From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:
Unless something odd happens, the current state legislative session is over this week. Unless the Governor convenes a special session or the legislature calls for an extraordinary session, the legislators will go home this week and begin campaigning for the fall elections.
I started in this work nearly 17 years ago. That means I’ve endured 8 two-year sessions of our state legislature. You start thinking you’ve seen it all, especially after the 2011-2012 session when we had weeks of the state capitol being closed because of tens of thousands of protestors swarming the building. I really figured that would be the most bizarre session I—or anyone else, for that matter—would ever be involved with.
However, in my opinion, this legislative session tops even that session. Words I would use to describe this session include “incredible,” “unreal,” “disappointing,” and “maddening.”
The session began in early January 2013, following the 2012 fall elections. Governor Walker was beginning the third year of his four-year term. The Republicans had majorities in both the Senate and the Assembly.
Whichever party has the majority controls the respective house. That means Republican leadership has control in both the Assembly and the Senate. That majority determines the committee to which bills are assigned, has input on which bills get hearings and committee votes and certainly determines which bills get to the floor for a full vote on passage.
Frankly, to a large degree it’s fair to say the Republicans “own” state government right now in Wisconsin. If pro-family, pro-life, pro-liberty bills don’t get passed, it’s pretty safe to say Republicans didn’t want them passed.
And that is precisely why I find this legislative session the most frustrating of all the sessions I’ve been involved with. Unless something dramatic happens in the next couple of days, at least 3 solid pro-life bills will die in the Republican-controlled state senate. Assembly Bill 216 would keep taxpayers from having to pay for the abortions of state employees and would also provide a narrow religious exemption for churches and certain other religious organizations regarding health insurance. Right now, it is illegal for insurance companies in Wisconsin to sell health-insurance coverage that does not include a fully array of contraceptive drugs and devices, some of which cause early abortions. Assembly Bill 216 would permit insurance companies to write policies for churches and other religious organizations that do not cover contraceptives, if the church or organization wanted such a policy.
Assembly Bill 217 would ban sex-selective abortions—abortions sought simply based on the sex of the baby. Assembly Bill 206 authorizes the production and sale of a Choose Life Wisconsin specialty license plate. The proceeds from the sale of this plate would go to Wisconsin’s wonderful Pregnancy Resource Centers—places where women receive real help during crisis pregnancies—help that focuses on both the unborn baby and the health and well-being of the woman.
In addition, Republican Senators have killed a bill that would put a process in place for the development, adoption, and implementation of state model academic standards, a process that would prevent a repeat of the Common Core State Standards disaster we’re all living through right now.All four of these bills had solid support in both houses. In fact, the 3 pro-life bills all passed in the State Assembly. All that was necessary for them to become law was for the Senate to vote on them and send the bills to the governor.
Instead, all 4 bills are dead, in spite of ongoing, repeated, and aggressive efforts by outside groups to get them on the senate floor for a vote. Senate Republican leadership has blocked them, determining them to be unnecessary, unimportant, messy, divisive or something. We’ve heard all kinds of reasons for these bills dying. We’ve heard whining about its being an election year and insinuations that the Governor doesn’t want them and recently that the Senate leadership says they don’t have enough Republican votes to pass them.
What I know is in a session where any reasonable person would assume these bills would all pass, they have not passed. They remain buried in the Republican controlled Senate. And yes, that makes this session one of the most bizarre, if not the most bizarre, I’ve ever been part of. It’s maddening, frustrating, and downright reprehensible and inexcusable.
This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard two very important religious liberty cases - Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, and the Hahn family, owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, are taking a stand against the HHS mandate, a controversial portion of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that forces employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives to their employees against their firmly held religious convictions. Both companies face fines of up to $100 per day per employee if the mandate is upheld.
The SCOTUS decision on these cases is not expected until at least June. Family Research Council provides a summary of the SCOTUS hearings HERE.
