New York Times: All the Opinions (about North Carolina’s Bathroom Law) That Are Unfit, They Print

by Peter Sprigg

September 23, 2016

A Facebook friend recently posted a meme that displayed some text upside down. The message was that you have an amazing talent if you are able to read the text when it is upside down and backwards (i.e., right to left).

Actually, it was fairly easy to read. But a similar (modest) talent is needed to read the New York Times these days — especially an editorial about North Carolina’s “bathroom protection bill,” House Bill 2, known as HB2 (“North Carolina Pays a Price for Bigotry,” September 21). Simply take everything the New York Times says and invert it, and you will come close to understanding the truth about the HB2 controversy.

The Times says that Charlotte, N.C.’s sexual orientation and gender identity ordinance was “used as a reason” to pass HB2. Used? Charlotte’s passage of this ordinance in February was the only reason for the state law that was “hastily passed in March” — to prevent the Charlotte ordinance from taking effect on April 1. If Charlotte had left well enough alone — including allowing issues of transgender bathroom use to be settled on a case-by-case basis like they always had — there would have been no state intervention.

The Times says that HB2 serves to “bar transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity.” Yet they fail to mention that the bill’s guidelines for bathroom use apply only to “public agencies” — that is, to buildings that are owned by the government. House Bill 2 does not dictate any policy for private organizations or businesses. This is in contrast to the Charlotte ordinance, which would have barred private businesses from reserving women’s showers, locker rooms, and restrooms for biological females.

The Times also fails to mention that while facilities in government buildings are to be “used by persons based on their biological sex,” their “biological sex” is defined by the sex on their birth certificate — which actually can be changed in North Carolina if a person has had sex reassignment surgery. In other words, the only transgender people “barred” from the women’s room by HB2 would be those who still have male genitalia. Finally, they failed to mention that the HB2 restrictions apply only to “multiple occupancy” facilities, while the bill explicitly authorizes the provision of “single occupancy” facilities that may be used by anyone, regardless of sex or gender identity.

Expressing one of the most common misconceptions about HB2, the Times says the bill is “based on the specious notion that transgender people are sexual predators.” This charge is itself a “specious notion.” The safety concerns around “public accommodation” laws that include “gender identity” as a protected category (like Charlotte’s) do not involve people who consistently identify as transgender. They involve those who may be tempted to pose as transgender in order to gain access to the facilities of the opposite sex.

Such predators won’t be deterred by HB2,” some critics argue. The Times mocks HB2, saying it “was never enforceable, since police officers can’t reasonably be required to inspect people’s genitals outside bathroom stalls.” Under normal circumstances, however, the first line of prevention is not police officers, but ordinary citizens or employees saying, “What are you doing in here?” But under “gender identity” laws like the one in Charlotte (which was overturned by HB2), those ordinary citizens would be deterred from speaking out — by the threat that they could be charged with “discrimination” if they do. Remember, there is no visible difference that would allow such a citizen to distinguish a person who identifies as transgender and a cross-dressing predator. And to radical transgender activists, asking for proof of transgender status is itself a form of “discrimination.”

The Times claims that “no one has been made safer by preventing transgender people from using appropriate [sic] public restrooms.” This, of course, is utterly impossible to know, unless one can read the minds of sexual predators to know what they would see as deterrent or as license. If the Times is asserting that cross-dressing men have never committed crimes in public showers, locker rooms, or restrooms, however, they plainly have not been paying attention. Family Research Council has compiled a list of such incidents, as have others.

Even in the absence of criminal activity, however, women and girls (in particular) have a legitimate concern about privacy. In fact, courts have ruled that there is a fundamental right to “bodily privacy” — that is, not to be seen unclothed or partially clothed by someone of the opposite sex, or to be exposed to the partially clothed or unclothed body of someone of the opposite sex, against one’s will. This is the very reason why we have separate men’s rooms and women’s rooms to begin with (something which, at least so far, the New York Times has not questioned). It is not because men and women have different “gender identities,” but because they have different bodies.

The Times asserts, “The governor and his Republican colleagues in the Legislature are solely to blame for the hundreds of job and millions of dollars the state has lost as businesses and sports organizations have turned away from North Carolina.” In reality, national LGBT organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, who care nothing about destroying jobs in North Carolina, are primarily to blame. Having failed at the normal task of lobbying, they are now engaged in a form of racketeering, using specious charges of “bigotry” (echoed by the Times) in an effort to extort cooperation from businesses and sports leagues, and using the economic consequences in an (unsuccessful) effort to coerce a reversal from the legislature. If the NCAA and the ACC had kept their sports championships in North Carolina and simply monitored them, they would undoubtedly have found that their concerns about North Carolina “providing a safe and respectful environment at our events” were completely unfounded.

The Times baldly asserts, “The point of the law was to harm and humiliate L.G.B.T. citizens.” In reality, the point was to protect ordinary citizens, who could be “harmed and humiliated” by being forced to share showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms with those of the opposite biological sex.

It is the New York Times editorial board — not North Carolina’s courageous Gov. Pat McCrory — who need to “come to [their] senses.”

