The legislative session has begun, and we’ll be updating you throughout the 40 legislative days on the “goings on” under the Gold Dome. To help you cut through all the noise, here are six things to know:
- Lots of $$$ talk – This will be a session that will excite the accountants as Georgia wrestles with questions of spending and revenue. We appreciate the leadership of Governor Kemp to put Georgia in a strong fiscal position by cutting spending, but we fully anticipate significant dialogue on how the budget should look moving forward. That leads us to…
- Casinos are a major threat – In an effort to avoid cuts and instead increase revenue, some are looking to embrace fraudulent math and an otherwise horrible idea: bringing casinos to Georgia. Such a move would cost the state far more than it brought in, hinder our ability to recruit business, and, even worse, provide a magnet for the evil of human trafficking and other community-destroying activity. We will work to empower legislators to oppose this reckless idea.
- Key legislation in position to move – Over the last few years, we’ve been keeping you updated on the “Tebow Bill,” SB 163 – which provides access for homeschool students to participate in extracurricular activities at their local public school – as well as “Simon’s Law,” SB 104 – which closes a loophole in Georgia code and would require doctors to get parental consent before placing a DNR on a minor child. Both have passed the Senate and now just need final passage in the House to reach the Governor’s desk. Expect action alerts in the coming days on this important legislation.
- Protecting children will be at the forefront – We look forward to supporting the Governor’s agenda for foster care and adoption reform, and we are excited by the number of bills aimed at protecting children – including legislation that would protect the vulnerable from gender reassignment surgeries and also athletes in single gender sports from being forced to compete with those who do not share their biological gender.
- Brian Kemp keeps his promises – It’s been incredible to see the profound culture change Governor Kemp has brought to the Gold Dome, and he has proven to be a strong ally for families. We achieved incredible success in 2019, and I expect even more wins in 2020. However, it’s important to understand that he alone cannot make his agenda happen overnight. Some of the issues we engage in will take time, but we are committed to seven more years with him at the helm, and I trust that he will keep every promise he’s made. We also need to send him reinforcements which leads us to…
- Everyone is watching what will happen in November – While I don’t think legislators are “punting” on this session, I do believe there is eagerness to see if the faith community will truly stand with those who have stood with us come election time. It’s why this election cycle could not be more important as we reward those who have done right and oppose those who have placed a radical liberal agenda ahead of protecting Georgians. It’s why we are building an unprecedented election effort, and we hope you’ll support this push push with a generous gift today.
As you can see this is another big year for our ministry and a year that could decide the direction of Georgia for generations to come. I’m grateful to have you standing with us, and I look forward to keeping you updated.
In His Service,
President and Executive Director
Don’t Forget: TODAY IS ELECTION DAY!
Every day of the year, Family Policy Alliance works to promote biblical citizenship—engaging with our form of government and leaders from a biblical perspective. Today – Election Day – is perhaps the most important day of the year to this end. We count it a privilege to live in a free country with democratic elections where all people can make their voices heard at the ballot box.
Won’t you be part of biblical citizenship today by voting and praying for those who will be elected?
On Friday, President Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a new proposed rule to allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to receive federal grants without compromising their religious beliefs.
The new rule will roll back harmful regulations from the Obama Administration that forced faith-based providers to choose between helping vulnerable children and birthmoms, or following their faith.
In 2016, just days before President Obama left office, HHS added “sexual orientation” as a protected class to a rule governing adoption agencies. Therefore, adoption and foster care providers could not continue to place children in need with married mothers and fathers only based on their biblical beliefs about marriage and sexuality. Their choice was to give up their beliefs in order to serve or else stop serving children and birthmothers altogether. And many did close their doors because they couldn’t violate their faith.
While the Obama rule sought to punish faith-based agencies into compliance with a radical political agenda, the real victims were children waiting for their forever home and birthmoms whose choices were limited.
With more than 440,000 children in foster care in the U.S., and at least 100,000 waiting for adoption, this misguided rule demanded attention.
The Trump Administration responded.
The new rule will allow adoption and foster care agencies to once again provide much-needed child placement services while maintaining their religious beliefs. Rather than force them to comply with politically motivated “sexual orientation” rules, providers will only be required to comply with nondiscrimination laws passed by Congress and signed into law, as well as applicable Supreme Court decisions.
