Ben Johnson

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Obama’s abortion, marriage views inspire dozens of Democratic politicians to join the GOP

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI, May 31, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) –  Five months ahead of the presidential election, the Democratic Party is already losing seats to Republicans, as a growing number of elected officials are changing parties over issues like the right to life, the definition of marriage, and the Obama administration’s mandate that religious institutions cover abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans.

Wednesday afternoon, seven local office-holders from three Mississippi counties announced they had voted with their feet.

Each official had different reasons, but Leake County Sheriff Greg Waggoner “specifically said when [Obama] came out in favor of gay ‘marriage,’ that was the last straw,” Brett Kittredge, communications director of the Mississippi Republican Party, told LifeSiteNews.com.

“I’m a Christian, and my first allegiance is to Jesus Christ,” Sheriff Waggoner said. “God established marriage, and He established it between a man and a woman. Those are my beliefs. The Republican Party reflects my beliefs.”

His concerns echoed those of Pennsylvania Democrat-turned-Republican Jo Ann Nardelli. A lifelong Democrat, Nardelli has been active as a pro-life Democrat at the state and local level. As Matthew Archbold wrote, “She met with Hillary Clinton, gave a rosary to Joe Biden, and appeared on the cover of U.S. News and World Report going to Church with then Senate candidate Bob Casey Jr.”

But after seeing Vice President Joe Biden, who is Roman Catholic, endorse same-sex “marriage,” she said she could no longer stand by the party. “I talked to our priest,” she said. Soon she penned a resignation letter citing the party’s conflict with Catholic teaching.

“Due to personal matters and faith beliefs at this time, it is only fair to resign,” she wrote. “It is time to move forward with my life in a direction that is more in line with my faith.” At a press conference, she endorsed Mitt Romney, then switched parties.

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State and local officials are not only ones to defect from an increasingly left-wing party. Former Alabama Congressman Artur Davis, an early Obama supporter who ran for governor in 2010, hinted on Tuesday that he may run for office in his new home state of Virginia. “If I were to run, it would be as a Republican,” he wrote.

“[F]aith institutions should not be compelled to violate their teachings because faith is a freedom, too,” he wrote on his blog, which he refers to as “free opposition research.”

He jabbed the administration for plunging “headfirst into a fight over contraception and Catholic hospitals” in February. “The Ninth Circuit’s ruling on gay marriage prefigures a Supreme Court ruling on the issue…a brief against big government has to also address the overreach of Washington’s pronouncing church doctrine dead.”

A Democrat who voted against the president’s health care reform, Davis said he still thinks the bill “goes further than we need and costs more than we can bear.” Entitlement reform and fiscal discipline play a role in his change of party.

Davis, who is black, also chafed at the president’s “bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured.” He has said he “despises identity politics” and calls Affirmative Action “a racial spoils system.”

That multi-pronged objection shows that many Democrats do not object to Obama but to liberalism, a problem that often sinks down to the state and local party level.

In April, Rick Murphrey, the mayor of Kings Mountain in North Carolina and a lifelong Democrat, changed party registration to the GOP based in part on the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.” Governor Bev Perdue, a Democrat, opposed Amendment One. Murphrey said that “is one of the things” he and his wife “evaluated in our decision.”

“We believe in the marriage of one man and one woman,” Murphrey said. “That is something we believe in strongly.” 

New party members sometimes become active leaders in the pro-life cause. Georgia State Representative Doug McKillip of Athens – who accepted a $500 donation from Planned Parenthood in 2006 as a Democrat – introduced a bill to limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy earlier this year.

McKillip credits his faith with his party change. “I became a Christian in ’09,” he said. “You start reading the Bible, and you realize life begins at conception.”

In March, Texas State Representative J.M. Lozano said he was tired of being “bullied” by Democrats. Like his constituents in Jim Wells County, he cherished “pro-life, pro-business” sentiments in “my heart and my soul.”

Lozano, McKillip, Waggoner, and others join a growing exodus of centrist or right-leaning former Democrats. Two dozen state officials changed registration from Democrat to Republican in the first three months after the 2010 midterm elections.

Kittrege estimates that more than 50 Democrats in Mississippi have joined the Republican Party since January 2009. 

“They cannot be affiliated any longer with the Democratic Party because of the Obama administration, and all the leaders of the Democratic Party – Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, on down the line,” Kittredge told LifeSiteNews.com.

“There is no center-right in the Democratic Party,” Davis explained to Fox host Neil Cavuto. “There is in the Republican Party.”

In response, some Democrats are asking for a less liberal abortion plank in the 2012 Democratic Party platform. Former President Jimmy Carter has publicly stated party leaders should “limit [abortion] only to women whose life are in danger or who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.” Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, promises pro-lifers will lead a public witness at the convention.

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told LifeSiteNews.com that abortion “is killing the Democrats in the South. Jimmy understands this. He understands the reason they lost the South is not the civil rights movement; it’s the abortion movement.”

Increasingly, it is also the marriage redefinition movement. Yet four former party chairmen and 11 state parties have called for the Democratic Party to include support for same-sex “marriage” in the party platform this summer during their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

The ongoing defections show many are giving up on efforts to carve out a pro-life, pro-marriage niche in the party of Jefferson and Jackson. “I thought I could make a difference to change our party,” Nardelli said. “It didn’t work.”

“The national Democratic Party, and to a certain extent the Mississippi Democratic Party, has made it easier for us,” Kittredge told LifeSiteNews. “They almost do the work for us.”

 

 


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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