Tag Archive for: State Legislation

SAFE Act Explosion: 72% of Red States Now Protect Minors from Gender Transition Procedures

As the 2023 state legislative season winds toward a conclusion, it’s time to analyze whether state efforts to protect minors from gender transition procedures were successful. The answer is a hearty “yes.”

Before this year, only four states had passed legislation prohibiting gender transition procedures on minors, which include irreversible removal of healthy organs and permanent sterilization through cross-sex hormones. As of Tuesday, when the Louisiana legislature enacted protections over the governor’s veto, 21 states have protections (one state improved on previously enacted language). Nearly three-quarters (72%) of Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed legislation protecting minors from gender reassignment procedures, and 18 out of 29 (62%) of Republican-controlled legislatures have passed a law this year.

That number could grow. There is still time for the Ohio Senate (in session until December 31) to pass HB 68, or for the North Carolina legislature (in session until July 28) to override the governor’s veto of HB 808. However, now that 35 out of 50 states have concluded their legislative sessions, there is enough data to help us fill in the picture of how successful state legislatures have been.

State by State

Before 2023, only Alabama (2022), Arkansas (2021), Arizona (2022), and Tennessee (2021) had passed legislation protecting minors from gender transition procedures, and the movement still faced uphill battle. Even among these laws, Tennessee’s was a stub, Arizona’s had its enforcement mechanisms stripped out, Arkansas’s was vetoed by Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, and Alabama’s and Arkansas’s were blocked by federal courts.

Then in 2023, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia all passed laws to protect minors from gender transition procedures. Tennessee also enacted legislation to upgrade its previous law.

That leaves only eight GOP-controlled state legislatures that have not yet protected minors from gender transition procedures: Alaska, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In Alaska and Wisconsin, no bill was introduced (although Wisconsin’s legislature is still in session). North Carolina and Ohio are also still in session, and both have made substantial progress towards passing a bill. In New Hampshire and South Carolina, bills died in committees without ever receiving a vote. In Kansas, a bill passed the Senate 26-10 and then expired in a House committee. In Wyoming, a bill passed the Senate 26-5 but was defeated 2-5 in a House committee.

Although these eight states failed to pass a bill protecting children this year, it’s possible they may do so next year, now that a majority of likeminded states have done so; this is particularly true for Kansas and Wyoming, where a bill did pass overwhelmingly in one chamber, and where nearly all neighboring states have enacted these protections for minors.

Bills to protect minors from gender transition procedures have also been introduced in six out of 19 Democrat-controlled state legislatures (Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Oregon), although none of the bills have received a committee vote. No bills to protect children have been introduced in the other Democrat-controlled legislatures (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, and Washington). Some Democrat-controlled state governments (including California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington) have gone in the opposite direction, declaring themselves “sanctuary states” for minor gender transitions.

While bills to protect minors from gender transition procedures have so far failed to pass in Democrat-controlled states, it does not follow that they cannot attract Democratic support. Democratic legislators lent their support in a number of states, and in Nebraska a Democratic senator cast the deciding vote in favor of the bill. However, the combined lobbying power of medical associations and trans ideologues carries more sway in Democrat-controlled states.

In two states (Pennsylvania and Virginia), control of the legislature is divided. In Pennsylvania, Republicans control the state Senate, while Democrats control the state House; a bill to protect minors has been introduced in the state House, but it has not received a committee vote. In Virginia, Democrats control the state Senate, while Republicans control the state House; the House narrowly passed (50-48) a bill to protect minors from gender transition procedures, which was then voted down (6-9) in a Senate committee.

Bill by Bill

Some organizations, like the ACLU, choose to track the raw number of bills introduced, instead of the states where legislation has become law. They use this measure as the basis of claims like, “In the last few years states have advanced a record number of bills that attack LGBTQ rights,” and “While not all of these bills will become law, they all cause harm for LGBTQ people.” They identified 130 bills in the category of “health care” that have been introduced in 2023, which is largely comprised of bills they believe “ban affirming care for trans youth” — in other words, gender transition procedures.

That the ACLU identified 130 bills in this one narrow category emphasizes the misleading nature of their chosen measurement. Without digging into the details, an average person would assume that each bill introduced in a state represents a different policy idea, and the ACLU insinuates that the very number of these different ideas floating around “cause harm for LGBTQ people.”

In reality, the bills more often represent slightly different variations on the same idea. For instance, the ACLU tracked 13 bills in Mississippi, 14 bills in Texas, and 15 bills in Oklahoma. But each state only passed one bill and largely ignored the rest. By examining the text, it’s possible to see why: many of the bills have substantially similar language. Essentially, there was substantial legislative momentum to pass a SAFE Act in these states, but legislators weren’t sure which version would gain the widest support from their colleagues. So, many members decided to introduce slightly different versions of the same basic idea, with a different age limit here, a different enforcement mechanism there, or an extra section added or subtracted. The ACLU fearmongered this legislative brainstorming into an unprecedented attack on LGBT rights, when it was really nothing of the kind.

In other states (notably Iowa), the exact same bill text bore as many as four different bill numbers throughout its legislative journey, and the ACLU counted each one as a separate bill. Such a tactic only makes sense if the goal is to inflate the total number of bills.

The ACLU has proven very effective at mobilizing opposition to these bills among the mainstream media and left-wing activists. However, it has proven less effective at accurately representing what these bills do: they protect minors from the harm and regret associated with permanent, irreversible procedures until they are old enough to truly make a decision for themselves.

Key Developments

As the number of states passing legislation to protect minors from gender transition procedures swelled throughout spring 2023, several developments added features to the conversation that had not been there before.

One notable feature is the prevalence of left-wing disruptions. From January to March, opponents of these bills usually employed respectable tactics — trotting out medical experts and medical opinions to testify against the bills at official hearings.

But, as it became clear these tactics were not working, the proponents of transitioning children adopted more aggressive (one might say “desperate”) tactics. In the last week of March, protestors staged demonstrations in four state capitols, opposing SAFE Acts and related bills. On March 29, protestors in Frankfort, Ky. disrupted the state House as it prepared to vote, forcing it to recess while the protestors were cleared (some by arrest) from the balcony. They performed the same disruptive stunt in Montana, egged on by a legislator. In Florida, they threw underwear with the message “leave my genitals alone” from the balcony, while a disruptive display in Nebraska served as a fitting finale to the session-long filibuster tantrum.

Another development was the addition of a provision, not found in earlier versions of the bill, that allowed a six-month period (or other brief period) to wean minors off of puberty blockers. This provision is distinct from an exception in some bills that effectively grandfather-in (indefinitely) anyone who has already started gender reassignment hormones. It appears to be based on expert testimony that stopping hormone treatments cold turkey could have negative psychological effects on minors. Despite extensive coverage of the issue, I have not encountered anyone attempting to contradict this claim. Bills in at least five states allowed a puberty blocker exception for six months or a limited period, while bills in six states contained the broader (and less politically courageous) exception to grandfather-in minors currently on puberty blockers.

A third development is the increasing boldness of state legislators. Once they are in possession of the actual facts regarding gender transition procedures, its questionable medical record, and its potential harm to minors, unprecedented numbers of state legislators have proven willing to stand up against all the conventional political forces in their states, because they know it is the right thing to protect children.

In the earliest fights, Republicans struggled against more cowardly Republicans to pass these bills in deep-red states. Now, not only are Republicans almost entirely united (with individual exceptions here and there), but even Democrats are crossing the aisle to join them in protecting children. This year, two (and soon perhaps three) state legislatures (Kentucky’s and Louisiana’s) have enacted protections for minors over a governor’s veto. At least seven states have passed their bills despite massive (and sometimes disruptive) protests at the state capitol. And every state has had to endure a multitude of slanders heaped upon them by left-wing smear groups, the mainstream media, and often local media, too.

And the margins have been overwhelming. Tennessee passed its bill in votes of 26-6 and 77-16. North Dakota’s bill sailed to victory 66-25 and 37-10. Florida’s legislature voted 27-12 and 82-31. Nearly every state legislative chamber approved the bills by two-to-one or three-to-one margins, if not more. Even if a moderate Republican governor wanted to pull an Asa Hutchinson, it would clearly be a foolish mistake.

Remaining Work

That said, there is still much work to do, even in states that passed a bill this year. In some states, the legislators pulled their punches. The West Virginia Senate, for instance, stripped out all enforcement mechanisms in an 11th-hour floor amendment. Utah’s bill authorizes the foxes to guard the henhouse. Georgia’s bill is surprisingly weak, with only one enforcement mechanism and large exception. Even among the solid bills, at least a dozen can be improved by prohibiting insurance or public funds from covering gender transition procedures for minors.

Many states won a resounding victory in 2023 for protecting minors from the clutches of the trans ideology. But even in states that passed a law this year, there are opportunities to protect children even better in future legislative sessions by rolling back the darkness further. Legislators should capitalize on their success and momentum.


Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

California Democrats Vote against Anti-Child Trafficking Bill, Then Change Course

Last week, one Democrat in the California State Assembly made a rare public apology — not over a scandal, but over her position on a vote that had taken place the same week. Assembly member Liz Ortega had joined fellow Democrats just a few days earlier in blocking a bill aimed at cracking down on human trafficking of children. The move justifiably made national headlines and garnered widespread criticism. But it shouldn’t take a national controversy for Democrats to vote the right way on something as blatantly evil as the human trafficking of children.

Now, Assemblywoman Ortega says she “made a bad decision,” and in her public apology on Twitter, she wrote, “Voting against legislation targeting really bad people who traffic children was wrong. I regret doing that and I am going to help get this important legislation passed into law.”

On July 11, the California Assembly Committee on Public Safety failed to pass SB-14. The only two Republicans on the committee voted in favor. Yet not a single one of the six Democrats on the committee, including Ortega, voted in favor of the bill, instead making the cowardly decision to abstain from voting at all. The bill had already passed unanimously in the California State Senate in May with bipartisan support.

