Republican presidential politicians may have grabbed the headlines at Friday’s Values Voter Summit, but Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and pro-life video-maker David Daleiden got the heroes’ welcomes.
“I am only one, but we are many,” said Ms. Davis, who has gone to jail for five days for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples with her name on the official forms. The devout Christian, who tearfully thanked Jesus Christ in her brief statement at the summit, has said she is seeking to obey “God’s authority,” and is seeking religious accommodation from the state.
Ms. Davis, joined by her husband, Joe, received the Cost of Discipleship Award from FRC Action, the legislative arm of Family Research Council (FRC).
“When one person stands, it has an impact,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel and an attorney for Ms. Davis, who showed a photo of 100,000 people in Lima, Peru, who gathered to pray for her safety and release from jail.
Mr. Daleiden, who also got a standing ovation, told the crowd he founded the Center for Medical Progress to do citizen journalism on bioethical issues. It has has now released 10 undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials and others discussing “how to use illegal partial-birth abortion procedures to harvest the hearts, lungs, livers and brains of live babies for profit,” he said.
To anyone who would say that videos don’t show Planned Parenthood engaged in federal felonies, “I would just say that you’re not listening hard enough,” said Mr. Daleiden.
Separately, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is expected to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Sept. 29. She and her top officials have repeatedly said they have followed federal laws regarding fetal tissue donation, and have been subjected to a smear campaign by Mr. Daleiden’s group.
The 2,700 social conservatives who gathered for the 10th annual Values Voter Summit, which ends Sept. 27, heard dozens of speeches about the importance of religious freedom, constitutional protections, national defense, and family and pro-life values.
“America is never going to be a great country … We are never going to be blessed by God if we’re a country that kills our children in the womb,” said Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
The former Pennsylvania senator recalled telling a journalist that, due to the undercover videos made by the Center for Medical Progress, “not only should we defund Planned Parenthood, we should be prosecuting Planned Parenthood.”
The journalist asked, “What laws have they [Planned Parenthood] broken?”
“And I said, well, the procedures that we saw described in these videos I know very well, because they were partial-birth abortions,” Mr. Santorum said he told the journalist. “I know that’s against the law,” he added, “because I wrote the law.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, also jumped into the abortion issue, promising that one of his first acts as president would be to have the Department of Justice “open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and these horrible videos.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that when the first undercover video came out, his state acted to investigate Planned Parenthood has since cancelled its Medicaid contract with the company.
The action is now being fought in court, with support from the Obama administration, he said.
“I’ve got a message to President Obama, the Department of Justice: You might as well save your breath. You’re not going to intimidate us. We are going to defend innocent human life in the state of Louisiana,” Mr. Jindal said to applause.
Resisting gay marriage was another key topic at the summit.
Mr. Santorum chided other Republican presidential candidates for saying the nation should “move on” and accept the Supreme Court’s June gay marriage ruling.
Several Supreme Court justices dissented in the Obergefell ruling, saying the court “acted unconstitutionally,” Mr. Santorum said.
So “really?… It’s time to ‘move on’ when the court acts unconstitutionally?” he asked. “If you’re not willing to fight for the Constitution, for the First Amendment, and for the American family, why are you running for president as a Republican?”
Kelly Shackelford, president and chief executive of Liberty Institute in Texas, said religious-liberty cases over gay rights have been surging — even before the Obergefell ruling — and one of them is likely to end up before the Supreme Court.
The Obergefell decision made it clear that private citizens and private organizations can speak and advocate against gay marriage, as they are protected by the First Amendment, said Mr. Shackelford. “If you take that for what it is saying, you cannot use Obergefell as a weapon to attack people who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said.
Others honored Friday for standing up for their religious beliefs in gay rights battles were Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein; Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman; Casey Davis, another Kentucky clerk who will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; Richard and Betty Odgaard, who are selling their Iowa church after being taken to court over gay marriage; Kelvin Cochran, who was fired from his job as Atlanta fire chief for bringing a self-published book that cited biblical prohibitions on homosexuality to work; and retired Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, who got into trouble with superiors due to his Christian beliefs on marriage.
Tony Perkins, president of FRC and FRA Action, opened the summit by reminding the audience that “by using our freedoms, we can preserve our freedoms” — and “one of our freedoms that is under the greatest assault is our religious freedom.”
“This is America and I refuse to give up my right to practice my religious freedom in public,” said Mr. Perkins.
He warned the audience that “the time for being a spectator, my friends, is over.”
“It is time for all God-fearing, all values voters to take a stand for our faith and for our freedom — will you join me in standing for our freedoms?”
“It’s the faith community” that will stand up for the traditional family, said Mark Smith, president of Ohio Christian University, another summit sponsor.
Turning back to God — “that will bring real hope and change to America,” said Mr. Smith.