This Saturday, March 29, is national “Hobby Lobby Day.” Show your support for the Greene family and others who are courageously taking a stand for religious freedom.
HOW YOU CAN SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:
- Make a purchase from Hobby Lobby on Saturday, March 29 (on-line or in the store). go shopping with friends! Say “thank you” with a card from your family; make your own, or download and print one HERE.
- Change your Facebook profile picture to show your support. Get your “twibbon” HERE.
- Do you have a Twitter account? Tweet your support using hashtags #HobbyLobbyDay starting now and throughout the day on March 29th!
- Update your Facebook cover using the graphic HERE.
- Pray for a positive outcome from the SCOTUS decision for these companies, and for religious liberty in the United States.
Today’s op ed published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, by Julaine Appling, Wisconsin Family Action president:
“By now, we are all painfully familiar with the refrain “war on women” from those on the left. Contrary to what they want us to think, liberal progressives are actually the ones waging a war on women with policies bent on making women — particularly single women — dependent on government. You may be surprised by the brilliance of their agenda.
Consider the liberal policy of excessive business regulations. It is not easy for anyone to raise the capital necessary to start a new venture, but it can be especially difficult for women for a number of reasons. When legislators pile regulatory policies on start-ups, they raise the cost of doing business, make compliance and reporting a nightmare and limit profitability for women trying to pursue the dream of owning their own company.
Then consider the high taxes that diminish the family’s bottom line, often eliminating the option for women who want to stay home with their children. Instead, to make family ends meet, moms often are compelled to go into the workforce — at least part time — which frequently puts a strain on their families and marriages.
Wisconsin Family Action has done a rather detailed analysis — to be published soon — of government benefits for single mothers compared to married mothers, and by our cautious calculations, the state and federal governments pay working single moms in Wisconsin approximately $31,000 per year to not marry the working father of their children. From an economic standpoint, government encourages single moms to remain single and incredibly dependent on government welfare, which, incidentally, could change at any time, significantly affecting their monthly income. Policies that essentially pay single moms to remain single condemn women and children to poverty rather than help them become strong and independent.
Liberals are adamant that unregulated, taxpayer-funded, elective abortions at any time during pregnancy is a woman’s right. Yet abortion comes with great risk to a woman and is sometimes accompanied by years of physical, psychological and emotional issues. Keeping a minor girl’s reproductive health information from her parents is dangerous — even medically — for the girl. Opposing parental consent for a minor girl to have an abortion leaves girls at the mercy of abortion clinic staff.
Fighting efforts to have women get an ultrasound prior to an abortion limits information and choice for women. Perhaps most ironically, actively working to make women dependent on government for abortion and contraception effectively puts women’s so-called reproduction rights at the mercy of the appropriations power of the legislature. These policies are the real war on women, yet liberals have vigorously and aggressively supported these policies over the years.
Conservative policies, on the other hand, respect individual liberty — for men and women — and encourage entrepreneurship, job creating, saving, wealth creation and pro-family, pro-life initiatives. Why then accuse conservatives of waging a war on women?
It is really no secret. Liberals desperately want the significant voting bloc of single women in America who lean Democratic. It is a large but sometimes inactive voting bloc, which means liberals need to create a boogeyman for single women in order to galvanize their vote, particularly in an off-year election. Thus we end up with the ominous, but wrongly-attributed, war on women rhetoric from Democrats.
There is a real war being waged on women, but it is in fact the work of liberals who want to make women dependent on government and who are willing to sell out the independence of our women for the price of a vote.
Julaine Appling is president of Wisconsin Family Action, a statewide organization dedicated to strengthening, preserving and promoting marriage, family, life and liberty in Wisconsin.”
