Category archives: States

FRC’s Peter Sprigg Testifies Against Maryland Senate Bill 212

by FRC Media Office

February 4, 2014

Below are the remarks that Peter Sprigg, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, delivered before the Maryland State Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee


Testimony in opposition to Senate Bill 212
Peter Sprigg
Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Council
Resident, Montgomery County, Maryland

Maryland State Senate, Judicial Proceedings Committee
February 4, 2014

I urge you to oppose Senate Bill 212

This bill caters to anyone who is “transgendered,” a broad umbrella term that includes transsexuals (people who have had sex-change surgery), anyone who has changed or is changing their public “gender identity” (regardless of whether they have had surgery or hormone treatments), transvestites (people who dress as the opposite sex on an occasional basis for emotional or sexual gratification), and drag queens and drag kings (people who dress as the opposite sex for the purpose of entertaining others).

It should be opposed by anyone who believes in freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of conscience and religion, and a free market economy. Here are some reasons why:

  • The bill would increase government interference in the free market. It would substitute the judgment of the state for that of the employer regarding what qualities or characteristics are most relevant to a particular job.
  • Gender identity” is unlike most other characteristics protected in civil rights laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on “race, color, national origin, sex, and religion.” The first four of these are included largely because they are inborn, involuntary and immutable. (Religion, while voluntary, is explicitly protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.) Transgender behavior meets none of these criteria.
  • The bill would lead to costly lawsuits against employers. In the case of public employers (which are explicitly covered by the bill), such a law could lead to large settlements being paid at taxpayers’ expense.
  • The bill would undermine the ability of employers to impose reasonable dress and grooming standards. The bill professes to protect such standards. However, it requires that such standards be consistent with the employee’s chosen and variable “gender identity.” This effectively forbids employers from using the most fundamental standard of all—that people be dressed and groomed in a way that is culturally appropriate for their biological sex.
  • The bill would violate the privacy of others. Because transgender status is not dependent on having “sex-change surgery,” SB 212 would allow some biological males (who claim to be female) to appear nude before females (and vice versa) in bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. (Previous versions of comparable federal legislation included an exemption for “shared shower and dressing facilities in which being seen unclothed is unavoidable.” There is no such exemption in this bill.)
  • The bill would mandate the employment of “transgendered” individuals in inappropriate occupations. For example, under this bill, employers in the area of education and childcare would be denied the right to refuse to hire transgendered individuals, even if they consider such persons to be confusing, disturbing, or inappropriate role models for children and young people.

Please vote “no” on Senate Bill 212.

The State of Abortion Law in the U.S.

by Anna Higgins

November 20, 2013

This week, voters in Albuquerque (ABQ) voted no on a local ordinance proposal that would have banned abortions past 20 weeks gestation, the age at which we know preborn children can feel pain. If passed, the ordinance would have protected countless women and children from the barbaric practice of late-term abortion in what many have called the late term capitol of the United States. The United States is one of only four countries in the world that permit the brutal practice for any reason.

This measure, although defeated, served an inestimably important educational function. The hard work that was put into the measure was not in vain. Due to efforts such as these, people are waking up to the fact that abortion necessarily involves two lives and that late term abortion is an unnecessary evil. In fact, 64% of Americans support banning the practice of late-term abortion. We must build on this effort in ABQ and begin to introduce similar legislation in cities across the country. These efforts go a long way towards exposing the truth about abortion. They also force those who support the heinous practice to defend themselves in light of the reality that abortion causes excruciating pain to the preborn child and is dangerous for the mother.

Also this week, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an emergency stay of the Texas law that requires abortionists to obtain admitting privileges in local hospitals. The denial of stay indicates that the Fifth Circuit’s refusal to enjoin the law pending a decision on the merits is not clearly erroneous. Thus, the Texas law will remain in effect until the Fifth Circuit has decided the case on its merits. As Ken Klukowski noted, the dissent in this decision indicated that it is likely that the Court will take up this case eventually. If it does, this will be the first abortion case taken up by the Court since 2007.

Meanwhile, the federal Unborn Child Pain Capable Protection Act, which handily passed the House in June, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). The bill is expected to generate a spirited debate if permitted to come to a vote. Introduction of such bills and public debate is essential to a robust Republic. The American people deserve to know the truth about abortion and must be allowed to express their will through their representatives. The will of the people was suppressed by the Court in 1973 with the decision in Roe v. Wade, but recent legislative movements to restrict abortion across the country show that even 40 years later, the people are still fighting for their right to be heard on the issue.