SB-14 would make “human trafficking of a minor” a “serious felony” under Section 1192.7 of the state’s Penal Code. “Serious” felonies get harsher punishments under California law and are considered “strikes” under California’s “Three Strikes Law.” Eighty-nine nonprofits and organizations and 13 individuals registered their support for the bill (including multiple district attorney’s offices, police departments, and anti-trafficking groups), while only seven groups opposed it. The State of California Department of Justice’s own website states, “California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking in the United States.” Thus, a bill aimed at making the penalty for trafficking children harsher should be something that California Assembly members of both parties can see is necessary.

After originally declining to vote for the bill, Ortega told the Washington Free Beacon, “Sending someone to prison for the rest of their lives is not going to fix the harm moving forward. And that’s the part I’m struggling with. It’s a complex issue.” Ortega’s grave misunderstanding of the criminal justice system was covered over by her with a veneer of compassion. It ignores the fact that putting a trafficker behind bars for a significant amount of time is not only an act of justice for the crimes that were committed, but it also protects the children whom the trafficker might target next were he or she not behind bars.

At the California Assembly’s hearing for the bill last Tuesday, one survivor of trafficking, Odessa Perkins, called out the Democrats’ reluctance to inflict harsher penalties for child trafficking as continuing the “horrific cycle of abuse and depravity.” As a black survivor of trafficking in California, her testimony contradicted opponents of the bill who claimed the proposal would lead to lead to overcrowded jails or contribute to mass incarceration of black individuals, saying, “I was molested and raped repeatedly by black and white men and even some women. So, it does not matter the race. What matters is saving our children. Traffickers are getting out of jail, parole, and reoffending …” Progressives who are soft on crime may try to use their tired and routine talking points, but this is simply not a racial issue, an economic issue, or even a partisan issue — it’s about protecting vulnerable children.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican State Senator Shannon Grove, expressed her shock and frustration that SB-14 was blocked, saying, “I am profoundly disappointed that committee Democrats couldn’t bring themselves to support the bill, with their stubborn and misguided objection to any penalty increase regardless of how heinous the crime.” Even Governor Gavin Newsom (D) was unhappy with the committee Democrats. The day after the committee vote, he called Grove to see how the bill might be revived. After the call, Newsom told reporters, “I want to understand exactly what happened yesterday. I take it very seriously.” He further noted that he “cares deeply” about the issue of child trafficking.

The public outcry and chastisement from California’s liberal governor was enough for most of the Democrats on the committee to reverse course entirely. On Thursday — just two days after the initial vote — the committee voted on SB-14 again. This time, it passed with six votes in favor while two Democrats still abstained from voting.

This is a small victory for justice and for the survivors of human trafficking. Next, the bill must be approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, which will likely vote on the bill mid-to-late August, before going on to the full Assembly. Grove believes that “most Assembly Democrats want to vote for this bill if they are given a chance” and is hopeful that the bill will be successful.

The controversy in California comes at a time when child human trafficking is garnering heightened attention after the theater release of the movie “Sound of Freedom,” based on a true story of a sting operation in Latin American that successfully led to the rescue of dozens of children trapped in sex slavery. Negative reactions to the movie from some legacy media outlets have been outrageous. The Guardian published the following heading: “Sound of Freedom: the QAnon-adjacent thriller seducing America.” Rolling Stone followed suit with the headline “‘Sound of Freedom’: Box Office Triumph for QAnon Believers.” The Washington Post attempted a faux nuanced tone with “QAnon and ‘Sound of Freedom’ Both Rely on Tired Hollywood Tropes.”

Many in the legacy media are trying to discredit “Sound of Freedom” — and its underlying message that the trafficking of children is a serious problem that ought to be addressed — by linking it to the QAnon conspiracy theory. But it begs the question: why? Do these progressive elites not think that human trafficking of children happens? Or is the reason even more sinister? The exact motivation is unclear; but what should be clear to Christians is that there is an intense spiritual battle surrounding this issue right now. We must pray that the darkness will be exposed, and that American’s hearts will be moved to bring the perpetrators of trafficking to justice and the victims of trafficking to freedom.

Human trafficking should be exactly the type of issue that unites everyone with an intact conscience. Human trafficking, especially of defenseless children, is a horrifying reality — one that everyone should want to see effectively combatted, and ultimately ended. The debacle over SB-14 last week was unexpected and disappointing, even for California. It might have taken a national uproar for Democrats to rethink their position on SB-14, but at least some did rethink it and change course.

We can hope that California Assembly members will now work diligently to see SB-14 pass the full Assembly. Beyond that, politicians across the United States should strategize on how our laws can more effectively address this scourge upon society.


Arielle Del Turco

Arielle Del Turco is Director of the Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council, and co-author of “Heroic Faith: Hope Amid Global Persecution.”

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission.  All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

With Our Kids at Stake, There Is No Retreat from Here

It’s a battle best known for Tennyson’s “The Charge of Light Brigade.” For the British, that deadly skirmish often overshadows what was the bright spot of that grim October 1854 day: the heroism of a single regiment who managed to thwart a Russian cavalry charge, against all odds. With a key British port under siege, and the Crimean War at a pivotal point, only the 93rd Highlanders were left to fend off the wave of enemy horses and soldiers. A war correspondent, William Russell, reported that their commander, Colin Campbell, looked down the thin red line and shouted, “There is no retreat from here, men. You must die where you stand.”

Russell watched the Scottish, their ranks two deep instead of four, muster every ounce of courage to do what they were told. Stand. After several long minutes, fighting with everything they had, the Highlanders saw the Russians do the improbable — they withdrew. It was an amazing feat, a testament to how a few brave souls can change the course of war.

A century and a half later, Americans are facing another evil on a wide-open field of battle — and the cavalry is coming. Armed with lies and wielding the weapons of government, they claim to have children’s best interests at heart. “They’re all our kids,” their general insists from the White House, “they belong to all of us.” From Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village” to Terry McAuliffe’s “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” their siege has been decades in the making.

Out in California, where the battle rages fiercest, the nation has watched with horror as radical Democrats come for the state’s sons and daughters. At this very moment, a bill called the Transgender Diverse and Intersex Youth Empowerment Act (AB 957) is making its way through the state senate that would radically alter California’s family code, turning gender identity into an actual custody issue. Incredibly, this proposal would mean that any parent who doesn’t affirm their child’s false identity risks losing their son or daughter.

“We’re talking about three-year-olds, toddlers, young kids who play make believe,” California Family Council Director Greg Burt told me. “A parent will be required to affirm whatever gender identity they come up with. And if they don’t, they could lose custody of their kids.”

Under this extreme rewrite of California’s Family Code, it would be considered a violation of a child’s “health, safety, and welfare” not to embrace a minor’s gender identity. In plain terms, it would be child abuse. It doesn’t matter if the parents have legitimate religious objections, or if their belief system says gender is determined by biology. If this policy becomes law, Bible-believing Christians will be considered a threat to their children in California, and officials will threaten to remove their kids from the home because of it.

Unfortunately for Americans, this isn’t the movement of a few unhinged progressives. It’s the fruit of radicalism that we see at the very top of the Democratic Party. When the president of the free world calls parents’ opposition to this dangerous ideology “hysterical,” “ugly,” and “cruel,” we are in treacherous times indeed.

“The state’s duty to your children is to protect them from violence and abuse,” David Harsani insists. “Those who allow that cruelty, even celebrate it, do not, in fact, have ‘your back.’ Yet the White House hangs a flag that implicitly endorses this barbarity, and then demands you do too.”

Of course, there will be some who shrug and say — as former House Speaker Paul Ryan did — “I’m not a culture war guy. I think it’s really polarizing. … I’m worried about a debt crisis. I’m worried about the future of our country…” But let me tell you, there is no future without a moral foundation. That’s the reality. America’s problems aren’t material; they’re moral and spiritual. If you want to know why our financial crisis is getting worse, it’s because the foundation of America has eroded, and our economy has nothing to stand on. Lawlessness runs rampant in our streets. And while the rest of the world dials back their rush to transgenderism, America’s Left is marching on.

Believe it or not, what’s happening in California is not isolated. This month, the governor of Maryland and mayors in New York and Wisconsin declared their borders a state sanctuary for the gender mutilation of minors. Nevada signed a bill into law ordering health insurance companies to pay for these surgeries that do irreversible harm. Illinois openly embraced sexually explicit material in schools.

So while some moms and dads may be tempted to think, “It’s not going to happen to my kids,” it’s time to wake up. This is coming — if it’s not already there — to your community. It’s coming for your children, your grandchildren.

Now is the time for every Bible-believing, God-fearing Christian in America to draw a bright red spritual line. You cannot be a spectator watching this and remain in step with the Lord and His word. In this, President Biden is right: There is a battle for the soul of this nation and its children, and we need to realize that it has eternal significance and consequences.

Frankly, we live in a time that’s unprecedented in all of human history. Never has the world seen this type of attack on children and on the rights of parents to protect them, as God has intended us to do (Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 11:18-20) — to teach them, to train them, to nurture them.

The time has come for parents to rise up and reclaim their rightful role. “This is the hill we have to die on,” Burt urged. “We cannot let them take our kids.”

In other words, “There is no retreat from here. You must fight where you stand.”


Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council and executive editor of The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘Pursuing His Twisted Agenda,’ Biden Puts Progress Flags on Par with Old Glory

People visiting Washington, D.C. this weekend probably expected to see a white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Instead, the president’s residence was plastered in rainbow and transgender colors, an over-the-top display of the current resident’s LGBT fixation. It was a stark contrast to the mood in the rest of America, where the fury over Pride displays has reached a deafening roar.

That all seems lost on Joe Biden, who hosted the largest Pride event in White House history on Saturday. The South Lawn event came just two days after the president savaged the Americans opposed to his wildly irresponsible agenda of transgenderism. In a scripted response to a PBS reporter, the president unloaded on parents who are up in arms about the indoctrination of their sons and daughters, calling the opposition to child mutilation “hysterical” and “cruel.”

