WA Supreme Court’s Rules Against Arlene’s Flowers and First Amendment

Though it wasn’t surprising, it is still disappointing.

Barronelle Stutzman is a florist in eastern Washington who told long-time customers that she could not decorate their same-sex wedding in 2013.

Despite the fact that she has employed people who identify as gay and is happy to sell flowers (including wedding flowers) to same-sex couples, she stated that she could not be the florist for their wedding because of her beliefs about marriage.

Washington State’s Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, initiated legal action against the grandmother, claiming that it was illegal for her to opt out of the event if she was willing to provide floral services for other weddings.

Today, in a unanimous decision, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that Washington State can force businesses owners to participate in events and communicate messages they object to as a matter of conscience.

This is a radical decision from an increasingly extremist Supreme Court that has also found reasons to find charter schools unconstitutional and claim jurisdiction over how the legislature funds education.

The implications of this ruling should be concerning to everyone in Washington State, regardless of how you feel about same-sex “marriage” or your willingness to provide professional services for causes you personally disagree with.

Until five years ago, it was widely understood that individuals could choose for themselves which causes or messages they supported.

The addition of sexual orientation to some state’s non-discrimination laws combined with the redefinition of marriage has triggered a signification change in how progressives view the First Amendment.

Non-discrimination laws—which were intended to prevent businesses from having signs that say “Whites Only,” “No Jews,” or “No Mexicans”—are now being interpreted to reach far beyond their original scope.

No one believes it is religious discrimination to decline to participate in an ISIS event, nor does anyone feel it is illegal racial discrimination to decline to participate in a white supremacist rally.

When it comes to sexual orientation, however, what constitutes “discrimination” has been widely expanded.  As a result of this ruling, if you are willing to decorate for any wedding, you must decorate for every wedding.

This is true even if you are happy to provide service to people who identify as gay in every other context.

It is truly unprecedented.

The good news is that Mrs. Stutzman is expected to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it is thought there is significantly more support for civil liberties.

The bad news is that she was sued in her personal capacity as well as her business capacity, which means she stands to lose her home, retirement, and business because of her convictions on this issue.

All people of good will should condemn this decision and do what they can to see that it does not stand.

This is not a gay or straight issue.  This is a freedom issue.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Neil Gorsuch

Yesterday, President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, from the 10th Circuit Appellate Court, to fill the vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s death on the Supreme Court.

Urge Washington State’s Senators Murray and Cantwell to support Justice Gorsuch’s nomination, as they did when he was originally elevated to the 10th Cirucuit Court of Appeals by signing our petition right here.

According to the White  House Press release announcing the pick, “Judge Gorsuch is a brilliant jurist with an outstanding intellect and a clear, incisive writing style.  He is universally respected for his integrity, fairness, and decency.  And he understands the role of judges is to interpret the law, not impose their own policy preferences, priorities, or ideologies.”

We support the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and urge his timely confirmation.

Judge Gorsuch’s record shows that he will not engage in judicial activism, and will seek to interpret the law as it is not as he wishes it to be.  That principle is fundamental to the rule of law and abandonment of that principle is at the root of the “right to abortion” the Court found in Roe v. Wade, and the “right to same-sex marriage” the Court found in Obergefell.

His record also indicates that he values the sanctity of human life. He authored a book that provides a keen legal and moral analysis of assisted suicide, concluding that “human beings are intrinsically valuable…and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record shows that he values the rights of individuals against government action that would force them to violate their beliefs. In two prominent cases, Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor, Judge Gorsuch ruled against attempts by the federal government to compel people to purchase forms of contraceptives that violated their beliefs.

President Trump campaigned on a promise to appoint justices in the mold of Justice Scalia and this pick is widely thought to be a fulfillment of that commitment.

Princeton Professor Robby George, a leading conservative thinker and legal theorist says in an editorial this morning that, “Gorsuch’s combination of outstanding intellectual and personal qualities places him in the top rank of American jurists.”

The National Review says that Gorsuch is a worthy heir to Scalia.

Russell Moore, from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Council, who was consistently opposed to President Trump during his campaign, called Gorsuch, “an exceptional choice for Supreme Court Justice.

This article from the Conservative Review describes 10 things you need to know about Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. It includes some interesting facts about the nominee as well as his perspective on a range of judicial issues.

Of course not everyone is excited about the nomination.

Democratic leadership in the Senate promised to filibuster the nomination before it was announced.

According to House Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi, this is a “very hostile appointment”. “Clean air, clean water, food safety, safety in medicine and the rest,  if you care about that for your children he’s not your guy.”

She also said he is “hostile to children and schools” and has also ruled that children with autism don’t have the same rights.  She also cited his decision in the Hobby Lobby case as evidence that he is “hostile to women’s reproductive rights.”

