Do you need school supplies for your children? Take note that this year the Wisconsin Sales Tax Holiday runs from Wednesday, August 1, 2018 – Sunday, August 5, 2018.
A sales tax holiday is when sales of certain items are tax exempt for a specific time. During the Wisconsin Sales Tax Holiday, the following items are not taxable:
–Clothing, if the sales price of any single item is $75 or less
–A computer purchased by a consumer for the consumer’s personal use, if the sales price of the computer is $750 or less
–School computer supplies purchased by the consumer for the consumer’s personal use, if the sales price of any single item is $250 or less
–School supplies, if the sales price of any single item is $75 or less
On Wednesday, July 11, 2018, the Madison Common Council made a decision to usurp parental authority and call into question parental rights to raise children according to their own standards – including those who encourage their children to follow a traditional biblical sexual ethic by banning conversion therapy.
While the process of changing one’s sexual identity is often a long and difficult journey, it is nevertheless possible for highly motivated individuals.
Competent religiously mediated counseling for unwanted same-sex attraction is not inherently harmful.
Wisconsin Family Action president says, “The ban on conversion therapy was bad for Milwaukee and is bad for Madison or any other Wisconsin city.”
In a unanimous vote, the Madison Common Council moved to ban conversion therapy in the capitol city.
The ordinance, passed Monday evening, was sponsored by alders Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Amanda Hall and Arvina Martin.
The proposal prohibits the practice of conversion therapy on minors where those services are provided for a fee.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court breathed new life into the Arlene’s Flowers case, sending the case back to the Washington State Supreme Court to review their disastrous opinion in light of the Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. Washington had ruled that Barronelle Stutzman unlawfully discriminated against Rob Ingersoll when she declined to create flowers for his same-sex wedding.
Barronelle, however, had created flowers for Rob for a variety of events throughout the years. She only declined to design flowers for his wedding – an event that violated her sincerely held beliefs that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman. In a lower court opinion, the judge actually likened Barronelle to a racist convenience store owner who had “a policy” of refusing “to serve any black” customers. We have high hopes for Barronelle to finally receive justice and have her right to exercise her religious beliefs protected. Read this month’s Wisconsin Family Connection HERE to learn more about this case and our involvement on your behalf for religious freedom
Then, today, in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, the Court struck down a California law that forced pro-life pregnancy resource centers to advertise for abortion; a win that gives free speech life.
The California law is yet another example of why we say Don’t California My Wisconsin.
All three cases referenced above were argued by our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom.
ADF CEO Michael Farris issued the following statement about today’s NIFLA decision:
“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions, especially on deeply divisive subjects such as abortion. In this case, the government used its power to force pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for abortion. The Supreme Court said that the government can’t do that, and that it must respect pro-life beliefs. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to coexist peacefully with one another. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the 5-4 majority opinion, stating, “the people lose when the government is the one deciding which ideas should prevail.”
In a concurring opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Read Justice Kennedy’s concurrence HERE. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.”At Wisconsin Family Action, we joined 40 other family policy organizations in an amici curiae brief drafted by David French in support of the pregnancy centers. In the brief, French concluded:
“Compelled speech is not the answer to cultural conflict. This court must not render professionals second-class citizens with diminished constitutional rights. There are few state actions more repugnant to the consciences of sincere, pro-life citizens than demanding that they advertise free or low-cost access to the deadly procedure they work so mightily to oppose.”
That’s why the work of Wisconsin Family Action (WFA) and our front line national partner Alliance Defending Freedom matters. WFA exists to promote public policy that ensures constitutional rights. In short – we advocate for you and your family in Wisconsin! ADF then goes after unjust laws like California’s in the courts to protect those same rights.
Look for our Wisconsin Family Connection, our 5-minute radio program that airs weekly on Mondays, to provide a more complete analysis of the meanings of these rulings moving forward. Click HERE to access this and other radio programs.
To help us further our advocacy work on your behalf, please consider taking advantage of our current matching grant opportunity (up to $25,000) right now. When you partner with us today, you’ll be lending DOUBLE HONOR to this momentous day for life and free speech! Click HEREto make a secure donation now!
Today the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, 5-4, in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, striking down a California state law that forced pro-life pregnancy centers to point the way to abortion.
Explanation: The Court turned back the state of California’s law forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to point the way to abortion. The Court ruled that the government was wrong to compel pro-life groups and individuals to express a message that conflicts with their beliefs.
