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The Indiana Senate passed a revised marriage amendment that will likely delay a vote by the people.
In recent weeks, the House passed a watered down version of HJR-3 removing the second sentence, a change that would allow recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships. That vote threatened to restart the constitutional amendment process. In the state of Indiana, a bill must pass both houses in two consecutive terms in order to be put on the ballot.
Marriage supporters gathered at the Statehouse to encourage legislators to pass the original version and let the people vote in the next election. Some of those lawmakers had suddenly changed their position to allow the House changes.
Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute spent weeks talking to lawmakers and encouraging voters to make their voices heard.
“We had a number of legislators two years ago who supported this marriage amendment who changed,” he said. “Several of them we had backed before. They had filled out questionnaires, signed written statements saying they would support this amendment and they flipped this year. We intend to talk to their constituents and let people know that they did not honor their commitments.”
Several national marriage groups were also on hand to give testimony.
“Marriage is not just about the desires of adults, but the needs of children. Children need a mother and a father,” said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council. “Those are the only reasons marriage is a public, not merely a private, institution.”
Smith said that even though it’s disappointing that the stronger version of the bill wasn’t passed, they will not give up.
“We’ll come back after the next election,” Smith said, “and start the conversation over with a single sentence amendment and see if that will be sent to the voters in 2016.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Indiana Family Institute.
It may be a dark night out there, but in his Stoplight® commentary Stuart Shepard illustrates the profound value of just a little light.
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A legal group says a Minnesota school district is perfectly fine allowing students to participate in a community service project — they’ve been packing meals for needy families in Haiti.
Earlier this month, the American Humanist Association (AHA) threatened to sue Robbinsdale Area Schools in Winnetka.
Students at the School of Engineering and Arts recently volunteered for a program sponsored by Feed My Starving Children, a Christian organization. The students helped pre-pack meals at a church. They did not participate in any religious activities.
“Public schools should encourage students to participate in as many community service opportunities as possible,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “The Constitution does not prohibit students from cooperating with a religious organization to help starving families, which is not any sort of government endorsement of religion.”
ADF sent a letter affirming the rights of the school and the students.
“It’s shameful to attack charity groups that provide impoverished children with help they wouldn’t otherwise receive,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We hope that our letter will help Robbinsdale Area Schools understand that they can continue to allow students to participate with Feed My Starving Children and other worthy humanitarian service programs for the benefit of the needy.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the letter the AHA sent to the school.
Read ADF’s letter to the school.
CitizenLink is proud to work with Texas Values and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
by Texas Values
Attorney General Eric Holder announced this weekend the federal government will impose same-sex marriage benefits on the states, including states like Texas that only recognize the true definition of marriage – the union of one man and one woman. The new dictates focus on federal benefits that include spousal rights concerning bankruptcies, prison visits, and the court system.
In an interview with KVUE (Austin), U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz reacted to another brazen overreach of the Federal government on the issue of marriage:
“In Texas, we define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and I don’t think the federal government should come into Texas and dictate its terms for what constitutes marriage.” – Senator Ted Cruz
“It’s very clear that the people of the state of Texas have already spoken on these issues when it comes to the definition of marriage and same sex benefits and the reason that you see the Obama administration abusing their power and overreaching is because they don’t have the will of the people on their side.” – Jonathan Saenz
The federal government is increasingly disrespecting the rights of the majority of states that define marriage as one man and one woman. The goal seems clear – usurp states’ rights to essentially redefine a state’s marriage laws to a definition of its choosing.
Watch the interview here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about Texas Values.
A federal judge today struck down part of Kentucky’s marriage amendment. The ruling means Kentucky would have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries.
The decision will likely be appealed.
Seventy-five percent of voters approved the amendment in 2004. It says the state would not validate or recognize anything other than one-man, one-woman marriages.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn cited the U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer that struck down part of the federal marriage law. The court will set a hearing soon to discuss when the order will take effect.
Kent Ostrander, president of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, called Heyburn’s ruling partly “mumbo jumbo.”
