Month Archives: March 2011

State of the States: Wyoming

by Brianna Walden

March 7, 2011

Shortly before the Wyoming legislature adjourned (March 3rd), a final vote to concur on HB74, as passed out of the joint conference committee, was held in both the House and Senate. The final version of HB74 stated that Wyoming would not recognize same-sex “marriages” performed out-of-state, but did not address civil unions or other relationships. The House voted 31 to 28 to pass the bill as amended, however the Senate failed the bill by a 16 to 14 vote.

It is unfortunate that this bill would die by such a close margin, especially with strong Republican majorities in both Houses. Becky Vandeberghe, president of WyWatch Family Action, emphasized however that this bill and other pro-family bills had made it farther in the legislative process this year than in past sessions, and that constituents now have a clear voting record of their legislators stance on marriage.

Other marriage-related bills that did not receive a final vote before the session adjourned include: SJ 5, a Marriage Protection Amendment, HB 150, a bill establishing civil unions, and HB 149, a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. These are issues that Wyoming voters can expect to weigh in on in future sessions.

Concerning other issues, three bills that did not pass out of the legislature this session include a bill that would prohibit assisted suicide (HB 148), a bill that would establish gender identity/sexual orientation “non-discrimination” (HB 142), and a bill that would require doctors to give specified information to women and tell them they could view an ultrasound before performing an abortion (HB 251).

State of Physician Assisted Suicide in the States

by Brianna Walden

March 7, 2011

Since Oregon became the first to legalize physician assisted suicide, this issue has come up in several other states. Many have passed laws prohibiting physician assisted suicide, while others are currently debating this issue. The following map will give you a good picture of the state of physician assisted suicide in the states.

State of the States: Life Affirmed in South Dakota

by Brianna Walden

March 4, 2011

On Wednesday, the South Dakota Senate approved HB1217, a measure designed to protect women and help ensure that a decision to have an abortion is informed and not coerced. The bill establishes a 72-hour waiting period for an abortion, after a physician has consulted with the woman and completed a risk assessment. Additionally, the physician will be required to provide the woman with contact information for nearby pregnancy help centers for her to schedule a consultation with them so that she can be fully informed of the risks of the abortion procedure and hear about possible alternatives.

Chris Hupke, Executive Director, South Dakota Family Policy Council says this bill is all about education. Planned Parenthood has established themselves to be unreliable to provide the education (to women seeking an abortion). This bill would not be necessary if Planned Parenthood was doing their job. Citing cases where women are forced into an abortion by the father of the child, or feel pressured while emotionally vulnerable Chris goes on to emphasize that, Coercion is not choice. We are trying to make sure that (abortion) is a voluntary choice.

Governor Dennis Daugaard has appeared to indicate that he will sign the bill, stating in an article by the Rapid City Journal:

I am pro-life, I’ve read the bill and I’m inclined to sign it, but I want to examine it along with the counsel of others to make sure there’s no unintended consequences that haven’t been identified during the debate.”

Passage of this bill by both chambers is an enormous victory for life and we congratulate the South Dakota Family Policy Council for their tireless work on this bill. If signed into law, South Dakota will surpass the other states with the strongest safeguards ensuring that women are informed about their unplanned pregnancies.

Guttmacher: 54% of Women Who Aborted in 2008 Were Using Contraception

by Family Research Council

March 4, 2011

As Family Research Council has previously reported increasing access to contraception does not decrease the number of abortions. In fact, studies show quite the opposite.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its allies are banging the “family planning decreases the abortion rate” drum on Capitol Hill these days. However the Guttmacher Institute, previously PPFA’s own research arm, reports that over half the number women who had an abortion in 2008 —54%— were using a form of contraception during the month they got pregnant.

In the words of Kristin Powers, who blogged on this story earlier today, “what is truly astonishing about the Guttmacher statistics is that they are completely unchanged from a decade ago.”

