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CULTURE DIGEST: DOJ clears way for online gambling; AARP faces pro-family protest

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- The U.S. Department of Justice has cleared the way for states to generate revenue through online gambling, including lotteries, poker and other games that do not involve sports.

Just before Christmas, the Obama administration reversed a longstanding position that all forms of online gambling were illegal in the United States.

"When you look at the Internet, which is what everybody uses these days to buy everything, it seemed like a very, very logical thing to use the Internet to increase the player base," Michael Jones, superintendent of the Illinois Lottery, told The New York Times.

Jones surmised that online lottery sales could enable states to regulate purchases. "Right now we can't guard against someone walking into a lottery retailer and buying too many tickets and behaving excessively. Now with credit card purchases, we can guard against excessive play."

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Virginia Seitz wrote in the opinion released Dec. 23 that as long as the gambling operator and the customer are within the same state and the betting activity does not include sporting events, a state's own law applies. So in states where online gambling is legal, federal law cannot intervene.

The opinion was written in response to requests by New York and Illinois to clarify whether the Wire Act of 1961 prevented states from using the Internet to sell lottery tickets to adults within their borders, The Times explained. The Wire Act prohibits wagering over telecommunications systems that cross state or national borders, but Seitz said the Wire Act applies only to sports betting.


SENIORS URGED TO CANCEL AARP MEMBERSHIP -- Pro-family organizations are urging senior adults to cancel their AARP membership because of the advocacy group's support of the homosexual agenda.

"AARP has a long track record of supporting left-leaning causes. What's new is that they're becoming more brazen about it," Richard Nelson, a policy analyst for The Family Foundation in Kentucky, said.

The American Family Foundation and Citizens for Community Values are among the groups calling for seniors to cancel their AARP memberships, The Kentucky Citizen said in its November/December issue.

"AARP's new online home for the elderly LGBT community contains links to stories on gay adoption and same-sex marriage," The Citizen said, adding that a recent article at is called "The Gay Man's Guide to Dating After 50."

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R.-Ohio, has called AARP one of the most liberal organizations in Washington, and the nearly 40-million-member group has spent more than $130 million on lobbying since 2005, The Citizen said.

Most recently, AARP supported President Obama's health care legislation while at the same time promoting its Medigap insurance, which covers the difference between Medicare reimbursements and out-of-pocket expenses.

AARP members who have canceled their memberships are turning to other senior advocacy groups such as the more conservative American Seniors Association and 60 Plus, The Citizen said.


The Citizen urged those who want to cancel their AARP membership to call 1-888-687-2277 with their membership number in hand and follow the automatic prompts.

"Or, send an email to with name, address, date of birth and membership number and request to cancel," The Citizen said. "Be sure than an email confirmation of cancellation is received within two days."

ABORTION CLINIC RULES TIGHTENED IN VA. -- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell approved new regulations that require abortion clinics to meet hospital-type health and safety standards.

The rules, which went into effect Jan. 1, allow unannounced inspections and require doctors to stay at clinics until women who have undergone abortions are discharged. They also include requirements for the size of hallways and rooms, improved sanitary conditions and the presence of emergency medical equipment.

Pro-choice advocates warned 17 of the state's abortion clinics could shut down after the law that is the basis for the new rules was enacted in March. They decried McDonnell's action, but pro-life advocates applauded it.

Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia, thanked the Republican governor, saying in a written statement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, "After more than two decades of hiding outside the mainstream of medical practice, abortion centers in Virginia will now be subject to scrutiny by state officials. For women who make the unfortunate decision to end the life of their unborn child they will at least go into a medical facility that has been licensed, inspected and required to meet minimum health standards."


The state Board of Health passed the rules in September in a 12-1 vote.

The new regulations actually are emergency ones that will govern abortion clinics for as much as 18 months before permanent rules are established.

N.J. HOSPITAL REVERSES REQUIREMENT FOR PRO-LIFE NURSES -- A New Jersey hospital that had tried to force pro-life nurses to assist with abortions reversed itself Dec. 22 in federal court.

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) agreed not to require nurses to aid in abortions, according to the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which represented 12 nurses in a lawsuit against the hospital. A federal judge had issued a temporary restraining order in the case against the hospital in November, protecting two of the nurses who were scheduled to assist in abortions the next day.

The nurses' suit said the hospital's policy violated their religious and moral opposition to helping perform abortions, as well as federal and state laws. Under a policy revision in September, UMDNJ had told nurses in the hospital's same-day surgery unit they would have to help with abortions and would be fired if they did not comply, according to ADF.

"No pro-life medical personnel should be forced to assist or train in services related to abortions," Matt Bowman, ADF legal counsel, said in a written release. "The hospital has finally done the right thing in agreeing to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs."


Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Erin Roach and Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.

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Copyright (c) 2012 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press


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