A Letter From the New WFA President

Dear Friends,

I’m thrilled, humbled, and honored to serve as the next president for Wisconsin Family Action. I’m grateful to the Board of Directors for their support and direction. I’m thankful for Julaine’s incredible leadership over the last quarter of a century. She has dedicated her life to building WFA to serving Wisconsin families, children, churches, communities, and lawmakers. What a legacy! Julaine will continue to serve the organizations as President Emeritus during the transition.

WFA has been leading the Judeo-Christian response to the cultural battles that have engulfed our state and our nation and affected our families and communities. These organizations will continue their mission to preserve, promote and strengthen the foundational Judeo-Christian principles of life, marriage, family, and religious freedom.

Please cover Wisconsin Family Action, Julaine, our people, and me with prayer as we move, lead, and serve where God leads. Thank you, thank you, for continuing to partner with us during this transition.

Soli Deo gloria.

Yours Faithfully,

Christine M. File

President

Wisconsin Family Council and Wisconsin Family Action

A Person’s A Person No Matter How Small

A Person’s A Person No Matter How Small

In Dr. Seuss’s book Horton Hears a Who!, we read, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Little did Theodore Seuss Geisel know how poignant his words would become over the next decades. Dr. Seuss clearly wasn’t making a political statement about abortion, but what he expressed is profoundly biologically accurate.

The moment a human egg is fertilized, a human person is formed—a human person distinctly different from his or her biological mother—right down to distinct DNA. Yes, a person’s a person no matter how small.

That reality played into the news this week here in Wisconsin and around the country. Last week, the Alabama Supreme Court handed down a decision in a case involving in vitro fertilization that seemingly set the world on fire. Much of the firestorm is because people don’t understand what happens with in vitro fertilization. Typically, in this process, many eggs are fertilized creating many embryos. Only a few embryos are implanted in the woman using this process. The embryos that are not implanted are usually frozen. If they are not used or adopted in a certain amount of time, they are destroyed.

The Alabama case focused on whether someone responsible for destroying some of these frozen embryos could be held liable under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor law. In this instance, someone had wandered into the room where these frozen embryos were stored and removed several, ultimately dropping them, which in the wording of the majority opinion author, “killed them.”

Bear in mind that these tiny human persons were the developing children of identified couples. The couples bringing the lawsuit alleged their minor children were killed. The high court agreed, ruling that the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act “applies on its face to all unborn children, without limitation.” The majority opinion also stated, “Unborn children are ‘children’ under the Act, without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics,” meaning the fact that these embryos were not implanted did not make them less human.

Essentially what the Alabama high court said was a person’s a person no matter how small and no matter whether that person is in utero or in a frozen suspended state.

Some are saying this ruling means IVF will be deemed illegal in Alabama and perhaps elsewhere if other courts follow suit. That’s not what this decision says. What it says is you cannot destroy these tiny humans with impunity. We have long said every embryo—every tiny human— created in the IVF process must be implanted and given the opportunity to grow and develop. Creating excess embryos to freeze them and then most likely destroy them is wrong. You don’t have to stop doing IVF, but it must be done ethically.

Then, here in Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced last week that they have petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to, in their words, “clarify” whether our State Constitution provides an unfettered right to abortion, apparently right up to birth. Planned Parenthood says our Constitution’s Declaration of Life, Section I, includes a right of “self-determination,” meaning women have a right to decide if they want to carry to term their tiny unborn human baby.

That section includes language declaring people “have certain inherent rights; among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It appears Planned Parenthood takes the “self-determination” idea from “the pursuit of happiness,” conveniently ignoring the first inherent right—life. Tragically, the abortion giant has never acknowledged that a person is a person no matter how small, and now wants our state’s highest court to agree with them.

Rounding out last week on the life issue here, another abortion facility, one that has been shuttered since Roe was overturned, is reopening on March 5, putting our state back to where we were with abortion before the Dobbs decision.

Societies that do not operate by the biological reality that a person’s a person no matter how small are on a disastrous, destructive path—especially when you consider that at the moment of conception, a tiny human is bearing the image of God.

 

Leadership Transition at Wisconsin Family Action

Leadership Transition at Wisconsin Family Action

Julaine Appling, former president of WFA

Christine File, new president of WFA

In late 1997, I, Julaine Appling, started working at Family Research Institute of Wisconsin. It was a small operation but had considerable impact, especially in the state legislature. In the first year I was with the organization I did research, wrote copy for various needs, processed gifts, answered phones, attended public hearings, and in general did whatever was needed. I have somewhat jokingly said to people that we pretty much ran the 3-person organization out of a shoebox!

I also told the president of the organization that while I could and would act as a kind of office manager, it would eventually become uncomfortable for me because that wasn’t who I was and was not using well my God-given strengths, talents, interests, or experience.

Some board members understood what I was saying, and in late 1998, the board asked me to be the Executive Director. After considerable prayer, thought, and counsel, I accepted. And thus began the ride of a lifetime!

Now, going on 27 years with this organization (renamed Wisconsin Family Council, with Wisconsin Family Action formed in 2006), 26 of which have been as the leader (currently president), I know it’s time for a leadership change here. I know that as surely as I knew I was to say yes way back in 1998.

Honestly, because I have long been a “student” of organizations and administration, I knew when I started this position, that I needed to begin looking for a successor. I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for years, and we’ve had a couple of hires that we thought might work out to be the next president of both Wisconsin Family Council and Wisconsin Family Action. However, we ended up still looking for the next leader.

A couple of years ago, I told the board I would like to step down as president by the end of 2024, and my announcement set in motion a very serious national search for the next president of WFA and WFC. No longer are we a 3-person organization operating out of a shoebox. By God’s grace, and because of friends like you, WFC and WFA have become the state’s premier pro-family organization.

Over the years, our budgets have increased significantly, we’ve added new programs, our outreach and impact have grown exponentially, and our team has more than tripled. And all of this has been because of God’s good hand upon us and because of the ministry friends He has brought our way. Certainly, our leadership needs have changed over these years of growth as well.

Our nationwide search actually resulted in finding a remarkable successor-leader right here in Wisconsin. I am so pleased and excited to announce that the next president of WFA and WFC is Christine M. File, who grew up in Wisconsin and has lived here most of her life. As you will see in the accompanying letter from our Board Chairman Lee Webster, Christine is well qualified to lead WFA and WFC into the future.

Being the president of WFA and WFC has been an incredible honor and a privilege. I have been humbled to serve in this capacity and am grateful to the Board of Directors for the opportunity to provide leadership for the organizations and for their godly guidance and wisdom through these years as we have expanded our operation and reach in every way. I am especially thankful for the Boards’ thorough, prayerful work as we together sought the next leader for WFA and WFC.

While I am stepping out of the role of president of WFA and WFC, as President Emeritus, I will be working closely with Christine as we make this transition. Christine joins us on February 19, 2024. When the time is right at some point this year for me to step completely away from WFA and WFC, I will continue to be involved with making Wisconsin a great place for families by encouraging people of faith to put their beliefs into action.

The future is so bright for WFA and WFC! Because we have a faithful God and incredible partners and friends like you, and now an exciting, immensely qualified new leader for these organizations, I am more convinced than ever that the best days for WFA and WFC lie ahead as they, in partnership with you, continue to strengthen, preserve, and promote God’s plan for marriage and family, the sanctity of human life, and religious freedom in our great state.

We have planned for this time for years; now is the time to put the plan into action. Thank you for standing with us over the years of my leadership and now as we pass the baton to the next-generation leader!

May God grant His incredible blessings to you, our dear friends, and also to the WFA and WFC Boards of Directors and Christine File in the days ahead.

Serving with gladness and gratitude,
Julaine K. Appling
President

 

As Chairman of the Board of Directors, it is my pleasure to inform you of some exciting transitions that are taking place with Wisconsin Family Council.  Julaine Appling has been diligently serving as President of the organization for over 25 years.  Approximately two years ago she informed the Board that it would soon be time for a leadership change. She has worked closely with the Board to move in that direction and—after a nationwide search and much prayer—we have found an exceptionally qualified candidate to step into her position as of February 19th.

We are pleased to announce that our new President, Christine M. File, comes to us with great credentials and experience.  She is a Hillsdale College graduate and has a master’s and a law degree from Regent University. Christine interned at The Heritage Foundation and has experience working for State Supreme Court Justices in both Indiana and Wisconsin. Additionally, Christine is a Blackstone Fellow with Alliance Defending Freedom. She most recently joins us from the corporate world where she continued to stay involved with grassroots efforts on issues currently impacting her community, state, and nation. Christine and her husband and family live in Southeastern Wisconsin and are active in their church and community.

Under Julaine’s leadership Wisconsin Family Council has over these years become a nationally recognized leader as a state family policy council and, by God’s grace, has been effective in strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage, family, life, and religious freedom in our home state.

Thankfully, Julaine is not retiring.  She will continue to partner, serve, and consult with us as President Emeritus. Words can never express our appreciation for Julaine’s vision, leadership, and faithfulness to God as well as to the citizens of Wisconsin and our organization. We will keep you posted on details for a special recognition event later this year.

Thank you for your ongoing support!  Please keep us all in your prayers as we move forward in our Lord’s service!

Sincerely,
Lee Webster
Chairman, Board of Directors
Wisconsin Family Council

 

The Danger of Political Pragmatism: WI Bills Add “Gender Identity” to Non-Discrimination Language

The Danger of Political Pragmatism: WI Bills Add “Gender Identity” to Non-Discrimination Language

When is it right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right? The answer is never! That’s pragmatism…and it takes us places we should not be going.

Wisconsin has the unfortunate distinction of being the first state in the nation to add sexual orientation as a protected class in non-discrimination laws related to employment, housing, and public accommodations. That was in 1982.

Non-discrimination laws had previously been used to protect innate or immutable characteristics such as sex, age, race, nationality, ethnicity, and disabilities, or to protect strongly held religious beliefs. The addition of sexual orientation violated that premise since sexual orientation is not an immutable or innate characteristic nor is it part of some strongly held religious belief.

Through the years, this non-discrimination language has remained largely unchanged. In recent years, however, and not surprisingly, there has been talk and effort to add “gender identity” to non-discrimination statutory language. Of course, “gender identity” is not an immutable or innate characteristic, nor is it part of some strongly held religious belief. Despite that reality, recently, Republicans in the state Legislature turned talk into action in a surprising bill.

