House Broken: Boehner Rolls Over on DHS Funding
[Tuesday’s] House session felt like a tale of two Congresses. After one of the greatest foreign policy speeches in a generation, members got back to business. But the same defiance and resolve that filled the chamber just hours earlier seemed to exit the chamber when Benjamin Netanyahu did. Instead of building on that momentum, House leaders let it slip away in a familiar – but staggering – show of capitulation on an issue that could be the defining one in 2016.
After months of promises and saber rattling over the President’s illegal amnesty order, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) raised what is becoming his trademark white flag and gave President Obama the funds to continue running the Department of Homeland Security, illegal actions and all. Proving the Establishment is more focused on the media than their employers – voters – Boehner decided to throw away the political leverage he had in the illegal immigration debate and bring up a “clean” Homeland Security funding bill for a vote.
While the idea was originally Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.), the Speaker had talked tough for months that his chamber wouldn’t be bullied into funding the agency unless it addressed the White House’s amnesty order for as many as five million undocumented immigrants. Most conservatives wanted to draw a line on the President’s breech of authority in the last Congress, but Boehner refused – insisting that it would be the top priority of the new Congress. “I said we would fight tooth and nail when we had the majority,” he said back in January, “and I meant it… Members of Congress support funding the department, but we cannot continue to allow the President to go around the Congress, to go around the law and take unilateral action.”
On Tuesday, the Speaker’s actions suggested he didn’t really mean it – much to his party’s outrage. A whopping 167 Republicans, including several key committee chairmen, voted against leadership, casting every single “no” on the roll call. “There is no way on God’s green earth,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) told reporters that he would support a bill that didn’t combat the President’s actions. It was a strong sentiment that rippled right through the party. “I believe this is a sad day for America,” Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) lamented. “If we aren’t going to fight now, when are we going to fight?”
The same House Speaker that pointed out how unaffected Homeland Security would be by a funding delay (90% of employees would still be working), suddenly changed tunes. “With more active threats coming into the homeland,” he explained, “I don’t believe that’s an option. Imagine if, God forbid, another terrorist attack hits the United States.” What happened to the tough talk? Despite all the saber rattling, the American people are left with the same empty and frustrated feeling they had when the GOP was in the minority. Like us, many of them are probably wondering: why give control to Republicans if all they’re going to do is babysit the country’s demise? In the end, this is about a lot more than immigration. It’s about every issue (marriage, health care, abortion, national security, gun rights) where President Obama has substituted his personal agenda for the rule of law.
Speaker Boehner insists the courts can handle the amnesty issue. But considering the courts’ recent track record, who in their right minds would trust them to? The founders designed Congress to be an executive branch check for a reason. And if Republicans can’t muster the courage to stand now, when will they?
Overruled! Alabama Supremes Halt Gay Marriage
While it appears that most state leaders are content to allow the federal courts to overturn state marriage laws and impose their own marriage policy on the nation, the elected judges of Alabama have said not on our watch! In a huge victory for the rule of law and the foundational principle of federalism, the Alabama Supreme Court, absent Chief Justice Roy Moore, ruled to reinstate the state’s marriage amendment in a stunning 150-page rebuke of U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade.
With just one dissenter (whose objections were procedural), the Court put a freeze on the gay “weddings” that had been taking place over the last couple of weeks. “As it has done for approximately two centuries,” the judges wrote, “Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”
In other words, state courts don’t take their orders from lower federal courts. Chief Justice Moore, who led the initial resistance to Grenade’s order in the probate courts, recused himself from the case. In order to address the duty of probate judges, the state’s high court had to address the underlying issue of the definition of marriage.
“(M)arriage has always been between members of the opposite sex. The obvious reason for this immutable characteristic is nature. Men and women complement each other biologically and socially,” Alabama’s Supreme Court explained. Legal experts believe this may be the first time that a state supreme court has challenged a federal court in this way. And it’s easy to see why!
Unlike other states, these judges are elected by the people – whose opposition to same-sex “marriage” is growing by the day. New polls out by both Rasmussen and WPA Opinion show that Americans are getting cold feet on redefining marriage. Based on these numbers, support is dropping to its lowest level in over a year – leading more people to believe that the jury is still out on the issue, at least in the court of public opinion.
Local Discrimination Ordinances a Slap in the Faith
If the Left wants to know what real tolerance looks like, it should ask one of its targets. In an interview this week, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers had a powerful message for her attackers. After nine years of building a relationship with the customers who are suing her for turning down their same-sex “wedding” order, Barronelle Stutzman said, “If Rob walked in the store today, I would hug him and catch up on his life. The same faith that tells to me that I can’t be a part of Rob’s wedding is the same faith that tells me to love him as Christ does.”
Those aren’t the words of an anti-gay monster. They’re the picture of grace and compassion. Unfortunately, the Left is so blinded by its own intolerance that it can’t stop and consider the other side. Instead, they resort to whatever totalitarian tactics – including steamrolling Christians’ constitutional rights – to force submission.
So when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) announced [Wednesday] that it wants to strike a balance between sexual orientation and religious liberty, those of us closest to the issue understand how impossible that is. “Gays win; Christians lose.” Those were the words of the White House’s own Chai Feldblum. An open lesbian, Feldblum has been candid about the LGBT agenda and its impact on faith. When homosexuality clashes with religious liberty, she was clear: “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”
While the Mormon Church should be applauded for trying to find a happy medium, its position is untenable. The legislation it unveiled [Wednesday] – which supports Houston-type sexual orientation/gender identity ordinances – is based on the flawed assumption that religious liberty can co-exist with government sanctioned and celebrated sexual immorality. Former Salt Lake City policeman Eric Moustos’s case is just one example among a growing number of individual Americans being punished by the government because they exercised their freedom to believe. Like Atlanta’s Kelvin Cochran, he lost his job because he refused to check his beliefs at the door to public service.
And the casualties are only climbing. In the Left’s crusade, there are no Barronelle Stutzmans – only militant, hard-lined activists willing to destroy anyone and anything in their way. To suggest that it’s possible to compromise with that, however noble the intent, is at best naïve – and at worst, deadly to our First Freedom.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.