ProtectionFeb. 25, 2019
Last month Governor Northam calmly and meticulously made statements that support infanticide of babies born alive during abortion attempts. Those comments started a national conversation. Through that conversation we realized that 19 states allow abortion doctors to leave a baby, born alive after a failed abortion, alone to die.
That is what would have happened to Melissa Ohden, Josiah Presley, and Claire Culwell, just to name three examples of people who survived an abortion attempt.
Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) has introduced a bill, S.311, at the federal level to protect people like Melissa, Josiah, and Claire. It is called the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
The Senate is going to vote on this bill tonight. Please take a moment to reach out to Senator Kaine and Senator Warner to tell them you support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. A vote against this life-saving bill is ultimately a vote in support of infanticide.
You can also reach out to your Senators by phone.
Sen. Tim Kaine- (202) 224-4024
Sen. Mark Warner (202) 224-2023
Thank you for taking action on this important federal bill today!
A Tragic Loss for Life and FamilyFeb. 22, 2019
On Wednesday, by a vote of 63-36 the House of Delegates, unfortunately, agreed to the Senate’s nominally-amended version of HB 1979 (D-48, Sullivan). (The Senate passed it 28-12.) The bill will now make its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Make no mistake, this legislation will bring a dramatic and harmful policy shift concerning the creation and treatment of human life, the rights of children, the basis for parenthood, the significance of marriage, and the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. Despite the numerous victories so far this session, the passage of HB 1979 is of profound damage to the family.
Some have called this bill "pro-life" because it will now allow single people and same-sex couples to contract with a surrogate mother to implant one or more of the one million "snowflake babies," which have been created in labs and are currently frozen. But those same legislators completely disregarded the obvious incentives this bill creates, which will only lead to countless more human embryos being created in labs, frozen, and left to languish. While we, too, want existing human embryos to have the opportunity to fully develop, this bill will only ensure this problem is multiplied.
Another reason this bill cannot be pro-life is because it allows surrogacy contracts to include forced abortions, including “selective reductions,” which is the horrific practice of killing some of the babies in the womb, while leaving one or more alive. Some contracts also allow the intended parents to be able to require abortion of the child(ren) if the child appears to have a disability, or simply if they change their minds about wanting the child. This is commonplace in surrogacy contracts, and current Virginia law does not prohibit these types of agreements. This bill will greatly expand the number of surrogacy contracts, but without doing anything to protect against forced abortions at the demands of the “intended parents.”
For the first time, this bill would sever the biological connection between a child and his or her parents before the child is ever born. Current law requires at least one parent to be a genetic parent of the child who is being intentionally created through assisted conception. This bill allows for there to be no genetic connection at all, replacing the legal basis for parenthood with a mere contract among willing adults, which effectively flips the current custodial paradigm of “best interests of the child” to one of merely the desires and intentions of any adult.
Tragically, this bill, for the first time, allows for a child to be intentionally and permanently deprived of either a mother or a father before they are even born, and for the entirety of their life. (The bill removed all the references to “father”, “mother”, “husband” and “wife”.) Yet every person innately understands the value of having both a mother and father, and those who grow up without either a mother or a father tend to have a deep longing to have and to know them. Since the bill now allows single and non-married persons to contract with someone to produce a child for them through surrogacy simply because they want one, this Commonwealth has just declared that when it comes to bringing children into the world, married homes are no more preferred than single-parent homes.
While the outcome is incredibly disappointing, we witnessed throughout the process incredible courage on the part of some legislators who did not succumb to the outside pressures to support this bill. We want to especially thank Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33, Hamilton) for his commitment to protecting unborn life and speaking on the House floor in opposition to HB 1979 several times, including his great floor speech yesterday. Watch it HERE.
HB 1979 is a clear illustration of the lengths that the Left (and now, even some on the Right) will go to in order to redefine the family by stripping away the biological connections between parents and children and to protect the barbaric practice of selective reduction and abortion.
Please pray for us as we continue to fight against these dangerous anti-life and anti-family policies.
ERA is Defeated for the LAST TimeFeb. 22, 2019
It's over once and for all (this year)!