In a coordinated exchange, PBS News White House correspondent Laura Barrón-López framed the conversation this way: “All over the country … Republican led states are passing laws — passing anti-LGBT, anti-transgender laws that restrict rights and medical care. Intimidation is on the rise. This week, anti-LGBTQ protesters turned violent in California.” She claimed to have spoken to parents who are considering leaving the U.S., because local governments are cracking down on barbaric child sex change procedures.

“Sir,” she asked Biden, “why do you think this is happening? And what do you say to parents like the ones that I spoke to — to those families who are contemplating leaving the country because they don’t feel safe anymore?”

The president replied by proudly ticking through all of his LGBT activism, like throwing open the military to people who identify as the opposite sex and signing the sweeping same-sex marriage law earlier this year. But, he pivoted, “our fight is far, far from over because we have some hysterical and, I would argue, prejudiced people who are engaged in all that you see going on around the country. It’s an appeal to fear, and it’s an appeal that is totally, thoroughly unjustified, and ugly.”

“It’s wrong,” Biden ranted, “that extreme [GOP] officials are pushing hateful bills, targeting transgender children, terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors. These are our kids. These are our neighbors. It’s cruel and it’s callous. They’re not somebody else’s kids, they’re all our kids. They’re the kids, and our children are the kite strings that hold our national ambitions aloft. It matters a great deal how we treat everyone in this country.”

The “they’re all our kids” line drew a unique kind of scorn, since it marks the third time the administration has tried to claim Americans’ children as their own. Biden himself argued, “There’s no such thing as someone else’s child” in April, which was encored by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in May who said the country’s trans-identifying children “belong to all of us.”

Outraged Republicans like Rep. Rich McCormick (R-Ga.) fired back that “Contrary to President Biden, the nation’s children do not belong to him, and it’s good to oppose unnecessary and irreversible medical procedures for kids. If Joe Biden wants to see an extremist, there are mirrors all over the White House.”

Other conservatives can’t understand why the president is leaning into an issue that’s sparked such a nationwide uprising. Even last week, polling showed just how far outside the mainstream the Democratic Party is when it comes to this hot-button debate. An astonishing 71% of Americans reject Biden’s suggestion that there are more than two genders in the latest Rasmussen Report — including 67% of his own party. To strategists like Matt Whitlock, the Democrats’ 24/7 Pride parade is a “[h]uge political miscalculation,” because “the overwhelming majority of Americans support banning transgender surgeries for kids. … This is such a bizarre hill for them to fight on,” he told Fox News.

That political divide has never been more obvious than the two camps’ approaches to 2024. While Democrats use drag queens to rally voters, every declared GOP presidential candidate is united in their opposition to harmful, irreversible gender treatments for children. “It’s sad we even have to say this,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) said in last week’s tour of Iowa, “but it is wrong for physicians to perform sex change operations on minors. That is mutilation and physicians who commit such acts in Florida not only lose their medical license, they go to jail.”

Meanwhile, at the Biden White House, contestants on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” performed (presumably on the taxpayer dime) and the radical progress flag flies in equal footing with Old Glory. “We need to push back against the hundreds of callous and cynical bills and laws introduced in states, targeting transgender children terrifying families, and criminalizing doctors and nurses,” the president insisted Saturday. “These bills and laws attack the most basic values and freedoms.”

Biden’s backwards logic continues to incense everyday Americans, who are sick of the administration demonizing parents and voters who don’t share his fanatical, unhinged ideology. “The default position for the Left,” Congressman Bob Good (R-Va.) argued on “Washington Watch” Thursday, “… is whenever you disagree with them or you challenge their narrative, you challenge their agenda, you challenge their position, then you’re a racist, you’re a homophobe, you’re a transphobe — and they target you.”

Right now, he argued, people who “dissent or disagree” with the radical agenda of the Biden administration, those who “dare to question the efforts to indoctrinate our children in schools with anti-American ideology, with racist ideology, with transgender ideology … [t]hose are the people that this administration considers to be the greatest threat to the country. [They are] to be threatened, intimidated, harassed, arrested, even imprisoned for standing up for what they believe in, for exercising, frankly, their First Amendment protected rights to petition their government with their grievances, to protest peacefully and just to stand up for the protection of their own children.”

In the meantime, Biden’s flagrant allegiance to the LGBT progress flag is not only putting him at odds with most Americans but potentially, critics argue, with the U.S. Flag code. “The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs,” Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton said. More than that, he insisted, “To advance revolutionary transgender agenda targeting children, Biden … disrespects every American service member buried under its colors.”

Members of Congress were equally disgusted. “Pursuing his twisted agenda, Biden dishonors the flag and breaks American law,” Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) posted. “Shameful that our flag is being replaced by leftist imagery at the White House,” Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) tweeted. “Anyone wondering why drag shows and other woke nonsense dominate our government? Here it is: orders are coming directly from the top.”

“This is a disgrace,” Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) agreed. “Not only is it in breach of US Flag Code, but it’s a glaring example of this White Houses’ incompetence and insistence on putting their social agenda ahead of patriotism.”

If Biden thinks flaunting his obsession with LGBT extremism will help him at the polls, someone in the White House might want to check the value of Bud Light and Target stocks. If people will vote against this agenda with their dollars, how much more will they vote with their ballots?


Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Movement Protecting Kids from Gender Transition Cements Record with Texas, Florida Laws

Laws to protect minors from gender transition procedures have made massive strides over the past three years, but two recently enacted laws mark a new milestone. On May 17, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law SB 254, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed into law SB 14 on June 2. More than any of the other bills passed in 2023 or previous years — and there were many good ones — these two laws solidify the place of protecting children from gender transition procedures as part of mainstream conservatism.

Although the common sense of laws to protect minors from dangerous, experimental procedures might be obvious, they weren’t a guaranteed success. When the Arkansas legislature passed the very first successful bill of this kind in 2021, Republican then-Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoed it, although the legislature overrode the veto. Hutchinson claimed (in The Washington Post, of all places) that the law “den[ied] best practice medical care to transgender youth” and that his veto represented “restrained and limited government.” The bill not only faced ridicule from local outlets, but even from national platforms like “60 Minutes.” With fierce media opposition and a real possibility of bumping against Republican icebergs, the first bills to protect minors from gender transition procedures were truly sailing through uncharted waters.

Another 2021 controversy over a transgender-related bill in another ruby-red state demonstrated another possible vulnerability states could encounter when passing legislation to protect minors from gender transition procedures. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, also a Republican, vetoed a women’s sports bill, citing fears that the NCAA might sue or boycott the state: “If South Dakota passes a law that’s against their policy, they will likely take punitive action against us.” Indeed, major corporations have shown themselves more than willing to win brownie points with the Left by boycotting states that pass conservative legislation on social issues.

These handicaps lead us to consider why laws protecting minors in Texas and Florida can be so influential.

Large Populations

For starters, Texas and Florida have huge populations. Texas (30 million inhabitants) and Florida (22 million inhabitants) are the second and third largest states by population, behind only California and ahead of New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. Florida has twice as many people, and Texas has almost three times as many people, as the next-largest right-leaning states, Ohio, Georgia, and North Carolina — the next-largest states whose legislatures could conceivably pass conservative policies.

Their huge populations make Texas and Florida more costly to boycott. While major corporations have called for boycotts on North Carolina over its bathroom bill and Georgia over its heartbeat bill, they stand to lose more if they boycott a larger state. This calculation holds for urban markets as well. Texas and Florida are home to 15 of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, including Dallas (fourth largest), Houston (fifth), Miami (ninth), Tampa (17th), Orlando (22nd), San Antonio (24th), and Austin (26th). These markets are too large to abandon lightly.

Their huge populations also make Texas and Florida important electorally. After the 2020 census, Texas boasts 38 seats in the House of Representatives, and Florida boasts 28 seats — combining for 30% of a House majority. Many members of Congress embrace policies popular in their states, so this could influence congressional support for similar legislative proposals. Texas and Florida will also combine for 70 votes in the electoral college in 2024 (a candidate needs 270 to win). Historically, Florida has been an important swing state (although trending to the Right), which has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1996 except for 2020. Meanwhile, Texas has been a must-win state for Republican candidates (but where Democratic candidates believe they can expand the map); presidential campaigns cannot afford to bypass either state on their path to victory.

Substantial Democratic Minorities

Due in part to their size, Texas and Florida are also home to considerable Democratic minorities that can maintain a critical mass to keep the Republican majority on their toes. For perspective, in the U.S. House, there are currently 13 Texas Democrats (the fourth-largest Democratic delegation) and eight Florida Democrats (tied for the 10th-largest Democratic delegation, even after Democrats lost three Florida seats in 2022). This enables state Democratic parties to mount credible challenges in statewide races; for example, Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) won reelection in 2018 by only three points over Beto O’Rourke (D), and Nikki Fried (D) defeated Matt Caldwell (R) in a 2018 race for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.

Such credible opposition prevents the dominant Republican parties in these states from ossifying, a common side-effect of one-party rule. Republicans must continue to run competent candidates to win races, which helps these states lead nationally on many issues, including protecting minors from gender transition procedures.

Demographic Diversity

Another factor bolstering the credibility of Republican leadership in Texas and Florida is the states’ demographic diversity (and, increasingly, the diversity of the Republican coalition). According to the 2020 census, approximately 40% of Texas’ population is non-Hispanic white, while nearly 40% are Hispanic, 12% are black, and 6% are Asian or Native American. Similarly, Florida’s population is 51% non-Hispanic white, 27% Hispanic, 15% black, and 6% Native American or Asian.

Obviously, Republicans could not win elections in such diverse states without substantial support outside of whites alone. Not only does this belie media narratives, it also forces the Republicans in these states not to insulate themselves. And, in fact, Republicans are successfully winning over increasing numbers of Hispanic voters in both states. This broadens the appeal of any laws that are successfully passed by state governments in Austin and Tallahassee. Republicans couldn’t maintain power in these states if they passed laws that only appealed to a narrow group of extremists.