Under his logic, “If a state like Utah were to legalize polygamy, then that would mean that Utah’s law would have to be recognized by Kentucky,” Ostrander explained. “So, we’re no longer living under Kentucky law — we’re at the dictate of other states and other nations. It’s foolishness.”
He blames the ruling on a weak showing by state officials. The governor and attorney general “are not interested in putting up a serious battle.”
“The concern I have is this: Those that were sued were the state of Kentucky — the governor and the attorney general,” he told CitizenLink. “Both of them are liberal Democrats. And their defense in this case was at best, wimpy.”
They didn’t exactly “roll over” like U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder did on the federal level, Ostrander explained. “But it wasn’t far from it.”
Holder announced this weekend that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages.
Four same-sex couples and their children filed suit against Kentucky’s amendment.
The Family Foundation filed a friend-of-the-court brief, which was later dismissed by the judge.
“Our primary hope is that the 6th Circuit will hold with its previous rulings on this matter and will actually overturn the Kentucky federal judge,” he explained.
Marriage, he added, is “the “building block of society.”
“Every child deserves a mom and a dad,” Ostrander explained. “I realize, sometimes, that disaster happens and they don’t get both of them. But a good policy is always to have every child — every boy and girl — to understand what a man is by virtue of their father, and what a woman is by virtue of their mother. When they have that, they get both halves of humanity, and it gives them the opportunity to have a healthy future.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the complaint in Bourke v. Breshear.
Read Heyburn’s decision.
A mom shares her real-life story of an extremely premature baby. Her experience offers a unique perspective on pro-life legislation that is languishing in the Senate.
Congressional senators filed legislation today that would prohibit the IRS from targeting conservative groups.
The tax agency admitted last year that it was wrong to delay the applications for nonprofit status for organizations whose name included words such as “Tea Party” and “patriot.” Other groups — including Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse and the Biblical Recorder — said they were targeted as well.
“It’s time to end the intimidation and harassment,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. “Let’s preserve the First Amendment rights of all groups, regardless of their ideology, especially those that commit themselves to improving our society.”
The Arizona lawmaker introduced the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act along with Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican from Kansas. The bill is co-sponsored by 37 additional senators.
The legislation would restore the IRS 501(c)(4) standards and definitions that were in place before the agency began harassing conservative groups in 2010. This would prevent addition targeting of such organizations.
The legislation would also protect free-speech rights by postponing — for one year — the finalization of a proposed IRS regulation.
Last year, the IRS proposed a rule that would broadly define IRS 501(c)(4) political activity to include: voter registration; voter education; communications that mention a candidate or party; grants to nonprofits; and events in which a candidate participates. This means even non-partisan activities would be limited.
The regulation specifically singles out 501(c)(4) organizations; it does not apply to other nonprofits such as charities, labor unions or trade associations.
“The proposed IRS rule is overly broad and would codify the IRS’ ability to attack certain groups, opening the door to further encroachment on Americans’ First Amendment rights,” Roberts explained. “It is clear the IRS has no capacity to regulate political activity without running roughshod over people’s fundamental constitutional rights. As a result, our legislation is very simple — we simply halt further action on the proposed regulations until the Justice Department and congressional investigations into the IRS actions are complete. We don’t need the IRS regulating constitutionally guaranteed free speech.”
Take Action for Religious Freedom
Take a stand against the proposed IRS regulations for C4 organizations. To do so:
* visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov . Include this citation: IRS REG-134417-13 in the “search box”
* Click on “Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities.”
* When you get to this page, click on “Comment Now!” in the blue box in the upper right hand page
* This will take you to the comments page where you many enter your comments. Be sure to include your name and address.
Please tell the IRS:
– to respect the First Amendment rights of all Americans
– that is unacceptable for the IRS to interject itself into the inner-workings of citizen groups across the country
– that is should hold public hearings around the nation on these regulations
(NOTE: The deadline for submitting these comments is Feb. 27.)
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read “House Committee Identifies IRS Leaker.”
Obama Claims IRS Had “‘Not Even a Smidgen of Corruption.’”
