For those who may not know, the primary goal of the Montana Family Foundation is to affect public policy in a positive way from a Judeo Christian perspective. We do it primarily through research, education, and our involvement in court cases and the legislative process. It’s our passion and we’ve been at it for nearly 15 years, long enough in fact to play a major role in the culture war that has defined much of the past two decades. With that in mind, I’ll take the next two broadcasts to look back at last year and forward to 2016. What did we accomplish? What battles did we lose? And what do we have to look forward to in the next 12 months?
Our main focus for 2015 was the 64th session of the Montana Legislature. It was our chance to influence legislation, both good and bad, that will affect the lives of regular people for years to come. Top of our list are bill dealing with life, marriage, religious freedom, and school choice. We believe that the family is the basic unit of society and should be reinforced – not redefined, as is the goal of many on the left. Job one in any session is to kill the bad bills and as always there were plenty of them. Bills to redefine marriage and to add sexual orientation as a protected class under Montana Human Rights Law were two of the worst. These are the types of laws that have been used to foment religious persecution in other states. Happily, both went down in flames. Unfortunately marriage was redefined by the U.S. Supreme Court and we’ll be dealing with the fallout from that for years to come.
On the plus side we argued in favor of bills that would have protected religious freedom, created public charter schools, mandated that all health insurance companies offer at least one policy that doesn’t cover abortions, banned abortions by video conference (better known as skype abortions) and finally a bill that would have required the use of anesthesia for any fetal surgery including surgical abortion. Although most of these passed the House and Senate, they were vetoed by Governor Bullock.
In the end we did pass two great bills; one, to increase the penalties for assaulting a pregnant woman and another to allow tax credits for scholarships to private schools including private religious schools. In all it was a successful session.
In a republic such as ours – you never get everything you want, but we won more of them than we lost. Another big win was the decision by the Montana Supreme Court to allow parental consent for a minor to get an abortion to proceed to a full trial. Planned Parenthood’s Lawyers tried to kill the voter passed initiative using procedural gimmicks. But Attorney General Tim Fox and his team prevailed in the end. The Montana Family Foundation led the effort to pass the original law and we filed an amicus brief in the court case, 71% of Montanan’s felt this law was necessary and we’re looking for a victory as this case moves forward.
Another big win came on election night when those pushing a so called sexual identity non-discrimination ordinance or NDO, suffered a humiliating defeat in Billings. Of the five pro-NDO candidates who were running, four of them lost and the fifth race was extremely close. Any chance of an NDO passing is now dead in Billings for the foreseeable future.
The big takeaway for this past year was the fact that we can win as long as we stay engaged. And for the sake of our children and grandchildren we promise to stay in the battle.