Assembly Bill 953 and its Senate companion Senate Bill 905 deal with direct primary care agreements. These bills exempt valid direct primary care agreements from the application of insurance law. In layman’s language, direct primary care is one option for covering the cost of medical care. It’s an agreement you make directly with your provider. It doesn’t use insurance claims. More and more people are seeking direct primary care providers to cut out insurance.

On the face of it, we shouldn’t have any problem with this bill. In fact, all things being equal, we might even actually support such a proposal because in many ways, protecting direct primary care providers in our state helps families.

Unfortunately, this is the bill Republicans decided to use to add “gender identity” to the non-discrimination language. This is not the first time a bill to protect direct primary care providers has been introduced in our state. Two sessions ago, such a bill passed without this non-discrimination language. The governor vetoed it, saying he did so because the bill did not include “gender identity” in the non-discrimination section.

This year, the bill is back with the non-discrimination language that includes “gender identity.” In the public hearing in the Senate, the bill’s author said she included “gender identity” because she believes the governor will sign the bill as long as that group is given special rights and protections.

Adding “gender identity” as a protected class in this bill is dangerous. First, it sets a precedent for “gender identity” being added in other areas of the law. In this particular case, and with the specific wording in the bill, this could mean that a direct primary care provider’s religious liberty and conscience rights could be violated, in addition to having to violate his or her best medical judgment.

One argument the Republican authors and supporters are using to defend including “gender identity” is the very poor US Supreme Court Bostock decision. That decision dealt with Title VII employment matters and the court opined that employers cannot discriminate based on “gender identity,” essentially changing the definition of “sex” to include “gender identity.” In the majority opinion, the justices made it clear that this decision applies only to Title VII employment matters.

That reality apparently doesn’t matter to the authors and co-sponsors of these current direct primary care bills. They maintain this court decision demands including “gender identity.” It does not, nor does any law or Wisconsin court decision demand its inclusion. This is an inclusion for one reason—to attempt to get the governor to sign this bill. This is raw political pragmatism where the desired ends supposedly justify the means.

If this bill passes with “gender identity” language this session and the governor signs it, you can be sure that “gender identity” as a protected class will be enshrined in Wisconsin law. It’s profoundly sad that an otherwise good bill that could help many in our state is being used pragmatically, trouncing on rights, and taking us places we should not be going.

Underage Drinking in WI Calls for Proactive Parents

Underage Drinking in WI Calls for Proactive Parents

Alcohol consumption in Wisconsin is endemic. Seven of our larger cities/metropolitan areas are pretty regularly listed in the top 10 of the “most drunk” in the country. Unfortunately, yet not surprisingly, alcohol use and abuse even extends to youth under age 21.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 49% of Wisconsin teens have tried alcohol. Nationwide, the prevalence of underage drinking decreased by seven percentage points from 2019 to 2021, yet in Wisconsin, it decreased by just four percentage points.

One in six Wisconsin high schoolers report having tried alcohol by age 13, and two out of three Wisconsin teens don’t see underage drinking as a risk. However, we know teens who drink can suffer real damage—exposing their developing brains, lives, and mental health to serious, even deadly, consequences. Underage drinking can lead teens to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms and even alcohol addictions, or cause them to make poor decisions they may not have made otherwise.
 
Lots of commercials are popping up on TV right now encouraging parents to talk to their teens and even pre-teens about the dangers of underage drinking. Research shows age eight is when children start to form their earliest opinions about alcohol. 

Numerous factors can lead children to experiment with alcohol, ranging from the influence of peers to the aggressive marketing strategies that go unchecked. Some children might view alcohol as a means to manage the challenges or trauma they face in their educational environment, household, or community. The good news is that parents hold significant power to effect change and steer their children away from such choices.

The best protection teens have against this dangerous substance is involved, intervening parents.

Parents need to guide their children through the messages they receive from peers and the media and address the topic of alcohol before it becomes a real-life temptation. As Christian conservatives in an increasingly secular culture, instilling values early on is essential, so beginning discussions about the risks of underage drinking at a young but appropriate age is both proactive and necessary. These conversations are an opportunity to reinforce the Christian principles of self-control and respect for the body as a temple, as well as the conservative values of personal responsibility and discipline.

Of course, this applies to more than just conversations about alcohol consumption. Children are being bombarded with progressive and immoral messages about all aspects of life, meaning involved and proactive parents are needed now more than ever. If parents don’t take this responsibility and opportunity, they can be sure the culture will gladly do it for them.

Happy National Marriage Week!

Happy National Marriage Week!

February 7th through the 14th is designated as National Marriage Week USA. This is a great time for families and churches in particular to rehearse God’s teaching on marriage and to champion this divinely ordained institution that is good for all people, at all times, in all places.

God’s institution of marriage, designed for mankind’s good and God’s glory, comes with unparalleled blessings—blessings that God in His unfathomable goodness allows to extend to those who do not believe in Him and even to those who blaspheme Him. That’s God’s common grace.

The blessings of marriage include, typically, natural procreation—the bringing of new life into this world through the unique contributions of both the male husband and female wife. Children born to or adopted by men and women in a God-designed marriage are, on average, better off in every way than children in any other kind of family structure. They are considerably more likely to avoid poverty, poor health, abuse of all sorts, educational difficulties, crime, substance addictions, and more. 

Men and women in one-man, one-woman marriages also enjoy great—again, on average—benefits, such as better health, especially for men, higher income (even when only one spouse is working), more savings, avoidance of poverty, in particular for women, and more.

All of these benefits have been verified thousands of times by social science research not just in the United States but around the world. And we should not be surprised by that. God’s plan for marriage and family works. When we deviate from that plan, the problems begin—and not only continue but expand. When individual God-designed marriages are numerous, strong, and healthy, the entire society is better off. 

Yet another reason to champion marriage was affirmed by the Communio Nationwide Study on Faith and Relationships, which was discussed at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. The study’s results suggest that the decline in resident fatherhood and the collapse of marriage are likely explanations for the increase in religious non-affiliation across the US. According to the founder of Communio, J. P. De Gance, “those in the church interested in seeing a renewal of faith, need to see a renewal of marriage.”

Churches need to take seriously their role as the champions and the protectors of marriage and family as God designed them. No other institution or organization is equipped to do for marriage what Christian churches can do. Teaching on marriage, strong premarital counseling, marriage mentoring, and marriage strengthening are all best done by and in churches.

To honor both the institution of marriage and individual marriages that have gone the distance, we are looking for Wisconsin’s longest-married couples to be a part of WFC’s Marriage Hall of Fame! 

Applying to the Hall of Fame is open to any married couple in Wisconsin who has been married for sixty or more years. Marriage Hall of Fame Inductees will be published on our website by March. By filling out the application, couples consent to have their names, stories, and photos published on our website. 2024 applications are now open. Applications close Feb. 19, and inductees will be announced Feb 29. Nominate a couple HERE

Every marriage that reflects God’s design of one man and one woman should be celebrated because God’s plan for marriage is universally good and well worth celebrating.

Election Integrity is Under Attack in WI Ahead of Critical Elections

Election Integrity is Under Attack in WI Ahead of Critical Elections

As the political climate heats up in Wisconsin, recent developments in election integrity cases are setting the stage for an intense election cycle. 

Most recently, a Dane County Circuit Court judge directed the Wisconsin Elections Commission to adopt regulations permitting local election authorities to count absentee ballots that include incomplete address information. 

In a clear blow to election integrity, Dane County Judge Ryan Nilsestuen dismissed the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s suggestion that a complete address must include the street number, street name, and municipality name. He determined that a witness address on an absentee ballot envelope may exclude the municipality and ZIP code, or even use terms like “same” or “ditto” when the witness resides with the voter, provided that clerks can ascertain the witness’s residence. This would increase the number of valid votes in critical upcoming elections where slim vote margins could determine the outcomes. At the same time, Governor Evers has vetoed a slew of Republican-led election reform bills that aimed to secure our state’s elections. 

Meanwhile, we also had a good election-related court decision recently. Last month, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) won a lawsuit against the City Clerk of Racine and Wisconsin Elections Commission, securing election integrity in the process.  

The Racine County Circuit Court ruled that the City’s use of a mobile voting van at particular sites around the City was illegal under state law. Specifically, the Court found that the mobile voting sites gave a partisan advantage to one political party over others and that state law did not allow the use of a van as an absentee voting site. 

Other court cases that involve Wisconsin’s legislative maps could significantly impact upcoming elections. Last month, a leftist attorney filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s congressional maps to advance his political agenda. 

Up to this point, our Assembly and Senate legislative maps have been the focus of controversy, with the State Supreme Court deciding the current legislative maps are unconstitutional and demanding that new maps be implemented for this fall’s elections.This lawsuit challenging the congressional maps adds yet another wrinkle.

WILL last week took steps to try to block this latest legal maneuver regarding the congressional maps. WILL is calling for Justice Janet Protasiewicz to recuse herself from any ruling that revisits the case that resulted in the current congressional maps because of explicit statements about the maps as she campaigned. 

Lucas Vebber WILL Deputy Counsel, stated, “Wisconsin’s current congressional map was proposed by Governor Evers and adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2022. Any attempt to revisit this ruling and once again alter Wisconsin’s Congressional districts is both procedurally improper and legally wrong.”  

WILL notes that Wisconsin state law mandates that judges, including Supreme Court justices, must recuse themselves from cases in which impartiality might be compromised or if they have a substantial personal stake in the outcome. The law stipulates that any judge “shall disqualify” themselves whenever they “cannot, or it appears…they cannot, act in an impartial manner.”

Further, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin made a substantial contribution of nearly $10 million to the campaign of Justice Janet Protasiewicz. Throughout her campaign, she labeled Wisconsin’s district maps as “rigged” to benefit Republicans and specifically criticized the congressional maps, stating “we know something’s wrong.” Her repeated comments on the Johnson v. WEC case during the campaign underscore the argument for her recusal.

