New Yorker Cover Shows Bert and Ernie Celebrating SCOTUS Gay Marriage Rulings

The New Yorker magazine has revealed the controversial cover of its upcoming issue on two groundbreaking rulings favoring same-sex marriage made by the Supreme Court this week. The cover image is controversial because it portrays an intimate moment between popular “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie, who have been dogged for years with suggestions that the two male puppets were much more than just roommates and buddies.

In a post on its website Friday, The New Yorker shared the July 8 & 15, 2013, cover image with a headline reading “Cover Story: Bert and Ernie’s ‘Moment of Joy.” The venerable NYC publication explained that the unsolicited artwork was submitted to a Tumblr account by Jack Hunter.

“It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime,” The New Yorker quoted Hunter as saying. “This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.”

Tim Wildmon, president of the conservative American Family Association, wholeheartedly disagrees.

“It is beneath contempt for a magazine of The New Yorker’s stature to use Bert and Ernie, characters from a children’s program, to celebrate behavior which is immoral, unnatural and unhealthy,” Wildmon said in a statement emailed Friday to The Christian Post.

Wildmon called Hunter “dead wrong” for saying the Supreme Court marriage rulings “great for our kids” and “a moment we can all celebrate.”

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“This is a tragic day for kids who will wind up in same-sex households,” added the AFA president, who went on to reference a controversial and highly-criticized study by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, that looked at the lives of adults raised by gay and lesbian parents.

Wildmon added, “The Bible has had it right from the beginning: marriage is between a man and a woman, and it’s the optimal nurturing environment for children. The New Yorker magazine ought to be ashamed of itself.”

Among the handful of comments in response to The New Yorker’s “Moment of Joy” cover was a suggestion that the publication made an “inappropriate” decision by choosing to use Hunter’s Bert and Ernie image.

“Why is this inappropriate? Because CTW (the Children’s Television Workshop) has taken the effort to comment that Bert and Ernie, although quite eloquent, are muppets. They have no gender and are thus not gay,” the commenter wrote. “So much for an intellectual approach from The New Yorker.”

The comment was rebuffed, however, by another reader who suggested that one simply had to consider the popular puppets’ “gender” to get the point.

Another visitor to The New Yorker’s website, put off by the “troll fest” the image was attracting in the comments section, remarked, “The sexuality of Bert and Ernie has been a punchline for decades, in case you haven’t been paying attention, and what the cover does, in a masterful way, is reference that in the context of a historic ruling by the Supreme Court. End of story. Everything else is bluster and bombast.”

In 2011, when an online petition called for Bert and Ernie to get married to help teach children about “the tolerance of those that are different,” Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization that produces “Sesame Street,” attempted to set the record straight on the puppet’s sexuality.

“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves,” Sesame Workshop said at the time in a statement shared with The Christian Post. “Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

The Christian Post’s request to the Sesame Workshop for a comment on The New Yorker cover image was not met by press time. The popular children’s television program has been broadcast for more than 40 years.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 twice in two cases touching on the institution of marriage, with the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 amendment directly affected.

With regard to the Defense of Marriage Act (United States v. Windsor), signed into law in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton, the justices found it unconstitutional for marriage to be defined in heterosexual terms when dealing with federal laws and programs. California’s Proposition 8 voter-approved amendment defining marriage in traditional terms was suspended after a 2010 ruling by a lower court found the law unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s refusal this week to rule on a challenge to the case (Hollingsworth v. Perry) effectively leaves the lower court’s decision in place, and leaves room for California to resume performing same-sex marriages.

Court: Hobby Lobby Doesn’t Have to Pay Fines While it Challenges HHS Mandate

A court ruling today says Christian-run business Hobby Lobby does not have to pay fines under the HHS mandate while its legal challenges continue.

From a report on the decision: http://newsok.com/article/3856764

A federal appeals court in Denver has reversed a lower court’s decision to deny Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.’s quest for an injunction against part of the Affordable Care Act that requires it to cover the cost of emergency contraceptives for some of its employees.