A Civil War general, a Wyoming storekeeper, and a Vietnamese businessman: A story of America

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 29, 2013

A Civil War general, a Wyoming storekeeper, and a Vietnamese businessman tell an extraordinary story of patriotism and opportunity.

John Buford was a Union general who held the line against the Army of Northern Virginia on the first day of the battle of Gettysburg in July, 1863. He died, possibly of typhoid, in December of that same year. Abraham Lincoln, moved by Buford’s heroic service and premature loss, promoted him to major general on Buford’s death bed.

In 1866, the town of Buford, Wyoming was named after the late general. Over time, it grew to a population of 2,000 and was visited by such notables as Ulysses Grant and Franklin Roosevelt. The notorious Butch Cassidy is reported to have robbed a store there in the 1880s.

The town went into gradual decline. Over time, everyone moved away except Vietnam veteran Don Sammons, who in “1992 … sold his moving business and bought Buford. He moved into a three-bedroom log cabin a few hundred feet from the trading post and turned an old schoolhouse next door into an office. He refurbished a store built in 1895 into a four-car garage.”

Recently, Sammons decided to put his one-man town up for sale. It was purchased not by fellow Bufordites (OK, there are none), a Wyomingite or even another American. It was purchased by a Vietnamese businessman named Nguyen Dinh Pham who plans to make Buford the distribution center of rich Vietnamese coffee throughout America.

About a dozen American flags fly in front of the store, now named the PhinDeli. After the sale, Sammons says he “wanted to put Vietnamese flags out” in front of the store. “But the new owner didn’t want locals to think he was trying to change this into a Vietnamese town. It’s a Wyoming town and it always will be.”

An American who fought against Communists in Vietnam lands in one of the most obscure places in North America and then sells his store to a Vietnamese coffee merchant, who insists on flying U.S. rather than Vietnamese flags in front of his store: The poetic symmetry of this sequence of events is remarkable, and speaks to the kind of America of which all of us can be proud. It is a country where honorable people can live decent lives in peace and freedom, prosper and thrive, and, ultimately, work to achieve their own economic and personal destinies without intrusive, patronizing intervention from the government.

When, at the beginning of the war, the governor of Kentucky offered John Buford any position in his state’s military he wanted, Buford had a ready answer. “I sent him word I was a Captain in the United States Army and I intended to remain one!” A patriot like that would appreciate what Don Sammons, Nguyen Dinh Pham, and the people of rural Wyoming are doing with his civic namesake.

On the Values Bus: A Mile High Mission

by Robert Morrison

October 4, 2012

The Values Bus rolled into Colorado this week. Our first stop was Denver, the site of last night’s presidential debate. Yesterday, we had a chance to meet with some key state legislative leaders at the Centennial State’s impressive Capitol. Like Iowa’s (and Massachusetts’s and West Virginia’s) this great domed structure is covered in gold leaf.

I was especially pleased to renew my friendship with Amy Stephens. Years ago, Amy was the policy director for Focus on the Family when I had that role at FRC. Now, Representative Amy Stephens is the Republican leader in the state house. That’s a nice change.

Wherever we go on the Values Bus, I make it a point to meet and talk to as many local and state elected officials as I can. It’s a most encouraging effort. These are really sharp folks. They are close to their constituents, conscientious, and capable. In Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Virginia, we had strong support for the Values Bus from locally elected lawmakers.

With the president headed into Denver for his debate, I had the rare opportunity of agreeing with him. Mr. Obama recently said “Washington is broken and we can’t fix it from the inside.” You are so right, Sir! And in my remarks on the steps of the State Capitol, I ventured the opinion that it would have been so nice if the President had realized that before his administration took control of banks, insurance companies, college student loans, the nation’s health care, GM, and Chrysler.

The impression one gets at these majestic, solid state capitols is of people being capable of self-government. They built these impressive monuments to the peoples’ ability to run their own affairs before Mr. Obama pressed on them a stimulus, before he issued mandates, and even before his EPA did an environmental impact study.