These court cases challenging maps need to stop; the fall elections loom. We the people have a right to know well in advance what districts we will be in, as do candidates who are preparing to run for office. For sure, part of the liberals’ plan is to keep people uncertain and confused as to what is legal and what is not. Keeping everyone questioning about what districts they live in for voting purposes is part of their plan.

The foundation of our republic relies on elections that are transparent, secure, and trustworthy. To preserve a government that truly reflects the will of the people, it’s crucial that we advocate for and demand the integrity of elections and the establishment of fair and transparent electoral laws. 

Most importantly, we must show up and vote in the upcoming elections, regardless of how election integrity cases and legislative proposals in our state play out. The surest way for liberal progressives to take over is for conservatives to get so discouraged by the possibility of election fraud that they don’t vote. We cannot hand our state or our country over to the left without a fight.

WILL’s Status Report on Education in WI Reaffirms Importance of School Choice 

WILL’s Status Report on Education in WI Reaffirms Importance of School Choice 

School Choice Week (January 21-28) was recently observed here in Wisconsin and around the country. (January 21-28).  It’s appropriate that we reflect on the critical role that educational choice plays in our state. School choice empowers parents and students, giving them the freedom to choose educational options that best suit their individual needs, aspirations, and personal and family values.

Wisconsin has a plethora of educational options for parents, including district-based public schools, open enrollment for families wanting to send their children to a public school in another district, charter schools, virtual schools, regular private schools, and private schools participating in one of our three Parental Choice Programs–Milwaukee, Racine, Statewide–and homeschooling.

Reports like the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty’s annual Apples to Apples play a pivotal role in this educational choice discussion. This study provides valuable insights into the performance of various types of schools (public, independent charter, and voucher), offering data-driven evidence on why school choice matters by putting schools on a level playing field to assess education across all types of Wisconsin schools. 

WILL found that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program consistently achieve higher academic results in English/Language Arts and math than their counterparts in public schools. Students enrolled in Milwaukee’s charter schools in general outperformed their peers in public schools. Twelve of the top 20 schools in Wisconsin are in the state’s choice (aka, “voucher”) programs. Moreover, choice and charter schools more efficiently use taxpayer money. In general, our voucher program is a win for both students and taxpayers.

WILL Research Director, Will Flanders, said, “Once again, school choice has proven significant performance advantages, in math and reading, for Wisconsin students. What’s more, is that the use of taxpayer dollars for these options give more bang for buck. WILL knows that the fight against school choice is far from over. This report highlights the need to continue to inform and defend educational opportunities for all.”

When families have the freedom to choose, they can seek out educational environments that not only meet the academic needs of their children but also align with their values and learning styles. This is especially important as woke indoctrination permeates our school and harms our children. Educational freedom also leads to more engaged and motivated students, which ultimately results in better educational outcomes.

Further, school choice provides equity in education. It breaks down the barriers of zip-code-determined schooling, offering quality educational opportunities to students regardless of their location or background. By allowing funds to follow the student, it creates a more level playing field.

Therefore, parents should take advantage of the school choice programs we have in our state as much as possible. This year in Wisconsin, application windows will open in February for those seeking educational choices for their children other than the public school in their district.

For over thirty years, Wisconsin has been at the forefront of educational innovation with its school choice program (vouchers), providing low-income parents the opportunity to select the best educational environment for their children, which includes both secular and religious private schools. WILL’s Apples to Apples report serves as a crucial reminder that we not only need to keep it that way but continue to find new ways to afford Wisconsin families as much educational freedom as possible. Implementing universal choice in Wisconsin could be a great next step in solidifying our state as a beacon of educational freedom. 

The good news is that we are approaching a critical election cycle. Every Wisconsin voter can play a role in protecting and advancing school choice by electing leaders this fall who boldly advocate for parents’ rights in education. 

Every parent should have the opportunity to choose the best school for their child, regardless of their income, zip code, or the size of their school district. Education shapes not only the present but also the future and expanding school choice is a step towards a brighter future for The Badger State.

WFA Offers Testimony In Support of Age Verification Bill

WFA Offers Testimony In Support of Age Verification Bill

Earlier this week, a state Assembly committee held a public hearing on Assembly Bill 730. This bill would require companies that host websites featuring pornographic material to do age verification to help ensure minors are not able to access the site. While the bill does not provide penalties for those who violate this law, it does allow individuals who have been harmed by a minor’s access to harmful material because of this law being violated, to file civil claims seeking damages, court costs, and legal fees.

WFA Legislative & Policy Director Jack Hoogendyk provided a testimony to the committee in support of AB 730. It reads as follows:

“A report from Common Sense Media revealed:

  • 75% of teenagers have viewed pornography by age 17
  • Average age of first exposure to pornography is age 12
  • 41% of teenagers saying they had seen images of nudity or sexual acts online during the school day (bypassing existing Wi-Fi filtering)
  • Survey of 1,358 Americans age 13 to 17 found that more than half said they viewed violent porn (rape, choking, someone in pain)
  • 5% of teen respondents said they first saw online pornography at age 10 or younger. 

Research on the impact of pornography on children has revealed:

  • 41% of young people (aged between 11 and 17) who knew about pornography agreed that watching pornography made people less respectful of the opposite sex. Only 13% disagreed.
  • The exposure of children to internet pornography is having impact on the development of harmful sexual behaviors. The average age of first perpetration of sexual violence is 15 -16 and is associated with exposure to pornography.
  • A 2016 meta-analysis of pornography research reveals adolescent pornography consumption is significantly associated with stronger gender-stereotypical sexual beliefs, earlier sexual debut, increased casual sex behavior, and increased sexual aggression both as perpetrators and victims.
  • Teens are at a great risk of developing a pornography addiction as their brains are still developing.

Attempts by Congress to regulate or prevent access to pornography by minors have proven unsuccessful:

  • In the 1996 Communications Decency Act, Congress prohibited the “knowing transmission of obscene or indecent messages to any recipient under 18 years of age,” or the “knowing sending or displaying of patently offensive messages in a manner that is available to a person under 18 years of age.” However, the Supreme Court struck down this provision, finding its prohibitions so vague that they would limit First Amendment-protected speech. Here is a quote from that 1996 decision: 

the Internet is not as ‘invasive’ as radio or television… [and]… [c]ommunications over the Internet do not ‘invade’ an individual’s home or appear on one’s computer screen unbidden. Users seldom encounter content by accident… [and] odds are slim that a user would come across a sexually explicit sight by accident.

  • In 1998, Congress tried again to protect children from harmful content online with the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). It required age-verification for minors visiting sites with material “harmful to children.” The Supreme Court struck down this statute on the grounds that “filters are more effective than age-verification requirements” and would place a lesser burden on First Amendment rights. However, filters have since not proved particularly effective at protecting kids from harmful and obscene content online. 

On a more fundamental level, the federal government’s historical focus on communications regulation is not addressing the challenges that social media present to society today, especially with regard to content that appeals to prurient interests and that lacks any literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors. 

Mr. Chairman, AB 730, by requiring reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of individuals attempting to access internet websites or social media that is harmful to minors, we will greatly help to resolve the issue of the purveyors of pornography reaching our children.  The bill’s provision for civil claims allows those harmed by those who seek to ensnare children into the darkness of pornography to seek some measure of justice, which is certainly warranted.

I might add, Mr. Chairman, that parents will be grateful for this legislation. They need our help. Even the best parental-control software available for purchase does not offer full protection and given the lack of current requirements for age verification, a child can easily falsify his age to access online material that is harmful. 

Mr. Chairman, this is common-sense legislation and it is much needed in this cyber-technology driven society. We urge passage of Assembly Bill 730.”

 

 

Celebrating Sanctity of Human Life Month

Celebrating Sanctity of Human Life Month

The US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, but protecting human life remains a top priority for pro-life organizations and individuals in Wisconsin, especially since Planned Parenthood has resumed abortions here. Dane County District Court Judge Diane Schlipper ruled on the case brought by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) alleging that Wisconsin’s pre-Roe abortion statute, 940.04, is not enforceable. Schlipper says the law doesn’t apply to consensual abortion, but rather to feticide, the non-consensual killing of a preborn baby. Many of us fail to see how she arrived at that decision since the section is labeled “Abortion,” and if nothing else, the exception for the life of the mother makes it clear that the statute applies to consensual abortion. Nevertheless, for now, the intentional, consensual killing of an unborn child is again legal in Wisconsin.

Thanks to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, 14 states in the U.S. have implemented laws that prohibit or significantly restrict abortions. According to the data available, these enforceable pro-life laws are projected to potentially eliminate around 200,000 abortions annually. However, this still leaves hundreds of thousands of babies at risk. As Christians and pro-lifers, our job is not over until abortion is unthinkable in our country and every child is safe in his or her mother’s womb. 

Commemorating Sanctity of Human Life Month in January is a good way to highlight this issue. January was officially designated as Sanctity of Human Life Month in 1984 by then-President Ronald Reagan. This year, Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is on January 21. Wisconsin Family Council urges churches to preach on life and pro-lifers to recommit to robustly and persistently defending life this month and every month. 

We are dedicated to doing everything we can to strengthen, preserve, and promote human life from conception through natural death. We believe in the power of prayer, action, and education to bring about change. When churches teach and preach on the issue, so many people gain a clear understanding and then use their personal influence to help others advance the pro-life cause.

In addition, to safeguard the lives of the unborn, we need to not only expose the harsh realities of abortion but also offer support to local pregnancy care organizations that consistently provide hope and life-affirming messages to women and families. By promoting a culture that celebrates life, we can counter the false narrative pushed by the left and present alternatives that affirm the value of both mother and child. It’s about creating a community where life is not just protected by law but cherished and supported in practice. 

To this end, Choose Life Wisconsin recently distributed almost $30,000 to eight Wisconsin pregnancy care centers to help with their amazing pro-life work. These funds are raised from the sale of the Choose Life Wisconsin license plate. To date, Choose Life Wisconsin has awarded over $308,000 to more than 30 pregnancy care centers in our state.

Recently, a coffee company dedicated to the pro-life cause donated nearly $300,000 to pregnancy resource centers across the country, assisting them in their role as a “shield and protector” for expectant mothers. 

These funding efforts come at a time when some centers are facing challenges in funding and operational capabilities in certain states.