Testimony on the Need for the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

by Arina Grossu

September 23, 2016

Arina Grossu’s Testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on the topic of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on September 23, 2016:

Chairman Franks, Ranking Member Cohen, and Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:

I am grateful and honored to have been invited to testify on “The Ultimate Civil Right: Examining the Hyde Amendment and the Born Alive Infants Protection Act.”  My name is Arina Grossu and I am the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council.  As a policy analyst, my issues of expertise and research encompass the dignity of human life from conception until natural death. 

FRC has long supported the Hyde Amendment, which has prevented government funding for elective abortion for over thirty years.  This law, if revoked, would increase the number of abortions in the U.S.  FRC also supports the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, on which I will focus my remarks.

In 2000 and 2001, Jill Stanek testified before this Committee about her experience as a registered nurse where she discovered babies born alive after an attempted abortion and left to die in the department’s soiled utility closet.

In 2002, Congress responded by passing the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which was signed by President George W. Bush and is current federal law. It passed by voice vote in the House and with unanimous consent in the Senate.  

Unfortunately, incidents involving born alive children being killed after an attempted abortion have continued after this law was passed and into the present.

Infanticide is unacceptable in a civilized society, regardless of what one may think about abortion itself.  It should be uncontroversial for the federal government to supplement current law with enforcement protections.

 

Up to 2010, abortionist Kermit Gosnell operated his dirty and dangerous abortion facility where  he did “hundreds of snippings” of born-alive babies as part of his abortion process.  The Grand Jury Report noted:

Many of [the women] gave birth before he even got there. When you perform late-term ‘abortions’ by inducing labor, you get babies. Live, breathing, squirming babies…Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them… by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord.

See for example the image of Baby Boy B who was found in his facility (A). (warning, graphic content)

Federal and state authorities finally raided his facility, not because he was illegally killing born-alive infants, but because of his illegal prescription drug activity.

While Gosnell’s case was particularly gruesome, he is not an outlier.  A former employee of current Texas abortionist Douglas Karpen described how he regularly killed babies born alive by snipping their spinal cords, fatally injuring them with blows to the soft spot on their heads, and twisting their necks. 

She said:

I’m pretty sure I was seeing at least three or four [large babies] that were completely delivered in some way or another [daily].

….when the fetus would come completely out, of course the fetus would still be alive, because it was still moving… of course you could see the stomach breathing and that’s when he would do [this].

Yet, despite the gruesome photo and eyewitness evidence, Karpen was cleared in December 2013.

The Center for Medical Progress, in its investigative videos, authenticated by in-depth forensic analysis, revealed a lot of evidence of babies killed after being born alive.

Perrin Larton, a procurement manager from Advanced Bioscience Resources said, “The whole point is not to have a live birth…“I literally have had women come in and they’ll go in the O.R. and they’re back out in three minutes, and I’m going, ‘What’s going on?’ Oh yeah, the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups. It just fell out.”

Holly O’Donnell, a former procurement technician with StemExpress, recounted one incident where her supervisor said, ‘want to see something kind of cool…And she just tap[ped] the heart, and it start[ed] beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating.”

Data that the CDC collects also confirms babies are born alive after attempted abortions.  Between the years 2003 and 2014 there were somewhere between 376 and 588 infant deaths under the medical code P96.4 which keeps track of babies born alive after a “termination of pregnancy.”

The CDC concluded that of the 588 babies, 143 were “definitively” born alive after an attempted abortion and they lived from minutes to one or more days, with 48% of the babies living between one to four hours.  It also admitted that it’s possible the number is an underestimate (B).

We know it is an underestimate because these are just reported numbers from hospitals, not abortion facilities.  Gosnell is only one abortionist who was responsible for “hundreds of snippings” of born-alive babies, yet he did not report even one.  His numbers alone exceed the “definitive” numbers of the CDC.

Even one baby born alive after an attempted abortion who is then killed, is one too many.  But we are talking in the hundreds of reported ones.

Yet not one person to date has been charged or convicted under current Born-Alive law.

Due to developments in technology, babies who are considered “extremely preterm” can now survive outside the womb as early as 20 and 21 weeks post-fertilization, recent science journals announced, with 67% surviving after receiving active care.

Here, for example is Lucas Moore who was born prematurely at 21 weeks post-fertilization and one year later (C).

Dr. David Burchfield, the chief of neonatology at the University of Florida said of care for extremely preterm babies, “It confirms that if you don’t do anything, these babies will not make it, and if you do something, some of them will make it.”

We need the proposed Born-Alive act to ensure that babies born alive after an attempted abortion are given the proper medical treatment.  The bill:

  • explicitly requires health care practitioners to treat born-alive abortion survivors with the same care they would treat any other born baby and admit such babies immediately to a hospital. 
  • provides enforcement mechanisms such as criminal sanctions and penalties to hold abortionists accountable for killing born-alive infants
  • the bill also expressly excludes any prosecution of the mother of a baby born alive, and it gives her a private right of action to seek relief if an abortionist were to kill her born-alive infant.

The White House promised that the President would veto the Born-Alive legislation citing it would have a “chilling” effect.  I cannot think of a more chilling effect than continuing to let U.S. abortionists get away with infanticide.

Born-alive babies after an attempted abortion are already recognized as legal persons since the 2002 federal Born-Alive law.

The proposed Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act simply recognizes the obligations that follow from this reality, to ensure that babies born alive after attempted abortions will be given the best medical care available and the full and equal protection of our laws.