Nevada’s attorney general and governor will not defend the state’s voter-approved marriage amendment defining the institution as a union between one man and one woman. On Monday, the officials said that a recent court decision means the amendment is unable to be defended.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that the sexual orientation of potential jurors cannot be a factor in their removal from a jury. Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto filed a statement with the appeals court on Monday saying she would no longer defend the amendment.
“After thoughtful review and analysis,” she told the court, “the state has determined that its arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable.”
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said he agreed with Masto, who is a Democrat.
“Based upon the advice of the attorney general’s office and their interpretation of relevant case law, it has become clear that this case is no longer defensible in court,” Sandoval wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
Focus on the Family Judicial Analyst Bruce Hausknecht called the 9th Circuit’s decision activism from the bench.
“The 9th Circuit’s most-reversed judge, Stephen Reinhardt, is once again guilty of paving the way to imposing same-sex marriage on every state within his Circuit,” he said. “Nevada is his first victim, but rest assured there will be more.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the 9th Circuit’s decision in SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories.
Become a better candidate for office with our Campaign Academy!
Do values matter in modern-day politics? More and more political leaders and parties are choosing to sacrifice culture-defining issues such as life, liberty, marriage and the family on the altar of political expediency, mistakenly believing that values no longer matter to voters.
Voters today are yearning for principled candidates committed to standing strong for the timeless values upon which our country was founded, and who will stand strong against the politics-as-usual establishment working to undermine those values. Instructed by Congressman Bill Redmond of CitizenLink — A Focus on the Family partner, the Campaign Academy shows candidates, campaign staff, and grassroots activists how to run winning campaigns without compromising their values and governing with a Biblical worldview.
- Meaning – Why Christians should be involved in government at all levels.
- Mechanics – How to campaign smartly and effectively.
- Message – How to shape and communicate the message you believe.
- Money – How to raise all the money you need to win, even if you’ve never raised money before
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Campaign Academy.
Learn more about The Family Leader.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced this weekend that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages and give such unions “full and equal protection, to the greatest extent under the law.”
The Justice Department will enact the changes via a policy memorandum expected to be released today.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said these changes only further the federal government’s plan to intervene in states’ rights.
“This is just the latest in a series of moves by the Obama administration, and in particular the Department of Justice, to undermine the authority and sovereignty of the states to make their own determinations regulating the institution of marriage,” he said. “The American public needs to realize how egregious and how dangerous these usurpations are and how far-reaching the implications can be.”
The policy changes will grant some of the same benefits that heterosexual married couples receive. Brown said it highlights the fact that redefining the institution will harm society.
“The changes,” he said, “serve as a potent reminder of why it is simply a lie to say that redefining marriage doesn’t affect everyone in society.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read Holder’s remarks regarding the policy changes.
Read CitizenLink’s “Protecting Marriage.”
Planned Parenthood of Illinois settled a wrongful death case involving a 24-year-old who died after a botched abortion in 2012.
Tonya Reaves was 16-weeks pregnant when she went to the abortion seller. After the abortion, she was left to bleed for five-and-a-half hours at the Chicago facility — with no medical treatment, according to the suit. She was finally transferred to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where doctors were unable to save her.
Reaves’ family will receive a $2 million settlement from Planned Parenthood, Northwestern Memorial and the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation.
Peter Breen, vice president of the Thomas More Society (TMS), said the settlement is an attempt to cover up what really happened, which could put other women in danger.
“The fact that Planned Parenthood has been allowed to merely pay ‘hush money’ to the victim’s family without any further consequences is a slap in the face to every woman who walks through the doors of the nation’s largest abortion provider.”
TMS filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation (IDPR) in 2013 requesting an investigation. According to TMS, no known action was taken by the IDPR.
The legal firm also stated that Planned Parenthood did not provide the hospital with sufficient information regarding Reave’s medical condition. The autopsy report shows she suffered perforation of the uterus.
“Ms. Reaves’ tragic death demonstrates the dire need for increased inspection and regulation of Illinois abortion clinics,” Breen said. “The biggest thing we can do is demand that abortion facilities meet the same tough licensing standards as any other outpatient surgical facility.”