Seven Weeks Coffee takes its name from the developmental stage at which a preborn baby is about the size of a coffee bean. The company is committed to supporting the work of pro-life pregnancy centers, which offer a range of free services and counseling to pregnant women and their families. To aid these centers, Seven Weeks Coffee donates 10% of its coffee sales revenue. Choosing to spend money at places like this, rather than progressive companies that explicitly support abortion, or to purchase a Choose Life Wisconsin license plate are small but impactful ways we can all help foster a culture of life. 

Further, we must extend radical love and compassion to expectant mothers facing challenging circumstances. Churches and their congregations should actively support women and men vulnerable to choosing abortion by contributing to crisis pregnancy centers, directly assisting mothers in need, or simply being present for those experiencing hardship.

Finally, a key part of defending the sanctity of life in Wisconsin is to elect leaders who will boldly protect preborn life and prevent the left from advancing their radical pro-choice agenda. President Joe Biden has urged Congress to establish a federal legal “right” to abortion. This action aims not only to reinstate but also to broaden the scope of Roe v. Wade by prohibiting states from enacting almost all pro-life legislation. The outcome of the 2024 elections will be crucial in deciding whether the Democrats maintain control of the White House and secure sufficient congressional seats to achieve this despicable objective. 

This fall presents a chance to vote for Christ-centered leaders who will fiercely defend life at all stages. It’s vital to participate in the upcoming election and to encourage others who share these beliefs to do the same.

May our efforts honor the sanctity of human life, not just in words, but through our individual actions, including our vote, and in the laws that govern our state and nation.

WILL Secures Victory For First Amendment Rights

WILL Secures Victory For First Amendment Rights

Recently, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) and the Mountain States Legal Foundation achieved a victory on behalf of Young America’s Foundation, a conservative student group, after the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse refused to grant the organization official student-organization status.

The school originally denied the group’s designation because the student organization refused to sign onto a “DEI” inclusivity statement, a document full of the university’s prescribed political and social policy stances that contradicted the organization’s values and violated their First Amendment rights. Several of these statements involved a pledge to promote the welfare of individuals who do not have the “documentation” required for legal residency in the United States and compelled student organizations to express their disapproval of enforcing the existing immigration laws in the country.

The university was also asking students to be “committed to… addressing issues of equity and justice,” through implementing race-conscious policies. The school backed down after the legal groups threatened further action. 

Dan Lennington, WILL Deputy Counsel, stated, “This is a victory for free speech and equality. WILL stands ready to defend the Constitutional rights of every Wisconsinite. Period. We applaud the students at UW-La Crosse for standing up for themselves and setting a great example for others to follow. On the other hand, it’s time for academia to ditch the woke nonsense.”

It should go without saying that the purpose of student groups is not to peddle the university’s progressive agenda but to rally around the members’ own unique interests and beliefs. The university went so far as to attempt to force students to violate their beliefs. Thankfully, the First Amendment rights of this group have been restored.

UW-La Crosse has found itself in lots of hot water lately—from the firing of the chancellor for his involvement in porn to this unfortunate incident with Young America’s Foundation. These realities should be a wake-up call for the school, the Universities of Wisconsin Board of Regents, and for any parents thinking about this school for their college-bound teens.

Record Number of State Capitols Display Nativities, Including Wisconsin

Record Number of State Capitols Display Nativities, Including Wisconsin

Two non-profit organizations have joined forces to assist private citizen groups in organizing a record-breaking number of Nativity scenes on the groundsof state capitols during this Advent season.

According to a press release from the Thomas More Society, 43 state capitols, including Wisconsin’s, will feature Nativity scenes this year. The society is collaborating with the American Nativity Scene committee to facilitate this initiative.

Thomas More Society is offering support to ensure that individuals who wish to sponsor a Nativity scene at their state capitol can do so, as protected by the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Every year, WFA takes our Christmas sign and Nativity to the state Capitol to put on display in the first-floor rotunda. This year, we were the first organization to put our sign and display up on December 1st. The state Christmas tree was up and decorated; and just a couple of hours earlier, the governor had lit the tree that he insists on referring to as a “holiday tree.” During the tree-lighting ceremony, however, high school choirs that had been invited were singing traditional Christmas carols, not just secular Christmas songs.

Over the years, there has been an ongoing battle of the signs, and now a battle of the nativities, with Freedom from Religion Foundation. According to a press release from Freedom from Religion, headquartered in Madison, for 27 years we’ve had a battle of the signs, and for about 11 years we’ve had a battle of the nativities.

Our Christmas sign says, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15. Then in huge letters, the sign says “JESUS,” followed by “Merry Christmas from Wisconsin Family Council.”

Freedom from Religion is apparently now combining their sign and their blasphemous so-called nativity display. Freedom from Religion says that its own display is an “irreverent cutout by artist Jacob Fortin” that “depicts Founders Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington gazing in adoration at a ‘baby’ Bill of Rights while the Statue of Liberty looks on. A sign beside this tongue-in-cheek depiction reads: ‘At this Season of the Winter Solstice, join us in honoring the Bill of Rights, adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, which reminds us that there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent. Keep religion and government separate!’” How’s that for a cheery, truthful Christmas message? 

Our sign and traditional nativity display offer a stark contrast with Jesus as the central word on the sign and the central figure in the Nativity.

A smaller sign accompanies our Nativity. It reads, “Jesus…and she shall bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21),” as you can see in the picture to the right. 

We want every visitor who is in the building this month to see the beautiful Christmas tree as well as the truth of this holy season. We are privileged to receive permission each year to put the sign and Nativity up, and it’s always done with a prayer that God will use them to encourage young and old alike to know that at this time of year, we are worshipping the Creator, not the Creator’s creation, as some do, such as those at Freedom From Religion Foundation.

If you’re in Madison this month, we hope you’ll stop by the state Capitol and take time to go to the first floor to see the displays there. If kids are with you, this is a great opportunity for some worldview and Bible instruction, as well as sharing with them, as their ages allow, that we can install these displays because we have religious freedom in our state and in our nation.

The battle between good and evil, truth and error, will rage until Christ returns and declares time shall be no more and all evil will be eternally banished. Until then, we keep telling the truth of Christmas and of the entire Gospel everywhere we can, every opportunity we have—and Christmas is a perfect time to share the good news—in our state Capitol and everywhere. To echo the glorious Christmas carol, let’s “Go, tell it on the Mountain! That Jesus Christ is born!”


 

WISCONSIN FAMILY ACTION’S STATEMENT ON JUDGE DIANE SCHLIPPER’S RULING ON WISCONSIN’S PRE-ROE ABORTION LAW

MADISON – Yesterday, Dane County District Court Judge Diane Schlipper ruled on the case brought by Wisconsin Attorney Josh Kaul (D) alleging that Wisconsin’s pre-Roe abortion statute, 940.04, is not enforceable. As the judge intimated earlier this year in an initial hearing, she ultimately found that the entirety of the statute applies to feticide, not to consensual abortion. The net effect of her ruling is that abortion, the intentional, consensual killing of an unborn child, is again legal in Wisconsin.

The following statement is attributable to Julaine Appling, Wisconsin Family Action president.

“While this decision is not surprising, it is very disappointing; and we believe it is a wrong interpretation of the pertinent statute. We agree with defendant Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski’s statement that the statute plainly applies to consensual abortion, made very clear by the exception in the statute for the life of the mother. No such exception would be necessary if the statute applied exclusively to feticide, the intentional killing of an unborn child without the woman’s consent. Additionally, the statute is titled “Abortion.” Had the legislature intended the law to apply to feticide, it would have had a different title.

“From June 24, 2022, through earlier this fall when Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin took matters into their own hands and resumed abortions in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s unborn had a much better chance of experiencing life outside the womb than it had when abortion was legal. Now we regress—and the regression comes at a very high price—the death of many of Wisconsin’s future citizens and the toll abortion takes on a woman’s mental and emotional well-being.

“We are pleased to know DA Urmanski intends to appeal this egregious decision.”

Copy available online here.

An Update On Our Offices’ Firebombing Case—Culprit Pleads Guilty

An Update On Our Offices’ Firebombing Case—Culprit Pleads Guilty

Some days are just emblazoned in our memories. One of those days for me is May 8th, 2022, Mother’s Day. I was at church early that morning to help get ready for a ladies’ brunch happening at 9 a.m. At 7:45 or so, I received a call from one of our team members telling me I needed to immediately call the folks who manage our office building because we had had a “break-in.” I quickly dialed building management and was told we’d had more than a break-in. I was told we had been firebombed and had a fire started in our office and that graffiti had been written on two of the building’s outside walls near our office. I immediately left church with another one of our team members, with a quick stop by my home, only to find that the Watertown police were looking for me because the Madison police hadn’t been able to locate me. After verifying who I was, I was told to get to Madison as soon as possible and to call the Madison Police Department en route. I did so. Interestingly, the Madison PD wouldn’t tell me what the graffiti said.

As we drove by the front of the building at the office, I saw the message on one wall: “If abortions aren’t safe, then you aren’t either.” On another wall was what we later learned were anarchist and anti-law enforcement symbols. The reason we were attacked was unmistakable.

We entered the building to an acrid odor and found it came from our office, all the way at the end of the hall—at least 150 feet away. Walking into the office, we found the receptionist area a mess from firefighters who had arrived to put out the fire. Then I saw that my personal office had been the point of the attack. Windows broken, glass everywhere, furniture destroyed, books burned, a segment of wall burned away, disarray everywhere—and horrible air, even to the point of making it hard to breathe. Later I’d learn that the air in my office was not just bad, it was truly toxic and no one should have been in there! Meanwhile, I’d given countless interviews standing or sitting in the middle of the destruction for at least two days!  

Needless to say, such a day is permanently embedded in my memory. That day, FBI agents were in the office, along with an ATF agent, and at least two Madison Police Department officers—one a detective. When they left with physical evidence late that afternoon, they told me work on the case would begin immediately, but it might take several months for anything of significance to happen. That proved to be true. It wasn’t until March of this year, that I was told that an arrest in our case was imminent—thanks to graffiti that had been written on a sidewalk near the state capitol—in a handwriting style that matched the one used on our walls. After several weeks of work, law enforcement recovered a half-eaten burrito left by the suspect and extracted DNA from the refuse. That DNA matched one set of DNA taken from the physical evidence gathered at my office. Shortly thereafter, police arrested Hridindu Sankar Roychowdhury in Boston getting ready to board a plane to Guatemala, using a one-way ticket. 

