GOP Shows It's Hyde Maintenance
Don’t look now, but the do-nothing Senate is finally doing something under the GOP! A month after Democrats drove a popular anti-trafficking bill into a ditch, Republicans finally managed to pull the measure out of the partisan muck and pass it 99-0. For weeks, the Left had been warring against a piece of routine language in Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act that keeps taxpayers out of the abortion business.
Despite being the law of the spending land for more than 40 years, the President’s party pretended that the Hyde-like ban was not only new — but extreme. It was a ridiculous ploy, even for the Senate, which has long agreed with 70% of Americans that regardless of how taxpayers feel about abortion, they shouldn’t have to pay for it. Instead, they used the media as a megaphone for their fake hysteria that this legislation was somehow more pro-life than past bills.
Democrats shrieked that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was trying to pull one over on them — when in fact, they were the ones doing the misleading. According to the The Hill, the office of Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), one of the measure’s sponsors “admitted that an aide knew it was in the bill” all along. McConnell, realizing that this was just a political stunt, didn’t blink — and vowed to bring business to a screeching halt until Democrats backed off their phony trafficking drama.
Realizing McConnell wouldn’t budge, the President’s party reluctantly broke the stalemate, thanks to some clever thinking by both sides. To get Democrats on board, a few offices had the idea of splitting the money pot into two streams: one of which was already protected by the Hyde amendment, and the other — criminal fines — that couldn’t be channeled to health services of any kind.
Although it didn’t really change anything, Democrats celebrated the solution to a non-existent problem. Liberals like Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who threatened, “the bill will not come off this floor as long as that [abortion] language is in it” unanimously passed the measure with the abortion language in it. Even the Washington Post blew the Left’s cover: “In the end, the practical effect of the bill approved on a 99-to-0 afternoon vote was not discernibly different than the bill that came to the Senate floor in early March.”
That didn’t stop Sen. Pat Leahy’s (D-Vt.) from trying strike the Hyde language in the process. Fortunately, his amendment failed 43-55 — with even Democrats Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) voting against it. Still, Reid insisted, “We’re now in a much better place” (which is actually just the same place, rearranged).
Liberals, meanwhile, didn’t miss an opportunity to inject sexual politics into a completely irrelevant bill. With the help of squishy Republicans, Sens. Leahy and Susan Collins (R-Maine) tried to tack on an LGBT amendment that would have discriminated against faith-based organizations and mandated special rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It needed 60 votes to pass and got 56, narrowly failing despite these Republicans’ support: Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Shelley Capito (R-W.Va.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Daniel Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Despite the Left’s much ado about nothing protest, the underlying bill and all of its pro-life protections remained intact. We tip our hats to Leader McConnell and Sen. Cornyn for showing Congress what it can accomplish when Republicans stick to their principles.
What about Bobby?
If liberals want to pick a fight over religious liberty, they’ll have their hands full with my home state: Louisiana. Unlike other governors who have been quick to raise a white flag, Bobby Jindal is leading the charge for his state’s Marriage and Conscience Act, warning that he won’t back down. “In Indiana and Arkansas, large corporations recently joined left-wing activists to bully elected officials into backing away from strong protections for religious liberty. As the fight … moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath.”
In a strong op-ed for the New York Times, Jindal makes it clear that he’s no pushover when it comes to the First Amendment. No one should be forced by the government to violate their beliefs — regardless of where they work. Under Louisiana’s H.B. 707, the state can’t deny “a person, company or nonprofit a license, accreditation, employment, or contract — or taking other ‘adverse’ action — based on the person or entity’s religious views on the institution of marriage.”
Although corporations are already turning up the heat on Jindal, the Governor says, “They are free to voice their opinions, but they will not deter me.” Realizing that this is a watershed moment for religious liberty, Jindal writes, “Liberals have decided that if they can’t win at the ballot box, they will win in the boardroom. It’s a deliberate strategy. And it’s time for corporate America to make a decision. Those who believe in freedom must stick together: If it’s not freedom for all, it’s not freedom at all.” With the Left’s attack dogs on the loose in Louisiana and elsewhere, religious liberty is almost certainly going to be a major issue in 2016 — in more ways than one.
While conservatives scratch and claw for their right to exercise the same tolerance the Left enjoys, leaders like Speaker Boehner have their eyes on the global crisis. Religious liberty is at the center of ISIS’s storm, as dozens of innocents are slaughtered for the faith our country is so reluctant to protect. In a new blog post, the Speaker’s office catalogues the latest horrors, and asks: Is the Obama administration doing “all it can” to protect Christians all over the world? Even small gestures, like appointing Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom, have gone unfulfilled.
“The Obama White House’s actions have not gone unnoticed — and neither has its inaction, particularly when it comes to another long-empty position in the administration,” Boehner’s office writes. “It’s ironic that President Obama occasionally describes how the biblical phrase, ‘I am my brother’s keeper’ informs his policies. Increasingly, his administration is signaling to persecuted Christians around the world that they are one their own.”
Left’s Marriage Claim Rings False
When it comes to believing marriage is solely the union of one man and one woman, tens of millions of Americans “can’t be dismissed as outliers with odd views.” That was the message of FRC’s Senior Fellow for Legal Studies, Cathy Ruse, as she introduced yesterday’s FRC panel discussion (video here) of next week’s Supreme Court hearing which will decide whether state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Cathy was joined on the panel by Gene Schaerr, a former clerk for both then-Chief Justice Warren Berger and current Assoc. Justice Antonin Scalia. In 2014, Schaerr left his role at the firm Winston and Strawn where he was a partner and chair of the Appellate and Critical Motions Practice in order to defend Utah’s marriage law. Gene said that the Court is wandering into the same terrain as it did in 1857, when it declared in its Dred Scott opinion that African-Americans were, essentially, non-persons.
In its sweeping (and revolting) ruling, the Court thought it was putting the issue of slavery to rest. Gene noted that the unexpected result of this sweeping ruling led to great unrest leading to the Civil War. While no one suggests the upcoming Court ruling on marriage will result in armed violence, Gene said, we can see from Dred Scott and Roe that blanket, anti-democratic Supreme Court rulings fray the fabric of republican self-government rather than mend it.
The Rev. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. highlighted research showing that children raised by same-sex partners demonstrably have less hopeful outcomes emotionally, educationally, and professionally than those raised by a mom and a dad. For example, as he wrote recently in his FRC study, “Emotional Problems among Children with Same-Sex Parents: Difference by Definition,” “Emotional problems were over twice as prevalent for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents.” The fourth member of the panel, John-Henry Westen, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of LifeSiteNews, who bravely argued that not to stand against same-sex marriage is not a symptom of animosity, but love: Love so strong it is willing to say that those who want to engage in harmful behavior that what they desire will hurt them.
Cathy concluded her remarks by asking a poignant question: “The question is: is the state becoming a church, and using its power to compel adherence to its moral doctrines?” That should resonate with all Americans who care about the future of religious liberty and their very standing as citizens. That’s why FRC is calling on churches and believers across the country to pray this coming Sunday, April 26. Join us for “Stand for Marriage Sunday” and, together, let’s lift up the Supreme Court, those litigating for marriage, and our nation before the God of all nations.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.