She is correct. This is not new. Family Research Council wrote on this very topic in our Top Ten Myths of Abortion piece a few years ago,

In the United States, a decrease in contraceptive use in recent years correlates to a decrease in the number of abortions. From 1995 to 2002, the rate of contraceptive use decreased from 64 percent to 62 percent,43 while the number of abortions fell from 1,359,400 to 1,293,000. Contraceptive Use, Facts in Brief, The Alan Guttmacher Institute (March, 2005). These numbers represent use among all women age 15-44, and thus, because many women in this age group would not be sexually active, the rate of use among sexually active women would be higher.

There is more. A study recently published in Contraception conducted in Spain from 1997-2007 showed as contraceptive use increased from a rate of 49.1 to 79.9%, simultaneously the elective abortion rate increased from 5.52 to 11.49 per 1000 women.

[R]esearch here and abroad shows that increasing access to contraception is not a solution to the problem of soaring abortion rates. In fact, it makes the problem worse. In Sweden, for example, an increase in affordable access to contraception and the presence of free contraceptive counseling have resulted in a substantial increase in the teen abortion rate. The abortion rate has climbed from 17 abortions per thousand teens in 1995 to 22.5 abortions per thousand teens in 2001.(Edgardh, K., et al., Adolescent Sexual Health in Sweden, Sexual Transmitted Infections 78 (2002): 352-6)

According to Professor Peter Arcidiacono of Duke University, increasing teenagers access to contraception may actually increase long run pregnancy rates even though short run pregnancy rates fall. On the other hand, policies that decrease access to contraception, and hence sexual activity, are likely to lower pregnancy rates in the long run. Peter Arcidiacono, et al., Habit Persistence and Teen Sex: Could Increased Contraception Have Unintended Consequences for Teen Pregnancies? (Oct. 3, 2005), Working Paper, p. 29.

Perhaps, a Far Narrower Window for Prop 8 Litigants to Cut/Paste

by Chris Gacek

March 4, 2011

Thanks to analysis by EPPC’s Ed Whelan, it is possible that the time the Prop 8 same-sex marriage proponents had to file their Motion to Vacate Stay was even less than FRC stated in its Freedom of Information Act request to DoJ. Here is what Whelan writes in a post on NROs “Bench Memos” webpage:

Specifically: From what I can tell (and I invite correction on the point), the text of Attorney General Holders letter announcing the Obama administrations decision to abandon the defense of DOMA apparently became publicly available somewhere around 12:30 p.m. Eastern time last Wednesday. Prop 8 plaintiffs filed their motion (according to the electronic notice issued by the Ninth Circuit) at 9:56 a.m. Pacific timei.e., 12:56 p.m. Eastern time. And somehow Prop 8 plaintiffs were able to quote from Holders letter in their motion and include a copy of the letter as an attachment to their motion.

Of particular interest to me is the fact that the Motion was filed before 1:00 p.m. EST. Under Whelans calculation this would have given them about a half-hour window for cutting, pasting, and filing.

Same-sex “marriage” hurts

by Cynthia Hill

March 4, 2011

Think that same-sex “marriage” won’t hurt anyone? Think again. If you or someone you love is one of the following professions, take a look at the info provided courtesy of the Alliance Defense Fund. ADF is working on a project that will make this type of information more accessible and searchable by occupation. In the interim, read how certain professions have been negatively impacted by the demands of the homosexual agenda:

Educators

Attorneys

The State Bar of Arizona weighed revisions to the attorneys’ oath of office that would silence conservative viewpoints on moral issues. See:

Intellectual Conservative and Response to Proposed Change to Oath of Admission

Psychologist

Counselor

Physicians

The Future of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

by Peter Sprigg

March 4, 2011

The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was enacted in 1996 by large bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. It ensured that states would not have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, and that the federal government would recognize only the union of one man and one woman as marriage.

