by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
Come gather 'round people Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters Around you have grown
And accept it that soon You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimming Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
It's an old Bob Dylan song but I don't even think poor Bob could have imagined how much the times were changing...or how fast. Times change, and, as culture-shapers, we all need to keep up. We need to know what is changing legally and culturally, how it impacts our centers and how to respond.
For instance, did you know that"[b]efore the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Oct. 6, 2014, declining to hear cases on same-sex marriage, 31 states had either constitutional or statutory provisions that explicitly defined marriage as between a man and a woman and just 19 states and the District of Columbia allowed same-sex marriage? Now, at least 36 states and D.C. recognize same-sex marriage." (click here, accessed 01.15.15) For a map reflecting the status of the sanctity of marriage in each state, click here.
You probably already knew the status of same sex marriage in your particular state. Knowledge of the legislation or judicial decision isn't enough.
Yawn, ho hum...it won't touch my center. Maybe it affects photographers, bakers, florists, bed and breakfasts but really? A pregnancy center?
Do you know how the redefinition of marriage affects your center? Your hiring and firing practices?
How does it affect service of clients? Do your staff know what to say or do if a nontraditional couple come in for parenting classes?
At a high level, has your Board set into place a statement of faith which reflects its view of marriage from a Biblical perspective?
Is your organization classified for IRS exemption purposes as a religious organization? Does that make a difference? How do the state by state changes affect the day by day work of your center?
To really understand what this means for you, it will take a hard look at your state's laws. This isn't something that we can decide on a national level and leave at that.
Still, Heartbeat International is going to share all the information and resources we can get to help you stay prepared. Heartbeat Academy is offering a webinar on January 29th entitled Changing Definitions of Marriage & Your Pregnancy Help Organization. This webinar will focus on laws affecting Minnesota, but it is a great starting point for anyone who wants to be prepared in these changing times. (Click here for more information)
The times are changing, brothers and sisters, and we must respond lovingly, wisely, and intentionally.
Come senators, congressmen [and PHOs], Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.