We are rolling through the American heartland with our friends from the Heritage Foundation. The Values Bus is a joint project. Heritage’s Vice President for Communications, Genevieve Wood, is another long-time friend. She used to fill that role at FRC. She always generously gives FRC a hat tip at each stop. I return the salute, saying we are honored to work with Heritage Foundation as they ride through the heartland dispensing subversive literature—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution!

Gov. Mitt Romney last night offered this “means test” for a federal program. Is it so critical that we are willing to borrow money from China to continue funding it? So long, Big Bird! And maybe The Jim Lehrer News Hour, too. (Although, after last night’s performance as the debate’s hesitant moderator, it may be we have liberal agreement on that one.)

Whenever I visit a state capitol, I am moved to ask: “Who would think the people who built this are not capable of running their own schools?” SAT scores are continuing their years-long slide under President Obama. I don’t blame him for that. He doesn’t take the tests. But I do criticize him and even some of his Republican predecessors for continuing to shovel money at the unconstitutional and wasteful federal education department. Can any Americans point to a single improvement in their local schools we can attribute to the federal education department?

I should know: I worked there for three years in the 1980s. I served under President Ronald Reagan. When a liberal Republican congressman asked for a meeting with the president to talk about the future of the Education Department. Mr. Reagan wrote in the margin of the meeting agenda: “I hope it doesn’t have one!” Right you are, Mr. President! And, as Genevieve Wood reminds us: This is how you pile up a $16 Trillion debt.

The state capitols are an eloquent reminder of a time when state and local governments served Americans best because they were closest to the people. If we lose the ability to govern ourselves in our state and local governments, we cannot expect wisdom suddenly to descend on the banks of the Potomac. As Thomas Jefferson said: “If we had to wait for Washington [D.C.] to tell us when to plant, we should soon want bread.”

Illinois Foster Care System: Leaving No Good Deed Unpunished

by Christopher Marlink

July 29, 2011

As someone whose extended family has been significantly impacted by the foster care system, this story out of Illinois was of interest to me personally—but the implications for the over 2,000 children involved and for Christians are profound.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported week that the state of Illinois has acted to sever its longstanding relationship with Catholic Charities. The state has found Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services to be in non-compliance with the states new law authorizing civil unions. The Trib reports:

In letters sent last week to Catholic Charities in the dioceses of Peoria, Joliet and Springfield and Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said the state could not accept their signed contracts for the 2012 fiscal year.

Each letter said funding was declined because your agency has made it clear that it does not intend to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which the state says requires prospective parents in civil unions to be treated the same as married couples.

Illinois civil unions law contains exemptions for those religious bodies that do not want to perform or officiate civil unions. But as weve stated elsewhere, so called religious exemptions are usually just a way of greasing the skids to get controversial legislation passed. The exemptions could be challenged in court or be removed by future legislation. In a classic example of dont believe their talking points, Equality Illinois published this statement about the law on their website under a section titled Religious Freedom prior to its passage:

  • This Act would also not impact faith-based adoption agencies or adoption procedures. The Act does not amend the Adoption Act.

Thankfully the Catholic Charities is not taking this lying down. The three agencies in question have filed suit with the Thomas Moore Law Center against the Illinois attorney general and DCFS. Their request is altogether reasonable:

In the lawsuit, the agencies sought the courts permission to preserve their current policy of granting licenses to married couples and single, non-cohabiting individuals and referring couples in civil unions to other child welfare agencies.

Some readers may remember that in 2006, Catholic Charities of Boston ceased doing adoptions rather than violate their conscience and religious convictions by placing children with homosexual couples. We hope and pray that Catholic Charities in Illinois will receive a better legal outcome.

What is fascinating in this debate is that you have the state claiming that the law requires Catholic Charities give homosexual couples in civil unions equal consideration with married coupleseven though the social science data overwhelming demonstrates that children do best when raised by a married mother and father. A cursory reading of the social science makes it obvious that not all family situations are equal in the benefit they provide to children. (See Dr. Pat Fagans work on the MARRI project here, here and here for starters.). And yet the state demands that adoption and foster care agencies treat different family structures as if they were, in fact, the same.

While Catholic Charities works for the undeniable good of placing children in the best family situations available, the state of Illinois has embraced a social experiment wherein the best interests of children becomes subordinate to special interests of a vocal minority.

Finally, its important to remember why the state is involved in adoption and foster care services in the first place: to serve the best interest of the children under its care, not to bestow parenthood on individuals or couples desirous of the title or affirmation. Its about the children. Or at least it used to be in Illinois. Might one legitimately ask when the state will decide that Christians who disagree with normalizing homosexuality are unfit to serve as adoptive or foster parents?

