Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

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Heritage Foundation


Cake Wars And The Coming Conflict Over Religious Liberty

August 4, 2017

This context makes the thoughtful and engaging book Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination, by John Corvino, Ryan T. Anderson, and Sherif Girgis, timely and necessary. This book provides a good introduction into current debates over religious liberty, and offers genuine debate on these issues, with Corvino taking one side, and Anderson and Girgis, writing jointly, the other. Of course the authors are not in total opposition. They all proclaim that it is important to maintain religious liberty and to oppose unjust discrimination. But they differ dramatically regarding emphasis and implementation, illuminating the contours of debate over cases like those above. A crucial difference is that for Anderson and Girgis, anti-discrimination laws are primarily pragmatic, while for Corvino they are principled. That is, Anderson and Girgis see these laws as proportionate remedies for injustices of a certain sort and severity, with state-enforced racial segregation being the classic example. In contrast, Corvino seems to see them as essential because of the message they send, regardless of the extent of existing injustice.

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The Continuing Threat to Religious Liberty

National Review commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

August 3, 2017

While there has always been disagreement about what religious liberty requires in particular cases, the idea of religious liberty as a fundamental human right has more or less been a consensus in America. It became controversial only in recent years as the government tried to force religious conservatives to violate their beliefs on sex and marriage, and as liberal advocacy groups decided that civil liberties aren't for conscientious objectors to the sexual revolution. That's why we saw the American Civil Liberties Union oppose Catholic nuns' attempt to get out of the Obamacare HHS preventive-care mandate, in which the Department of Health and Human Services required employers to provide insurance covering sterilization and birth control - including forms of birth control that prevent embryos from implanting in the uterus, thereby causing abortion. The HHS mandate garnered the most headlines, but it's far from the only flashpoint. In several jurisdictions, Catholic Charities and other faith-based adoption agencies have been forced to abandon their invaluable work simply because they want to place needy children only in homes with married moms and dads. The government calls that discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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Pro-Life Leaders Rally to Support Charlie Gard

Daily Signal commentary by Rachel del Guidice

July 7, 2017

U.S. pro-life leaders are asking the British government to honor parental rights and allow the parents of a terminally ill infant to seek medical care abroad.

“In the tragic case of Charlie Gard, the British government has unjustly decided that his life doesn’t have the value of others,” said Tina Whittington, executive vice president of Students for Life of America, at a press conference Thursday. 

Charlie is an 11-month-old baby with an uncommon genetic condition that keeps him from breathing without help. He is also deaf and blind, according to USA Today.

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Supreme Court to Review Case of a Baker Told He Must Bake Gay Wedding Cake

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

June 26, 2017

the court also agreed to review ("granted cert" in the legal jargon) a case about religious liberty, free speech, and government coercion to support gay marriage. The case involves Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, and whether he must create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings, even if doing so violates his beliefs. The case goes back to 2012, when a same-sex couple received a marriage license in Massachusetts and asked Phillips to bake a cake for a reception back home in Colorado, a state that in 2006 constitutionally defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Phillips declined to create a wedding cake, citing his faith: "I don't feel like I should participate in their wedding, and when I do a cake, I feel like I am participating in the ceremony or the event or the celebration that the cake is for," he said.

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Circuit Court Win for Religious Freedom on Gay Marriage

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

June 22, 2017

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Thursday that a Mississippi law that protects religious liberty and the rights of conscience in light of the redefinition of marriage may go into effect. So, what does the Mississippi law do? As previously explained at The Daily Signal: Religious organizations, like churches, cannot be forced to use their facilities to celebrate or solemnize weddings that violate their beliefs. Religious convents, universities, and social service organizations can continue to maintain personnel and housing policies that reflect their beliefs. Religious adoption agencies can continue to operate by their conviction that every child they serve deserves to be placed with a married mom and dad. Bakers, photographers, florists, and similar wedding-specific vendors cannot be forced to use their talents to celebrate same-sex weddings if they cannot do so in good conscience.

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Roger Severino tapped to lead OCR

Becker's Hospital Review

March 27, 2017

Roger Severino, JD, was named director of HHS' Office for Civil Rights. An OCR spokesperson confirmed Mr. Severino's new leadership role on March 24, according to OCR, which oversees HIPAA and health information privacy rights, also posted Mr. Severino's biography and title to the OCR website. Mr. Severino previously worked at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative political think tank in Washington, D.C. At The Heritage Foundation, he served as director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity.

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Gender Identity Policies in Schools

Heritage Foundation commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 23, 2017

For most Americans, concerns related to students who identify as transgender are a new reality. The Obama Administration's response to this new reality was an unlawful attempt to force a one-size-fits-all policy on the entire nation rather than allow parents, teachers, and local schools the time, space, and flexibility to find solutions that would work best for everyone. The Trump Administration has taken the first steps to correct this. Instead of imposing a federal "gender identity" policy on the entire nation, all branches of government should respect federalism, local decision-making, and parental authority in education. The American people should be able to consider all of the relevant concerns and devise policies that can best serve all Americans. Congress should support such efforts, and the courts should respect them.

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How to Think About Discrimination: Race, Sex, and SOGI

Witherspoon Institute commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 14, 2017

In a new report for the Heritage Foundation, "How to Think About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policies and Religious Freedom," I argue that current proposals to create new LGBT protections with varying types of religious exemptions will not result in what advocates claim is "Fairness for All." Instead, they will penalize many Americans who believe that we are created male and female and that male and female are created for each other-convictions that the Supreme Court of the United States, in Obergefell v. Hodges, recognized are held "in good faith by reasonable and sincere people here and throughout the world." As I explain in the report, current SOGI laws, including "Fairness for All," lack the nuance and specificity necessary for cases they seek to address. They take the existing paradigm of public policy responses to racism and sexism and assume that this paradigm is appropriate for the policy needs of people who identify as LGBT. This is misguided for both conceptual and practical reasons.

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Mr. President" Don't Cave to Liberal Fearmongering. Protect Religious Freedom

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 2, 2017

The religious freedom executive order instructs the secretary of the treasury to ensure that it does not revoke nonprofit tax status because a religious organization's ordinary religious speech deals with politics, or because it speaks or acts on the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife, that a person's sex is based on immutable biology, or that life begins at conception. And to avoid any potential conflicts, the executive order explicitly states that it "shall be carried out ... to the extent permitted by law" and that any accommodation must be "reasonable." With those two clauses alone, the hyperventilating criticisms of the LGBT left are immediately rendered void. These protections take nothing away from anyone-they simply ensure that the public square remains open to all religious voices, even when those voices diverge from the government's view on contested questions. They protect diversity and pluralism and tolerance.

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Trump Should Rescind Obama's Transgender Agenda and Protect Religious Liberty

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 1, 2017

Religious charities shouldn't have to give up their mission and identity simply because they partner with the government in serving the public. In addition to proactively protecting the rights of Americans to hire for religious mission and to act on the conviction that marriage is the union of husband and wife, Trump should also rescind the various Obama executive actions that caused these problems. A statement from the Trump administration notes that Trump was the "first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression." Trump can and should protect all Americans from violence and oppression, but he should not go along with Obama's policies of elevating "sexual orientation and gender identity" to a protected class. The First Amendment Defense Act and similar religious liberty provisions oppress no one-they protect Americans from government-sponsored discrimination and coercion.

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Lawmakers Miss Their Chance to Protect Religious Liberty

Daily Signal

December 1, 2016

Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., realized the need to ensure that churches, religious organizations, and other nonprofits weren't forced to choose between contracting with the federal government or living by their foundational religious beliefs. He introduced the Russell Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Heritage Foundation expert Roger Severino explains the need, and simplicity, of the amendment: "The Russell Amendment is sound policy that will prevent the administration from stripping contracts and grants from faith-based social service providers whose internal staffing policies reflect their faith. Jewish day schools and Catholic adoption centers, for example, are not liable under Title VII for being authentically Jewish or Catholic, and their staffing policies shouldn't disqualify them from federal grants and contracts either."

