RNC Makes Values a Mute Point
"Wishful thinking." That's how MSNBC's Joe Scarborough described the GOP's supposed shift on same-sex "marriage." During a segment on yesterday's show, Scarborough tried to put the media's spin into perspective. "This rush to marriage equality is--at least among the Republican base--a mirage." Anyone who believes otherwise, he said, has a fundamental misunderstanding of the political realities in America.
"I wonder how many of these people [who] support it from Washington or New York, or from state capitals across the country, have ever campaigned in western Iowa, have ever campaigned in South Carolina in the Greenville-Spartanburg area, have ever campaigned across north Florida. ... What [Republican presidential] candidate can win in western Iowa, can win in the Greenville-Spartanburg area, can win in north Florida if they come out and support gay marriage nationally?"
Unfortunately, it sounds like Joe Scarborough has a better handle on the Republican base than its own leadership. Instead of recognizing a consensus issue when they see it, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is trying to do the Left's job: sow division in the party by retreating on key planks in the GOP platform. If the RNC wants to replicate the states' success, it needs to reflect the states' values. The GOP establishment wants to relegate social conservatives to minority status in the national party, when we're the majority in most states. And they wonder why their candidates are losing elections!
When leaders like Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema so much as raise questions about the harms of homosexuality, the RNC throws them under the bus faster than you can say "political correctness." Agema, a staunch Michigan conservative, is taking fire from his own party for a Facebook post that detailed the harms of homosexuality. And while people may not agree with everything in his column, they should agree on his freedom to call for a discussion. But under this new "inclusive" and "welcoming" RNC, simply raising awareness on certain social issues is off-limits. A group of GOP officials is calling on Agema to resign. Although state party chairman Bobby Schostak isn't one of them, he did release a statement suggesting that statistics about the consequences of homosexual behavior (consequences which even the Left acknowledges!) are a "form of hate."
While Agema's research may be somewhat outdated, FRC's "Top 10 Myths about Homosexuality" highlights a summary of recent data, which all point to the high rates of physical and mental illness associated with homosexuality. Several of these hazards are echoed by the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, which makes a point of posting the risks so that people can discuss them with their doctors. To his credit, Agema isn't backing down. He insists that we shouldn't cut off debate about a lifestyle with direct public policy implications.
He's right. Anyone who's read about the growing crisis of sexually transmitted infections in America understands that all forms of promiscuity--homosexual and otherwise--are having a major impact on public health. We can't reverse those trends by burying our head in the sand and throwing money at the epidemic. Ignoring the deeper issues only perpetuates the problem and does a disservice to taxpayers who are literally paying the price for America's sexual liberalism.
Of course, the irony is that while the RNC is busy self-censoring, the Republicans' position on marriage isn't what voters are complaining about. According to a new Gallup survey, only 3% of Republicans criticized the party's platform on social issues. A far greater number--14%--thinks the GOP's biggest problem is that it doesn't stand up for its positions. A fact that conservatives like Dave Agema can certainly attest to.
Can you keep a secret? So can DOJ.
So much for the "most transparent administration in history." According to reports, 2012 was a record year for government secrecy, as U.S. agencies ignored more than 479,000 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. FRC refuses to be 479,001, as our organization-in conjunction with Judicial Watch--filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Obama Justice Department for records revealing the full extent of coordination between the DOJ and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The cozy relationship between SPLC and DOJ raised more than a few eyebrows in February when Judicial Watch released dozens of pages of emails suggesting unprecedented collaboration between the radical group, which was linked in federal court to domestic terrorism, and the President's Justice Department. SPLC has had stunning access at DOJ, despite being directly linked to D.C.'s first-ever domestic terrorism conviction--the shooting at FRC last year. Has the administration stepped back from the dangerous extremists at SPLC or is it covering up a deeper conspiracy?
In the Courts, Two Best Case Scenarios!
Anyone who's followed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals probably thought it was an elaborate April Fools' joke. But to the surprise of many, the most liberal appellate court in America actually did uphold the right of citizens to pray before legislative or government hearings. In a stunning decision, the judges unanimously agreed that the prayer policy of Lancaster, California does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The case, Rubin v. City of Lancaster, was even more notable for the meticulous opinion written by Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain who soundly rejected any opposition to the prayers--including those in Jesus's name.
"Rubin and Feller argue that the City, through its prayer practice, has placed its 'official seal of approval' on Christianity," writes O'Scannlain. "Far from it. The City has instead taken every feasible precaution--short of the extra step (itself fraught with constitutional peril) of requiring volunteers to refrain altogether from referencing sectarian figures--to ensure its own evenhandedness."
In more good news, religious freedom won a second victory from a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In Atheists of Florida v. City of Lakeland, the court upheld a city prayer policy similar to the one found in Lancaster, California. If anything, the expression of its facial neutrality was even more elaborate and explicitly stated than was that of its sister city in California. Lakeland instituted a written, neutral policy after its prior practices were challenged. The Court rejected the claims of the atheists that something like an "all-comers" prayer policy is objectionable under First Amendment principles.
Interestingly, these two decisions set these two appeals courts at odds with two other federal appellate courts. Relatively recently, the Second Circuit and Fourth Circuit have applied Supreme Court precedent differently to strike down facially neutral prayer policies. This sets up the possibility that "legislative prayer" will make its way back to the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future--where, for once, we hope they follow the Ninth Circuit's lead and protect the rights of citizens to pray in the public square!
** Oops! Yesterday, in congratulating North Dakota on its incredible string of pro-life victories, we should have thanked the North Dakota Family Alliance for its work. Learn more about the impact they're having at NDFA.org!
*** The Washington Post had a laughable description of last month's March for Marriage when it reported that "dozens" of people joined the event. Click on the video below to get the real scoop on last Tuesday's crowds!
**** Easter is the perfect time to talk about freedom, and FRC's Ken Klukowski does exactly that in his new Breitbart column, "Christians and Religious Liberty in America."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.