Yet now, DOMA is under the sharpest attack in its historydespite the fact that four federal courts have already upheld its constitutionality, and no federal or state appellate court has ever said that it violates the U.S. Constitution. In July 2010, however, a single federal District Court Judge in Boston, Joseph L. Tauro, ruled in a pair of cases that the federal definition of marriage in DOMA is unconstitutional. In November 2010, two more federal court challenges to DOMA were filed in New York and Connecticut. In total, there are no less than ten currently pending federal court cases which involve some form of challenge to DOMA. Here are some key questions and answers about the current status of this law:

Q: What did Attorney General Eric Holder announce on February 23 about the administrations position regarding the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

A: In a press release and in a letter to Congress, Mr. Holder said that he and President Obama have concluded that one of the provisions of the Defense of Marriage Actthe one which limits the federal government to recognizing only marriages between one man and one womanis unconstitutional. This marked a sharp reversal, since the Department of Justice has submitted several briefs defending the constitutionality of DOMA in previous court cases.

This decision represents a shocking abdication of the Attorney Generals, and the Presidents, constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and sets a dangerous precedent for future executive refusals to defend existing law.

Q: What motivated this change of position?

A: Politics likely played a major role, as the Obama Administration has been under intense pressure from pro-homosexual activists to stop defending DOMA. There is also evidence which suggests collusion between the Justice Department and attorneys who are challenging DOMA and the definition of marriage in court. Attorneys in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, who seek to overturn Californias marriage amendment (Proposition 8) and establish a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage, filed a Motion to Vacate Stay with the Ninth Circuit, containing detailed citations from the Attorney Generals letter, just hours after the letter was released.

Family Research Council has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any communications between the DOJ and litigants and attorneys in this case or in the cases challenging DOMA in other courts.

Q: Hasnt President Obama opposed DOMA all along?

A: Yes, Mr. Obama favors the repeal of DOMA. However, it is possible to believe that a law represents bad public policy, while at the same time believing that it does not violate the Constitution. This had been the position of the Obama administration until February 23, 2011.

QHow can the Administration justify such an about-face?

A: Earlier cases challenging the constitutionality of DOMA (such as the Massachusetts cases decided by Judge Tauro) had been filed in federal court circuits in which there was controlling precedent saying that classifications based on sexual orientation are subject only to a rational basis testthe most lenient level of scrutiny, under which legislative choices are accorded the greatest deference. The DOJs briefs had argued that DOMA was constitutional by this standard.

The new lawsuits challenging DOMA in New York and Connecticut, however, were filed in federal courts located in a circuit (the Second) without any such precedent. Mr. Holder claims that this caused the DOJ to re-examine the question of the appropriate standard of inquiry, and that in turn led him to declare that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny.

Q: What does heightened scrutiny mean?

A: When a law creates a classification that treats some individuals or groups differently from others (in this case, treating opposite-sex couples differently from same-sex couples), it may sometimes be challenged as violating the Constitutions guarantee of the equal protection of the law. However, most laws are judged under a rational basis test, meaning that a legislative enactment will be upheld as long as there is any conceivable rational basis for the classification.

However, heightened scrutiny usually applies to classifications based on characteristics considered immutable and irrelevant to legitimate policy objectives, possessed by groups who are minorities or politically powerless and have been subject to a history of discrimination. The classic examples are race and sex. The Supreme Court has never said that this standard applies to sexual orientation. It would increase the chances of a court striking down laws which limit marriage or its benefits to the union of one man and one woman, such as DOMA.

Q: How did the Attorney General justify this call for heightened scrutiny.

A: Mr. Holder asserted that a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable. However, he cited only one source in support of this contentionone dated 1992. In a footnote, he further claims that discrimination has been based on the incorrect belief that sexual orientation is a behavioral characteristic that can be changed.

In fact the theory that there is a gay gene or that people are born gay has been largely discredited by science since the early 1990s. Studies of identical twins, such as one in the American Journal of Sociology in 2002, support the hypothesis that less gendered socialization in early childhood and preadolescence shapes subsequent homosexuality. And evidence that homosexuals can change has come even from Dr. Robert Spitzer, the psychiatrist who led the effort to remove homosexuality from the official list of mental disorders. In a 2003 study, Spitzer found that changes [in sexual orientation] … were not limited to sexual behavior and … self-identity. The changes encompassed sexual attraction … the core aspects of sexual orientation.

