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Opinion | Protect the sanctity of marriage from government intrusion

Greg Albritton

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By State Sen. Greg Albritton

Like most Alabamians, I believe that God established the institution of marriage for the benefit of mankind. Indeed, His purpose was to begin the human family within His bonds of marriage, as a holy union.

Then government stole marriage, for its own purposes.

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A classic example is Henry VIII, who established his own church in order to achieve the destruction of his marriage. Henry is not the only example of government overreach into marriage. Throughout history, the government has used marriage as a tool to effect its ends, to protect government power, to maintain control of property and estates, and even to keep a “pure” race. In 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage at the federal level with the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

Here in Alabama, the present codification of the marriage process, which came into effect in the 1920s, requires that every couple must receive a state-authorized license to be married. Additionally, that license must be presented to an authorized “minister of the gospel” so a “solemnization” may be accomplished. Afterwards, this form is filed at the local courthouse, which establishes the marriage as recognized by the state.

Obviously, the state is heavily engaged in a religious sacrament of the church. It is no surprise that judges are confused about the line between government activities and church ceremonies. “Ministers of the gospel” may be just as confused when they pronounce a couple husband and wife “by the authority granted by the State of Alabama.”

In the Alabama Senate, I have filed legislation (Senate Bill 13) that clarifies and separates these very different roles by simplifying the procedure. The requirement of a state license is eliminated. No longer does a couple need permission or a license from any government official to marry. However, my bill does not in any way change the definition of marriage: the protections of competency and age and the restrictions against incest, polygamy, and bigamy remain intact. Under SB13, a couple that has married must openly and legally state by an affidavit that they are complying with state’s definition of marriage.

Further, the statutory requirement of a religious ceremony is eliminated. My bill allows ceremonies to take place – but the ceremony is not controlled by the government. This allows people to enter into religious ceremonial marriages, according to the dictates of their faith, without the State of Alabama overseeing the sacrament.

The procedure of recording a marriage remains intact. My bill requires a government form to be recorded in the local probate office, which establishes that the marriage is recognized by the state, just as the present system does.

There have been a number of misunderstandings over what my legislation does. So, let me clarify a few specific things that this bill does not do. Senate Bill 13 does not eliminate marriage as an institution recognized by the State of Alabama or any other government entity. Under my legislation, the new, prepared form states “Marriage Certificate.” Further, my bill does not redefine marriage and does not increase any costs or fees.

Senate Bill 13 opens every county to marriage; no public official can deny a properly-completed form. My proposal continues to restrict marriage to two people who are of legal age, mentally competent, and unrelated, just like now. Most importantly, SB13 allows all persons of faith to practice their religious ceremonies of marriage according to their faith and doctrine and removes the government from a religious sacrament.

My proposal has already passed the State Senate, and I urge the Alabama House of Representatives to approve SB13 and send to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature. Alabama has the opportunity to be the first state in the union to resolve the tensions brought on by the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage, but we must act now.

Senator Greg Albritton represents Senate District 22, which is comprised of all or parts of Choctaw, Clarke, Washington, Monroe, Mobile, Conecuh, Escambia, and Baldwin counties, in the Alabama Senate. You may reach him at [email protected] or at (334) 242-7843.

 

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Opinion | Conservatives must not leave the culture war battle to “summertime soldiers and sunshine patriots”

Will Ainsworth

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There are certain fundamental truths in life that neither the liberal elite nor the left-wing media nor the activists federal courts can change no matter how hard they try.

For example, I know that marriage ordained by God can only occur between a man and a woman.  I know that individuals should use the rest room correlating to the gender they were born with and not the one they pretend to be.  And I know that tearing down all of the historic statues, memorials, and markers in the world will not erase our history – it simply prevents future generations from learning the lessons it offers.

The fact of the matter is that our nation is engaged in a prolonged culture war in which the liberals extremists on the east and west coasts of the United States want to dictate the morals, values, and bedrock beliefs of everyone who lives in-between.

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We must not let them win.

