Massachusetts

Knight Compares Calif. Marriage to Pearl Harbor

Robert Knight, tired of hearing “gay activists” argue that “the sky is not falling” and the “sun still came out, the birds still chirped and the flowers still bloomed” after Massachusetts permitted gay marriage, comes up with a stinging retort: “Well, the birds chirped and the flowers bloomed in Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, as the American fleet lay smoldering.”

Gays Seek "To Recruit Sexually Confused Adolescents Into Their Lifestyle"

Steve Hotze, one of Huckabee’s more extreme Texas backers, freaks out over the California marriage ruling: “What if you do not approve of a person's sexual orientation? Why should you be deprived of your discretion on whether or not to work with or hire that person? What about the rest of us? Why should your right to freedom of association be infringed upon?...In Massachusetts the Catholic adoption agencies were forced to close because the state mandated that they had to allow homosexuals to adopt children. In Canada, it is a hate crime to speak against homosexuality. What about the rights of those who do not approve of these activities?”

McCain’s Judges Pledge Paying Dividends

Back when he was running for president, Rudy Giuliani was not particularly popular with the Religious Right, so he went out of his way to promise to deliver on their most pressing issue:  the future of the Supreme Court.  

For its part, the Right was torn between the idea of standing firm in its refusal to support Giuliani and swallowing its principles for the sake of the next Justice, with some claiming all that mattered was getting control of the Supreme Court while others insisted that they would not be bought off with such promises.  

As it turned out, Giuliani’s campaign quickly collapsed and the Right was spared the dilemma of having to choose … at least when it came to Giuliani; they are now facing a similar dilemma with John McCain.  

As with Giuliani, some right-wing leaders like James Dobson have already declared that they will not, under any circumstances, vote for McCain even though the McCain campaign has been busy working hard to woo them by guaranteeing more nominees like John Roberts and Samuel Alito … and maybe even a Robert Bork thrown in for good measure.

And it looks like those efforts are starting to pay off:

Prominent conservatives and activists are indicating they will put aside their differences with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and rally their supporters to his side because of one issue: federal judgeships.

In big gatherings and small, in e-mails and one-on-one conversations, conservative opinion leaders fear a Democratic president, especially Sen. Barack Obama, will use the presidential power to appoint federal judges who will remove references to God and religious symbols from public places.

They predict the incoming president likely will fill more vacancies on the federal bench over the next four years than at any time in recent memory, giving a Democratic administration the power to shape the courts to reflect a liberal worldview.

Federal judgeships have become the ultimate recurring political battle. The Senate yesterday confirmed the second appeals court nominee of the year, a far lower rate than Republicans had anticipated and underscoring the political stakes involved. Even with Republicans in control from 2003 through 2006 they had a difficult time getting appeals court nominees passed in the face of Democratic filibusters.

Conservatives said the issue is so powerful that it could be worth looking past what they see as Mr. McCain's other flaws. They have clashed with the senator on issues such as his support for strict limits on campaign finance, his teaming with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, on immigration and his votes against President Bush's two major tax-cut packages.

Weyrich Repents, Again

Things have not been going very well for Paul Weyrich lately.  First, he endorsed Mitt Romney for President, but when Romney was forced to drop out, he threw his support behind Mike Huckabee.  Then, when Huckabee too dropped out, Weyrich apparently had a crisis of conscience and confessed his sins to his allies on the Right at a meeting in New Orleans last monthy: 

Weyrich, a Romney supporter and one of those Farris had chastised for not supporting Huckabee, steered his wheelchair to the front of the room and slowly turned to face his compatriots. In a voice barely above a whisper, he said, "Friends, before all of you and before almighty God, I want to say I was wrong."

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

In what was perceived to be a public act of penance for his earlier support of Romney, Weyrich signed on to an ad warning John McCain that the idea of naming Romney as his running mate was “utterly unacceptable” and that doing so would destroy the GOP’s long-standing ties with its right-wing base.

