Equality For All

PFAW Commends NAACP’s Endorsement of Marriage Equality

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement in response to the decision of the NAACP’s official endorsement of marriage equality this week:

“The anti-gay Right has continually tried to turn the LGBT community and the African American community against each other. The NAACP this weekend stood up and told them in no uncertain terms that their cynical wedge strategies won’t work. Many of the NAACP’s board members, including PFAW board member Julian Bond, are already powerful leaders for LGBT equality. I am heartened to see the organization, which has led the way on so many civil rights issues of our time, take this strong stand on equality for all.”


Harvey: Dan Savage, Like Satan, Twists Bible while ‘Exploiting’ Kids

Mission America president Linda Harvey this weekend on her radio show talked to Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality about Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project, which she warned is “exploiting” children. Harvey attacked the anti-bullying and anti-suicide message of Savage’s It Gets Better Project for sending a “bad message” to children by, like Satan, manipulating the Bible. Last year, Harvey called the It Gets Better Project “evil” and “dark.”

Harvey: Back up to It Gets Better. If you look at some of those, and I’ve looked at some of the videos on there, these are very vulnerable kids and he is exploiting them. What he’s basically saying is, it’s kind of what Satan does in Scripture with Jesus, a little bit of truth of Scripture and then a lot of twisting and basically you end up in a place that is very unscriptural and untruthful. Yes, ‘there are bullies and ignore them,’ that’s a good message, ‘but go ahead full steam into homosexuality and gender confusion,’ a bad message, most parents want their kids to get an anti-bullying message that does not include that last part. He wants to go right and just say, ‘go for it,’ at young and younger ages.

LaBarbera: He knows he can reach them through the videos, he talked about how he gets in trouble when he talks about his anger and Dan Savage is a very angry man.

Harvey: Very.

LaBarbera: He hates Christians.


AFA's OneMillionMoms Announces Boycott of The Gap for Billboard Featuring Gay Couple

Already boycotting JC Penney for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson, now the American Family Association’s OneMillionMoms is urging members to boycott Gap and its affiliated stores Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta. The group is upset about a billboard that features a gay couple and says “GAP needs to seriously consider how their immoral advertising affect the youth of our nation.”

The group also claimed that its boycott of JC Penney is working and responsible for the store’s declining profits:

Sales have dramatically dropped since JC Penney's showed their "bold new marketing strategy" included pushing a lesbian spokesperson and same-sex couples in their advertising. JC Penney's current marketing plan has done incalculable amounts of damage to this once family-friendly store. If they would quit pushing a deviant and unhealthy lifestyle and focus on product quality and value along with excellent customer service, their bottom line would be not be struggling.

Hopefully JC Penney's (and other retailers) will listen to their long time customers now as JCP is reporting a bigger-than-expected loss and plummeting profits in the first quarter. The retailer lost $163 million in the quarter ending April 28. Numbers do not lie.

Companies should learn from others' mistakes. Retailers need to choose morality or remain neutral. Otherwise, their bottom dollar will suffer.

Speaking of companies who are choosing to be politically correct instead of focusing on selling clothes; GAP is also guilty. In Los Angeles, CA, GAP has a billboard located downtown that reads: "GAP- BE BRIGHT- BE ONE" with two homosexual men pressed together under a shared t-shirt. They are hugging each other and facing the camera cheek-to-cheek. "BE ONE" is in large letters which emphasizes the same-sex relationship.

GAP Inc. Brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta, does not deserve, nor will it get, money from conservative families across the country. Supporting GAP is not an option until they decide to remain neutral in the culture war. GAP needs to seriously consider how their immoral advertising affect the youth of our nation.

Christians should urge for the removal of GAP's offensive billboard in Los Angeles and any other city where it is located. GAP will also need to cancel any plans to use the "Be One" ad campaign elsewhere including store-front posters, its website, and in print magazine ads.


GAP Inc. Brands approved this type of ad in public areas where families and children are sure to see it. Please send your email to GAP now and let them know you are offended by their disrespect for family values and common decency.

The group’s letter action item reads:

As a parent and a member of OneMillionMoms.com, I am highly offended by your company's disrespect for the millions of parents whose children will be exposed to your latest "Be One" GAP billboard ad. Selling clothes has nothing to do with a person's sexual orientation. In attempting to be politically correct, you are offending a huge majority of your customers.