The Declaration of Independence says that our rights are endowed by our Creator and that the freedom for independence is entitled by the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”

I believe the Creator referenced in this revered document is the God to whom we, as Christians,  devote our lives and spirits and the same God the founders worshipped when they held regular prayer and church services in the U.S. House of Representatives chamber, a practice that continued until after the Civil War.

If you agree, as the founders did, that God is the basis of our nation, we need only to look at Genesis to see His original plan for marriage – one man represented by Adam, and one woman represented by Eve.

Marriage is an institution created and ordained by God.  It was not created by man, government, or an activist federal judge.

Every society that has allowed the marriage covenant to be destroyed eventually withered away and vanished.  Our society is slipping away, and it is time to take a stand.

We must also hold the line against those who are working to mainstream crossdressers and transvestites by making accommodations that include allowing them to use the public restrooms of their choice.  Even worse, some school systems across the nation are allowing minors who claim to be “transgender” to shower in facilities reserved for the opposite sex.

Gender is not a choice.  It is a fact that is determined by biology and by God, not by how masculine or feminine you feel when you wake up in the morning.  Dressing like a pirate doesn’t make you a pirate, dressing like an astronaut doesn’t make you an astronaut, and dressing like the opposite sex doesn’t make you a man or a woman.

For that same reason, I fully support President Trump’s ban on allowing “transgender” soldiers to serve in the U.S. armed forces.  The purpose of the military is to protect our national interests, repel attacks on our country, and preserve peace through strength.  Accomplishing these missions becomes infinitely more difficult when military leaders must worry about G.I. Joe demanding to be treated like G.I. Jane.

The culture war has  prompted liberals to reach into our nation’s history and demand the removal of any statue, marker, or relic that offends their delicate sensibilities.  Colleges have painted over murals of our founding fathers and other groups are vandalizing statues relating to Christopher Columbus, Robert E. Lee, and the Buffalo Soldiers, an African-American military regiment that fought against Native Americans who resisted the settlement of the Great Plains.

Demanding that men and women born more than two centuries ago must strictly conform to the accepted traditions and social structures of today is patently unfair and intellectually dishonest.

Because radical liberal elements are working to tear down monuments to our past and erase entire sections of our shared American history, I was proud to join my fellow lawmakers in passing the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, which prevents the removal of any memorial that is at least 40-years-old,.

If conservatives are going to win the culture war, we must elect public officials who are willing to speak the truth, abandon political correctness, and stand toe-to-toe against the liberals who attack us.  I think this column proves I am willing to do all of those things.

The consequences of losing the culture war are too dire to leave the battle to what Thomas Paine called  “summertime soldiers and sunshine patriots.”

If elected your lieutenant governor, I will shoulder the conservative fight and preserve the Alabama values that make our state such a great place to live, work, and raise our children.

State Rep. Will Ainsworth (R – Guntersville) is a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.  Elected to the Legislature in 2014, Ainsworth currently represents Alabama’s House District 27, which includes portions of Marshall, DeKalb, and Blount counties.

 

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Opinion | Senator Rusty Glover: The people’s voice

Rusty Glover

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As a senator, it has been my highest priority to listen to my constituents on a variety of issues which affect their daily lives. These conversations have led me to champion Daylight Saving Time resolutions, to fight every single attempt to raise taxes, to defend the life of the unborn, and to lead the repeal of Common Core standards in education.

Over the past few years, my constituents became a unified chorus when it came to the repeal of Common Core standards in education. Concerns came from frustrated parents and grandparents who did not agree with the confusing methods and procedures in subjects like math and English and worried about their children’s future.

It would have been easier to simply agree with my constituents and move on – but I could not do that. As an educator myself, it became apparent action was needed – and I was determined to take that action and repeal common core.

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I sponsored the bills to end common core in Alabama not once, but twice – senate bill 60in 2016, and senate bill 101 in 2015, and co-sponsored the bill three times prior to that. While backroom deals and compromises killed my attempts to defeat Common Core even before they came to the Senate floor, I continued to fight for the voices of parents and educators.

