Legislation Update – Week of August 16

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In both the House and Senate, the halls are eerily quiet as Congress is now in full-blown recess mode.The House is still scheduled to be out of session until September 14, 2010, while the Senate is slated to return September 13.

Dont Ask Dont Tell:

The debate over homosexuals serving openly in the military is still being waged around the country, and we received word this week that the Department of Defense has issued surveys to military spouses regarding a possible repeal of the 1993 law banning open service.

On August 5, just after the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan, Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) asked the Senate for unanimous consent to proceed to the Defense Authorization bill (which includes repealing the ban on homosexuals serving in the military and repealing the ban on abortions at military installations in the U.S. and overseas) when the Senate reconvened in September.Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) immediately objected to moving the social agenda forward on a bill intended to ensure our nations security.Click here to watch the exchange between Senators McCain and Levin.

International Violence Against Women Act

The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) is another example of a bill that sounds pleasing but would inflict harmful consequences on society if enacted.IVAWA is presented as legislation to protect women from violence, which CWA naturally supports, but it also includes measures to enable women to easily access abortions and is being pushed by radical feminist groups in the name of reproductive freedom.Unlimited abortion is the sort of typical left-wing violence against women to which decent people object and so CWA is compelled to oppose the bill.

IVAWA, otherwise known as S. 2982, is sponsored by Senators John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Barbara Boxer (D-California), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who do not exactly have the best record on pro-family issues.Thus, it is no surprise that IVAWA would directly support the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite its financial support of countries like China who encourage violence against women in the form of forced abortion and sterilization.The bill also disguises the radical feminist agenda, claiming that it protects womens rights, while it pushes for the ratification of extreme treaties like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).CEDAW has been used to pressure countries into imposing abortion policies even if it violates their moral beliefs or traditions.

IVAWA would also create a new office for Womens Global Issues that would carry out the Obama administrations agenda to overturn pro-life laws overseas and make abortion a staple within reproductive health initiatives.Moreover, IVAWA fails to include a ban on funding violence against women in the form of prostitution and sex trafficking.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on IVAWA on August 4, but it postponed the meeting until senators return from recess in mid-September.


On August 13, 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the abortion drug known as Ella as an emergency contraceptive.CWA volunteers and national staff spent many hours before recess in meeting with congressional offices to express concerns about the drug and to ask members of the House of Representatives to sign on to a letter circulated by Representative Joe Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) calling on the FDA to undertake further research on the harmful effects of Ella.

CWA Legislation Department staff continues to meet with House offices during the recess to talk with them about the dangers of Ella being labeled as an emergency contraceptive instead of an abortion drug.For instance, being labeled as contraception ensures that Ella will be eligible for major federal funding under Title X appropriations. Furthermore, although the drug must currently be obtained with a prescription, it might eventually be available over-the-counter, as we saw with Plan B (the morning-after pill).

Internet Gambling

In late July, the House Financial Services Committee marked up and voted on H.R. 2267, the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act.This bill, as we have reported, would usher in the largest expansion of gambling in American history, a policy that would inflict major social damage on American families.

Sadly, the House Financial Services Committee passed the legislation with a vote of 41-22.Republicans such as Ranking Member Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) spoke out on the concerns of legalizing such a harmful activity and making it easily accessible to minors.CWA sent a letter to the Hill this week thanking Rep. Bachus especially, as he spoke up several times during the hearing and voiced the concerns CWA and pro-family organizations share with him about the legislation.

There are rumors that the Ways and Means Committee will consider Representative Jim McDermotts (D-Washington) bill when they return in September.Rep. McDermotts bill would impose a two percent license fee on online gambling operators and a 0.25 percent tax on online wagers. This legislation will likely be paired on the floor with Rep. Franks (D-Massachusetts) bill that passed in July.

Roadside Crosses Ruled Unconstitutional

On August 19, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled that roadside memorial crosses to fallen Utah state troopers are unconstitutional. The 10th Circuit reversed the district court ruling from the case of American Atheists v. Davenport that upheld the legality of memorial crosses.

The Court of Appeals found that the atheists who sued had legitimate standing because they had direct personal and unwelcome contact with the crosses.The judges maintained that the Establishment Clause mandate[s] governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and non-religion.

CWA is appalled that a U.S. Court of Appeals would disallow memorial crosses, an American symbol of appreciation and honor, based on frivolous complaints.Its yet another way activist judges restrict religious liberty for Christians.

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