Christians across our nation have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ by welcoming children in need into their families. Our friends at Focus on the Family have some great resources and a model in Colorado for making a difference through adoption and foster care.

Why Elections Matter

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 13, 2011

In 2009, Barack Obama appointed then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. This was a troubling pick for conservatives, given her support for abortion-on-demand and support from abortion giant Planned Parenthood. As an advocate for federal funding of abortion, abortifacient drugs and embryonic stem cell research, among other things, Sec. Sebelius has justified these concerns.

Yet there is a significant bright side to Sec. Sebelius’ departure from Topeka: Former Senator Sam Brownback, a champion for life, is now Governor of Kansas. And what a difference that has made.

Yesterday, Gov. Brownback signed legislation that “strictly limits abortions after 22 weeks based on the fact that fetuses can feel pain beginning after the 21st week of pregnancy” and another measure, “the Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Act,” which “requires minors who seek abortions to obtain consent from both parents and places certain prohibitions on late-term and partial birth abortions.”

Kathleen Sebelius would have fought these bills from their introduction. Sam Brownback not only signed but celebrated them.

To those who say that Christians should withdraw from political engagement and concentrate on private acts of charity or work solely with church or ministry groups, consider Sam Brownback and his allies in the Kansas Legislature. Were these bills the final word in the battle for life? No. They are part of a larger legislative mosaic that is building, gradually but steadily, a culture where the personhood of the unborn child increasingly is being recognized in law and in the American conscience. For the children whose lives will be saved through these measures, they are nothing less than critical.

Does political engagement bring complete resolution of every problem? No. But political action can make a decisive, if incremental, difference in a host of areas — most importantly those involving the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, and the centrality of religious liberty to American public life.

Elections matter. Just ask Sam Brownback.

State of the 2011 Session in Review: Maryland

by Brianna Walden

April 12, 2011

Maryland legislators ended their three month session yesterday, April 11th. The completion of this years session brought the passage of bills that would raise the alcohol tax by three percent, increase the buffer zone between picketers and funerals, provide incentives for facilities that create energy by burning trash and many others. But more notable than what was passed, is what was not passed.

Same-Sex Marriage

Contrary to many predictions that Maryland would soon become the 6th state to legalize same-sex marriage, SB 116, which would accomplish that goal, failed to pass the House of Delegates and was recommitted to the House Judiciary Committee. This victory came through the dozens of phone calls and letters from those of you who stand for traditional marriage. Many thanks are due to Derek McCoy, President of the Association of Maryland Families, and their entire staff for the tireless work that was poured into supporting this effort.

This victory for traditional marriage, though huge, is not necessarily a permanent one. Since the bill was recommitted to committee, and not actually voted upon and failed, it can be brought up again next year at its current stage in the process. Indeed, Chuck Butler, chairman of Equality Maryland the states leading LGBT advocacy organization said:

So we agreed that if we could not pass the bill this year, we should try again next year. Importantly, House leadership committed to bringing up the bill again in 2012. To preserve our prospects of success, therefore, it was best not to hold a vote now, given the chances of the bills defeat by a wide margin. It would be more difficult, within a year, to convert no votes to yes than to obtain a yes from delegates who had not locked in their position with an actual vote.

Therefore we must remain ever vigilant on this issue, because homosexual activists certainly will.

Gender Identity

Another bill that ended in the did not pass category was HB 235, the gender identity bill which would prohibit alleged discrimination against a person based upon their gender identity. The concept of gender identity attempts to legitimize a person’s wish, perception or belief that he or she is actually the opposite sex than his or her own sex at birth. This type of legislation tries to normalize and mainstream transgendered behavior such as cross-dressing. House Bill 235 was recommitted to the Senate Judicial Proceeding Committee by a vote of 27 to 20.

These two victories in one of the most liberal states in the union are welcome news for everyone who stands for conservative family values!

For a more complete list of legislation that was passed (or failed) in Maryland this legislative session, click here.

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.

Let Rhode Island Vote

by Christopher Plante

November 19, 2010

The fact that the people of Iowa, when allowed to vote, threw out three of the judges that had overreached their authority by mandating homosexual-marriage on all Iowans, is of great encouragement. Every time the people get to vote on the issue they choose to protect marriage between one man and one woman. Ordinary men and women, mothers and father, know that children have a right to know and be known by their mother and father, and when given the choice they protect marriage.

