World Vision to recognize gay marriage of employees

In the religious-political world, most eyes will be focused today on U.S. Supreme Court arguments in  a renewed battle over President Barack Obama's health care law that pits the religious rights of employers against the rights of women to the birth control of their choice.

But another fight is brewing – this one internal. One of the best-known Christian relief organizations in the nation, supported by thousands of churches throughout Georgia, is conceding a point on gay marriage. From Christianity Today:

This is unlikely. The sharpest reaction thus far has come from Russell Moore, the voice of the Southern Baptist Convention on such issues. In part:

“If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2,000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.”

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So that's how you really feel about us? We caught a copy of the Georgia Agribusiness Council's latest newsletter, which celebrated the passage of Flint River legislation, watered down after protests from environmentalists.

From the newsletter:

It is important to highlight that environmental issues – especially water – are often the battle cry of well-funded “conservation” advocates decorated with cute slogans and slick logos. Sadly, their causes are willingly advanced by media that are short on facts. It is important to remember these battles are not fleeting - they are constant.

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As we've said before, Washington isn't the only place where you have to pass a law to find out what's in it. We're told that the first copies of H.B. 60, the major gun bill passed by the Legislature last week, should be available -- five days after final approval.

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More evidence that David Perdue, the former Dollar General CEO, is being taken seriously as a U.S. Senate candidate: The ABC News website has posted a YouTube video of Perdue at a January forum, in which he states that he wouldn’t try to repeal the 2010 Dodd-Frank overhaul of Wall Street regulations – but would fight to change it.

That's a contrast from most Republicans - including his four main opponents in the May 20 primary - who have labeled the law a mistake that should be struck down.

Click here for the meat of Perdue’s remarks, recorded at a Coweta County Republican party breakfast.

Says Perdue, in the video:

"I’m not going to go up there and tell you I’m going to repeal Dodd-Frank. I will tell you I’m going to fight to amend it. And to do that, I think I can find some Democratic senators who will join in with logic and be led into a reasonable solution. That’s the only way out of this box, frankly.”

Among those offended is Erick Erickson, the local talk radio provocateur, who tackled Perdue’s willingness to compromise late last week. Said Erickson:

“You know, I don’t want Washington to do any more. To heck with that. I want Washington to stop doing stuff. I don’t want someone to reach across the aisle and work with the Democrats to expand the government and expand regulation and expand the budget and expand the state and raise taxes to solve crisis. I want them to say, ‘Leave America the hell alone, Washington.’”

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You’ve got to hand it to Art Gardner, the Atlanta attorney who has made expansion of the Republican tent the centerpiece of his underfunded U.S. Senate candidacy.

Gardner is now pitching what we think is the most original approach yet to health care reform: Fixing U.S. patent laws used by drug companies. From the press release:

Noting the alarmingly high prices paid in the U.S. compared to prices in similar countries for many drugs protected by patent, Gardner said, "It is appalling that the U.S. consumer is forced to pay much, much more for the same medicine as consumers in similarly wealthy, industrialized countries. It is simply not right that we are being gouged while others pay much less." Gardner proposes to lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of medicine…

Gardner proposes to make it "patent misuse" to charge much more in the United States for the same drug than in the rest of the G7. According to Gardner, "it would be presumptive patent misuse to charge more than 125% of the average price in the other 6 countries in the G7 and it would be conclusive patent misuse to charge more than 150%."

Said Gardner, "If the patent is being 'misused' in this way, the patent would be invalidated and/or unenforceable, opening up competition for generics. So the owner of a drug patent would have a strong interest in avoiding losing the protection of the patent and would hold down U.S. prices and/or drive up prices around the world.”

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State Superintendent John Barge has an online ad bashing Republican incumbent Nathan Deal, his GOP primary rival in the race for governor, complete with ominous music and damning headlines:

It is Barge’s sharpest attack yet – not that he has much cash to get the word out. "This is what happens when politicians serve themselves instead of statesmen serving the people," the superintendent said.

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Over at the Washington Post, Emory University clinical pyschologyist and part-time political consultant Drew Westen has a suggested line of argument for Jason Carter – if the Democratic candidate for governor is asked about those Confederate battle emblem license plates just approved by the state.

“As a son of the South, I value my heritage as both a Georgian and an American. My family has farmed the red clay of Georgia for hundreds of years, and I’m proud of that heritage. But politicians like Governor Deal have no business using the Confederate flag, which they know is both a symbol of Southern pride and a symbol of racial prejudice, to turn Georgians against each other along racial lines.

“We’re long past that here in Georgia, and that’s something I promise never to do as your governor. Like the business owners I speak to across the state, I believe the way to bring jobs to Georgia is to advertise the Georgia of the 21st century, not the 19th. And today’s Georgia is a place where opportunity knocks on every door, regardless of how humble your upbringing or the color of your skin.”

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The post-session fundraising rush continues, as state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, who’s angling for Jack Kingston’s coastal congressional seat, raises money in Washington today. A mere $1,000 gets interested folks – think D.C. lobbyist types -- face time with Carter on Capitol Hill.

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Roll Call’s Dan Newhauser is out with a chronicle of U.S. Rep. Tom Graves’ return to the House GOP “establishment” fold. The expected prize: A chairmanship of an appropriations subcommittee. The swift rise to a “cardinal” post is aided by the fact that Graves’ 2010 special election win put him a step ahead of that massive GOP class in seniority.

It’s also remarkable considering Graves’ hard-right record in his first years in office. From Roll Call:

That marks an unprecedentedly quick turnaround for a member who was nearly shoved off the Appropriations Committee three years ago for voting against chairmen’s bills — and, in fact, was removed from the GOP whip team for advocating against leadership’s positions.

Graves’ colleagues and congressional aides point to his ascent as an example of the maturation of the rambunctious tea party class of 2010 (of which Graves is an honorary member, having joined Congress in a special election just months prior to the wave). His evolution, they say, was spurred by a stinging loss in the 2012 race to chair the conservative Republican Study Committee, despite an endorsement by the group’s founders.

Aside from the impact on Graves’ own standing, should he become one of the appropriations panel’s 12 cardinals in the next Congress, it would be a bit of salvation for the Georgia delegation’s clout. Jack Kingston is currently a cardinal, overseeing labor and health spending, and his departure from the House leaves a big power void for the state.

Roll Call reports Graves’ most likely subcommittee would be the one that controls spending within the legislative branch.

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