Two Washington Congresswomen Attempting to Ban Same-Sex Attraction Therapy

 

A group of 28 U.S. Representatives and four U.S. Senators, including Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA), have requested that the federal government ban same-sex attraction therapy.

In a letter addressed February 10, the Senators said that they “urge the Federal Trade Commission to take decisive action to stop the unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent practice of conversion therapy under the authority provided to your agency in the Federal Trade Commission Act.”

Reparative therapy, also known as conversion therapy, same-sex attraction therapy, sexual reorientation therapy, or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), has been successfully used by doctors and therapists to help patients overcome their same-sex attractions.

According to the Family Research Council, “Most ‘sexual reorientation therapy’ today consists of ‘talk therapy’ – a client simply talking with a counselor about his or her feelings, experiences, relationships with parents and peers, etc.”

Reparative therapy is detested by some secular health professionals who believe that all sexual orientations are normal and healthy. Despite reputable scientific research that demonstrates there is no evidence that people are born gay and that sexual orientation among young people often changes, opponents of reparative therapy allege that it, as well as other approaches that discourage homosexuality, are harmful to patients because it encourages them to reject their true sexual identity.

Parents should be able to seek medical help for their children who are struggling with their sexuality. Medical professionals subvert parental rights when they celebrate and encourage a child’s same-sex inclinations against the moral convictions of the parents.

Likewise, banning reparative therapy takes away the prerogative of families to seek treatment that is in the best interests of their children. Patients are also deprived of the means to seek and procure treatment that may help them overcome their struggles.

Sen. Murray and Rep. DelBene should not be able to prohibit loving parents from seeking treatment for their children. With the help of medical professionals and faith leaders, parents and patients – not politicians in Washington, D.C. – are in the best position to decide what is in the best interest of their children.

Legislation prohibiting this activity has been tried in Washington’s legislature before.  Will you stand with us to block it again?

Conzatti: Free Speech Being Squelched in Europe, Headed Our Way Next?

On May 31, the European Commission announced a partnership with tech moguls like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft to combat “racism, xenophobia and all forms of intolerance” on tech platforms by reviewing and removing hate speech within 24 hours.

Conservatives like myself voiced concerns about the agreement, which has been roundly denounced by digital rights groups and government watchdog organizations. Members of European Parliament have gone so far as calling the initiative “Orwellian.”

In my June 1 blog for FPIW, I voiced some of my concerns:

“As private corporations, technology companies certainly have the right to issue guidelines for the use of their platforms and censor speech that does not conform to their guidelines. What is concerning, however, is the collusion between private companies and a governmental body.

“Though officials from the European Commission and the tech companies involved insist that the purpose of the partnership is to restrict the ability of terrorists to disseminate their message through social media, many fear that speech deemed politically incorrect may also be censored.”

Imagine my lack of surprise when it was reported today that German police had raided the homes of 60 people who had allegedly propagated hate speech on social media, confiscating laptops, phones, and notebooks.

The suspects had posted “xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and other right-wing extremist content,” which German authorities claimed amounted to verbal and linguistic “violence” that “poison the social climate.”

Neo-Nazi hate speech is certainly deplorable. But should it be illegal? And what about criticism of the government’s handling of the refugee crisis? Should the homes of those who oppose increased numbers of refugees be raided? Should their families be interrogated? Should they be prosecuted?

Germany, like most other European nations, does not have strong free speech protections. Politically incorrect speech is more or less illegal. This is why it is so worrying that American tech companies, which profess to value open debate and a free exchange of ideas, are now working to help European governments silence and prosecute those who do nothing more than say that which is deemed politically incorrect.

Because the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, even protecting hate speech so long as it does not contain actual threats of illegal conduct, it may be hard for Americans to understand the German approach to speech. In R.A.V. v. St. Paul (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that ordinances which prohibit certain types of unfavorable and distasteful speech about race, creed, or gender are unconstitutional.

But the United States is not immune to the tidal wave of disregard for free speech rights spreading across the world.

Attorneys General United for Clean Power, a coalition of attorneys general from fifteen states, recently made news for threatening to prosecute public policy think tanks and private corporations that publish politically incorrect research about climate change (the attorneys general have since retreated, at least for now).

Free speech zones and trigger warnings are sweeping college campuses. Defending traditional marriage and biblical sexuality, or speaking against the prevailing theory of white cisgender privilege, is considered by many to be unprotected hate speech.

