Wisconsin: A Frustrating Legislative Session for Pro-Lifers

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:

State capitolUnless 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.

ImageAssembly 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.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald

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 Saturday, March 29, is HOBBY LOBBY DAY: Show Your Support for Religious Freedom

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Change your Facebook profile picture to show your support.  Get your “twibbon” HERE.
  3. Do you have a Twitter account? Tweet your support using hashtags #HobbyLobbyDay starting now and throughout the day on March 29th!
  4. Update your Facebook cover using the graphic HERE.
  5. Pray for a positive outcome from the SCOTUS decision for these companies, and for religious liberty in the United States.

Religious Freedom Goes Before SCOTUS; Sebelius v Hobby Lobby

 Religious freedom is under attack like never before. 

“The freedom of religion is the ability to live your life according to the religious teachings of your choice. However, President Obama has repeatedly expressed his support for the freedom of worship, not the freedom of religion. His HHS mandate is a byproduct of his truncated view of religious liberty and the First Amendment.” – Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president

ImageOn Tuesday, March 25, the Supreme Court of the United States will be hearing two very important cases; both are challenging the HHS regulations coming from Obamacare concerning the mandate that employers provide coverage for services to which they are morally opposed (abortion-causing drugs, sterilization, contraception).

Read Sebelius v Hobby Lobby HERE.
Read Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v Sebelius HERE

The future of religious freedom is at stake.

>>>>>Read more HERE
>>>>>Click HERE to listen to WFA president Julaine Appling discuss this very important issue as she hosts WVCY’s weekly radio program Home Front.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Pray for a favorable outcome of the challenges to the HHS regulations.
  • Pray for the future of religious freedom in America.
  • Pray for both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties and their attorneys as they stand on biblical principles and fight for religious liberty in two very important cases that affect us all.
  • Show your support for their courageous stand by joining and sharing #HobbyLobbyDay!

Here’s how:
1. Change your profile photo to show your support!:http://ow.ly/uIQEP
2. Shop Hobby Lobby on March 29th and say “thank you” with a card from your family! http://ow.ly/uMUH5
3. Share a picture of your shopping trip using #HobbyLobbyDay hashtag on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Religious liberty in America about to become a figment of our imagination?

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:

“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.

ImageI’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.

ImageSB 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.

 

National Pundit Scoffs AZ Religious Freedom Bill as “Abomination”

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.”

>>>>>read more HERE

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Late yesterday evening, AZ Governor Jan Brewer (R) vetoed SB 1062. ClicHERE 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.

 

 

RESPONSE FROM FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL 2.26.2014:

Family_Research_Council_Logo“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.”

Freedom of Speech Under Fire in Campbell, WI; Use It or Lose It

Rural Town of Campbell, Wisconsin, located on an island between the Mississippi and Black Rivers, is in the news after two La Crosse residents participating in “Overpasses for America” filed a lawsuit that claims a recently enacted ordinance promoted “viewpoint discrimination” and was unconstitutional.

Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling responds, “Local municipalities can make their own ordinances, but they don’t have the freedom to enact policies that violate the US Constitution. What is happening in the Town of Cambell is a great example of what frequently happens when elected officials have knee-jerk reactions to specific situations.  We often get terrible, and sometimes even unconstitutional, policies.”

The Thomas More Law Center, co-counsel with LaCrosse, Wisconsin lawyer Bernardo Cueto, filed the federal lawsuit last week.

FREE Event in Portage – Defending Religious Liberty, February 20

DEFENDING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

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FEBRUARY 20TH, 2014
6:00 PM through 8:00 PM
Pizza Ranch
2905 New Pinery Rd
Portage, WI 53901
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WFC/WFA President Julaine Appling

Wisconsin Family Council/Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling will give a presentation on ways to defend religious freedom and its importance for Christians in Wisconsin.

Supper will be provided.  A freewill offering will be taken to help cover the cost of the event.

Space is limited so register early!

Click HERE to register NOW!

THIS SUNDAY: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday – Life Issues Gaining Ground in WI

Sanctity of Human Life SundayFrom the Desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:

It’s January which means it is Sanctity of Human Life month.  Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is this coming Sunday.  On January 22 of this month it will be 41 years since the United States Supreme Court concocted pretty much out of thin air a “right to privacy” that made abortion legal across this country.

Over those intervening 41 years, Planned Parenthood both nationally and at the state level, has grown into multi-million dollar organizations.  Planned Parenthood remains, nationally and here in Wisconsin, the number one provider of abortions each year.  Planned Parenthood receives millions of dollars each year of taxpayer money—that’s your money—that then is used to promote in public schools and elsewhere programs and materials and ideologies that encourage our young people to engage in promiscuous, recreational sex—often illegal activity because of state under-age-sex laws.  In so doing, Planned Parenthood is virtually assuring future business, if not for abortion at least for tests for sexually-transmitted diseases and infections.

While Planned Parenthood has been using millions, if not billions, of our hard-earned dollars to propagate it’s dangerous and insidious message and work, pro-life groups have managed to gain some important victories—nationally and at the state level—without drinking at the trough of government funds, a euphemism for your money.