Seriously! This is the kind of thing you see in an NCIS episode! Mr. Roychowdhury was charged with attempting to cause damage through the use of fire or an explosive device and was eventually extradited to Wisconsin where he was put first in jail and then in a federal prison.

Fast-forward to the Monday before Thanksgiving. The US Attorney’s office handling this case filed a signed Plea Agreement with the Western District Wisconsin Federal Court. Mr. Roychowdhury was scheduled to actually plead guilty before federal Judge William Conley on Friday, December 1, 2023, at 1 p.m. Shortly before 1 p.m., I entered the courtroom and sat down. Shortly after, a sergeant-at-arms told me I’d probably be more comfortable moving to the other side of the gallery. I had sat directly behind where Mr. Roychowdhury would be sitting with his attorneys. I obliged and sat behind the detective handling our case and an FBI agent who had made the arrest. Eventually, the other side filled up with the accused’s friends and family members (interestingly, all wearing masks).

Eventually, Mr. Roychowdhury was escorted in wearing an orange jumpsuit, but in no way restrained. I watched him for a long time. His demeanor throughout the process of the judge asking him a whole series of questions was calm, self-assured, and perhaps a bit smug and arrogant. I don’t know if he recognized me or not, although he looked my way several times. I couldn’t help but wonder how he got caught up in all this radicalization and violence, and I pondered how his life will be different because of this crime.

This 29-year-old from India (now apparently a US citizen) did plead guilty and took responsibility for the crime. The judge told him very clearly the law requires a minimum of five years of incarceration with a maximum of 20and that the judge would ultimately determine his sentence and hand it down on February 14th, 2024. He will get some consideration for accepting responsibility, but the judge cannot give him less than five years. He could also be fined and required to pay restitution for damages. As I’ve said many times, we are not looking for revenge or retribution, just justice under the law.

This arrest and guilty plea is, as far as we know, the first in the nation as it relates to the series of attacks targeting pro-life organizations and churches that happened after the leaked draft of the Dobbs U.S. Supreme Court decision suggested that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned.

It’s taken longer than anyone thought it would to reach this point in the firebombing of our office, but I believe justice is being served at this point, and I trust this will be encouraging to other pro-life organizations and churches that have endured similar attacks.

You, our friends, have prayed for us, financially supported us, and encouraged us as we have walked this very different path. Thank you! The case is still open because we believe there are more suspects yet to be identified and apprehended. So this attack remains very much on our minds as we continue to work with law enforcement. Your prayers and ongoing support are such a blessing and so necessary as we continue, in partnership with you, to show up, stand up, and speak up for LIFE in Wisconsin. We will keep you posted as this story continues! 

More Than A Piece Of Paper

More Than A Piece Of Paper

“It’s just a piece of paper. We love each other and that’s enough.” Ever heard anyone say something like that when explaining why they aren’t married but are living together? Unfortunately, that’s become a pretty common sentiment about marriage.

The truth is marriage is much more than just a piece of paper. As Institute for Family Studies points out in a marriage fact sheet, “[m]arriage is about building a common life together, forming an exclusive emotional, sexual, and spiritual bond, forging a shared financial future, taking care of your spouse in ‘sickness and health,’ and providing a stable and loving home for any children that you have.”

Children get lost all too frequently in the marriage discussion these days. Many couples, if they marry at all, are choosing to not have children, claiming children are too expensive, or don’t fit their lifestyle, or the world is overpopulated, or the world is too bad to bring children into it. Broken families or children born to single women put children at huge risk for all sorts of pathologies. Children adopted into homes with two dads or two moms are always purposefully deprived of either a mother or a father.

All of these reflect that reality that our culture is much more about adult happiness than the well-being of children.

What we know is that what is best for children is to be brought up in the homes of their married dads and moms. This doesn’t mean children brought up in other family structures can’t overcome the odds. Many certainly do, but this does mean that normatively an intact, married-dad-and-mom home is where children are much more likely to thrive, not just survive. And every society depends on the next generation to become well-adjusted, productive adults.

Marriage matters to children. Social science continues to reinforce what God has designed since He instituted marriage and family in the Garden of Eden. What social science finds is that children living with their married dads and moms are more likely to do well in school than their peers in other family structures and actually graduate high school and when they reach adulthood. They are also more likely to have full-time employment and to succeed in their work.

Boys in intact families are more likely to avoid getting in trouble with the law than boys not in these families, and thus, these boys stay out of jail. Girls who are brought up in a home with married mom and dad are less likely to be sexually active than girls in other families and therefore avoid teen pregnancies. Importantly, children living with their married dad and mom avoid poverty, which in itself can result in severe disadvantages.

So how do we change the culture and the mindset of so many? First, Christian families model godly marriages. They talk positively about God’s plan for marriage and about their own marriage. They promote child-bearing and adoption within marriage. Seeing good marriages and families is one of the best ways to ensure the next generation values marriage and wants marriage and children for themselves.

Churches also have an important role to play in creating a marriage culture. Biblical preaching and teaching on the subject is essential, but so is celebrating marriage as God designed it—making much of weddings and anniversaries and births sends a powerful message to everyone that marriage is good and desirable.

Government can help too by making sure no law penalizes marriage, but rather that married couples receive some benefits, reflecting the good they bring to society in general. Additionally, we need to stop making welfare so readily available for single women with children and then removing those funds if they marry. That incentivizes exactly the wrong behavior and actually sets children up for trouble.

Marriage is so much more than a piece of paper. Marriage matters, and it especially matters to children. Wise societies will do everything they can to ensure they are promoting the best interest of children—their future. Once again, it must be said, God’s way is always the best way.

Critical Updates On Recent State Elections And Implications for WI

Critical Updates On Recent State Elections And Implications for WI

While we did not have any elections here in our state last week, several states had some really significant elections. Of prime importance, Ohio voters weighed in on two ballot initiatives. One of the referenda ensconces a right to abortion in the state’s constitution, and the other legalizes recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, both proposals passed.

The abortion proposal passed 56%-44%. The referenda stated that individuals will have the “right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions.” My counterpart in Ohio—my friend Aaron Baehr—who worked hard to defeat the amendment and provided leadership for a pro-life coalition, made some important points about the heartbreaking loss.

The statement from Protect Women Ohio said, in part, “Our hearts are broken tonight not because we lost an election, but because Ohio families, women and children will bear the brunt of this vote. When Michigan voters passed a similar amendment last year, they were sold the lie that parental rights would be unaffected, that late-term abortion would remain illegal, and that women’s health and safety standards would not be touched. But just last week, the Michigan legislature voted to repeal penalties for partial-birth abortions, to eliminate health and safety protections at abortion facilities, and they called parental consent laws ‘unconstitutional.’ They even vowed to come for informed consent laws and 24-hour waiting periods next. We know the same barbaric attacks on parents and children are now coming home to Ohio.”

They went on to say that as pro-lifers, they will not quit—which is encouraging to be sure. But I want to note what this statement points out about Michigan because it is very telling. Voters in Michigan were told one thing about abortion regulations if they passed a “right to abortion” amendment, but yet the pro-abortion advocates are never satisfied. They want abortion any time, for any or no reason—truly abortion on demand. Ohio pro-lifers recognize that this could easily happen in their state with this so-called “right to abortion” now in their constitution.

So how does this relate to Wisconsin? Remember that lawsuit challenging whether our pre-Roe law is enforceable? That lawsuit is still in Dane County Circuit Court—but it will eventually move from that court and go either to the appellate court and then to the state Supreme Court, or the appellate court could send it directly to the state Supreme Court.

Most observers believe one way or another, this case will land at our state Supreme Court, which now leans liberal by a 4-3 margin. And of course, new Justice Janet Protaciewicz made it very clear in her campaign that she supports what she called “reproductive rights” for women—which is a euphemism, and a bad one, for abortion.

When this case gets to our state Supreme Court, it wouldn’t take a great deal of legal maneuvering for our court to create a “right to abortion” in our state constitution. And then, like Michigan, it would not be long before serious challenges will come, probably via the courts, against our abortion regulations, like the 20-week abortion ban, the ultrasound requirement, the 24-hour waiting period, parental permission, and others—all of which are designed to protect women and their unborn children.

As I have said and will continue to say, elections have very real consequences—and sometimes those consequences are literally life and death.

Regardless of what happens with our pre-Roe law here in Wisconsin, WFA and WFC, in full partnership with you, will continue to relentlessly fight for the dignity of every preborn child and advocate for the support of every woman facing a crisis pregnancy. Thank you for all you do to promote a culture of life in our state!

Wisconsin Senate Declares Preborn Babies as “Dependents” for Tax Purposes and Protects Religious Freedom

MADISON – Today the Wisconsin State Senate on a 20-11 vote, passed Senate Bill 344, which not only increases the amount of tax deduction available for a dependent, but also allows a preborn baby in whom a heartbeat has been detected to be claimed as a “dependent” for tax purposes.

Julaine Appling, Wisconsin Family Action president, commented, “We love this bill and have championed it from the beginning. Increasing the dependent tax deduction helps families and recognizing the person of a preborn baby by declaring it as a viable “dependent” is a major pro-life declaration. We applaud the senators who voted for this proposal and thank Senator Romaine Quinn (R-Cameron) for authoring this bill.”

Senate Bill 344 is one bill in the four-bill “Embrace Them Both” package, all authored by Senator Quinn. Senate Bill 343 clearly defines abortion as the intentional killing of an unborn baby, Senate Bill 345 allows for $1,000,000 a year to go to Choose Life Wisconsin, Inc. to be distributed in grants of up to $50,000 to Wisconsin’s amazing pregnancy care centers, and Senate Bill 346 allocates $5,000,000 in a biennium to be distributed by the Department of Children and Families to established adoption agencies, which will then in turn give grants to qualified Wisconsin families seeking to adopt a child in Wisconsin. The Senate has now passed all four of the bills.

