Thursday, May 29, 2008

Liberty Counsel Requests the California Supreme Court to Rehear and Stay its Marriage Decision

Today, Liberty Counsel filed a Petition requesting the California Supreme Court to stay and to reconsider its decision that sanctioned same-sex marriage. Liberty Counsel represents the Campaign for California Families.

Liberty Counsel's Petition requests that the Court stay its opinion pending the upcoming vote in November on the California Marriage Protection Act ("Amendment") ("Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California"). Unlike Proposition 22, passed by a margin of 61.4 percent in 2000, but which was not a constitutional amendment, this ballot initiative will amend the state constitution and thus overrule the Court’s decision. Between April 24 and May 13, 2008, almost two months after the March 4 oral argument, 1,120,590 signed petitions were submitted to the Secretary of State. Only 694,354 petitions are needed to place the Amendment on the November ballot. The Court should stay its decision pending this vote. A stay would avoid the circus-like atmosphere that occurred in 2004 when “same-sex marriage” licenses were issued by San Francisco and then later voided. The Amendment would similarly overrule this Court&! rsquo;s decision and nullify the licenses issued between the end of June and November.

Liberty Counsel's Petition also requests that the Court rehear the case because of unforeseen and unintended consequences of the decision. If the Court's ruling goes into effect without modification, individuals could create polygamous and polyamorous relationships. Parties A and B, C and D, and E and F, who are in a Vermont (or New Jersey and Connecticut) civil union, could all become interconnected when Parties A and C obtain a California same-sex marriage. At the same time B and F and D and E could get married, all at the same time. These polygamous and polyamorous relationships are made possible by this Court’s decision, which opens up marriage to same-sex couples while retaining the AB 205 Domestic Partnership law. This law provides the same rights and benefits as provided to spouses in marriage. It is parallel to marriage except in name. Liberty Counsel
has a chart ! explaining this problem in the Petition and on it website at www.LC.org. Liberty Counsel’s Petition points out that the Court has unwittingly created a system that hopelessly entangles property, custody, visitation and other rights. If not stopped, this fiasco will travel like a tsunami, wreaking havoc on couples in California and other states.

The California Supreme Court has created a Gordian Knot that even Alexander the Great could not undo. This case illustrates why judges should leave lawmaking to the legislature. The decision has created unintended and unforeseen consequences, including polygamy and group marriage. Polygamy violates federal law and policy. The Court should stay the case until the people vote in November on the Marriage Protection Amendment, which, when passed, will overrule this outrageous decision.

Read the 29-page petition (in PDF) that has been submitted to the California Supreme Court.
View Liberty Counsel's chart (in PDF) showing how polygamy and polyamory (group marriage) can be recognized in California because of the California same-sex marriage ruling.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Administering Hormone-Blocking Drugs to Seven-Year-Old Children Pushes Ethical Limits

Dr. Norman Spack, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Boston Children's Hospital, has launched a clinic where he administers hormone-blocking drugs to children as young as seven years of age. Gender Identity Disorder (GID), which these children allegedly experience, is classified as a mental disorder. A GID diagnosis involves someone whose biology and physiology is indisputably male or female, but subjectively this person has a desire to be the opposite sex. Children that are diagnosed with GID later in life often abandon the desire to be the opposite sex.

Dr. Spack administers either luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) or medroxyprogesterone, which blocks estrogen or testosterone to delay the onset of puberty. The result would stop girls from developing their menstrual cycle, breasts, and other normal female characteristics, and it would stop boys from developing a deeper voice, facial hair, and other normal male characteristics. The dangers involved in children taking these drugs include permanent infertility, increased risk of breast cancer, and more confusion about who they are.
Shortly after stopping children from reaching puberty, cross-hormones are taken to simulate the puberty of the opposite sex. Estrogen is given to boys and testosterone is given to girls, physically transforming these children into the gender they want to be. The final step would involve removal of male or female organs and plastic surgery.

In 1966, Johns Hopkins University started performing the nation’s first "sex reassignment" surgery in its Gender Identity Clinic. In 1979 the university hospital stopped performing these surgeries when it was discovered that the patients' well-being did not improve and the procedures were destroying healthy organs. The hospital decided the best treatment was through psychology, focusing on healing the mind.

Seven-year-old children are thinking about video games and riding their bicycles, not about artificially transitioning to the opposite gender. Since Gender Identity Disorder is purely subjective, it is dangerous and unethical to give drugs to children to block the onset of puberty. Gender Identity Disorder is a mental, not a physical disorder. We do not treat anorexia with liposuction and we should not treat gender confusion with plastic surgery.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Appeals Court Considers State Responsible for Illegally Strip-Searching Children

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of two Wisconsin children who were strip-searched by a state social worker at a private Christian school. In Michael C. v. Gresbach, the appeals court panel unanimously ruled that the social worker, Dana Gresbach, violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the children to be free from an unreasonable search.
The eight-year-old boy, his nine-year-old sister and their parents are represented by Stephen Crampton, Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel for Liberty Counsel, and Wisconsin attorney Michael D. Dean.