In a 168-page ruling issued Thursday, the appellate court sent Hobby Lobby case back to a lower court for further review. The panel of nine appellate court judges who heard arguments in the case in May ruled unanimously that Hobby Lobby and its affiliated Christian bookstore chain Mardel have the right to sue over the Affordable Care Act. The ruling is a blow to the federal government’s argument that as for-profit corporations, the companies cannot claim that the health care law is a violation of constitutionally protected religious freedoms. Five of the nine judges found that Hobby Lobby meets at least part of the legal standard to receive a temporary injunction against the health care law while its lawsuit is ongoing. The other four judges said the company fully meets the legal standard and that the appellate court should order the lower court to grant the company an injunction.

Hobby Lobby could have paid as much as $1.3 million each day in fines for refusing to pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs under the mandate.

In December, a two-judge panel of the 10th Circuit denied Hobby Lobby’s request to temporarily stop enforcement of the abortion pill mandate. Now, nine 10th Circuit judges will hear Hobby Lobby’s case. Arguments are expected to take place this Spring.

The mandate would force the Christian-owned-and-operated company to provide the “morning-after pill” and “week-after pill” in its health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to $1.3 million per day.

“The Green family is disappointed with this ruling,” said Duncan. “They simply asked for a temporary halt to the mandate while their appeal goes forward, and now they must seek relief from the United States Supreme Court. The Greens will continue to make their case on appeal that this unconstitutional mandate infringes their right to earn a living while remaining true to their faith.”

Previously, the 10th Circuit judges denied the motion calling the religious burden to the Green family “indirect and attenuated.”

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton issued a ruling rejecting Hobby Lobby’s request to block the mandate. Judge Heaton said that the company doesn’t qualify for an exemption because it is not a church or religious group.

“Plaintiffs have not cited, and the court has not found, any case concluding that secular, for-profit corporations such as Hobby Lobby and Mardel have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion,” the ruling said.

Heaton wrote that “the court is not unsympathetic” to the company’s desire to not pay for abortion-causing drugs but he said the Obamacare law “results in concerns and issues not previously confronted by companies or their owners.”

The appeals brief reads in part: “[I]n less than six weeks, [the Green family] must either violate their faith by covering abortion-causing drugs, or be exposed to severe penalties—including fines of up to $1.3 million per day, annual penalties of about $26 million and exposure to private suits.”

“The district court accepted that the Green family engages in a religious exercise by refusing to cover abortion-causing drugs in their self-funded health plan. There was thus no question that the Green family engages in ‘religious exercise,’” it adds. “[T]he Supreme Court has long rejected any distinction between “direct” and “indirect” burdens in evaluating whether regulations infringe religious exercise.”

Duncan said the judge’s decision did not question that the Green family has sincere religious beliefs forbidding them from providing abortion-causing drugs. The court ruled, however, that those beliefs were only “indirectly” burdened by the mandate’s requirement that [Hobby Lobby] provide free coverage for specific, abortion-inducing drugs in [the company’s] self-funded insurance plan.

The Beckett Fund says there are 52 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate, which is a regulation under the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). The pro-life legal group, along with Hobby Lobby represents: Wheaton College, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Belmont Abbey College, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network and Ave Maria University.

The mandate has engendered strong opposition from pro-life groups and Catholic and evangelical Christian companies that do not want to be compelled to pay for drugs for employees that may cause abortions.

The most recent polling data from December 2012 shows Americans support a religious exemption to the mandate.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Calls Special Session for Late-Term Abortion Ban

Texas Governor Rick Perry has issued a call for a special session of the Texas legislature to pass a bill that would ban late-term abortions and hold abortion facilities accountable.

Perry also put other political issues in the special session, which is set to begin July 1.

“I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas. Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state,” Perry said. “Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do.”

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst thanked Perry and said in a statement: “I congratulate Gov. Perry for his decision to call a second special session to address the issues derailed by the actions of an angry mob in the closing moments of the first. Texas is unlike any other state because our leaders are willing to stand up in the face of pressure from Washington and special interest groups in the pursuit of freedom. I look forward to seeing the members of the Legislature on July 1st as we once again take up our charge to advocate for all of Texas and put the finishing touches on one of the most successful sessions in decades.”