According to a White House press release, “The proposed rule represents the Trump Administration’s strong commitment to the rule of law―the Constitution, federal statutes, and Supreme Court decisions. These require that the federal government not infringe on religious freedom in its operation of HHS grant programs and address the impact of regulatory actions on small entities.”
This announcement represents one of several steps taken by the Trump Administration to protect religious freedom in America and restore common-sense in federal agencies. The Administration has also taken action to protect medical workers who have conscious objection to abortion and assisted suicide, and it has ensured that faith-based businesses can opt out of insurance plans that include contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
We are delighted that the Department of Health and Human Services has issued this new rule to protect religious freedom and advance the work of faith-based adoption and foster care agencies. President Trump and his administration deserve our thanks.
If you are encouraged by this announcement, won’t you take a moment to personally thank President Trump for his leadership to protect religious freedom in our country? We have made it easy to send to send him a message in our Action Center – it only take a few seconds.
Thank you for standing with us to promote and defend pro-family public policy. And thanks in advance for unleashing biblical citizenship today by voting!
Autumn Leva, Esq.
Vice President of Strategy
Late last week the Kansas Department of Children and Families, at the directive of Governor Kelly, issued a policy directive that will require all foster families and child placement agencies to comply with her sexual ethic. She has made it clear – she cares more about identity politics than about ensuring children are in loving homes.
The foster care system was never meant to be used for a social experiment. Children needing foster care do not care about sexual politics as much as Governor Kelly – they just need homes and loving families to help them. This policy is vague and will lead many foster families to fear repercussions for holding to the basic understanding that male and female are distinct and different.
Several high-level items that the guidance requires:
- Will require a foster family to call a child by the child’s preferred pronoun. It implies that families who fail to do so will be endangering the physical and emotional well-being of foster children.
- Will offer foster families “training” in order to ensure that they comply with this guidance.
- Will require a foster family to place a boy who claims he is a girl in the same room with a biological female if the family does not have separate rooms for each child.
- Will require child placement agencies (which are protected by the Adoption Protection Act from discrimination) to collaborate with this directive even if it violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.
- Will mandate that child placing agencies hide a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity when placing children (i.e. a foster family may have a home full of girls and be told that they are receiving another girl from the agency, only to find out that the child is biological male once the child enters the home).
This directive has been received by multiple foster agencies who place children across Kansas. The clear message is “conform to our ideology or get out.” This is a fairly clear violation of the Adoption Protection Act passed during the 2018 legislative session. The Adoption Protection Act protects child placement agencies (like Catholic Charities and others) from discrimination by the government for their sincerely held beliefs.
Further, many of these policies violate not just religious beliefs but basic common sense. Most families would not allow a biological male to sleep in the same room as their young daughter.
The provision that does not allow the child placement agency to tell the family the biological sex of the child is clearly a censorship provision. This provision quite literally forces child placement agencies to keep a child’s biological sex secret from potential foster families. Biological sex is essential information for most foster families, particularly as children reach adolescence.
How can foster care families possibly prepare for the arrival of new child and asses the fit for a child and their family if they don’t even know their sex? The family receiving the child would have no idea the situation they are dealing with until the child walked into the home. At that point they would then be forced to adhere to DCF guidance on this situation without giving true consent to the arrangement. Foster care is wrought with unknown scenarios. However, adding confusion and even more unknowns to the foster care system does not make it better or help children in desperate need.
Governor Kelly is trying to keep this a secret. Don’t let her get away with forcing her sexual ideology on Kansas to the detriment of our children. Share this information with your family, friends, and your pastor. We need to ensure that children, families, and foster care agencies can live according to their fundamental beliefs.
Standing for the children of Kansas,
Director of Advocacy
Family Policy Alliance met Adrian when she came to the Colorado Capitol with us and our state ally, Colorado Family Action, to ask lawmakers in that state to protect faith-based adoption agencies. This was when one Senator from Boulder boldly admitted on record that he believes faith-based agencies should be shut down, rather than serving children and families in Colorado!
After Colorado lawmakers refused to advance this common sense bill, Adrian shared her story as a birthmom with the Christian Post.
“When my baby girl was born, I held her tight and told her, ‘I’ll always love you.’ Leaving the hospital without my daughter was the single hardest thing I’d ever done.” …
by Eric Teetsel, President and Executive Director of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas
In a recent editorial, Patrick Miller asks, “does the State choose a system where one citizen has the license to limit another citizen’s rights?”