Supporting the opinion of the court were Justices Thomas, Roberts, Kennedy, Alito and Gorsuch.
Dissenting were Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan.
Justice Kennedy’s concurrence reads as follows:
And the history of the Act’s passage and its underinclusive application suggest a real possibility that these individuals were targeted because of their beliefs. The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act was part of California’s legacy of “forward thinking.” App. 38–39. But it is not forward thinking to force individuals to “be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view [they] fin[d] unacceptable.” Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U. S. 705, 715 (1977). It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come. Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.
Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today against government-compelled speech in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra:
“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions, especially on deeply divisive subjects such as abortion. In this case, the government used its power to force pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for abortion. The Supreme Court said that the government can’t do that, and that it must respect pro-life beliefs. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with one another. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others.”
Any time politicians invoke the Scripture, my initial reaction is always to cringe—not because I believe our government officials should refrain from quoting God’s Word, but because they often misstate and/or misuse the Scripture out of context to promote their personal political agendas. Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had a cringeworthy moment when he cited Romans 13 to defend the administration’s forced separation of immigrant families at our southern border.
In Attorney General Sessions words:
“Illegal entry into the United States is a crime — as it should be. Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”
For the record, I agree with the Attorney General that illegal entry into our country is and should be a crime, and that criminals who violate our laws should be subject to prosecution. I also agree with him that Romans 13 instructs us to obey the government as a God-ordained institution. However, I respectfully, though adamantly, disagree with the Attorney General that this passage or any other Scripture would lend support to or justify the separation of these children—some toddlers—from their parents.
Our immigration system is obviously broken and in dire need of fixing, but using family separation as a deterrent is not a moral solution, particularly for those of us committed to strengthening and defending the family. To those who disagree, I would respectfully ask you to consider this question: Are justice and compassion mutually exclusive? Biblical passages like Micah 6:8 tell us they are not, meaning it is possible to promote justice and, at the same time, extend compassion. In my opinion, the situation at our border calls for both and allows for both. We can simultaneously support enforcing our border laws and oppose small children being stripped away from their parents. It does not have to be one or the other.
If there is one thing we should all agree on, it is the fact that the children are suffering the most from this ordeal. Over the years, many have been stripped away from their parents. Many have been exploited by their own families to gain illegal entry into our country. Many have been victims of sex trafficking and abuse. And as I write this, many have now become “pawns” in a political chess game. As a nation, we can do better, and as Christian Americans, we should demand better from our government.
From a political perspective, this issue has become extremely complex due in large part to the spreading of misinformation, media spin, and political posturing by officials on both sides of the isle. However, let’s be frank—tweets and public statements will not resolve this problem. Our government—specifically, the President and Congress—need to get to work on a permanent solution that keeps our nation safe and keeps children with their parents.
Justice and compassion do not have to be mutually exclusive. As Christians, we know this truth well and we need only look to the cross to see this truth in action. The cross is the place where God’s wrath and mercy met—where God’s justice upon sin and God’s compassion upon mankind converged. So, in our efforts to be “just,” may we never forget the mercy and compassion we have received, and let us not neglect the opportunity we have to extend that mercy and compassion to others.
Too many parents are cavalier about porn and their children. The attitude that “it won’t happen to mine” is very dangerous. The concerned mom in the article we link to below calls for getting radical about protecting children. To be sure the porn industry is radical about exposing them to its vile corruption and making them addicts. We strongly urge parents to take this issue seriously and take action now.
Read “Protecting Our Kids From Pornography” HERE. (more…)
President Trump has indicated he is willing to redirect Title X “family planning” funds away from organizations that counsel in favor of, refer for or perform abortions—organizations like Planned Parenthood. The money would be redirected to federally qualified medical centers that do not counsel in favor of, refer for or perform abortions. In Wisconsin these medical centers vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin facilities and are located in urban, suburban and rural areas, while Planned Parenthood has just 20 facilities, with most of them being in the southeastern part of the state and in more urban areas. Since Title X first became available in the 1970s, in The Badger State only Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has received those funds.
The Department of Health and Human Services is taking comments from the public on these proposed rule changes. Citizens have until July 31, 2018, to comment. Information on posting a comment is below. We urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to promote life and to promote these encouraging rule changes.
Please note this is a 60-day comment period, with comments due by July 31, 2018.