I earnestly ask that you support this bill to stop infanticide in the United States.

The Social Conservative Review: September 16, 2016

by Daniel Hart

September 16, 2016

Dear Friends,

For Americans, “freedom” is central to our identity. We are the “land of the free, the home of the brave.” Our media and culture tell us that with the progression of “LGBT rights” and with the expansion of “safe spaces” on college campuses, we are now a more free and inclusive society. So are we now happier and more satisfied as a result? R.R. Reno of First Things has pinpointed a “politics of vulnerability” that clearly shows we are anything but.

As Reno writes, current developments have instead led to “new dissatisfactions.” He elaborates: “It’s telling that the institutions with the most highly developed rhetoric of inclusion are the most elite, which is to say the most competitive. Again the paradox: The most successful kids with the greatest opportunities seem to be the ones most eager for protection [i.e. “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”].” Among LGBT activists, we see example after example of lawsuits being utilized when bathroom policies and wedding cake referrals are deemed “hateful.” Why does this occur? When the most basic human forms of authority and societal structure — the family and the church — are torn down in the public square, people can’t help but feel increasingly vulnerable. What does this lead to? Reno explains: “Without a trustworthy Father in heaven (and often without a father in the home), the rising generation is more and more likely to ask big government (and a culture of political correctness) to provide security and comfort.”

A true understanding of “freedom” can go a long way in restoring this sense of security and comfort that many have lost. As believers know, true freedom is not merely the ability to choose something amongst a multitude of options; it is the ability to become who we were made to become — a child of God. As children, we learn about God’s love and authority — the surest source of genuine security and comfort — through our parents’ example and the faith they instill in us, in both literal and symbolic ways. We in turn pass this example and faith on to our children, and they to theirs, etc. In this way, a society’s well-being and hopeful future depend upon the strength of the family.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council


FRC Articles

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

International Religious Freedom

Military Religious Freedom

Life

Abortion

Adoption

Bioethics

Obamacare

Family

Economics

Marriage

Faith/Character/Culture

Human Sexuality

Human Trafficking

Pornography

Debunking Right Wing Watch

by Travis Weber

September 14, 2016

Right Wing Watch (RWW) is again sending out alarms about the supposedly alarmist words of FRC.

RWW says FRC “relies on a constant stream of easily debunked tales of martyrdom, and points to “a fundraising email from the group’s president, Tony Perkins, in which Perkins lists a number of debunked tales of Christian persecution in the military.”

RWW then continued by citing portions of the FRC email, but neglected to quote FRC in saying that “[n]o service member should ever be denied the very freedom he or she bleeds and dies to defend!” (Perhaps RWW agreed that was quite reasonable.)

The word “debunk” is defined as “to show that something (such as a belief or theory) is not true,” or “to show the falseness of (a story, idea, statement, etc.).” RWW really seems to like using this term with regard to FRC’s claims. Well, are they “debunked?” Let us examine the two references to the term.

First, RWW claims FRC “relies on a constant stream of easily debunked tales of martyrdom,” with a link to an article posted by its also-biased media buddy People for the American Way. Only one of the incidents listed by FRC is mentioned in the article—the matter concerning Sergeant Monk. The link to the mention of Sergeant Monk contains another RWW posting about his case, claiming it is false (the hyperlink to this claim does not work), and quoting military officials claiming he was not reassigned because of his views on same-sex marriage (of course they are going to say that; they are defending their position). It is quite possible they are wrong, as Sergeant Monk contends, especially since the military exonerated him of making false statements after they had accused him of doing so. At a minimum, Sergeant Monk’s claims that he was reassigned in retaliation for his views have never been “debunked.”

Second, RWW claims FRC President Tony Perkins “lists a number of debunked tales of Christian persecution in the military,” with four different hyperlinks enclosed.

The first link contains a supposed debunking of Chaplain Lawhorn’s claim, but the link (to RWW ally Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU)) does nothing to rebut the claim that Lawhorn’s public mention of his faith got him in trouble (he has humbly maintained he was sharing his personal story). Indeed, the linked source only affirms that it was the public mention of faith which draw the ire of activists.

The second link contains a story on Chaplain Modder by liberal website Think Progress. How this “debunks” his story is quite unclear. The story discusses Chaplain Modder’s allegation of retaliatory action for counseling according to his beliefs on sexuality in private counseling sessions. He suffered adverse action, which was ultimately reversed by the Navy. This is not even close to being “debunked.”

The third link is a story at the Huffington Post by Chris Rodda of Mikey Weinstein’s foundation (which spends its time trying to suppress traditional Christian views from being expressed in the public square) on Monifa Sterling, a Marine who was court martialed after refusing to remove a Bible verse from her workstation. While Rodda can offer her opinions on the matter, that does nothing to debunk the fact that Sterling alleged her religious exercise was suppressed.