On Tuesday night, after a long and confusing night filled with a filibuster and a pro-abortion mob that made it difficult for lawmakers to debate and vote, the Texas state Senate appeared to pass a ban on late-term abortions 19-12. Later, lawmakers came back and said the vote had not officially been taken before the midnight deadline for the special session.

BREAKING: Texas lt. gov. reverses himself, declares vote on tough abortion bill came too late to pass.

The Texas Observer has more on the status of the measure and what took place overnight:

In the end, after the 13-hour filibuster and all the wrangling over rules, Wendy Davis and her fellow Texas Democrats could do only so much. In the end, it was the citizens in the gallery who made the difference late Tuesday night. With the Texas Senate poised to approve one the harshest anti-abortion laws in the country—just 15 minutes before the midnight deadline—and Senate Democrats apparently out of maneuvers, the crowd took over.

Thousands of orange-clad abortion-rights activists who packed the Texas Capitol all day began roaring louder and louder until they literally shouted down the final minutes of the 30-day special session before Republicans could pass the bill. What followed was three hours of confusion during which no one was sure if the bill actually passed. Republican senators were running around claiming the bill had passed before a midnight deadline, but many observers who watched the debate live didn’t see it that way. The initial time stamp on the Capitol website and on Senate documents placed the vote at 12:02 or 12:03 on June 26. But then someone mysteriously changed the time stamp to make it appear SB 5 passed before the deadline (see the post below for photographic evidence).

The time stamp evidence, circulated on Twitter, eventually forced GOP leaders to admit defeat, at least for tonight. Just after 3 a.m., the Senate finally reconvened following a lengthy private meeting. Dewhurst conceded from the dais that SB 5 hadn’t passed before the deadline and was, in fact, dead. He then walked over to the press table to meet with reporters. “This is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “An unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics has tried all day to derail legislation that has been intended to protect the lives and the safety of women and babies. … I’m very frustrated… I didn’t lose control of what we were doing. We had an unruly mob of hundreds, if not thousands, of people in here, and we couldn’t communicate with our members.”

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks and hold abortion clinics accountable by making them meet basic health and safety standards that have closed facilities in other states that are unable to comply. Senate Bill 5 also requires all abortion clinics to meet the same health and safety regulations as an ambulatory surgical center, requires a doctor providing abortions to secure admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and lastly, requires a doctor to personally administer the abortion-inducing drugs to the patient.

Shortly after the vote Republican state senator Bob Duell wasd one of many who thought the bill had been approved, and tweeted:

Supreme Court Strikes Down Key Provision in Defense of Marriage Act

The Supreme Court struck down on Wednesday a key provision in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied benefits to legally married gay couples.

With a narrow vote of 5-4, married gay couples will now be able to receive the same tax, health and retirement benefits that are available to married heterosexual couples.

Reuters reported that hundreds of gay marriage supporters had gathered outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday, many of whom had waited for hours to hear the long-awaited decisions on DOMA and Proposition 8, a voter-approved amendment in California that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

In March, the Supreme Court heard arguments on California’s Proposition 8, Hollingsworth v. Perry case, before reviewing the federal Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor, but decided to hold off on a decision until June.

United States v. Windsor, which concerns DOMA, involves Edith Windsor of New York, who married her female partner in Canada, who later passed away in 2009. When Windsor inherited the property, DOMA prevented her from being seen as the lawful surviving spouse, and thus she faced a tax bill of close to $360,000 – something which would not have been the case if the government recognized same-sex marriage as equal with marriage between a man and a woman.

While most U.S. states uphold the traditional definition of marriage, same-sex couples are now allowed to get married in 12 U.S. states, as well as Washington, D.C.

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A number of prominent political leaders have called for DOMA to be struck down, including President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA back in 1996. Obama has said that if he could, he’d strike down all bans on same-sex marriage.

Clinton, on the other hand, explained that circumstances of the time led him to sign DOMA. In March, the former president said that now times have changed, and he described the law as “unconstitutional.”