Q: Who can defend DOMA if the Justice Department refuses to?

A: The courts have long recognized Congresss vital interest in defending the constitutionality of its Acts in the rare circumstances that the Justice Department refuses to provide such a defense. This happens as recently as 1983 in INS v. Chadha. The Supreme Court made clear in the 1997 case Raines v. Byrd that individual members cannot assert these interests, as Congress can only act through resolutions passed by the majority. Either chamber may do so individually.

Q: What would it mean if DOMA were struck down by the courts?

A: The immediate result would be federal government recognition of same-sex marriages that are already legal in the state where they occurred. However, if the federal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is found unconstitutional, it would be only a matter of time before the same definition at the state level would be struck downincluding in the 29 states that have put that definition in their own constitutions. This is exactly the remedy sought by the plaintiffs in Perry (the Proposition 8 case), which is now before the Ninth Circuit.

Q: What should be done now?

A: Congress must continue to defend DOMA in court, since the Justice Department refuses to do so. Bills to legalize same-sex marriage must be defeated in state legislatures, and additional state marriage amendments must be adopted defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. These make it hard for any court to find that there is an emerging consensus in favor of same-sex marriage. Finally, pro-family groups actively involved in the defense of marriage in court, such as the Alliance Defense Fund, and others involved in filing and coordinating amicus briefs, such as Family Research Council, need financial support for these efforts.

It is quite possible that the issue of same-sex marriage will reach the U. S. Supreme Court in 2012 or 2013. Pro-family citizens and office-holders must speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Conservatives and Christians Will Not Be Silenced on Homosexuality

by Tony Perkins

March 4, 2011

USA Today contributor Tom Krattenmaker (On gay rights, keep fighting or adapt? USA Today, February 14) wrote recently that we’ve reached a point on gay rights that is similar to that moment in a football game … when you know it’s over even though it’s not overclaiming that social conservatives have already lost on this issue.

It is true that social conservatives suffered a defeat in the vote to repeal the 1993 law against homosexual conduct in the military. (It is also significant that the repeal bill was forced through a lame-duck Congress using desperate maneuvers at the last minute, because they knew that the new Congressthe one that actually represents the contemporary political consensuswould never pass it.)

However, to say that social conservatives should surrender to the forced affirmation and celebration of homosexual conduct, because of a single legislative defeat, is like saying the Green Bay Packers should have forfeited the Super Bowl once the Steelers achieved a first down.

And to walk off the field because the far-left advocacy group the Southern Poverty Law Center throws the hate label at pro-family groups would be like retiring from the sport because one loud-mouthed fan of the opposing team yells, You stink!

The biggest trophy that homosexual activists now seek is the redefinition of marriage. Currently, only five states call same-sex unions marriages, while the other 45 all continue to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. In what sport would a team leading by a score of 45-5 be losing? Furthermore, where the people have decided, 31 out of 31 states have upheld marriage as a male-female union. A 31-game winning streak rarely signals a losing season.

The rest of Krattenmakers argument is as weak as his football analogy, as it totters between ignorance and slander.

Krattenmaker claims that conservative warnings of a threat to religious liberty from same-sex marriage rest merely on fear that Christians do not get to dictate the law of the land. But it is nature (which says that it takes one man and one woman to procreate) and social science (which shows that children do best with a mother and father) that dictate that marriage should be the union of a man and a woman, not Christianity. Yet legalization of same-sex marriage would result in zero tolerance of those who believe in natural marriage, threatening the livelihoods of religious marriage counselors, adoption agencies and educational institutions.

Krattenmaker says that many Americans … live and work with gay people … [and] have family members … [and] people in their lives who really matter to them who are gay. There is no disputing this. He also urges adherence to a foundational Christian principle: Treat others as you wish to be treated. I agree whole-heartedly.