And that seemed to be the end of it … until The American Mind reported that Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation had quietly sent out a press release trying to distance Weyrich from the anti-Romney ad: 

Recently I received a phone call from someone asking if former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney should be Arizona Senator John McCain’s selection for Vice President of the United States.

I said, “No” because I did not think this was the best path for Romney right now; nor was it, in my view, the right fit for McCain. My understanding was that this was to be a personal letter to the Senator; it was not clear to me that this was to be an advertisement.

Thus, I now request that my involvement in this effort be disregarded as this effort to influence the Senator moves on.

If Weyrich is to be believed, he either didn’t read the letter or didn’t know that it was going to be made public.  Of course, even if that was the case, the text of the ad, with Weyrich’s signature attached, was made public a few days before it ran, giving him plenty of time to disavow it or demand that his name be removed.  He did neither, choosing instead to furtively issue a press release to a conservative blog begging that his role in this entire imbroglio simply be "disregarded."

Paul Weyrich’s Penance

Back in the Fall of 2007, Gov. Mitt Romney was riding high, having barely won the Values Voter Summit’s straw poll and positioning himself as the candidate favored by both Religious Right Beltway-insiders like Jay Sekulow and outsiders like Lou Sheldon and Bob Jones.   In fact, Romney was being pitched as the only alternative to unacceptable Rudy Giuliani, the unelectable Mike Huckabee, the unexciting Fred Thompson, and the unforgiven John McCain.

Romney’s efforts to position himself as the Right’s candidate of choice received a significant boost when, in November, he secured the endorsement of right-wing icon Paul Weyrich:

Today, Paul Weyrich, Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, announced his support for Governor Mitt Romney and his campaign to be our country's next President. Paul Weyrich is one of the premier leaders in the conservative movement, having founded the Heritage Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

"As he travels across the country, Governor Romney has outlined a blueprint to build a stronger America rooted in our common conservative principles. With a clear conservative vision to move America forward, he will strengthen our economy, our military and our families. More importantly, he already has an exceptional record of putting conservative values to work. Because of his experience, vision and values, I am proud to support Governor Romney," said Paul Weyrich.

But over the coming months, Romney’s campaign failed to catch fire and he eventually dropped out of the race and Weyrich threw his support to Huckabee, whose campaign likewise failed to generate significant support and folded.

Since then, Weyrich appears to have done some soul-searching and has come to regret his support of Romney at the expense of Huckabee:

In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.

The extent of Weyrich’s remorse appears to be even deeper than anyone could have imagined, as he has now joined a group of former-Huckabee backers and other right-wing activists in warning McCain that picking Romney as a running mate would be “utterly unacceptable”

Pretty Good Deal

When Matt Barber of Concerned Women for America announced recently that he had discovered “proof” of the “gay agenda”—in the form of gays and lesbians looking for government jobs—we had a hard time taking him seriously. But vigilant anti-gay activist Brian Camenker is on the case, searching for intrigue in the appointment of a gay administrative judge:

Brian Camenker, a pro-family advocate in Massachusetts, is questioning why a prominent homosexual activist was appointed to judge, amidst controversy over a political donation and more than $120,000 in campaign funds.

The Massachusetts governor's council recently voted 6-to-1 in favor of appointing former state senator Cheryl Jacques as an Industrial Accidents Board Judge. Prior to her appointment, Jacques served as the president of the pro-homosexual organization the Human Rights Campaign. As president, she helped the HRC defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment. Jacques was also an outspoken proponent for homosexual causes as a state senator.

Opponents of Jacques claim the appointment is nothing more than a political payoff for the $500 dollars she donated to Governor Deval Patrick's campaign and the subsequent support he received from the homosexual movement. Opponents also question why Jacques still has $127,000 in campaign funds since she has not run for office for some time.

Leaving aside the issue of how one could pursue "the homosexual agenda" from the Industrial Accidents Board, Camenker raises some important questions, like: Is $500 all it takes to secure an appointment in Massachusetts? And to what positions will Gov. Patrick appoint the other 8,850 people who gave him $500?

Alternatively, Camenker—whose group MassResistance was recently labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center—could be focusing his attention on Jacques for some other reason.