In other floor action today, the Senate also passed for first consideration Senate Joint Resolution 54, which would amend our state constitution clearly prohibiting the state or any agency of the state, or any unit or agency of local government from ordering places of worship to close during a declared emergency, including a health emergency. The bill will need to pass in the Assembly this session and then pass again in both houses in the next legislative session.  After that happens, the proposal would be put on a statewide ballot for the people of Wisconsin to vote. The vote today in the Senate was 21-10, along party lines.

“We learned the hard way that government can and will overreach, especially in emergencies, the very times our rights and freedoms should be more respected and protected,” stated Appling. “The vote today was a first step in making sure that government does not usurp our religious freedom clearly declared in our state constitution. We thank Senator Cory Tomczyk (R-Mosinee) for authoring this resolution and the senators who have supported it. Hopefully, the Assembly will soon follow the Senate’s lead and pass this resolution on first consideration.”

Online Copy is available here.

School Choice Is Under Fire In Wisconsin

School Choice Is Under Fire In Wisconsin

For over thirty years, Wisconsin has been at the forefront of educational innovation with its school choice program, providing low-income parents the opportunity to select the best educational environment for their children, which includes both secular and religious private schools.

Our Parental Choice Program began in 1990 with just the City of Milwaukee, but has expanded to include Milwaukee County, and under the Walker administration, a Racine choice program and a statewide choice program were launched. Currently, about 52,000 students are enrolled in private schools using a state-issued voucher.

As of last week, this successful program is facing a challenge in the form of a lawsuit filed by the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC, a leftist group publicly stating it is out to destroy Wisconsin’s choice program. This lawsuit was filed directly to the state Supreme Court and asks the court to shut down the choice program before the 2024-2025 school year. It is disheartening to witness such a baseless, politically motivated attack on a program that has empowered families and improved educational outcomes for tens of thousands of children.

The essence of the lawsuit revolves around the claim that the school choice program diverts funds from public schools, crippling their ability to provide quality education, which is a fundamentally flawed assertion. Currently, statewide public school districts receive, on average, almost $15,000 per student of taxpayer money. Even with the increase in vouchers that the governor signed into law in the new budget, vouchers for K-8 students are just 64% of that amount, while vouchers for high school students are now 81% of the public school per-student cost. What this means is the voucher programs are saving taxpayers money.

Importantly, recent research done by School Choice Wisconsin shows that the choice programs are giving taxpayers a very good return, with voucher students consistently outperforming their public school peers on core subjects such as reading and math, as well as on standardized tests such as the ACT and the state’s Knowledge and Concepts Exam.

This lawsuit fails to acknowledge the diverse needs of Wisconsin’s students. Every child is unique, with individual learning styles, interests, and aspirations. Additionally, families differ in their values. Many families today, especially Christians, are realizing public schools are foisting values on their children that are antithetical to their family values. A one-size-fits-all approach to education simply does not suffice. School choice ensures that parents can tailor their child’s education to match what they want for their children, fostering an environment where students can thrive academically and personally, and also for many, spiritually.

While the lawsuit does not directly raise concerns about the participation of religious schools in Wisconsin’s school choice program, it is important to know that this issue was settled by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1998 in a case that challenged the original Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. The high court determined including religious private schools in the choice program did not violate either the US Constitution’s First Amendment or Wisconsin’s constitution. Subsequent and quite recent US Supreme Court decisions have also upheld the inclusion of religious private schools in such programs.

The bottom line is we have people in our state who despise the choice program; they have tried to discredit it and undo it for years. Now, with our state Supreme Court leaning liberal, they believe the time is right to aggressively use the courts to accomplish their goal. Fortunately, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is ready to fully defend this educational option on behalf of the tens of thousands of students and families who are flourishing because of this program. We call on Christians to pray for the justices and their decision and for the attorneys who will be involved with this high-stakes case.

Wisconsin Family Action Issues Proclamation from Wisconsin Citizens “Rise Up for ALL Wisconsin Youth”

MADISON – In response to Governor Evers’ “Rise Up for LGBTQ+ Youth Day” proclamation issued last week, Wisconsin Family Action (WFA)  is today circulating a proclamation urging all Wisconsin citizens to “Rise Up for ALL Wisconsin Youth.”

The proclamation declares the truth about issues such as allowing biological males to participate in girls’/women’s sports and surgeries and drug protocols on healthy young bodies in an attempt to deal physiologically with gender confusion, an emotional and mental issue.

WFA president Julaine Appling stated, “All of Wisconsin’s youth deserve the opportunity to grow up mentally, physically, and emotionally strong. Governor Evers’ proclamation not only singled out just one group, but it also gave very misleading information that can harm our young people rather than help them. This proclamation that we are releasing today is an affirmation of all Wisconsin young people and calls on citizens, faith leaders, and elected officials to engage actively on these issues that impact the future of our state because they directly impact the next generation.”

In part, the Proclamation says the following:

Whereas so-called “gender transition” for children and youth violates the first duty of medicine: do no harm; and

Whereas medical procedures and life-long dependency on drugs such as cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers used in “gender transitioning” have long-term, irreversible harm thereby dramatically impacting the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of Wisconsin’s youth in both the short and long term; and

Whereas surgery and drugs will not heal a hurting heart; a  2014 study found 62.7% of patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria had at least one co-occurring disorder, and 33% were found to have major depressive disorders, which are linked to suicide ideation”; and

Whereas the best studies indicate 80-95% of children with gender dysphoria will come to identify with and embrace their biological sex; and

The full “Rise Up for ALL Wisconsin Youth” proclamation is available HERE.

PDF of Press Release HERE.

Wisconsin Family Action Joins Pro-Life Organizations To Tell Milwaukee County and Dane County District Attorneys To Do Their Job

MADISON – Today, Wisconsin Family Action participated in a press conference that called on Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to do their job and enforce the law that protects Wisconsin’s future by prohibiting most abortions. The conference, organized by Wisconsin Right to Life, also included Pro-Life Wisconsin.

A week ago yesterday, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, in direct violation of the law, began doing abortions again in their Milwaukee and Madison facilities. While they tried to present legal arguments to support their illegal actions, the main reason they were not worried about being charged with crimes is that Milwaukee DA Chisholm and Dane County DA Ozanne have both been very vocal on this issue since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, stating publicly months ago that they would not bring charges against anyone who performs an abortion.

Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, commented, “The job of a district attorney is to enforce the law, not pick and choose which laws he or she will enforce based on his/her ideological or political beliefs and positions. District Attorneys Chisolm and Ozanne are out of line and are acting outside the boundaries of their office and the state and US constitutions. Today we are telling them to do their job and quit ignoring Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s blatant life-taking law-breaking that’s taking place in their jurisdictions. We call on these DAs to enforce the law immediately.”

To date, no court has ruled Wisconsin’s pre-Roe law that prohibits most abortions is unenforceable, and no legislative action has revoked the law. This law went into effect immediately upon the issuing of the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case that repealed Roe and sent the issue back to the states. Abortion facilities in Wisconsin stopped abortions that day, continuing until Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced earlier this month that on Monday, September 18, they were resuming this procedure in their Milwaukee and Madison facilities.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin also operates an abortion facility in Sheboygan but has not resumed abortions there. Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski has publicly stated that he will do his job and enforce the law in his county.

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Parents Must Prioritize Worldview Development

Parents Must Prioritize Worldview Development

Speaking recently at Family Research Council’s Pray Vote Stand event, researcher George Barna attributed our societal problems to a transition from a biblical worldview to alternative philosophies.

Christian post reports that Barna contends parents err in prioritizing “academic achievement, emotional happiness, and good health” over “worldview development,” and wanting their children to be a “good person” as opposed to being a disciple of Christ. Currently, Barna says, “less than 1 percent of adolescents and teens are on track to have a biblical worldview.” This means our world is in desperate need of true disciples.

Barna notes that a disciple is not simply someone who believes in God, but rather is someone who follows Jesus’ teachings and adheres to His commandments. Doing so requires us to be counter-cultural. A disciple’s life should look radically different from those around him, and will almost certainly involve some level of cultural challenge or even persecution.

It’s not wrong to want children to do well in school, be emotionally and physically healthy, or be a good person. But they should first and foremost be disciples who see the world through the lens of Scripture. Without a biblical worldview, children will ultimately struggle in every area because such a worldview grounds them and prepares them for discerning true from false, good from evil, and right from wrong. This calls for intentional, purposeful parenting.

A crucial part of instilling a biblical worldview in our children, especially in our modern culture, is teaching them what the Bible has to say about the value of life.

For example, Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Similarly, Isaiah 49:1 says, “The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name.” Lastly, the sixth commandment forbids the direct and intentional killing of another person.

God makes it very clear. Christianity and abortion are entirely incompatible. 

Unfortunately, we are now living in a state where innocent lives are once again being taken under the guise of “healthcare.” Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin resumed abortions yesterday in Madison and Milwaukee. The Associated Press reports that appointments at the Milwaukee clinic were completely filled within 24 hours of Planned Parenthood announcing that it would resume abortions, despite the fact that our state’s pre-Roe abortion ban is still in place. (Our press release in response to PPWI’s illegal, life-taking decision is available HERE.)

The good news is that this battle is far from over. Please pray for our judicial system and all those involved. As Christians, we are called to do everything in our power to end abortion in Wisconsin. Doing so will require that we raise up the next generation to be disciples of Christ who see life, from the moment of conception, through a biblical worldview.

Wisconsin Family Action Responds to PPWI Resuming Abortions

Today Planned Parenthood announced that it will resume performing abortions at its Madison and Milwaukee clinics next week despite the fact that Wisconsin’s abortion ban is still in effect. This is devastating news for innocent preborn children and Wisconsin mothers who deserve better than abortion.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin stopped performing abortions following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade over a year ago. The decision reinstated a pre-Roe abortion ban in Wisconsin, permitting the procedure solely in cases where the mother’s life is at risk.

Democrat Attorney General Josh Kaul has contested the abortion ban, but the legal case is still ongoing, and we believe the issue could eventually reach the state Supreme Court.

However, Tanya Atkinson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, falsely asserted that the ban is no longer enforceable, and that “staff can now provide the full scope of sexual and reproductive health care to anyone in Wisconsin who needs it, no matter what.”

