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6/12/2006 12:56:11 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
New York--Please Continue to Call on Religious Freedom for Homeschoolers

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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June 12, 2006

New York--Please Continue to Call
on Religious Freedom for Homeschoolers

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

As we shared with you last week, there is an opportunity in New York
to strengthen religious freedom and pass a bill that should be able to
be used as a "religious exemption" for homeschool families who are
homeschooling because of their religious beliefs and convictions.
However, time is running out and we need you to continue calling to
get a Republican to sponsor Assembly Bill 10870, the Free Exercise of
Religion bill, in the Senate.

While the Assembly is likely to pass this legislation shortly, the
Senate does not have a similar bill. Since the bill is sponsored in
the Assembly by Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, the bill must be sponsored
by a Republican in the Republican-controlled Senate to pass.

The New York legislature is only in session for two more weeks so your
calls are vital. Please call and email your Republican state Senator
and urge him or her to support the Free Exercise of Religion bill.

Action Requested

1) If your state Senator is listed below, please call and email them
with this message in your own words:

"I am a constituent in your district. Please support religious freedom
in New York and sponsor the Free Exercise of Religion Bill. This bill
has been introduced in the Assembly as bill number 10870.

Please ensure that New York will protect religious freedom and
prohibit restricting the free exercise of religion unless it is
essential to a compelling governmental interest and the least
restrictive means possible."

Do not identify yourself as a homeschool parent; instead you can
simply identify yourself as a taxpaying citizen concerned about
religious freedom in New York.

Republican Senators

Senator James S. Alesi
55th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Monroe
Phone: 518-455-2015
E-Mail: alesi@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Michael A.L. Balboni
7th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Nassau
Phone: 518-455-2471
E-Mail: balboni@senate.state.ny.us

Senator John J. Bonacic
42nd Senatorial District
Counties: Delaware, Sullivan, parts of Orange and Ulster
Phone: 518-455-3181
E-Mail: bonacic@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Joseph L. Bruno (Majority Leader)
43rd Senatorial District
Counties: Rensselaer, part of Saratoga
Phone: 518-455-3191
E-Mail: bruno@senate.state.ny.us

Senator John A. DeFrancisco
50th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Onondaga
Phone: 518-455-3511
E-Mail: jdefranc@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Hugh T. Farley
44th Senatorial District
Counties: Fulton, Montgomery, Schenectady, and part of Saratoga
Phone: 518-455-2181
E-Mail: farley@senate.state.ny.us

Senator John J. Flanagan
2nd Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Suffolk
Phone: 518-455-2071
E-Mail: flanagan@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Charles J., Jr. Fuschillo
8th Senatorial District
Counties: Parts of Nassau and Suffolk
Phone: 518-455-3341
E-Mail: fuschill@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Martin J. Golden
22nd Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Kings
Phone: 518-455-2730
E-Mail: golden@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Kemp Hannon
6th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Nassau
Phone: 518-455-2200
E-Mail: hannon@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Owen H. Johnson
4th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Suffolk
Phone: 518-455-3411
E-Mail: ojohnson@senate.state.ny.us

Senator William J., Jr. Larkin
39th Senatorial District
Counties: Parts of Orange and Ulster
Phone: 518-455-2770
E-Mail: larkin@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Kenneth P. LaValle
1st Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Suffolk
Phone: 518-455-3121
E-Mail: lavalle@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Vincent L., III Leibell
40th Senatorial District
Counties: Putnam, parts of Dutchess (eastern) and Westchester
(northern)
Phone: 518-455-3111
E-Mail: leibell@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Thomas W. Libous
52nd, R-C Senatorial District
Counties: Broome, Tioga, part of Chenango
Phone: 518-455-2677
E-Mail: senator@senatorlibous.com

Senator Elizabeth O'C. Little
45th Senatorial District
Counties: Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren, Washington
Phone: 518-455-2811
E-Mail: little@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Serphin R. Maltese
15th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Queens
Phone: 518-455-3281
E-Mail: maltese@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Carl L. Marcellino
5th Senatorial District
Counties: Parts of Nassau and Suffolk
Phone: 518-455-2390
E-Mail: marcelli@senate.state.ny.us

Senator John J. Marchi
24th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Richmond
Phone: 518-455-3215
E-Mail: marchi@senate.state.ny.us