The fourth link is a November 2013 AU story further discussing Sergeant Monk’s case, repeating the Air Force’s findings as objective fact and dismissing Monk’s assertions. The story claims the Air Force “found that Monk has made false official statements.” Yet an October 2013 memo from the Air Force to Sergeant Monk states it “determined that the allegation” that Monk made a false statement “was unsubstantiated.” Assuming good motives on the part of AU, we can assume the author of its story didn’t know about this Air Force letter, and was not intentionally misrepresenting the status of Monk’s case. If the letter was publicly available, perhaps AU was just negligent. However, another AU publication one year later still only states the following with regard to Monk’s situation: “The investigation also determined that Monk made false official statements to the Air Force. The Air Force considers the matter closed.” It seems AU’s representation of this matter is what is “debunked” here. Such an intentional mischaracterization of the facts reminds us that we can’t trust organizations this scared of religion to be fair in describing these incidents. Their fear of freedom always gets in the way.

Setting the Record Straight on RFRA (Again)

by Travis Weber

September 8, 2016

A recent NBC article about Indiana’s RFRA and its use by religious minorities (in addition to highlighting the ACLU’s ongoing hypocrisy on religious freedom) fails to accurately describe how RFRA operates.

At one point, the article states:

One week later, after intense national criticism, Pence amended the law explicitly preventing businesses from denying service based on ‘race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or United States military service.’ With this, the Indiana state law came closer to the federal religious law and similar laws in other states.”

This is false. The federal RFRA and almost all state RFRAs contain no such amendment. They’ve operated well for years, protecting individuals like the Muslim inmate highlighted in this article, and others.

The article also implies that RFRA without the “fix” could not help the inmate:

After Pence’s “fix” the law became largely disarmed from doing what many critics said was its original discriminatory intent. In fact, the opposite happened, the law has since become an extra tool to fight against religious discrimination, [Professor] Katz said.”

Yet a Muslim inmate bringing a claim under RFRA with the “fix” is not the “opposite” of what he could have done before the “fix.” The provision of RFRA he is using to bring his claim (the same provision which has been around since 1993 with little controversy) was not changed at all. His claim is the exact same under RFRA with or without the “fix.”

To its credit, the article did accurately frame RFRA in this quote by another law professor:

What people tend to forget is that the statute is not a ‘broad exemption or a get out of jail free card,’ he said. Even though there is an exemption for religious freedom under the law, it doesn’t mean the state will grant it, he said.”

That certainly seemed lost on the media in the public debate last year. This balancing test has been a part of RFRA since its inception, and is true regardless of whether the “fix” is part of the law. If only everyone would take the time to understand this.

Human-Animal Hybrids Are a Violation of Human Dignity

by Andrew Guernsey

September 8, 2016

Human-animal hybrids? No longer is it simply the stuff of science fiction. On August 4th, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a proposed policy that would lift the longstanding moratorium on the taxpayer funding of certain experiments creating embryos that are part human, part animal, known as “chimeras,” and even letting them grow into adult form.

NIH solicited comments on their proposal, and FRC signed on to detailed comments with the Charlotte Lozier Institute regarding the science and ethics of such research. The comments oppose the NIH proposal and note that ethical and scientifically valid alternatives exist to satisfy scientific demands.

To view the PDF of the full comment, see: Comment by Charlotte Lozier Institute and Family Research Council on NIH Proposal to Fund Human Animal Chimeras

Under the new NIH policy, human stem cells, adult or embryonic, could be added so early in the animal’s embryonic development that they could potentially become any organ or organ system within the maturing human-animal hybrid. Chimera researcher Dr. Izpisúa Belmonte himself admitted “We don’t know how to guide the cells to become the cells we want.” Human cells might contribute to the animal’s brain or reproductive organs, which could cause changes to the animal’s cognitive abilities or produce human sex cells. This research could thereby significantly blur the line between humans and animals, and undermine human dignity, as well as further incentivize the destruction of human embryos.

Nothing in the new policy prohibits such unethical outcomes, and in fact, the new policy explicitly allows research in which there is “substantial contribution or a substantial functional modification to the animal brain by the human cells” and anticipates the creation of chimeras in which “human…stem cells may contribute to the germ line,” that is, animals producing human sex cells. And while the new policy would technically prohibit chimeras from breeding, there is no clear or feasible way for NIH to enforce this ban.

To be sure, NIH is proposing this new human-animal hybrid research on the basis of its potential benefits, such as creating animal models of human diseases in order to prevent and treat illnesses, as well as to create human organs for donation that will adapt better to the human immune system. But it is one thing to conduct non-controversial, ethical research using human cells or DNA in animals, to test the cells for repair, or even to grow an organ. It is quite another thing to significantly modify an animal in a way that undermines the key pillars of human species identity by giving an animal a substantially human brain or reproductive capacities.

Far from advancing the human race, creating animal and human hybrids that leave in question their humanity undermines our own. Good science is also ethical science, and supports biotechnologies that advance scientific knowledge and medical treatments, while valuing all human life and maintaining human dignity. Science should never progress nor should human life be advanced at the expense of human life or dignity. Research involving human adult stem cells is one such promising way forward.

If NIH fails to protect human dignity in research funded by federal taxpayers, Congress once again may be forced to step in. For the fiscal year 2016 federal spending bill, Congress did so when it banned the FDA’s approval on research creating genetically modified embryos, such as three-parent embryos, in which the genetically modified information or traits can be passed on. At the very least we should not have our federal tax dollars subsidize the NIH’s new proposed human-animal hybrid research that could blur the line between humans and animals. To do so would undermine the very fabric of our moral order—the affirmation and respect for human dignity.