GAP Inc. Brands, including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta, does not deserve, nor will it get, my family's business as a result. I will not be able to support your corporation until you decide to remain neutral in the culture war. I implore you to consider how your immoral actions affect the youth of our nation.

Please order the removal of your offensive billboard in Los Angeles and any other city it is located. Also cancel any plans to use your "Be One" ad campaign elsewhere including store front posters, your website, and in print magazine ads.

I look forward to hearing from you regarding my concerns.

Virginia Rejects Openly Gay Judicial Nominee After Campaign By Far-Right Activists

Virginia’s House of Delegates yesterday rejected the nomination of a state prosecutor to serve as a judge – just because he is openly gay.

Tracy Thorne-Begland, a Navy veteran who has been a prosecutor in Richmond for 12 years, enjoyed bipartisan support in the House of Delegates until, at the last minute, he came under attack from far-right Delegate Bob Marshall and the right-wing Family Foundation. The Richmond Times Dispatch reports:

A late-hour lobbying offensive by social conservatives prevailed in the House of Delegates early Tuesday to torpedo bipartisan support for the judicial nomination of an openly gay Richmond prosecutor.

After a lengthy discussion, the GOP-controlled House of Delegates defeated the nomination of Tracy Thorne-Begland, Richmond's chief deputy commonwealth's attorney. He would have been the first openly gay judge elected in Virginia.

Thorne-Begland received 33 votes, and 31 delegates voted against him. He needed a majority of the 100-member House -- 51 votes -- to secure the judgeship.


In an email blast to supporters late last week, the Christian conservative Family Foundation questioned Thorne-Begland's fitness for the bench given his support for gay marriage, which is not legal in Virginia. Thorne-Begland and his partner, Michael, live together and are raising twins.

Marshall, too had charged that Thorne-Begland pursued an "aggressive activist homosexual agenda.

Opponents of gay rights, in their effort to keep LGBT people out of the public square, have in the past few years gone after several openly gay judges and judicial nominees. Supporters of California’s discriminatory Prop 8 tried to get a federal judge’s ruling against them thrown out because the judge is openly gay. Another judge issued an epic takedown of their argument.

A number of Republican delegates in Virginia, as well as the state’s socially conservative governor Bob McDonnell backed Thorne-Begland’s nomination until Del. Marshall began his onslaught.

Del. Marshall is the one who claimed in 2010 that disabled children are God's punishment for abortion. On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – a policy that Thorne-Begland worked to end after his distinguished career in the Navy – Marshall said openly gay troops would distract their fellow servicemembers: "It's a distraction when I'm on the battlefield and have to concentrate on the enemy 600 yards away and I'm worried about this guy whose got eyes on me." Once Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed, Del Marshall tried to get gay Virginians banned from the state’s National Guard.

Marshall later told the Washington Post that he objected to Thorne-Begland’s brave coming out in protest of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

I would guess — law of averages — we’ve probably nominated people who have homosexual inclinations,” Marshall said. Marshall faulted Thorne-Begland for coming out as a gay Naval officer on “Nightline” two decades ago to challenge the military’s now-repealed ban on gays openly serving in the military. He said that amounted not just to insubordination, but to a waste of taxpayer dollars, since it resulted in his dismissal from the Navy. “The Navy spent $1 million training him,” Marshall said. “That’s cheating the country out of the investment in him.”

In the end, it was Del. Marshall’s arguments that won out in the effort to halt the career of a dedicated Virginia public servant.


Healing Grace – Ministry of Information: Resources for Interested Faith Leaders

A List of Website Resources to Help Continue the Dialogue on The Black Church, Stigma, Prejudice and Homophobia

President Obama recognizes LGBT families

It’s clear that, for the President, this isn’t just about couples getting married. It’s also about couples raising children with the sense of security that comes from family equality.