Senator George D. Maziarz
62nd Senatorial District
Counties: Orleans, parts of Monroe, Niagara
Phone: 518-455-2024
E-Mail: maziarz@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Raymond A. Meier
47th Senatorial District
Counties: Lewis, parts of Oneida and St. Lawrence
Phone: 518-455-3334
E-Mail: meier@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Thomas P. Morahan
38th Senatorial District
Counties: Rockland and part of Orange
Phone: 518-455-3261
E-Mail: morahan@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Michael F. Nozzolio
54th Senatorial District
Counties: Seneca, Wayne parts of Cayuga, Monroe, Ontario, Tompkins
Phone: 518-455-2366
E-Mail: nozzolio@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Frank Padavan
11th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Queens
Phone: 518-455-3381
E-Mail: padavan@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Mary Lou Rath
61st Senatorial District
Counties: Genesee and part of Erie
Phone: 518-455-3161
E-Mail: rath@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Joseph E. Robach
56th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Monroe
Phone: 518-455-2909
E-Mail: robach@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Stephen M. Saland
41st Senatorial District
Counties: Columbia, part of Dutchess
Phone: 518-455-2411
E-Mail: saland@senate.state.ny.us

Senator James L. Seward
51st Senatorial District
Counties: Cortland, Greene, Herkimer, Otsego, Schoharie, parts of
Chenango, Tompkins
Phone: 518-455-3131
E-Mail: seward@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Dean G. Skelos
9th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Nassau
Phone: 518-455-3171
E-Mail: skelos@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Nicholas A. Spano
35th Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Westchester
Phone: 518-455-2231
E-Mail: spano@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Caesar Trunzo
3rd Senatorial District
Counties: Part of Suffolk
Phone: 518-455-2111
E-Mail: trunzo@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Dale M. Volker
59th Senatorial District
Counties: Wyoming, Parts of Erie, Livingston, Ontario
Phone: 518-455-3471
E-Mail: volker@senate.state.ny.us

Senator George H., Jr. Winner
53rd Senatorial District
Counties: Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, part of Tompkins
Phone: 518-455-2091
E-Mail: winner@senate.state.ny.us

Senator James W. Wright
48th Senatorial District
Counties: Jefferson, Oswego and part of St. Lawrence
Phone: 518-455-2346
E-Mail: wright@senate.state.ny.us

Senator Catharine M. Young
57th Senatorial District
Counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, part of Livingston
Phone: 518-455-3563
E-Mail: cyoung@senate.state.ny.us

If you do not know who you state Senator is or what district you live
in please enter your ZIP code on HSLDA's legislative toolbox at
http://www.hslda.org/toolbox . You do no need to call unless your
Senator is listed above.

Background

On June 25, 1997, by a 6-3 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in
The City of Boerne v. Flores that the 1993 federal Religious Freedom
Restoration Act (RFRA) was unconstitutional. By doing this, the Court
gave the lowest level of protection to religious liberty--one of the
foundational freedoms of homeschooling. Under this minimal standard,
the state can override a homeschooler's or other citizen's right to
freely exercise his religious beliefs merely by proving that its
regulation is "reasonable." Since nearly all state regulations can be
determined to be "reasonable," Christians will lose.

Since the devastating U.S. Supreme Court Boerne decision, state and
federal courts across the country have diminished religious freedom in
many ways. For example:

> The longstanding practice of pastor-laity confidentiality has been
repeatedly violated;

> A Catholic hospital was denied accreditation for refusing to teach
abortion techniques;

> There have been conflicts with zoning ordinances, such as the forced
termination of a church ministry to the homeless because it was
located on the second floor of a building with no elevator; and

> A church was prohibited from feeding more than 50 people per day.

Passage of Assembly Bill 10870 will raise the standard of protection
for religious freedom in New York for individuals, homeschool parents,
churches, and all who desire to freely exercise their religious
beliefs.

If passed, the New York RFRA will restore the high standard of
protection for religious liberty previously guaranteed in the federal
RFRA and earlier Supreme Court decisions. Under the New York RFRA, if
an individual's religious belief is in conflict with a state
regulation, the state will have to prove, with evidence, that its
regulation is essential to fulfill a compelling state interest and is
the least restrictive means of doing so. If the state fails to carry
the burden, the regulation must give way to the individual's religious
freedom. Restoring this level of protection for religious freedom will
simply "even the playing field."

For more detailed information on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts,
visit our website at: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3095 .

Don't let one decision by the U.S. Supreme Court denigrate this
priceless inalienable right. Urge your state senator now to restore
protection for religious liberty in New York by sponsoring Assembly
Bill 10870!

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Schmidt
HSLDA Staff Attorney


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