Growing Populations

It’s also worth noting that both Texas and Florida are growing rapidly. Both state populations grew by an estimated 15% from the 2010 census to the 2020 census (twice the national average), resulting in Florida gaining one seat in Congress, while Texas gained two. It’s one thing for the media to write off a state passing conservative legislation if that state is stagnant or declining, demographically or economically. But both Texas and Florida are booming. Lots of people are moving there (which, in a free country, implies lots of people want to move there), a sign that these state governments aren’t quite as benighted as the media suggests.

Muscular Legislation

One final reason why it matters that Texas and Florida passed laws protecting minors from gender transition procedures is that these large, diverse, and growing states — where credible minority opposition keeps the majority honest — passed strong, robust legislation that offered effective protection to minors. Both bills provide multiple enforcement mechanisms for a prohibition on doctors treating minors with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgeries, limit an exception for children currently receiving hormone treatments, and forbid the use of public funds in performing gender transition procedures on minors. Florida’s bill, in particular, is among the strongest protections for minors passed to date, and Texas’ is not far behind.

This is relevant because some of the 19 states that have enacted legislation watered down the language, pulled their punches, or failed to approach the issue comprehensively. State leaders in Utah rewrote a bill to protect minors from gender transition procedures, so that the final version contained “massive loopholes,” while at the last minute the West Virginia Senate majority leader amended that state’s bill to grandfather-in anyone currently receiving gender transition hormones. In Georgia and Tennessee, no version of the bills that passed attempted to save minors already sucked in by the lifelong hormone regimen. Legislators in Kentucky saved their bill from near failure by amending a slimmed-down version into another bill, while legislators in Nebraska excepted gender transition hormones from the prohibition to acquire the votes needed to overcome a filibuster.

Except for Nebraska (signed into law on May 22), all these states adopted their laws before Texas and Florida. That is, they voted before the two red-leaning giants had voted to adopt strong protections for minors from gender transition procedures. Earlier this year, it wasn’t clear how much traction the legislative push to protect children would achieve. With the media and hospital associations lining up against the bills, and limited information on what other states would do, it’s not terribly difficult to imagine how some state legislators talked themselves into watering down their proposals. And if Texas and Florida had imitated their lack of conviction, they would have appeared entirely justified.

Instead, Texas and Florida raised the bar. The 800- and 600-pound gorillas of democracy’s laboratory climbed up to the top shelf, inspiring or daring other states to do likewise. It turns out that mainstream conservatism (or simple American common sense) is consistent with zealously protecting children from predatory and experimental policies.

Nearly every state that passed a bill to protect minors has room for improvement in future legislative sessions — although Arkansas (2021), Arizona (2022), Mississippi (2023), and Montana (2023) stand out as laudable exceptions. Specifically, state legislatures should bar state funding for such procedures on minors, require informed consent, and set a sunset date for any exception for minors currently on gender hormones.

The legislative movement to protect children from gender transition procedures has seen some significant milestones. First, Arkansas’ legislature passed a bill over the governor’s veto in 2021. Second, in 2023 the laws exploded across the country, as at least 16 other states joined the three early adopters, indicating a spike in momentum. But not all of these bills were of equal quantity. The third milestone was when Texas and Florida, the largest and among the most influential right-leaning states, enacted strong protections for minors, signaling that this issue was now squarely embraced by mainstream conservatives.

The next step is for states to improve on the initial laws they passed this year, to more securely protect minors from these predatory practices — even as the movement continues to expand to other states.


Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

GOP Rep Calls Abortion the Fruit of the ‘Church of Satan,’ Loses His Leadership Position

A pro-life Republican state representative lost his leadership position for saying that abortion is the fruit of the “Church of Satan.”

North Carolina State Representative Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) responded to a Democratic representative who tried to justify her decision to have an elective abortion by citing her church membership and belief in the “power of God.”

The exchange came during the General Assembly’s debate over whether to override the veto by Governor Roy Cooper (D) of a bill to protect most unborn babies from abortion beginning at 12 weeks.

State Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams (D-Cabarrus) said she and her husband decided to abort their third child “after much consideration, thought, and, of course, prayer.”

She did not say whether she had an abortion before or after 12 weeks. Yet she said the bill would remove a “God-given right.”

She then implied her Christian faith endorsed her decision to have an abortion. “I am someone who has grown up in the church and believes in the power of God. I know that I go through trials and tribulations. I know we all will,” said Staton-Williams. “And I know that, ultimately, I have been given the freedom of mind to make decisions for myself.”

Rep. Kidwell reportedly said privately to another Republican on the floor that any church that supports abortion sounds like the “Church of Satan.”

The Satanic Temple does, in fact, teach that “The Satanic Abortion Ritual” is “a sacrament which surrounds and includes the abortive act.” The rival Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey, eschews the term “sacrament” but declares that abortion “should be within the rights of the pregnant person.”

“I think it’s using the Lord’s Name in vain to say you would make a decision to have an abortion as a result of prayer,” North Carolina Values Coalition Executive Director Tammi Fitzgerald — who was in the chamber when the exchange took place — told The Washington Stand. Lawmakers should only present their stand as biblical “if it conforms with Scripture.”

The Bible proclaims a life-affirming message and has been consistently interpreted to prohibit abortion for 2,000 years by both traditional Christianity and Judaism.

Invoking her childhood church membership seems “an apparent attempt to shield herself from criticism” for embracing harmful policies, David Closson, director of the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council, told The Washington Stand. He noted that Staton-Williams has also “touted her progressive views on LGBTQ issues,” such as membership in an LGBT pressure group’s “Electeds for Equality,” a group of politicians “who publicly align themselves with the larger movement for LGBTQ” political power.

“Let’s be clear what is happening here: The representative is cloaking anti-biblical views, positions that directly contradict the Bible’s clear teaching, into religious-sounding language in an attempt to find a middle way. But there is no middle way when it comes to these issues. You are either on the side of Scripture or against it,” Closson told TWS.

Democrats have increasingly attempted to shroud their support for abortion-on-demand and LGBTQ issues in religious rhetoric. U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who calls himself a “pro-choice pastor,” has said, “I think that human agency and freedom is consistent with my views as a minister.” The Bible tells Christians, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (I Peter 2:16).

Other Democrats regularly speak of abortion-on-demand only in religious language. “The right to have an abortion is sacred,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) last June. “The right to an abortion is non-negotiable. Reproductive freedom is sacred,” said the Twitter account of Senator John Fetterman (D-Pa.).

But “the Bible’s teaching on life, marriage, and sexuality is straightforward, and no attempt to find a middle way on these issues will ultimately prove successful,” Closson told TWS.

House leaders proved more successful in leveraging outrage over Kidwell’s comments to wrench him out of House leadership. “To challenge a person’s religion when they share a deeply personal story … that is beneath the dignity of this House, and that is beneath the dignity of any elected office,” fumed House Minority Leader Robert Reives (D).

House Majority Leader John Bell (R) asked Kidwell to resign his leadership position as deputy majority whip, and Kidwell complied.

Yet Bell’s decision did not mollify local Democrats, who demanded Kidwell step down from office altogether. Dare County Democratic Party Chair Susan Sawin said Kidwell’s belief that Christianity does not endorse abortion renders him “unfit to serve.” Kidwell, one of the founders of the state’s House Freedom Caucus, has regularly drubbed his Democratic opponents at the polls, carrying more than 60% of his district in both of his elections.

After Staton-Williams’s comments, the Republican-controlled legislature voted to overturn Cooper’s veto of the life-protecting bill, which the Democrat vetoed at a massive outdoor rally on May 13, the day before Mother’s Day. Republicans needed exactly 60% of the total vote to uphold the Care for Women, Children and Families Act (S.B. 20). The GOP held exactly that margin — 72 out of 120 members of the General Assembly and 30 out of 50 senators — after Rep. Tricia Cotham (R-Charlotte) switched parties in April. Both chambers enacted the pro-life protections by overriding Cooper’s veto on May 16 in separate, party-line votes.

“I’d just like to thank the heroic efforts of Republicans in the House and Senate of finding common ground and passing historic legislation that will save thousands of unborn babies. It was no less than a miracle that they were able to pass a bill,” Fitzgerald told TWS.

Yet the dueling narratives and continuing fallout over the debate “reminds us that worldview is always just beneath the surface of the day’s headlines,” Closson concluded.


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council. 

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

With New Wave of Legislation, States Aim to Reintroduce Biblical Values to Schools

As concerns over rising crime and the mental health of minors continue to climb, a new wave of legislation aimed at reintroducing America’s youth to biblical values in school is surging.

In Texas, bills have been introduced that would require that the Ten Commandments be posted in public school classrooms and for schools to be free to hire or accept volunteer chaplains to perform services including mental health support, suicide prevention, and other services.

In Kentucky, a measure was advanced in the state House that would protect the “private religious expression” of teachers. Specific actions protected for school employees under the bill include engaging in religious discussion, sharing religious material with other employees, forming prayer groups with other employees, sponsoring a student religious club, wearing religious clothing or jewelry, and decorating their desks and personal spaces with religious items.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed into law a bill that allows schools to say a prayer over the public address system before athletic events.

In Louisiana, a bill that would offer public school students in grades 9-12 a voluntary course on the Bible is currently before the state legislature. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Valarie Hodges (R), joined “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” on Monday to discuss the legislation and the increasing openness of her fellow lawmakers to share their faith.

“[T]here were very few people who would openly profess their faith [in years past],” she noted. “Now I would say the majority of people in this legislature are not ashamed to say they’re Christians. They’re not ashamed to stand up for their faith. And it’s past time. It’s way past time that we do that. When prayer was removed out of schools and the Bible was removed, I think people are seeing the end result of that, that it’s not good.”