Miller, assistant professor of political science at the University of Kansas, is concerned by the passage of the Adoption Protection Act, which affirms the right of faith-based adoption and foster care service providers to operate consistent with their sincerely-held religious beliefs, enshrining in law what has been practiced in Kansas for more than 60 years. Describing the bill, Miller writes, “If you are a LGBT Kansan, the state has essentially singled you out and placed you in a formal ‘separate but equal’ system.”
On Twitter, Miller elaborated on this comparison to Jim Crow, the legal system of forced racial segregation, saying that as a Southerner, support for, or indifference to, the Adoption Protection Act was reminiscent of his home state’s history of legal bigotry. “Welcome to the pre-1964 South,” Miller wrote.
This sort of rhetoric is all too common in contemporary debates over religious freedom and sex. During debate on the Adoption Protection Act, Rep. Diana Dierks suggested the bill was like something from Nazi Germany, while Sen. Barbara Bollier described the teaching of the Catholic Church as “sick discrimination.”
This is precisely the language Justice Anthony Kennedy had in mind when he wrote of “a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs” of baker Jack Phillips, in violation of the First Amendment, in his majority opinion in the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
But the problem with this rhetoric isn’t merely its hostility toward people of faith. Rhetoric like that of Miller’s displays a troubling ignorance about religion and its role in society and misconstrues the place of LGBT people in contemporary culture, demeaning the injustices experienced by the black community in this country.
Miller makes several claims about LGBT discrimination, yet he cites no evidence, even anecdotal, to show that anyone in Kansas is experiencing it. Meanwhile, June was National LGBT Pride Month, and if you walked around Oak Park Mall you would see rainbow décor and “Equality” slogans on virtually every storefront. Indeed, in Kansas and throughout the country, the strongest proponents of LGBT activism are corporations like AT&T, Delta and ESPN. A person can’t use a cellphone, fly on an airplane, or buy a pair of khakis without tacitly endorsing homosexuality. And Miller would have us believe we are living in an age of Jim Crow?
The reason for such furious backlash against laws like the Adoption Protection Act is plain. LGBT activists can’t accept that a segment of the population will not bend the knee to their agenda. Tim Gill, a multimillionaire donor bankrolling the LGBT movement, told Rolling Stone, “We’re going to punish the wicked.”
New York Times reporter Josh Barro echoed this when he tweeted, “Anti-LGBT attitudes are terrible for people in all sorts of communities. They linger and oppress, and we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.”
Indeed, it is activists like Gill, Barro, and Miller who advocate a system that limits another citizen’s rights – the First Amendment rights of people of faith.
Their position stands in contrast to the love and kindness demonstrated by people of faith like Jack Phillips and florist Barronelle Stutzman. Each welcomed LGBT customers for years before being sued and penalized by their states for declining a specific service in a unique circumstance. The crux for Phillips and Stutzman wasn’t the orientation of their customer, but the duty they owed to God. They couldn’t, in good conscience, use their God-given gifts and talents to celebrate an event that their faith teaches is immoral.
Faith-based adoption providers are in a similar circumstance. Several of those who serve kids in need of a family are motivated by a faith that teaches them to care for orphans. That same faith teaches that God designed the family to consist of a mother and father, each of whom plays an irreplaceable role in the life of their child. For this reason, groups like Catholic Charities don’t place with single parents, either – not even the pope. This isn’t discrimination, but a sincere belief about what’s best for the child.
Kansans are at our best when we live peacefully with those who don’t always share our beliefs and values. Granting special new legal protections to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” is an unnecessary, bad idea that runs counter to this vision of tolerance and mutual respect.
The 2018 election cycle is heating up! We are fewer than 7 weeks away from the primary election on August 7. Elections are a critical component of our strategy to make Kansas a place where God is honored because life is cherished, families thrive, and religious freedom flourishes. The more Statesmen we recruit, train, and elect the more effective we can be about passing good laws and striking down bad ones. We saw the importance of every single vote during the fight over the Adoption Protection Act, which passed with the minimum votes necessary in the House. Imagine how different things would be with just 5 or 10 more advocates!
Since the end of the legislative session, our team has been working to identify incumbents and new candidates worthy of our endorsement. We plan to make those endorsements public in the next several days.