The court stated that "it is a violation of a child’s constitutional rights to conduct a search of a child at a private school without a warrant or probable cause, consent, or exigent circumstances." The court held the social worker personally responsible for violating the students’ rights, because the law in this area is so clear that she should have known her actions were unconstitutional. Although the school principal allowed the social worker to interview the students, the social worker never even mentioned that she intended to require the children to remove their clothing. In addition, the social worker refused to allow the principal to contact the parents before the interview or to be present when she forced the children to strip.

The case arose when social services received a bogus report of suspected abuse from the sister of the estranged father of the children, who did not like that the children were spanked. A previous report of suspected abuse by the same aunt two weeks earlier was dismissed out of hand.
Gresbach was an employee of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. In a previous case, Doe v. Heck, the Bureau was found to have violated the constitutional rights of a child at a private Christian school, and also the rights of the school and the child’s parents under remarkably similar circumstances. Crampton and Dean also represented the parents in that case.

Decades ago, the United States Supreme Court emphatically ruled that the child is not the mere creature of the state. Unfortunately, social workers repeatedly ignore that fact and routinely trample parents' rights under the guise of protecting the children. This ruling sends the message that the Constitution is still in effect protecting law-abiding families from the overreaching arm of the state, both in the home and in private schools.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Liberty Counsel Files Brief in California Homeschool Case on Behalf of Members of United States Congress

Tomorrow, on behalf of 19 members of the United States Congress, Liberty Counsel will file a 57-page brief with the California Court of Appeal in the homeschooling case known as In re Rachel L, et al. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles.

On February 28, 2008, the California Court of Appeal ruled that parents who lack teaching credentials do not have the statutory or constitutional right to school their children at home. The decision immediately caught the attention of the Nation and was the subject of sharp criticism.
Representative Howard McKeon (CA-25) introduced H. Res. 1076, calling on the courts to uphold the fundamental and constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children. On March 25, 2008, the Court of Appeal agreed to rehear the case.

The brief by Liberty Counsel on behalf of members of Congress overviews home education laws of all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Homeschooling is legal in every state and the District of Columbia. In 1925, the United States Supreme Court recognized the rights of parents to direct the education of their children. The High Court stated: "The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations."

The members of Congress represented by Liberty Counsel include: Ken Calvert (CA-44), John Campbell (CA-48), David Davis (TN-1), John Doolittle (CA-4), Tom Feeney (FL-24), Randy Forbes (VA-4), Trent Franks (AZ-2), Robin Hayes (NC-8), Wally Herger (CA-2), Jim Jordan (OH-4), Doug Lamborn (CO-5), Dan Lungren (CA-3), Thaddeus McCotter (MI-11), Howard McKeon (CA-25), Gary Miller (CA-42), Marilyn Musgrave (C0-4), Ed Royce (CA-40), Pete Sessions (TX-32), and Mark Souder (IN-3).

Parents have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children. This right includes the decision to school their children at home. We must assume that parents will act in the best interest of their children and that parents, not the government, know what is best for their children. Homeschooling has become phenomenally successful. Homeschooled children routinely out-perform children educated in the public schools. Some of the brightest minds in American history were homeschooled.

Read the Brief.

United States Supreme Court Allows Federal Law Against Child Pornography To Stand

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling upholding a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly offer to provide or request to obtain child pornography. In United States v. Williams, the Court upheld the law known as the "Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003."

In an opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that the law does not violate the First Amendment, noting that offers to engage in illegal transactions are not protected by the First Amendment. Justices Souter and Ginsburg dissented, arguing that porn peddlers who trick purchasers with fake child porn should not be prosecuted.

The Court has already ruled in an earlier case that laws may prohibit obscene material depicting actual or computer-generated images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and any other material depicting actual children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

In 2002, the Court struck down an earlier law passed by Congress that would also prohibit materials that were not really child pornography, such as photos of youthful adults. As a result, Congress reacted by passing the current law that the Court upheld today, which provides for a mandatory 5-year sentence for promoting or attempting to obtain child pornography.

We applaud the Supreme Court’s common sense decision to allow Congress to ban the spread of child pornography. The Department of Justice needs to start vigorously enforcing this law and other anti-obscenity laws that are necessary protect our children from online criminals who would profit from their images and steal their innocence. Pornography is a destructive force that degrades its subjects and twists the minds of the masses of viewers who become hooked on perverted images.

