Conservatives rally for faith, family at Capitol


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist DAVID GARDNER

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 26 at 5:36 PM

AUSTIN -- Carrying signs and accompanied by a Christian musician, a crowd of Christian faithful gathered on the Texas Capitol steps to hear from like-minded lawmakers. 
"The original law is God's law, outlined in the 10 Commandments," said Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), who gave the headline speech for the Texas Faith and Family Day rally Tuesday afternoon.
"In this building behind me, your faith and your families and your freedom are under attack," warned freshman state Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), whose HB 1057 would outlaw Planned Parenthood and any abortion provider or affiliate from venturing into the realm of providing sex education materials for public schools.
Lawmakers earned applause touting a variety of legislation. One of those was HB 2364 filed by state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker), which would ban abortions after 20 weeks, the time at which supporters believe a fetus can feel pain. 
"We will pass a fetal pain bill out of the Senate this year," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R-Texas) assured demonstrators. 
Lawmakers also sounded off on the battle over same-sex marriage, and the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing Tuesday on the constitutionality of California Prop. 8, banning gay marriage.
"Marriage is between one man and one woman," said Perry, reminding the crowd. "We all know that the Supreme Court is dealing with this issue, they're deciding it today."
"That's just not going to stand with me," newly-elected state Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) said of efforts by same-sex marriage supporters to overturn state prohibitions at the federal level. 
The list of legislation also included HB 3303 by state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), which would extend the required waiting period for a married couple with children seeking a divorce from 60 days to six months. Also included was a bill to protect schools using the word "Christmas" in holiday activities, and a raft of school choice legislation promoted by state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston).
"I find it immoral to force a student to go to a school that the State of Texas says is a failure," said Patrick, who chairs the Senate Education Committee.
As a group of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts stood behind the podium, a number of speakers denounced recent calls for the organization to allow gay scouts and scout leaders. Lawmakers similarly unloaded a litany of alleged examples of attacks on religious freedom in Texas.
"These values are being challenged in our state," said event host and Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz. "When a young student is threatened to be sent to jail for saying a prayer at a graduation in Texas, you know that we still have work to do."
"These are the days when a group of students at Kountze, Texas find themselves under attack because they wrote Bible verses on some banners," added Perry.
"I feel that they're fighting for us," said Wayne MacDonald, a Montell resident busy handing Bibles out from a set of leather saddlebags. MacDonald told KVUE his chief concern is over the state of American family values.
"It's eroding, and the reason it is eroding is because the fathers aren't staying with the wives and the family," explained MacDonald. "The wives are leaving. They can go out and have sex whenever they want to and have an abortion the next morning or whatever." 
"I think abortion's always a big one. That one's kind of been a long battle. We're trying to chip away at it over time," said Jonathan Bell of San Antonio. "The same-sex marriage issue, just because it's such a hot issue these days," he added.
"I think it's very important to protect life," said Austin resident D.J. Cardamone, adding education is important as well. "I very much would like to see the school voucher system accessible to people who would benefit from it. I think that's a very important issue."    
Cardamone voiced frustration with the partisan nature of many social issues, arguing that such issues should be left for states to decide.
"It's very sad because I don't think it really needs to be that way," said Cardamone. "When you put it in front of the people, let the people vote on it. Put it in front of the people and let the people vote and that should stand."
Saenz told KVUE his biggest issue this session is SJR 4, a state constitutional amendment aimed to explicitly protect the exercise of religious beliefs from the threat of encroachment by the state of federal government.
"We don't have that now," said Saenz. "We need it. Texas Values intends to help make that a reality."
That's something supporters will be praying for.

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