Protect Your Military Chaplains from a Bully

by Chris Gacek

September 2, 2016

In the last several years, the religious freedoms of members of the military have suffered an almost constant threat of restriction and reduction. There have been several private organizations, including Family Research Council, and members of Congress who have worked to preserve the religious freedoms of those serving in our armed forces. One of the stalwarts in this endeavor has been Congressman Randy Forbes of Virginia.

Mr. Forbes is leaving Congress at the end of this term, and the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty (Chaplain Alliance), a group dedicated to protecting the rights of military chaplains, chose to honor Mr. Forbes for his service to the nation at a private, after-work event on July 12, 2016. In attendance were several uniformed military chaplains. They included the Chief of Chaplains of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. (Chaplain) Dondi Costin, who delivered a benediction while in uniform. Several members of the House and one United States Senator were also in attendance. Photographs of the event were taken and posted online.

This allowed anti-Christian activist “Mikey” Weinstein an opportunity to attack Maj. Gen Costin and two other chaplains for their participation in the event by filing a complaint with the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, Glenn Fine. With typically histrionic and excessive rhetoric, Weinstein asked that all three be formally disciplined. Weinstein presents a pretext for attacking Rep. Forbes and the event based on the Congressman’s opposition to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and his orthodox Christian beliefs about sexuality and marriage. Given Weinstein’s longstanding track record of anti-Christian animus, his raising of LGBT issues is mere window-dressing. Forbes could have opposed funding for dog parks in Katmandu, and that would have served almost as easily in Weinstein’s mind as a pretext for his attack.

I point the reader to a nicely crafted blog post by attorney and former law professor Skip Ash who runs through the constitutional arguments involved and finds them, as with most of Weinstein’s hackneyed arguments, to be without merit.

What is of particular note is Weinstein’s complete and utter lack of perspective. Does he honestly believe that a retirement-type event honoring a member of Congress who has supported the needs of chaplains would not be attended by appreciative members of the military chaplaincy? Is he really so misguided as to think that the DOD IG is going to state that military chaplains attending a retirement event for a member of the House in the company of other House members and a U.S. Senator is a punishable offense? Sadly, he appears to be.

It isn’t exactly clear what Weinstein thinks chaplains should be doing. He has repeatedly complained about the public expression of Christian faith in the military. To me, this seems like the perfect event at which chaplains are entitled to work as men and women of the cloth and servants of the people.

Consequently, I would urge those who support chaplains and the vital work they do to assist a “Stop and Protect” petition drive organized by the Chaplain Alliance. The petition states:

As a deeply concerned citizen, I am calling on leaders in Washington, D.C. to stop these unprecedented attacks on military members exercising their freedom of religion and expression. Our servicemen and servicewomen put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedom and God-given constitutional rights. It’s time for you to protect theirs!

Once 10,000 signatures have been gathered, Chaplain Alliance will hand deliver the petitions “to the offices of key leaders on Capitol Hill, including Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (D), John McCain (R), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry (R), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, and others.”

Help protect our chaplains in their important work, and sign the Chaplain Alliance’s petition today.

Expanding the Definition of “Parent” Expands the Power of the State

by Peter Sprigg

September 2, 2016

New York’s highest state court, the Court of Appeals, ruled August 30th that the former lesbian partner of a woman who gave birth (via artificial insemination) while the couple was cohabiting could qualify as a “parent” for the purpose of seeking custody and visitation rights (Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A. C.C.).

In light of the 2015 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to order a fifty-state redefinition of “marriage” to include same-sex couples (Obergefell v. Hodges), this may seem like something inevitable—merely a legal mopping-up operation. Actually, it is far more troubling, with implications that extend far beyond same-sex couples.

New York’s Domestic Relations Law says that “either parent” of a child living in the state may apply to a court requesting “the natural guardianship, charge and custody of such child.” In a case similar to the current one 25 years ago (Matter of Alison D. v. Virginia M.), the same court had ruled that “a biological stranger to a child who is properly in the custody of his biological mother” has no standing to seek visitation. Despite having upheld it as recently as 2010, the court explicitly overruled Alison D. this week.

In part, the decision was based on the fact that during the period the couple was together (2006-2010, with the baby boy being born in 2009), same-sex couples could not yet legally marry in New York. According to the opinion, the couple “lacked the resources to travel to another jurisdiction” to enter into a marriage or similar “legal arrangement.”

One is tempted to say that they must have been quite destitute—since the first state to grant civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples (in 2004), Massachusetts, borders on New York state. By the time the child was born, in June 2009, Massachusetts had repealed a 1913 law that had initially prevented many out-of-state couples from marrying there; and New York’s Gov. David Paterson had ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex unions from other states.

In fairness, though, the couple apparently did live in Chautauqua County—at the far western end of the state, about 400 miles from Massachusetts. However, it is only a little over 100 miles from Niagara Falls, Ontario—which was also giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples from the U.S. Meanwhile, New York’s high court had already recognized a right of “second-parent” adoption even for unmarried partners of a biological parent in a case decided in 1995.

All this is to say that, even for a same-sex couple, it may not have been so difficult to establish a legal family relationship by a more traditional means—either a civil marriage or legal adoption.