Religious Right Outcry on Marriage Equality Intensifies with Denunciations of Obama and the Gay Community

Enraged and energized by President Obama’s support for marriage equality, conservatives have begun to speak out not only against Obama but also against anti-discrimination laws, not just marriage, for gays and lesbians. Terry Jeffrey of CNSNews, an outfit of the Media Research Center, told American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins on Today’s Issues that anti-gay discrimination is not “morally wrong” and asking people not to discriminate against gays would violate natural law:

Jeffrey: It’s worth noting that the Obama Justice Department has gone out into the courts and taken the position that discrimination against homosexuals is identical or ought to be identical in law to racial discrimination. Fact of the matter is, racial discrimination is morally wrong, I think Tony you were mentioning the natural law before. Racial discrimination is a violation of natural law, that was the point Martin Luther King made, it goes against the very principle laid out in the Declaration of Independence. The fact is, homosexual behavior goes against the natural law, as well as being specifically condemned in Scripture.

So if you have a federal government that is going to force Americans to treat homosexual behavior as if it’s a moral right, you basically have a federal government that is asking the American people to overturn the entire moral order on which our society depends. Personally, I believe people who stand up and fight for that and articulate the truth are going to have the r argument resonate with people because quite frankly God wrote the law on people’s hearts and people know that’s true.

James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, weighed in on Obama’s remarks by arguing that he is defying God and lamenting that America is emulating Sodom and Gomorrah:

Dobson: I can just tell you from my point of view I will be praying even harder about this upcoming election because there is so much at stake. Marriage must be maintained, it’s been in existence on every continent on earth since the Garden of Eden, not just in Christian countries but wherever mankind has taken root, marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman has been honored in law and in practice. Obviously homosexuality has flourished in many places, in Rome, in Greece, in Sodom and Gomorrah, but it has been relationships between one man and one woman because we’re made that way, we’re designed that way. To throw it on the ash heap of history at this stage of our existence and defy the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which I believe this does, has got to be considered by all of us.

Talk show host Janet Parshall responded to the news by blaming the “Father of Lies” (Satan) and describing it as man “raising his fist” at God:

Yesterday, Janet Mefferd even said that because of Obama, the country is “swirling down into the sewer”:

Perkins told Mefferd today that marriage equality is “not about rights” but “fundamentally changing America,” even suggesting that “nobody lost any rights” as a result of North Carolina passing Amendment One, even though unmarried couples, both gay and straight, could lose partnership rights. Perkins later lamented that Obama’s support for LGBT equality is “beyond comprehension”:

Perkins: This is not about rights. Nobody lost any rights when North Carolina amended their constitution on Tuesday. What was preserved was the ability of parents the way they want to, the ability of religious organizations to associate based upon their shared faith and not be forced to change that because of someone’s sexual orientation, public accommodations are not wide open to whoever wants them based upon what gender they feel like for the day. This issue as it’s beginning to unfold now not theoretically but in very practical ways as people are losing jobs, churches are being forced into certain things, people realize this is not about two people living together and loving each other, it’s about fundamentally changing America.

The administration when George Bush was president, it did not deal with the marriage issue and the social policies surrounding homosexuality I would say not even, maybe ten percent, a tenth of what this administration has done on it. It is every day it is some new revelation. It is beyond comprehension.

Anti-Gay Activists Say Obama's Marriage Equality Stance Seals his Defeat

Following President Obama’s remarks supporting marriage equality, the Religious Right is now moving from expressing its anger to rallying the base for Mitt Romney. 

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer on Focal Point yesterday said that Obama is “toast” and “just handed the election to Mitt Romney” because he favors “behavior that will kill you if you don’t catch yourself in time”:

President Barack Obama has officially come out in favor of homosexual marriage, he has officially come out in favor of unnatural marriage, he has come out in favor of giving society’s highest recognition to behavior which is immoral, which is unnatural and which is unhealthy, behavior that will kill you if you don’t catch yourself in time. Be encouraged, because this is going to be decisive in this campaign. This thing right here is decisive in this campaign. President Barack Obama just kicked away his re-election chances, they’re gone, toast, out the window, stick a fork in Barack Obama, he stuck a fork in himself, he’s done, he’s toast, if Mitt Romney will hold the line. Mitt Romney just got handed this election. Ladies and gentlemen, do not underestimate what just happened, Barack Obama just handed the election to Mitt Romney.

