Legislative Update: Februrary 1, 2008
Part of our mission at the West Virginia Values Coalition is to keep West Virginia families informed about issues affecting today’s families. During each legislative session, several of those issues arise, but most families in West Virginia rarely hear about the hundreds of pieces of proposed legislation that could impact if passed.
During the 2008 legislative session, Family Voice will regularly highlight those proposed policies and provide much needed analysis and commentary from a Judeo-Christian worldview.
Summary: January 2008
It would be impossible to review each and every bill introduced. However, what follows are some highlights from the last 22 days of this legislative session.
Since the first day of this legislative session, January 9, 2008, literally thousands of bills have been introduced at the legislature. If you have been listening to any political news coverage in West Virginia lately, you are aware of some of the issues our legislators are facing. Teacher pay raises have been hotly debated. More recently, a discussion of whether or not to teach gun safety classes to our high school students has received national attention.
But, a very important milestone passed without much notice. January 22, 2008, marked 35 years since Roe v. Wade paved the way for abortion on demand. Since that time, more than 40 million innocent lives have been discarded as globs of tissue, rather than the precious lives they could have been.
Since the beginning of this legislative session, more than fifty (50) bills touching on the issues of abortion have been introduced.
Do you know how many have passed? Zero.
Do you know how many will likely pass? One.
Among them are bills like H.B. 2312 and H.B. 2313. These bills would require “prolife, antichoice, faith-based or abstinence only facilities” – or, as you and I might know them, “crisis pregnancy centers” – to create a litany of policies that would do little more than bind these organizations up in red tape and prevent them from accomplishing their mission to preserve life.
What is more, H.B. 2313 specifically requires the creating of “quality assurance programs” for each such facility. Interestingly, there exists no law requiring those facilities that perform abortions to have a comparable quality assurance program. Apparently, Delegates Brown and Hatfield (sponsors of H.B. 2312 and 2313) would rather busy organizations dedicated to saving life in quality assurance programs, rather than ensure those facilities whose life-taking procedures risk multiple lives give any “assurance” of “quality.”
S.B. 89 and S.B. 485 are two very commonsense bills. S.B. 89 would requires abortionists to follow their Hippocratic Oath and save the life of any child that survived an attempted abortion. S.B. 485 follows the example of the Federal government and bans the inhumane practice of partial-birth abortion.
How many of these proposed bills have you heard about? That is the unfortunate irony in West Virginia. Our legislators often talk a good talk about how “prolife” they are and, as they have already done, will introduce many pieces of legislation only to secure the endorsement of prolife organizations. While few, if any, laws that will preserve life and advance West Virginia’s families get passed, most West Virginians confess to be prolife.
The only way to resolve the irony is to let your legislator know what you want him or her to do. If they do not do it, elect someone who will. Remember, you hold the keys to the governance of this state.
Bills to Watch
It is almost getting tiresome to see the redundant efforts by a few try to sneak in what I like to call, “the Trojan horse of tolerance.” Delegates Fleischauer and Webster (among others) have once again trotted out H.B. 4164 in an effort to secure special rights for homosexuals. While billed as an effort to encourage “tolerance” for the homosexual community, in reality, this bill seeks to undermine marriage while giving additional rights to special interest groups.
H.B. 4164 would make it a violation of the Human Rights Act of West Virginia for employers to discriminate based upon one’s “sexual orientation.” How is “sexual orientation” defined? For the purposes of this bill, “sexual orientation” means, “heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity or expression, whether actual or perceived.”
This bill would require the government to create a brigade of thought police. It would mean that an employee sitting in the breakroom, reading his or her Bible could be “perceived” as discriminating against someone’s “sexual orientation.”
One’s “gender identity” is not a civil right and would upend half a century’s worth of civil rights laws. Civil rights, which the Human Rights Act is intended to protect, are based upon immutable characteristics. “Gender-identity” is – at best – a transient concept.
In attempting to end one form of discrimination, this bill, in fact, discriminates against many others. It assails one’s freedom of religion by neglecting to exempt religious organizations. In other words, a parochial school could be forced to hire and openly homosexual employee or face an expensive lawsuit.
It discriminates against one’s freedom of conscience, forcing an employer to sacrifice his or her sincerely held religious belief or face thousands of dollars in legal fees.
An organization’s religious liberty is likewise threatened. Under this bill, a church could be forced to rewrite theological doctrine, or face litigation. Political activists who attempt to advance these bills are simply trying to drive faith underground.
The real goal is to redefine the family. Most West Virginians do not approve of homosexual behavior. Homosexual rights activists know that they cannot win at the ballot box; hence, they use bills like H.B. 4164 to circumvent the democratic process in an effort to undermine the definition of marriage and challenge laws like West Virginia’s Defense of Marriage Act.
Laws should govern objective action, not subjective thoughts. While this bill is currently pending in committee, because it is sponsored by the Chairwoman of the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee, it could come to a vote at any time.
Thankfully, you have the right to let your legislator know what you think about this bill. Unless you call your legislator, they will assume you approve of bills that contradict your values.
Family Voice is the official blog of the West Virginia Values Coalition, a 501(c)(3) research and education organization dedicated to standing for the Truth for the advancement of West Virginia’s famlies. Donate online at www.wvfpc.org.