Illinois and many other states have a “loophole” that helps them get out of having to meet these tough licensing standards, Breen told CitizenLink.
“This means they don’t have the emergency protocols in place,” he said. “They don’t have the proper tools on site to deal with these medical emergencies after abortions.”
Breen wants justice to be done — by having Planned Parenthood of Illinois shut down, or at the very least, investigated.
“Instead, large amounts of money will change hands, everything will remain under wraps,” Breen said. “The public will never get to know what happened to Tonya Reaves.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the wrongful death petition to settle.
Read the court’s approval of the wrongful death settlement petition.
Read “Autopsy Report Shows Negligence in Abortion Death.”
Read the autopsy report for Tonya Reaves.
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Family Policy Institute of Washington and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
by Joseph Backholm
Recently, Eastside Catholic High School caused an uproar when they dismissed their vice-principal who entered a same-sex “marriage” in violation of church teaching.
In a story that could have implications for this case, as well as for churches everywhere, last week the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a complaint against a Catholic girl’s prep school which refused to hire a man who is “married” to another man.
Matthew Barrett applied for a job as the food service director at the Fontbonne Academy in Milton, Massachusetts and was offered the job. When his pre-employment form listed him as having a “husband” the school informed him that they could not hire him.
The news is not that the homosexual community is suing people for doing things they don’t like. That’s actually pretty old news.
The news here is that they’re suing churches, something they assured us would NEVER happen because they just respect religious freedom far too much.
To appreciate the significance of this latest development, a brief review of where we’ve come from is helpful.
Originally they just wanted homosexuality removed from the list of mental disorders. “You don’t have to like it or agree with it” they told us, “all we want is to no longer be told we’re crazy for having feelings we can’t control.”
Then they wanted to get rid of the ban on homosexuality in the military. “Don’t ask, don’t tell. C’mon be reasonable. All we want is the right to serve our country without being forced to lie about who we are.”
Then homosexuality was added to the list of protected classes in non-discrimination laws. “Of course we’re not trying to stop you from having your own beliefs or expressing them however you want, we just don’t want to lose our jobs because we’re gay. It’s not like we’re trying to get married.”
Then it was domestic partnerships with some of the rights and benefits of marriage. “All we want is the right to visit our loved ones in the hospital. How heartless can you be?”
Then domestic partnerships were expanded to have all the rights and benefits of marriage. “We don’t want to change marriage, all we want is the same rights and benefits of marriage. We’re tired of being treated like second class citizens.” And they told that story about wanting to visit people in the hospital again even though it was a non-issue.
Then they decided they needed to redefine marriage after all. “All we want is to change civil marriage. We wouldn’t dream of interfering with a churches right to define marriage however it wants and act accordingly. We love religious freedom. Hey, I go to church too.” And they told the story about wanting to visit loved ones in the hospital…again…because it still worked. Tehehe.
And now they’re suing churches.
Despite the complaint against the Catholic school for making decisions consistent with their church teaching, Bennet Klein, the GLAD lawyer representing Barrett is STILL trying to make the case that he supports religious freedom.
There’s a Baghdad Bob component to all of this that’s actually kind of funny.
In a statement on their website, Bennett Klein, the GLAD lawyer representing Barrett said, “Our laws carefully balance the important values of religious liberty and non-discrimination. When Fontbonne Academy fired Matt from a job that has nothing to do with religion, they came down on the wrong side of the law.”
You see, all of you who think your religious freedoms are being taken away are mistaken. They love religious freedom. In reality they’re just clarifying your confusion about what religion actually is.
In the future, if you have any questions about which parts of your church actually have to do with your religion you can check with your local GLAD lawyer. They’re happy to serve.
Lots of people have been observing the conflict between freedom and the sexual liberty movement from the sideline for decades. I get it. Conflict really isn’t that fun. And isn’t life more fun when everyone thinks you’re awesome?
We’ve come a long ways since homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders and you’ve been quiet all the while. They’re suing churches now. They moved out of the closet, slept on the couch for a while, eventually sent you to the guestroom when they took over the master bedroom, and now you’re standing with all your stuff in the front lawn while a guy is changing the locks on the doors.