“Among other things, these couples cannot file their taxes jointly, take unpaid leave to care for a sick or injured spouse or receive equal family health and pension benefits as federal civilian employees,” Clinton said of same-sex couples. “Yet they pay taxes, contribute to their communities and, like all couples, aspire to live in committed, loving relationships, recognized and respected by our laws.”

Most Christians, however, oppose the redefinition of marriage, insisting that it is a union solely between a man and a woman.

Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, a movement of Christians from various denominations with traditional values working to preserve the sanctity of life, marriage and religious liberty, said earlier this week that regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, conservative Christians need to continue fighting for the culture of marriage and family.

“It took generations to erode marriage and family, with disastrous consequences. Restoration may take just as long,” Teetsel said. “No matter this week’s rulings, we will rededicate ourselves to renewing in American culture the profound beauty, mystery and holiness of faithful marriage. We will be patient in the light of any setbacks. And, in the end, we will succeed – if we do not give up.”

Earlier in June, a New York Times/CBS News of 1,022 Americans found that the majority feel the federal government should allow states to continue dealing with marriage on their own. Sixty percent of those who responded to the poll said that it should be the states’ prerogative, while only 33 percent said the federal government should have the right to define marriage.

The same poll found that 51 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing gay marriage, while 44 percent oppose it.

Supreme Court This Week: Delays Affirmative-Action, Accepts Abortion Protest Cases; Gay Marriage Decision Later This Week

On the first day of the U.S. Supreme Court’s final week of its current term, it sent an affirmative action case to a lower court and decided to take a case involving abortion protestors in its next term. The decisions in two cases involving gay marriage and a Voting Rights Act case will be announced later this week.

Affirmative Action

The Court did not decide if The University of Texas at Austin could use race as a factor in deciding which students could be admitted. Instead, the case, Fischer vs. University of Texas at Austin, was sent back to a lower court for further review.

The Court implied that diversity was a worthy goal for a university, but said that the university must use the least restrictive means possible, or be “narrowly tailored,” to achieve that goal. Since the lower court did not apply this standard, the ruling orders the lower court to review its decision in the case.

“The reviewing court must ultimately be satisfied that no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the only dissenter in the 7-1 decision, arguing that the lower court’s decision upholding race-based admissions policies was correct. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion arguing that he would rule the policy unconstitutional.

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The decision leaves open the possibility that the Supreme Court will take another look at the constitutionality of affirmative action in the future.

Abortion Protestors

The Court also decided Monday to hear a case in its next term regarding abortion protestors. The case involves a Massachusetts law that creates a “buffer zone” requiring that abortion protestors maintain a certain distance from an abortion clinic.

A lower court upheld the law in McCullen vs. Coakley. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal from a pro-life group.

Gay Marriage

The Court has yet to announce its decision in the two highly anticipated gay marriage cases. Court watchers expect the announcement to come on the court’s final day, which is expected to be either Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of this week.

Hollingsworth vs. Perry looks at whether California’s amendment to its state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

U.S. vs. Windsor challenges the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that says marriage will be defined as the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law.

Voting Rights Act

In another highly anticipated case, the Supreme Court is also yet to decide a case involving the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. The court may decide whether it is appropriate for the law to still place stricter requirements upon the Southern states than are placed upon the rest of the states.

PENNSYLVANIA PASTORS NETWORK: PULPIT SUNDAY SERMON FOR JUNE 30, 2013

THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE TEXT: JOHN 8:32

“Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”

AN OUTLINE FOR THE MESSAGE

I. THE RECOGNITION OF TRUTH
“Ye Shall Know the Truth”

  • Truth can be recognized
    • It is not hidden
    • It is not vague
    • It is not abstract
  • Truth can be recognized by anyone wanting to know the truth
    • It is not selective
    • It is not restrictive
    • It is not a respecter of persons
  • Truth can be recognized by anyone who abides in the Word of God
    “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples in deed.” (Verse 31)

    • To those who experience salvation in Christ alone
    • To those who endure in the study of Christ’s word