Family Research Council (FRC) promotes the ideal of the “natural family.” In the natural family, a man and a woman commit to one another in marriage, and their sexual union bears its natural fruit in the birth of children who are biologically related to both parents. Support for the natural family is not just based on abstract principle—there is abundant social science research showing that it tends to result in the best outcomes for children (see this recent blog post reviewing the evidence).

However, we realize that the natural family is not universal, and recognize that parental relationships are sometimes formed without marriage (as in out-of-wedlock births) or without a biological relationship between parent and child (as in adoption). These parents should have their rights respected by the state just as much as those in the more traditional natural family.

However, these have historically been the limits of how legally-recognized “parental” relationships may be established. The court’s decision in Brooke B. smashes through those limits.

Only one of the New York judges, Eugene Pigott, fully acknowledged this. Although he concurred with the outcome of the case, based on its “extraordinary circumstances,” he disagreed with the decision to overrule Alison D. “I would retain the rule that parental status under New York law derives from marriage, biology or adoption,” Pigott wrote. Until now, he said, “Our Court … rejected the impulse to judicially enlarge the term ‘parent’ beyond marriage, biology, or adoption.” Instead, they had “consistently interpreted it in the most obvious and colloquial sense to mean a child’s natural parents or parents by adoption.”

The argument for expanding the definition of “parent” to include “de facto parents” who have lived with, cared for, and formed a close personal relationship with a child is simple—namely that it may be “in the best interests of the child” to preserve that relationship even if the adult couple breaks up. This sounds emotionally appealing—but the problem is what it means for parental rights. While parental rights are not absolute—in the case of serious abuse, for example, a parent may be declared “unfit” and have those rights severed—they are normally entitled to great deference.

The court did quote from its 1991 decision in Alison D., which said that “[t]raditionally … it is the child’s mother and father who, assuming fitness, have the right to the care and custody of their child,” and granting visitation to a “de facto” parent “would necessarily impair the parents’ right.” Without a biological or adoptive connection to the child, the former partner has no right “to displace the choice made by this fit parent in deciding what is in the child’s best interests.”

The New York court claimed it was still protecting this “substantial and fundamental right” (which it acknowledged as “perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests”). It did so by saying that it was only recognizing the “parental status” of a non-biological, non-adoptive partner where the person “proves … that he or she has agreed with the biological parent of the child to conceive and raise the child as co-parents.”

This limitation is small comfort. Libertarians inclined to see this as another step toward “freedom” or “equality” for all sexual preferences, or conservatives inclined to shrug it off as the inevitable consequence of Obergefell, are missing the larger point—which is a massive expansion of the power of the state in general, and of judges in particular.

Judge Pigott addressed the latter point, noting that “other states had legislatively expanded the class of individuals who may seek custody and/or visitation of a child.” In fact, New York had done the same, explicitly extending it by statute to siblings or grandparents—but not to those in the position of the petitioner. If the result seems unfair, “such criticism is properly directed at the Legislature;” but judges had, until now, “refused to undertake the kind of policy analysis reserved for the elected representatives of this State.”

In my view, however, the Legislature should not further expand the definition of “parent,” either. The existence of the natural institution of the family is an inherent check upon the power of the artificial institution of the state. Even when the state does create a parental relationship through a legal act (adoption), it does so only when the natural parents are absent, or there has been a convincing showing, with a strong burden of proof, that they are unfit.

Moving away from the limited definition of families as being formed by marriage, biology, or adoption is a move in the direction of the further deconstruction of the family as an institution. Granting greater power to the government to define or even create “family” or “parental” relationships, meanwhile, is a move toward concentrating greater societal power in the hands of the state across the board.

Both trends should alarm not just social conservatives, but anyone who is concerned about excessive concentrations of power in the hands of the government.

The Social Conservative Review: September 1, 2016

by Daniel Hart

September 1, 2016

Dear Friends,

In a pivotal scene from the new film adaptation of Ben-Hur, Judah (Ben-Hur) comes upon Jesus as He carries His cross toward Golgotha. As Judah watches in bewilderment and horror, Jesus collapses in exhausted agony under the weight of the cross. Judah rushes forward with a cup of water to offer Him, which mirrors Christ’s offering of water to Judah near the beginning of the film after he was arrested and led on a forced march by the Romans. As Judah bends over the fallen Jesus with the cup of water, begging Him to drink, a Roman soldier strikes Judah with a whip, shouting, “No water for him!” Just as Judah grabs a rock to retaliate against the soldier, Christ grasps Judah’s arm and whispers “No, please… My life, I give it of my own free will.” Judah can only stare back at Him, dumbfounded.

The scene is powerful in a number of ways, but I was struck by one thought in particular. The time in which Christ’s life and Ben-Hur takes place was a brutal one, dominated by the mentality that every wrong must be avenged at all costs, and every crime (whether real or perceived) must be ruthlessly punished. Christ’s witness was in full contradiction of this ethos, and during that time was seen as nothing short of an insane scandal. To not only stop retaliating but to forgive, and beyond that to sacrifice one’s own life freely—it seemed like madness to many, and many rejected it. But many also saw its truth, and the joy, happiness, and peace that it brought to their lives. It was a revolution of the human heart, and from it, Christianity was born.

