America: Land of the Freed?
Maya Ibrahim turns one month old this week, and a Sudanese court is giving the newborn quite a present: her freedom. After months of uncertainty, Maya's mom, Meriam, may finally be introducing her young daughter to life outside Khartoum's suffocating prison walls. The tiny family, which had been subjected to the worst of conditions inside the women's jail, got word today that the international pressure bearing down on the African nation was too much for Sudan to bear. Two weeks into its appeals hearing, judges reversed Meriam's execution sentence and ordered her release.
Around the globe, people cheered the news -- which, given the State Department's indifference, some doubted would ever come. Meriam's attorney, Elshareef Mohammed, heard the report on the radio like everyone else and was rushing to "see if this is true" after a false alarm a couple weeks back. If the story is true, then the real celebration will be on hold until the family is safe and sound. As the Sudanese point out, Meriam's life may be more endangered as a Christian woman outside the prison than in. She still needs a secure place to call home -- especially in a radical Muslim country, where even her siblings could be a threat.
According to reports, Meriam was "sent to an unknown house to stay at for her protection." The young family "had been threatened before, and we are worried that someone might try to harm her." Safwan Abobaker, who is with the U.S. activist group Hardwired, echoed the calls of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others who want the American government to give Meriam the asylum she needs. "It is better for her to come to America now," Abobaker explained, "as her half-brother said that he would kill her if the court did not carry out the sentence."
As FRC pointed out before, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has the authority to unilaterally grant Meriam and her children safe haven -- yet like his boss, President Obama, he refuses to give aid to a mother and two children who are facing death simply for being Christians. Fortunately, where the Obama administration has fallen short, House and Senate conservatives have not. Congressmen from Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) to Senators Cruz, Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) were doing the heavy lifting -- while not a single White House official met with the Sudanese ambassador.
Maybe if Secretary John Kerry weren't so busy purchasing rainbow flags for the Israeli embassy, he could have used his influence to push for Meriam's safe haven. More than 53,000 Americans have signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition calling on the Obama administration to offer just that. Now that she and her children are free, Secretary Kerry should prioritize their paperwork and reunite this family permanent on U.S. soil.
In the meantime, take heart. This is why we get involved in the political process. By electing men and women who care about the rights of Christians to Congress, even if they are not in the majority, these leaders can still use their influence to advocate for those who have no voice. Meriam's story is a prime example of that. A mother and two young children's lives have potentially been spared, because you got involved. Now it's time for the administration to do its part and act. For more Meriam's story, tune in to my interview on Fox News's "Kelly File" tonight at 9:00 p.m. (ET).
Radical Priorities Kerry the Day
If the State Department isn't busy bringing Meriam home or dealing with the imploding Middle East, what exactly is it doing? According to Secretary Kerry, he's "working hard to… have lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ambassadors." Like his boss, Kerry foreign policy seems to be a foreign concept for this administration, whose only real overseas "progress" is bullying other nations into accepting this President's twisted sexual agenda.
During last week's LGBT pep rally at the State Department, Kerry's rah-rah moment was saying that if confirmed, Ted Osius would be the sixth openly homosexual ambassador. "… We now have hundreds of LGBT individuals in our bureaus at State, USAID, and at posts all around the world." Of course, what Kerry neglected to mention is that many of those posts are in complete and utter turmoil -- in large part because the Obama administration is too obsessed with its homosexual agenda to focus on the real priority of protecting America's national interests. It all confirms what former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in his book -- the only time he sensed passion from the President about any issue involving the military was overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Meanwhile, U.S. veterans (if they aren't on waiting lists for health care) watch helplessly as the blood they poured out to give the Iraqis their freedom is lost while this administration pushes its sexual agenda. No wonder Governor Bobby Jindal (R-La.) is talking about a rebellion brewing in this country. "[P]eople are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C. to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren." When you juxtapose what's happening at the State Department with what's happening in the rest of the world, it's easy to see why the President's credibility is in shambles.
Cemetery Push a Dead Giveaway for VA Agenda
Unfortunately for Americans, those mixed-up priorities aren't just a waste of time for the country -- but for Congress as well. As the President's agenda spills over into the legislative realm, conservatives are forced to play defense on a host of issues that no one ever thought possible. At the VA, where officials should be focused on cleaning up the embarrassment of a health care scam, the new secretary, Sloan Gibson, is diverting attention to death benefits for veterans' same-sex "spouses."
According to Attorney General Eric Holder, "Gibson will examine if there is evidence of a 'committed relationship' between a veteran and his or her spouse, and if there is, may permit burial of those spouses in national cemeteries" (where, incidentally, there is barely room for our brave men and women). At HHS, officials seem intent on celebrating "gay pride" by lifting the ban on sexual reassignment surgery for federal employees. Following in Medicare's footsteps, the health agency is giving the green light for insurers to cover the controversial procedure for government workers after decades of refusal.
Not to be outdone, the Department of Labor issued a rule late Friday giving same-sex "spouses" the ability to take time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. As our own Peter Sprigg told USA Today, "This clearly goes beyond the executive branch's authority. The federal government should not put the thumb on the scale in terms of how states define marriage."
Fortunately, the good guys still had time, despite these setbacks, to make progress. Thanks to the Hill's pro-lifers, Congress is one step closer to blocking taxpayer-funded abortion on the ObamaCare exchanges. In committee, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) is taking over where Rep. Alan Nunnalee (R-Miss.) left off with a blanket prohibition that would block OPM from administering any plan -- anywhere -- that covers abortion. Their bill, Stop Abortion Funding in Multi-state Exchanges Act (or SAFE), keeps the Obama administration from reaching over federal law to expand its culture of death.
In other positive news, under a measure passed by the House today, the World War II Memorial will soon have a new addition: a plaque with the text of President Franklin Roosevelt's D-Day prayer. It's a subtle but symbolic victory for America's spiritual heritage -- one the capitol city could stand to be reminded of.
** While the country waits for the Supreme Court's ruling on Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, FRC's team is busy analyzing the implications. Check out Emily Minick's new Washington Times op-ed, "Conscience on Trial." Also, for more on the big picture of Meriam Ibrahim's case, don't miss Travis Weber's piece, "Why Religious Freedom in Sudan Matters to All of Us." Last but not least, FRC's Common Core expert, Sarah Perry, tackles the fallout of Obama's education takeover in Townhall's "The Un-duping of America."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.