Hodges went on to emphasize why a course on the Bible is important for today’s public school students.

“The Bible is the most published book in the world, and it contains 6,000 years of history,” she explained. “My bill … authorizes teaching the Bible as literature and history. And what better book could we get our history from? It’s got the most history [of any book] in the world. … [O]ur laws that we have in the United States, our culture, art, so much is encapsulated in the Bible. … My bill [is a] first step [so] we can get the Bible into the hands of students to actually understand what [it] is about.”

Hodges further highlighted how a large swath of America’s youth have little knowledge of the Bible’s historical importance in America’s founding.

“Even our Declaration of Independence [in] the preamble is talking about a creator and acknowledges the creator. … I heard a statistic [that] 90% of teenagers have never read the Bible in this new generation that we have. And so they don’t have a reference point of, ‘What creator are we talking about?’ Our Founding Fathers were referencing the Bible.”

The Louisiana lawmaker additionally contended that a removal of biblical principles from public schools has led to an increase in societal lawlessness.

“When you look at the statistics on crime before the 1960s, it was nothing like it is now,” Hodges argued. “I think there’s a plausible explanation that can be found. … Where do we get our morality from? We get our morality from the Bible. … I was talking to a group last night. We were talking about the murder rates, the crime rates, homelessness, and all this that we’re seeing. Well, we used to teach that stealing is a sin. And we’re not right now. … [If you say] that things are ‘immoral’ — you get laughed at if you use that word anymore. But I think it’s becoming apparent that there is a crisis of morality in our nation. And we’ve got to restore that.”

Hodges expressed hope that her legislation will serve as a model in order to help clear up misconceptions about the idea of the separation of church and state.

“I really hope to see schools adopting this and teachers teaching this because there’s been a lot of confusion in the schools that I’ve [visited when] talking to teachers. … So that was one of the impetuses for me — filing the bill is to clear up any confusion. The Supreme Court ruled that schools can teach the Bible in public schools and private schools. I’m hoping this bill … will clear up any confusion and encourage schools to adopt this course and teachers to teach it.”


Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Florida Law Defunds DEI in Higher Ed

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed three bills to excise woke ideology from state higher education institutions and promote productive education goals.

SB 266 will “prohibit institutions from spending federal or state dollars on discriminatory initiatives, such as so called ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)’ programs,” the governor’s office summarized in a press release. HB 931 will “prohibit Florida’s public institutions from requiring students, faculty, or staff to take political loyalty tests,” and SB 240 will “expand workforce education programs and increase access to career and technical education (CTE) programs.”

The first of these laws doubles down on Florida Republicans’ efforts last year to crack down on woke ideology in institutions of higher education. SB 266 forbids “a Florida College System institution” to “expend any state or federal funds” on “any programs or campus activities that: (a) Violate s. 1000.05; or (b) Advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion [DEI], or promote or engage in political or social activism.”

The first prohibited category (violations of s. 1000.05) refers to a section of Florida law dealing with discrimination in K-20 public education, which the Individual Freedom Act (a.k.a. Stop Woke Act) modified last year. The Stop Woke Act added paragraphs stating that “it shall constitute discrimination … to subject any student or employee to training or instruction that espouses, promotes, advances, inculcates, or compels such student or employee to believe any of the following concepts.” The list that followed included foundational tenets of critical race theory (CRT) and other leftist ideologies, such as “A person’s moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, national origin, or sex.”

In October, a federal judge in the Northern District of Florida temporarily blocked Florida officials from enforcing this section of the law, on the grounds that it ran afoul of First Amendment Freedom of Speech.

Following this legal setback, Florida Republicans devised a different approach to achieve their original objective — eliminating woke programming on academic campuses. It began with Governor DeSantis ordering all state universities and colleges “to provide a comprehensive list of all staff, programs, and campus activities” related to DEI or CRT. Within days, the same parties who had challenged the Stop Woke Act complained that Florida was violating the judge’s preliminary injunction against portions of the Stop Woke Act. However, the judge denied the motion on the grounds that the injunction had not been violated.

Perhaps in an effort to avoid another free speech challenge, SB 266 does provide an exception from its DEI funding ban for “student fees to support student-led organizations” and “use of institution facilities by student-led organizations.”

SB 266 also enacted other DeSantis objectives for higher education. It directed the Board of Governors to review the mission and curriculum of each university, gave university presidents (as opposed to less accountable academic departments) final authority over hiring full-time faculty, and prohibited left-wing loyalty pledges as a condition of employment. These changes are among those DeSantis set forth in his January 31 education agenda “to focus on promoting academic excellence, the pursuit of truth, and to give students the foundation so they can think for themselves.”

In addition to SB 266, DeSantis also signed HB 931, which states that “a public institution of higher education may not … Require or solicit a person to complete a political loyalty test as a condition of employment or admission into, or promotion within, such institution.” It also bars universities and colleges from giving “preferential consideration” for employment, admission, or promotion based on “an opinion or actions in support of: a. A partisan, a political, or an ideological set of beliefs; or b. Another person or group of persons based on the person’s or group’s race or ethnicity or support of an ideology or movement … that promotes the differential treatment of a person or a group of persons based on race or ethnicity.” This prohibition encompasses university diversity statements (not academic diversity but identity diversity), which require university staff to affirm a DEI agenda as a condition of employment.

While DeSantis’ educational initiatives make headlines for countering woke ideology, they reflect a fundamentally positive vision, not one that is negative or contrarian. Rather, the goal is to remove politics from education, thus “empowering students, parents, and educators to focus on creating opportunities for our younger generations,” said DeSantis. This mission, to prepare young people to be productive members of society, is reflected in the third bill DeSantis signed, SB 240, which will “expand workforce education programs and increase access to career and technical education (CTE) programs.”

Unsurprisingly, left-wing activists like the ACLU of Florida dislike Florida’s higher education reforms, which demolish the barriers protecting left-wing academic hegemony. But every significant reform will face opposition. Ray Rodrigues, Chancellor of the State University System of Florida, said the legislature and DeSantis were “re-orienting our distinguished universities to missions that treat people as individuals, that reward merit and achievement, and center on recruiting excellent faculty while creating the talent pipeline necessary to fuel Florida’s future.” Making the right enemies is worth it, for the right reasons.


Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘Christian Nationalism?’ Texas Legislation Would Require Ten Commandments Be Posted in Schools

Critics are calling a Texas bill that would require the Ten Commandments to be posted in public school classrooms an example of “Christian nationalism.” But the bill’s sponsors say the legislation is needed to help remind students of America’s biblical foundations.

In April, S.B. 1515 passed the Texas Senate with a vote of 17-12; the bill is now headed to the state’s House of Representatives.

“[The bill] will remind students all across Texas of the importance of the fundamental foundation of America,” Texas State Senator Phil King (R), the bill’s sponsor, said during an April committee hearing.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R) expressed further support of the legislation along with another bill requiring there be allotted time for students and employees to pray and read the Bible if they choose. “Allowing the Ten Commandments and prayer back into our public schools is one step we can take to make sure that all Texans have the right to freely express their sincerely held religious beliefs,” he said in a statement, adding that the bills “will enable our students to become better Texans.”

King went on to assert that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to uphold Coach Joe Kennedy’s right to pray on the field after high school football games in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District signaled that it would also uphold S.B. 1515 if it became law. This outcome remains uncertain in light of a previous Supreme Court ruling in Stone v. Graham (1980), which held that a Kentucky statute requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms was unconstitutional due to it violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Critics such as Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman say that the Texas legislation amounts to a “new frontier of Christian nationalism,” claiming that the so-called philosophy “rejects our legal and cultural tradition of religious pluralism.”

But as mass shootingssuicides, and mental health issues continue to mount in the U.S., observers fear that a lack of clearly defined principles to live by in the public square will only lead to further societal chaos.

“What we are seeing culturally is a predictable result of a secularizing culture,” Family Research Council’s Joseph Backholm told The Washington Stand. “Government schools, claiming to be neutral, are teaching children to understand the world without consideration of the one who created the world. This predictably leads to growing depression and suicide because there is nowhere to turn when we lose control. It also leads to increasingly lawlessness, because there is no one to be accountable to.”

Still, Backholm, who serves as FRC’s senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement, expressed reservations about the legal ramifications of mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in public schools.

“As a legal matter, if a state allows the Ten Commandments, they would be obligated to allow other religious displays and messages I might not want my kids exposed to,” he observed. The rise of “After School Satan Clubs” indeed has some experts worried about what kinds of beliefs could make their way into schools once a legal foothold is achieved.

“That’s why this situation also shows the necessity of universal school choice,” Backholm continued. “No parent should be forced by government to have their child indoctrinated in a worldview they do not share. By giving parents control over where their child is educated, parents have control over how their child is educated — and no one has to fight over the Ten Commandments in school. The only reason this is even controversial is because people are stuck in public schools, so people who have no shared values are fighting over space the government mandates we share. It’s a recipe for conflict, so we are seeing conflict.”

“So yes, we need reminders that we are accountable and we are not alone, but government should not be the source of our theology,” Backholm concluded.


Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

A ‘Watershed’ Moment: Pornhub Blocks Access to Utah in Response to Age Verification Law

In response to a Utah law set to go into effect Wednesday requiring pornography sites to verify the age of users in order to block access to minors, MindGeek, one of the world’s largest pornography companies, has blocked all Utahans from accessing their flagship site Pornhub, along with a number of other porn sites owned by the company. In light of MindGeek’s move, experts are pointing to a potential sea change that could occur in internet safety for minors if more states follow Utah’s lead.

In March, Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) signed SB 287 into law, a bill that requires “a commercial entity that provides pornography and other materials defined as being harmful to minors … to verify the age of individuals accessing the material.” The bill also stipulates that publishers and distributors of porn will be held liable if they do not comply with the requirements.

Michael Toscano, executive director of the Institute for Family Studies, extolled the Utah governor and legislature’s efforts in enacting laws designed to protect minors from obscenity.