After watching the ERA get defeated in the subcommittee and again in the full committee, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it has been finally defeated in the full House of Delegates this year.
In a desperate, last ditch effort to pass the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, Delegate Hala Ayala tried to change the very rules of the House of Delegates!
Take a moment to say Thank You to these House Republicans who recognized this last-second rule change for what it was, a political ploy by advocates of the so-called ERA to allow abortions on the day of one's birth with no restrictions whatsoever!
Here are all fifty of the Delegates who voted against the rule change to advance the ERA today.
Click here to thank your Delegate directly!
(Note: This will only work if you are their constituent.)
Speaker Kirk Cox, Les Adams, Terry Austin, Dickie Bell, Rob Bell, Rob Bloxom, Emily Brewer, Kathy J. Byron, Jeff Campbell, Ronnie Campbell, Mark Cole, Chris Collins, Glenn Davis, James Edmunds II, Matt Fariss, Buddy Fowler, Nick Freitas, Scott Garrett, Todd Gilbert, Chris Head, Gordon Helsel, Keith Hodges, Tim Hugo, Riley Ingram, Chris Jones, Terry Kilgore, Barry Knight, Steve Landes, Dave LaRock, Jay Leftwich, Danny Marshall, John McGuire III, Joe McNamara, Jason Miyares, Will Morefield, Israel O'Quinn, Bobby Orrock, Chris Peace, Todd Pillion, Brenda Pogge, Charles Poindexter, Margaret Ransone, Roxann Robinson, Nick Rush, Chris Stolle, Bob Thomas, Lee Ware, Michael Webert, Tony Wilt, and Thomas Wright.
Click here to thank your Delegate directly!
(Note: This will only work if you are their constituent.)
Democrats Now Advocating Forced Abortions?Feb. 20, 2019
Yesterday, we witnessed a rare and almost unbelievable debate on the Senate floor over a proposed amendment to HB 1979 (D-Sullivan), a bill that would bring a dramatic and dangerous policy shift concerning the creation and treatment of human life, the rights of children, the basis for parenthood, the significance of marriage, and the dynamics of the parent-child relationship. Senator Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg) introduced a much-needed amendment that would simply prevent the state from recognizing any clause within a surrogacy contract that required the surrogate mother to have an abortion or undergo the barbaric practice of "selective reduction" (killing one or more babies if multiple embryos developed).
We could hardly believe the debate that ensued. To our shock and dismay, every Democrat that got up to speak actually defended the ability of some people to force these vulnerable women to destroy the child(ren) inside their womb if the contract permitted the "intended parent(s)" to demand it - and for theoretically any reason. You can watch the entire floor debate HERE. (Start at 1:46:19 and go to 2:16:35)
Senator Peake, who did a phenomenal job defending the amendment, summarized his bill as follows: "This bill prevents people who are not going to carry a baby, and many times will never be able to carry a baby, from telling someone who is carrying a baby that she has to go in and kill that baby. That's the purpose of this amendment. And this amendment leaves that choice - that choice with the woman who is pregnant with the babies."
Apparently, that was just too much for Senate Democrats. Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond City), in opposing the amendment, stated: "These decisions can and should be made between the parties to that contract, the woman who is putting her own life at risk to carry a child, and the family who is entrusting this woman to carry the child for them. And there is no reason we should not trust the three of them to enter into a contract that protects all of their interests." We couldn't help but wonder what happened to her otherwise standard line that "This is a decision solely between a woman and her doctor."
Adding to our shock, in a voice vote on the amendment, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax ruled that the "Nays" were louder and thus defeated the measure! The terrible bill then passed - and without ANY protections for the unborn lives, including for the countless thousands of frozen embryos.
Now the bill will be considered again by the House of Delegates either tomorrow or Thursday (since it was slightly different than the version it passed). This means it's the LAST CHANCE for the bill to be stopped or amended to make it somewhat less objectionable.
URGENT ACTION: Please click here to contact every Republican delegate claiming to be "pro-life" and urge them to ensure that - at the very least - unborn life is protected in this bill.
It's not too late - there is still time for the House to act! Please contact them now!