Obama-cares NEW MRI machine for conservatives. pic.twitter.com/gVb826ctSh
Friday, June 28, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) today released his June monthly video address to Virginia's 5th District. You may view the video by clicking the image below:
[Click HERE or above to view the June Address]
June Video Address Text
"Hi, I'm Robert Hurt. Thank you for tuning in to our June monthly video address.
"This past month, we continued to learn more about the scandals within the IRS and the Justice Department. These troubling revelations undermine our democracy and infringe upon our fundamental constitutional rights. The House is conducting thorough investigations so that those who are responsible will be held accountable.
"Despite these distractions, the House of Representatives has remained focused on the issues of paramount importance: creating jobs and growing our economy.
"The latest unemployment report was a reminder that our economy is still struggling. The Department of Labor reported that 7.6 percent of Americans who are out of work still cannot find jobs – an uptick from April. Additionally, we have learned that the economy has been growing at a rate of less than 2%, a rate far too slow to create the jobs Fifth District Virginians need.
"That is why we in the House of Representatives remain committed to advancing real solutions that will generate economic growth and create jobs.
"Recently, the House voted to approve the Offshore Energy And Jobs Act. This legislation would expand U.S. offshore energy development in a responsible way. This legislation would lead to the creation of over a million new American jobs, including thousands of jobs right here in Virginia. In addition, this legislation would lead to lower energy prices, economic growth, and strengthened national security.
"Also this past month, two bills that I introduced earlier this year were approved by the House Financial Services Committee with bipartisan support and have been reported to the full House of Representatives.
"The Small Business Capital Access And Job Preservation Act would reduce burdensome federal regulations and restore certainty to the marketplace - allowing our Main Street businesses to access the capital necessary to hire and expand. In order for our economy to grow, we must eliminate unnecessary federal mandates and establish policies that encourage investment, innovation, and the entrepreneurial spirit.
"The Audit Integrity And Job Protection Act would prevent the threat of over-regulation that would significantly increase costs for American businesses. By removing the possibility of more unnecessary compliance costs, our businesses and startups will have the opportunity to achieve their potential and invest in our communities.
"Our small businesses have been negatively affected by the harmful policies put forth in Washington for far too long. At a time when too many people in Virginia's 5th District are out of work, it is critical that we in the House do everything we can to encourage the creation of new jobs and preserve existing jobs.
"Finally, with sadness, we learned that Saint Paul's College in Lawrenceville has been forced to close its doors. Saint Paul's commitment to making higher education accessible to all Americans – regardless of race – will forever be an important American legacy. I was glad to have the opportunity to meet with leadership, alumni, and constituents from Saint Paul's along with my colleague Representative Bobby Scott, to discuss how we may be helpful as the college works through this process.
"I encourage you to stay connected to our office by signing up for our e-newsletter at hurt.house.gov. You may also check our social media pages to get the latest news from Washington and the 5th District.
"Again, thank you for tuning in to our monthly address."
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) today released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 2231, the Offshore Energy And Jobs Act, which expands energy development and would lead to lower energy prices, economic growth, strengthened national security, and the creation of over one million American jobs, including thousands of jobs in Virginia:
"As I travel throughout Virginia's 5th District, I consistently hear that the cost of energy continues to have a significant negative impact on our small businesses, our farmers, and our families. Not only are Americans suffering from high prices at the gas pump, but high fuel prices have triggered higher prices across the board, making it more difficult for families to make ends meet.
"Today, the House of Representatives acted to encourage the creation of new jobs and lighten the burden on our hardworking families and small businesses. Reopening the lease sales off of the coast of Virginia enjoys broad, bipartisan support, and it is time that the Administration removes itself as a barrier to job creation and an obstacle to our energy independence.
"The House will continue to lead on creating a sensible domestic energy policy, and it is my hope that the Senate and the President will join us."
The President has effectively re-imposed an offshore drilling moratorium and imposed a lease plan that keeps 85 percent of our offshore areas off-limits to American energy production. H.R. 2231 requires the Secretary of the Interior to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales that have been delayed or cancelled by the Obama Administration. The bill would generate $1.5 billion in new revenue over ten years according to the Congressional Budget Office and could create up to 1.2 million long-term jobs. This legislation could create 2,000 new jobs and produce more than 750 million barrels of oil and 6.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Virginia, where responsible offshore energy production has strong bipartisan support. Robert spoke in support of H.R. 2231 on the House Floor, which you can view here.