Rhode Islanders want to have the opportunity to vote on marriage as well. In a public opinion poll conducted in August of this year over 80 percent of eligible voters polled stated they want the marriage issue on the ballot, irrespective of their personal beliefs on the issue. Rhode Islanders do not believe a small group of legislators, or worse judges, should decide such a crucial issue. We have had the opportunity to vote on ports, casinos, and even changing the name of the State; Rhode Islanders want to vote on marriage. And this is not new, public opinion polls conducted in June of 2009 and again in December of that year returned very similar results, with well over 34 of the respondents saying, Put it on the ballot.

The National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island will make every effort to insure that Governor-elect Chafee and the new Assembly hear and follow the voice of the people.

This is particularly crucial given the economic morass that Rhode Island still faces; this is no time to bog down our State government with an issue that impacts less than 5 percent of the population. According to the Providence Journal, October 17, 2010, For example, projected state budget gaps run above 10 percent through fiscal 2015. For the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2011, the forecast deficit is $320 million, largely because federal stimulus money that has supported the last three budgets is running out. That fiscal 2012 budget is the first one that will be crafted by the governor and General Assembly that take office in January. The projected shortfalls get worse as time goes by. The gaps are $416 million in fiscal year 2013, $457 million in fiscal 2014 and $536 million for fiscal 2015.

Even Governor-elect Chafee understands the challenge he faces. According to the Journal on November 7, 2010, A day after Rhode Island voters elected him their next governor, Lincoln D. Chafee stood in front of a bank of reporters in his Warwick campaign headquarters taking questions. Was this redemption? one television reporter asked, for losing his 2006 reelection bid to the U.S. Senate? Chafee paused. Then grinned. To inherit 12-percent unemployment? A $360-million budget deficit? The crowd, including a dozen campaign workers, chuckled. I dont look at it as redemption, Chafee said. I like a challenge.

Governor-elect Chafee and the new Assembly must not bog down the State government with the divisive and grid-locking issue of homosexual-marriage. Instead they should heed the voice of the people who elected them and put the homosexual-marriage question on the ballot.

Excerpts from proposed Helena, Montana sex ed curriculum

by Peter Sprigg

July 13, 2010

On Tuesday evening, July 13, the Board of Trustees of the Helena, Montana public schools was scheduled to hear public comments for the first time on a controversial new sex education curriculum.

Some people who support in principle the idea of sex education in schools may wonder what the fuss is about in Helena. Just so people know how extreme the proposed curriculum is, here are some excerptsdirect quotations from the outline (available on the websee pp. 45-50):

Kindergarten:

Introduce basic reproductive body parts (penis, vagina, breast, nipples, testicles, scrotum, uterus)

Grade 1:

Understand human beings can love people of the same gender & people of another gender

Grade 2:

Understand making fun of people by calling them gay (e.g., homo, fag,’ queer) is disrespectful and hurtful.

Grade 4:

Understand sexual harassment is unwanted and uninvited sexual attention such as teasing, touching, or taunting, sexting and is against the law. [sic]

Grade 5:

Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration.

Understand sexual orientation refers to a persons physical and/or romantic attraction to an individual of the same and/or different gender, and is part of ones [sic] personality.

Grade 6:

Understand that sexual intercourse includes but is not limited to vaginal, oral, or anal penetration; using the penis, fingers, tongue or objects.

Understand gender identity is different from sexual orientation.

Grade 7:

Discuss the Supreme Court decision that has ruled that, to a certain extent, people have the right to make personal decisions concerning sexuality & reproductive health matters, such as abortion, sterilization, and contraception.

Discuss state laws governing the age of consent for sexual behaviors.

Understand sexual abuse involving touching can include kissing, an abuser touching genitals touching the abusers genitals, being asked to touch ones own genitals, or engaging in vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. [sic]

Grades 9-12:

Understand erotic images in art reflect societys views about sexuality & help people understand sexuality.

One other item in the high school curriculum, listed under human sexuality even though it has nothing directly to do with that, is this:

Understand seeking professional help can be a sign of strength when people are in need of guidance.

I imagine that after thirteen years of this curriculum, there would be a lot of young people in need of guidance and seeking professional help.

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