The nomination will now be sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  If the committee recommends confirmation, as expected, it will move to the full Senate for a vote.

That is where things could get interesting.

Typically, the Senate gives broad deference to the President’s appointment for cabinet positions and Supreme Court vacancies. However, Senate Democrats are believed to be angry that President Obama’s nominee to the vacancy,  Merrick Garland, never received a hearing from Republican leadership.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who voted to confirm Judge Gorsuch when he was appointed to the 10th Circuit in 2006, has said previously that Democrats will oppose the nomination “if they don’t appoint somebody good.

The rules of the Senate require sixty votes in the Senate before the nominee is confirmed. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate. That means Democrats can effectively block — or “filibuster” — the confirmation if fewer than eight Democrats support Trump’s pick for the high court.

However, Republicans could change the rules of the Senate to eliminate the 60 vote requirement, as the Democrats did when they were in the majority.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has expressed his belief that the nominee will receive confirmation through the normal course.

Adding intrigue to the Senate’s ability to mount successful opposition to the nomination is the fact that ten senate Democrats are running for reelection in 2018 in states that Trump won in 2016.  It remains to be seen how strong their desire to dig in their heels against the new administration is.

Of note for voters in Washington State, both of our U.S. Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell,  voted for to confirm Judge Gorsuch when he was appointed to the Court of Appeals.

Sign our petition right here urging Senators Murray and Cantwell to affirm their prior support for Justice Gorsuch by confirming him for the Supreme Court of the United States.

 

Which World Will You Choose?

Last Wednesday’s hearing on Senate Bill 5320 (Viewable here on TWV), parental notification in cases of a minor seeking an abortion, was relatively staid affair where opponents of parental notification argued that, while a minor cannot get a tattoo, visit a tanning salon, nor drink or smoke legally, and while parental consent is needed for every other simple medical procedure or exam, somehow teenage girls in crisis should be trusted to make their own medical decisions about their pregnancy.

They painted a world where parents are at best an obstruction to unfettered abortions and at worst are waiting at home to abuse the young girl physically and psychologically.  Throughout the room was a lapel pin “Trust Women,” while seemingly lost on opponents of parental notification is the fact that half of all parents are women.  What women are young girls to trust?  Evidently not their mothers.

That is the world the pro-abortionists in the room represented, a world where we teach our adolescents that parents are non-essential and simply obstacles to be deceitfully worked around; a world where in issues of pregnancy if not tanning, drinking, smoking, tattooing, and voting the teen is completely capable of making mature, wise decisions.

On the other hand, supporters of parental notification and SB 5320 view the world very differently.  In our world parents are not the enemy but the ones who know their children best and most often have their best interests at heart.  Parents are the ones who in every other facet of life the state trusts to have the right information and make the best decision for the child.  Parents are the ones who can guide a young girl in crisis through the emotional and physical minefield of pregnancy and the results of whatever decision they choose to take together.

The world supporters of SB 5320 described is one where the science proves and the state and courts agree that the adolescent brain is not fully developed and is not fully capable of making clear, rational, choices.  That is why sentencing guidelines for juvenile offenders are different than those for adults.  Because in every other area except for teen pregnancy the state has recognized that adolescents are different and cannot be held to the same standard as adults.

Supporters of Parental Notification and SB 5320 described a world that God created, where life is precious and the family is the first society.  A world where parents have God-given authority and responsibility to raise and nurture their children.

The only question that remains from last week’s hearing is, “Which world will you choose?”

WA Bill Seeks to Make Obamacare Mandates Permanent in WA

As lawmakers in Washington DC prepare to repeal Obamacare and its mandates, a group of Washington State lawmakers have proposed legislation that would make some of those same mandates permanent law in Washington State.

This continues a trend of attempts to force people in Washington to buy things they don’t want to buy.

Three times in recent years, the House of Representatives passed legislation to require every insurance policy to cover abortion only to see the bill defeated in the Senate. (See here and here.

HB 1523 is requires all insurance plans to “provide coverage for the same preventive services required to be covered under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 300gg-13 (2016) and any federal rules or guidance in effect on December 31, 2016, implementing 42 U.S.C. Sec. 300gg-13.”

You can probably count the number of people who immediately know what that sentence means on one hand.

So we’ll translated.

First, it would turn a controversial contraceptive mandate in the Obamacare care law into a Washington State law.

It’s the same mandate that was used in an attempt to force a convent of nuns to purchase birth control.

Secondly, it incorporates “guidance” from the Obama administration about that amendment into permanent WA law. That guidance says that “preventative services” includes “all FDA approved contraceptives and sterilization” procedures would be covered.  The details can be found here. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/300gg-13

It should be noted that the mandates at issue in this legislation would not cover elective abortions.