Happy Independence Day
Celebrate Your Freedom!
You are cordially invited to share Independence Day with fellow Conservatives at the Rappahannock County Fourth of July Celebration at Thornton Hill Race Course, proceeds for which benefit the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department.
Under our Rappahannock Republican tent you will find a host of like-minded people who enjoy picnicking and politicking. Bring a dish to share with others, meet your neighbors (and perhaps a few Republican candidates), and join in the conversations. We will have free cookies and lemonade, along with a supply of 2013 campaign literature, yard signs and bumper stickers.
If you've never attended, make this year your first. There will be live music, and on-site vendors provide a variety of food, children's games/rides, face-painting and much more. The highlight of the day is, of course, a spectacular fireworks display at dusk! Please see the attached official flyer for a complete list of activities and amenities.
Here are a few items to consider bringing with you (from weather.com):
For Food Transporting and Storage: Cooler fully stocked with ice or ice packs, picnic basket, food storage containers
For Safety and Comfort: Picnic blanket, cushions/pillows, folding chairs, hat, antibacterial gel, insect repellent, anti-allergy medication, sunscreen
For Serving: Utensils/plates/cups, napkins/paper towels, condiments, bottle opener/corkscrew, water/beverages
For Cleanup: Towelettes/paper towels, trash bags
Gates open at 1:00 PM, and you can bring an entire carload into the event for $25! Again, please open the attached flyer for additional information.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) today delivered the below floor speech in support of the Offshore Energy And Jobs Act, a bill that will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs in Virginia and lower energy prices for all Americans:
[View Robert's Remarks By Clicking Above Or HERE]
Floor Speech Text
"Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Offshore Energy And Jobs Act – a bill that will create thousands of new jobs in Virginia while lowering the cost of energy for all Americans.
"Last month, I traveled throughout my district visiting local communities to discuss the impact of high energy prices. At each stop, the same message rang clear: the cost of energy continues to have a significant negative impact on our small businesses, our farmers, and our families. Not only do we see higher prices at the gas pump, but high fuel prices have triggered higher prices across the board. People are paying more for groceries and are witnessing their utility costs rise at a time when they can least afford it.
"There is no question that Americans continue to suffer from Washington's failure to adopt a sensible energy policy.
"The President has consistently failed to lead on this issue. The Administration continues to restrict leasing permits for oil and gas exploration off of the coast of the Commonwealth – preventing Virginia from utilizing our natural resources. Reopening the lease sales off our coast enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Virginia, yet Washington continues to insist that it knows what is best for the Commonwealth.
"At a time when too many people in my district and across the country are out of work, it is critical that we in the House do everything we can to encourage the creation of new jobs and reduce the burden on our hardworking families, our farmers, and our small businesses.
"If adopted, this Act will lead to the creation of over a million new American jobs. In addition, this legislation will lead to lower energy prices, economic growth, and strengthened national security.
"As the House continues to lead on creating a sensible domestic energy policy, it is my hope that the Senate and the President will join us.
"I urge my colleagues to support this commonsense legislation and I thank Chairman Hastings for his leadership and his committee for its leadership on this important issue. I yield back the balance of my time."
Congressman J. Randy Forbes
Unlike the Senate, whose bill was born from eight individuals behind closed doors, the House is working under the watch of the American people on real solutions and real reform to our immigration crisis. My colleagues and I, in the House Judiciary Committee, have presented meaningful legislation that focuses on what must be our first priority – enforcement of the immigration laws we already have and securing the border. Instead of broad, stop-gap measures, like those offered in the Senate bill, we are submitting laser-focused, permanent solutions to the immigration debate. It has always been my belief that entry into this country is a privilege you earn, not a right, and the legislation I am working to pass will ensure that remains so.