“Utah has put itself forward as a leader for governing the internet on behalf of the American family,” he said on Tuesday’s edition of “Washington Watch.” “Under the leadership of Governor Cox, he has decided that he was going to challenge the powers of Big Tech and Silicon Valley and Big Porn with a raft of legislation that would require these companies to verify the age of its users before admitting access. And it’s sending shock waves across the country. Legislatures across the country are looking at it, as well as on the federal level. It’s a remarkable watershed in the history of this country.”

The legislation is part of a growing nationwide push to implement laws designed to protect minors from being exposed to sexually explicit material online. In January, Louisiana enacted an almost identical law to Utah’s. Four other states (California, Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi) have also enacted bills restricting minors’ access to porn and social media sites. In addition, 21 other states have introduced legislation addressing the issue.

Toscano applauded the efforts of the Utah legislature despite protests from pornography industry lobbyists.

“[These] brave men and women were uncowed by the lobby, the lobbyists that were whispering in their ear, telling them that this would be an invasion of privacy or that this would be too burdensome for their companies and legislation,” he observed. “Good policy is a matter of balancing interests, and the legislators in Utah decided that they were going to balance their laws in favor of American families, and I think that was the right choice.”

Haley McNamara, vice president of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, echoed Toscano’s support for the Utah law and for MindGeek’s response to block their sites statewide in a statement to The Washington Stand: “Even better for children in Utah!”

She went on to note that “age verification for pornography is not a new technology or idea. There is an entire existing industry of age verification technology and standards that respect privacy. … Our laws have long held that those who distribute harmful material to minors are liable for any harm they cause, and the internet should not be different. Just as one must show an ID to enter, or make a purchase in, an adult bookstore or theatre, one should have to demonstrate he or she is an adult to access online pornography.”

McNamara continued, “Pornhub says that it’s a site only for adults, so why would it fight to stop Utah’s law to enact age verification to prevent minors from accessing its site unless it knows its traffic and profits will be impacted once minors aren’t on there?”

Toscano was equally suspicious of MindGeek’s stated reasons behind shutting off their sites in the state.

“They’re acknowledging that a very large share of their traffic comes from underage users,” he concurred. “Pornhub is worried, as one of its senior officials admitted online [this week]. It’s worried that its traffic could decrease in Utah by 50%. And part of that concern is from their perspective that its age verification is enough of a block for people to decide not to go on a porn site. But it also is an admission that many of the people that are going on their site are underage to begin with. This is obviously a bad thing, and it’s only a sign of the effectiveness of this legislation that Pornhub has decided that it was going to play hardball by withdrawing its platform altogether from Utah.”

Studies show that minors are a significant portion of those who view online porn. A report from Common Sense Media found that up to 73% of minors between 12 and 17 had watched internet smut.

Toscano further underscored that policymakers can do more above and beyond age verification in order to combat the porn industry from exploiting children.

“They should actually enforce the existing obscenity law,” he emphasized. “The existing obscenity law does not permit websites or any other producers of media to provide underage Americans with obscene content. The problem is a lack of enforcement. And I think what you see from Pornhub is [they realize] that Utah is very serious. And so they’re withdrawing. And I encourage other states to do the same thing and to show that they are serious about this obscenity problem.”


Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Flying Against the Winds of Culture

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Trans Procedure Bills Signal Growing Consensus around Protecting Children

On April 28, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte (R) signed into law SB 99, a bill that prohibits puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and genital-mutilating surgeries for minors. A similar bill was sent to the governor’s desk in Oklahoma on April 27. Both pieces of legislation passed their respective state legislatures by a wide margin, signaling the broad public support that these types of laws are receiving despite intense pressure from left-wing activists to torpedo the bills.

In Montana, in spite of the use of highly dramatic language by a transgender identifying representative that earned him a censure, and despite the necessity for police to arrest several protestors and clear the state capitol in riot gear, the state House and Senate easily sent the measure to the governor’s desk by votes of 65-33 and 31-17, respectively. In Oklahoma, where a group of around 150 pro-trans protestors descended on the state capitol in early February to denounce an early version of the bill, the state senate easily passed SB 613 last Thursday by a vote of 38-8. The bill now goes to Governor Kevin Stitt’s (R) desk, who is expected to sign it.

The large margin by which both measures passed appears to be a reflection of widespread societal consensus that minors are not capable of adequately considering the ramifications of life-altering hormonal and surgical procedures that are often irreversible. Recent polling on this issue shows that nearly 80% of Americans agree that children should not be allowed to undergo transgender procedures.

Montana and Oklahoma will join 13 other states that have passed similar legislation that gives minors some level of protection from gender transition procedures in the last two years. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.

The growing cultural agreement on the issue is reaching unexpected quarters. On Sunday, Paul Stanley, a member of the rock group KISS, tweeted in part: “There is a BIG difference between teaching acceptance and normalizing and even encouraging participation in a lifestyle that confuses young children into questioning their sexual identification as though [it’s] some sort of game and then parents in some case allow it. … With many children who have no real sense of sexuality or sexual experiences caught up in the ‘fun’ of using pronouns and saying what they identify as, some adults mistakenly confuse teaching acceptance with normalizing and encouraging a situation that has been a struggle for those truly affected and have turned it into a sad and dangerous fad.”

In addition, Bill Maher, a liberal comedian and host of HBO’s “Real Time,” has also recently expressed misgivings about the growing trend among minors to identify as the opposite sex, pointing to “social contagion” as a phenomenon that proves that transgender identities do not develop as organically as activists say they do: “[I]t is also somewhat trendy — I know people hate to hear that, but it’s obviously true — there is an element of social contagion, or else it wouldn’t be so prevalent in here [California] and not in Indiana, it wouldn’t be regional.”

Dr. Jennifer Bauwens, director of the Center for Family Studies at Family Research Council, was encouraged by the wide margins with which the Montana and Oklahoma bills passed, along with other cultural indicators of a growing accord on the issue.

“Common sense is prevailing in the midst of a media narrative that is saying the opposite of what most people can readily see,” she told The Washington Stand. “They don’t need scientific studies that have been distorted for the purposes of the medical and research elite. It’s very encouraging to see. When people are actually exposed to what’s happening, they come out in force and reject such atrocities happening to children.”

Bauwens, a clinical psychologist who has provided trauma-focused treatment to children, went on to point out the lack of evidence-based proof in the transgender activists’ arguments in favor of transgender procedures for minors.

“I think it’s interesting that the arguments from the other side are basically coming down to attacking those who are bringing out the common sense but also bringing out the research and showing how bad it is,” she noted. “And those who are practitioners of some sort, whether they’re doctors or mental health professionals, are coming out and saying, ‘This isn’t okay.’ So, the proponents are basically bringing personal attacks because they have no other argument. Because if you have great science, then why not argue from that standpoint? But instead, all they can do is say the same thing over and over again, which is, ‘If they’re not given this surgery, they’re going to commit suicide’ or ‘This is lifesaving care’ or ‘You have blood on your hands’ — all of these poor arguments and personal attacks.”

Bauwens concluded by providing an analogy between gender transition procedures and plastic surgery.

“There [are] permissions for someone to get plastic surgery before 18,” she explained. “There are safeguards about how someone is treated after surgery, and preparing them for that, and possible depression and disappointment that might come because that plastic surgery didn’t achieve the results they hoped it would. But we don’t have that over these transgender procedures. Where is the advocacy for people who have body dysmorphia — those who have a fixation about a finger that bothers them and they want to get surgery and remove that finger? Where are the advocates that say we should pay for all fingers to be removed? It just tells you how much this is not about science. They’ve made it a civil rights issue. They’re not even looking at the effects that [gender transition procedures] have. To them, it’s an identity, and they classify it on par with race.”


Dan Hart

Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

RNC Chair Tells Republicans: ‘We Can Win on Abortion’

After a deflating 2022 midterm election, the surest path to lose the White House would come from Republicans refusing to speak on the issue of abortion, the party’s chair told aspiring candidates.

“We’ve seen what happens when we let Democrats define who we are and what we stand for,” said Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel during a speech Thursday at the Reagan Library. In 2022, “a lot of Republican candidates took their D.C. consultants’ bad advice to ignore the subject. Then what happened? Democrats spent $360 million running ads filled with lies about abortion, and most Republicans had no response.”

“Let’s talk about abortion, which has become a huge issue coming after the Dobbs decision,” McDaniel exhorted GOP candidates. “When you don’t respond, the lies become the truth.”

The discussion should include a national minimum standard of protections for the unborn, which most voters favor — especially contrasted with the Democratic Party platform, she said. “Polling shows that when the choice is between a Democrat who wants zero abortion restrictions and a Republican who supports protecting life, at 15 weeks, we win by 22 points,” McDaniel noted. A 15-week national pro-life standard wins over “72% of voters, including 60% of Democrats [who] support protecting unborn children.”

“We are the pro-life, pro-woman, pro-family party, and we can win on abortion. But that means putting Democrats on the defense and forcing them to own their own extreme positions,” she concluded.

Her comments came during a moment of uneasiness within GOP ranks, as aspirants and advocates contemplate the best strategy to advance the pro-life cause in a post-Dobbs environment. A statement from former President Donald Trump roiled the movement, as some interpreted it to advocate inaction at the federal level. “President Donald J. Trump believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three Justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this is an issue that should be decided at the State level,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told The Washington Post late last week. The Post last week also reported on tales from unnamed sources that Trump personally believes abortion should be a matter of “states rights” and advocated not discussing the issue — comments that drew instantaneous backlash.

“Life is a matter of human rights, not states’ rights,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the SBA Pro-life America, adding that a states-only position would result in “abortion up until the moment of birth” in states such as California, New York, and Oregon. “We will oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard to stop painful late-term abortions while allowing states to enact further protections,” she added. Other pro-life leaders amplified her position. “If you don’t understand killing children is a federal issue, you shouldn’t be running for federal office,” said Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America. “Imagine supporting a candidate who said that slavery was a ‘states rights’ issue,” tweeted Lila Rose of Live Action.