In recent years, the Abortion Insurance Mandate has attempted to force businesses, individuals, and churches to pay for abortion.

But it by including all FDA approved contraceptives, they include various IUD’s, Plan B and Ella which many object to on conscience grounds.

HB 1523 has been assigned to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee but has not yet received a hearing date.

You can leave comments about this bill on the legislative website by clicking here.

You can contact your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

To support our efforts to keep you aware of threats to conscience rights so you can do something about it, click here.

#DefundChilis: Chili’s Cancels Planned Parenthood Fundraiser

Chili’s restaurants in Indiana and Kentucky have canceled their fundraising initiative for Planned Parenthood, thanks to an overwhelming response from pro-life advocates.

News broke yesterday that the independently owned Chili’s restaurants had partnered with the Indiana-Kentucky Planned Parenthood affiliate to donate 15% of a patron’s pre-tax meal to the abortion provider.

The promotion included twenty-five Chili’s restaurants in the two states.

2nd Votes, which describes itself as a “conservative watchdog for corporate activism,” launched a social media campaign asking pro-life advocates to “Tell Chili’s we’re going somewhere else for dinner!” Before long, pro-lifers were using the Twitter hashtag #DefundChilis.

Chili’s released a statement this morning announcing that they had cancelled the promotion:

“At Chili’s, we have a longstanding history and take pride in giving back to unite our local communities together. We recognize every community is unique, and encourage our restaurant managers and franchise partners to support causes that help bring communities together and leave a positive impact on our valued Guests, neighbors, friends and families we serve.

“Yesterday, we learned that an independent franchise partner of Chili’s in Indiana and Kentucky made the decision to host a Chili’s Give Back Event on behalf of Planned Parenthood Indiana and Kentucky. While our franchise partner had the best intentions; we have received growing feedback and concern from community members regarding the Give Back Event. This feedback does not reflect Chili’s focus on bringing communities together and the event was never intended to be viewed as a partisan event or political statement, therefore we, along with our franchise partner, have decided to cancel the event.

“We will more clearly communicate the focus of Chili’s charitable giving efforts, so that our restaurant managers and franchise partners can feel empowered to support local organizations that bring communities together.”

The success of the #DefundChilis social media campaign shows how effective the pro-life movement can be when mobilized and working toward a common goal.

A Chili’s independent franchise partner in California canceled a similar fundraiser for Planned Parenthood in 2011 after Chili’s customers expressed their concerns.

Planned Parenthood has faced growing criticism in recent weeks following the release of a congressional report implicating its affiliates in illegal behaviors. A Live Action investigation also recently found that 92 of 97 Planned Parenthood clinics surveyed do not provide prenatal care for pregnant women, despite repeated claims from supporters that it should continue receiving federal funding because it claims to provide those services.

Bill to Permit Prayer After Sporting Events Introduced in State House

In apparent response to Coach Joe Kennedy’s ongoing to dispute with the Bremerton school district, legislation was introduced today that would  allow anyone to make public demonstrations, including prayer, after sporting events at public high schools.

The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Jesse Young, whose district includes Bremerton, and co-sponsored by forty-five others. All the sponsors are Republicans.

Joe Kennedy is a retired Marine who was also a football coach at Bremerton High School until he was fired for praying on the field after football games.

The Bremerton School District has taken the position that the prayers open the school district up to lawsuits claiming that his prayers on the field after the game constitute a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause by creating the impression that the school district is endorsing the prayers.

Coach Kennedy has since sued the school district claiming religious discrimination and requesting to be returned to his coaching job.

The legislation introduced today (HB 1602) addresses this situation and others like it by declaring school grounds after a sporting even to be a public forum where the kinds of speech typically allowed in a public forum, including prayer, would be allowed.

The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and so far has not been scheduled for a hearing

No companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.

You can leave comments about this bill on the legislative website by clicking here.

You can contact your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

Whatever your issue, communicate often with your legislators about how you feel.  When you do, be sure to be respectful.  Not only does a lack of respect reflect poorly on you, it also hurts the cause you are trying to help.

If your legislators have not sponsored legislation you want them to support, ask them to support it.  If they are supporting it, thank them for doing so.

Thank you for doing your part.

 

House Votes to Make Hyde Amendment Permanent

In the second major move this week to stop taxpayer funding from being used to fund abortions, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to make the Hyde Amendment Permanent.

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order reinstating the Mexico City Policy. 

The Hyde Amendment has prohibited taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions since 1976.  However, it became a hotly debated issue during the Obama Administration.

The Hyde Amendment was never permanent law but has been routinely attached as a “rider” to various appropriations bills.