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality talked to Janet Mefferd yesterday where he derided Obama’s mention of the Golden Rule in his announcement as “preposterous,” calling Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality an “appalling blasphemy”:

It’s appalling, Janet, it’s just appalling. He’s distorted the Bible from the get-go, remember, he sort of dismissed Romans 1, I can’t remember the adjective he used but ‘not very important’ because that got in the way of his embrace of homosexuality. The Golden Rule, as I think we both understand it, is that you don’t want somebody to practice sin; you want them to experience Jesus Christ, to be forgiven through Jesus Christ and live a Godly life. So helping somebody embrace homosexuality, especially with state recognition of so-called homosexual marriage, which is actually a blasphemy, you’re taking a perversion, what God calls an abomination, the practice of homosexuality, and you’re attaching it to one of the most noble institutions that mankind can experience, which is marriage, it’s an appalling blasphemy. For Obama to say that’s the Golden Rule to advocate that is just preposterous and I hope that most Christians, people of faith, even those who aren’t Christians, can see through what this is, that he’s just trying to justify this pandering act to his left-wing base.

Not to be outdone, Randall Terry accused Obama of being “courageous for evil” and “bold for iniquity,” urging pastors to “demand Obama’s ouster from office” for “his betrayal of God’s Law regarding marriage”:

The moment of Truth has arrived for Catholic Bishops and Evangelical Superstars: Will they demand Obama's ouster from office because of his betrayal of God's Law regarding marriage, or will they equivocate, excuse, or just remain silent? Their souls are now weighed in the balance.

Obama has been courageous for evil, bold for iniquity. Will Christian clergy rise to the challenge, and at least show equal valor for the Truth, and for the Lord God whose laws they have sworn to uphold? If they do, they are made of the stuff of saints and prophets. If not, they show they are hirelings, not shepherds; false prophets, not watchmen on the wall.

Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families emailed members alleging that Obama revealed his “disdain and disrespect for anyone in this country who believes in Judeo-Christian values”:

When President Obama publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage yesterday he was displaying his disdain and disrespect for anyone in this country who believes in Judeo-Christian values. Obama thinks that the same-sex marriage movement is so powerful and that we are so weak that his attack on normal marriage will actually help him win a second term.

I need you to help me show him just how wrong he is. Thirty-one states have voted in favor of normal marriage. Tuesday's vote in North Carolina was a landslide for our side. But if he wins a second term our votes may not matter as his appointed judges overrule us and eventually restrict religious liberty in the process.

I don’t think there is anything else I can say. If we won’t stand up now, when will we? Please give whatever you can to help us defeat Obama and his congressional socialist cronies.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins even released a video message saying that Obama’s stance will rally Religious Right voters to back Romney:

Obama Endorses Marriage Equality

video platform


Today’s announcement marks a proud day for our country and for the President. For those of us who have been working towards marriage equality for many years, the impact of having the support of the President of the United States is incredibly powerful. As President Obama made clear in his comments today, marriage equality for all people is an idea whose time has come. Despite setbacks like the results from North Carolina last night, it’s more obvious than ever that the momentum is on our side.

In recent years, more and more Americans have come to understand that preventing loving same-sex couples from getting married causes real harm to the people they care about. In families and communities across the country, Americans are coming to the same conclusion as the President: when two people make a public commitment to love and care for each other, that’s a marriage no matter what the gender of the people involved.

Today the President did the right thing. For thousands of supporters who donated, canvassed and phone banked to help elect Barack Obama in 2008, this is a powerful reminder of why we felt so passionately about this President in the first place.

Now, we must redouble our efforts to knock down one of the biggest barriers to full legal equality nationwide: the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

With your continued dedication to core American values like Equality, and your support of our work expand the promise of our country and our Constitution to all families, together, we’ll Dump DOMA and achieve basic fairness for all: the American Way.


As President Obama Supports Marriage Equality, a Look Back

Today, President Obama at last acknowledged that he personally supports the right to marry for gay and lesbian Americans. Although the president maintains his position that marriage laws should be decided on a state-by-state basis, his personal statement provides a huge boost to the marriage equality movement. At a time when over half of Americans want full marriage rights for gays and lesbians, the endorsement of a sitting president is a meaningful signal of progress.

Sixteen years ago, in May 1996, People For the American Way became one of the first national groups to endorse marriage equality and vow to work toward it. In a note to members of the organization’s board, which was to vote on the issue, PFAW’s staff wrote that the Right had started to use the “marriage issue” to “polarize Americans” – a strategy that had its first major victory in the passage of DOMA later that year.