Yesterday, Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, testified in favor of SB 619 before the Senate Committee on Education. Read the full testimony below:
Testimony in Support of Senate Bill 619
Senate Committee on Education
Julaine K. Appling, WFA President
March 6, 2014
“Thank you, Chairman Olsen and committee members, for the opportunity to testify today in support of Senate Bill 619. I am Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, an organization dedicated to strengthening, preserving and promoting marriage, family, life and liberty in The Badger state. Helping to ensure that parents have strong educational options and opportunities to be involved in the policies impacting the schools their children attend is extremely important to us.
We want to thank Senator Vukmir for introducing this bill that addresses some issues important to education and academic standards in our state.
It is reasonable and appropriate to assume that all of us want the students in Wisconsin’s public schools to receive the best education possible and expect them to meet high standards in knowledge and skills. That’s what we are here to discuss today. However, I submit that we can have the very best standards anyone can create, and we can have excellent teachers in our schools and we will still likely be disappointed in our rate of success. Fundamentally, we are dealing with a problem that is beyond the ability of standards and educators to fix and that is the breakdown of the family unit. As more and more students come from broken or dysfunctional homes, we will find it increasingly difficult to move these students to acceptable, let alone exceptional, academic performance. If state government is really interested in improving the academic performance and readiness of students, then at some point it must address strengthening families in a variety of ways.
That said, we find this particular bill to be a good step in establishing a clear process by which state academic standards are developed and adopted in Wisconsin. Heretofore, we have had no established process, at least not at the legislative level. Whatever process we have had has resided exclusively within the Department of Public Instruction.
To summarize, the positives we see in this bill are as follows:
1. It establishes a clear process for the development and adoption of state academic standards.
2. It ensures more involvement by Wisconsin stakeholders.
3. It involves more than DPI in the appointment of people to the advisory board.
4. It brings the process more into the light of day.
5. It requires opportunity for public input on the adoption of state academic standards by requiring three public hearings at various steps in the process and before different bodies.
6. It requires an appropriate measure of legislative oversight.
7. It ensures school districts retain discretion in curriculum choices and adoption.
8. It establishes a systematic review of and potential revision of state academic standards.
9. It ensures new model academic standards in English, reading and language arts and mathematics are proposed per the process within one year of the bill’s enactment.
10. It emphasizes that all interested parties should be able to clearly discern that the standards are setting high standards.
11. It retains local control in that it makes no change to the current law that clearly does not require any school district to adopt the state model academic standards but does require all school districts to adopt standards.
Also, we are pleased that this bill addresses both of the concerns we have with and recommendations we made regarding AB 617, related to who appoints advisory committee members and the amount of time before the current standards in math and English were reviewed.
We do have one concern with SB 619 and that involves the literacy standards that Dr. Evers and DPI also unilaterally adopted for all of Wisconsin. These literacy standards for English and math are incorporated in the academic standards, but DPI also has adopted “Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects” which fall under the Common Core State Standards umbrella. I believe the author, co-sponsors and this committee should look at potentially amending this bill to include these standards in the review, development and adoption process proscribed in this legislation.”
“Believers will always be strangers in a strange land – the question is how much freedom they will have to follow that belief in that land as they become all the more out of sync with the times, and how much we will deploy government to compel them to violate that belief. And that’s one more reason why the culture wars are just getting started.”
That’s what Ben Domenech wrote in an online publication just one day after Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed that state’s recently passed religious freedom bill.
I’ve been shouting the same thing from the rooftops here in Wisconsin for almost two decades. Religious liberty is being seriously threatened in the United States of America, in spite of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Few seem to understand that or if they do understand it, they don’t seem to care.
So what did happen in Arizona last week? In the wake of the federal level Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Arizona had in 1999 adopted a state version of this federal law. The bill introduced last month in Arizona was giving just minimal tweaks to the state’s existing language. Legal scholars tell us that SB 1062 “provided a) that RFRA protects corporations just the same as natural persons, b) that RFRA can be used as a defense in court against a suit by a private citizen, and c) that RFRA claims can be brought not just against the state government, but against all municipalities and “state actors” in Arizona.”
