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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 TownHall.com 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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
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.
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.
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....
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)
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.
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."
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."
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
May 3, 2012
The federal website Regulations.gov 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.