This is the process we’re using to determine endorsements:
Family Policy Alliance of Kansas scored five votes from the 2017-2018 legislature. These five votes are evidence of whether the Representative stands with us on life, family, and religious freedom:
- Disclose Act (HB 2319);
- Simon’s Law (SB 85)
- Anti-Pornography Resolution (HR 6016);
- Adoption Protection – Motion to Concur (HB 2481); and
- Adoption Protection – Final Action (SB 284)
Only candidates who voted 5 out of 5 are eligible for our endorsement. 54 of 125 members of the House of Representatives met this standard.
Incumbents who meet that standard, and new candidates without a voting record whom we believe may be worthy of consideration, received our application for endorsement. The application is a questionnaire that asks specific questions about issues we will likely face in the near future, like abortion, assisted suicide, student privacy, parental rights, marijuana, gambling, and more. After reviewing returned applications, we conduct background research, interviews, and consult with mission-aligned organizations to make final determinations.
We take endorsements seriously. My goal is to build an organization you can trust and that candidates respect.
Keep your eyes peeled for the endorsements – and for our other election-related activity. Nine of the 54 members eligible for our endorsement are retiring, so we’ve got work to do to hold those seats and increase our numbers in 2018-2019.
President and Executive Director
As you may have heard, LGBT activists around the country have been ganging up on faith-based adoption agencies – forcing them to either violate their beliefs by placing children with homosexual couples … or to shut down.
Already, they have forced such non-profit groups to close their doors in Massachusetts, Illinois, D.C., and parts of California. They are actively suing in several other states, and Colorado faith-based agencies are feeling tremendous pressure.
That’s why state Sen. Kevin Lundberg sponsored SB 241, a bill to protect the right of conscience of Colorado’s faith-based adoption agencies. His bill will be heard in a key state senate committee on Monday afternoon, and the outcome could very well depend on which Coloradans those senators are hearing from.
How does the attack on faith-based adoption agencies affect kids?
First, the more adoption agencies there are to walk alongside birth moms and to assist adopting families, the greater the number of children who will be able to find a forever home. Specifically, faith-based agencies are especially successful at finding homes for children who are hard to place – the severely abused, older children, and those with special needs.
Second, birth moms often select faith-based agencies because they want their child placed in a home that aligns with their faith, or because the agency was the one that took time to really listen and walk with her through a difficult time.
Please protect these vital ministries by asking the senate committee members to support SB 241. And please share this friends and fellow church members so they can make their voice heard, too.
Thank you for making a difference!
The Family Policy Alliance Team
By Eric Teetsel, President of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas
Months before the 2018 legislative session, a coalition of groups came together and agreed on the need to pass legislation to protect faith-based adoption agencies in Kansas.
Followers of Christ believe that God has adopted us as sons and daughters. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called Children of God; and so we are,” (1 John 3:1). When a person adopts a child into their family they reflect the love God shows us. Adoption is a way we fulfill our mission to “bring justice to the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17) and to “look after orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).
For these reasons, adoption has been practiced by Christians since the time of Jesus. The early Church preached against rampant infanticide, prohibited members from practicing it, and adopted babies who had been left to die by exposure by their parents.
Christians continue to lead the adoption movement today. Bethany Christian Services is the largest faith-based agency, with 120 offices spread across 36 states providing domestic and international adoption, foster care, pregnancy counseling, and post-adoption support. Catholic Charities helps over 30,000 individuals every year with foster care, adoption placement, and other services. Perhaps the single most important contribution of these groups is their excellence at placing special needs or hard-to-place older children. About 45 percent of adoptions by Catholic Charities and 32 percent by Bethany Christian Services involve finding a forever family for these hard-to-place kids.
Tragically, battles over sexual politics are infringing on the ability of faith-based agencies like these to help kids. Activist groups like the ACLU are determined to use the coercive power of the state to stamp out beliefs they do not like. In states like Massachusetts and Illinois, faith-based providers have been forced to close because they declined to violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs about the meaning of family and rights of kids to a mom and dad.
That is why our Adoption Protection Act is so important. The Act codifies what has been practiced in Kansas for decades, ensuring that faith-based adoption providers will be allowed to continue to help kids find forever families.