Since that time, everything has changed… or has it? Outward appearances would indicate that we live in a far more civilized time, one where most of the developed world exists in a legal system free of mob rule and summary executions (at least, of those outside of the womb). But what of the human heart? In reality, nothing has changed. We wake up every morning still half asleep, fully in need of the Savior. We bitterly cling to our old, selfish ways, refusing to let go of wrongs that have been done to us and justifying feelings of self-entitlement. Christ has invited us to imitate Him by letting go. Let go of the bitterness and find healing by practicing forgiveness, mercy, and love. This must begin in our own families first and foremost. Old wounds won’t heal until we forgive our parents, siblings, spouses, and children for their transgressions, just as we beg them to forgive ours. Only then can we bring Christ’s mercy to the wider world.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Religious voices add reason to public discourse, stave off the zealotsTravis Weber

The Hypocrisy of the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Southern Poverty Law CenterKen Blackwell

How can Christians oppose same-sex marriage and yet pray and care for the LGBT victims in Orlando at the same time?Travis Weber

Parents Fight Back in Fairfax CountyCathy Ruse

LGBT Activist Lobby Responds to Report in The New Atlantis: Only Mockery, No EngagementCathy Ruse

Ending the Secular Witch HuntPeter Sprigg

The New Thought PoliceTravis Weber

Five Things to Know About “Gender Dysphoria” in ChildrenPeter Sprigg

Religious Freedom at Home and AbroadTravis Weber

Schooled by StudentsBethany Demmin

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

How Trigger Warnings Silence Religious Students – Alan Levinovitz, The Atlantic

NY Firefighters Ordered to Remove Old GloryToddStarnes.com

Red Cross Tells Off-Duty Cop He Can’t Pray With Flood VictimsKayla Brandon, Independent Journal

A College Strikes Back Against Safe SpacesKatrina Trinko, The Daily Signal

Christian Identity in the WorkplaceElliot Milco, First Things

Funeral home buries federal govt in Michigan religious freedom caseAlliance Defending Freedom

International Religious Freedom

Christian Leader Arrested in Russia as Law Banning Evangelism Outside of Churches Goes Into EffectStoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

House church rejects orders to stop religious activitiesQiao Nong, China Aid

Military Religious Freedom

Officer Cleared in Military Bible ComplaintTodd Starnes, Fox News

 

Life

Abortion

Yes, I’m Pro-Life, But I’m Not a Stereotype – Reagan Barklage, Glamour

Extreme Position of Pro-Choice Politicians Contradicts American ConsensusCarl Anderson, The Daily Signal

A Celebration of DeathAlexandra Desanctis, National Review

Black Pastor: How Can Black Lives Matter When 20 Million Black Babies Have Been Aborted?Clenard Childress, Life News

A New Front in the Abortion Wars: Democrats for Life Undermine Church Teachings from WithinAnne Hendershott, Washington Times

Adoption

Why Do More People Choose Abortion Over Adoption?Micaiah Bilger, Life News

U.S. Olympic Champion Saves Cousin’s Baby From Abortion: ‘I’ll Adopt Her’Katie Yoder, NewsBusters

Keeping Children in the Family Instead of Foster CareAlysse ElHage, Family Studies

Bioethics

What Opponents Can Learn from Assisted Suicide AdvocatesAshton Ellis, Public Discourse

A spade is a spade: why correct language is so important in debates over assisted suicidePaul Russell, National Right to Life

Adult Stem Cells: The Best Kept Secret In MedicineDavid Prentice, The Daily Caller

Obamacare

Reminder: Obamacare Is Still A Giant Cronyistic DisasterDavid Harsanyi, The Federalist

5 States, Nearly 700 Counties Don’t See ‘Choice and Competition’ Promised by ObamacareFred Lucas, The Daily Signal

Her Health Plan Was $257 a Month. Now Her Obamacare Plan Could Be $650 a MonthMelissa Quinn, The Daily Signal

Republican states file lawsuit against ObamaCare transgender ruleSarah Ferris, The Hill

 

Family

Economics

Marriage Reduces Child Poverty, but Our Welfare System Penalizes Marriage – Paul Draper, Rachel Sheffield, The Daily Signal

Millennials’ Aversion to “Dealing with People” a Greater Threat to Fast-Food Workers than Any Minimum Wage Hike – Scott Eric Kaufman, Salon

The Sneaky Way Obama Is Hiking Death Taxes – Curtis Dubay, The Daily Signal

3 Ways Obama’s New Overtime Rule Will Hurt Employees – Rachel Greszler, The Daily Signal

Marriage

A Father’s Presence in the HomeJohn Cuddeback, Principles

The Marriage ImprintRhonda Kruse Nordin, Family Studies

The Impact of Deployments on Military MarriagesThomas E. Trail, Family Studies

Faith/Character/Culture

McDonald’s worker in Needham retires after 32 years at the french fry station – Eric Moskowitz, The Boston Globe

Women Should Appreciate Masculine VirtuesRachel Lu, Crisis

Our Faith Is Historically Verifiable—Or It’s NothingKathy Keller, The Gospel Coalition

The Abolition of God and the Annihilation of ManRegis Martin, Crisis

Restoring the Political-Moral CenterShimon Cowen and Arthur Goldberg, Public Discourse

Human Sexuality

Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences – Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh, The New Atlantis