Yours in service,
P.S. In case you missed it - Watch my discussion of the immigration bill, and other topics on Lou Dobbs Tonight.Send me an email | Forward to a Friend
Route 15 Tour
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R- Virginia) will attend events in South Boston, Farmville, Rice, and Buffalo Junction on Monday, July 1, 2013, as a part of a series of stops in the 5th District along Route 15 this week:
Monday, July 1, 2013
Robert Hurt To Drop By Hardee's
1010 Bill Tuck Highway
South Boston, VA
Robert Hurt To Tour Aaron's Creek Farms
380 Greenhouse Drive
Buffalo Junction, VA
Robert Hurt To Deliver Remarks At The Farmville Area Chamber of Commerce Luncheon
Charley's Waterfront Café
201 Mill Street
Robert Hurt To Tour Centra Southside Community Hospital
800 Oak Street
Robert Hurt To Drop By Citizen's Bank & Trust
1712 South Main Street
Robert Hurt To Tour J. R. Tharpe Trucking Facility
401 Pisgah Church Road
Robert Hurt To Attend Aqua Farming Briefing
200A Milnwood Road
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A day after two Appeals Courts provided injunctions for Hobby Lobby and Geneva College in their religious freedom lawsuits against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for mandating objectionable coverage in their health plans, the administration issued a final rule implementing this anti-religious policy and extended the "safe harbor" for non-profits for five months. Family Research Council (FRC) expressed strong opposition to HHS and the Obama administration's continued violation of religious freedom through its health care mandate.
The HHS mandate forces all health insurance plans to include abortifacient drugs (drugs with abortion-causing properties), sterilizations and contraceptives. The new final rule implements policies first proposed in the March 2012 "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" and which was proposed again in February 2013.
Anna Higgins, J.D., director of FRC's Center for Human Dignity, made the following statement:
"A day after the courts issued temporary relief for Hobby Lobby and Geneva College because of the likelihood of success in challenging the anti-religious nature of the HHS mandate, this latest rule shows the administration is tone-deaf to religious freedom. The extended safe-harbor merely grants non-profits more time to decide whether to violate their fundamental religious beliefs and shows HHS is trying to buy more time as the courts begin to rule against this violation of religious freedom.
"Family Research Council strongly opposes the latest regulation that continues to mandate that life-ending drugs and contraceptive services be covered, with no copay, by health plans of businesses and organizations that have serious moral and religious objections. The accounting gimmick HHS continues to require fails to satisfy the religious freedom protections that exist in other current laws and in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
"The mandate does not protect women's health either. It threatens women's health by forcing religious employers into the untenable choice of violating their consciences or dropping health coverage for families and the women they employ. That doesn't help women's health; it harms it.
"Since HHS and the Obama administration appear to be unwilling to protect religious liberty despite numerous court decisions against their violations, and regardless of any extended deadline for non-profits, Congress must act again to preserve the constitutional right of religious freedom. Until Congress or the courts solve this problem, institutions must decide between civil disobedience coupled with large fines or violating their faith," concluded Higgins.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council (FRC) will host a policy lecture at noon Eastern tomorrow about the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions on marriage, among other major recent rulings, including those regarding voting rights and affirmative action. The lecture will also consider how the marriage rulings change the U.S. political landscape and the political efforts ofFRC and other organizations on the issue of marriage.
Presenting the lecture is FRC's Ken Klukowski, J.D. He is the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at FRC, a legal analyst for the American Civil Rights Union and the legal columnist for Breitbart News. He holds an undergraduate degree in business from the University of Notre Dame, studied history and political science at Arizona State University and earned his law degree from George Mason University.
Klukowski will discuss the repercussions of these recent rulings, most particularly the legal and policy implications of the DOMA and Prop. 8 rulings, and what we can anticipate in the next judicial term.
WHO: Ken Klukowski, J.D., Family Research Council
WHAT: Family Policy Lecture: "A Review of the Supreme Court Term"
WHEN: 12 p.m. Eastern, TOMORROW, Thursday, June 27
FOR MEDIA: A Mult Box is available for in-person use. Contact the FRC media office at (866) 372-6397 or email@example.com.
"Regardless of the decision, the Court does not have the power to change the reality that children deserve both a mom and a dad. We will continue to do all we can do to educate citizens on the importance of natural marriage for children and society."
Supreme Court's Refusal to Redefine Marriage Nationwide Allows American People to Consider Consequences of Redefinition
June 26, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement in response to today's U.S. Supreme Court rulings on marriage:
"While we are disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the court today did not impose the sweeping nationwide redefinition of natural marriage that was sought. Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex 'marriage.' As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify.