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A New Defense for Religious Liberty: Going on Offense against Bad Laws

American Thinker commentary by David Rosenthal

November 18, 2016

The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment is designed to ensure that all Americans may freely live out their faith. This is not limited to freedom of worship, but includes the heart, mind, and soul of religious people, thereby guiding how people act in the public square. When a law restricts that first freedom, the American conscience is put on trial. One way to preserve the American conscience is for individuals to preemptively put unjust laws on trial by way of pre-enforcement challenges. This ensures that the owner is not at risk of criminal or civil penalties for violating an ironically titled anti-discrimination law when faced with the challenge of being asked to participate in any practice that violates his conscience.

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Make Religious Freedom Great Again

Public Discourse commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

November 11, 2016

The reduction of religious liberty to mere freedom of worship is a hallmark of the Obama years. Houses of worship, for example, were exempted from the HHS Obamacare contraception and abortifacient mandate. But religious schools, like Wheaton College, and religious charities and communities, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, were merely "accommodated"-offered a different way to comply with the mandate while still violating their beliefs. A Trump administration can fix this right away. President-Elect Trump can instruct his Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide robust religious liberty protections to the HHS mandate. And Congress can pass legislation, which Trump can sign, to repeal and replace Obamacare. Likewise, the Obama administration has engaged in a series of executive actions-some of which were likely unlawful-to advance a radical transgender agenda. This, too, Trump can end.


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Critics on Civil Rights Report: It's 'Dangerous' -- Important to 'Push Back Against This Nonsense'

CNS News

September 16, 2016

Faith leaders and religious liberty advocates are weighing in on the recently released U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report that concluded terms such as "religious liberty" and "religious freedom" were code words for discrimination and even "Christian supremacy." "The phrases ‘religious liberty' and ‘religious freedom' will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance," Martin Castro, chairman of the commission, said in a statement included in the 296-page report. "Perhaps most troubling is the attempt to discredit sincere religious believers as being motivated by hate instead of faith and the implied recommendation that religious groups should change their beliefs on sexual morality to conform with liberal norms for the good of the country," said Roger Severino, , director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation who also worked with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

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Video: Title IX & Transgender Bathrooms in Public Schools

Federalist Society video featuring Roger Severino

August 5, 2016

Roger Severino oversees the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, where he focuses on religious liberty, marriage, and life issues. In this video, Severino comments on a joint guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education on how schools should apply Title IX to the bathroom choices of transgender students.

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What Lawmakers Can Do to Protect Rights of Pro-Life Medical Professionals

Daily Signal commentary by Jana Minich and Elizabeth Slattery

August 3, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also emphasized the need for legislation like this: "There have been cases of nurses being suspended or threatened with firing solely for the offense of following their conscience. And now, the state of California requires all health insurance plans to cover abortion. ... Allowing this trend to continue will only erode our First Amendment rights even further. It will continue to push people of faith onto the sidelines of society." The troubling trend of marginalizing religious believers, attempting to restrict religious exercise to within the four walls of a house of worship, and stripping Americans of their right to conscience has been a hallmark of the last eight years, and one that will only continue if Americans do not stand up for the right to act according to their conscience.

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Debunking 6 Myths About the First Amendment Defense Act

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

July 12, 2016

Several Democratic House members and their invited witnesses made some stunning claims about the bill both orally and in written remarks that merit serious fact-checking. Here are six of them. Myth 1: The bill is cover for discrimination against LGBT people. Reality: This claim is rebutted by simply stating what the bill actually does-it prevents the federal government from discriminating against individuals and institutions that follow their beliefs about marriage and what it entails. It protects supporters of both sides of the same-sex marriage debate from being stripped of nonprofit tax-exempt status, licenses, grants, contracts, or accreditation. Just as Congress protected people from being punished for declining to participate in abortions after Roe v. Wade, the First Amendment Defense Act protects people from being punished for their beliefs about marriage after the Obergefell decision, without taking anything away from anyone.

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Texas attorney general attacks Obama's directive on transgender students

Washington Post

July 7, 2016

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton leveled sharp criticism against the Obama administration's directive to the nation's schools that they must make accommodations for transgender students, calling it a "gun to the head" that threatens the independence of school districts to handle the issue how they see fit. Paxton, who has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration challenging its position, railed Thursday against the guidance to schools that directs them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity. "There are a host of reasons why allowing 14-year-old boys into girls' locker rooms is a bad idea," Paxton said. Paxton spoke alongside Roger Severino, director of the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, and attorney Kyle Duncan, all three of them assailing the Obama administration's approach to transgender rights.

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It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies

Heritage Foundation presentation by Mary Eberstadt

June 28, 2016

Clashes between religious believers on one side and the state and elite culture on the other have reached a fevered pitch. This has resulted in an unprecedented erosion of religious liberty as defenders of our first freedom are demonized as "hateful and bigoted." In her new book, It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, Mary Eberstadt shines a spotlight on liberal intolerance of traditional religious belief and believers. By laying out the evidence of intimidation and discrimination in law, on campus, in the workplace, and throughout public life, she makes an implicit plea: How can such deeply conflicting world views live together in a pluralistic society? Does anyone really want to shut down faith-based charities that help the sick and feed the hungry simply because they insist on living their faith rather than by a secularist creed? Eberstadt argues that we are at a turning point and provides a guide for moving forward toward the kind of tolerance for which liberalism once stood.

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New Rule Requires Doctors To Treat Trans Patients As Their Pretend Sex

The Federalist commentary by Maria Servold

June 22, 2016

Doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies may soon face lawsuits for treating male and female patients according to their biological sex, thanks to a health care rule finalized in May as part of the Affordable Care Act. On the same day President Barack Obama announced his controversial transgender school bathroom policy last month, a somewhat more sinister mandate was finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with consequences for health care providers, insurance companies, and American taxpayers. The regulations also threaten the freedom and independence of health care professionals who "believe maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases," the Heritage report states. People with religious beliefs that contradict this regulation have no legal options but compliance or filing lawsuits, said Matthew Kacsmaryk, a deputy general counsel at the First Liberty Institute.

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43 Republicans Join Democrats to Support Obama's Transgender Agenda

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

May 26, 2016

On Wednesday night, 43 Republican members of Congress joined the Democrats to vote for President Barack Obama's transgender agenda. Whereas last week Congress voted to reject this proposal-known as the Maloney Amendment-last night they voted to ratify Obama's 2014 executive order barring federal contractors from what it describes as "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation and gender identity" in their private employment policies. And, of course, "discrimination" on the basis of "gender identity" can be something as simple as having a bathroom policy based on biological sex, not gender identity, as we learned last week from Obama's transgender directives. And "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation" can be something as reasonable as an adoption agency preferring married moms and dads for orphans, than other arrangements.

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House passes resurrected LGBT measure

The Hill

May 25, 2016

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) offered a counter-amendment so that Maloney's proposal would be modified by stating that no funds could be used in contravention of the LGBT executive order except as "required by the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution." "Does anyone in this chamber seriously oppose Article I of the constitution, the First Amendment, or the 14th Amendment?" Pitts asked. Ahead of the vote, influential conservative group Heritage Action urged Republicans to oppose Maloney's amendment and said that it would be including it on its legislative scorecard. "Make no mistake: A vote for the Maloney amendment is a vote for President Obama's radical transgender bathroom agenda," the notice reads.

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Little Sisters of the Poor Win Big in Obamacare Case

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino and Elizabeth Slattery

May 16, 2016

It illustrates that the government could have accommodated the Little Sisters of the Poor all along without affecting contraceptive coverage, but chose not to. And it guarantees that the government cannot force the Little Sisters of the Poor and the other challengers to choose between violating their consciences as the government demands or face crippling fines and penalties. In the coming months, the lower courts will reconsider these challenges, but it is hard to see how the administration and the lower courts can find a way to get around the Supreme Court's unanimous order-making the decision a big victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

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New Obamacare Transgender Regulations Threaten Freedom of Physicians

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

May 13, 2016

These regulations threaten the religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and independent medical judgment of health care professionals. And, just as they did in the transgender school policy the Obama administration announced this morning, the administration has created these new Obamacare regulations by redefining "sex" to mean "gender identity." These regulations will create serious conflicts of conscience for many organizations, hospitals, physicians, and other individuals involved in healthcare. By prohibiting differential treatment on the basis of "gender identity" in health services, these regulations will penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases.