Significantly, the Affordable Care Act was passed without Hyde Amendment language, a fact that nearly prevented it from getting enough support to pass. However, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting the use of federal tax dollars for abortions to secure the final votes necessary for passage.

Still, critics have pointed out numerous ways in which the Obama administration violated that executive order without any apparent concern from the executive branch.

Today’s action by the House of Representatives would eliminate the need to debate the Hyde Amendment in every appropriations bill by permanently prohibiting taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortion.

It would apply to all Obamacare health plans starting the next plan year.

This bill also protects conscience rights by requiring the full disclosure of abortion coverage in Obamacare plans.  This is in response to numerous complaints from members of the public who preferred plans that did not include abortion coverage but found it difficult to determine which plans provided abortion coverage and which ones did not.

The House passed HR 7 by a vote of 238-183. Three Democratic Members voted in support of HR 7 (Lipinski-IL, Peterson-MN, and Cuellar-TX ), no Republicans voted against the bill.

It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

During his campaign, President Trump promised to make the Hyde Amendment permanent law if it made it to his desk.

 

Action Needed: Support Senate Bill 5320

Senate Bill 5320 requiring parental notification when a minor is seeking an abortion is being heard in the Senate Law & Justice Committee this Thursday at 10 AM.

Please take the time to learn about this important bill and issue, then call the members of the Law & Justice Committee urging them to pass it out of committee and onto the floor for a full Senate vote.  If you can be in Olympia on Thursday to testify or just show your support for this important pro-life and pro-family bill that would be great as well.

The American College of Pediatricians writes strongly in favor of parental notification:

>There is professional consensus that adolescents have a real need for adult guidance, ideally that of their parents, in decision-making.
> For purposes of consent… abortion should be treated as any other medical or surgical procedure.
> When caring parents are involved in their teen’s pregnancy, they can help their daughter think about her pregnancy and consider her options.
>Parental involvement encourages the correct view of family.

>Parental notification prior to an adolescent’s abortion provides increased protection against sexual exploitation of minors by adult men.
>Read the entire white paper here.

Call each member of the committee urging them to pass SB 5320 out of committee:

Padden, Mike (R)
Chair
106 Irv Newhouse Building (360) 786-7606
O’Ban, Steve (R)
Vice Chair
102 Irv Newhouse Building (360) 786-7654
Pedersen, Jamie (D)
Ranking Minority Member
235 John A. Cherberg Building (360) 786-7628
Angel, Jan (R) 203 Irv Newhouse Building (360) 786-7650
Darneille, Jeannie (D) 237 John A. Cherberg Building (360) 786-7652
Frockt, David (D) 227 John A. Cherberg Building (360) 786-7690
Wilson, Lynda (R) 110 Irv Newhouse Building (360) 786-7632

Email each committee member directly urging them to pass SB 5320 out of Committee:

Member Email
Chairman Mike Padden Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov
Vice-Chair Steve O’Ban Steve.OBan@leg.wa.gov
Ranking Minor Member Jamie Pedersen Jamie.Pedersen@leg.wa.gov
Jan Angel Jan.Angel@leg.wa.gov
Jeannie Darneille J.Darneille@leg.wa.gov
David Frockt David.Frockt@leg.wa.gov
Lynda Wilson Lynda.Wilson@leg.wa.gov

Share this page with your friends and family

Call the Legislative Hotline and leave a message for your own Senator at 1-800-562-6000.

Leave comments on the bill directly at the Legislative Website: https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill//5320

Come to Olympia and testify in support of SB 5320 on Thursday January 26th at 10AM.

Pray that this important legislation comes to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Judge Halts ObamaCare Mandates on Gender Reassignment and Abortion

A day before they were to go into affect, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction against Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations that forbid “discriminating on the basis of ‘gender identity’ and ‘termination of pregnancy.'”

The rules had been challenged by eight states, an association of almost 18,000 doctors, and a Catholic hospital system. The regulations would require all 900,000 physicians in America to perform an abortion or gender reassignment surgery regardless of conscientious objection or medical judgement.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the regulations were likely to violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

“This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures on children that the government itself recognizes can be harmful and exempts its own doctors from performing,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, which filed a lawsuit against the new federal regulation. “Today’s ruling ensures that doctors’ best medical judgment will not be replaced with political agendas and bureaucratic interference.”

White House spokeswoman Katie Hill described the judge’s decision as a “setback.”

In issuing the temporary injunction, the judge ruled that the mandates are likely to be found to be in violation of federal law.

It remains to be seen, however, how long the rules will remain in effect.

President-elect Trump has nominated Rep. Tom Price to head Health and Human Services. Rep. Price has a 100% pro-life voting record so there is speculation that he would not be inclined to retain regulations requiring physicians to participate in abortions.

Regardless, these particular mandates appear to be in trouble.