"We are encouraged that the court learned from the disaster of Roe v. Wade and refrained from redefining marriage for the entire country. However, by striking down the federal definition of marriage in DOMA, the Court is asserting that Congress does not have the power to define the meaning of words in statutes Congress itself has enacted. This is absurd. The Defense of Marriage Act imposes no uniform definition of marriage upon the individual states. However, the states should not be able to impose varying definitions of marriage upon the federal government. The ruling that the federal government must recognize same-sex 'marriages' in states that recognize them raises as many questions as it answers. For example, what is the status of such couples under federal law if they move to another state that does not recognize their 'marriage?' This decision throws open the doors for whole new rounds of litigation.
"We are disturbed that the court refused to acknowledge that the proponents of Proposition 8 have standing to defend Proposition 8. This distorts the balance of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. The Court's decision allows the executive branch to effectively veto any duly enacted law, simply by refusing to defend it against a constitutional challenge. Ironically, by refusing to defend the law, California's executive branch has also denied the nation any definitive ruling on the constitutionality of defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
"What is inevitable is that the male and female relationship will continue to be uniquely important to the future of society. The reality is that society needs children, and children need a mom and a dad. We will continue to work to restore and promote a healthy marriage culture, which will maximize the chances of a child being raised by a married mother and father," Perkins concluded.
Perkins will discuss the Court's decision today on his daily radio show, Washington Watch, heard daily from 5-6 p.m. Eastern on the American Family Radio network and online at www.TonyPerkins.com.
FRC's Ken Klukowski, J.D. attended oral arguments. He co-authored a legal brief in the marriage litigation. FRC's Chris Gacek, J.D., Ph.D., worked with Paul B. Linton, J.D. of the Thomas More Society on FRC's amicus briefs in the DOMA and Prop 8 cases.
FRC's Defense of Marriage Act amicus brief: http://www.frc.org/legalbrief/amicus-brief-us-v-windsor
FRC's Proposition 8 amicus brief: http://www.frc.org/legalbrief/amicus-brief-hollingsworth-v-perry
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
"I'm pleased to have this opportunity to speak with Admiral Greenert about the challenges facing our Navy, from a rapidly shrinking Fleet to the continuing impacts of sequestration. There is no better time to begin looking ahead at the future of American Seapower and what type of investments must be made today to ensure our naval predominance in the decades to come," Congressman Forbes said.
WHO: Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, and Admiral Jonathan Greenert, USN, Chief of Naval Operations.
WHAT: A discussion on the Navy's future, the threat of sequestration, shipbuilding and ship maintenance issues and global perspectives hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. A media availability will follow the program.
WHEN: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 12:00 PM.
WHERE: Town Center City Club
222 Central Park Avenue
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
"I share the concerns of many Virginians about President Obama's announcement of burdensome new regulations on energy providers in the Commonwealth and throughout the country. These new policies were never approved by Congress, they will kill jobs in the energy sector in Southwest Virginia, they will drive energy costs still higher, and they will impose the greatest hardship on working families across the Commonwealth who have already seen their electric bills skyrocket over the past two years.
"When manufacturers decide where to locate, near the top of their list is access and cost of utilities. We must be good stewards of the environment and conserve our natural treasures for the generations to come. However, the President's message today is that he is going to make America less competitive for jobs and economic development. That's the exact wrong approach. As Attorney General, I will stand up for Virginia's laws and interests when they're threatened by overreaching federal regulations. If this administration continues to bypass Congress, it may fall to Attorneys General to serve as a check on executive actions that exceed statutory authority. I will be a tireless advocate for working Virginians and their families when an overreaching federal government oversteps its bounds and seeks to impose ill-conceived policies that will kill jobs and cause energy costs to skyrocket.
"This isn't a partisan issue, it's a Virginia issue. I am going to stand up for Virginia families and businesses and for the economic health and vitality of Virginia in seeking every available avenue to challenge this new example of executive overreach."
ON THE WEB
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"While I have long supported the use of Presidential overseas visits for diplomatic purposes, I am disappointed with President Obama's recent decision to spend as much as $100 million, according to the Washington Post, on a trip to Africa with his family. With thousands of families facing furloughs across our nation and with no sequestration solutions in sight, a trip of this cost, at this time, is not only symbolically reckless but shows a lack of focus on cutting spending and solving sequestration."
See the full text of the resolution below:
113th Congress, 1st Session – H. RES___
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the funds made available for the cost of the President's trip to Africa instead be used to compensate those who have been placed on an administrative furlough as a result of sequestration.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Mr. Forbes submitted the following resolution, which was referred to the committee on June 25, 2013
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the funds made available for the cost of the President's trip to Africa instead be used to compensate those who have been placed on an administrative furlough as a result of sequestration.