Written comments may be submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Population Affairs, as specified below. Any comment that is submitted will also be made available to the public.
Warning: Please do not include any personally identifiable information (such as name, address, or other contact information) or confidential business information that you do not want publicly disclosed. All comments may be posted on the internet and can be retrieved by most internet search engines. No deletions, modifications, or redactions will be made to the comments received. Comments may be submitted anonymously.
Comments, identified by “Family Planning” may be submitted by one of the following methods:
Mail or Hand Delivery: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Population Affairs, Attention: Family Planning, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, Room 716G, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20201.
MADISON, WI – This week officials from Choose Life Wisconsin will hand deliver checks to eight of Wisconsin’s Pregnancy Resource Centers. Almost $15,000 has been raised from the sale of Choose Life Wisconsin license plates since the plates were released for purchase in late October of last year.
“This is encouraging,” says Julaine Appling, WFA president, “We’ve taken what steps we could in Wisconsin to keep Planned Parenthood from getting this Title X money but stopping it at the source is the very best way to do that. Now we need to cut off the hundreds of thousands the abortion giant gets from Medicaid. The Trump administration has opened the door to do that too. We just need to walk through.”
Wisconsin Family Action has received numerous inquiries regarding the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the name change of one of their principal programs. Some have alleged we have not accurately presented the story. The following gives more detail, and we trust clarifies our position.
This week the Associated Press reported that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced it is changing the name of its “flagship” program (Boy Scouts) by removing the word “boy” and launching a new campaign called the “Scout Me In” to “promote inclusiveness.” (more…)
Colorado Springs-– Late last night, the Kansas Legislature passed the Adoption Protection Act, making Kansas the ninth state to protect the right of faith-based adoption agencies to continue their good work. Kansas followed Oklahoma, which also passed a similar measure yesterday.
Eric Teetsel, President and Executive Director of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, Family Policy Alliance’s ally in the state, was heavily involved in advocating for the bill. He thanked fellow Kansans for pushing lawmakers to pass the bill: “This would not have been possible without the thousands of Kansans all over the state who joined us in calling on elected leaders in Kansas to not just talk about the importance of religious freedom–but to actually do something to protect faith-based adoption and foster care providers who selflessly serve Kansas children.”
Unlike states like Massachusetts and Illinois that have actively pushed out faith-based adoption providers–thereby providing less opportunities for children–Kansas joined the growing trend to protect faith-based agencies and the children they serve. Eric is proud of his state’s efforts: “While other states shut down faith-based providers by establishing a radical, left-wing sexual litmus test, Kansas has made clear: everyone is welcome here.”
Family Policy Alliance, a public policy partner of Focus on the Family, serves an alliance of over 40 state-based family policy councils, including Kansas and Oklahoma. Paul Weber, President & CEO of Family Policy Alliance, shared how the alliance of Christian men and women across the country can make victories for religious freedom possible: “Family Policy Alliance is honored to serve our Kansas ally and our broader alliance of over 40 states, including Oklahoma. These victories show that when we work together—and local Christians engage—we can push back against the national radical agenda that tries to silence people of faith and undermine the family.”
Paul Weber and Eric Teetsel are available for comment by contacting [email protected], or 719-221-0913.
Today, the Associated Press reported that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced it is changing its name by removing the word “boy” and launching a new campaign called the “Scout Me In” to “promote inclusiveness.”
The decision comes after the BSA decided to admit openly gay identified boys and adults, transgendered boys and most recently girls into the historically male organization. The new name will be “Scouts BSA.” New logos now include images of both a boy and a girl.
In 2013, immediately after the BSA voted to admit boys acting out as homosexual, the Florida Family Policy Council was instrumental in leading the launch of Trail Life USA, a national Christian scouting movement.
Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger who also serves a Chairman of the Board of Trail Life USA released the following statement today:
“Today’s decision to change the name of the Boy Scouts of America by the dropping the male designation ‘boy’ in its name signals the final death of an American institution. It’s simply stunning that a leading youth organization which parents have entrusted the protection of their children with for over a century has now opted to again appease LGBT activists rather than follow clear, common-sense best practices for child protection and do what’s truly in the best interest of the boys. The stated mission of the BSA which is rarely referenced by the organization today is to ‘prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices…’ What are we teaching boys about being ‘brave’ from the Scout Law when the adults in the program don’t even have the courage to do what is right and stand for the ‘timeless values’ the program was founded on over a century ago? Having fully joined the sexual revolution, the BSA has become a merely a youth group with neckerchiefs further promoting moral and gender confusion in society.”