Who Will Console Rick Scarborough?

With the Republican presidential campaign seemingly narrowed to a race between John McCain and Mitt Romney, one wonders what will become of Mike Huckabee’s more high-profile Religious Right backers?  While Janet Folger appears busy starting up her own anti-Romney front group, Huckabee’s other most vocal and committed supporter, Rick Scarborough, seems to have been reduced to complaining and finger-pointing:

Scarborough was scathing in his assessment of U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who picked up Rudy Giuliani’s endorsement Wednesday (and might haul in the backing of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who had supported Giuliani).

Scarborough told me: “We are left with a candidate for president who showed his disdain for the Christian Right in 2000 when he tried to salvage his candidacy by trashing Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson while campaigning in South Carolina. He destroyed any attempt by (Senate Majority Leader) Bill Frist to end once and for all the unconstitutional requirement of 60 senators to affirm judicial appointments by joining the Gang of 14 (senators from both parties agreeing to avoid frequent partisan wars over judges) and his McCain/Feingold (campaign finance) bill was a direct assault on grassroots activism while McCain-Kennedy (an immigration act) revealed his true convictions about amnesty. Oddly enough, the ‘establishment’ candidate once threatened to leave the party he now will likely represent.”

Scarborough took issue with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney too, saying Romney “was wrong on every pro-family issue his entire career until he decided to run for the Republican nomination.”   

Scarborough rued: “The most visible Christian leaders in our movement decided that Huckabee was ‘unelectable,’ which became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I am angered and frustrated by that reality, but secure in God’s sovereignty.”

It has been a tough campaign for Scarborough, who has been struggling from the very beginning to figure out how best to position himself in order to maximize his influence and visibility.  Initially, Scarborough sounded like he was supporting Sam Brownback and announced that he’d be launching a “70 Weeks to Save America” crusade to mobilize “100,000 Values Voters, 10,000 key leaders, 5,000 Patriot Pastors and 5,000 women” – an effort that almost immediately put the organization deep in debt. 

Over the coming months, he went on to suggest that none of the top-tier candidates was going to be acceptable to the GOP’s Religious Right base and that they should consider leaving the party all together.  But then, when others began suggesting the same thing, Scarborough flip-flopped and told them to “grow up,” hold their noses, and support the Republican nominee for the sake of judges … only to flip-flop back again and say that his political work was not about winning elections but “honoring Christ.” 

He then got involved with the Values Voter Debate, where Mike Huckabee firmly established himself as the “David among Jesse’s sons" and soon he was serving on Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition and hard to work organizing pro-Huckabee get-out-the-vote rallies and joining the candidate at fundraisers.

But now that Huckabee’s campaign seems to be winding down, Scarborough is on the verge of being left without a candidate or a coherent set of principles on which to move forward.  What, oh what, is a Christocrat to do?

Hijacking the Language of Faith

Yesterday, The Press Register in Alabama ran an op-ed by Randy Brinson entitled “Language of Faith Hijacked.”  In it, Brinson complained that all of the talk of faith in the current presidential election is confusing voters:

In this presidential cycle, nearly every campaign, both Democrat and Republican, has developed a faith outreach component to facilitate communicating to the faithful. The 2008 presidential election will focus on the faith and values of the individual candidates more than any in modern history.

While this may give solace to many faith-oriented political activists, it only makes it difficult for voters to decipher which candidate truly understands the link between personal faith and policy.

Despite this onslaught of personal spirituality, it has been even more difficult for voters to determine whether some of the candidates even understand the particular faith they profess to embrace.

Brinson went on to criticize Barack Obama, saying that his talk of faith, “may be losing the audience he seeks to engage,” and Mitt Romney, questioning “if his Mormon faith guided his present moral convictions, what guided him when he was pro-choice and pro-gay-rights?”

Brinson concluded by seemingly urging these candidates, and presumably others, to focus less on faith and more on “candor, integrity, honesty and character,” as that is what voters are looking for in a candidate.  