At what point does one’s desire to avoid conflict become cowardice? It’s a question worth asking because there are tens of millions of people in America handing over their freedoms without so much as a disapproving look. After all, there’s so much negativity already.
Maybe you resent the implication. Fair enough. Then answer this question. Where is your line in the sand?
Is it when they sue you? Is it when you can no longer get a business license because the state mandated non-discrimination policy to get a business license violates your beliefs? Is it when they sue your church? When they sue your friend’s church? When they close your church? When they put your pastor in jail? When they take your kids from you to prevent your brand of hate from being spread to the next generation?
Or perhaps there is nothing you won’t put up with so long as no one accuses you of being “divisive” or “political”.
Winston Churchill once quipped that an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.
That’s certainly one option.
Or, those who haven’t been eaten yet could just decide to stop the crocodile. Up to you. If you make him stop he’ll certainly be upset with you and may even have some harsh words…in public.
Your motives will be misrepresented, they’ll say you hate gay people, and if you’re a pastor someone is sure to accuse you of co-opting the gospel for political purposes. But, it could allow us to preserve the liberty so many risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor for. Are you sure you’re ready for that?
Yeah, may not be worth it. Here, eat this guy.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about the Family Policy Institute of Washington.
We can, we must, do better for our daughters.
Elayne Bennett underscores this call to action in her recently released book “Daughters in Danger.” She knows first-hand the dangers girls face in our postmodern, hyper-sexualized culture. In 1987, Bennett founded the Best Friends Foundation. The nationwide program — which includes curriculum for middle and high school students — has benefitted more than 30,000 girls across the country.
Through this program, she has seen how open girls are “to the message of maintaining self-control through self-respect.” The program allows them to work within their peer group where their peers will “support them in making good decisions.”
The foundation was so effective, Bennett decided to start the Best Men program in 2000. It provides boys with the tools and environment they need to develop into responsible young men.
Bennett is married to former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, host of “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America.” She took some time to talk about her work with young people, as well as her new book.
CitizenLink: You say in the book that we not only need to protect our own daughters, but all daughters. How do we do that?
Elayne Bennett: First, we need to stand up and speak out for our daughters. Women today under the age of thirty — half of their children are born out of wedlock. We need to pay attention to the culture. As parents, we need to instruct our daughters in what they’re about to face before they face it. Help get them prepared. That’s a tricky assignment for parents: They must raise awareness of the trials their daughter’s must face, but without scaring them or destroying their confidence in the goodness of humanity. We don’t want to unduly frighten them. Another way that we can help is to create alternatives to the pop culture. Pick the right battles. I do believe the sexualization of our youth is the real war on women. As conservative Christians, we need to pay attention to that battle and not let the Left be the party that appears to care more about women and girls than we do. I’m very proud of this organization, American Heritage Girls. They have about 20,000 young girls as members. Because Girl Scouts in many cases have aligned themselves with Planned Parenthood. We need to open our eyes to this and not accept the existing culture, and think there’s nothing we can do. There are definitely things we can do.
CL: In 2008, the Obama administration cut funding for abstinence education. What impact did that have on your programs?
EB: That was close to a death blow for us. We had been funded in the Bush Administration through the community-based abstinence education monies at Health and Human Service for five years. That was in 2007. We had two years of that grant, which enabled us to serve 20 middle schools in D.C. public schools; four middle schools in Charlotte; eight middle schools in Newark; and eight middle schools in Milwaukee. We got the word that our last three years of funding — which was awarded to us through a peer-reviewed, independent review process — was eliminated. That was a tragedy for us.
CL: Explain why this book is so important right now.
EB: The sad fact is that our culture is more vulgar, violent and sexualized than it has ever been. We don’t even know how this is going to have a final impact on our children, particularly our girls. We do know that social media is rampant. Eighty-five percent of middle schoolers have cell phones and text. Ninety-five percent of high schoolers have cell phones. They spend, on average, seven hours a day from ages eight-to-18 in entertainment media. There’s a very strong force in the culture education our children that we really have not faced in a rational and structured way as parents and educators.