In spite of this very obvious tilting of the field against us, pro-life organizations and pro-life citizens continue to gain the high ground.  In Wisconsin, the number of abortions has consistently gone down over the last several years, reaching a record low in 2012 in both number of abortions performed and the abortion rate.  The 2012 numbers are 6,927 abortions and 6.1 abortions per 1,000 Wisconsin women ages 15-44, which is well below the national statistics.

One abortion is too many; certainly nearly 7000 abortions are horribly too many.  However, we are encouraged that the number is dropping.  The number is going in the right direction because with the help of many of you as pro-life citizens, we’ve passed some good laws restricting abortion and making sure women are truly informed and protected as they consider this life-taking, high-risk procedure.

But it’s not just laws that are helping win the day.  It’s changes in the culture, as well.  More and more people think abortion any time for any reason is not right.  That tells me some of the pro-life media campaigns have hit the mark.  It also tells me that our churches have been getting the biblical pro-life message out.  It tells me families are making sure the next generation knows the truth.  Gains against the formidable, well-funded pro-abortion crowd don’t come easy but they are always worth the money, time and effort expended.  Who can put a price on saving the life of a baby?

Now that’s the question of the day as we mark 41 years of the abortion holocaust in our country and 41 years of Planned Parenthood’s anti-life, anti-women scourge on our communities. That’s the question I ask now as we enter the last couple of months of our legislative session here in Wisconsin.  I ask it directly of the State Senate where we have 2 pro-life bills sitting waiting for action in this house so the bills can go to the governor.  Assembly Bill 216 would keep taxpayers from having to pay for the abortions of state employees and would also create a religious freedom exemption for churches and other religious organizations so they can offer their employees health insurance that does not include contraceptives that are abortion-inducing—against their religious beliefs.  Assembly Bill 217 would ban sex-selective abortions in our state.

choose life plates LGIn addition to these two bills, we have Assembly Bill 206 in the Senate, ready for this body to vote on and get to the governor.  Assembly Bill 206 authorizes a Choose Life Wisconsin license plate with proceeds from the sale of the plate going to our Pregnancy Resource Centers so they can continue and enlarge their life-saving, life-affirming, pro-women work.

Really, who can put a price—whether that price is financial, social, or political—on saving the life of a baby?  I’m hopeful that our State Senate will clearly see the answer to that question and join wholeheartedly in 2014 Sanctity of Human Life month by acting on these bills so that in 2015, we can report more Wisconsin babies saved and more Wisconsin women protected from the horrors of abortion.

Duck Dynasty: “Homosexual activists increasing campaign of intimidation”

From our friends at Family Research Council:

Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins released the following statement in response to A&E Network’s suspension of Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson because he expressed his religious belief that homosexuality is a sin:

Image“A&E’s suspension of Phil Robertson shows Hollywood wants to avoid reality. The reality is that the Robertson family are Bible-believing Christians who don’t cherry pick what the Bible teaches.

“Phil Robertson has been targeted simply because he expressed his religious beliefs but there is a clear double standard that is being applied. Nothing was done when homosexual activist Dan Savage screamed profanities at Christian high school students and called them ‘pansy-(expletive deleted).’ However, when Christians simply say homosexuality is wrong and they don’t agree with it, there are demands that they be fired and silenced.

“We have also seen wedding florists, bakers, photographers hauled into court, fined and even ordered to violate their religious beliefs by participating in same-sex weddings. It is time for all Americans to take a stand against the cultural elites who want to destroy the livelihood of people and remove God and His truth from every aspect of public life.

Image“The increasing awareness of this collateral cultural and religious carnage that accompanies the redefinition of natural marriage will continue to cause the debate over same-sex marriage to intensify, not abate, despite the media’s relative silence and homosexual activists increasing campaign of intimidation,” concluded Perkins.

_____________________________

Alliance Defending Freedom is asking Facebook users to “Stand With Phil” by posting this graphic as their Facebook profile picture:

#StandWithPhil  #BrngBackPhil

#StandWithPhil #BrngBackPhil

 

Read more from ADF HERE.

Dr. James Dobson vs. Obamacare


Dr. James Dobson Forced to Fund Abortion Pills

ImageObamacare’s mandate requires Dobson’s “Family Talk” ministry to provide access to abortion-causing drugs and devices (like the “week after” pill, or IUD’s) for employees covered by its health plan. Image If Family Tak chooses not to comply, it will be subjected to crushing fines.  Dr. James Dobson and Family Talk have publicly stated they will not comply with this unjust law, and have called upon Alliance Defending Freedom to defend them in court.

Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling responds, “More and more ministries are finding out they are being forced, one way or another, to comply with Obamacare’s abortion  and contraception mandate.  The exemptions are very narrow; the so-called accommodation is a joke, frankly.   Ministries here in Wisconsin had best be taking a close look at what Obamacare is going to mean to them.  There’s legal help available.  Ministry leaders should be proactive on this matter.”

Read more HERE and take action!