Immediately following Planned Parenthood’s announcement, Governor Tony Evers released a statement in support of the decision:

 “Today’s announcement from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin as a result of our lawsuit regarding Wisconsin’s criminal abortion ban means Wisconsinites will once again be able to access vital reproductive healthcare and abortion services without exception for the first time since June of last year,” he said. “This is critically important news for Wisconsin women and patients across our state who, for a year now, have been unable to access the healthcare they need when and where they need it.”

Wisconsin Family Action (WFA) vehemently opposes Planned Parenthood’s decision to illegally resume performing abortions in Wisconsin. Abortion is the intentional killing of an unborn child. It is not healthcare. WFA also strongly condemns Governor Evers decision to support such lawlessness.

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin is prioritizing profit over the rule of law while Governor Evers prioritizes a radical progressive agenda over the right to life and fulfilling his duties as governor.

There is no question that Wisconsin’s pre-Roe abortion ban is still in effect, meaning every innocent preborn life is protected by the law.

Regardless of how all this ultimately plays out, Wisconsin Family Action will continue to fight for the dignity of every preborn child and advocate for the support of every woman facing a crisis pregnancy, while being firmly committed to the rule of law in Wisconsin.

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The Multiplied Power of One Works

The Multiplied Power of One Works

Last spring, the Town of Hayward used an obscure state law to hold its annual meeting without public notice. At the meeting, three resolutions were passed, including a $15 million building project and reorganization of the town board. This came despite the fact that during a 2019 advisory referendum, residents of Hayward expressed their disapproval of a comparable $5 million construction project.

More than 270 residents took initiative to organize and gather signatures with the aim of convening a “special town meeting” to reconsider the resolutions. Residents and town electors have provided three separate written requests, but to date, the town clerk has refused to call the meeting. Citizens also contacted Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), which has now sent the town a letter demanding that they abide by Wisconsin law and hold a public town meeting so residents can weigh in on spending projects.

WILL’s client, Brenda Dettloff, said, “The Town of Hayward is denying citizens open, accountable, and transparent government. Before significant updates to town infrastructure and amenities are made, taxpayers deserve to have their voices heard. Because of that simple fact, hundreds of Hayward citizens, from across the political spectrum, are speaking out as one voice and demanding a true public meeting ‘of the People’ to properly vet the pending resolutions.”

WILL’s letter asks the town to fulfill its legal duty by either confirming that it will provide the public notice of a September 15 town meeting, as requested by the residents, or explain how the town believes their petition was insufficient. “If you refuse to do so by Monday, August 28, 2023, we will petition for a writ of mandamus in circuit court ordering you to do so,” wrote WILL.

This story beautifully demonstrates “the multiplied power of one.” When one person gets involved and reaches out to recruit even just a handful of others who in turn reach out to others, they end up making a huge difference, especially at the local level.

It’s been said that all that’s necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Alert citizens willing to get involved can make a tremendous difference. Holding elected officials accountable is essential and is part of being a good steward of this republic we are blessed to live in. We should each consider how we can use the “multiplied power of one” where we live to make our communities truly good for families!

“Earthquake” Rocks WI

“Earthquake” Rocks WI

On Wednesday, August 1, Wisconsin experienced an earthquake. Did you feel it? No Richter scale picked up its magnitude, but the impact was felt all across the state, from large cities to small towns. While no buildings were toppled, in fact no property damage was done, the destruction began almost immediately with more to come. It’s true that no lives were lost at the time, but the aftershock will no doubt result in loss of human life as well.

The devastating earthquake  happened just as Justice-elect Janet Protaciewicz was sworn in as the newest member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. At that moment, the tectonic plates in our state shifted, as the ideological balance of our high court suddenly went from a slim 4-3 conservative majority to a slim but very significant 4-3 liberal majority.

The new liberal majority lost no time in flexing its muscle and causing the first aftershock. The very day of this human-made disaster, the liberal majority voted to fire the Director of State Courts, Randy Koshnick, who had served with distinction for six years in this important, non-judicial position.

Shortly after Koschnick was fired, the court hired a new interim Director of State Courts. Senate Majority Leader Republican Devin LeMahieu objected, saying that this individual didn’t meet the legal requirements to be appointed to this job. But that didn’t deter the liberal juggernaut in the least.

According to the current Chief Justice, Annette Ziegler, one of the conservatives on the court, the court continued its destructive path by convening a meeting in a way that if not illegal is at least in violation of the court’s self-determined policies and procedures. Some news reports indicated the liberal justices responded pretty much by saying, “too bad. We’re in charge now, and we’ll do what we want, when we want, in the way we want.” Talk about an aftershock!

Legal pipelines were immediately filling up when the ground in Wisconsin shifted on August 1. By Monday, August 7, two lawsuits had already been filed directly with the state Supreme Court, challenging the state legislative district maps that the Wisconsin Supreme Court under a conservative majority had approved in late 2021.

During the campaign in this spring’s election, then Judge Protaciewicz made it very clear what she thinks of the maps in question that gave us the Assembly and Senate districts under which the 2022 midterm elections were conducted. Protaciewicz said they were “unfair” and “rigged.” Used to be that such clear proclamations on an issue sure to come before the court would have been assiduously avoided by a judicial candidate. But the earth in Wisconsin had already begun shifting well before August 1; unfortunately, too many people ignored the signs. Based on what we’ve already seen, I’ll predict the court quickly accepts at least one of the two cases, if not both, and sets a date in the near future for oral arguments.

We care about these maps because they have a great deal to do with who controls our state assembly and state senate. Right now, both houses have solid conservative majorities. But that could change in January 2025, if the maps are redrawn in a way that favors liberals. Imagine Wisconsin with Governor Evers and the liberal majorities in both the Assembly and Senate. Talk about an aftershock!

Democrat Attorney General Josh Kaul wasn’t about to be left out of this opportunity to wreak further havoc as a result of the August 1 quake. Last week, he filed a motion in with the Dane County judge who is handling the case challenging our state’s pre-Roe abortion ban, asking that she expedite her decision. Now, why would he do that with a case that has been lollygagging in the system since late June of 2022? Because he now wants this case before the State supreme court sooner rather than later, knowing that Protaciewicz made it very clear in her campaign that she is pro-abortion. And this is how the loss of life happens as a result of Wisconsin’s August 1 ideological earthquake.

I wish I could tell you no more aftershocks will happen, but that would be dishonest. The rumblings have been happening for some time related to Act 10, school choice, executive authority, religious freedom and more.

Elections have consequences. Sometimes they set the stage for cataclysmic, ideological earthquakes that destroy foundations and result in widespread damage that includes the loss of precious human lives. Maybe now people will actually believe it when we talk about election consequences. We can only hope.

Democrats Take Aim at WI Legislative Maps

Democrats Take Aim at WI Legislative Maps

Last week, Judge Janet Protaciewicz became Justice Protaciewicz when she was sworn in as a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a move that changed the ideological balance of the court from 4-3 conservative to 4-3 liberal. Two lawsuits have already been filed with the state supreme court that challenge the current legislative maps. Democrats are asking the state supreme court to overturn GOP-drawn maps. The court has to formally accept these “direct-action” petitions, which will likely happen soon given the new makeup of the court.

The filing of these lawsuits was anticipated following the addition of Justice Protasiewciz to the court. She emphasized the existing maps, crafted by GOP legislators and implemented by the state supreme court in spring 2022, as a central theme of her campaign, characterizing the maps as “rigged” and unfairly skewed in favor of Republicans.

Democrats argue that the state legislative maps exhibit partisan gerrymandering. As a result, one of the lawsuits calls for all 33 state senators to run according to new districts next year, and the other lawsuit says all state legislators should be compelled to compete in redrawn districts in fall 2024. Both lawsuits, if successful, would mean the half of the state senate who was elected last year and wouldn’t be up for re-election until 2026 would still be forced to run again next fall.

Republican legislative leaders criticized the lawsuits, and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) pledged to protect the existing maps.

“The timing of this lawsuit questions the integrity of the court,” he said“It’s clear that liberal interest groups are coming to collect from Justice Protasiewicz after her campaign broke judicial code to earn their financial support earlier this year.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said the petitions appear to be an “attempt to get the Wisconsin Supreme Court to do what the United States Supreme Court has said judges cannot — decide political issues about redistricting.” Vos is referring to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said federal courts cannot play a role in deciding partisan gerrymandering claims. The 2019 verdict undercut a district court’s decision that had determined the Wisconsin GOP legislators’ drawn boundaries constituted an unconstitutional gerrymander.

Both lawsuits are directed exclusively at the current state legislative maps (Senate and Assembly districts), not the congressional maps, which were accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court at the same time as they rejected the original state legislative maps submitted by Governor Evers. If either of these lawsuits is successful (and in all likelihood if the state supreme court decides to accept both, they will be combined and heard together), and new maps are drawn and ultimately forced upon the legislature, the strong majorities Republicans have in both the Assembly and the Senate would be in jeopardy. This, of course, is exactly what the Democrats want: to eliminate or at least reduce the majorities.

With 2024 being a presidential election year and Wisconsin once again being a targeted state, we can be sure an all-out assault on our state legislature will be waged with massive amounts of money being spent to flip both houses from conservative to liberal majorities. Should that happen while Evers is governor, well, let’s just say it won’t be good for marriage, family, life, religious freedom, or any other freedom.

As we know, elections have consequences. These map challenges are significant; please join us in prayer as these cases and others impacting marriage, family, life, and religious freedom will no doubt soon be filed.

Parent Sues WI School District After Teacher Announces Gender “Transition”

Parent Sues WI School District After Teacher Announces Gender “Transition”

The Daily Wire reports that a Wisconsin school district is facing a lawsuit from a parent who claims that a teacher announced his gender “transition” to students, including those in elementary school, without notifying parents.

On Monday, Leah Buchman, a mother within the Eau Claire Area School District (ECASD), lodged a formal complaint accusing the district of violating open records law and neglecting to inform parents about the teacher’s gender transition announcement.

According to the complaint, on June 5th, all orchestra students at Northstar Middle School were required to meet in the orchestra room along with their orchestra teacher and school counselor, Jacob Puccio, and the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) director, Dang Yang. During this gathering, the middle school students were informed that their orchestra teacher, Mr. Puccio, would be undergoing a “gender transition.”

Further, music students at three elementary schools and one high school in the district were purportedly read a scripted statement regarding the teacher’s gender transition.