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DOJ's Lawsuit Against North Carolina Is Abuse of Power

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

May 9, 2016

I'm very disappointed in my former colleagues at the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. They know very well that when Congress banned discrimination "on the basis of sex" in 1964 and 1972, it did not mean "gender identity." It disrespects the very notion of the rule of law for them to hold otherwise, but that is exactly what they have done by threatening North Carolina with lawsuits, fines, and revocation of federal funds because they dared to write in law what most people consider simple common sense-that biological men should not be given unfettered access to public bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms set aside for the needs, safety, and privacy of biological women.

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What the 'bathroom wars' tell us about our culture

Washington Examiner commentary by Kim Holmes

May 2, 2016

No, they must press their agenda with obnoxious boycotts, draconian court rulings and by rewriting the laws to force their views on everyone else. Tolerance is not enough. They demand complete and utter conformity to their point of view. Why so authoritarian? The higher aim of progressive liberalism today is to deconstruct traditional morality, especially as it pertains to the family, marriage and sexual relations. The only way to enforce the new "tolerance" is not only to deny other people their rights - the rights of women and children to privacy in bathrooms, for example - but also to be intolerant of any kind of dissent whatsoever.

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Attempt to Send Religious Liberty Bill Straight to the People Fails in Missouri

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

April 27, 2016

The idea behind the measure, Johnson, president of Missouri Alliance for Freedom, told The Daily Signal in an earlier interview, was to give people the opportunity to vote on the "religious freedom vs. gay marriage contest" for the first time since the Supreme Court ruled on the issue last June. Supporters say if SJR 39 were to take effect, it would ban government discrimination against people of faith because of their beliefs about marriage. Schools and charities, for example, would be protected from losing access to government programs because of their beliefs about marriage.

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DeMint: America needs more governors like Phil Bryant

USA Today commentary by Jim DeMint

April 12, 2016

In the face of corporate bullying and vitriolic, misleading opposition from progressive groups, Gov. Bryant and the Mississippi state legislature courageously protected the religious liberty of their fellow citizens-liberties that have been under assault all around the country. In a sensible world, the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act shouldn't have taken much bravery to sign. All it does is reaffirm First Amendment rights that religious orders, schools, and businesses have enjoyed for 227 years. It doesn't give anyone a license to discriminate, and it doesn't victimize anybody. But this is not a sensible world.

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Why corporations are wrong about the Mississippi law

Religion News Service commentary by Jennifer Marshall

April 11, 2016

Confusion around the new law seems to come from media coverage that fails to distinguish its protections for religious organizations - which do not apply to businesses - from its much narrower policy concerning a handful of small businesses in a specific circumstance: wedding-related vendors in the context of participating in wedding ceremonies. The only provisions that apply to businesses generally are the assurances that private employers can set their own bathroom and employee dress policies based on their particular circumstances. Most of the new law is about protecting religious groups and individuals who have a different perspective on marriage. It guarantees their religious freedom while not taking anything away from anyone else. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of differences.

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Liberals' Double Standard on Bathrooms, Boycotts, and Religious Freedom

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

April 11, 2016

if these boycotts are really a matter of principle—and not just grandstanding—then why do so many of these same companies do business in foreign countries with terrible records on human rights in general, and for LGBT people in particular? The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, pointed out this hypocrisy. After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a travel ban for state employees to North Carolina, Gov. McCrory asked how it was consistent with Gov. Cuomo’s trip to Cuba—with state business leaders—to promote trade with that country. Others have pointed out the hypocrisy of PayPal. The CEO of PayPal announced that the company wouldn’t expand in North Carolina because of “PayPal’s deepest values and our strong belief that every person has the right to be treated equally, and with dignity and respect.” Really? Then PayPal might want to explain why its international headquarters are in Singapore, where people engaged in private consensual same-sex acts can face two years in jail.

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Gov. Bryant Stands Up to Liberal Bullying, Signs Mississippi Religious Freedom Bill

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

April 6, 2016

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, has signed the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, a law that guarantees religious freedom in the wake of last year's activist Supreme Court decision redefining marriage for the country. The left, big business, and even Planned Parenthood weighed in against the legislation. Mississippi policymakers, reflecting the overwhelming support of the state's citizens, stood up to the bullying and enacted commonsense religious liberty protection. The law protects religious beliefs in a precise and balanced way.

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Supreme Court Request Gives Little Sisters Cause for Hope

Daily Signal commentary by Elizabeth Slattery

March 30, 2016

In an order Tuesday afternoon, the Supreme Court asked the petitioners and Obama administration to file supplemental briefs in the consolidated challenge to Obamacare’s requirement that nonprofit employers provide employee health insurance coverage that includes potentially life-ending drugs and devices. Now the parties have the opportunity to spell out for the Supreme Court how such a system could work without "hijacking" the Little Sisters' and other employers' insurance plans. This order may signal that a majority of the justices accept the challengers' sincerely held religious belief that the current regulatory scheme makes them complicit in sin.

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Georgia Governor Caves to Big Business, Vetoes Religious Freedom Bill

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 28, 2016

Georgia’s Republican Governor Nathan Deal has caved to pressure from big business and special interests and vetoed a very modest religious liberty bill. The Georgia religious freedom bill that Deal vetoed would have safeguarded clergy from having to officiate same-sex weddings, prevented faith-based organizations from being forced to hire someone who publicly undermines their mission, and prohibited the state government from discriminating against churches and their affiliated ministries because they believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.

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NBA's Threatening North Carolina Is Textbook Cultural Cronyism

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 28, 2016

Big business and special interest groups are threatening boycotts. The mayor of San Francisco issued an order to “to bar any publicly-funded city employee travel to the State of North Carolina.” ThinkProgress reports that IBM, PayPal, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Salesforce are all against the law. The ACLU has even lodged a federal lawsuit against North Carolina. The NBA has said North Carolina’s law might make it move the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte. The NBA threat over the All-Star Game is particularly amusing. The NBA (and its sister organization, the WNBA) apparently think bathroom access shouldn’t be based on biology, but basketball leagues should. The NBA and WNBA, of course, are free to have gender-neutral basketball teams—and to have gender-neutral bathrooms at those games. That they are threatening the state to impose a policy that even they haven’t voluntarily adopted is the height of hypocrisy.

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Religious Liberty at the Supreme Court: Little Sisters of the Poor Take on Obamacare Mandate

Heritage Issue Brief by Sarah Torre

March 24, 2016

If religious nonprofit organizations fail to comply with the mandate, they face fines of up to $100 per affected employee per day. For the Little Sisters, that could mean up to $70 million a year in federal fines, a devastating burden for a religious order with a long tradition of begging for food and donations to offset the costs of caring for the elderly poor. The mandate makes a serious assault on the fundamental freedom of individuals and organizations who form the backbone of civil society: those who care for the sick, feed the hungry, educate the next generation, and provide shelter and counseling for the most vulnerable Americans. The government should not be permitted to coerce religious ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor under threat of devastating fines.

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Atheists Give Up Case; Christians Can Continue to Help Ex-Convicts

Daily Signal commentary by Melody Wood

March 10, 2016

A judge ruled last month that two Christian organizations in Florida can continue helping newly released prisoners reintegrate into society. The Christian organizations had been brought to court by a New York-based atheist organization called the Center for Inquiry that sued to strip the ministries of government funding because of their religious identities. Because the atheist group failed to appeal the judge's decision, the Christian ministries will now be free to carry on helping ex-convicts.

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A User’s Guide To Free Expression And Bathroom Sanity

The Federalist commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

March 4, 2016

One answer is to protect privacy at the bathroom and accommodate transgender students. But LGBT activists don't like this at all. Their official policy is that boys who identify as girls should have unfettered access to girls' bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities. Earlier this year South Dakota crafted an even-handed policy respectful of everyone's interests. Unfortunately, the governor caved to special interest hysterics. The South Dakota bill would have prevented biological males who identify as girls from using girls' private facilities in public schools, but it also would have required local school officials to make reasonable accommodations for such students, such as providing access to single-occupancy facilities. A win-win arrangement for everyone, it would have protected all students' privacy and safety and created new accommodations for transgender students.