Heres how I would wish to be treated. First and foremost, I would want to be told the truth. Homosexuality is not an identity, as Krattenmaker describes itit is a behavior. There are abundant secular grounds to be concerned about homosexual conduct, such as the physical and mental health problems that are associated with it. These are not fabricated by social conservativesthey are well-documented in the medical literature and have even been summarized by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

As to theology, one newly-published book by a liberal theologian cannot overturn two thousand years of Christian sexual ethics. The Bible depicts a wide variety of sexual behaviors, from polygamy to incest to rape, because it is an honest book that shows the truth of human experience. But its references to homosexual conduct, in both the Old and New Testaments, condemn such conduct in every case.

If family members saw that I engaged in behavior that put my physical health at risk, I would expect them to warn me and urge me to stop. If my closest friends believed I was in a harmful relationship, I would want them to tell me, and help me escape it. And if I were falling into sin, I would want my brothers and sisters in Christ to call me to repentance.

What I would not want is to be told soothing falsehoodsthat I was born this way, I can never change and that all my problems are somebody elses fault. Such a message is comforting in the short run, but far from loving in the long run.

We will continue to speak the trutheven hard truths. We will continue to do so in lovethough love must sometimes be tough. There is one thing we will not dowe will not be silent.

The Social Conservative Review: March 3, 2011 Edition

by Krystle Gabele

March 4, 2011

Click here to subscribe for The Social Conservative Review.


Dear Friend,

On this day in 1931, the Star-Spangled Banner was formally adopted as our national anthem.

Most of us are familiar with the wonderful story of how Francis Scott Key, a prisoner on a British ship in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, rejoiced at seeing the Stars and Stripes “yet waving” over Ft. McHenry despite a ferocious assault of “bombs bursting” from John Bull’s men-of-war.

The final stanza of America’s song is especially relevant for our time: It encourages “free men” to “stand,” and “Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.” It reminds us that “In God is our trust.”

Nearly two centuries after Mr. Key saw Old Glory still flying, we are, with you, still standing — for liberty and the Constitution, for faith and family, for our children and their future. And since God remains our trust, we always will.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

P.S. Pat Fagan, Ph.D., the distinguished Director of FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), recently has published a massive study of what’s really happening in families across the country. The “Annual Report on Family Trends 2011” is designed to “inform the reader about the American family in its current state, including its behaviors in the five major institutions … of society: family, church, school, marketplace, and government.” A superb resource for educators, students, political and civic leaders, and concerned citizens, you can download it free by clicking here.


Educational Freedom and Reform

Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

Government Reform

Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Bureaucracy

Health Care

Abstinence

Conscience Protection

Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts

Homosexuality

Earlier this week, FRC President Tony Perkins sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting records of communications between the Obama Justice Department and various legal groups seeking to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Why? Because the President has now said federal attorneys would no longer defend DOMA in court. In Tony’s words, “The President’s failure to defend DOMA is also a failure to fulfill his oath to ‘faithfully execute the office of President of the United States.’ What will be the next law that he will choose not to enforce or uphold?” We are looking forward to Attorney General Holder’s response to FRC’s letter.

Human Life and Bioethics

Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Cloning

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research

Women’s Health

Marriage and Family

Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Parental Rights

Media

Pornography

Internet

Religion and Public Policy

Religious Liberty

Religion in American Public Life

Secularism

International

Israel

Religious Persecution

Sharia law — U.S., foreign

The Courts

Constitutional Issues

Judicial Activism

Other News of Note

Book reviews

FRC’s Peter Sprigg and Pierre Bynum Testify Before the Maryland House Judiciary Committee

by Krystle Gabele

March 3, 2011

On February 25, 2011, FRC’s Peter Sprigg and Pierre Bynum testified before the Maryland House of Delegates’ Judiciary Committee voicing their opposition to a bill that would redefine marriage.

Click the ‘play’ button below to listen to Pierre Bynum’s testimony.

Click the ‘play’ button below to listen to Peter Sprigg’s testimony.

February 2011 «

» April 2011

Archives