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Taylor Swift Funds LGBT Advocacy Group

Singer Taylor Swift, who grew up in Nashville, gave $113,000 to Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBT organization that lobbies at the state Capitol.

Along with the donation, Swift sent a note to Executive Director Chris Sanders that said, “Dear Chris, I’m writing you to say that I’m so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders standing up against the ‘Slate of Hate’ in our state legislature.”

That “slate” includes a bill to prevent adoption/foster care placement agencies from being sued for not placing children with same-sex couples if doing so is based on religious or moral conviction, as well as Family Action of Tennessee’s Business Protection Act and School Protection Act.

Last year, Swift broke her silence concerning her personal political views to endorse Phil Bredesen for Senate over then-Congressman Marsha Blackburn and said in reference to Blackburn’s viewpoint, “These are not MY Tennessee values.”

Well, Ms. Swift, we say in reference to what you are now endorsing, “These are not OUR Tennessee values.”

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Screenshot of the No Gay? No Way! website campaign.

Amazon Pulled into ‘No Gay? No Way!’ Campaign Targeting Tennessee Legislature

Many Tennesseans have been excited that Amazon will have a major hub in Nashville, creating 5,000 new jobs in our state, but is there a downside to having this well-known company in our state? Unfortunately, yes.

Because Amazon has been vocal about its pro-LGBT stance, it has been pressured by national “No Gay? No Way!” campaign to fight back against legislation that the campaign thinks discriminates against the LGBT community in Nashville. In a letter to the Glamazons, the LGBT employee advocacy group at Amazon, the campaign states, “The time is now to demand Amazon publicly condemn these anti-LGBT bills and fight to repeal existing state laws that discriminate against you and your families. Amazon has done this in Texas, and the threat [of anti-LGBT laws] in Tennessee is just as real.” Then on April 2, the campaign flew a plane with a banner saying, “Amazon HQ2: No Gays? No way!”

The “No Gay? No Way!” campaign focuses on preventing pro-family bills (what they call the “slate of hate”) such as Family Action of Tennessee’s Business Protection Act (SB 364 / HB 563) and School Protection Act (SB 1499 / HB 1274), and bills that look out for the religious beliefs of adoption and foster care agencies.

Amazon responded to the campaign’s pressure tactics by saying, “Amazon has a long history of supporting equality and we’re opposed to laws that discriminate or encourage discrimination.”

This campaign should remind us to pray that our state legislators will not be swayed by the perceived economic influence of businesses like Amazon.

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NOTE: FACT provides links to external websites for educational purposes only. The inclusion of any links to other websites does not necessarily constitute an endorsement.

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David Fowler gives his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the "fetal heartbeat" bill on April 9, 2019.

David Fowler’s Testimony in Support of the ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Bill

FACT President David Fowler gave his three-minute testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Tennessee Capitol on April 9, 2019, in support of the “fetal heartbeat” bill, SB 1236. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mark Pody, prohibits abortions from the point a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Mr. Fowler’s Three-Minute Testimony

Chairman Bell and members of the Judiciary Committee,

My name is David Fowler. I am a 1983 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, taught an introductory course in the philosophy of government and jurisprudence at Bryan College, and was a member of this Committee from 1994 until 2006. Since then I have served as the president of both Family Action of Tennessee and The Family Action Council of Tennessee.

The proposed amendment rests on two legal arguments. The first challenges prevailing abortion precedents in regard to what constitutes viability. It offers not only a commonsense understanding of viability, but also a scientifically objective measure of viability that does not make rights dependent on advances in modern medicine. When infanticide is being applauded and the Court’s precedents appear to make such constitutionally permissible, I think it is time the Supreme Court re-examine the question of viability and consider using a diagnostic measure of viability instead of a prognostic one. This amendment would allow that issue to be considered.

But I would also like to commend to you a constitutional argument in support of this bill based on the question, what rights and whose rights are protected by the Constitution? This argument puts at issue for the first time in the abortion context whether the rights possessed by individuals depend for their existence in the first instance only upon positive legal enactments and judicial pronouncements and whether, if belief in such “inalienable” or “absolute” rights still exists, the people have authorized state governments to protect and make more secure those rights.

