More Life in the House
Last month's successful vote on the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the U.S. House, which restricts abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, appears to have given a boost to pro-life efforts in states like Texas and North Carolina. There's more good news on the pro-life front here in Washington, as House appropriators tackled the funding of abortion in an Obamacare program.
We've written about the many abortion problems with Obamacare, but a lesser-known problem involves the program Obamacare created called "multi-state plans." This program will provide government contracted health plans across state lines. The plans offered will be managed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which already oversees federal employee health plans and these plans can include abortion coverage.
Pro-life Congressman Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.) had already introduced the "Stop Abortion Funding in Multi-State Exchange Plans Act" or "SAFE Act" (H.R. 346) precisely to prevent these government plans from covering abortion. Since OPM and other agencies, like the Treasury Department, are funded each year by the Financial Services Appropriations bill, the Congressman thought "why not use this spending bill as an opportunity to defend life?" That's exactly what Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and the Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) did.
The bill each year already includes Rep. Chris Smith's (R-N.J.) pro-life provision barring funds for abortion coverage in the federal health employee benefits plans, and a provision barring funding of abortion in the District of Columbia, so they thought it reasonable to include it in the OPM-run multi-state plans. A majority on the committee agreed and the bill passed yesterday in the subcommittee with the Nunnelee language!
However, pro-abortion stalwart Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) has already threatened to offer amendments in the full committee next week to strike the Nunnelee language. Like other pro-life funding provisions on the appropriations bill, this one needs your support. You can find a listing of the committee members here, and you can contact them at (202) 224-3121.
Flying Into the Storm of Intolerance
The Air Force brass may be experts at flying planes, but they need to go back to basic training when it comes to fulfilling their oath to defend the Constitution. They should pay particular attention to the First Amendment, which guarantees the free exercise of religion. TSgt. Layne Wilson, a 27-year service member of the Utah Air National Guard, is finding out that reporting a violation of the law is enough to ruin a career if that report should be deemed politically incorrect. Last December, Wilson was reprimanded after writing a letter to West Point expressing opposition to a same-sex ceremony held in the West Point chapel.
His letter reported a clear violation of DOMA, which was the law of the land at the time and remained so until the Supreme Court's decision two weeks ago. "This is wrong on so many levels," wrote TSgt. Wilson. "If they wanted to get married in a hotel that is one thing. Our base chapels are a place of worship and this is a mockery to God and our military core values. I have proudly served 27 years and this is a slap in the face to us who have put our lives on the line for this country. I hope sir that you will take appropriate action so this does not happen again."
Instead of responding to his valid concerns, the commandant filed a complaint with TSgt. Wilson's superiors. He then received a reprimand letter and was told that his six-year contract would be canceled. The Air Force instead gave him a one year extension and let him know that his views on homosexuality were incompatible with military service. Lt. Col. Kevin Tobias said in a memo, "I'm not comfortable reenlisting him with his strong feelings about this matter." Unfortunately, these threats are becoming all too common in the all-volunteer armed forces. On May 2nd, an Air Force spokesperson told Fox News that "Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable." The chilling effect of this "uncomfortable" standard is undeniable. Sharing one's faith not only invites discrimination but is also potentially career ending. This is why FRC and our allies announced earlier this week the formation of a coalition dedicated to protecting the freedom of the men and women who guard ours. As part of this new effort, FRC released a special report documenting how pervasive religious hostility has become in the military. Sadly, the dozens of examples cited in the report are only a sampling of this campaign to scrub faith from our troops. The coalition also unveiled a new website, MilitaryFreedom.org, to provide a place for service members to receive legal help as they face violations of their God-given, constitutional rights. There, you can watch the video from Tuesday's news conference and read our special publication, "A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military."
Thankfully, we are encouraged that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are growing increasingly frustrated and are lining up to support U.S. Rep. John Fleming's (R-La.) amendment to the Defense Authorization bill which will help end the wave of anti-Christian attacks by protecting the right of service members to not only hold religious beliefs but to act on them and freely practice those beliefs. If you haven't already done so, please contact your senators and ask them to adopt the House language in the Defense bill.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.