Americans needs to decide whether they will go the way of Europe or maintain their venerated tradition of free speech. Not only do we need to ask ourselves whether it is advisable for tech companies to assist countries in violating the free speech rights of their citizens, but do we, as Americans, want to preserve the rights of free speech for all – even for those who say offensive things?

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

Stand with FPIW as we fight to preserve free speech for all.

Washington AG Bob Ferguson Joins Effort to Punish Freedoms of Thought, Speech

 

After months of political posturing, the targeted attack by several attorneys general against the free speech and free association rights of public policy organizations and private companies has ended. But the fight to preserve free speech rights is not over.

In March, attorneys general from fifteen states, including Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, joined with attorneys general from the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands to punish organizations that they claim have spread misinformation about the existence and consequences of global warming.

Known as Attorneys General United For Clean Power, the group is “dedicated to coming up with creative ways to enforce laws being flouted by the fossil fuels industry and their allies in their short-sighted efforts to put profits above the interests of the American people and the integrity of our financial markets,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at the coalition’s inauguratory press conference, in which the attorneys general were joined by climate change propagandist and former Vice President Al Gore.

The group blames man-caused climate change for more violent storms and receding ice shelves in the Arctic, despite studies from reputable scientists that climate change is not causing extreme weather and that the polar ice caps have not receded since 1979, the first year NASA satellite data was collected.

“We have heard the scientists,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “There is no dispute [about global warming], but there is confusion – confusion sown by those with an interest in profiting from the confusion and creating misconceptions in the eyes of the American public.”

Shortly after the formation of the coalition, U.S. Virgin Islands Attorney General Claude E. Walker served subpoenas on Exxon and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free-market think-tank that does climate research.  It has published studies critical of climate change.

The subpoena demanded ten years of communications, research, and, perhaps most worrisomely, donor information. CEI President Kent Lassman called the subpoena a “baseless fishing expedition” and a “flagrant violation” of the First Amendment.

Thankfully, Attorney General Walker recently withdrew his subpoenas. CEI is seeking court-imposed sanctions against the attorney general.

Many are concerned that the inquisition mounted against certain political ideologies will create a chilling effect on public policy organizations. It is likely that think tanks, academics, and policymakers will think twice before conducting research and publishing studies and policy recommendations that contradict politically correct narratives.

There is little disagreement among legal scholars that research published by think tanks is constitutionally protected speech. The free exchange of ideas that is promoted by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is necessary for a constitutional republic. The use of persuasion in open public discourse allows for the best ideas to supersede bad ideas.

Despite an entire apparatus of schools and media outlets that disseminate global warming propaganda, climate alarmists are losing the debate in the public square. Less than half of Americans believe the government should be doing more to mitigate climate change, and the number of Americans who believe climate change is a serious problem is declining.

Not content with using persuasion to win arguments, Attorneys General United for Clean Power decided to use the force of law to criminalize the viewpoints of their political opponents.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is well-acquainted with using the force of law to subdue those with whom he disagrees. Ferguson has been embroiled in a legal battle with Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist who declined to provide her creative services for a same-sex wedding ceremony. He also filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit against an Olympia pharmacy that declined to dispense abortifacients.

“While Ferguson may be sincerely concerned about climate change, the idea of the attorney general filing lawsuits against people who have different perspectives is highly problematic,” said FPIW’s Executive Director Joseph Backholm. “We should all be concerned about the instinct of our elected officials to say there is only one, absolute, infallible position on these issues that is above critique.”

It remains to be seen what will be the next steps of Attorneys General United for Clean Power.  Though Competitive Enterprise Institute and Exxon won the first battle, the attorneys general have now paved the way for using the legal system to silence people with opposing views. That should be concerning to every American who values our fundamental rights.

Iowa Civil Rights Commission Bans Pastors from Preaching Sermons on Sexuality

 

It may now be against the law for Iowa pastors to teach on Genesis 1 that God created mankind – male and female – in His own image.

The religious liberty organization Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, has launched a pre-enforcement challenge to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s new interpretation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, passed in 2007.

Under this new interpretation, the state may prohibit churches from making “persons of any particular sexual orientation or gender identity” feel “unwelcome, objectionable, [or] not acceptable,” according to a brochure published by the Iowa State Civil Rights Commissions.