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Conservative Gay Marriage Advocates Urge Tolerance for Religious Objectors

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

March 4, 2016

Right-leaning advocates of gay marriage called for acceptance at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference, urging liberals to display more tolerance when addressing the issues of gay marriage and religious liberty. "This conversation that we are having right now literally couldn't happen at a left-wing conference, because we'd all be hounded off the stage and booed," Guy Benson, Fox News contributor and editor, said during a religious liberty panel. Benson, who came out as gay last year, told his three fellow panelists that he was "personally gratified" by the the Supreme Court's same-sex marriage decision but that he disagrees with the "mandatory celebration" of gay marriage. By "mandatory celebration," Benson was referring to the small businesses owners who he believes have been forced by the government to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples against their religious convictions.

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Hostility Toward Religion in America Is 'Undeniable,' Report Says

Daily Signal commentary by Leah Jessen

March 1, 2016

Discrimination against Americans of faith is on the increase, but if they stand up for their religious liberty, they can prevail, a new report says. "Hostility to religion in America is rising like floodwaters," Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO, and chief counsel at First Liberty Institute, writes in the report. "This flood is engulfing ordinary citizens who simply try to live normal lives according to their faith and conscience." The report documents more than 1,200 legal cases involving persons who believe they have been discriminated against because of their religious beliefs.

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The Hypocrisy of Big Business Attacking Georgia's Religious Liberty Bill

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 25, 2016

Last Friday, the Georgia Senate passed a good bill that protects religious freedom in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage. And already special interest groups and big businesses are trying to pressure the governor into refusing to sign the bill unless it is significantly watered down in the House. This is yet another example of cultural cronyism. Businesses in Georgia were always free to embrace gay marriage-to bake wedding cakes for gay marriages and make floral arrangements for same-sex nuptials-and many do, but now they want the government to force everyone in Georgia to do the same.

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What Locker Rooms Should Boys Who Identify as Girls Be Allowed to Use?

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino

February 19, 2016

The only reason this proposal is controversial comes back to the fight over how exactly one defines a girl or a boy. Sensitive to the emotions surrounding this issue, the bill requires schools to accommodate students who don't identify with their biological sex by providing them reasonable access to alternate facilities, such as unisex bathrooms or private changing rooms, if requested by their parents. As a result, students that identify as transgender will have more options than those who do not. Yet this reasonable balance has not placated the left, which is trying to bully South Dakota into reversing course under the charge of "discrimination."

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Amid religious freedom concerns, relief over Indiana bill's failure

Catholic News Agency

February 8, 2016

Indiana's Senate Bill 344 died "because it was a threat to freedom of religion and conscience," said Roger Severino, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Society at the Heritage Foundation. "Because when you elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to the same status as race, mainstream religious beliefs about sexual identity are then labeled as bigoted," he said. The broad anti-discrimination bill, introduced in the state senate in January, prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or active duty military service in areas like housing, employment and education.

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State Could Become First to Stop Transgender Students From Using Opposite-Sex Bathrooms

The Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

February 6, 2016

The legislation requires that a "reasonable accommodation" be made for students asserting their gender is different from their biological sex, and described a reasonable accommodation as "one that does not impose an undue hardship on a school district," "a single-occupancy restroom," "a unisex restroom," or the "controlled use of a restroom, locker room or shower room that is designated for use by faculty." Deutch views his legislation as a necessary response to what he considers "aggressive" actions on behalf of the Obama administration to ensure schools comply with guidance they issued in April 2014.

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Sexual Assault Victims Speak Out Against Washington's Transgender Bathroom Policies

The Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

January 25, 2016

The Daily Signal met with Simon, Triller Haver, and Flores in Washington's state capital to learn why they're breaking their silence about their past experiences to fight what they believe are dangerous new policies. "There is no doubt in my mind that many, many people will be hurt with this kind of policy," Simon said. The policies, which went into effect Dec. 26, grant individuals full access to bathrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities in accordance with their chosen gender identity instead of their anatomical sex.

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Obama's Hypocrisy on Religious Freedom

The Daily Signal commentary by Melody Wood

January 21, 2016

Obama is correct. All Americans should be able to be free to live out their religious principles. Yet some of the greatest threats to religious freedom in America in recent years have come from policies he supports. The Obamacare contraceptive mandate, for example, has resulted in government persecution of an order of religious sisters. The Little Sisters of the Poor seek to continue their mission of serving the elderly poor while operating in accordance with their religious beliefs without fear of incurring government penalties. With the Obamacare requirement in place, they face millions in government fines for doing so.

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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Laws Threaten Freedom

Heritage Backgrounder by Ryan T. Anderson

November 30, 2015

America is dedicated to protecting the freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution, while respecting citizens' equality before the law. None of these freedoms is absolute. Compelling governmental interests can at times trump fundamental civil liberties, but sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) laws do not pass this test. Rather, they trample First Amendment rights and unnecessarily impinge on citizens' right to run their local schools, charities, and businesses in ways consistent with their values. SOGI laws do not protect equality before the law; instead, they grant special privileges that are enforceable against private actors.

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Supreme Court to Decide Major Abortion Case

Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre and Elizabeth Slattery

November 13, 2015

The Supreme Court will decide one of the most important cases on abortion policy in recent years by the end of June. Today, the justices announced that they will decide whether to uphold parts of a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet basic health and safety standards and abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Known as H.B. 2, the Texas law requires, among other things, that abortion clinics meet the same regulations for cleanliness and safety as other outpatient surgical facilities and that doctors working in those clinics have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

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What Makes This Houston Ballot Measure So Threatening

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

November 2, 2015

HERO would impose new, and potentially ruinous liability on innocent citizens for alleged "discrimination" based not on objective traits, but on subjective and unverifiable identities. HERO would further increase government interference in markets, potentially discouraging economic growth and job creation. And, as to issues surrounding "gender identity" and "transgender" teachers, students and employees, HERO could require education and employment policies concerning schoolhouse, locker room, and workplace conditions that undermine common sense.

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Football Coach 'Devastated' After Being Suspended for Post-Game Prayer

The Daily Signal commentary by Leah Jessen

November 1, 2015

Washington state high school football coach Joe Kennedy, inspired by the Christian faith-based film "Facing the Giants," walks to the 50-yard line after games to thank God for the players he has the opportunity to coach. As of Wednesday, Kennedy has been suspended and is no longer able to participate in football program activities because of his post-game prayers. "We tried to meet with the school officials in-person but they refused to meet," Hiram Sasser, deputy chief counsel for Liberty Institute, said in a statement. "We were only able to have a brief hour and a half call with their lawyer, and the result was a letter banning private prayer just a few hours before last Friday's game. It is unfortunate this school district is choosing litigation instead of a simple meeting."

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KY Clerk Not Issuing Gay Marriage Licenses Causes Uproar. NC Shows Better Way

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

September 2, 2015

The citizens of Rowan County have a right to receive in a timely and efficient manner the various government provisions-including licenses-to which they are entitled. At the same time, the employees of Rowan County (including civil servants) have rights, including religious liberty rights, and they are entitled to religious accommodations. But a religious accommodation, like religious liberty in general, is not absolute.

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4 Reasons We Must Protect Freedom for Everyone After Supreme Court's Marriage Ruling

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

August 6, 2015

Religious freedom isn't just for non-profits. Again, the pro-life movement's example is instructive. It protected pro-life conscience across the board, not just for non-profits, because opening a business (even as an ob-gyn doctor) shouldn't require leaving your principles behind. Thanks to its efforts, people of deep religious or secular conviction concerning the moral worth of unborn children can serve as doctors, nurses and medical workers without being forced to perform abortions.

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Why Is Religious Freedom At Risk?

First Things commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

July 28, 2015

As recently as 1993, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed by a nearly unanimous Congress and signed by a Democratic president. Today, the same value is a political liability. Bakers, photographers, and florists are being ruined, adoption agencies shuttered, schools threatened with loss of accreditation and nonprofit status. So what happened? Why is religious liberty now losing so much ground? As I explain in my just-released book, Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, three historical developments explain our current predicament: a change in the scope of our government, a change in our sexual values, and a change in our political leaders’ vision of religious liberty. An adequate response will need to address each of these changes.