If our rights come only from decisions of the United States Supreme Court, then our great Republic will die from ingesting an understanding of judicial supremacy that our Founding Fathers feared. The only antidote—given Congress’ abdication of its duties—is for you to exercise the counterbalancing powers of federalism and dual sovereignty established by our Constitution to assert not just the state’s interest in life, but on behalf of unborn human beings their rights protected and preserved by the Ninth Amendment1 and put their rights at juxtaposition against an expansive view of liberty that goes beyond the clear intent of our Constitution2 and is manufactured by judicial pronouncements.

The importance of this argument was driven home by three things in the 6th Circuit’s decision last week upholding Kentucky’s ultrasound law. First, that is the Court to which any appeal concerning the constitutionality of this bill would go. Second, by its use of the words “unborn child” or “unborn life” a total of 30 times in the first 17 pages of its opinion, the Court appeared to signal to those with ears to hear that it knows abortion takes the life of a child, another human being. And this bears on the third reason the Beshear case is important.

Beshear cites with approval and describes in the following way the 8th Circuit’s en banc approval of a North Dakota informed consent law,

The statute required physicians to give patients a written statement providing, among other things, “[t]hat the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” . . . .3

Our Circuit knows we are speaking not only of a “whole . . . human being,” but one who is also a “separate . . . human being” from his or her mother.

Either the Ninth Amendment, which protects unenumerated common law rights, needs to protect the right to life of a child en ventra se mere, as the common law put it, or the Supreme Court needs to say, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia said about where the balance should be drawn between liberty and life in right to die cases:

It is quite impossible . . .that those citizens will decide upon a line less lawful than the one we would choose; and it is unlikely . . . that they will decide upon a line less reasonable.4

Urging the Court to leave the issue of abortion to the states actually restores one of the “blessings of liberty”5 that was lost in Roe. As Justice Kennedy wrote in 2011 on behalf of a unanimous Court in Bond v. United States6, “‘freedom is enhanced by the creation of two governments, not one,’” because it ‘secures to citizens the liberties that derive from the diffusion of sovereign power.’”7

In my opinion, for this Body and the Courts to disregard fundamental rights at common law—here the right to life—in favor of only positively declared rights and then only in abortion-related decisions would be to do what we were all forbidden to do by the very last words in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, “retreat from interpreting the full meaning of [our Constitution] in light of all of our precedents.”8

I conclude by paraphrasing only slightly what Obergefell’s majority said when it was presented with a new rights claim, as I’m here suggesting,9 “When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture [which I submit Roe and Casey are], a claim to [life in relation to] liberty must be addressed.”10

Making that claim, as de facto guardian ad litem on behalf of the voiceless human beings killed by abortion, is exactly what I submit this bill does.

I would urge you to vote for this bill.

