Family Research Council

January 13, 2014 - Monday

Obama's Same-sex Marriage Ring Leader

Justice Secretary Eric Holder was already held in contempt of Congress -- but a Supreme Court reprimand may not be far behind. Regardless of where the justices fall on the question of same-sex "marriage," they probably had to pick their jaws up off the floor after the country's chief law enforcer put the Court's latest marriage decisions through the paper shredder and promised to validate Utah's same-sex "weddings" after the Court's stay on counterfeit marriages. In plain rebellion to the justices' June ruling, Holder announced that DOJ would take matters into its own hands and offer more than 1,000 federal benefits to couples, who, under state law, aren't even legally married!

Back in December, Judge Robert Shelby took a wild leap, declaring Utah's marriage amendment unconstitutional -- a leap the Supreme Court put on hold until the appeals court could weigh in. In a video statement Friday, Holder took the administration's lawlessness to shocking heights, vowing that he would do what Utah and the Supreme Court would not: "I am confirming today that for purposes of federal law these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages." The administration's announcement came just two days after Utah officials put these benefits on ice, explaining that they would exhaust their legal options before trampling on the will of 66% of state voters.

Even the mainstream media seemed taken aback at Holder's overreach. "What is unusual about the attorney general's action," wrote one reporter, "is that the government routinely waits until an issue has been fully litigated to a final resolution before it takes action rewarding one side in the litigation." It's unclear, he went on, how the Attorney General could "find a constitutional right the Supreme Court has not yet recognized." In truth, Holder is doing the exact opposite of what justices ordered, which is to honor "state sovereign choices about who may be married."

This twist is more than a little ironic, especially since President Obama has always insisted that he supports states' rights on marriage. Apparently, he's "evolved" on that too. While the administration takes a torch to the 10th Amendment, Utah officials are still trying to sort out the legal mess. Their job just got a lot more complicated now that Holder has elevated himself above the Supreme Court, Congress, Governor Gary Herbert, and Utah voters. "This is another example of the Obama administration's disrespect for the rule of law," fumed Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). "States must be permitted to not recognize same-sex marriage if they so choose, without being trampled on by the federal courts and the Obama administration."

Congressman Joe Pitts was equally furious, citing the obvious political motivation behind the decision. The administration "should have allowed the court to rule before making this decision." For Republicans, this is exactly the ammunition they need to push Rep. Randy Weber's (R-Texas) State Marriage Defense Act, introduced last week to protect voters from lawless oversteps like Holder's. Without it, the administration's contempt for the law and the basic democratic process is what makes states like Utah vulnerable. Under Rep. Weber's bill, the federal government could no longer barge in to states and stomp all over their marriage amendments. Instead of undermining state laws, the federal government would be bound by them.

If the President won't respect states' authority, Congress will force him to. As FRC's Leanna Baumer points out in a new op-ed on the subject, every American -- regardless of their opinion on marriage -- should agree that this kind of administrative chaos hurts the democratic process. And until something is done to rein in this President, let this be a warning to every state that under this administration their laws are fair game. To stop this kind of lawlessness from coming to your home state, contact your representative and ask him to sponsor Congressman Weber's bill.

Standing at the Gates of History

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates spills plenty of secrets in his new book -- but the President's obsession with repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" isn't one of them. Anyone who followed the debate over open homosexuality in the military could see the White House's fierce determination to overturn the policy -- no matter what it meant for our troops and our nation's security. In fact, Gates says, when it came to the military, DADT was probably the only issue the President was truly emotional about. The former Defense boss was surprised by President Obama's general indifference, especially after working for George W. Bush.

"One quality I missed in Obama was passion, especially when it came to the two wars. In my presence, Bush... was passionate about the war on Iraq; on occasion... I would see his eyes well up. I worked longer for Obama than Bush, and I never saw his eyes well up." He writes that "the only military matter, apart from the leaks, about which I ever sensed deep passion on his part was 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT). For him, changing the law seemed to be the inevitable next step in the civil rights movement."

Although Gates objected to ramming the change through Congress, the book exposes a great failure on the author's part not to do something about it. The former Secretary should have lived up to the book's title and done his duty to the troops entrusted to his care. By not having the nerve to speak up on issues that put lives on the line, Gates presided over one of the most devastating political attacks on our troops in modern history. That's not leadership.

True leaders like Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon (USA-Ret.) understand that. The Army's Pacific Commander in 2011 put his three stars on the line to speak frankly about his reservations on the repeal of DADT. While others stood in the shadows, Gen. Mixon -- knowing it could cost him his job -- went to bat for his brave men and women in uniform publishing an open letter in the Stars and Stripes newspaper. The response from the Pentagon was swift and severe. Gates, who now says he objected to the timetable, could have defended Mixon -- or at the very least, stayed quiet. Instead, he ripped into Mixon for not keeping his objections to himself.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was so upset that he sought the General's resignation. A three-star general, he said, should never use his influence to buck the President. "The answer," Mullen fumed, "is not advocacy; it is in fact to vote with your feet." General Mixon wasn't fired for raising the issue, but his career ended. This is the kind of courage that inspires men to follow leaders into the fiercest of battles. Unfortunately for our troops, that type of leadership is being driven from the ranks of today's military brass.

Little Sisters Still Bullied by Big Brother

After two years of duking it out over religious liberty, the courts and public polling seem to be firmly on the right side of the health care mandate. Now, it looks like the mainstream media is moving in our direction too. Newspapers like USA Today may be late to the party, but its latest op-ed on HHS's abortifacient-contraception mandate shows the deep splinters in the administration's coalition. For the first time in two years, editors are calling the mandate a "political loser," openly blasting the President's rule as "constitutionally suspect," "foolish," and "unproductive."

When the administration tried to cushion the blow of forcing Americans to pay for health care they morally opposed, FRC called the accommodation a "fig leaf." USA Today agrees, using our same language from 2012 to describe the mandate's arm-twisting against groups like Little Sisters of the Poor. "...[T]he administration wrote the rules so narrowly," USA Today explains in Monday's edition, "that they failed to exempt Catholic and other religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges, and charities... If the nonprofits refuse to sign, they face ruinous fines -- $4.5 million a year -- for just two of the Little Sisters' 30 homes."

On March 25, both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties will plead their case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Based on the brief filed by our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom, the penalties of refusing the mandate could cost Conestoga Wood up to $95,000 a day -- more than enough to sink the company long-term. "The members of the Hahn family, as Mennonite Christians, practice their faith in everything they do, including the running of their business."

Like us, they see work as an extension of their religious ethic. And, as Rep. Diane Black's (R-Tenn.) Health Care Conscience Act acknowledges, that extension deserves just as much protection as the people behind it. If you haven't already, contact your House leaders and encourage them to get behind the efforts to make Black's bill a reality.

** For more on Secretary Gates's book, don't miss our own Lt. General Jerry Boykin's take on Fox yesterday. Click below to watch the interview with Tucker Carlson.

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Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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