Trump did not address the criticism directly — but he appeared to take McDaniel’s words to heart, bashing Democratic extremism on abortion “As the most pro-life president in American history, I will continue to stand strong against the extreme late-term abortionists in the Democrat Party, who believe in abortion-on-demand in the ninth month of pregnancy, and even executing babies after birth,” said the 45th president in pre-recorded comments to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition on Saturday. “They actually talk, beyond birth — after birth — executing the baby.”

He likely had in mind comments from then-Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D), who said in 2019 in the event of a live birth during a botched abortion, the abortionist would hold “a discussion” about whether the newborn would receive lifesaving care. In January, the House of Representatives passed the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act to establish national standards of care — with the support of only one Democrat.

“This is where we’ve come, and it’s so sad to see,” said Trump. “I will stand proudly and defend innocent life, just as I did for four, very powerful, strong years. Because every child, born and unborn, is a sacred gift from God.”

Mary Szoch, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council, said the former president provided a strong foundation during his four years in office. “President Trump gave us the justices who gave us Dobbs. He was the first presidential candidate to actually describe what an abortion is — a child being ripped out of her mother’s womb even just before birth — and he was the first president to attend the March for Life,” Szoch told The Washington Stand. “His administration did more for the unborn than any other.”

That sets a high bar for any Republican, including himself. “In a second term, he — or anyone else who calls himself a Republican — must be held accountable to do the same, which means committing to signing any democratically passed pro-life legislation and committing to upholding and reinstating federal protections for the unborn,” Szoch told TWS. “The pro-life movement must continue to work until nobody has the power to take away the fundamental right to life with a vote, scalpel, or pill.”

Trump’s proposals for future pro-life accomplishments seemed less precise. He promised to “again [appoint] rock-solid constitutional conservatives to be federal bench judges and justices, in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke at the Iowa event in person and plans to decide whether to mount a presidential campaign “well before late June,” endorsed national pro-life protections after the first trimester over the weekend. “I think the American people would welcome a minimum national standard in Washington, D.C. — 15 weeks,” he told CBS “Face the Nation” Sunday. Another likely presidential contender, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), has vowed, “If I were president of the United States, I would literally sign the most conservative pro-life legislation that they can get through Congress.”

His colleague, senior South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (R), believes his legislation, the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act, deserves top consideration. “America does not need, and the unborn cannot afford, to have two major parties who support no restrictions on abortion up to the moment of birth. The unborn need a voice in Washington,” Graham said. “It is up to us to provide it.”

Beltway pundits and consultants widely blamed the lack of the 2022 “red wave” on Graham’s bill, which Democrats portrayed as a “national abortion ban.” Yet Republican Governors Greg Abbott of Texas, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Kim Reynolds of Iowa all signed heartbeat bills protecting children from abortion beginning at six weeks after fertilization before winning lopsided victories in 2022. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also signed a heartbeat bill after his 20-point reelection.

Being willing to have accurate, disciplined, unapologetic messaging and refusing to run from discussions about abortion will prove indispensable to retaking the White House and U.S. Senate in 2024, McDaniel said.

“Just as Reagan was the great communicator, we have to be great communicators. Republican candidates right now are trying to do that. They are out there working hard to get the nomination of our party. And in four short months, the RNC will host its first primary debate in Milwaukee.”

The second debate would take place at the Reagan Library, she announced. Life, family, parental rights, and children’s safety will all likely be topics of debate.

“I firmly believe that our next president will be on that stage,” as long as he handles the abortion issue properly, predicted McDaniel.


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: The ‘Father of the Abortion Pill’ reveals it was always about death

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2023 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

‘Null and Void’: Iowa Aims to Expunge Same-Sex Marriage

The political battle to defend natural marriage is far from over in the nation’s heartland, as Iowa legislators have introduced two bills that would expunge same-sex marriage from state law and declare a national law redefining marriage “null and void.” The bills come as yet another local Republican Party chapter condemned Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), one of 12 Republican senators who voted for the so-called Respect for Marriage Act.

On Tuesday, eight Iowa state representatives introduced House Joint Resolution 8, which would amend the state constitution to read: “In accordance with the laws of nature and nature’s God, the state of Iowa recognizes the definition of marriage to be the solemnized union between one human biological male and one human biological female.” The measure must pass both this session and next session, then go to a statewide referendum of the voters no earlier than 2025.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brad Sherman (R) felt moved to introduce the bill based on history, law, and the Bible itself. “The definition of marriage was defined as being between male and female for 5,000 years of world history. Marriage has been defined as a model of Christ and the church for 2000 years (see Ephesians 5:31-32),” he wrote to constituents.

But Democrats claimed the measure originated from a lower motivation. “This kind of disgusting hatred and backwards thinking has no place in Iowa,” fumed State Rep. Sami Scheetz (D). “And I’ll fight it every single day.”

The second bill, House File 508, would nullify the Respect for Marriage Act, rendering it a dead letter inside state boundaries and protecting any state resident from being forced to carry out a same-sex nuptial ceremony. The legislation invokes the First Amendment, Tenth Amendment, and the separation of powers between the state and national governments established by the Constitution’s federalist system.

“The state of Iowa considers certain elements of the federal Respect for Marriage Act … relating to the definition of marriage to be null and void ab initio and to have no effect whatsoever in Iowa,” the bill declares. Any “attempt by the federal entity to erect a legal definition of marriage plainly falls outside the enumerated powers of Article I, section 8, of the Constitution of the United States” and violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

“The Respect for Marriage Act violates the tenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States by encroaching upon state powers that are reserved to the states or to the people,” it adds.

Since marriage represents “a sacred religious sacrament that is fundamentally” tied to the free exercise of religion, the bill says the government compel anyone to take part in a same-sex rite. “No resident of Iowa shall be compelled, coerced, or forced to recognize any same-sex unions or ceremonies as marriage, notwithstanding any laws to the contrary that may exist in other states, and no legal action, criminal or civil, shall be taken against citizens in Iowa for refusal or failure to recognize or participate in same-sex unions or ceremonies,” says H.F. 508.

Both measures come as the Tama County Republican Central Committee censured Joni Ernst and fellow Iowa Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson for voting to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last December. The censure says their votes violate the Republican Party of Iowa’s platform, which states:

“We believe that traditional, two-parent (one male and one female), marriage-based families are the foundation to a stable, enduring, and healthy civilization. Therefore, public policy must always be pro-family in nature, encouraging marital and family commitment, and supportive of the parental rights and responsibilities. We encourage the repeal of any laws allowing any marriage that is not between one natural man and one natural woman.”

“In line with the [f]aith and [r]eality with respect for all Judeo-Christian ethics, that are endowed to us by our Creator we affirm the following: ‘Only marriage between one man and one female’” the censure states.

The motion made the organization the 16th county GOP to censure Ernst over her vote to redefine marriage, according to a list compiled by The Iowa Standard. Others who have faced backlash for voting for the measure include Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Thom Tillis, and Richard Burr (both R-N.C.), as well as Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), and Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas).

The right of citizens to enact their own laws figured prominently in both Iowa bills, as well.

Iowa’s left-leaning Supreme Court imposed same-sex “marriage” on the Hawkeye State by judicial decree in 2009, making it only the fourth state in more than two centuries of U.S. history to recognize the institution — all by judicial decree. State supreme courts in Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut forced states to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008; California passed Proposition 8 to overturn the ruling less than six months later.

“The reason I signed on” to H.J.R. 8 “was because in 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court made an unlawful decision to define marriage,” State Rep. Luana Stoltenberg (R) told the Quad City Times. “It never went through the legislature. So, if this resolution goes through, it would go to a vote of the people of Iowa.”

Some say lawmakers hope their bill will return to the U.S. Supreme Court, which now has a far more conservative, constitutionalist membership. “Let’s be clear: their goal is for SCOTUS to strike down the RFMA and overturn Obergefell,” said Santiago Mayer, the executive director of the Generation Z-focused Voters of Tomorrow.

In his concurrence to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which found the Constitution contains no “right” to an abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas invited his fellow justices to reexamine other cases premised on legal theories he considers erroneous. Among them, Thomas listed Obergefell v. Hodges.

Lower courts would typically have to issue conflicting rulings on the issue of same-sex marriage, and justices would have to agree to take the case, before it would come before the high court. The constitutionalist-leaning Supreme Court would then have the opportunity to reverse this precedent, which bars U.S. citizens from having a democratic voice on the policy.

First, both bills must pass committee by the end of this legislative day. Neither has been assigned to a subcommittee, and Speaker of the House Pat Grassley (R), Senator Chuck Grassley’s grandson, has stated, “I don’t expect any of those bills to move.”

The eight Iowa state representatives who introduced the marriage protection amendment are: Mark CisnerosZach DiekenThomas GerholdHelena HayesBrad ShermanLuana StoltenbergMark Thompson, and Skyler Wheeler.

The eight Iowa state representatives who sponsored H.F. 508 are: Sherman, Cisneros, Dieken, Gerhold, Anne Osmundson, Stoltenberg, Charley Thomson, and Thompson.


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.


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EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

San Francisco Cries Uncle on Seven-Year Boycott of Red States

When San Francisco decided to boycott the country’s red states, they were hoping it would have an economic impact. Trouble is, it did. Just not on conservatives. For seven years, the city has stubbornly clung to its travel bans and contracting blackouts for states with sane policies on life and gender — only to find out that the side paying the biggest price is their own.

In the latest sign that Republicans are winning the woke wars, city officials are quietly trying to walk back their petty payback of conservative states who’ve passed laws protecting the unborn, election integrity, girls’ sports, and privacy. At a city meeting February 13, leaders poured over a new report about the effects of the boycott policy, known as 12X, from the last several years. In a damning assessment, San Francisco’s City Administrator’s Office (CAO) said it was “not able to find concrete evidence suggesting 12X has influenced other states’ economies, or LGBTQ, reproductive, or voting rights.”

