Marriage: To Have and to Holder
When Attorney General Eric Holder went to the Human Rights Campaign's gala on Saturday, he didn't come empty-handed. The country's chief law enforcement officer, who headlined the New York bash, spent a good portion of his 20-minute speech celebrating the latest injustice at the Department of Justice: a sweeping set of new benefits for same-sex "spouses."
For the DOJ's encore performance (it already shrugged off Utah's law to gift a bundle of benefits there), Holder told the ecstatic crowd that his agency would expand its generosity to every state -- regardless of what their laws say about marriage. "This means that, in every courthouse, in every proceeding, and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States -- they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law," explained the only sitting Cabinet member ever to be held in contempt of Congress.
The DOJ, which may as well be a satellite office of the HRC, has been all too happy to run point for homosexual activists, throwing bouquet after taxpayer-funded bouquet to unions that 33 states don't recognize. In this latest adventure in lawlessness, Holder shreds marriage laws on everything from bankruptcy policy, alimony, prison visits, access to the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund, survivorship benefits, and other perks reserved for legal spouses. "...[T]he road ahead will be anything but easy. Always remember that progress is not inevitable and that positive change occurs only through commitment and through struggle." And for the Obama administration, fierce defiance of the rule of law. For Holder, whose career is littered with scandal, this move puts the DOJ on a collision course -- not just with the states, but with the Constitution he was sworn to defend.
There's been a lot of talk from the Obama administration about what homosexuals are "entitled" to -- but not what voters are entitled to... like having their voices and ballots count. As an attorney (and America's most prominent one at that), Eric Holder should understand better than anyone what the U.S. Supreme Court meant when it ruled that the federal government must respect "state sovereign choices about who may be married" and criticized any attempt to "put a thumb on the scales and influence a state's decision as to how to shape its own marriage laws." With this announcement, Holder isn't just putting a thumb on the scales -- he's putting the weight of the entire government on them!
"All of these steps forward are worth celebrating," he told the crowd, "But I also want to make one thing very clear... they are only the beginning." And that's exactly what Americans are afraid of. Every American with an appreciation for the rule of law, for self-governance, and freedom must remember this act of arrogance in November when voters can send a message by firing the leaders who have aided and abetted this President. In the meantime, Holder's colossal overreach is a powerful reminder of why Congress should pass the State Marriage Defense Act (H.R. 3829). For now, it may be the only way to wall off the states from another invasion of this President's radical marriage policy. Where state leaders can resist this tyranny, they must.
In Indiana, FRC experts are on the ground hoping to help the state senate hold the line on a marriage amendment that could hinge on 20 words. The House passed a different version of the bill, striking the ban on civil unions and throwing the entire debate in doubt. Under Indiana law, any changes to the legislation will send the process back to the starting line -- denying voters a voice until at least 2016. FRC's Peter Sprigg flew back to the Hoosier State to testify on the importance of the bill before the Senate Rules Committee. The choice now lies with the state senate. It can restore the second sentence -- or sentence voters to another four years without a say.
Where's the Brief?
Conscience, James Madison said, is the most sacred of all property. Today, the biggest trespassers of that property are the President's own administration. Pitting his personal agenda against 223 years of religious freedom, the White House insists that surrendering your beliefs is just the price of doing business in America. Under ObamaCare's HHS mandate, if employers refuse to pay for pills or procedures that violate their conscience, the federal government will exact a price. And in Hobby Lobby's case, a hefty one. Staring down more than $26 million in fines each year, the Green family took the administration to court.
If the President won't protect the First Amendment, Hobby Lobby is hoping the Supreme Court will. This afternoon, the Greens, with help from their attorneys at the Becket Fund, filed their official brief with the Supreme Court. At last count, the amicus briefs supporting the Hobby Lobby (including FRC's) outnumbered opponents' two-to-one. When the administration ordered Christians to turn their backs on their beliefs and fund potentially life-destroying drugs, the White House was asking for a fight. And this year, they got it.
Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and I explain what the case means to every freedom-loving American in a joint op-ed for USA Today. Click here to read why the nation stands with Hobby Lobby. Their fate -- and the fate of 317 million American's religious liberty -- depend on it.
Kansas Leading the Way with Ethical Stem Cells
It seems every time you turn around there's some new non-embryonic stem cell discovery. The latest? "Stressing" normal adult cells to transform them into embryonic-like stem cells (similar to induced stem cells that won the Nobel Prize in 2012). An acid bath or stretching quickly makes stem cells -- ethically -- and without creating or destroying embryos. But the gold standard remains adult stem cells, taken from bone marrow, cord blood, and other tissues. These stem cells that exist in all of our bodies are improving health and saving lives right now! Kansas is becoming a leader in this area, creating a comprehensive adult stem cell therapy center. Started in July 2013, the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center has already set up its lab and treated its first patients.
FRC's own Dr. David Prentice sits on the center's inaugural Advisory Board, an enthusiastic group that will help guide the new center, and attended its first meeting last week. And though the update to the legislature was postponed due to the Kansas blizzard, the snowfall can't chill the stampede of ethical stem cell therapies and research that's begun in the Heartland. You can see some real life examples of lives saved by adult stem cells at FRC's Stem Cell Research Facts website.
** Last night I was thrilled to join the folks in Lubbock, TX for their annual fundraiser supporting the work of Heartline Women's Pregnancy Resource Center. Late last year the city's only abortion clinic shut its doors giving the pro-life community the opportunity to expand their reach into community to meet the needs of women and their unborn children. FRC is grateful for the 2,300 plus Pregnancy Care Centers that dot the landscape of America coming alongside these mothers helping them make the choice of life.
*** The Super Bowl may be over, but the child prostitution that surrounds it isn't. FRC's newest policy expert, Arina Grossu, tackles the dark world of modern slavery in a new piece for the Christian Post, "How Do We Eradicate Sex Trafficking?"
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.