Liberty Counsel Protests Lack of Enforcement of Federal Obscenity Laws

Today, pro-decency and pro-family organizations held a prayer breakfast and a conference at the National Press Club to draw attention to the lack of current enforcement of obscenity laws by the United States Department of Justice and the FBI.

The lack of enforcement undermines the family, subjects children to pornography and increases sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Following the conference, an orderly demonstration was held at the Department of Justice on Pennsylvania Avenue to draw attention to the enforcement problem.

Sarah Seitz was one of the speakers at the conference. She is Legal Director of the Liberty Center for Law & Policy, a partnership between Liberty Counsel and Liberty University School of Law.
Seitz spoke about Liberty Counsel's case on behalf of librarian Brenda Biesterfeld, who was fired from a library in Tulare County, California, for reporting a patron viewing child pornography. She also discussed the involvement of students at Liberty University School of Law with "Blue Ridge Thunder," an Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) taskforce at the Bedford County, Virginia, Sheriff's Office.

Sixteen other prominent pro-family speakers and leaders were featured at the event, including: Ted Baehr, President, Christian Film & TV Commission; Janice Crouse, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Beverly LaHaye Institute; Bill Johnson, President, American Decency Association; Rabbi Yehuda Levin, Spokesperson, Rabbinical Alliance of America; Arthur Taylor, Past President, CBS, Inc.; Pat Trueman, former Chief, Justice Dept.’s Child Exploitation & Obscenity Section; and Wendy Wright, President, Concerned Women for America.

Today's event highlighted the necessity for enforcement of obscenity laws by the Department of Justice and FBI. We must hold the federal government accountable in order to protect the children of this Nation.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Liberty Counsel Will Ask California Court To Stay Opinion Until Californians Vote On Marriage

Liberty Counsel intends to file a motion asking the California Supreme Court to stay its opinion pending the outcome of a vote in November on a state constitutional amendment that could preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman and overturn the Court's opinion.
Californians may have the chance to overturn the Court's order by amending the state constitution. Over one million signatures in favor of the California Marriage Protection Act are being certified and voters will soon know whether more than 700,000 are valid so that the Act will appear on the November, 2008 ballot.

A stay of the Court's order is needed so that California does not create confusion by recognizing same-sex "marriage" for five months and then suddenly stop after the amendment passes and the Court loses jurisdiction over the issue.

The White House issued a statement about the Court's decision: "President Bush has always believed marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. It’s unfortunate when activist judges continue to seek to redefine marriage by court order – without regard for the will of the people. Today's decision by the California Supreme Court illustrates that a federal constitutional amendment is the best way for the people to decide what marriage means. President Bush remains firmly committed to protecting the sanctity of marriage."

House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (MO) also issued a statement regarding the Court's decision: “Today, the decision of unelected judges to overturn the will of the people of California on the question of same-sex marriage demonstrates the lengths that unelected judges will go to substitute their own worldview for the wisdom of the American people. The Supreme Court of California chose today to legislate from the bench without any concern or deference for the democratic process. "

Please pray that the Court agrees to stay the order so that the people of California can have the last word on protecting marriage in that state.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The California Supreme Court Rewrites the Definition of Marriage- California voters may have the last word

San Francisco, CA – Today, the California Supreme Court abandoned the rule of law and common sense when it handed down a 4-3 decision that rewrote the definition of marriage. This ruling will unite the people of California and will propel their efforts to amend the state constitution. Liberty Counsel represents the Campaign for California Families (CCF) in the defense of the state’s marriage laws.

Chief Justice George wrote the majority opinion overturning the marriage laws, joined by Justices Kennard, Werdegar and Moreno. Concurring and dissenting opinions were issued by Baxter, Chin and Corrigan.

Justice Baxter (joined by Justice Chin), wrote: "I cannot join the majority’s holding that the California Constitution gives same-sex couples a right to marry. In reaching this decision, I believe, the majority violates the separation of powers, and thereby commits profound error,” wrote Baxter and Chin. In a concurring and dissenting opinion, Justice Baxter dissented in the conclusion, stating: “I cannot join this exercise in legal jujitsu, by which the Legislature’s own weight is used against it to create a constitutional right from whole cloth, defeat the People’s will, and invalidate a statute otherwise immune from legislative interference."

California residents have submitted petitions to place a state constitutional marriage amendment on the November ballot. If the requisite number is certified in the next few weeks, California voters will have the opportunity to amend their state constitution so that it expressly defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Such an amendment is necessary to protect marriage from being undermined by a mere majority of four justices of the California Supreme Court.

On March 4, 2008, Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, presented oral argument at the California Supreme Court in defense of the marriage laws. The court hearing lasted more than three hours, as each side debated the issue. Liberty Counsel became involved in February 2004.