These tweaks are necessary in the wake of state supreme court decisions like the one this past summer in New Mexico. Elane Photography declined to do the pictures for a same-sex commitment ceremony and was sued and lost partly because the state claimed the owners of Elane Photography were being sued by private citizens and not the state and the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act applied only if the state brought the lawsuit. Proponents of the bill were just trying to make sure the state’s business community and private citizens had a fair chance in court.
SB 1062 didn’t do any, not one, of the things opponents were alleging. That was all emotion, hype, and lies—all designed to do exactly what they wanted and accomplished—kill the bill. It was messaging on a mission; destroy the credibility of the people promoting the bill. Paint them negatively; accuse them of hate and bigotry; invoke racial overtones with accusations of re-instating Jim Crow laws against homosexuals and more. Since the opponents owned the media, it worked. Reason and reality were trampled while people from all walks of life, from both ends of the political spectrum, weighed in—almost all of them without having read the bill or at least understanding it. Zeal without knowledge—a dangerous combination.
Here’s what Attorney Brandon McGinley, writing in the wake of all this said about this bill and the near hysteria that resulted: “… the fact of the matter is, if SB 1062 was unacceptable, then no substantive religious liberty protections will ever be acceptable.”
That ought to get your attention. Mr. McGinley and Mr. Domenech are both saying, religious liberty in America is about to become a figment of our imagination.
By now you should be asking as a Wisconsin citizen what protection do you have here should you be sued for denying a service to a customer? I would say, we don’t really know. We do have a strong religious freedom statement in our state constitution in Article I, Section 18, which states, “the right of every person to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed.” But we also have a Human Rights Protection Act similar to that of New Mexico’s that hung Elane Photography. We’ve not had the same kind of legal challenges here—yet—that have happened and are happening in New Mexico, Colorado, Vermont, Oregon and other states. The courts would tell us how much religious freedom we have depending on the courts’ interpretation of the State Constitution, the US Constitution and any pertinent case law. That ought to be enough to scare you right there.
Religious freedom is no trifling matter. It’s important; it’s what our country was founded on and for. Yes, Believers will always be strangers in a strange land, but that doesn’t mean we don’t engage in the culture wars. Too much is at stake not to.
Seems ironic that the nation’s abortion icon, Planned Parenthood, should be selling, of all things, baby onesies with the above slogan. Since only 8 out of 100 unborn babies make it out of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities alive, we doubt the sales will skyrocket any time soon. If anything, this latest money grab attempt appears to be more like a major marketing faux pas.
American political pundit and columnist, Kirsten Powers, has taken aim at the latest state to propose a bill that protects religious liberty. According to our friends at The Foundry, the Arizona bill SB1062 is an amendment to the 1999 state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that “protects all citizens and the associations they form from undue burdens by the government on their religious liberty or from private lawsuits that would have the same result.” Powers recently wrote a column that she purposefully and erroneously titled “Arizona Latest to Attack Gay Rights,” calling SB1062 “an abomination of a bill.”
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Late yesterday evening, AZ Governor Jan Brewer (R) vetoed SB 1062. Click HERE to read Cathi Herrod’s, president of Center for Arizona Policy, statement on this veto. Cathi (pictured left) and the state family policy council that she leads in AZ were strong proponents of this bill to protect individual liberties.
“This measure should have been a political no-brainer but only went down because people either chose to ignore the plain language of the bill or refused to read it altogether. Apparently, they’re graduates of the Pelosi School of Policy, where they dispose of bills before they find out what’s in them.
This bill like the federal RFRA, bars government discrimination against religious exercise, so by vetoing this bill Gov. Brewer is saying she supports government discrimination against people’s religious freedoms.