Trail Life USA has over 739 local troops chartered with various churches and school organizations in 48 states. For more information on joining a troop or starting a troop with this Christ-centered, boy focused, high adventure program see www.TrailLifeUSA.org. More on the history of the launch of Trail Life USA can be found at https://flfamily.org/traillifeusa.
“We should not be sending taxpayer dollars to abortionists like Planned Parenthood,” said WFA president Julaine Appling,. “Wisconsin Family Action is proud to join pro-life champions across the country in urging the Trump Administration to enact this common sense regulation that could save countless lives.”
Title X is a “federal grant program dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services.” In 2017, Title X was appropriated an overall budget of $286 million. Planned Parenthood “currently receives $50-$60 million annually in Title X taxpayer dollars.”
The pro-life coalition has requested the administration adopt a Reagan-era regulation that would prevent Title X funding from going to providers that perform or refer for abortion. This would not decrease any Title X funding, but would reallocate the funding to non-abortion providers. Under President Reagan this regulation was challenged in court but was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan.
Among those who signed onto the letter were national and state pro-life leaders, such as
Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List
Paul Weber, President & CEO, Family Policy Alliance
Ralph Reed, Chairman, Faith & Freedom Coalition
Wisconsin Family Action will continue to monitor the situation and update you as soon as there is new information.
Two transgender patients are suing Wisconsin’s health services department for refusing to pay for procedures related to gender transition.
Doctors for Cody Flack and Sara Ann Makenzie say they need surgery to treat gender dysphoria, a condition in which people identify with a gender that is different than the one they were given at birth. Flack and Makenzie have Medicaid, a program paid for by the state and federal government, but the program will not pay for their surgeries because they are deemed by the state to be “medically unnecessary.” Without the coverage, Flack and Makenzie cannot afford the procedures.
WFA president Julaine Appling says, “No one is denying these folks what they want. They can get what they want but not at taxpayer expense. Just as abortion is not health care, neither are treatments for gender confusion. The public should not be funding someone’s elective medical choices. What’s tragic is that gender confusion is ideological, not biological and irreversible medical choices are not the answer.
With the close of the two-year legislative session, the Republican majority in the Assembly and the Senate failed once again to pass legislation prohibiting the trade and use of the body parts of aborted babies and promoting ethical alternatives.
Heal Without Harm (HWH), a coalition of the state’s major pro-life organizations and their tens of thousands of pro-life voters, is dismayed that Republican leaders took such pains to block the advancement of the pioneering bill package known as the Heal Without Harm Legislative Initiative. This was a betrayal of their pro-life constituents.
Despite this failure, the HWH Coalition is extremely proud of the authors and key medical researchers for their advocacy. Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) and Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) authored two complementary bills, the “Fetal Remains Respect Act” (SB 423/AB 549) and the “Unborn Child Disposition and Anatomical Gift Act” (SB 424/AB 550). These bills would have banned the sale and use of body parts from aborted babies and informed parents about the ability to donate their miscarried or stillborn child’s tissue for research. The HWH Coalition also commends Rep. André Jacque (R-De Pere), Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie), and the 36 additional co-sponsors for their tireless advocacy, both publicly and behind the scenes.
The HWH Coalition applauds the courage of medical experts Dr. Tara Sander Lee, Dr. Maria Feeney, and Dr. Kathleen Schmainda, who demonstrated that Wisconsin can indeed support groundbreaking research by using ethical alternatives to abortion-derived tissue.
Passing the HWH Initiative remains vital. The continued dependence on abortion-derived tissue legitimizes abortion, creates a demand for it, and further embeds it into our educational and medical institutions. Aborted children must never be treated as a means to an end, however noble. Likewise, no patient should ever have to face the choice of using or refusing an unethically-derived treatment.
The pro-life community is pro-medical research, but all human life must be respected and protected. In the next legislative session, the HWH Coalition will continue its efforts to inform the public and persuade legislators to make Wisconsin a leader in ethical, innovative, and effective biomedical research. We call on all those who support this goal to work together, and we urge legislators to heed the will of their constituents.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) released its second annual report comparing school academic performance across Wisconsin, apples to apples. In this new peer-reviewed study, control variables—such as student economic status and demographics—are included to level the playing field and make the clearest possible comparisons between schools for policymakers and parents.