According to the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), the statement was curated by ECASD with the intention to “ensure that students received information in a particular way.” Additionally, WILL asserts that parents still remain unaware of the exact contents of what was read to the students and are seeking clarification on the specifics.

Buchman immediately requested a copy of the scripted statement but was denied access to it. An attorney representing the school district stated that the document could not be released at that time due to an ongoing investigation into whether any school employee had acted inappropriately during the June 5th announcement.

Following the school’s refusal to provide the statement, Buchman proceeded to file her lawsuit with the assistance of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL).

“All I am asking is for the school district to provide what was told to my children and their peers in the classroom. As a parent, it’s my responsibility to help my kids understand all that life throws their way, and I do not understand why it has taken the school district so long to update parents,” said Buchman.

“It’s ridiculous for a school district to refuse to produce a statement that was read out loud to dozens of minor students in several district classrooms. What was told to these kids should be readily accessible to parents,” said WILL attorney Cory Brewer.

Other Wisconsin schools have been under fire for undermining parents’ rights in an attempt to indoctrinate students with radical LGBTQ+ ideology. 

The Eau Claire Area School District (ECASD) was sued for hosting gender identity trainings that instruct teachers and school staff on how to hide students’ gender transitions from parents. America First Legal (AFL) and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed the lawsuit on behalf of several parents, arguing that the district’s policies violate their freedom of religion and their parental rights. 

Similarly, last  November a group of Wisconsin parents sued the Kettle Moraine School District (KMSD) for a policy that allows minor students to “transition genders” at school, even despite their parents’ objection.

In a third case, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit in 2020 in Dane County Circuit Court against the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) for its policies that allow children to change their gender identity at school without parental notice or consent. The policy also instructs district staff to hide information about students’ gender identity from parents.

Cases of Wisconsin schools violating parental rights have become far too common– and these are only the instances that have been reported. Hopefully, these lawsuits are successful and send a clear message to Wisconsin schools: teachers have no right to parent students or push a radical agenda without parents’ consent. 

Let’s Talk Leadership!

Let’s Talk Leadership!

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law last Friday banning most abortions after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected, just weeks after the Iowa Supreme Court blocked a similar law. The bill signing took place at The Family Leadership Summit, a gathering of nearly 2,000 faith-based conservatives organized by The Family Leader, a state family policy council in Iowa. The governor told the sold-out crowd, “the most important human rights cause of our time [is] protecting unborn human lives from the atrocity of abortion.”

“All life is precious and worthy of the protection of our laws,” Reynolds added. “Everyone understands that a heartbeat signifies life, and we understand that when it falls silent, something precious has been lost.”

Reynolds also acknowledged with gratitude who was in the audience— pro-life activists, saying, “You have lifted us in prayer, grounded me in God’s Word, and reminded me that He is always in control.”

I was privileged to be at that event and to meet Governor Reynolds. The crowd went crazy in applause for the governor and for the at least 50 pro-life legislators flanked her as she signed this bill. 

One of the other speakers at the Summit was Pastor Alistair Begg who did a session on the importance of having a biblical worldview. As he wrapped up his remarks, he gave three words that he said should characterize leaders: integrity, bravery, and humility. 

From what I can discern about Governor Kim Reynolds, especially after listening to numerous Iowans who actually know her quite well, she epitomizes these characteristics. Because of her, people like me have “governor envy,” as we consider what Wisconsin could be like if we had leaders anywhere in our government who were people of integrity, bravery, and humility. 

These are leaders who do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reason, even if no one is watching— that’s integrity. Such leaders have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do hard things in the face of adversity because doing right is always good and right. 

Leaders in every walk of life who exhibit integrity, bravery, and humility are rare indeed, and the world is starved for them. We are doing all we can to help develop these types of leaders this week during our LEAD Wisconsin teen worldview and leadership camp. 

At LEAD Wisconsin, 125 teens are undergoing biblical worldview training and are having opportunities to develop leadership skills, all while being encouraged in word and example to be people who have integrity and who are brave and humble.

Who knows? Maybe from this week of LEAD Wisconsin will one day come another Kim Reynolds who will lead a state, business, church, or school well for the glory of God and the good of the people they are leading. We work and pray to that end.

Wisconsin Family Action Responds to Dane County Judge’s Ruling on WI’s pre-Roe abortion ban

Wisconsin Family Action Responds to Dane County Court Judge Ruling on Wisconsin’s
Pre-Roe Abortion Ban

MADISON – Today, Dane County Judge Diane Schlipper determined that the court case challenging Wisconsin’s pre-Roe law will continue rather than be dismissed.

Last December, Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski filed a brief asking the court to dismiss this case that Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul filed last year just days after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in its Dobbs decision.

Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling responded to today’s court decision.

“While we are certainly disappointed that the judge did not dismiss this case, we are hardly surprised. We have all along believed those advocating for abortion at basically any time in a pregnancy wanted this case to go to the state Supreme Court—but not until after August 1, when Justice-elect Janet Protaciewicz is seated on the court, changing the ideological balance from 4-3 conservative to 4-3 liberal. When campaigning, Justice-elect Protaciewicz made it abundantly clear that she is pro-abortion.

“Judge Schlipper used some telling language in her decision, saying that the pre-Roe law, Chapter 940.04, doesn’t apply to abortion, but rather only to the practice of feticide. We completely disagree. The title of the section of the state statutes where 940.04 is located is ‘Abortion” and (1) of 940.04 clearly states “intentionally destroys the life of an unborn child.” Feticide is commonly defined as abortion.

For years abortion advocates in our state have been trying to revoke this statute, arguing that when Roe was in effect, that the statute was superfluous. They also knew it would be enforceable in the event that Roe was eventually overturned, which is what motivated their ongoing efforts. The statute bans the killing of an unborn baby unless the mother’s life is endangered.

“Activist judges at all levels of our judicial system will obviously find creative ways to interpret this law. This too is not surprising. We will now watch as this case moves through that system, and pro-life Wisconsin citizens will be watching and listening closely to see who the truly independent, rule-of-law, originalist jurists are in the courts where this lawsuit is being and will be handled.

“Regardless of any decision by any court, Wisconsin Family Action will continue to be as aggressive as possible in defense of the unborn in Wisconsin as well as caring for mothers who are in crisis pregnancies. Both are worthy of and in need of help and compassion.”

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Wisconsin Family Action, Inc. is a statewide organization engaged in strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage, family, life, and religious freedom in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Family Action Responds to SCOTUS Decision Affirming First Amendment

Wisconsin Family Action Responds to SCOTUS Decision Affirming First Amendment
First Amendment Protects All from Government Coercion

MADISON – Last Friday the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a 6-3 decision holding that “The First Amendment prohibits Colorado from forcing a website designer to create expressive designs speaking messages with which the designer disagrees.”

Justice Gorsuch in the majority opinion writes that “The First Amendment’s protections belong to all, not just to speakers whose motives the government finds worthy. The Nation’s answer is tolerance, not coercion. The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.”

The ruling is a major victory for those who do not want government telling them what to say or what messages they must create. That goes for the liberal publisher who does not want to publish a book with conservative views, as well as for the religious website designer who does not want to promote weddings that violate her religious beliefs.

The ruling in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis acknowledges the difference between disagreement and discrimination by distinguishing between serving all people and promoting all messages. Lorie Smith, owner of 303 Creative, happily designs websites for all customers but cannot create messages that run counter to her deeply held beliefs. Her decision is based on the message, not the person. The Court affirms that difference.

Colorado’s law attempted to force Smith to design wedding websites with a message she did not agree with. Alliance Defending Freedom successfully argued the case, and all Americans are now freer for it.

Regardless of what one believes about a certain political or social issue, this ruling protects the right of all Americans to disagree with government, while also upholding a prohibition on discrimination based on the traits of a particular person or group.

Wisconsin Family Action filed an amicus brief along with other state allies urging the Court’s decision in favor of Lorie Smith.

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Wisconsin Family Action, Inc. is a statewide organization engaged in strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage, family, life, and religious freedom in Wisconsin.

 

Wisconsin Family Action Denounces Dane County Resolution

Wisconsin Family Action Denounces Dane County Resolution
“Sanctuary County” status harms rather than helps children

MADISON – Dane County is poised to be the first in the nation to declare itself a “sanctuary county” for “transgender and nonbinary” individuals, including children.

The county board is scheduled to vote on the resolution today. The resolution indicates Dane County is committed “to protect transgender and nonbinary individuals and believes that access to health care is a fundamental right and all people in Dane County and the State of Wisconsin should have access to all health care, including gender affirming care.” (Emphasis added.)

Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, responded to the Dane County proposed resolution.

“Dane County needs to quit trying to turn Wisconsin into California.

Wisconsin Family Action is most disturbed by the inclusion of children in this ‘sanctuary county’ idea.

While the rest of the country (18 states and counting) works to protect children from experimental and dangerous transgender interventions, Dane County is revealing its intention to leave children who identify as transgender with permanent scars—both physical and emotional—all before they are old enough to vote or process whether they want to have children of their own.

What Dane County is really supporting is experimentally halting a child’s natural progression through puberty, sterilizing her with cross-sex hormones, and removing both her breasts before she finishes high school. America and Wisconsin understand this is extreme behavior, and we will stand proudly on the side of protecting children every day.

There are 6400[1] children identifying as transgender in Wisconsin. Dane County is determined to send them all down a one-way road to transition that ends in sterilization, mutilation, and  regret. We will stand in the gap for these kids and fight for their right to grow up whole and receive real help—not the harm of transgender procedures.

This move by Dane County should be a wake-up call to concerned citizens and elected officials. We need legislation to protect these vulnerable children, not a ‘sanctuary county’ that condones such egregious medical practices.

Rather than following Dane County’s ill-conceived idea, Wisconsin’s other 71 counties should pass resolutions that denounce what Dane County is doing and assure citizens that they stand on the side of protecting the bodies and minds of children, ensuring they have the best opportunity to grow up intact. Wisconsin Family Action stands ready to help both the legislature and the 71 other counties protect our children.”

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Wisconsin Family Action, Inc. is a statewide organization engaged in strengthening, preserving, and promoting marriage, family, life, and religious freedom in Wisconsin.

[1] https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/trans-adults-united-states/

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