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No One Should Lose Freedom After Obergefell

Georgetown U. Cornerstone commentary by Jennifer Marshall

July 27, 2015

To ensure that Americans have as much freedom after the redefinition of marriage as they did before, the law should prohibit government discrimination against those who dissent from the conclusion of five justices in Obergefell v. Hodges. During oral arguments in the case, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli made clear that the nonprofit tax status of religious schools would be at risk if the Court decided to redefine marriage. Within days of the Obergefell decision, a New York Times columnist writing in TIME suggested that religious organizations who do not get in line with the new public policy should lose their nonprofit tax status.

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The next front in battle over gay rights

The Hill

July 5, 2015

"One of the first things that the pro-life movement did after Roe v. Wade was protect the right of conscience for all American citizens to never have to pay for an abortion or perform an abortion if it violated their beliefs," noted Ryan Anderson, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "So in the same way, the pro-marriage movement will need to protect our rights not to be coerced or discriminated against by the government into violating our belief that marriage is between a man and a woman."

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Video: Marriage at the Supreme Court

Heritage Foundation: R&C Severino, Anderson and Schaerr

July 2, 2015

"As a legal matter, the Constitution is not where [setting social policy] happens. The Constitution is completely agnostic as to how marriage is defined. The states have traditionally defined marriage law. The way this decision was reached undermines the ability to have that debate in the public sphere."

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How to Preserve Religious Freedom After Supreme Court's Activist Decision on Marriage

Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre

July 1, 2015

Faith-based adoption and foster care agencies have been forced to close their doors, rather than abandon their commitment to placing children in homes with a married mother and father. Numerous photographers, florists, cake makers, farmers, and many others have been hauled into court or fined for simply declining to help plan or participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony. The First Amendment Defense Act, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and in the House by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, would prohibit the federal government from discriminating against any individual, organization, school, or business because they acted in accordance with the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

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Four Harms the Court's Marriage Ruling Will Cause

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

July 1, 2015

Judicial activism causes harm. The Obergefell ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely cause four distinct types of harm to the body politic. The ruling has already and will continue to cause harm to constitutional democratic self-government. Redefining marriage makes it more about the romantic desires of the consenting adults involved than about the needs or the rights of children involved in a relationship with their mother and father. When fundamental policy changes are made by court rulings that have no basis in the Constitution, it makes change harder to accept-because it casts doubt on the change itself. Most alarmingly, the majority opinion never discusses the free exercise of religion.

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What Do We Do Now?

Daily Signal commentary by Jim DeMint and Ryan T. Anderson

July 1, 2015

We can't allow the judicial usurpation of politics to go uncontested. We have to commit now to bearing witness to the truth about marriage-a permanent and exclusive union of man and woman, husband and wife, father and mother-and work to restore our constitutional authority as citizens to make marriage policy that serves the common good by reflecting this truth. How do we do that? Here are five steps....

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What the law teaches about marriage

Dialy Signal video commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

May 29, 2015

"The law will either teach that marriage is about consenting adult romance and caregiving ... or the law will teach that marriage is about a permanent, exclusive, monogamous union between a man and a woman, husband and wife, mother and father. Because children deserve both a mother and a father. The law can't teach both at the same time." (video orig. published 4/24/15)

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Judicial Activism on Marriage, Like Abortion, Can Cause Harms

The Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

May 1, 2015

On the rights of conscience, by unilaterally creating a "right" to abortion, the Court created a situation where for the past 40 years abortion funding has been a constant source of religious liberty concerns-most recently with the coercive Department of Health and Human Services mandate. Why would the Court want to repeat these mistakes now on marriage? After all, there simply is nothing in the Constitution that requires all 50 states to redefine marriage. Whatever people may think about marriage as a policy matter, everyone should be able to recognize the Constitution does not settle this question. Unelected judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and then say the Constitution requires them everywhere.

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In-Depth: Key Questions and Remarks From the Supreme Court Oral Arguments on Marriage

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

April 29, 2015

Nowhere are the consequences of redefining marriage clearer than with religious liberty. And yet the Obama administration's Solicitor General Donald Verrilli admitted that religious schools that affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman may lose their non-profit tax-exempt status if marriage is redefined. Alito asked Verrilli whether a religious school that believed marriage was the union of husband and wife would lose their non-profit tax status. The solicitor general answered: "It's certainly going to be an issue. I don't deny that. I don't deny that, Justice Alito. It is it is going to be an issue."

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The Case Against Gay Marriage: Top Law Firms Won't Touch It

New York Times

April 11, 2015

Ryan T. Anderson, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation who opposes same-sex marriage, said the episode was a turning point. "When the former solicitor general and superstar Supreme Court litigator is forced to resign from his partnership," Mr. Anderson said, "that shows a lot." The current climate, Professor McConnell of Stanford said, means that important distinctions are being lost. One is that it is possible to favor same-sex marriage as a policy matter without believing that the Constitution requires it. But this is, he said, a topic he has learned to avoid. "You're going to shut up, particularly if you don't care that much," he said. "I usually just keep it to myself."

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Indiana 'Fix' on Religious Liberty Law Creates Bad Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Law

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

April 2, 2015

the proposed "fix" amounts to nothing less than a wholesale repeal of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act with respect to those who need religious liberty protections the most. The "fix" is bad public policy that explicitly exempts sexual orientation and gender identity laws from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act except with respect to a narrow class of nonprofit religious organizations and their agents. The "fix" specifically targets the millions of other religious Americans who wish to live their lives in accordance with their faith values, free from government coercion.

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Religious-liberty protections promote tolerance

Washington Post commentary by Edwin Meese, III and Ryan T. Anderson

April 1, 2015

The United States is in a time of transition. Courts have redefined marriage, and beliefs about human sexuality are changing. Will the right to dissent be protected? Will the right of Americans to speak and act in accord with what the United States had always believed about marriage - that it's a union of husband and wife - be tolerated?

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Religious freedom laws are about tolerance--which is exactly why the Left doesn't like them

Daily Signal commentary by Genevieve Wood

March 31, 2015

Discrimination is going on all right but not against the groups many on the Left are claiming. Here's the bottom line: many people who support abortion or who support same-sex marriage don't just want those rights for themselves. They want society at large to approve of their actions. And they will fight any law or movement that they believe undermines that goal. Religious freedom laws, like the one coming under fire in Indiana, are needed because it is increasingly people of faith who are being persecuted.

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Memo to Supreme Court: State Marriage Laws Are Constitutional

Heritage Foundation

March 10, 2015

To strike down marriage laws, the Court would need to say that the vision of marriage that our law has long applied equally is just wrong: that the Constitution requires a different vision entirely. The U.S. Constitution, however, is silent on what marriage is and what policy goals the states should design it to serve, and there are good policy arguments on both sides. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the U.S. Constitution any more than the Justices in Dred Scott should have written into the Constitution their own policy preferences in support of slavery.

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Congress Should Protect Religious Freedom in the District of Columbia

Heritage Foundation commentary by Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D. and Sarah Torre

March 9, 2015

The two euphemistically titled acts are the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA). These policies will saddle religious organizations and employers with a choice between complying with coercive laws that force them to violate their religious beliefs and organizational missions and staying true to their beliefs in defiance of unjust laws. RHNDA discriminates against pro-lifers and HRAA violates religious liberty. The former could force employers in the nation's capital to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire individuals who advocate for abortion. The latter could force Christian schools to violate their beliefs about human sexuality and recognize an LGBT student group or host a "gay pride" day on campus.

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A Fight to Keep Catholic Schools Catholic

Wall Street Journal commentary by R Anderson and L Ford

March 5, 2015

American business and civic institutions frequently make choices to remain true to principles even when it is unfashionable or may hurt their bottom line-for example, CVS last year pulled cigarettes from shelves, calling the sale of tobacco "inconsistent with our purpose-helping people on their path to better health." This choice is even more essential for religious schools, which must be able to have teachers who support-or at least don't publicly attack-the school's beliefs. Lawmakers shouldn't be using threats of governmental investigation to control those decisions. Yet similar coercion is taking place throughout the country.

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Former Fire Chief Sues Atlanta for Firing Him Over Marriage Beliefs

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

February 19, 2015

Former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran filed today a federal lawsuit against the city of Atlanta and its Mayor Kasim Reed alleging they terminated his employment because of his belief in traditional marriage. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, states Cochran's was fired "solely" because "...[Cochran] holds religious beliefs concerning same-sex marriage and homosexual conduct that are contrary to the mayor's and the city's views on these subjects, and because he expressed those beliefs in the non-work-related, religious book he self-published."

