Sunday, February 26, 2017

The 3 - February 26, 2017

On this week's edition of The 3, in which I identify three stories of relevance to the Christian community, there is a story out of Arkansas, where the Supreme Court there struck down one of these SOGI laws, creating favorable treatment for people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Also, there were developments recently in two states concerning taxpayer funding of abortion.  And, the Trump administration has ended the previous administration's directive forcing schools to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their declared "gender identity."

3 - AR high court strikes down Fayetteville SOGI ordinance

Across America, you have seen these so-called "sexual orientation, gender identity" laws being passed by municipalities across America. Cities such as Houston, Charlotte, and others have attempted to put people in a special class based on these two elements.  The Texas Supreme Court overturned Houston's protections, which generated controversy there, leading the lesbian mayor to subpeona pastors' sermons.  In Charlotte, the passage of such a law resulted in the state having to pass a law (HB2), preventing municipalities from forging a course that is outside of the state's provisions.

In Fayetteville, Arkansas, a SOGI ordinance had been passed by the city council and overturned by the voters.  The law ended up in court, and according to a Liberty Counsel press release, "the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down a city’s ordinance that unlawfully added sexual orientation and gender identity. In the unanimous ruling, the court ruled that the City of Fayetteville violated state law by adding these two categories when state law did not include them."

The release continues:
Arkansas’ civil rights law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. The court ruled that a state anti-bullying law is not related to anti-discrimination laws and does not create newly protected classes. In February 2015, the legislature passed Act 137 that prohibits local governments from adding additional categories that are not included in the state law.
Liberty Counsel will soon be in court arguing against a Virginia county school board's attempt to add these SOGI elements to its policy.  Liberty Counsel says:
Virginia, like Arkansas, requires that non-discrimination categories be uniform and set at the state level. Next week, Liberty Counsel will be arguing before the Virginia Supreme Court where the Fairfax County School Board unlawfully added “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” and “gender expression” to the Board’s policies. Like Arkansas, Virginia law does not include these categories.
2 - VA governor vetoes abortion funding bill, Federal judge in TX continues to block bill reducing funding of abortion 

There is other news out of Virginia to cover...the Democratic governor there, Terry McAuliffe, a long-time supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, has vetoed a bill that would have removed taxpayer funding of abortion.  A story on the WORLD Magazine website states that McAuliffe...
... made good Tuesday on his threat to veto a bill redirecting funds from Planned Parenthood to health centers that do not perform abortions.

McAuliffe vowed to veto both H.B. 2264 and H.B. 1473, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks gestation. The former passed the House 60-33 and the Senate 20-19.
Olivia Gans Turner, president of Virginia Society for Human Life, is quoted as saying that "Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby can depend on him to abandon the women and unborn children of the Commonwealth,” adding, “He does not care that Virginians do not want our taxes paying for abortion.”

Also, according to the WORLD story, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks extended an injunction blocking a Texas "law that stripped Planned Parenthood of its $3 million in Medicaid funding." The law has been placed on hold "while Planned Parenthood pursues its lawsuit against the new law."

1 - Trump administration ends previous administration's transgender bathroom directive

As expected, the Trump administration has terminated the directive that the Obama administration had issued allowing students to use restroom facilities corresponding to their so-called "gender identity," according to story, which says that:
The Obama administration had issued the directive to schools, based on their interpretation of Title IX which states, "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
The Trump administration, however, stated that this is an issue that should be left up to the states to decide individually.
The story, quoting from an ABC News report, says:
A letter sent to schools on Wednesday by the Justice and Education Departments said that while "All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment,” states should take the “primary role” in establishing appropriate policies, according to ABC News.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is quoted in the ABC News story: "Congress, state legislatures and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue," adding, "The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying and harassment."

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