CL: You write a lot about college students and the dangers these young women face. What can colleges and universities do to help protect them?
EB: Colleges and universities really must take action. There is unprecedented violence now. Dating violence has increased: One out of four girls report that their intimate partners have been violent to them. Sadly, only about 12 percent ever report that. This is something that I think college administrators need to pay close attention to. Privacy laws have prevented a lot of the safeguards that were prevalent on college campuses. In the past we had single-sex dorms. Now it’s all co-ed. We know that’s not a healthy environment for teenagers. In the last 10 years we have new information that the brain continues to develop up to age 23, and that this very important part of the brain — the pre-frontal cortex which involves impulse inhibition — it involves the ability to pay attention to consequences and long-term consequences of behavior. That’s still developing in the 18-to-22-year-old, and here we’re putting them in situations where they have to make decisions on a day-to-day basis and they’re not even cognitively ready. The universities should be very aware of this.
There are some good things going on at the universities where they’re trying to protect their students before there’s a disaster. There is a Deans No- Contact Order (DNCO) that Princeton has instituted that I think is excellent: If a student, who desires no contact from another student because of former harassment or feeling threatened, this No-Contact Order can be put in place. The harasser must stay away from the other student or face expulsion. This does not involve legal action, but it is a very important step to protect our daughters on campus. The University of Maryland has instituted a GPS tracking device that students can put on their phone. At night, when they’re coming home from the library or they’re walking back to their dorm, they can be tracked by a centralized service. This would have saved Eve Carson’s life at the University of North Carolina when two men broke into her house and ended up killing her. Anything that we can do to protect our daughters should be done. Some of the silliness that we’ve had in the past with regard to personal privacy laws need to be reviewed and thought over again.
CL: One of the things you talk about in the book is the misconception about young people and marriage. Tell me more.
EB: Our students, most of whom are from single parent families, and some of whom don’t know anyone who is married – when I interview them in our anonymous surveys at the end of the year – when we say, ‘Do you want to be married someday,’ the percentage of young girls that want to be married someday is 95 percent. Even more surprising, is that young men see marriage in a positive light. They want a wife and a home and children. And they see that as a good thing. Their percentage was at 97 percent. These were primarily students who were familiar with our program. But we also took a larger sample of students who were just learning about us and came into our program in the 9th grade — and these stats held true. I think the people in our country need to take heart that children really do want to do the right thing.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about “Daughters in Danger.”
Learn more about the Best Friends Foundation.
Learn more about the Best Men program.
A weeklong celebration of God’s design for marriage begins today and will conclude on Valentine’s Day.
National Marriage Week USA began uniting organizations and leaders in 2002, to help marriages thrive. Groups across the country will offer resources and events this week that support the institution.
Marriage that it’s a good thing for you, and it’s a good thing for America, said Sheila Weber, executive director of the campaign.
“We want people to find more success in marriage,” she said. “We want people to have increased marriage education and we want to reduce divorce.”
Marriage not only helps provide children with a loving, stable environment, it also helps reduce poverty. And it helps in other ways, too.
“Research shows that married people do have greater levels of happiness, more financial stability, better health and longer lives,” Weber explained. “We want people to learn how valuable it is to be together and to have it be a happy time. People really do want life-lasting love.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Learn more about National Marriage Week.
Read “Friday 5: Jeff Johnston Talks About How to Teach Your Children About Marriage.”
View and download Focus on the Family’s booklet “Teach Your Children About Marriage.”
Learn more about Focus’ Date Night Challenge 2014.
CitizenLink is proud to work with the Missouri Family Policy Council and other family policy organizations across the country to stand for marriage, life and religious freedom. Learn more about the one in your state.
by the Missouri Family Policy Council
Legislation has been re-introduced in the Missouri General Assembly to provide constitutional protection to the parenting rights of Missouri moms and dads. State Representative Todd Richardson of Poplar Bluff has once again sponsored a proposed Parental Rights Amendment to Missouri’s Constitution.
