For Wheaton, a Supremely Gratifying Decision
The Supreme Court's term may be over, but the debate certainly isn't. Four days after hanging up their robes for the summer, the justices made another splash on the HHS mandate -- this time, taking a bite out of the President's outrageous "compromise." Last year, when the backlash over the mandate was too much for the White House to handle, the President announced an "accommodation," for religious groups -- which, it turns out, only accommodates his agenda of forcing people to cover pills and procedures they morally object to.
Essentially, the Obama administration suggested that religious groups still pay for the "health care" they oppose, but use a third-party to do so. Unfortunately, faith-based groups pointed out, the cost-shifting doesn't change anything. There's a slight adjustment in how the accounting is done for the drugs or services that violate people's consciences -- but, in the end, the President's "compromise" is just a bookkeeping gimmick that hides the coverage in the plan.
It's even more ridiculous when you consider that self-insured nonprofits are their own insurance companies -- so even a flimsy buffer like the President's wouldn't protect them. As FRC has pointed out, it's a political fig leaf that does nothing to alter the President's underlying discrimination against religious organizations.
But unfortunately, that fig leaf is what's holding the feet of faith-based charities, colleges, and hospitals to the mandate's fire. More than four dozen lawsuits are winding their way through the courts -- including a challenge from Illinois's Wheaton College, a Christian school near Chicago. On Thursday, the justices took the sting out of the mandate for Wheaton, at least temporarily, until the case makes its way to the Court. By a 6-3 vote, the majority issued an emergency injunction in favor of the college -- a decision that put the second phase of the mandate fight in the spotlight.
While the injunction doesn't mean that the justices would necessarily strike the mandate down for religious nonprofits, it does suggest that they see through the administration's money-shuffling sham. "Anything that forces unwilling religious believers to be part of the system is not going to pass the test," said Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
In the meantime, faith-based groups have some company in the mandate's disgruntled camp. This non-existent firewall isn't just offensive -- it's expensive. As one expert explains, "There was no budget money set aside for this. There's certainly no money that is part of the Affordable Care Act appropriations. I can see why the third-party administrators would be concerned."
The Washington Post puts it this way: "It's a complex solution that hasn't worked in the real world, said the third-party administrators... providing the birth-control benefit, because the government hasn't figured out how to pay them back." In other words, the President's "solution" is putting these go-betweens on the hook for pills and procedures that even the government isn't prepared to cover. Since the accounting gimmick was introduced, none of U.S.'s 300 TPAs (third-parties) has "found an insurer willing to join with it." And no wonder! The costs, Alex Wayne points out, could run "in the millions of dollars."
Meanwhile, women aren't exactly suffering from a lack of contraception and abortifacients. A new report just released found that the rate of insured women who got free birth control soared to 56% last year from just 14% in 2012. So if there is a "war on women," it's on women with religious beliefs -- who seem to be the only ones hurting under the law.
Upside Down Parenting Study Down Under
The Washington Post could barely contain its excitement in a new headline, "Children of same-sex couples are happier and healthier than peers, research shows." This was double trouble, since the Post got its analysis wrong, and the latest study out of Australia suffers from the same flaws as almost all other pro-homosexual parenting research. The study is not of same-sex couples, but of "same-sex attracted parents," who may or may not be in a relationship. It found that children with such a parent scored higher on measures of "general health," "general behavior," and "family cohesion" -- yet lower (by less than the margin of error) on "mental health."
But the data are of dubious value to begin with, because they are based on the parents' own self-report ("My kid is doing great!") rather than a more objective measure; and they are drawn from a "convenience sample" (like people responding to an ad in the "gay" media) rather than a genuinely random one. The distortion this introduces is clear from the socioeconomic profile of the sample -- 73% of the homosexual parents had at least a college degree (vs. 28% of all Australian mothers), and 59% (79% of the men) had household incomes over $100,000 in Australian dollars (the median Australian household income is only $64,168).
In his 2012 research, sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin turned the conventional wisdom of the politically correct academic world on its head by proving that children raised by homosexual parents do suffer disadvantages when compared to children raised by their married mother and father. FRC's Peter Sprigg analyzed the study -- published in the journal Social Science Research. He and others confirmed that it was the most careful, rigorous, and methodologically sound study ever conducted on the issue -- which explains why liberals have tried so desperately to discredit it.
Regnerus's research found numerous and significant differences between these groups -- with the outcomes for children of homosexuals rated "suboptimal" (Regnerus's word) in almost every category. His study remains the gold standard for such research -- and it clearly showed children do better with a married mom and dad.
Houston Tries to Put a Lid on Bathroom Bill
The Houston City Council may have voted on the Mayor's controversial "bathroom bill," but they won't have the final say. A month after liberals muscled their twisted sexual agenda through the city legislature, Texas Values and concerned locals across the city are breathing new life into the debate that many thought was over. Within days, local voters kicked off a petition drive with the goal of gathering enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot.
And according to people on the ground, they've succeeded. Through the No Unequal Rights Coalition, Texas Values head Jonathan Saenz, local pastors, and other conservatives are doing what they can to repeal the measure that forces local businesses to celebrate homosexuality and allows men and women to use the bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers of their choosing -- regardless of their gender.
Opponents of the ordinance, who dubbed it Mayor Annise Parker's "Sexual Predator Protection Act," have certified more than 31,000 signatures (almost double the requirement!) -- with another 19,000 waiting to be verified. Last Thursday, the coalition hosted a rally to "declare their independence" from a law that tramples religious liberty, public safety, and free speech.
Our hats go off to the determined people of Houston, who refuse to give in to the sexual tyranny of the Left. We stand with them in their push to protect America's fourth largest city from this assault on our fundamental freedoms.
** For more on last week's epic Supreme Court ruling, don't miss FRC's Ken Blackwell on MSNBC.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.