Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins delivered his second annual “State of the Family” address Jan. 11, highlighting the many blows to Christian values in 2015 but declaring optimism for the year to come.
“Many of our nation’s leading politicians and jurists believe that religion is a toxin to public life,” he said. “In the battle over our basic convictions, we see the sidelines are shrinking.”
Perkins noted 2015 began with anxiety over the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of marriage and ended with two Oregon bakers paying more than $130,000 because they refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding.
Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis joined Perkins as one of his recognized guests. He called Davis one of America’s heroes for freedom and liberty: “Kim stood strong, to the point of spending time in jail.”
Davis faced national scrutiny shortly after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide because she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. After the American Civil Liberties Union sued, a Kentucky judge ordered Davis to issue the licenses. When she continued to refuse, he sent her to jail. Davis spent five days behind bars.
“It is a battle; it is a battle for every freedom we possess and for every freedom that we want to keep,” Davis told me. “But I have found that my God is a mighty God, and His grace is sufficient.”
Davis still holds her elected position as county clerk. Last month, newly elected Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin took executive action to aid Davis and other clerks in her position. His order removed county clerks’ names from marriage licenses, avoiding any conflicts with clerks who said they couldn’t in good conscience sanction same-sex marriage. Davis said Bevin’s order was the accommodation she had asked for from the beginning.
Before Bevin’s election, Davis’ opponents called for her resignation. She ignored the pressure, seeking to retain her national platform.
“A lot of people asked me, ‘Why don’t you quit? Why don’t you just resign?’ If I quit, I lose my voice,” she said.
Perkins called Davis’ actions and Bevin’s executive order a major victory for religious liberty and Christian values.
The FRC event came one day before President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address. FRC arranged for Davis to attend the speech, along with her attorney, Mat Staver. Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the gay marriage ruling, also will attend – as the president’s guest.
Perkins opened his address by rejoicing over the status of America’s pro-life movement. He said in the last five years lawmakers have enacted more than 280 pro-life measures at the state level, a response to America becoming a more pro-life nation.
On Jan. 8, Obama vetoed a bill that would have stripped America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, of nearly all its federal funding. Perkins said the president’s decision was disappointing, but he remains confident Planned Parenthood is not out of the woods.
“Rest assured, we will not stop until this forced partnership between taxpayers and Planned Parenthood has ended,” Perkins vowed.