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Congress Can Fix New D.C. Bills That Force Pro-Life Groups to Pay for Abortion

Daily Signal Commentary by Ryan Anderson and Sarah Torre

January 26, 2015

Bowser signed into law two euphemistically titled acts: The "Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act" and the "Human Rights Amendment Act." In fact, the former discriminates against pro-lifers, and the latter violates the human right of religious liberty. Here's how. The former could force employers in the nation's capital to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans and require pro-life organizations to hire individuals who advocate for abortion. The latter could force Christian schools to recognize an LGBT student group or host a "gay pride" day on campus.

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Could Millennials Change Their Views on Same-Sex Marriage?

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

January 14, 2015

Ryan Anderson, who researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty at The Heritage Foundation, argued that the answer may not be known for a number of years, as same-sex marriage becomes more prevalent in the United States. According to Pew Research, 67 percent of those ages 18 to 33 favor same-sex marriage. "My generation is more pro-life than my parents' generation, and there's no reason why the same thing can't happen on the question about marriage," Anderson said.

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Government Shouldn't Force Religious Schools to Violate Religious Beliefs

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan Anderson

January 8, 2015

Just before the Christmas break, the D.C. City Council passed a law that could force pro-life organizations to pay for abortion coverage. But that wasn't the only piece of bad legislation, violating religious liberty which came out of the D.C. Council in December. A new bill might force Christian schools to recognize an LGBT student group or host a "gay pride" day on campus. Here's how: In a unanimous vote on Dec. 2, the D.C. Council approved legislation that revokes religious liberty protections that Congress passed for the District back in 1989. The Orwellian titled bill-"The Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014"-eliminates an important protection for a key human right: religious liberty.

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Here's How the Media Got the Latest Religious Liberty Bill Wrong

Daily Signal Commentary by Ryan Anderson

December 13, 2014

Finishing off a week that was pretty bad for the media, CBS News is now spinning a story about a Michigan religious freedom bill. Their headline reads: "Bill would let Michigan doctors, EMTs refuse to treat gay patients." But the bill does nothing of the sort. The bill, passed by the Michigan House last week, is the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And, as the legal scholar Ed Whelan points out, "the bill is modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, [and] at least 19 other states have enacted laws modeled on the federal RFRA, and nothing remotely like what CBS News alleges has ever happened anywhere."

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Conscience and Abortion Funding Concerns in the CRomnibus

Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre

December 10, 2014

Congress should permanently prohibit federal funding of abortion and ensure transparency in health care. The No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act would ensure that no federal funds could be used to pay for abortion or health benefit plans that cover abortion, including those offered through Obamacare exchanges. The current version of the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act also includes language from another bill, the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would address the serious lack of transparency about abortion coverage that has been noted by groups on both sides of the abortion debate.

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Sexual Liberty and Religious Liberty Can Coexist. Here's How.

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

November 9, 2014

Much worse than the stories about Brendan Eich or Phil Robertson are the stories that involve government coercion, government fines and other punitive action. The examples are well known at this point. Consider Christian-run adoption agencies in Massachusetts and Illinois and Washington, D.C., that have been forced out of the adoption space because they wanted to find homes with married moms and dads for the children they were responsible for. They just wanted to run their adoption agency according to their belief that children deserve a mom and a dad-and the state said no.

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No Constitutional Right to Same-Sex Marriage, Circuit Court Rules

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

November 6, 2014

Earlier today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit overruled lower court decisions that had struck down state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The 6th Circuit Court ruled that constitutional amendments passed by popular vote in Michigan (2.7 million votes), Kentucky (1.2 million), Ohio (3.3 million) and Tennessee (1.4 million) do not violate the U.S. Constitution. Citizens remain free to define marriage as a male-female institution. Today's decision helpfully explained why these laws are constitutional, why it is reasonable for citizens to support such laws, and why arguments for court-imposed redefinition of marriage do not succeed. It also sets the stage for marriage to return to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Rick Santorum on Religious Liberty and the LGBT Agenda

The Daily Signal

November 2, 2014

In an exclusive interview with Kelsey Harkness of The Daily Signal, former senator Rick Santorum discussed the state of religious liberty in America and the tension between some LGBT activists and those with deeply held religious beliefs. "We need to continue to fight, and in fact to push back the other way," Santorum said. "We've been too silent too long and we need to say, ‘Look, all of these thoughts are proper in the public square.' We need real freedom in this country, not government-dictated adherence to a set of principles."

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Religious liberty under attack

Philadelphia Inquirer commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

October 29, 2014

Indeed, a form of government respectful of free association, free contracts, free speech, and free exercise of religion should protect citizens' rights to live according to their beliefs about marriage. After all, protecting religious liberty and the rights of conscience does not infringe on anyone's sexual freedoms. No one has a right to have the government force a particular minister to marry them. Some citizens may conclude that they cannot in good conscience participate in same-sex ceremonies, from priests and pastors to bakers and florists. They should not be forced to choose between their beliefs and their livelihood.

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The Defense of Marriage Isn’t Over

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

October 7, 2014

Marriage is too important to allow unelected judges to redefine it without a fight. Even if the umpires are colluding with the other team, that's no reason to allow them an unopposed victory. Even if many of the courts of law are biased, we can still win in some of them-indeed many who favor redefining marriage think the 6th Circuit Court will uphold Ohio and Michigan's marriage laws, and the battle continues in other circuits, including the 5th Circuit which will review Texas and Louisiana's law (a federal judge recently upheld Louisiana's law). And the composition of the Supreme Court might well change for the better before the Court ends up actually deciding the marriage question.

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Let states, not courts, decide marriage policy

Washington Post commentary by Edwin Meese, III and Ryan Anderson

September 26, 2014

Feldman notes the two central issues in this debate: the policy question - what is marriage? - and the legal question - who gets to define marriage? On the policy question, Niemeyer explains that there are indeed rational reasons for people to think that marriage is a union of husband and wife: "Only the union of a man and a woman has the capacity to produce children and thus to carry on the species. And more importantly, only such a union creates a biological family unit that also gives rise to a traditionally stable political unit." Indeed, "when the Supreme Court has recognized, through the years, that the right to marry is a fundamental right, it has emphasized the procreative and social ordering aspects of traditional marriage."

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Farmers to Lesbian couple: "We're not hateful people."

video re: Daily Signal commentary by Leslie Ford and Ryan Anderson

September 26, 2014

Government shouldn't be able to fine citizens for acting in the market according to their own-rather than the government's-values, unless there is a compelling government interest being pursued in the least restrictive way possible. But the New York State Division of Human Rights doesn't see things this way. On August 8, it fined Cynthia and Robert Gifford $13,000 for acting on their belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman and thus declining to rent out their family farm for a same-sex wedding celebration.

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Watering Down Religious Freedom to 'Freedom to Worship'

Commentary by Sarah Torre

September 18, 2014

The American conception of religious liberty provides every person the freedom to seek the truth, form beliefs and live according to the dictates of their conscience -whether at home, in worship, or at work. Americans should be free to care for the poor, heal the sick and serve their communities in accordance with the faith without unnecessary government interference. Protecting the fundamental right to religious freedom will require continued vigilance from every American against an ever-expanding government that threatens to suffocate the free exercise of religion and the charitable works it inspires.

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Obama Administration Doubles Down on Fight Against Nuns

Daily Signal commentary by Kelsey Harkness

September 9, 2014

The Obama administration has decided to continue its legal battle against Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charity that objects to Obamacare's mandate that employee health plans cover contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. The order of Catholic nuns argues that the rule fashioned by the Department of Health and Human Services requires them to violate their religious beliefs by offering insurance coverage for 20 specific drugs and devices - some of which the nuns believe could destroy what they consider a human life.

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Obama Administration's Eighth Try on HHS Mandate and Religious Liberty Still Fails

The Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre

August 22, 2014

Under current regulations, a religious non-profit can sign what amounts to a "permission slip"directing their insurance company or administrator to cover the objectionable drugs and devices - a scheme most organizations believe still makes them complicit in a gravely immoral act. Under today's revision, objecting religious non-profits would instead send a letter to HHS. HHS would then direct the organizations' health plans to include the objectionable drugs and services. Numerous federal courts - including the Supreme Court - have seen through the current gimmick and granted temporary protection from the coercive mandate for religious non-profits in 31 cases.

