Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
This past Monday’s special Lansing Update introduced Michigan Celebrates Marriage, an effort from the Michigan Catholic Conference and the Catholic dioceses of the state to highlight marriage as the union of one man and one woman. With one commercial already running on television across the state, a second ad featuring a Riverview couple and their son is now running online. The 30 second spot discusses the importance of friendship and mutual support that allows for a strong marriage, as well as the importance for children to be connected with a mom and a dad. Please view the video, which is also available at www.michigancelebratesmarriage.com, and share it with your family and friends.
The Michigan House of Representatives voted this week to approve its omnibus budget bill, with the chamber passing the proposal 59–51. It also approved an omnibus education budget bill by a 60–50 vote. The bills now await a conference committee, where members of both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees review both chambers’ proposals and negotiate resolutions on points of difference. The Senate is expected to vote on Senate budget proposals next week.
An amendment proposed by Representative Thomas Hooker (R-Byron Center) was added to the House omnibus budget prior to its approval. This amendment would bar the newly formed Department of Health and Human Services from contracting “with an organization which provides elective abortions, abortion counseling, or abortion referrals.” This provision would apply to organizations like Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers, and only applies to services funded by the state’s general fund dollars. The amendment does not impact the large amount of federal funding these organizations already receive. MCC supports this amendment and will continue to keep members apprised of any updates.
At this point, the House budget proposals have retained funding for the programs MCC is tracking at the same levels listed in last week’s Lansing Update. Many factors, however, could still influence the final state budget that will be reached by collaboration and compromise between the House and the Senate. One of these influences is the outcome of the upcoming road funding ballot proposal, which will be before voters this coming Tuesday, May 5th. Although current budget proposals do not factor in funding that will be available if Proposal 1 passes, if the measure does not pass, there may be efforts to divert existing funding in other areas of the budget to put towards the roads. To learn more about Proposal 1, click here to read MCC’s FOCUS publication. Another factor will be state revenue estimates, which will be determined by state economists on May 15th.
On Tuesday, April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of states to define and recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The court is expected to hand down its decision in June. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, released the following statement this week:
“Today is a moment of great consequence. Marriage is a perennial institution, with deep roots in who we are and in our nation’s culture and laws. Marriage is and always will be the union between one man and one woman. This truth is inseparable from the duty to honor the God-given dignity of every human person. We pray that the justices will uphold the responsibility of states to protect the beautiful truth of marriage, which concerns the essential well-being of the nation, especially children. Children have a basic right, wherever possible, to know and be loved by their mother and father together. The Church will always defend this right and looks to people of good will to continue this debate with charity and civility.”
Legislation that would create a state Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to protect individual religious liberty rights from coercion or discrimination from the State received testimony this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee. There have been many misconceptions about RFRA legislation and concerns that have arisen from a version of the bill that passed in Indiana. However, Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake), simply mirrors federal legislation passed by Congress in 1993, which only applies to governmental overreach, not private business action. At the time, Congress passed the legislation with wide bipartisan support. Michigan Catholic Conference supports SB 4, which did not receive a vote this week. Click here for more information about RFRA from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Human trafficking, or modern human slavery, is a terrible crime that happens in Michigan and throughout the world. Still, human trafficking is a crime that is relatively unknown. Last year, MCC worked with lawmakers at the State Capitol to pass over twenty bills helping victims of trafficking, holding their traffickers accountable, and promoting awareness within law enforcement and the medical community. Earlier this week, a human trafficking survivor forum took place at the Diocese of Grand Rapids Cathedral Square called “Shine the Light on Human Trafficking,” which was hosted by Senator Judy Emmons (R-Sheridan) and promoted greater awareness about human trafficking. Many public and private agencies, parishes, and media joined in the event. To read several recent stories about human trafficking and Catholic efforts of response, including within Michigan, click below:
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