This is why as Lieutenant Governor, I will not allow backroom politics that shut out the voice of the people who we are sent to represent.

Educators and parents alike agree that the need for high standards remains, but question whether Common Core is the way to solve the problem for our teachers and our students. I do not believe it is.

Tackling issues with the needs of the community at the forefront will allow teachers and parents to work together to meet the needs of children. This is the best way to allow our children to flourish in their future careers.

As Lieutenant Governor I will continue to evaluate the state of education in Alabama – that’s why I believe in having roundtables across the state with every concerned parent, educator, and administrator is fundamental to having better education policy in the Alabama legislature.

Glover is a republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Alabama. As a native of Mobile, Glover has served in the Alabama Legislature for 16 years as a member of Alabama House of Representatives (2002-2006) and Senate (2006-present). Glover is a graduate of B.C. Rain High School, Faulkner State Community College and the University of South Alabama. He retired after 25 years of teaching from Mary G. Montgomery High School in Semmes, where he lives with his wife, Connie. Together they have two daughters, Kellie and Katie; a son-in-law, John McGraw; and a new grandson, Beau Monroe McGraw. He is a member of Wilmer Baptist Church in Wilmer, AL. Visit rustyglover.com to learn more.

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Opinion | House passes VA bill, funds Choice Program

Martha Roby

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The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed S. 2372, the VA MISSION Act, taking another critical step towards fulfilling our promise to make the Department of Veterans Affairs work for the men and women who have selflessly served our great nation. I was proud to support the legislation, and I am very pleased that it addresses a number of important pieces of the large VA puzzle.

First and foremost, the VA MISSION Act extends and makes permanent funding for the VA Choice Program that many veterans depend on to receive care. You may have heard that Choice funding was set to expire at the end of May, and this bill prevents that from happening. In both densely populated and rural states alike, it can be very challenging for the VA medical centers to properly care for all veterans in a timely fashion, particularly when specialists are required. The Choice Program is an attempt to bridge this gap by allowing veterans to access private-sector care at VA expense if they have to wait longer than 30 days for a VA appointment or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA health care facility. It has been recorded that 550,000 veterans have used Choice so far this year, and in 2017, 14,790 Alabamians enrolled. Therefore, I am extremely glad that the House has taken action to ensure that this important program is funded.

Secondly, the VA MISSION Act expands the VA’s Post-9/11 Caregiver Program to include veterans of all eras. Currently, only caregivers of veterans from the post-9/11 era are eligible for monthly stipends through the VA, and I believe expanding this program to caregivers of veterans from all eras will help ensure that more veterans receive the help they need.

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Finally, officials at the VA have said that their current physical footprint includes “hundreds of outdated or obsolete facilities,” and many of these facilities are often not in close proximity to large veteran populations. This is a gross waste and misuse of precious resources. Congressman Phil Roe, the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and author of the VA MISSION Act, said he believes a process free from bureaucratic politics is needed “to fix the massive and misaligned footprint” of the VA. The bill directs President Trump to establish a team to review the current VA operations across the country and make recommendations about ways we can modernize, improve, and streamline facilities and the services they provide. We can do better than this for our veterans, and I believe we will.

Before the House voted on the bill, 38 veterans groups issued a letter of support for the legislation and called it “a major step towards making improvements to and investments in the VA health care system… so that veterans have access to care when and where they need it.” I agree, and I believe this bill will improve the lives of veterans. Fortunately, I believe the Senate will act quickly on this important piece of legislation, and the President has suggested he will waste no time signing it into law.

You know as well as I do there’s no “quick fix” for the problems plaguing the VA – of course, I wish there was. Nonetheless, I will continue to support commonsense measures like the VA MISSION Act to deliver positive change for veterans. I have heard from countless veterans in Alabama’s Second District about the continued need for VA changes to improve the care they receive. We owe the men and women who have served our country the absolute best care possible, and I won’t stop fighting to achieve this. I hope we will soon see the VA MISSION Act signed into law.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

 

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Opinion | Protect the sanctity of marriage from government intrusion

by Greg Albritton Read Time: 3 min
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