Of course, nowhere in the piece does Brinson bother to mention that he has been actively involved in assisting Mike Huckabee:

The Values Voter barnstorm [through Iowa] will be led by Pastor Rick Scarborough, an early Huckabee endorser. Participants include R. Randolph "Randy" Brinson, an iconoclastic social conservative doctor from Alabama who possesses a huge list of Iowa pastors and Christian conservatives. He's also the head of ReedemTheVote, which was active in 2004 and 2006 as a voter registration vehicle for young evangelicals.

As the Washington Post explained last month:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's surge in Iowa, from single digits in the polls to a virtual tie for the lead among Republicans, has captivated the political world and prompted speculation about just how he did it.

The Fix may have found the answer: a physician from Montgomery, Ala., named Randy Brinson.

Brinson is the keeper of a massive e-mail list of much-coveted Christian voters that Huckabee is using to reach and organize people in early-voting states such as Iowa.

Brinson's list numbers about 71 million contacts, with 25 million identified as belonging to "25 and 45 years old, upwardly mobile, right-of-center, conservative households," he said. In other words, a target-rich environment for a candidate such as Huckabee, who is preaching a compassionate conservative message heavily infused with religious sentiment.

In fact, this op-ed appears to be an outgrowth of an email Brinson sent around not too long ago attacking Mitt Romney for … you guessed it, hijacking the language of faith

Brinson wrote an e-mail distributed widely in Iowa that questioned the changed views of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on abortion and gay rights and that asked whether Romney was really being led by his Mormon faith.

Some political commentators have credited that e-mail with being one of several factors that helped turn out conservative Christians for Huckabee.

Brinson said Friday he sent the e-mail because he was concerned that some candidates had "hijacked the language of faith."

Since he’s backing Huckabee, who has made his faith the center of his campaign, Brinson is obviously not worried about political candidates using faith for political purposes.  But like many other religious right activists, he seems to think the “language of faith” is reserved for the “right” kind of “Christian Leader.”

Romney Supporters Resent Huckabee's Focus on Faith

You know something strange is happening within the Republican Party when the supporters of one GOP presidential hopeful start complaining that another is using religion to polarize the electorate. A few weeks ago, we noted how the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez, a vocal Mitt Romney backer, was accusing Mike Huckabee of using the issue of faith in order "to change the subject away from policy and record issues" - as if that has not been the Religious Right's primary tactic for the last two decades. Now it looks as if this talking point has been picked up by others inside the Romney campaign as well:
Mark DeMoss – a fellow Southern Baptist leader and outspoken supporter of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney – argues that the most important qualification when electing someone to public office is proven ability to manage the country rather than the religion litmus test. “I believe faith plus character plus experience plus competence is a recipe for the ideal presidential candidate,” wrote DeMoss in an opinion piece posted on the Web site Beliefnet.com. “But faith alone should neither disqualify one from getting my vote, nor guarantee that they will.” The Christian public relations guru added that a candidate’s “character cannot be overstated” but that his or her “faith can be” and in “this election probably has been.”
Likewise, James Bopp, who is also a Romney supporter, took to the pages of the National Review yesterday to make much the same point:
By emphasizing his qualification for office as a “Christian leader,” the Huckabee campaign, however, has implicitly, and some of his supporters have explicitly, promoted a religious test for office. This threatens to tear this religious coalition apart. And if evangelical Christians legitimize a religious test for public office, they will pay the heaviest price. The liberal elites have long sought to drive people of faith from the public square. They view Mormons as a curiosity, like Christians on steroids, but they loath and fear evangelicals. If a religious test is legitimate for public office, then the Democrats will drive evangelicals out of our democracy.
In other words, Bopp and DeMoss realize that the issue of faith is important and helpful politically only so long as the Republican Party can lay exclusive claim to it and use it as a cudgel against Democrats. But now that Huckabee is doing to Romney what Bopp, DeMoss, and the rest of the Religious Right have been doing to their opponents for the last twenty years, there is a lot of hand-wringing about the inappropriateness of having this type of "religious test" for political candidates and fears that he's ruining the Religious Right's favorite tactic. If the Romney campaign really is opposed to this practice of not-so-subtly denigrating a political opponent's faith and values, does that mean that he will eschew it should he become the GOP's candidate? If so, he might want to disband his "Faith and Values Steering Committee" - which is filled with people like Mark DeMoss and James Bopp.