Almost Everything the Media Tell You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is WrongRyan Anderson, The Daily Signal

Why Is Transgender An Identity But Anorexia A Disorder?Moira Fleming, The Federalist

Burrowing InPeter Leithart, First Things

LGBT Rights vs. Religious FreedomJohn Stonestreet, The Stream

Human Trafficking

Driven by pro-life beliefs, missionary in Thailand shares true love with sex trafficking victimsJosh Shepherd, Live Action

Pornography

This former porn star is exposing porn’s secrets: and it should make you very, very uncomfortable – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNews

Married couples who view adult material double the risk of divorce – Glen Keogh, The Daily Mail

The porn problem: Prayer isn’t enough – Caitlin Bootsma, Aleteia

Let’s Treat Porn as the Public Health Hazard It is – Cordelia Anderson, The Stream

How can Christians oppose same-sex marriage and yet pray and care for the LGBT victims in Orlando at the same time?

by Travis Weber

August 31, 2016

In a word: Love.

To some people, that may sound preposterous—but bear with me as we work through this.

Many have difficulty reconciling how Christians can engage in both of these activities. Don’t Christians oppose same-sex marriage because they hate gay people? While some would like to say so, that’s just not true. Yet it is easier for many to continue in this belief than deal with the tension brought about by sorting through the above question.

To help understand how Christians can tread both of these roads, we must examine what they actually believe.

Christians believe that all of humanity have turned their backs on God and none measure up to God’s holiness on their own effort. A big price needed to be paid for this violation of God’s high standard of holiness. Jesus paid this heavy price, by going to the cross and becoming the object of God’s wrath against all humanity’s sin. The benefit of his payment for sin is now available to all (including you)—if you believe that Jesus paid the price on your behalf. This is the gospel (or “good news”) of Jesus Christ. He restores our status with God for all eternity, regardless of how we have offended God. We just need to turn from our sin, repent, and believe. If we truly believe, we will want to follow and obey this God who saved us.

So what are we saying here? We are saying that God fully loves and forgives, yet his standards fully matter. Indeed, the very reason Jesus had to go to the cross was because the violation of the standards was serious enough to require a serious sacrifice. Yet the reason God sent Jesus to the cross was that he loved us so much that he wanted to be with us for eternity. When a Christian realizes how much Jesus loves them by dying for them, they can’t help but want to extend that love to others and seek their well-being—such as praying for hurting people like the LGBT victims of the Orlando attack.

The price that Jesus paid on the cross was very great because the seriousness of humanity’s departure from God’s standards was very great. So God’s standards matter. But he has also made a way for us to satisfy them.

If he has restored us to himself spiritually through Jesus, don’t we want to live consistently with the standards for whose violation he paid a great price? We will all remain sinners while we are on this earth—including Christians! But it is good for us to strive to live according to God’s standards. It is so good that God cared about it enough to send Jesus to pay the price for our departure from these standards. So any Christian who really understands the good news of Jesus can’t compromise God’s standards and say they don’t matter.

Christians therefore also think this way about how we conduct our sex lives. God’s principles in that area are for our best. Because Christians care for people, we don’t want to see them engage in harmful sexual practices contrary to God’s design for sex—which is only between a man and a woman in marriage. This also means, as a single person, it is good for me to not have sex. It may seem difficult, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is good. It brings me contentment, wholeness, peace, and joy. But even when I don’t feel those things, I still trust that God’s plan is good. Submission to God is not always easy. At times it is difficult, and doesn’t feel smooth. Yet it is still good—for me, as it is for all people. Therefore Christians urge all to not engage in actions outside of God’s plan—whether these are heterosexual or homosexual acts. God has designed marriage to be between a man and a woman. Humans can’t change that. Just as we can’t change it to be between two men or two women, we also can’t change it to be between three men and four women, or any other variation. Just because people have broken this standard at different times throughout history doesn’t mean we can say it is not God’s ideal—which we must remember, is ultimately for our good.

It is true that we have all fallen short, and all need the covering and forgiveness that Jesus had to provide on the cross. But we all know our choices on earth still matter, and can harm us or help us. Indeed, the whole reason Jesus had to go to the cross was because the choices of human beings harmed our relationship with God. Yet God has restored this relationship through Jesus.

It is natural that Christians therefore want to share this good news with others. It is the central message of Christianity, and it goes to the core of our existence on earth. We want others to hear this news because it is good for them. At the same time, this doesn’t change God’s standards on sexuality—which remain in existence, and work for our good. When we seek someone’s good, we are loving them. Therefore pointing someone toward God’s guidance on sexuality is loving toward them.

Christ provides a covering for our actions on the cross. But we can still harm ourselves on this earth even after we are spiritually purified by his sacrifice on the cross.

When we decline to agree that same-sex marriage (or any sexual conduct at odds with God’s standard) is okay, we are doing this for the good of those who may engage in that conduct which is harmful to them. When we pray for the well-being of the LGBT victims of violence in Orlando, we are doing it for their good. There should be no tension between the two for a Christian.

Many may not agree with my message. But I want everyone to clearly understand my motive.

If you desire to know more about God and the good news of Jesus discussed above, I invite you to find a Bible and open it to the book of John. Or contact me through our FRC website. I’d be happy to talk.

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