Going DUMB on DOMA
Today was the second historic hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the future of marriage in America. Today, they heard a challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA is not new to FRC because we helped lead the efforts for it in the 90s. The Defense of Marriage Act specified that states would not have to recognize same-sex "marriages" from other states and defined marriage for all federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman. Only the latter provision has been challenged in court, but advocates for redefining marriage have been simultaneously trying to repeal the entire law in Congress.
The legal arguments today were complicated by the fact that President Obama and his Justice Department have chosen to abdicate their responsibility to defend federal laws in court, and have instead joined in declaring DOMA unconstitutional. This forced the House of Representatives, in the form of its "Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group" (BLAG), to intervene to defend the law. FRC's Senior Fellows Chris Gacek and Ken Klukowski, both attorneys, were at the Supreme Court for the oral arguments, and Chris said not to believe media spin that DOMA took a total beating. He reported that Paul Clement, the former U.S. Solicitor General hired by the House BLAG to defend DOMA, gave the strongest performance of any attorney in the two days of arguments.
No amount of legal footwork by those seeking redefinition of marriage can change the fact that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad. It's not just about love between adults, it's about civilization. That's a compelling reason for both California and the federal government to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and for the Supreme Court to uphold both Proposition 8 and DOMA.
There is Life Beyond DC!
Conservatives are rightly dismayed by many of the actions of the current Administration, but this week we can celebrate some true victories in North Dakota--victories achieved in large part due to the leadership and energy of two of FRC's top pro-life advocates coming alongside state leaders.
After testifying multiple times, over a period of several weeks, before various committees of the North Dakota legislature, Dr. David Prentice and Anna Higgins, JD, effectively educated that state's lawmakers who ultimately voted to "ban abortions performed solely for the purpose of gender selection and genetic abnormalities" and to "ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat." Legislators approved another measure that "requires admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital for any physician who performs abortions in North Dakota" so that the courts can decide what kind of "precise restriction" there is on doctors who perform abortions. These precedent-setting bills have been signed into law by Governor Jack Dalrymple (R-N.D.).
Dr. Prentice, the world's leading expert on adult stem cell research, and Anna, who directs FRC's Center for Human Dignity, convincingly and persuasively spoke for the sanctity of unborn life and the well-being of mothers. I'm honored to lead a team of passionate and articulate professionals like David and Anna, who are helping change America, one state at a time.
Florida Atlantic University in Hot Water over "Jesus Stomping" Case
These days it can be difficult to live out your Christian faith on college campuses. On one Florida University campus, it is especially difficult for students whose grade point average depends on their willingness to stomp on Jesus. Ask Florida Atlantic University Junior Ryan Rotela. When Rotela refused to participate in a classroom assignment that would involve jumping on a sheet of paper bearing Jesus' name, as a way to "discuss the importance of symbols in culture," he was immediately suspended from class and brought up on academic charges after reporting this activity to university officials. Rotela did not want to participate in the exercise, as it violated his religious beliefs.
The University finally backed down yesterday but only after Liberty Institute threatened legal action and Fox News reporter Todd Starnes brought this latest incident of religious persecution to the attention of millions. Liberty Institute, which represented Rotela, declared victory in this case, as officials from Florida Atlantic University apologized and removed the academic charges from his record. Hiram Sasser, Director of Litigation, at Liberty Institute, was thankful. Sasser said, "Decades ago, the Supreme Court ruled that students do not leave their First Amendment rights at the school house gate: That is still true today."
In addition to that victory, Florida Governor Rick Scott has asked the state's university system to look into this incident and to ensure that this type of lesson will not take place again. Scott said, in a letter to the chancellor, "The professor's lesson was offensive, and even intolerant, to Christians and those of all faiths who deserve to be respected as Americans entitled to religious freedom." Bravo to Ryan for standing firm in his faith even in the face of harassment and threats. You have inspired millions to keep standing firm for their biblical beliefs and First Amendment rights.
** FRC has been at the forefront of the recent Supreme Court oral arguments. Don't miss my appearance on Fox News' "America Live with Megyn Kelly," as I debated why the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold natural marriage. You can watch the clip below. Also, don't miss my appearance on Fox Business' "Lou Dobbs Tonight," at 7:00 p.m. (ET), as well as Ken Klukowski's appearance on PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," at 6:15 p.m. (ET).
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.