II. THE REALITY OF TRUTH
“The Truth”

  • The Truth is Absolute
    • It is Perfect
    • It is Complete
    • It is Whole
    • It is Unchangeable
  • The Truth is Absolute in Jesus Christ
    • Jesus Christ is the only source of truth
    • Jesus Christ is the full expression of truth
  • The Truth is Absolute in Jesus Christ because He alone is truth
    • Christ is ALL truth
    • All truth is Christ

WHAT IS TRUTH?
(Some observations)

  • Truth originates in Christ alone, is communicated through scripture alone and is embraced by Christians alone.
  • Truth is found only in Christianity because only Christianity is true.
  • Truth is all that Christ is as revealed in the inspired Word of God.
  • Truth is manifested to the world through the lives of the genuine followers of Christ who obey Him completely and apply His teachings consistently.
  • Truth is only truth as it maintains the complete principles of Christ.

III. THE RESULT OF TRUTH
“The truth shall make you free”
NOTE: The English word “make” comes from the Greek word “eleutheroo” which means “to liberate,” or “to make free.”

  • The Truth Makes one Free from Spiritual Bondage
    • The Power of Truth is Found in Jesus Christ Alone
    • The Power of Truth Found in Jesus Christ Alone Frees the Believer from the Bondage of Sin which is the True Nature of Salvation. (Salvation is “the deliverance from sin, its power, its penalty and its Presence through faith in Jesus Christ alone).
  • The Truth Makes on Free from Political Bondage

The practice of the principles of truth as found in Christ alone, results in freedom from governmental oppression. If the principles of Christ are applied consistently by government then the citizens of the nation will experience genuine freedom. However, if the principles of Christ are not applied consistently or even rejected by government then the citizens of the nation will not experience genuine freedom. The pure history of the United States of America proves that the founders believed in the principles of Christ, followed the truth of Christ in framing the nation, and as a result, God raised up a nation to honor Him. In our time earnest efforts made by God’s people to practice and proclaim the principles and truth of Christ will be used by the Lord to restore America to the original intent.

CONCLUSION
The applied truth of God changes the lives of those who believe it. Since the church of the living God is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), the people of God have the responsibility to dedicate their lives to learning more of God’s truth daily, living God’s truth daily and proclaiming God’s truth daily. God will honor and bless His truth. Let’s “speak the truth in love,” make it our personal conviction and then watch God work for His glory.

Pastor Gary G. Dull, Altoona, PA
Member – PPN Leadership Council

Supreme Court Will Determine if Pro-Lifers Have Free Speech at Abortion Clinics

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to take a case out of Massachusetts where an abortion law was taken to court because it tramples on the free speech rights of pro-life advocates.

The Massachusetts statute prevents pro-life advocates from exercising their free speech rights to protest and present abortion alternatives information to people outside abortion facilities.

The law creates a 35-foot fixed buffer zone around the driveways and entrances of abortion clinics. That prevents pro-life people from offering literature to or talking to women considering abortions and providing them with better alternatives. The lawsuit was brought by seven residents who regularly engage in pro-life sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics They filed suit in April 2008, claiming violation of their free speech rights, free association, due process, and equal protection rights granted under the First Amendment.

In February, US District Judge Joseph L. Tauro rejected claims that the law, affecting abortion centers in Boston, Worcester, and Springfield, infringed on First Amendment rights. In his ruling, he said the law “as applied is a valid regulation of the time, place, and manner of Plaintiffs’ speech.”

“From the evidence,” Tauro wrote, “it is clear that the Act, as applied at each of the challenged [reproductive health care facilities] leaves open ample adequate alternative means of communication.”

Attorney General Martha Coakley, an abortion advocate who defended the law, was happy with the ruling. She said at the time: “We are pleased that the court has upheld the Commonwealth’s buffer zone law, which enhances public safety and access to reproductive health care facilities, while preserving freedom of expression. The court agreed that the buffer zone leaves open ample opportunities for communication and civil engagement on the public ways outside the facilities.”