This ruling defies logic. It is a gross departure from the rule of law. It is outrageous. Traditional marriage is common sense. Yet, this decision is nonsense. No matter how you stretch California’s Constitution, you cannot find anywhere in its text, its history, or tradition that now, after so many years, it magically protects what most societies condemn. Same-sex marriage is not part of our history nor is it woven in the fabric of fundamental freedom. The California Supreme Court has defied logic, undermined the will of the people, and weakened our future. This decision will ignite California voters to amend their state constitution to protect marriage and prevent judges from wrecking marriage.

Read the Court's opinion: PDF or MSWord.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Historic Conference on How to Defend Family Values Kicks Off in Hong Kong

Today marks the beginning of a strategic relationship between pro-family organizations and educational institutions in the United States with Chinese leaders who are concerned about family values. The Hong Kong International Conference on Family Values at Hong Kong Baptist University runs from May 9-12. Conference presenters are meeting today with Chinese lawyers, legislators and governmental leaders.

Rena Lindevaldsen will give six presentations that include topics such as: The Family in Civil Society, Teen Sexual Activity, AIDS and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Same-Sex Marriage, and The Threat of the Homosexual Agenda on Free Speech and Freedom of Religion. Lindevaldsen is an Assistant Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law and of Counsel for Liberty Counsel.

The purpose of the conference is to provide Chinese Christians an opportunity to learn from international experts on how to defend family values. Sponsors include the Family Values Foundation, the Society for Truth and Light, Hong Kong Sex Culture Society, and local churches. About 1,000 Chinese Christians from Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia are expected to attend.

Hong Kong currently suffers from high abortion, divorce and teen pregnancy rates. Hong Kong currently allows for greater religious expression in public places than in the United States. There is still prayer in schools, and judges still have crosses displayed in judicial chambers. On the other hand, the public officials really cannot say anything religious related to their official decisions.

The International Conference on Family Values has been in the planning stages for more than 2 years. In 2006, Mathew Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, arranged a training and educational conference at the school of law in Lynchburg, Virginia, for some of the organizational leaders from Hong Kong. Speakers at the conference included attorneys from Liberty Counsel and faculty of Liberty University School of Law.

This International Conference on Family Values provides an historic opportunity to equip the Chinese people to strengthen and to defend marriage and family values.

The launch of the International Conference on Family Values in Hong Kong is the beginning of a strategic partnership between Chinese leaders and American pro-family organizations. Liberty University School of Law and Liberty Counsel are pleased to be a part of this historic event.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Liberty Counsel Launches Annual “Friend or Foe” Graduation Prayer Campaign

May is the annual launch of Liberty Counsel’s “Friend or Foe” Graduation Prayer Campaign. Liberty Counsel seeks to educate and, if necessary, litigate to ensure that prayer and religious viewpoints are not suppressed during graduation ceremonies.

Liberty Counsel has published a free legal memo on graduation prayer which is available online at www.LC.org. Students are encouraged to wear Liberty Counsel’s red “I WILL PRAY” wristbands as a reminder to pray. Students have the constitutional right to wear religious jewelry and to pray during noninstructional times during the school day.

In a precedent-setting case against the ACLU, Adler v. Duval County School Board, Liberty Counsel won the right of students to pray or give religious messages at graduation. The case went before a federal appeals court five times and to the U.S. Supreme Court twice. The case established the legal principle that public schools are safe to adopt a policy allowing students or other speakers to present either secular or religious messages, including prayer.

In 2007, Liberty Counsel filed suit on behalf of Erica Corder, a valedictorian in Denver, Colorado, who mentioned Jesus Christ during a 30-second graduation message. Her principal threatened to withhold her diploma unless she issued a written apology to the entire school community. The case is still in litigation.

In 2006, Liberty Counsel represented Megan Chapman, a graduating senior and class chaplain in Russell Springs, Kentucky, who found herself the subject of a court order forbidding her from praying during graduation. The order was obtained by the ACLU. The entire senior class reacted to the controversy by standing and reciting the Lord’s Prayer, after which Megan stepped to the podium and shared about what God meant in her life. After hearing about the situation, Dr. Jerry Falwell gave both Megan and her twin sister, Mandy, full scholarships to Liberty University. Their story was featured on a segment of CNN’s God’s Christian Warriors. The twins are finishing their second year at Liberty. Mandy volunteers with Liberty Counsel and plans to attend Liberty University School of Law.

The purpose of Liberty Counsel’s ‘Friend or Foe’ Graduation Prayer Campaign is to protect religious viewpoints at graduation. Liberty Counsel will be the friend of schools that recognize the free speech rights of students and invited speakers and the foe of those that violate their constitutional rights. The key to graduation prayer is that the school should neither command nor prohibit voluntary prayer or religious viewpoints.