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Government to Farmers: Host Same-Sex Wedding or Pay a $13,000 Fine

Daily Signal commentary by Leslie Ford and Ryan Anderson

August 19, 2014

But the New York State Division of Human Rights doesn't see things this way. On August 8, it fined Cynthia and Robert Gifford $13,000 for acting on their belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman and thus declining to rent out their family farm for a same-sex wedding celebration. The Human Rights Commission ruled that "the nature and circumstances of the [Giffords's] violation of the Human Rights Law also warrants a penalty." This is coercive big government run amok.

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Judge Upholds State's Authority to Define Marriage as Union of Man and Woman

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan Anderson

August 12, 2014

The fundamental legal question is who gets to define marriage. Simmons ruled it "should be the prerogative of each State." The judge continued: "neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state's responsibility, which is to provide a framework of laws to govern the safety and wellbeing of its citizens."

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Response to Obama's LGBT Executive Order

National Review Online commentary by Ryan Anderson

July 21, 2014

In response to this executive order, Congress has an opportunity to protect religious liberty and the rights of conscience. Policy should prohibit the government from discriminating against any individual or group, whether nonprofit or for-profit, based on their beliefs that marriage is the union of a man and woman or that sexual relations are reserved for marriage. The government should be prohibited from discriminating against such groups or individuals in tax policy, employment, licensing, accreditation, or contracting. This is the policy approach proposed by the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133, S. 1808).

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Senate Considering Bill That Could Wipe Out Many State Pro-Life Laws

Daily Signal commentary by Sarah Torre

July 16, 2014

"Imagine the vast majority of pro-life laws wiped out with the enactment of a single piece of federal legislation. That is the purpose behind S. 1696," summarizes Bill Saunders of Americans United for Life. The misleadingly named "Women's Health Protection Act," S. 1696, sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would do just the opposite of its euphemistic title. Effectively, it would strip states of the ability to protect the health and safety of women and defend the lives of unborn children.

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The Right to be Wrong

The Public Discourse commentary by Ryan Anderson

July 7, 2014

One of the hallmarks of religious liberty protections is that they protect people of all faiths, even if their beliefs seem unfounded, flawed, implausible, or downright silly. Recognition of a right to religious freedom does not, however, depend on religious skepticism, relativism, or indifferentism. Rather, it rests on the intelligible value of the religious quest-the activities of seeking to understand the truth about ultimate questions and conforming one's life accordingly with authenticity and integrity.

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Today the Supreme Court Protected Religious Freedom

Daily Signal commentary by E. Slattery and S. Torre

June 30, 2014

With today's ruling, the Greens' and Hahns' family businesses will be able to continue offering their employees generous healthcare plans (which cover most forms of contraception) without fear of government penalties. And the women who work for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood remain free - like all women - to make their own decisions about these four drugs and devices (as well as other birth control) and to purchase or find insurance coverage for them. But the government cannot coerce these family businesses to participate in those decisions in violation of their beliefs.

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Marriage: Where Do We Go From Here?

National Review Online commentary by Ryan Anderson

May 22, 2014

Some people would like me and the millions of Americans who continue to believe that marriage is what societies have believed it to be throughout human history - a male-female union - to get with the program and accept the inevitable. We're clearly, they tell us, on the Wrong Side of History. But we should avoid the temptation to prognosticate about the future in lieu of working to shape that future. We are citizens in a self-governing society, not pundits watching a spectator sport, not subjects of rulers. We are participants in one of the most significant debates our society - any society - has ever faced.

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A New Time for Choosing on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Heritage Foundry commentary by Ryan Anderson

April 28, 2014

America exists to defend the unalienable rights of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." In this new time for choosing, we must return to the synthesis of the American Founding: ordered liberty based on faith and reason, natural rights and morality, limited government and civil society-with the laws of nature and nature's God providing the standard.

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Eich Is Out. So Is Tolerance.

Heritage Foundation Foundry commentary by Ryan Anderson

April 3, 2014

Christian adoption agencies already have been forced out of serving children because they believe orphans deserve a mom and a dad. Forcing out these agencies doesn't help those orphans, and it doesn't help our society. We need as many adoption agencies as possible. Other cases include a photographer, a baker, a florist, a bed-and-breakfast, a T-shirt company, a student counselor, the Salvation Army, and more. In each of these instances, there were plenty of other businesses available that were willing to provide similar services.

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Liberals Are Using Campaign Disclosures to Intimidate and Harass

Heritage Foundry commentary by Hans von Spakovsky

April 3, 2014

The resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich over a personal $1,000 donation he made in 2008 in support of California's Proposition 8 shows the dark side of campaign disclosure laws and how liberals are using them to intimidate, harass, and bully anyone who disagrees with them on social and cultural issues. The Mozilla staffers and others targeting the company are engaging in the type of intolerance and coercive behavior that they are always accusing others of exhibiting.

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Honoring Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties for living their faith

Washington Times commentary by Ed Feulner

April 1, 2014

From the Declaration of Independence through the Revolution, the Civil War through the civil rights movement, Americans have frequently been willing to fight back and assert their rights when overzealous governments tried to take them away. That's still happening today. The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties took their turn recently, when their lawyers argued before the Supreme Court.

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Heritage Scholar a Threat to Safety on Stanford Campus?

Heritage Foundry blog by Andrew Kloster

March 20, 2014

Ryan T. Anderson talks a lot about marriage. Heritage's William E. Simon fellow has even been on CNN talking about marriage. But apparently safe enough for a CNN studio and dozens of other college campuses isn't safe enough for Stanford University, because the Stanford University Graduate Student Council (GSC) has denied funding for the Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) to have Anderson and other advocates for traditional marriage come speak at Stanford, and is attempting to charge the SAS $5000 in unnecessary security costs.

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Why That Texas Judge Was Wrong to Strike Down Texas' Marriage Law

Heritage commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

February 26, 2014

Equality demands that we treat in the same ways things that are the same. But a same-sex relationship is fundamentally different from a marriage. No same-sex union can produce a child. And no same-sex relationship can provide a child with a mother and a father. The government isn't in the business of affirming our loves. Rather, it leaves consenting adults free to live and love as they choose.

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Bake Us a Cake, or Else!

NRO commentary by Leslie Ford and Ryan T. Anderson

February 18, 2014

A growing number of incidents show that the redefinition of marriage and state policies on sexual orientation have created a climate of intolerance and intimidation for citizens who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and that sexual relations are properly reserved for marriage. Now comes government coercion and discrimination. Laws that create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity are being used to trump fundamental civil liberties such as freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.

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Obamacare Anti-Conscience Mandate at the Supreme Court

Heritage commentary by Elizabeth Slattery and Sarah Torre

February 13, 2014

The Supreme Court has agreed to review two challenges brought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. It will consider whether family-run businesses can exercise religion and, if so, how such a ruling would affect the anti-conscience mandate. Americans do not forfeit their right to live and work in accordance with their faith simply because they go into business to provide for themselves, their families, and their employees.

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US bishops: employment bill is wrong solution to discrimination

Catholic News Agency

November 5, 2013

A bill to prohibit workplace discrimination against homosexual and transgender persons poses serious threats to religious freedom and undermines the biological basis of gender, say its critics as it heads to a crucial Senate vote.  “All Americans should oppose unjust discrimination, but ENDA does not advance that goal. In fact, it moves us in the wrong direction,” said scholar and author Ryan T. Anderson. The bishops explained that as it is currently written, the proposed law lacks an exception for a "bona fide occupational qualification" for "those cases where it is neither unjust nor inappropriate to consider an applicant's sexual inclinations."

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ENDA Threatens Fundamental Civil Liberties

Heritage Foundation

October 30, 2013

Concerns about ENDA unite civil libertarians concerned about free speech and religious liberty, free marketers concerned about freedom of contract and government interference in the marketplace, and social conservatives concerned about marriage and culture. ENDA would further weaken the marriage culture and the ability of civil society to affirm that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that maleness and femaleness are not arbitrary constructs but objective ways of being human. ENDA would treat these moral convictions as if they were bigotry.

