I’d like to extend our deepest sympathies and prayers today to former President Jimmy Carter and his family, on the news that his wife of 77 years, Rosalynn Carter, died Sunday at 96. She passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family, after a battle with dementia and months of declining health. She is now the second longest-lived First Lady, behind only Bess Truman, who died at 97.
Former President Carter issued a moving statement reading, “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”
Click the link to learn more about her extraordinary life as a devoted wife, mother, Christian and servant to others, from growing up poor in Plains, Georgia, working after school in a beauty parlor, to being First Lady and so active in her husband’s Administration that she was sometimes called the “co-President” 20 years before Hillary Clinton arrived; and on through decades of working with her husband for charities like Habitat for Humanity.
I’d also like to take a moment to join other conservative defenders of the First Amendment in observing the passing of Chester Darling. You might not know his name, but he played a major role in protecting freedom of religion. He was a liberal Boston civil rights attorney, but he had a fierce devotion to protecting First Amendment rights.
He won the 1995 landmark case, "Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston," in which the SCOTUS ruled unanimously that demonstrations organizers don’t have to accept every group that wants to join, especially those that don’t represent their values (in this case, the Catholic organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade didn’t have to allow an LGBT organization to participate.) That case has been cited many times in protecting Americans of faith from being forced to participate in events that violate their beliefs, like providing services to same-sex weddings.