Despite all the progress that has been made for LGBT equality in the past sixteen years, the 1996 memo could have been written yesterday:

In recent years, People For the American Way has come to be a very important voice in the ongoing effort to rid America of discrimination and prejudice against gay men and lesbians.

We have done that over the years for the simple reason that it’s the right thing to do. Opposing discrimination and fostering respect and appreciation for diversity are core values for People For the American Way. These are precisely the values under attack in this latest campaign.

Of course, the marriage issue has very real implications for the everyday lives of millions of Americans. In the area of health care for example, existing marriage laws allow a spouse to make critical decisions for an incapacitated spouse; not so for unmarried couples wou haven’t gone through the necessary legal steps. In many hospitals, the right to visit patients in an intensive care unit is limited to immediate family; gay and lesbian partners – lacking the legal status of family – are often excluded, to the great detriment of both partners. In addition, enormous economic consequences flow from the inability of gay men and lesbians to marry, including significant tax and inheritance benefits.

The lack of legal recognition of gay and lesbian families is of particular concern when children are involved, since the children are deprived of the protection of a legal relationship with the non-biological parent and the ability of that parent to make important decisions for them in any number of settings, including schools and hospitals. And if the biological parent dies, the children may well be taken away from their other parent, who has no legal relationship with them.

Sixteen years later, marriage discrimination continues to hurt gay and lesbian American and their families. That a sitting president has publicly acknowledged the impact of that discrimination is very powerful. We hope that soon the injustice we outlined in 1996 will be hopelessly out of date.


PFAW President Michael Keegan Responds to President Obama’s Endorsement of Marriage Equality

In response to President Obama’s public comments in support of marriage equality, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan issued the following statement.

“Today’s announcement marks a proud day for our country and for the President. For those of us who have been working towards marriage equality for many years, the impact of having the support of the President of the United States is incredibly powerful. As President Obama made clear in his comments today, marriage equality for all people is an idea whose time has come. Despite setbacks like the results from North Carolina last night, it’s more obvious than ever that the momentum is on our side.

“In recent years, more and more Americans have come to understand that preventing loving same-sex couples from getting married causes real harm to the people they care about. In families and communities across the country, Americans are coming to the same conclusion as the President: when two people make a public commitment to love and care for each other, that’s a marriage no matter what the gender of the people involved.

“Today the President did the right thing. For thousands of supporters who donated, canvassed and phone banked to help elect Barack Obama in 2008, this is a powerful reminder of why we felt so passionately about this President in the first place.”



Marriage Equality: A State-By-State Guide

As North Carolinians go to the polls today to cast their ballot on an anti-gay constitutional amendment which would write discrimination into the state’s constitution and potentially harm all unmarried couples regardless of orientation, The Guardian put together an interactive feature summarizing the state of LGBT equality across America.

The infographic examines each state’s laws pertaining to LGBT persons’ right to marry, visit loved ones in the hospital or adopt a child, as well as protections from hate crimes and from discrimination in employment, housing and schools. While progress has been made, there is much work to be done.

Regardless of today’s vote, North Carolina will not be adding a dark red section to the outer ring, since state law already prohibits same-sex marriage. The proposed amendment simply inscribes discrimination into the state constitution.

Unfortunately, not all Americans have access to the all the protections and responsibilities that only marriage can provide, and this map demonstrates striking differences from state to state and region to region. That’s why we need the federal Respect for Marriage Act more than ever – to ensure that all Americans, straight and gay, are treated equally under the law.


North Carolinians Voting Today on Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment

North Carolina voters today are casting their ballots on Amendment One, an extreme measure that would write discrimination into the state’s consitution and potentially take away important protections for all unmarried couples, gay and straight.

The amendment states that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic union that shall be valid or recognized” in North Carolina. It would not only deal another blow to gay and lesbian couples in the state, who are already prohibited by law from marrying, but endangers protections for all unmarried couples, including domestic violence protections and health insurance coverage.

The Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families is running a handful of powerful ads showing Amendment One’s potential devastating impact. Here are a couple:

President Bill Clinton also recorded a robocall on behalf of the anti-Amendment One campaign. You can listen to it here.

North Carolina voters can find your polling place here.