Lawyers representing the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ worry that this broad interpretation of the Civil Rights Act could be used to silence preachers teaching from the pulpit about biblical sexuality. Comments from any church official that makes a gay or transgender person feel ‘uncomfortable’ during services or any other event open to the public may put the church in violation of the law.

The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has also determined that places of public accommodation — including churches, which are open to the public — must allow individuals to use whatever locker room, shower, or bathroom is consistent with their biological identity, regardless of their biological sex.

First Liberty Institute, another religious liberty organization, sent a letter to the Civil Rights Commission on behalf of Cornerstone World Outreach, a church in Sioux City. The letter asks the Commission to provide the church with an exemption by August 4. First Liberty Institute is willing to “pursue ‘all available legal options’” if the church is not granted the exemption.

“The state claims it has the power to regulate what the church even teaches – what they are allowed to say from the pulpit – in addition to how they operate regarding matters of gender and sexuality,” Chelsey Youman, an attorney with First Liberty Institute, said. “If the church has a doctrine or theology that is at odds with the state and they speak out about that – they can have the full weight of the law brought down against them.”

The most worrisome development is the Iowa Civil Rights Commission’s decision to subject churches to public accommodation requirements.  Though churches are exempt from requirements of the Iowa Civil Rights Act in their “bona fide religious activities,” the Commission has decided that any service or activity open to the public is a public accommodation that is not exempt from civil rights law.

Churches in Washington state should pay attention to these developments in Iowa. Religious organizations are currently exempted from Washington’s non-discrimination law, though what qualifies an organization as “religious” is murky.  If Washington’s Human Rights Commission were to follow Iowa’s lead in defining church services as public accommodations, the religious organization exemption may no longer protect a significant portion of church activities.

If pastors don’t stand up now, they may soon have to break the law in order to preach the Word.

Maine Woman Bans Gun Owners and Supporters from Restaurants, and I Support Her

 

A Maine woman is refusing to serve customers who don’t agree with her beliefs and values system.  And I support her.

I support her right to choose who she serves or doesn’t serve, and for what reasons, at her restaurant(s). It doesn’t matter if I believe her views are right or wrong, or think she’s ‘on the wrong side of history’. She worked hard to build her businesses, and she should have the freedom to operate them as she sees fit. Period.

This same freedom should be extended to bakers, florists, and photographers who don’t want to provide services for a gay wedding.  It should be given to a print shop that doesn’t want to print posters for the Westboro Baptist Church.  It should be given to doctors, nurses, and hospitals who don’t want to provide abortions.  It should be given to Muslim catering companies who don’t want to serve pork or Jewish people who don’t want to work on the Sabbath.  

This is freedom.  Get outside the groupthink and apply some consistency.

Our politics have led us to a place of many divisions. Our social balance hangs, in many cases, upon a thread.  People find offense at nearly every word spoken.  Protests are held in abundance, around the clock, for any and every reason.  Our world is a tinderbox, ready to catch on fire at the drop of a hat.  We couldn’t get along if our very lives depended on it.

Perhaps the last thing that we all have in common is that we all want to be free.

We should all be willing to fight for others’ freedom of conscience, even if we disagree with their beliefs, and even if we think the Constitution should require them to serve us.

Losing freedom is a lot more expensive than being forced to go eat a meal somewhere else.

Zachary Freeman is the Communications Director for FPIW.  You can follow Zachary on Twitter at @ZacharyGFreeman.

Opinion: Internet Pact to ‘Combat All Forms of Intolerance’ Raises Concerns

 

In a move denounced by some as “Orwellian,” Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Microsoft have all pledged to review and remove illegal hate speech from their platforms within 24 hours of receiving notification.

This initiative signifies the beginning of a partnership between major tech giants and the European Commission, which is encouraging the tech companies to “combat all forms of intolerance” by cracking down on what the Commission considers to be hate speech.  The agreement also advises tech companies to promote and encourage “counter and alternatives narratives” that are presumably favored by the European Commission.

As private corporations, technology companies certainly have the right to issue guidelines for the use of their platforms and censor speech that does not conform to their guidelines. What is concerning, however, is the collusion between private companies and a governmental body.

Though officials from the European Commission and the tech companies involved insist that the purpose of the partnership is to restrict the ability of terrorists to disseminate their message through social media, many fear that speech deemed politically incorrect may also be censored.