Also included for the first time is WILL’s Performance Ranking, which ranks the performance of every K-12 school in the state from all sectors while controlling for socio-economic status. The report shows that schools participating in the Parental Choice Programs are doing quite well in several areas.
WFA president Julaine Appling sends accolades, “Thanks to WILL for doing this analysis of school performance data. Its release is very timely since the deadline for parents to apply to be part of one of the parental choice programs—the voucher programs—is this Friday. It’s good to see these private schools that are so often maligned by liberals doing well in their first priority: educating children.”
CLICK HERE to visit the Department of Instruction Online Parent Application for School Choice.
It’s a terribly stubborn demographic truism: Somewhere close to 100 percent of babies never born will never become customers of your business. This is true of the more than 55 million American babies who never made it past the womb since abortion was legalized in 1973. It’s true of the untold millions who were never conceived because a potential mom and dad thought they had better things to do.
Of course, there is an inestimable, inherent worth and dignity to every human life, but we cannot ignore the social significance at play here as well. These invaluable lives-never-realized are a whole lot of missing customers. Not good for business. Not good. Nor will they be paying into social security or pensions to provide your part when that time comes either.
Julaine Appling, WFA president, says, “Fertility really matters. Wisconsin, with its 40-plus year history of low birth rates, needs more good fertility to ensure its demographic and economic future. Good fertility is that which happens within marriages. Promoting and protecting marriage and childbirth within marriage is one of the best things that could happen in the Badger State.”
State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald wants to close two strip clubs in Dodge County, part of his district, after reports of human trafficking in the case of a 45-year-old Hartford man charged in federal court.
“I am horrified at the accounts of serial abuse and trafficking at strip clubs in Clyman, Juneau and Lebanon,” Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said in a press release. “With the recent federal investigations resulting in evidence that criminal activity is rampant, I am asking for the sheriff and district attorney to immediately investigate anyone on premises.
Julaine Appling, WFA president, says, “For several years we have warned that these sexually-exploitative businesses are involved in sex trafficking. I’m glad Senator Fitzgerald is joining us in working to close them down. They are at a minimum a blight on any community, and now we have proof they often promote and shelter illegal activity that destroys human lives. Tolerating these places is dangerous; they need to go.”
On Wednesday Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett signed an ordinance that bans “conversion” or reparative therapy and counseling for minors. This is counseling used by many Christians that offers help and hope to persons struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction or unwanted gender identity issues. The ordinance says it applies to licensed mental health professionals who charge for their services and also indicates the only therapy or counseling they can give minors is that which affirms and encourages same-sex attraction and biological gender-rejection.
At a minimum this ordinance robs parents of the right to make decisions they believe are in the best interest of their children. They are also ominous for churches and pastors, something many pastors in Milwaukee have recognized. Such freedom-robbing, wrong-headed laws are sweeping the nation. Unfortunately, in Wisconsin, those pushing this agenda are picking off our cities one by one.
See press release from Tony Rodriguez, Interim Executive Director of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center below:
The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center Applauds Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council for Protecting LGBT Youth by Banning Conversion Therapy for Minors
MILWAUKEE – The Center and the LGBT Community thank Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council for passing and signing a law that prohibits the use of conversion therapy on minors. Milwaukee is the first municipality in Wisconsin to pass such a measure and joins a growing number of municipalities across the country, including cities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.
Organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association and many others reject the use of conversion therapy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth.
“We are very pleased that Milwaukee has banned the use of conversion therapy on minors and thank Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council for taking this important step. We hope Milwaukee will prove to be just the first of many municipalities in Wisconsin to ban this harmful and discredited practice that uses rejection, shame and psychological abuse aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Studies conducted by major mental health organizations and personal testimony from LGBT youth have shown that conversion therapy can create dangerous and even life-threatening effects, including depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and suicidal behavior. We are especially grateful for Alderman Cavalier Johnson’s legislative leadership and sponsorship of the ordinance,” said Center Executive Director Tony Snell.
The City of Milwaukee ordinance prohibits licensed mental health professionals, those who charge for the service, from engaging in conversion therapy with minors, carrying a civil penalty for each violation.
About the Center
The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center is dedicated to serving the needs of LGBTQ people and to making the Greater Milwaukee area safer and more inclusive, visit www.mkelgbt.org.