House Joint Resolution 56 would add a new section to the Bill of Rights in our State Constitution. It would specify “that parents have a fundamental right to exercise exclusive control over the care, custody, and upbringing of their minor children.”
The new language delineates that parents have legal authority to make “all decisions involving the discipline, education, religious instruction, health, medical care, place of habitation, and general well-being” of their minor children.
The most significant public policy impact of Representative Richardson’s proposal would be in the area of education. The amendment would provide a constitutional guarantee to the right of parents to choose the setting of their children’s education, whether it be public schools, private schools, parochial or parish schools, or home education. As such, it would provide homeschooling with constitutional safeguards.
House Joint Resolution 56 would also ensure the instructional independence of private schools and home educators. The amendment would prohibit the state from dictating the content of curriculum used in private schools or in home education. No state official could require inclusion in the curriculum of any materials which conflict with the school’s religious doctrines or a homeschool parent’s religious beliefs.
These provisions are already found in state statute, but would now be inserted into the binding language of the Constitution. In so doing, those protections could not be eliminated or altered without a vote of the people of Missouri.
Representative Richardson’s proposed constitutional amendment was enthusiastically approved by the Missouri House during the 2013 legislative session. Last year’s house joint resolution on parental rights was overwhelmingly approved by a 131-23 vote with genuine bipartisan support. The bill died in the Senate for lack of time to move it through that chamber.
Out of all the essential civil liberties enjoyed by American citizens, the right of parents to guide the upbringing of their children has been one of the most broadly shared and least disputed. Yet there is no language in either the federal or state constitution which formally establishes that fundamental right.
Federal courts have acknowledged the right of parents to decide the destiny of their children for nearly 100 years. In the famous Pierce v. Society of Sisters case of 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that “the child is not merely a creature of the state.” In the Prince case in 1944, the court said: “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care, and nurture of the child rests first with the parents…The private realm of family life is one which the state should not enter except for compelling circumstances.”
In the 1972 case of Wisconsin v. Yoder, the Supreme Court established the principle that parents could choose to educate their children outside of either public or private schools. The Court upheld the right of parents to transfer their moral standards, religious beliefs, and the elements of good citizenship to their children by educating them themselves.
Over the last century, the Supreme Court reasoned that parental rights were a liberty interest bestowed by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. But in the Troxel v. Granville case handed down in the year 2000, the High Court went even further. It defined the privilege of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children as a fundamental right.
The High Court’s validation of parental rights in the Troxel case was sweeping: “The Due Process Clause doe not permit a state to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make childrearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a ‘better’ decision could be made.”
Over the years defender of home education have proposed various parental rights amendments on the state and the federal level. Unfortunately, they have at times suffered from defects in statutory construction. Some have failed to effectively constrain intrusion by the state into family life. Others have failed to explicitly preserve the legitimate interest of the state to safeguard the welfare of children in serious cases of child abuse, sexual abuse, and child neglect.
House Joint Resolution 56 recognizes the many valid child protection provisions of Missouri law designed to ensure the safety of children whose life or health may be in true jeopardy. Yet the language of HJR 56 reaffirms the legal standard employed in state and federal courts that parental custody cannot be removed until a parent has been proven to be unfit through clear and convincing evidence.
The future fate of home education in the United States has been called into question by recent actions of the Obama Administration. The controversy surrounds a homeschooling family from Germany that has sought political asylum in the United States. The Romeike family fled Germany when they were harassed and fined by government officials for failing to enroll their children in the public schools.
The U.S. Justice Department has strongly opposed the Romeike’s request for political asylum. In a brief filed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by Obama Administration lawyers, the Justice Department stated that laws that prohibit home education “do not violate basic human rights.” This is a clear and total contradiction to the federal case law we have described above.
Should the Missouri Parental Rights Amendment be endorsed by both chambers of the Missouri Legislature, it would be submitted to a vote of the people later this year. The proposition would go before Missouri voters on the November general election ballot, unless the Governor chose to place it on the August primary ballot.
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Learn more about the Missouri Family Policy Council.