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A letter from Executive Director, Brad Snavely
America stands at a crossroads. We live in a culture increasingly hostile to the values and institutions that have made our country great. This cultural struggle is intense and the consequences are real. But further decline is not inevitable. Not as long as there are people willing to stand and fight for those values.
Michigan Family Forum has been doing just that – defending marriage, life and religious liberty – in the courtroom, the State Capitol and in communities across our state. Here are a few highlights from 2013:
Putting Families First
In February, we released our Putting Families First legislative agenda, proposing 16 recommendations for lawmakers. Seven of these proposals have passed the House or Senate, and two have been signed by Governor Snyder. We helped build bi-partisan support for bills that affirm life, protect conscience rights and document the high cost of family fragmentation.
In August, MFF filed a brief in US District Court defending Michigan’s marriage amendment adopted by voters in 2004. Our brief focuses on the optimal parenting model and cites 36 studies which highlight the unique contributions of mothers and fathers. Oral arguments in the case were held on October 16th, prompting the judge to schedule a trial for February of 2014.
Pro-life Petition Drive
Throughout the summer, MFF distributed over 2,000 petitions to ensure that our tax dollars or insurance premiums are not used to pay for abortions. We were proud to play a key role in a coalition that collected over 315,000 signatures. The citizen initiated law will be finalized this year when the House and Senate are expected to give final approval.
Engaging Culture, Leaders & the Media
Nearly 1,100 people attended our “Future of Freedom Tour” with best-selling author & speaker Eric Metaxas. Eric spoke passionately about the need to protect religious liberty and conscience rights in three cities across the state. We also presented our “Champion for the Family” award to Julea Ward for her courageous stand for marriage and for refusing to compromise her deeply held religious beliefs as a graduate counseling student at Eastern Michigan University.
In October, we hosted prominent attorney Jordan Lorence for four events to speak on the topic of “Defending Marriage & Religious Liberty in Perilous Times”. Jordan spoke to pastors, business leaders and MFF supporters on this timely topic. We also hosted a strategic meeting of senior state government officials, including key legislators, staff and advisors to the Governor and Attorney General during his visit to Michigan.
Over the past six months, we have conducted dozens of media interviews with state & national radio shows and have appeared in several prominent print media outlets discussing the issues of marriage, family and religious liberty. Looking ahead to 2014, MFF needs your support to continue the fight to defend marriage, protect religious liberty and educate voters. Here is a quick review of our immediate plans:
Marriage on Trial
On February 25, US District Court Judge Bernard Freidman will preside over a trial on the constitutionality of Michigan’s marriage amendment. Attorney General Bill Schuette will argue, with the support of briefs filed by Michigan Family Forum and the Michigan Catholic Conference, that there is a rational basis for continuing to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Protecting Religious Liberty
Michigan is a critical state in the national effort to protect conscience rights and religious liberty. We have told the Governor’s office and the House and Senate leaders that this issue is our top priority for the current legislative session. The looming threats to our religious liberty and recent specific examples from Michigan require immediate action.
The Pivotal 2014 Election
The stakes for the 2014 election are very high. When we go to the polls next year, we will elect a new US Senator and determine who will serve as Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State for the next four years. In addition, control of the State House and State Senate is up for grabs as well as some hotly contested seats in the US House of Representatives.
We learned important lessons from 2012. As we plan to launch our 2014 Voter Education Initiative, we are committed to: 1) Starting early (March of 2014), 2) Sharpening efforts to identify pro-life, pro-family & pro-liberty citizens, 3) Communicating regularly with clear, consistent and timely messages, and 4) Executing new strategies to enhance voter turnout.
We are only able to accomplish this critical work because people like you are willing to stand with us. With your help, we can make a difference. Together we can reclaim the founding values and virtues so essential to sustaining freedom. We all have a choice. We can either give up or stay in the fight. Our choice, in this critical moment, will greatly impact our children and grandchildren. I trust you will stand with us in defense of the family, faith and freedom!
Thanks for your friendship and encouragement. Your support is a great blessing to us!