On the contrary, the authors wrote, “12X has created [an] additional administrative burden for City staff and vendors and unintended consequences for San Francisco citizens. … Few, if any other jurisdictions implement travel or contracting bans as expensive as the City’s.”

By refusing to outsource or partner with red states, San Francisco’s contracting costs went through the roof — up 10-20% just over the past few years. “It’s an ineffective policy that complicates the business of San Francisco government,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelmanm insisted, “and makes it very likely that we pay more than we should for goods and services.”

In a state where residents are already running for the exits, the last thing cities should be doing is giving people another excuse to leave. And a 20% surcharge for San Francisco’s intolerance is just one in a long line of absurdities. Since COVID, the moving vans have been in a perpetual, one-way convoy out of California, as 508,903 people called it quits on the state with sky-high costs, crime, taxes, and regulation.

This latest revelation, that even the city’s cultural retaliation is a failure, will only push more locals to the brink. A whopping 30 states are on San Francisco’s official blacklist now (up from eight in 2016), making it virtually impossible for the city to conduct national business. If the idea was to create a “compelling deterrent to states considering [conservative] policies,” COA admitted, it failed. In the game of chicken between deep-blue California and the rest of America, San Francisco is blinking. More than one official has said they’re moving to either strike the seven-year-old policy or, at the very least, repeal the most onerous parts of it.

That’s a major coup in California where the radical dogma is thicker than smog. But then, this isn’t the first time the forces of wokeness have been backed into an embarrassing corner. Ever since 2016, when North Carolina became ground zero in the bathroom wars, Democrats have been eating crow. One of the Left’s biggest lies — which they repeat to this day — is that passing pro-family laws will cost states billions of dollars in business. The opposite is almost always true.

For all of the Left’s hyperventilating, the aftermath of the H.B. 2 debate was nothing like the Chicken Littles predicted. North Carolina’s tourism numbers broke records; its population grew faster than any state in the union; and the state’s GDP was even higher than the national average. The booming economic climate even caught Forbes’s attention, who ranked the Tar Heels the second best state for doing business that year, a title it won the next three: 20172018, and 2019. Suddenly, the tough talk about retaliation from corporations and other organizations was being exposed for what it was: empty threats from big-mouthed bullies.

Bruce SpringsteenPearl JamNick Jonas, and Demi Lovato and other musicians did their typical chest-thumping, pulling out of tour stops in places like Raleigh over their insistence that men be allowed into girls’ restrooms — but at the end of the day, the financial damage was small enough to be considered a “rounding error.” Experts crunched the numbers and found that “concerts, conventions, and sports” don’t actually bring much to the table in terms of state revenue. “Let’s suppose you buy some tickets, and you pay $100 per ticket,” John Connaughton, a professor of economics, explained. “Well, $80, $90 of that ticket gets on the bus and leaves with the performer the next day. Or later that night.”

College sports promised more of the same when the fight over girls’ sports and kids’ gender transitions broke out a few years later. “The NCAA threatened states over anti-transgender bills,” the big print of The Washington Post read. “But the games went on.” All of the tough talk proved toothless when so many states passed conservative legislation that NCAA had nowhere left to go. Suddenly, tournaments that weren’t supposed to be awarded to places like Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee got the news that they would still be hosts after all.

“I guess the NCAA boycott of Florida is over after two weeks,” state Rep. Chris Latvala tweeted. Turns out, the tug of the Left may be strong, but so is the $730 million in revenue from the Southeastern Conference. Conservative influence as red states, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) pointed out, is bigger than we think. “Will they even be able to have sports events anymore in the United States [if they boycott us]? I don’t think so.”

And who could forget Hollywood, who, after Alabama and Georgia passed their strongest pro-life laws in 2019, vowed to take their filmmaking elsewhere? It was all very theatrical when Netflix, Disney, WarnerMedia, and Sony Pictures started shaking their fists at red states and making hollow threats about canceling productions. For most conservatives, it was a familiar scene. After all, the entertainment industry had been using the same script since North Carolina, when celebrities climbed on their moral high horses to browbeat voters who believe in biological gender.

They would be reevaluating their projects, Disney’s Bob Iger promised at the time. “We are watching it very carefully,” he reassured his allies. In the end, most CEOs’ posturing amounted to nothing. Even when California tried to dangle new tax breaks over producers — “Move your film to a state with a better appreciation for killing babies!” they seemed to say — the modest incentives were still offset by the state’s suffocating regulations and higher costs. Deep down, even Hollywood understood: they stand to punish themselves more than the locations they theatened to leave.

“It speaks to the unsustainability of the Left’s wokeness,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told The Washington Stand. “They’re painting themselves in a corner.”

He’s right. Ultimately, these stunts hurt the social extremists more than they’ll ever scare conservatives, especially in this refuse-to-be-intimidated era sponsored by governors Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.).

FRC Action Vice President Brent Keilen agreed. “The move by San Francisco is the latest example that, despite receiving a lot of attention from the media, boycotts of pro-family and pro-life states don’t have much of an impact.”

In today’s climate, even San Francisco’s giants of liberalism are coming to the realization: the biggest losers of the culture wars will always be the bullies.


Suzanne Bowdey

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

Democrat Calls Advocacy for Natural Family ‘Dangerous and Un-American’

A Democratic politician has received massive backlash after she called the scientifically attested belief that children suffer less abuse in nuclear families “dangerous and un-American.”

“Extremist group Family Heritage Alliance said this morning that the safest place for kids are in families that have a married mom and dad. What a dangerous and un-American belief,” tweeted State Representative Erin Healy (D) on Monday.

She had apparently been triggered by testimony offered on behalf of the natural family by the South Dakota family policy council. “In committee we made the claim that the home of a married mother and father is statistically the safest place for a child, and we stand by it 100%. We know that a strong, nuclear family is the safest, most beneficial place for a child to be. Research confirms our claim,” Family Heritage Alliance Director Norman Woods told The Washington Stand.

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“Children living with two married biological parents had the lowest rate of overall Harm Standard maltreatment,” according to the most recent, congressionally mandated survey of child abuse, conducted in 2010. “This rate differs significantly from the rates for all other family structure and living arrangement circumstances. Children living with one parent who had an unmarried partner in the household had the highest incidence of Harm Standard maltreatment.”

Studies as far back as 1985 found toddlers living with a stepparent were 40 times more likely to be abused than those living with “two natural parents.” Children living with an unrelated parent were 50 times more likely to be killed than those living with their biological parents, according to a 2005 study by University of Missouri researchers Patricia Schitzman and Bernard Ewigman published in the journal Pediatrics. Four years later, Lawrence Berger of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that “families in which the mother was living with a man who was not the biological father of all children … were significantly more likely to be contacted by [Child Protective Services] than those in which she was living with the biological father of all resident children.”

Children from fatherless homes are more likely to do poorly in school, join a gang, commit crimes, and be imprisoned, multiple studies show. In addition, “boys who came from a home without a father were more likely to use drugs than boys who came from a home where a father was present,” according to the Minnesota Psychological Association.

The science attesting to the success of the natural family “is well established, uncontroversial, and obviously not un-American to believe. How sealed does one’s echo chamber have to be to tweet something like this?” replied Jay Richards of the Heritage Foundation.

Yet Healy had lobbed multiple epithets at the defenders of the natural family. Three hours earlier, she complained, “The grip from fundamentalist groups who only believe in nuclear families is strong at our state legislature today. I am disgusted by the extremist opposition we heard today,” she said, adding she was “disappointed” a House committee voted down a “simple, important bill” (H.B. 1092) that would redefine marriage as any union “between two persons.”

Live-in boyfriends are not the only threat to children’s safety. The tweet came the same day South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) signed the Help Not Harm Bill (H.B. 1080), which bars the transgender industry from administering puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or committing surgeries “for the purpose of attempting to alter” the child’s gender identity in a way that is “inconsistent with the minor’s sex.” It allows children affected to sue the doctors and medical establishment involved.

“This bill is extremism at its finest,” Healy said, adding, “We know that kids are going to die because of this bill. We know that most Republicans realize that this bill and its testimony is full of lies and misinformation.”

The assertion that children suffering gender dysphoria will commit suicide without lifelong hormone injections or permanently life-altering surgeries is itself misinformation. Multiple surveys show that individuals who go through with gender-reassignment procedures have the same, or higher, risk of suicide as those who do not. Whistleblower Jamie Reed, who identifies as a lesbian supporter of “trans rights,” explained that employees of gender reassignment surgeries regularly use high-pressure tactics to convince parents to go forward with the controversial, and highly profitable, transgender procedures. Reed’s former clinic is now under multiple investigations for prescribing experimental cancer drugs to children and disregarding parental consent.

“Denying the truth that we are either male or female hurts real people, especially vulnerable children. By enacting this legislation, South Dakota has taken critical steps to protect children from radical activists that peddle gender ideology and pressure children into life-altering, experimental procedures and drugs,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Matt Sharp. “Science and common sense tell us that children aren’t mature enough to properly evaluate the serious ramifications of making certain decisions; the decision to undergo dangerous and likely sterilizing gender transition procedures is no exception.”

Ironically, Woods’s organization — and Woods personally — has also taken heat from Kristi Noem after Woods wrote a letter asking her to take action against a “kid-friendly” drag show sponsored by South Dakota State University. Noem responded by instructing the organization to “find an executive director” who does not “attack the most conservative governor in the country.”

Sanford Health, Noem’s top career donor, furnishes minors with puberty blockers and commits transgender surgeries, has received accreditation on the “Healthcare Equality Index.” The industry successfully killed a similar bill, the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, in the 2020-2021 legislative session.

Woods says his organization will continue advocating for nature and the natural family. “Any child who grows up without a mother has lost something. Any child who grows up without a father has lost something,” Woods told TWS. “We will not ignore this loss, no matter the political consequences.”


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

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