Indiana

7th Circuit Says Arguments Against Marriage Equality "Cannot Be Taken Seriously"

Reagan judge Richard Posner concludes that the argument against marriage equality "is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously."
PFAW Foundation

Indiana’s Marriage Ban Struck Down

In another win for equality, today U.S. District Judge Richard Young struck down Indiana’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Because the judge did not stay the ruling, the Indianapolis Star reports that couples can begin getting married right away.

Not a single state marriage ban has been able to withstand a challenge in federal court in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, which struck down part of DOMA.

Congratulations, Indiana!

PFAW Foundation

Anti-Gay Groups Take Out Two Pro-Equality Indiana GOP State Reps

Two incumbent Republican state representatives in Indiana lost primary elections after national anti-gay groups targeted them for their votes against a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Kathy Heuer and Rebecca Kubacki were among eleven Republicans who voted against the marriage amendment in January. The amendment will next have to be placed on the statewide ballot, which won't happen until 2016 at the earliest .

According to the National Organization for Marriage, NOM, the American Family Association of Indiana, Focus on the Family’s political arm Citizenlink, the Family Research Council and the FRC’s Indiana affiliate the Indiana Family Institute were all involved in the effort to unseat the pro-marriage lawmakers. NOM writes:

NOM, the Indiana Family Institute, the American Family Association of Indiana, Citizenlink, and Family Research Council Action had warned politicians before the marriage amendment vote in the legislature that if they did not give the people the chance to vote on marriage this year, there would be political repercussions. After the failure of the legislature to pass the question to the voters, the coalition worked together to choose its targets, particularly the ousting of Heuer and Kubacki while protecting marriage champions. 

The Indianapolis Star reports that the Indiana Family Institute’s political arm "ran $12,000 worth of radio ads in the Fort Wayne area targeting Heuer, Kubacki, and a third incumbent, Casey Cox of Fort Wayne,” who won his primary contest. The FRC-affiliated group also reportedly sent out 10,000 mailers in support of the marriage amendment’s sponsor in his successful effort to fend off a primary challenger.

In February, NOM and Citizenlink started airing radio ads against at least one Republican state lawmaker who ultimately voted for the marriage amendment, but supported a change that would remove a ban on civil unions from the measure, thus pushing back the schedule for getting the ban on the ballot. The groups accused proponents of the change of bringing “San Francisco-style marriage” to Indiana.

In a statement, FRC president Tony Perkins touted his organization’s recent poll on how Republican voters view marriage equality and claimed that “elected officials can no longer avoid the reality that the redefinition of marriage leads to the loss of our most basic freedoms.”

"The election outcome reinforces the findings of an FRC-commissioned survey released last month showing three-quarters of Republican voters want their elected officials to uphold natural marriage as the national standard. Voters in Indiana and across the country are now realizing that much more than marriage is on the line. Elected officials can no longer avoid the reality that the redefinition of marriage leads to the loss of our most basic freedoms.

"Redefining natural marriage is about far more than the marriage altar; it is about fundamentally altering society. In the wake of same-sex marriage, religious freedom and parental rights have been lost. Business owners, like florists, bakers and photographers, have been hauled into court, fined and even put out of business for simply refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding. But it doesn't stop there; university professors, sportscasters and even members of the military have been demoted or fired for simply believing marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Families have been impacted as parents have lost the right to determine whose values are taught to their children," concluded Perkins.

Indiana Marriage Equality Opponents Kick Off Campaign With Ominous Ads

The first TV ads have hit the airwaves in Indiana’s debate over putting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot.

The two ads, which the Indiana-based group Advance America says it is paying “several thousand dollars” to air, play ominous music over a picture of the state capitol in front of cloudy skies. One shows the members of state committee considering the ballot measure. In the other, the words “freedom” and “right to vote” float across the screen as actors say “let me vote.”

“You Deserve the Right to Vote…to Protect Marriage in Indiana!” the ad concludes.

Advance America is the same group that has been distributing flyers warning that marriage equality will result in the imprisonment of pastors and lead the state to “legalize ‘gender identity.’”

PFAW Releases New Toolkit on Getting Money Out and Voters In to Our Democracy

We believe in a democratic system where all Americans have equal access to the voting booth and can express their views on a level playing field.
PFAW

Money Out, Voters In: A Guide to Democratic Reform

Americans today face twin threats to the integrity of our democracy: unlimited spending to influence elections and voter suppression. Find out what you can do.

'Choice' School Accountability in the Eye of the Beholder – or Big Donor

Right-wing political strategists have invested huge sums in recent decades to undermine public support for public schools.