In a statement, Janice Atkinson, an independent Member of European Parliament who represents Southeast England, called the partnership between the tech companies and the European Commission “Orwellian,” adding that, “anyone who has read 1984 sees it’s [sic] very re-enactment live.”

European Digital Rights, an international human rights advocacy organization headquartered in Brussels, also issued a statement against the partnership and decided to withdraw from further conversations with the European Commission.

The agreement, which directs tech companies to remove illegal hate speech online in Europe, fails to appreciate that the internet is global in nature. Posts, comments, and videos originating from the United States are accessible in Europe, and vice versa. It remains to be seen whether tech companies will differentiate between speech originating in Europe, where various forms of “hate speech” is illegal, and speech from elsewhere, where that same speech is not illegal.

Unlike much of Europe, the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, even protecting hate speech so long as it does not contain actual threats of illegal conduct.  In R.A.V. v. St. Paul (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that ordinances which prohibit certain types of unfavorable and distasteful speech about race, creed, or gender are unconstitutional.

Facebook found itself in the midst of controversy earlier this month when former employees alleged that the social media juggernaut was removing news stories published by conservative organizations from its “trending” news section. In 2013, the company received criticism for blocking the personal page of Fox News contributor Todd Starnes after he posted a status in which he mentioned Paula Deen, Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A, and the Bible. Other examples of Facebook’s perceived discrimination against conservatives can be found here.

What do you think? Chime in using the comments section below.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

Missouri Counseling Student Dismissed for Christian Beliefs

 

A student at the Missouri State University has filed a lawsuit against the school after it expelled him from the counseling program.

As part of his Masters’ degree program, Andrew Cash had already completed 51 hours of mandatory counseling training with the Springfield Marriage and Family Institute (SMFI), a group approved by the University to provide supervision for graduate students during their practicums.

During the course of the practicum, Cash had sought and been granted approval from the school for the SMFI to make a presentation during class time.  During the authorized visit, a student asked the group’s executive director how the Institute would handle counseling for same-sex couples.  The director responded that they would gladly provide counseling advice for the individuals, but that they would not be able to provide counseling advice for the relationship.

Cash echoed the organization’s stance afterwards when asked how he would handle the situation, if presented with it.

Following the presentation and remarks, the school removed SMFI as an approved counseling supervisor, and erased the 51 hours that Andrew Cash had already completed towards his Masters’ Degree.  According to Cash’s legal team, a female faculty member dismissed him from the program, concluding that he “could not hold these views, which she deemed to be unethical.”

Andrew Cash is suing the University’s board of directors and several faculty members, claiming that their actions and dismissal caused significant financial hardship and ruined his opportunity to have a career as a counselor.  The University has yet to comment on the lawsuit, though they continue to say that they “strictly prohibit” discrimination on the basis of religion or any other protected class.

Tennessee’s legislature passed a bill that prohibits schools from discriminating against college students on the basis of religious beliefs.  Would you like to see these efforts made in Washington State?  Support FPIW!  

ESPN Fires Curt Schilling for Personal Views on Transgenderism

 

ESPN has fired baseball analyst and former World Series Championship Pitcher Curt Schilling after he posted an image to his personal Facebook page that the company deemed as insensitive towards transgendered people.

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ESPN Baseball Analyst Curt Schilling was fired after sharing this image on his personal Facebook account.

The image, at right, was shared by Schilling in response to the sweeping wave of states attempting to open locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers to individuals based on their internal gender identity or gender expression rather than their biological sex.

“There are things I have deeply held beliefs in, things I have that are core to who I am, things I am passionate about. If you ask me about them it’s likely I’ll give you a passionate answer,” Schilling wrote in a statement following his firing.

“Whether you like that answer or not is completely up to you. I am not going to give you answers to make sure you like what I say, let the rest of the insecure world do that.”

Schilling, who is known to be outspoken, is the second high-profile case of view-based employment discrimination to take place this month.  Last week, Georgia Department of Health Employee Eric Walsh was fired after the agency uncovered sermons of Walsh preaching messages against homosexuality at his church.

In Washington, the effort to maintain safety and privacy in locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers, is under way.  The Just Want Privacy Campaign has been launched to protect privacy and safety in Washington State.  Click here to join the campaign!