Whereas, as a result of administrative furloughs, civil servants across the country have had their regular salaries reduced;
Whereas the President and the First Lady are scheduled to travel to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania from June 26 through July 3, 2013;
Whereas, when White House personnel are on official travel, certain personal expenses, including per diem (food and lodging), car rentals, and other incidentals, are paid by the Government; these expenses are paid by the State Department for foreign travel;
Whereas most of the costs involve operational costs of the aircraft, and include fuel, maintenance, engineering support, and per diem expenses for the crew;
Whereas, in 2012, the United States Air Force indicated that the cost per hour for the President's Boeing 747 (which is designated ''VC-25'' by the Air Force) is $179,750;
Whereas President Obama's trip to Africa is estimated to cost $60,000,000 to $100,000,000;
Whereas, in September of 1999, the Government Accountability Office estimated that the estimated incremental costs of President Clinton's trips to Africa was at least $42,800,000;
Whereas the President signed the Budget Control Act (Public Law 112–25), which called for sequestration, on August 2, 2011;
Whereas sequestration took effect on March 1, 2013, and will cut $984,000,000,000 over the nine-year period of 2013 through 2021;
Whereas, in 2013, there will be $85,000,000,000 in discretionary spending cuts, which will equal between 5 percent and 13 percent of each agency's budget, depending on the Federal agency; and
Whereas, in order to compensate for these budgetary cuts, some Federal agencies have instituted administrative furloughs designed to absorb reduced funding: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the funds made available for the cost of the President's trip to Africa instead be used to compensate those who have been placed on an administrative furlough as a result of sequestration.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
Gary L. Bauer
Kudos to Matt Birk! The former Baltimore Ravens center turned down an invitation to the White House to celebrate the team's Super Bowl victory. When asked why he wasn't there, Birk told a sports blog:
Birk has been outspoken about his faith and support for traditional values in the past. When a fellow Ravens teammate endorsed same-sex marriage last year, Birk spoke up for normal marriage. The Minnesota native also publicly endorsed the Minnesota marriage amendment.
Family Research Council
You know that old saying, "Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a pattern?" Well, when it happens over a dozen times, it's a scandal -- especially when it's happening in our military. Almost every week, we're reading about a new incident of religious hostility in the ranks, as anti-Christian bullies punish people in uniform for even the smallest expressions of faith. A large part of the problem is the Pentagon's own policy on faith, which is so undefined that outside extremists are using the confusion to their advantage. While the Defense Department muddles through the "do's" and "don'ts," groups like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation are conducting one sortie after another on religious freedom in the military.
Congressman John Fleming (R-La.), recognizing the sacrifices our military makes to protect our freedoms, is fighting back on behalf of those in uniform by offering an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would safeguard the troops' religious liberties. In an interview with Fox News's Todd Starnes, Dr. Fleming rattled off a series of the most outrageous attacks against our service men and women:
- When a serviceman expressed his religious position about homosexuality on a personal blog, he received a "severe and possibly career-ending reprimand."
- An enlisted service member was given a negative efficiency report for sending personal invitations to his promotion party, in which he said he would be serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches "in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act."
- A senior military official at Fort Campbell sent out a lengthy email instructing officers to recognize "the religious right in America" as a "domestic hate group," (akin to the KKK and Neo-Nazis) because of its opposition to homosexual behavior.
- An Air Force officer was told to remove a Bible from his desk because "it might offend someone." The officer had kept the Bible on the desk for 18 years.
- A chaplain was relieved of his command over a military chapel because he refused to deviate from federal marriage law and allow same-sex "weddings" on base.
- An enlisted service member was threatened and denied promotion by a senior NCO for expressing -- during a personal conversation -- his support of natural marriage.
- Last month, Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Lee told a National Day of Prayer audience that religious liberty was being threatened by Pentagon lawyers and service members are being told to hide their faith in Christ. "Leaders like myself," he said, "are feeling the constraints of rules and regulations and guidance issued by lawyers that put us in a tighter and tighter box regarding our constitutional right to express our religious faith."