In August 2008, Tauro ruled on the first challenge, upholding the law itself. The plaintiffs appealed and the First US Circuit Court of Appeals also upheld it. The US Supreme Court declined to take up the case at that time. Tauro held a bench trial in August 2011 on the challenge to the law as applied.

Anne Fox of Massachusetts Citizens for Life previously told LifeNews, “Unfortunately, it has become common in this country for laws to apply differently when they have to do with abortion. The idea that people cannot express their views within a 35 foot radius – i.e. a circle with a 70 foot diameter – of an abortion facility is un-American. It is also ludicrous. Given the huge size of the zone, people have been approached by the police for engaging in activities on their own properties, which happen to be next door to abortion facilities. This happened recently in Worcester,” she said.

Fox added, “Courts have struck down less onerous laws in other states because they infringe on the First Amendment rights of U. S. citizens. We feel certain that higher courts will strike down the Massachusetts ‘Buffer Zone’”

The justices will hear arguments in the case and rule in their 2013-14 term, which starts in October. The case is McCullen v. Coakley, 12-1168.

Gun Manufacturer Moving to SC Due to Conn. Gun Control Laws

Less than a week after Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed gun restrictions into law in April, gun manufacturer PTR Industries said it intended to leave the state to avoid the damage it expected to be inflicted on its business.

On Wednesday, the rifle manufacturer kept its promise, announcing it will move to Aynor, S.C.

“One hundred percent of our product line is now illegal in Connecticut due to that law,” said John McNamara, the company’s vice president for sales.

He offered few details of the relocation, saying that a formal announcement and ribbon-cutting are scheduled for Monday at the new site. Most of the company’s 41 workers will relocate and the labor force is expected to expand to 100 within a year, McNamara said.

“It will be as fast a transition as we can without interrupting production,” he said.

Malloy and legislators negotiated for months to craft new gun restrictions following the killings of 20 children and six educators in Newtown last December. The legislation that emerged expanded the state’s ban on assault weapons, banned ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds, broadened background checks and made other changes.

Executives at other gun manufacturers say they’ve been in touch with states seeking to lure the businesses from New England, which has had an arms manufacturing presence dating to the Revolutionary War.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made a splashy visit to Connecticut on Monday, meeting with gun manufacturers and other businesses and talking up the Lone Star State. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard made a more low-key trip to Connecticut this week to drum up new business for his state.

Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Malloy, said the governor has made job creation a top priority but in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings, ensuring public safety was critical.

“We’re out there every single day competing for jobs,” he said. “But on this particular issue the governor decided to prioritize public safety and the gun violence prevention law he signed will improve public safety.”

Bristol Mayor Art Ward told WTNH-TV that he recognizes the business issues confronting PTR. “We understand. We wish it wouldn’t happen,” he said.

McNamara said the gun issue was not the only draw, and that although he’s familiar with South Carolina from travels to meet customers, he expects the move from New England will not be without its problems.

“It will definitely take some adjustment,” he said.

House Votes to Ban Most Late-Term Abortions after Appeals to What's Sacred

WASHINGTON (June 19, 2013) – Rejecting arguments that the “right” to abortion is more sacred than life in the womb, the House has voted 228-196 to ban most abortions more than 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

Republican women challenged Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s defense of abortion “rights” last week in which she said, “As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said, “We are indeed treading upon sacred ground, but it’s because we’re dealing with the sanctity of every human life.”

Democrats say the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” will die in the Senate and, if it reached the White House, would be vetoed by President Barack Obama.

The legislation, sparked by the murder conviction of Philadelphia late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, would restrict almost all abortions to the first 20 weeks after conception, defying laws in most states that allow abortions up to when the fetus becomes viable, usually considered to be around 24 weeks.

It mirrors 20-week abortion ban laws passed by some states, and lays further groundwork for the ongoing legal battle that pro-lifers hope will eventually result in forcing the Supreme Court to reconsider the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, that made abortion legal.

It passed 228-196, with six Democrats voting for it and six Republicans voting against it.

