Fa La La La Law to Protect Our Troops
Long before "Duck Dynasty," other camouflaged Americans were being persecuted for their beliefs: U.S. service members. Now, thanks to Congress, our brave men and women will finally have the legislative armor they need. It took until almost midnight, but when the Senate passed the Defense Authorization bill, it was worth the wait. After a year-long struggle against the forces of political correctness, leaders stood together in defense of our troops' right to speak and act openly on their faith.
With overwhelming bipartisan support (84-15), the Senate approved the legislation with Sen. Mike Lee's (R-Utah) military conscience language -- handing FRC and its supporters one of the biggest victories yet in the battle for religious liberty. Under the bill (which still awaits the President's signature), Congress moves the current law from protecting religious beliefs to also protecting the expressions of those beliefs. For service members who've become increasingly afraid to even share their faith, this language is a game-changer. It frees our troops from the fear of retaliation, which so many have experienced under this administration.
In the last year, Americans have watched in horror as service members were harassed, reprimanded, or relieved of their duties just for practicing their faith in a real and tangible way. Some, like Master Sgt. Phillip Monk (whose story you can watch here), were punished -- not because they were outspoken about their values -- but because they refused to embrace the administration's. On issues like marriage, where there's still a very real divide, Obama's Pentagon came down even harder. Men and women who embraced the majority opinion on marriage were even bigger targets.
Under this bill, those service members can breathe a sigh of relief that their careers will no longer be threatened for exercising the rights that they've dedicated their lives to defend. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of the conservative champions behind Lee's amendment, said he "feel[s] strongly that we have a good bill." Like Lee and others, he was committed to bringing the full weight of Congress to bear on the Obama Defense Department, which had refused to issue a guidance on this very topic -- leaving troops vulnerable and victimized.
Although there are still some lingering issues with the overall bill, the Senate will work out the kinks when it returns to D.C. in January. Until then, we commend our coalition partners and Senators Lee, Inhofe, U.S. Reps. John Fleming (R-La.), Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), and other leaders who worked so hard to defend the religious liberties of America's men and women in uniform. To our supporters, who funded our efforts, called their members, signed petitions, and helped raise awareness on the threat, thank you for partnering with us! Your involvement helped us deliver the best Christmas present our troops could ask for!
The Mighty Duck Dynasty
By now, A&E must be wondering if this "Duck Dynasty" conflict is a fight they should have picked. The outpouring of support for the network's biggest stars is so overwhelming that even the mainstream media is taken aback. Facebook pages and petitions in support of Phil Robertson, the patriarch of "Duck Dynasty," are shattering records on almost every social media platform. In 24 hours, one A&E boycott campaign had more than 1,000,000 likes (200,000 of which came in the first two hours). The backlash against the network's suspension of Robertson and the pro-homosexual ringleader, GLAAD, is so fierce that Twitter could barely keep up with the "I Stand with Phil" hashtags. Even PR experts are weighing in, explaining how the family's brand could flourish for their stance. With Americans rushing to their side, the Robertsons released a statement last night thanking fans for their prayers and support and reaffirming their support for biblical truth, including the definition of marriage.
"The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E's decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil's unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family."
FRC continues to cheer on the Robertsons, as they show our nation what true faith and courage look like. If there were ever a chance for the average God-fearing American to push back against the radical movement to silence Christians, this is it. Last night on Fox News's "The Kelly File," I explained why. If you missed the interview, check out the video below. Also, I had the privilege of hosting what I believe was one of our best "Washington Watch" radio programs yet, as guests Sen. Rick Santorum, Todd Starnes, and others gave us their take on Duck-palooza and its ability to turn the entire marriage and religious liberty debates on their heads. (Click here to listen.) If you haven't signed FRC's petition to take a Duck Stand, log on here and join the thousands of Americans tired of the Left's double standard on free speech!
Bowen to the Agenda, Not the Law
While the American people are finally feeling the pain of same-sex "marriage," the courts seem intent on inflicting more. Yesterday, while the nation's eyes were on the most famous victim of the movement to redefine marriage, New Mexico became another.
By a unanimous vote, the judges invented a right for homosexuals to marry across the state, alleging that it was unconstitutional for voters to deny them the opportunity. "The members of the LGBT community do not have sufficient political strength to protect themselves from purposeful discrimination," they wrote (although Wednesday's events -- and the events of the past few years -- would strongly contradict that statement). Because of this "political powerlessness," the judges insisted, it was up to the court to step in and protect them. In their outrageous overreach, the court struck down the state's marriage laws -- making New Mexico the 17th state to create counterfeit marriage. While liberals take a victory lap, state conservatives are hunkering down to undo the court's damage. "If they are saying banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, we need to make it constitutional," said State Sen. Bill Sharer (R).
Meanwhile in California, Secretary of State Debra Bowen continued the day's theme of lawlessness by refusing to count two counties' petitions to repeal the Governor's gender-free bathroom bill for minors. Led by our good friend Pastor Jack Hibbs, the Privacy for All Students coalition to repeal AB 1266 had blown past the 504,760 signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot -- and now, one woman's personal political agenda could be the one thing standing in the way of a vote. At stake are the names collected from two counties, Tulare and Mono.
As Pastor Jack tells it, an overnight courier service tried to deliver the signatures. But, for reasons unknown to anyone, the Registrar's office closed early before a three-day weekend. With two days left until the deadline, the delivery service put the package in the mail slot -- but since County personnel didn't get back to their offices until Monday, they refused to process the petitions, claiming it was past the date for validity. Although the coalition submitted 115,000 more signatures than the law requires, Pastor Jack is asking for prayer. If it takes a court order to force Bowen to do her job, so be it.
That's what it took in Houston, where Mayor Annise Parker, an open lesbian, defied Texas law and unilaterally started issuing same-sex "marriage" benefits to the city's homosexual couples. Led by the Harris County Republican Party, locals took the mayor to court -- and won a temporary victory. Late Thursday, a state district court judge ordered Mayor Parker to "cease and desist" from providing benefits to "gay spouses." "This is an important victory for the Texas Constitution, the rule of law and government accountability," said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values. "Mayor Parker is not above the law and this court ruling should be a strong reminder statewide that if any other elected official or government employee attempts to violate the Texas Constitution and state law on marriage, there will be consequences." A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for early January. Let's hope the court follows in this judge's footsteps and puts an end to the lawlessness!
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.