African American Ministers Leadership Council on SCOTUS Planned Parenthood Announcement: All Women Deserve Access to Health Care, Dignity, Autonomy

Today the Supreme Court declined to review a federal appeals court ruling blocking an Indiana law that would have stopped Planned Parenthood from receiving federal Medicaid funding for preventative health screenings.

Rev. Brendolyn Jenkins-Boseman of Aiken, South Carolina, chair of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, released the following statement:

"Today’s decision is a victory for Indiana women and should be a signal to conservative legislatures across the country that are trying to limit women’s access to health care. Our courts have stopped many of these measures, but with proposals to defund Planned Parenthood surfacing across the country, we must remain vigilant.

"Why do conservative politicians still think that playing politics is more important than women’s access to cancer screenings and other vital health services?  While these politicians push for wasteful and unpopular attacks on reproductive justice, many faith leaders and our allies remain committed to fighting for access to safe, affordable, and compassionate health care for all women.  All women deserve dignity and autonomy – over their own bodies and their own futures."

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Mefferd: Gay Rights Should Not 'Trump the Rights of Christians' to Not See Gays (UPDATED)

Conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd this week waded into the controversy about an Indiana high school where a group of students wanted to organize a separate prom that would specifically prevent gay and lesbian students from attending.

After lamenting that “public schools are morally bankrupt,” Mefferd asserted that proms which allow all students — gay or straight — to attend actually violate the rights of Christian students who disapprove of homosexuality.

What right in particular, you might ask?

According to Mefferd, apparently the right of students not to even see gay people!

She maintained that the students’ desire not to see gay students outweighs the rights of gay students to attend their own prom.

“Why should the rights of the [gay] activists trump the rights of Christians” who don’t want “to see that,” Mefferd asked.

Mefferd: Everything is so upside down in our society now and right and wrong have completely switched where what is really wrong is to say you shouldn’t have two boys allowed to go to the high school prom. Now we can get into a big issue of the public schools are morally bankrupt at this point and we all ought to exit and just let them, let them do their thing, and that may be the ultimate answer; on the other hand, I feel for these Christian kids who are in a prom or kids who are at this high school who say, ‘you know something, do we have to go down this road?’ Whether the homosexual activists like it or not, and I know this isn’t politically correct to say this, but not everybody wants to see that. I know that that’s offensive to the activist crowd, they want us all to see it, they want us all to approve of it, they want us all to call it blessed and okay and rejoice and have parties and throw confetti in the air over this whole thing. But the fact of the matter is it’s a moral issue. You will always have Christians who will disagree with this and why should the rights of the activists trump the rights of Christians?

Update 2/20: Mefferd spent a good part of the weekend tweeting at us, and a good portion of her show yesterday railing against us, claiming that we had "libeled" her with this post. Today, we received a letter [PDF] from her attorneys demanding that we remove this post and asserting that even though we had quoted her verbatim, we had misrepresented her views.

According to this letter, Mefferd claims that she was merely saying that some people object to seeing gay couples at prom, not that Christians have a right not to see gay people in general:

Ms. Mefferd’s comment, in discussing a controversy in an Indiana high school about attendance by homosexual couples at a high school prom, was that ‘not everybody wants to see that.’ (emphasis added). Ms. Mefferd was not making a statement about homosexual people, or any other people for that matter, when making that statement, as Ms. Mefferd would have said ‘not everybody wants to see them.’ Mefferd’s statement was about the inclusion of homosexual couples at a high school prom, and made a factual statement that ‘not everybody wants to see that.’

What’s the difference you ask? Good question. We stand by our original post and think that the audio clip we posted speaks for itself.

PFAWF Releases Reports on Outside Election Spending in 21 States, Organizes ‘Money Out/Voters In’ Events Across the U.S.

Out of State Money Floods Contests in 2012

Washington, DC –  Today People For the American Way Foundation unveiled new state-by-state fact sheets detailing outside spending in U.S. Senate and House races in 21 states.  Each report analyzes the outside spending totals from Super PACs, dark money groups, and out-of-state spenders in the down ballot federal races from the 2012 election cycle.  The fact sheets reveal that, on average, a majority of outside election money in these states came from Super PACs.  And in every case, a vast majority came from organizations registered outside of the state.

The release of the “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence” reports coincide with the weekend marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC  to draw attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. The reports – a partnership between PFAWF and U.S. PIRG – are part of the Money Out/Voters In campaign.  As part of that campaign, People For the American Way Foundation, its affiliate People For the American Way, and other organizers across the country are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states this weekend. Members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council will be leading Money Out/Voters In events in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.