Dr. Fleming's amendment clarifies the vagueness that currently exists in the military's guidelines on faith. In spite of every Democrat on the House Armed Services voting against it, the language was accepted. Next up? A vote on the full floor --and a debate in Harry Reid's Senate, where there's less support for protecting the faith of our men and women in uniform. Please contact your representative and both your senators and encourage them to protect our fighting men and women just as much as they protect us!
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Hurt (R-Virginia) today released the below statement after the Department of Labor released the May unemployment report:
"Today's news of the uptick in the national unemployment rate comes at a time when high school and college students in Virginia's Fifth District and across the country are approaching graduation or have recently graduated – prepared and eager to enter the workforce. It is disheartening that these young adults are now facing the consequences of this Administration's failed policies as they struggle to find a job in a stagnant economy.
"We in the House of Representatives are committed to advancing real solutions that will generate economic growth and create jobs for our recent graduates and all Americans. That is why the House recently voted to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, a project that will make energy more affordable and create an estimated 20,000 American jobs. Additionally, the House voted once again to repeal the President's health care law, which, in the early stages of its implementation, is already having devastating effects on our workforce – turning full-time work into part-time work, preventing small businesses from growing and hiring, and causing insurance premiums to skyrocket for many Americans.
"Though the House of Representatives will continue to work to pave the way for economic growth, it is critical that the Senate and the President join us. We must preserve opportunities for future generations, and that begins with adopting measures that will pay down our $16 trillion debt and remove the government as a barrier to job creation. I will continue to fight for solutions that will help get our economy back on track, so that job seekers have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream."
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Family Research Council
Chicken may not be bad for your health, but it's certainly hazardous to your military career. An Army Master Sergeant found that out the hard way when he tried to celebrate his August promotion by serving Chick-fil-A. The party, which happened to coincide with last summer's Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, was a private event -- paid for out of the soldier's own pocket. Still, his commanding officers seemed to take issue with the invitations, which read, "In honor of my promotion and in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act, I'm serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at my promotion party." Of course, the DOMA reference was a hat tip to Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy, who became the center of a national firestorm when he refused to back down from the biblical definition of marriage.
Shortly after the Master Sergeant's party, Fox News's Todd Starnes reports, he was shocked to receive a letter of reprimand, followed by a negative efficiency report. As anyone in the military knows, a letter like that can effectively end a soldier's career -- regardless of the number of years he's served. Stunned, the soldier contacted the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty for help. Ron Crews, who heads up the organization, explained that the Army initially talked about bringing "judicial punishment" against the man but decided to investigate first to see if he had "violated any other policy."
Today, we're learning even more about the controversy, including the fact that his superiors warned him to stop reading conservative books, which is the very definition of viewpoint discrimination. According to Starnes, there is some evidence that suggests the soldier was tweeting anti-Obama messages -- which, if true, would certainly cross the line of what is acceptable speech for a member of the military.
Still, the irony of the Chick-fil-a incident is that this Sergeant wasn't advocating for a controversial policy proposal; he was celebrating the law. And here's the rub: this soldier showed more respect for it than his own commander-in-chief, who refused to uphold DOMA even though the Constitution demands it. Imagine being a service member in today's military, trying to navigate the double standards. On one hand, it's appropriate to march in gay pride parades -- in uniform -- but on the other, it's unacceptable to voice support for federal law.
Fortunately, Congress is as frustrated with the hypocrisy as the rest of us. Yesterday, thanks a marathon mark-up on the Defense Authorization bill, sleepy members didn't make it home until 2 a.m.-- in part because they were so intent on passing a series of religious protections. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), the author of one such amendment, urged his colleagues to help end the wave of anti-Christian attacks.
"The men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms should not have their own religious freedom jeopardized during their military service," he said. "[T]roubling reports indicate that the military may be focused only on protecting beliefs of service members and not the exercise or expression of those beliefs. My amendment is necessary to ensure that men and women of faith will not be discriminated against in the Armed Forces, and will be free to exercise their religious beliefs." By a 33-26 vote, the Committee gave the green light to Fleming's measure, which stops the Pentagon from restricting religious speech -- except in cases of "military necessity."
Congressman Walter Jones (R-N.C.) added another layer of protection by introducing (and later passing) language that allows chaplains to pray "in Jesus's name." The only faith-related amendment that failed was Rep. Robert Andrews's (D-N.J.), which would have created a special chapter of "atheist chaplains." Apparently, members thought the idea was as inane as the rest of us and killed it by a 43-18 vote.