House votes to reauthorize international religious freedom commission
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House has approved a five-year reauthorization of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The independent government agency reports on violations of religious rights abroad and recommends actions the U.S. could take against countries that persecute or fail to prevent persecution of people of faith.
Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf said, "Without this commission, there would be nobody around to point out what is taking place to these groups."
USCIRF commissioners are appointed by Congress and the White House.
The five-year reauthorization was approved by a voice vote in the House. New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith said he hopes the Senate will promptly agree to extend the life of the commission.
Suit challenges state abortion clinic buffer zone
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A conservative Christian law group has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to strike down New Hampshire's 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics.
Alliance Defending Freedom announced Tuesday that it filed the suit on behalf of several abortion opponents. The suit says the buffer zone signed into law this year violates the free speech rights of abortion protesters.
ADF filed the Massachusetts lawsuit that led to last month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down that state's buffer zone.
The lawsuit filed Monday says the law unfairly allows clinic escorts, but not protesters, to talk to women within the buffer zone.
Abortion rights supporters say the buffers are needed to protect women and clinic workers from harassment.
William Hinkle, Gov. Maggie Hassan's spokesman, says the governor believes the law is narrower than the Massachusetts law and will survive a court test.
Dahlkemper: Faith-based letter 'misinterpreted'
ERIE, Pa. (AP) — Former Democratic congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper says her decision to sign a letter asking President Barack Obama to create a religious exemption to a planned executive order about gay and lesbian hiring is being "misinterpreted."
Dahlkemper, who represented northeastern Ohio in the U.S. House before losing her first re-election bid in 2010, was elected Erie County executive last year. She has been stung by criticism that she doesn't support gay and lesbian rights since signing the letter, which was sent to the White House on July 1 and publicized the next day.