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Faith and freedom depend on each other

Ed Feulner in Washington Times

October 21, 2013

One of the clearest expressions of the Founders' attitude toward religion - endorsed by most Americans today - came from our second president, John Adams. "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people," Adams declared in 1798. "It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Only a moral and religious people could acquire and retain such traits of character as honesty, kindness, thoughtfulness, respect for law, fairness, self-discipline and self-reliance - virtues the Founders rightly deemed necessary for self-rule.

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Conscience Gets Lost in Obamacare Maze

Sarah Torre, Heritage Foundation

October 18, 2013

But we really shouldn't be surprised at this bewildering system, where hidden premiums and restricted consumer choice are further muddled at the direction of special interest groups. Obamacare's capacity to confuse stems from the law's power to control. Americans, told that their consciences are of no consequence, are left with few tools to scale the high walls of confusing regulations built by unelected bureaucrats in search of health care that meets their family's needs and aligns with their values.

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Protecting Religious Liberty in the Marriage Debate

Ryan Anderson - Heritage Foundation

September 19, 2013

Bipartisan legislation was introduced today in the House of Representatives that would prevent the federal government from discriminating against citizens and organizations who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
The Marriage and Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 3133) was introduced by Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) and over 60 other original co-sponsors from both political parties.

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Charade Continues with Obamacare HHS Mandate

Sarah Torre for Heritage Foundation

July 2, 2013

Like the administration's multiple previous attempts to "fix" the mandate, this final rule doesn't provide any workable or adequate solutions to the mandate's trampling on Americans' fundamental freedoms. At the renewal of health-plan years, employers still will be forced to facilitate coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization - regardless of religious or moral objection to one or more of these practices.

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Americans Continue to Oppose Obamacare’s HHS Mandate

Heritage Foundation Foundry - Sarah Torre

April 11, 2013

On Monday, hundreds of thousands of public comments flooded the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as individuals and groups expressed concern with the Obama Administration's continued trampling on a fundamental freedom. Many public comments expressed continued opposition to the coercive HHS mandate that requires almost all employers to provide health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices, contraception, and sterilization-regardless of moral or religious objection. After more than a year of public outrage, over 50 lawsuits against the anti-conscience mandate, and a federal judge's demand that HHS fix its coercive mandate, the Administration published a "notice of proposed rulemaking" (NPRM) on February 6.

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VIDEO: Heritage's Ryan Anderson Debates Marriage

CNN - Piers Morgan

March 26, 2013

How do you throw Piers Morgan off his game? Stick to the facts, remain civil and win the argument. Heritage's Ryan Anderson did exactly that Tuesday night in a showdown with the liberal CNN host of "Piers Morgan Live" and guest Suze Orman. The show came on the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union of a man and woman. The court will hear arguments Wednesday on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

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Protecting the Many Victims of Obamacare

Sarah Torre, The Foundry - Heritage Foundation

March 7, 2013

"The health-care law puts my family in an impossible dilemma," explains Carrie Kolesar, part owner of Seneca Hardwood Lumber Company in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, which is suing over the mandate. "[W]e have to choose between violating our freedom of conscience and giving up freedoms protected under the Constitution, or facing severe government penalties that will harm our families and put us out of business. No American should be faced with a decision like that."

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Congressmen: Obama Admin Can’t “Pick and Choose” Who Gets Religious Freedom

Sarah Torre in The Foundry - Heritage Foundation

February 26, 2013

On February 19, nine U.S. Senators and two U.S. Representatives joined a “friend of the court”brief in Hobby Lobby’s 10th Circuit Court appeal over the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate, highlighting the Obama Administration’s refusal to recognize business owners’ religious freedom. The congressional brief explains that the federal government “may not pick and choose whose exercise of religion is protected and whose is not.”


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Anti-Conscience Mandate Halted Against Second Family-Owned Business

Heritage commentary by Dominique Ludvigson

November 3, 2012

A second federal district court has granted a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of Obamacare's conscience-crushing contraception mandate. Weingartz Supply and its owner objected to the mandate's requirement that they provide their employees abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptives in violation of the owner's religious beliefs or risk crippling fines.

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Summer of Intolerance Regarding Same-Sex Marriage Bleeds into Fall

Heritage Foundation commentary by Dominique Ludvigson

October 18, 2012

Gallaudet University put its chief diversity officer, Angela McCaskill, on paid leave last week for the offense of joining 200,000 other Marylanders in signing a petition supporting a ballot referendum over Maryland’s recently adopted same-sex marriage law.

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Debunked: Biden Claims HHS Mandate Not an Assault on Religious Liberty

Heritage Foundation commentary by Sarah Torre

October 12, 2012

The real "fact" about the anti-conscience mandate is that it applies to almost all employers-including many religious organizations such as hospitals and social service providers. It requires them to provide coverage that pays for abortion drugs, contraception, and sterilization regardless of moral or religious objections.

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HHS Mandate “Serious” Threat to Religious Liberty

Heritage Foundation video - J. Marshall

August 26, 2012

In the video, Marshall stresses that the infringement of religious freedom under Obamacare is only beginning: “We will see other conflicts with conscience in the future. So the only real solution for the religious liberty problem under the HHS mandate is the repeal of Obamacare.”

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Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction in HHS Mandate Fight

Heritage commentary by J. Marshall and D. Ludvigson

July 29, 2012

Accepting the Administration’s logic would limit the application of religious freedom to individuals alone, acting within their houses of worship on weekends. It would effectively push religion out of every sphere of public life and restrict the free exercise rights of adherents to live out their faiths in their day-to-day lives. The Administration does not appear to perceive religion as something that people of faith strive to live out daily in every aspect of their lives, however imperfectly.

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Obamacare’s Many Victims

Heritage Foundation commentary by Sarah Torre

July 5, 2012

Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate displays the Administration’s offensively constricted view of faith in public life, affording the narrowest religious exemption in federal law that effectively only applies to formal houses of worship. Schools, soup kitchens, health clinics, and countless other “Good Samaritan” groups are left completely unprotected by the exemption simply because they serve vulnerable individuals without regard to their creed or background.

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A Clarion Call for the American People

Heritage Foundation commentary by N. Owcharenko and R. Alt

June 28, 2012

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare reflects a tragic misreading of the law, one which could cost us not just economically but also in terms of liberty.  On the bright side, the Court recognized that there are limits to what Congress may do under the Commerce Clause.  But this was the silver-lining of a dark cloud.  The Court then fundamentally misreads ObamaCare, contorting to find another authority—the power to tax—for Congress to enact the law.

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Religious Liberty Concerns Grow Greater as Obamacare Upheld

Heritage Foundation commentary by J. Marshall and S. Torre

June 28, 2012

This morning, the Supreme Court didn’t just miss the opportunity to protect individual liberty. It also failed to defend religious freedom. The Court’s ruling to uphold the health care law doesn’t mean it has cleared its legal challenges, however. Twenty-three federal lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate—which goes into effect on August 1—now take on added urgency.

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"Accommodation" Fails to Protect Religious and Moral Conscience

Heritage Foundation commentary by T. Messner and E. Haislmaier

June 19, 2012

Though the ANPRM states that insurance issuers would be prohibited from charging a premium for the separate contraceptive coverage, there is no reason to believe that insurance issuers would not raise premiums on other services to compensate for the coverage they are forced to provide for “free.” Indeed, state-level insurance regulation is properly focused on ensuring that issuers charge enough in premiums to cover expected claims costs, and failing to adjust premiums to pay for mandated services could undermine the financial solvency of insurers,

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Religious Liberty--Obamacare's First Casualty

Heritage Foundation video

May 18, 2012

The controversy over the Obama Administration's anti-conscience mandate and the fight for religious liberty only serves to highlight the inherent flaws in Obamacare. This conflict is a natural result of the centralization laid out under Obamacare and will only continue until the law is repealed in full.

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Public Comments Overwhelmingly Oppose HHS Anti-Conscience Mandate

Heritage Foundation analysis

May 3, 2012

The federal website released the first round of public comments on the administration's proposed anti-conscience mandate on Wednesday. The comments were overwhelmingly opposed to the measure: out of 211 comments submitted, only six, less than 3%, offered support for the mandate.

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