Author archives: Gabby Wiggins

California’s Latest Travel Ban Should Be a Teachable Moment for Conservatives

by Damon Sidur , Gabby Wiggins

July 16, 2021

On June 28, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that California will add five more states to its travel ban. State-funded travel will no longer be permitted to states on this list because they passed bills that California considers “discriminatory.”

The number of states on California’s anti-travel list has been growing over the years and has now reached a total of 17, with this new addition of Florida, Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The ban will have an impact on public school trips, universities, teacher conferences, and any other business that public employees of the state of California may need to attend around the country.

Bonta justified the additions to the travel ban by claiming the moral high ground. “The states [banned] are a part of a recent, dangerous wave of discriminatory new bills signed into law in states across the country that directly work to ban transgender youth from playing sports, block access to life-saving care, or otherwise limit the rights of members of the LGBTQ community,” Bonta’s office explained in a press release. However, these laws are necessary to (1) preserve fair competition in women’s sports by requiring that athletes who identify as transgender participate in sports according to their biological sex, and (2) to prevent youth from making drastic, permanent life-altering decisions (like taking puberty blocking drugs) until they reach adulthood, such as Arkansas’ SAFE Act.

The first travel ban from California was introduced in 2017. Then-Attorney General Xavier Becerra signed into law Assembly Bill 1887, which prohibited a state agency, department, board, or commission from requiring any state employees, officers, or members to travel to a state that has so-called “discriminatory” laws against gender identity, expression, or sexual orientation. The first state it applied to was Oklahoma.

Oklahoma had signed into law Senate Bill 1140, which allowed private foster care/adoption agencies to use their own discretion when placing children into homes. For religious organizations, it meant that they could continue to place children only into families with a mother and a father. Neither adoption nor foster care by those identifying as LGBTQ is banned in Oklahoma; the bill simply upholds that private organizations are allowed to operate in accordance with their beliefs. However, according to advocates of the LGBTQ cause, SB 1140  discriminated against those identifying as LGBTQ. Allie Shin, the External Affairs Director of ACLU Oklahoma, stated that “Rather than stand up to religious fanaticism, the Governor has chosen to reinforce the delusions of those who confuse discrimination with liberty.” Shortly after, California enacted AB1887.

However, Becerra didn’t stop at just Oklahoma. Over the course of the next several years, he signed laws prohibiting state-funded travel to Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. All of these states have passed laws similar to Oklahoma’s or that fall under the category of LGBTQ issues.

Blocking state-funded travel to a third of the country comes with consequential economic impacts. Lisa Hermes, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce in McKinney, Texas, said that “the state could lose out on as much as $1 billion dollars of economic impact if the NCAA canceled its events currently slated to take place in Texas — such as the 2024 College Football Playoff National Championship game set for Houston and the 2023 Women’s Final Four in Dallas.” In Louisville, Kentucky, the city lost over $2 million in revenue after two companies canceled events they were going to hold there. Even Nashville, which is a left-leaning city, was impacted after the American Counseling Association canceled a meeting they had scheduled, which would have brought 3,000 visitors to the state (and business to hotels and restaurants to boot) and would have brought in $4 million worth of tax revenue.

While these new bans by California are obviously more harmful than helpful, they are also a dangerous example of the level that the Left will stoop to in order to make a large statement. It’s hard to argue against the fact that by shutting down state-funded travel to 17 states, California’s stances on issues like transgenderism are getting lots of attention. This travel ban is one of many ways that the Left is forcing culture to align with their agenda. There’s also issues like the MLB moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia because of pressure from the Left.

With all of this happening in the culture around us, what is our role as Christians and conservatives? The Left is following through on what they say they’re going to do, and it’s having an economic impact. How should we respond? We need to follow through on our beliefs as well and use God’s word as the basis for our decisions and actions. As Christians, we need to firmly take a stand not just with our words, but with our actions by using our hard-earned money to make an economic impact for biblical values just as the Left is making an economic impact with their policies. As believers, we can do this by supporting companies and organizations that align with our biblical values.

Gabby Wiggins is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.

Damon Sidur is a Communications intern at Family Research Council.

Christian Adoption Agencies Face Uphill Battle Even After Fulton

by Gabby Wiggins

July 7, 2021

Public adoption/foster care agencies and private adoption agencies have been co-existing for decades. They each have specific focuses, advantages, and disadvantages, allowing both birth parents and prospective adoptive parents to choose which program they think will be the best fit for them. Christian adoption agencies in particular have proven to be very successful. For example, Nightlight Christian Adoptions served close to 14,000 adoptive families during the 2020 year. Because of their religious nature, Christian agencies have certain criteria for the families they approve, including marital status. The recent 9-0 Supreme Court ruling in the Fulton v. Philadelphia case affirmed that religious agencies like Catholic Social Services (CSS) must be treated equally to other secular organizations. However, even with this narrowly-worded win, the broader reality is that Christian adoption agencies have long been under attack in the U.S. and are continuing to fight this battle.

One of the agencies most targeted due to the redefinition of marriage has been Catholic Charities, which only places children in homes with a father and mother. In 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston was forced to shut down because of a state law that would force them to comply with laws barring “sexual orientation discrimination,” meaning that they would have been forced to violate deeply-held religious beliefs and place children in households with same-sex couples for both foster care and adoption. After their closure, adoptions in Massachusetts dropped by 28 percent in the following years. Soon after, Catholic Charities of San Francisco, the Archdiocese of Washington, and Illinois were forced to close as well. By forcing Catholic Charities to choose between violating their biblical beliefs and shutting down, the number of children waiting to be adopted increased by thousands.

The most absurd part of it all is that the prospective adoptive parents identifying as LGBTQ whom state non-discrimination laws protect are in fact not affected by religious agencies at all. During the oral arguments over Fulton v. Philadelphia, Justice Alito asked, “How many same-sex couples in Philadelphia have been denied the opportunity to be foster parents as a result of Catholic Social Services’ policy?” The response given by Lori Windham, who represented CSS, was simple: “Zero. In fact, Justice Alito, none have even approached Catholic Social Services asking for this approval and endorsement.” There is a plethora of other agencies without religious convictions that same-sex couples can go to for adoption services. Therefore, waging a battle against Christian organizations is clearly driven by an anti-religious agenda that results in more harm than help.

Unfortunately, it seems like the Fulton v. Philadelphia decision is unlikely to provide lasting protection to religious adoption agencies across the nation. The decision was mostly based off a provision of Philadelphia city law that stated that exceptions to Philadelphia’s non-discrimination policy could be overruled at the city commissioner’s discretion, which in this case is what the Supreme Court affirmed. However, the Court did not provide the ruling that CSS pushed for, which would allow a stricter scrutiny standard and an overturning of Employment Division v. Smith. The combination of this lack of protection and the caving of other religious adoption agencies does not bode well for the future of Christian adoption. As of March 2021, Bethany Christian Services, the largest Christian adoption agency in the U.S., announced that they would place children in non-traditional households for both foster care and adoption.

One of the fundamental tenets of America is the right to publicly live by religious values. To slowly strip that away does nothing but take away freedom and harm society’s most vulnerable children. As Christians, we must continue to pray for the religious liberty of adoption agencies like Catholic Charities and pray that they hold fast to their convictions.

Gabby Wiggins is a Brand Advancement intern at Family Research Council.

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