“Last year’s elections were far and away the most expensive in history,” said People For the American Way Foundation Executive Vice President Marge Baker.  “A major reason was the influx of outside, special interest spending in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. When big money floods our elections, it dwarfs the ability of individual Americans to have their voices heard. Just as important, when politicians push laws to suppress the vote, we turn back the clock on decades on progress to expand and improve our democracy. We need to pursue the full range of remedies to address the problem of too much money in politics, including amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, and we need to stand up against the growing threat of voter suppression.  This weekend we are joining with allies across the country to call for a democracy that gets Money Out and Voters In.”

The states featured in the reports are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

For links to each report, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/outside-spending-outsized-influence-big-and-s...

For more information about the Money Out/Voters In campaign or the Days of Action, please visit: http://www.moneyout-votersin.org

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Richard Mourdock and the Supreme Court

If Mitt Romney wins the election, his Supreme Court justices would empower far-right politicians like Richard Mourdock to codify their religious beliefs into law.
PFAW

Richard Mourdock's Religion Trumps Everyone Else's

The GOP candidate's explanation for why he'd outlaw abortion in the case of rape raises serious questions about the role of religion in making government policy.
PFAW

Former Rep. Hostettler Laments Church’s Extraction from Government, Agrees Schools are Hiding Truth about the Constitution

Former Indiana Rep. John Hostettler lamented yesterday that the “church has extracted itself from government,” creating a vacuum filled by “those adversarial to biblical truth.”

Hostettler, talking with Truth in Action Ministries’ Carmen Pate on the organization’s radio program, agreed with Pate that the education system is controlled by “those who really don’t want our kids to understand what the Constitution has to say” – namely, as Hostettler, puts it, that “government is an institution that is not just a God-centered one, but it was ordained by God.”

Hostettler represented southwest Indiana in Congress from 1995 through 2007, and is now president of the Constitution Institute, which dedicates itself to providing state legislators and others with “a greater understanding of the United States Constitution.”

Pate: You know, it seems to me, Congressman, it’s very clear that the founding fathers intended for the government’s role to be limited, and they based this Constitution on biblical principles and truths. Yet we know that those on the left, the secular humanists, see the importance of a big government, not limited, because then they can wield more power over the people.

Not to sound conspiratorial here, but I wonder if there have been attempts perhaps by those secular humanists, those on the left, to really not allow or to take away some of the opportunities for learning more about what the Constitution has to say. Say in our public schools, you mentioned in school you didn’t learn all these things. I didn’t either. It wasn’t until I got out of school and started working with pro-family organizations that I really dug into the Constitution.

Have we allowed the education of our children to be given over to those who really don’t want our kids to understand what the Constitution has to say?

Hostettler: Well, Carmen, you’re exactly right. That is what has happened. Because the church has extracted itself from government and we have fundamentally forgotten, as Dr. Kennedy taught, that government is an institution ordained by God. Just as the family was ordained by God, and just as the church was ordained by God, government is an institution that is not just a God-centered one, but it was ordained by God.

So we have extracted ourselves from it – the church, the body of Christ has – we’ve handed it over to others, and we’ve forgotten that just has nature abhors a vacuum, politics and public policy and government likewise abhor a vacuum. Someone is going to occupy that space, some philosophy is going to occupy that space. And it’s either going to be fundamentally a philosophy that is sympathetic and is agreeable to biblical truths, or it is a philosophy that is adversarial to biblical truth. It’s going to be one of the two. And as you pointed out, it has been a philosophy overall that is adversarial to biblical truth.
 

Attend a Rally to Save the American Dream this Saturday!

Events have been organized in cities and state capitols across the nation to show solidarity with workers in Wisconsin. Find the event or events nearest you.

Foreign Funded Chamber of Commerce Pours Money into U.S. Elections

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is spending millions of dollars supporting the GOP in the 2010 Elections, collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign owned businesses.

Indiana Court Declares State's Voter ID Law Unconstitutional

Following the Indiana Court of Appeals unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel that the state’s voter ID law is unconstitutional, People For the American Way Director of Public Policy Tanya Clay House said, "It’s been a long time coming, but this is exciting news for Indiana voters and all of us concerned with protecting the right to vote of all Americans. Indiana's voter identification law was the most stringent in the country, and the Indiana Court of Appeals' decision to strike it down is correct. The court rightfully recognized the need to ensure voter security for all Indiana voters by reexamining the voter identification law, which would disproportionately harm minorities, the poor and the elderly."
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