Matt Barber Says Anti-Discrimination Decision is 'Setting up a Constitutional Crisis'

Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show on Friday where he argued that the Obama administration is pushing America into a “constitutional crisis” following a decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that deems discrimination “against employees or job applicants on the basis of gender identity” as a “violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—specifically its prohibition of sex discrimination in employment.” Barber, who earlier called the decision a “gross abuse of power” and a sign of “Tranny Tyranny” and “homofascism,” told Mefferd that EEOC commissioner Chai Feldblum was using the case, which was “issued without objection by the five-member, bipartisan commission,” to implement the Employment Non-Discrimination Act “by executive fiat.”

Barber and Mefferd both asserted that Feldblum had once said, “gays win, Christians lose.” However, “there is absolutely no factual account of Chai Feldblum making such a statement” and Feldblum denies she ever used that phrase. Barber also dubbed Feldblum an advocate of legalizing polygamy, but she told a Senate hearing, “I do not support polygamy,” and asked her name to be removed from a petition that included support for recognizing households with “more than one conjugal partners.”

Barber: This is the Obama administration doing what we have come to expect from the Obama administration, that is ruling by executive fiat, and Barack Obama here with his EEOC is doing arbitrarily through the executive what the legislature has not been able to do for decades now and that is pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. So this is the Obama administration just saying ‘well we’re just going to do what we do,’ he’s once again setting up a constitutional crisis here with this gross overreach in power.

Mefferd: What immediately came to mind was Chai Feldblum, because Chai Feldblum is a commissioner there at the EEOC, she was made as a recess appointment, this is the woman who co-authored or authored ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which Barney Frank sponsored multiple times and was never able to get through Congress, so you’re absolutely right. So putting Chai Feldblum at the EEOC was a really good move if Obama wanted to do this by executive fiat.

Barber: Well sure, and Chai Feldblum of course was a former Georgetown law professor, radical lesbian activist, has advocated polyandrous marriages, communal marriages if you will, involving men, women, any combination thereof. She is a radical, what I call her a sexual anarchist.

Barber: This is a tactic that she has openly, at least she has honestly and openly said that she will apply and that homosexual activists should apply, she has said that when it comes to this notion of newfangled LGBT rights, and the T in LGBT is this notion of transgender, that “gays win, Christians lose.” That when you put that up against religious liberty that the newfangled LGBT rights trump religious liberty, so this is to be expected from a Chai Feldblum led EEOC.

Mefferd: Right, you’re absolutely right about that and I’ve heard her say that at different conferences that she’s attended.

Focus on the Family Withdraws 'License to Discriminate' Amendment in Colorado

This weekend Tom Minnery, the head of Focus on the Family’s political arm CitizenLink, announced that the group will be withdrawing a so-called “Religious Freedom Amendment” from consideration in the upcoming election, citing what he deemed cumbersome rules on petitions. Zack Ford of Think Progress points out that the amendment effectively would give certain groups or individuals “veto power over all policy decisions,” as pharmacists could cite “a sincerely held religious belief” not to fill prescriptions like birth control, teachers could refuse to teach evolution, and employers could have free rein to discriminate against LGBT employees.

The Denver Post reports that Minnery is considering “another attempt at a ballot measure in the 2014 election cycle or look at a legislative push next year”:

Focus on the Family senior vice president Tom Minnery said Friday the conservative Christian advocacy group soon will withdraw its ballot initiative for a constitutional amendment prohibiting state interference with the religious freedom of a person or organization.

The draft language of the ballot measure said government may not directly or indirectly burden a person or organization by withholding benefits, assessing penalties or excluding a person or group from government programs or facilities.

"There's a tangled thicket of regulations that make it difficult to negotiate our way through the process," Minnery said. "When you think of a genuine grassroots effort by volunteers, (some rules) are a wet blanket in that process."

Minnery said there is pending federal litigation — the Independence Institute, Jon Caldara et al. vs. Bernie Buescher — challenging many aspects of state rules governing the initiative process. It could result in removing some of the worst thorns, Minnery said.

Minnery said one drawback in the process as it now stands is that anyone can file a civil lawsuit alleging fraud against ballot-petition circulators if any petition signers falsify information.

Colorado Springs-based Focus would consider another attempt at a ballot measure in the 2014 election cycle or look at a legislative push next year, Minnery said.

Focus also withdrew a similar measure in 2010.

UPDATE: DOJ takes step forward with latest hate crime indictment

President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law on October 28, 2009. Two and a half years later, its sexual orientation protections are being use for the first time.
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