Under the amended Religious Freedom Restoration Act, what was legislative intent (but ignored by certain courts) would have been clear: individuals do not have to trade their religious freedom for entrance into public commerce. In other words, whether it’s a wedding vendor, whose orthodox Christian faith will not allow her to affirm same-sex ‘marriage,’ or a business like Hobby Lobby or Conestoga Wood, whose faith bars them from providing drugs that have the potential to end a pregnancy, the provisions of RFRA would apply.
Unfortunately, at a moment of testing, Governor Jan Brewer yielded to the cultural bullies and their frenzy-driven opposition instead of consulting the facts,” concluded Perkins.”
Earlier this month, Green Bay alderman Amy Kocha asked the city to reconsider providing domestic partnership benefits to homosexual couples. In 2011, the Green Bay Common Council voted down this very same provision.
Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling addresses this issue, “The Green Bay City Council would be well-advised to table this idea. The registry they are trying to use is being challenged in the State Supreme Court and taxpayers shouldn’t have to absorb more costs. Essentially nothing’s changed since the last time the council considered this ill-advised idea.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
If you live in the City of Green Bay, call your alderman and mayor. Tell them you do not agree with the provision of domestic partnership benefits and that you do not want the City Council to vote on this issue again.
Green Bay Common Council Members: Contact information HERE.
Green Bay Mayor James J. Schmitt: Contact information HERE.
It’s pretty clear that God created and intended for there to be only two sexes. He didn’t allow for more, make exceptions for more, discuss more, create more or anything of that nature. God’s divine standard for gender is two—male and female—each distinctly different from the other. God is not, I repeat, He is not confused about gender.
However, God’s clarity on the issue and His equally clear written revelation on this issue don’t stop mere mortals from thinking they know more than God.
Recognizing, protecting and promoting so-called “genders” other than male and female has become very popular in the United States. It’s part of the fallout from not believing God’s Word, not having any intention of obeying it, and even mocking it as myth. Once we depart from the Truth of God’s Word, we eventually end up hopeless confused, terribly wrong, and headed for serious trouble.
But that doesn’t stop modern society from raising their proverbial angry fists at God and insisting on going their own deluded,dangerous way.
With the push to normalize homosexuality comes a host of other issues, gender identity among them, as people attempt to excuse or justify their quirks and lust. Admittedly, because young people are today are early-on exposed to these very wrong ideas and lifestyles, some are genuinely confused—not because they inherently are gender-confused, but because they have been convinced by people they trust that gender is complex, confusing, and much more multi-faceted than male and female.
In Wisconsin we’ve had some attempts in the last year to add “gender identity” to nondiscrimination laws in local communities. Fond du Lac considered such a proposal late this last year. The public became involved and eventually the City Council voted it down. But the openly homosexual City Council member who originally introduced the proposal says he will bring it back again because it’s only fair that people who don’t identify with their biological gender should have special protections.
When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self. An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just “male” or female.” So today, we’re proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook.
We collaborated with our Network of Support, a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations, to offer an extensive list of gender identities that many people use to describe themselves….
The new custom gender option is available to everyone who uses Facebook in U.S. English.
And then people are referred to another site for more information. I followed the instructions given and it’s true. There are now over 50 different gender identities someone can choose from to define their sex. This is beyond extraordinary. It’s wrong. It leads to further confusion for teens. It creates potential legal issues that we shouldn’t even have to think about and who knows what else.
If Facebook is pushing this gender-identity issue, you can be sure other social media are as well, along with schools. It’s imperative that parents talk to their children from the time they are little about being distinctly boys or distinctly girls—the gender that God made them as reflected in their physiology and biology. We need to build into them a respect for their own sex and that of the opposite sex, recognizing, respecting and appreciating the differences.
Gender should not be confusing for children—or for anyone else for that matter. If we teach children to know and love God’s Word and to believe Him and trust Him, then they will immediately distinguish truth from falsehood. They’ll know that male and female is two genders, not over 50.
After God created male and female, He pronounced His plan “good.” The created being is beyond foolish to think that he with his finitemind can improve on what the Creator has done.