We are struggling to get it passed, despite having large Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. In the most recent failed vote in the House, four members of Republican leadership and several Republican committee chairmen voted no. Kansas isn’t alone; my colleagues in Georgia and Oklahoma have experienced similar obstacles.
This fight is far from over, but the experience has been revealing. If a state like Kansas faces such resistance to a simple, common sense law protecting ministries that help kids finds parents what does that say about the broader fight for religious freedom?
It says we need to elect principled and competent statesmen who will use the powers of public office to preserve fundamental freedoms.
It says we need to identify and train the next generation of political leaders who will hold fast to what is right—even when not politically popular
And, it says that we, as believers, need to engage in the political process. When our ability to even care for orphans as God calls us to do is threatened, the Church can’t afford to not have its voice represented in the public square or by our elected leaders.
This is why Family Policy Alliance’s sister ministry created the Statesmen Academy—to equip and train godly leaders who will advance religious freedom, life, and family values at every level of government.
This is why Family Policy Alliance continues to fight for common-sense policies like protecting faith-based adoption agencies in D.C. and in the states.
And, this is why Family Policy Alliance and all our state allies, including Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, will continue to equip voters to select the candidates who will advance the values we share in state and federal elections.
We firmly believe that we don’t need Republican leaders, and we don’t need Democrat leaders. We need leaders who will defend our values—especially basic ones like making sure kids have a chance at finding a forever family.
I’m happy to report that – thanks to the action of many of you – Sen. William Ligon’s bill to protect the work of Georgia’s faith-based adoption agencies passed the Senate!
But now, your help is urgently needed to get the Adoption Protection Act through the House before imminent legislative deadlines. Will you take a moment to send a quick note to House Speaker David Ralston – asking him to get this bill (SB 375) a committee hearing and push it through the House?
Reaching out to the Speaker is simple and just takes seconds at our Action Center.
Speaker Ralston has been a friend to values issues in Georgia. Your message to him will let him know he has your backing to make this bill a priority in the legislative rush.
As a reminder, the Adoption Protection Act is critical. Already, states like Illinois and Massachusetts have forced faith-based adoption agencies to close for refusing to cater to sexual politics, and the same forces are working hard here in Georgia!
Thanks again for standing with us – we couldn’t do this without you!
President and Executive Director
P.S. Please share and forward this message far and wide. Thank you!
The first orphanage in the United States was founded by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula in New Orleans in 1727. When a treaty transferring ownership of the “Louisiana territory” from France to the United States was signed in 1804, Sister Marie Theresa, Superior of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula, wrote a letter to her new president.
Emboldened by faith, and a sense of responsibility for her fellow missionaries, Sister Marie Theresa asked whether, “The Treaty of Cession and still more the spirit of justice which characterizes the United States of America” will guarantee “the continued enjoyment of our present property?”
In other words, “Will we be allowed to continue to do our work in this new America?”
Two months later, the president wrote back. This is his answer:
I have received, holy sisters, the letter you have written me wherein you express anxiety for the property vested in your institution by the former governments of Louisiana. The principles of the constitution and government of the United States are a sure guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority. Whatever diversity of shade may appear in the religious opinions of our fellow citizens, the charitable objects of your institution cannot be indifferent to any; and its furtherance of the wholesome purposes of society, by training up its younger members in the way they should go, cannot fail to ensure it the patronage of the government it is under. Be assured it will meet all the protection which my office can give it.
I salute you, holy sisters, with friendship and respect.
In this short statement, Jefferson affirms the right of conscience, self-governance without interference from civil authority, and the contributions of faith-based groups to society. Jefferson promises to use the full powers of the office of the presidency to defend these rights.
Should the members of the Kansas legislature do any less?
On Tuesday, March 20, both the House and Senate will hold a hearing on the Adoption Protection Act (House Bill 2687 and Senate Bill 401). It guarantees the same right as Jefferson’s letter, and for the same reasons. Faith-based adoption providers have been helping Kansas kids find forever families for decades. Today, their ability to serve our state by living out their faith is threatened. Some would rather these agencies close their doors than be able to serve if their service is inspired by beliefs with which they don’t agree.
That’s wrong. It is un-American. And the consequences of their exclusivism fall most heavily on those most in need: homeless kids.
Will you urge the committee members not to put the sexual politics of adults ahead of the needs of kids?
President and Executive Director