NOTES

  1. “The Enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
  2. “If the Fifth Amendment uses ‘liberty’ in this narrow sense, then the Fourteenth Amendment likely does as well. See Hurtado v. California, 110 U. S. 516, 534-535 (1884). Indeed, this Court has previously commented, ‘The conclusion is . . . irresistible, that when the same phrase was employed in the Fourteenth Amendment [as was used in the Fifth Amendment], it was used in the same sense and with no greater extent.’ Ibid. And this Court’s earliest Fourteenth Amendment decisions appear to interpret the Clause as using ‘liberty’ to mean freedom from physical restraint. . . . That the Court appears to have lost its way in more recent years does not justify deviating from the original meaning of the Clauses.” Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2584, 2632 (Thomas, J., dissenting)
  3. Case No. 17-6151/6183, p. 16.
  4. Cruzan v. Director, Mo. Dept. of Health, 497 U.S 261, 293, 110 S. Ct. 2841, ___(1990) (Scalia, J., dissenting)
  5. Preamble, United States Constitution
  6. 564 U.S. 21, 131 S.Ct. 2355 (2011)
  7. Bond, 131 S.Ct. at 2364
  8. Casey v. Planned Parenthood, 505 U.S. 833, 901, 112 S. Ct. 2791, ___ (1992). This is the full context for the quotation: “Our Constitution is a covenant running from the first generation of Americans to us and then to future generations. It is a coherent succession. Each generation must learn anew that the Constitution’s written terms embody ideas and aspirations that must survive more ages than one. We accept our responsibility not to retreat from interpreting the full meaning of the covenant in light of all of our precedents.” (emphasis added)
  9. The quote that follows is remarkably similar to what Blackstone said about the historical swings between protecting and undermining the fundamental law: “The absolute rights of every Englishman, (which, taken in a political and extensive sense, are usually called their liberties,) as they are founded on nature and reason, so they are coeval with our form of government; though subject at times to fluctuate and change: their establishment (excellent as it is) being still human. At some times we have seen them depressed by overbearing and tyrannical princes; at others so luxuriant as even to tend to anarchy, a worse state than tyranny itself, as any government is better than none at all. But the vigour of our free constitution has always delivered the nation from these embarrassments: and, as soon as the convulsions consequent on the struggle have been over, the balance of our rights and liberties has settled to its proper level; and their fundamental articles have been from time to time asserted in parliament, as often as they were thought to be in danger.” William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 119-120, 125-129 (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1893)
  10. Obergefell, 135 S. Ct. at 2598.

Download the PDF version of David’s testimony

Read the Press Release

 

This is the slide presentation that accompanied Mr. Fowler’s April 9, 2019, testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the "fetal heartbeat" bill and, after reading his testimony, may help you “picture” what he was saying.

This is the slide presentation that accompanied Mr. Fowler’s April 9, 2019, testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the “fetal heartbeat” bill and, after reading his testimony, may help you “picture” what he was saying.

PDF of The Sphere or Universe of All Rights

How the Senators Voted

Sen. Mike Bell proposed a motion to move the bill to summer study. The motion to move the bill to summer study passed 5-3 with one abstention. Here is the breakdown of the votes:

  • Those who voted “yes” included Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), Sen. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis), Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol), Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon).
  • Those who voted “no” included Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma), Sen. Katrina Robinson (D-Memphis), and Sen. Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro).
  • The absention (present not voting) was from Sen. Kerry Robertson (R-Springfield).

Watch the Video of the Discussion on SB 1236

The entire discussion of SB 1236 can be found by clicking on the video player above and then going to timecode 2:42:10 – 4:10:13. David Fowler’s testimony is at timecode 3:04:50 – 3:10:50.

 

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Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Get Support in the TN House

The House passed HB 836 by a vote of 67-22 on Monday.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro), protects faith-based adoption and foster care agencies that, on the basis of their religious conviction, believe placing children in homes with same-sex couples is not in the child’s best interest.

Passage of the bill means these agencies cannot be sued if their decision not to place children with homosexual couples is based on such a religious conviction.

The Senate companion bill, SB 1304 by Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon), is scheduled to be heard on the last calendar of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has not yet been set.

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Mt. Juliet Mayor Proposes Rezoning of Abortion Clinic

The Mt. Juliet City Commission held a special meeting on Sunday to begin the process of amending the city’s zoning ordinance so that surgical abortion clinics would be allowed only in the city’s industrial-zoned areas.

The action is being taken in response to Atlanta-based Carafem opening an abortion facility in an area currently zoned for commercial use. According to Carafem COO Melissa Grant, the facility was opened in response to the influx of women in the Nashville area visiting their Atlanta branch for abortion procedures.

Carafem currently only offers the abortion pill for medical abortions for babies up to 10 weeks old, which would not be impacted by the proposed change. However, Carafem officials have indicated an intention to expand the Mt. Juliet facility to also provide surgical abortions.

The city zoning ordinance will go to the planning commission, which is scheduled to meet March 21. The ordinance could then go back to the city commission for a second reading on March 25.

There is also a question as to whether Carafem has filed the proper paperwork to do business in the city. If the city finds that the Carafem clinic is operating without the necessary paperwork, the clinic could be slapped with a stop work order at its current location.

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