In the short term, the bill will go nowhere. The Democratic-controlled Senate will ignore it and the White House says the president would veto it if it ever reached his desk. The White House said the measure was “an assault on a woman’s right to choose” and “a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.”

But it was a banner day for social conservatives who have generally seen their priorities overshadowed by economic and budgetary issues since Republicans recaptured the House in 2010.

Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, called it “the most important pro-life bill to be considered by the U.S. Congress in the last 10 years.”

Marjorie Dannenfeiser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List – a group that seeks to eliminate abortion – said the legislation differed significantly from past abortion measures in that it restricts, rather than merely controls, the abortion procedure.

Democrats chided Republicans for taking up a dead-end abortion bill when Congress is doing little to promote jobs and economic growth. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called it “yet another Republican attempt to endanger women. It is disrespectful to women. It is unsafe for families and it is unconstitutional.”

Democrats also said the decision by GOP leaders to appease their restless base with the abortion vote could backfire on Republican efforts to improve their standing among women.

“They are going down the same road that helped women elect Barack Obama president of the United States,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s delegate to the House. The bill is so egregious to women, said Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., that women are reminded that “the last possible thing they ever want to do is leave their health policy to these men in blue suits and red ties.”

Democrats repeatedly pointed out that all 23 Republicans on the Judiciary Committee that approved the measure last week on a party-line vote are men.

Republicans countered by assigning women to conspicuous roles in managing the bill on the House floor and presiding over the chamber. Republican women were prominent among those speaking in favor of the legislation.

The bill, said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who was assigned to manage the bill despite not being on the Judiciary Committee, would “send the clearest possible message to the American people that we do not support more Gosnell-like abortions.”

The Republican leadership gave the green light to the abortion bill after social conservatives coalesced around the case of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor who was recently sentenced to life in prison for the murder of three babies delivered alive. Pro-lifers said it exemplified the inhumanity of late-term abortions.

“After this Kermit Gosnell trial, (and) some of the horrific acts that were going on, the vast majority of the American people believe in the substance of this bill, and so do I,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Absent from the debate was the bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., who last week sparked a controversy by saying that rape resulted in few pregnancies.

After Franks’ remark, which he later modified, Republicans quietly altered the bill to include an exception to the 20-week ban for instances of rape and incest. Democrats still balked, saying the exception would require a woman to prove that she had reported the rape to authorities.

The bill has an exception when a physical condition threatens the life of the mother, but Democratic efforts to include other health exceptions were rebuffed.

The legislation would ban abortions that take place 20 weeks after conception, which is equivalent to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Some 10 states have passed laws similar to the House bill, and several are facing court challenges. Last month a federal court struck down as unconstitutional Arizona’s law, which differs slightly in banning abortion 20 weeks after pregnancy rather than conception.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based reproductive health research organization that supports abortion rights, in 2009, 1.3 percent of the 1.2 million abortions in the country, about 15,600, occurred 20 weeks after the fetus was conceived.

Supporters of the legislation also contended that unborn children can feel pain after about 20 weeks, and the bill cites extensively from studies agreeing with that conclusion. Opponents say such findings are inconclusive.

Pro-abortion groups argued that the 20-week ban, in addition to being unconstitutional, would affect women just at the point of learning of a fetal anomaly or determining that the pregnancy could put the mother’s life in danger.

CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?

Washington (CNN) – A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.

Republicans argue that the Obama administration used the IRS to intimidate and harass political opponents. Democrats say poor management at the tax agency, rather than political bias, is to blame. Congressional sources on both sides say that interviews with IRS workers so far have found no evidence of political dealings by the White House. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, touting an independent IRS inspector general report, has said the scrutiny appears to have originated with “IRS officials in Cincinnati,” where the agency’s tax exempt division is centered.

GOP tries to keep focus on IRS targeting scandal

Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own.

“Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold.”

Fifty-one percent of those questioned said the IRS controversy is a very important issue to the nation, compared to 55% who felt that way in May. In the past week and a half, the IRS story has been put a bit on the backburner, as the controversy over the federal government’s massive surveillance program has dominated the spotlight.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11-13, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.