Keyes Gets Some Love

Overcoming past slights, Alan Keyes will be participating in the the upcoming The Des Moines Register Presidential Debate: "Confirmed candidates for the Republican debate on Wednesday, December 12 are: Ambassador Alan Keyes; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Rep. Duncan Hunter; Arizona Sen. John McCain; Texas Rep. Ron Paul; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo; and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson."

Anti-Gay Scholars Hit Political Road

The Religious Right looks to Maggie Gallagher and Robert George for intellectual cover when arguing that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry, but whatever credibility they have as independent scholars will be put to the test by their new venture, the National Organization for Marriage.

Gallagher, president of the low-key Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (and perhaps most famous for taking money from the Bush Administration while promoting its marriage policy), and George, a Princeton professor, started NOM in order to lobby against marriage equality for same-sex couples and to campaign against legislators connected to the issue. The group ran this billboard in Massachusetts before the state’s 2007 election (image via Good As You):

Massachusetts billboard

The group is airing a radio ad in New Jersey against a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry, featuring a child saying, “God creating Adam and Eve? That was so old-fashioned.” Although the bill, entitled “Civil Marriage and Religious Protection Act,” explicitly states that no religious group would be required to sanction any marriage (a requirement the First Amendment prohibits anyway) , the NOM ad hits on public fears that marriage equality for same-sex couples would imperil churches, stating, “They also want to penalize traditional New Jersey churches with threats to state tax exemptions and adoption licenses.”

Brand Newt

Newt Gingrich has descended upon the Iowa caucuses again, promoting a “Platform of the American People” –and, incredibly, raising the specter of running for vice president:

The timing of his appearances a month before the Jan. 3 Iowa presidential caucuses is leading political observers to suspect he's angling to be on the short list of running-mates for former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee or whoever is the Republican nominee. …

The former House speaker who flirted with a Republican presidential nomination run earlier this year said in a C-SPAN interview on Sunday that he might accept being the presidential nominee's running mate if offered.

"Depending on the circumstances, I'd be honored to be considered and under some circumstances, I'd probably feel compelled to say 'yes,' " said Mr. Gingrich, who says he will work until this summer's presidential nominating conventions "to get both parties to adopt a unity platform on a handful of things they could enact in the first 90 days of 2009."

It was just two months ago that Gingrich’s incipient presidential run was mercifully laid to rest, but some on the Right are apparently holding out hope that the former House speaker will save them, perhaps fondly recalling the “Contract with America” that he put together shortly before the Republicans took control of the House in 1995 and that served as a right-wing rallying cry after the elections.

Of course, a lot has happened since 1995. Gingrich quickly established his lack of popularity—within two years, his favorability rating was at 15 percent. His skills as a political strategist were put to the test as he pursued the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the run up to the 1998 elections, which resulted in a devastating loss for Republicans and his stepping down from leadership. Many Americans no doubt remember the hypocrisy of Gingrich prosecuting Clinton for sexual indiscretion while he himself was having an affair.

Gingrich was a key figure in creating the era of highly-polarized politics, but today he is branding himself, ironically, as a seeker of common ground, launching a campaign earlier this year of platitudes (“Real change requires real change,” etc.). Now, the Right is looking to him as its “ideas man,” gushing over his “intellectual heft.” “Newt Gingrich is the intellectual cornerstone of our modern conservative movement," said the American Conservative Union’s William Lauderback at this year’s CPAC.

While such a reputation on the Right may be hard to believe, it may ultimately doom his vice-presidential aspirations; ACU’s David Keene warns that Gingrich’s “articulateness and willingness to speak out on virtually every issue” would put candidates at risk of being “upstag[ed]” by him. That would indeed be embarrassing.

In any event, we’re sure Gingrich is enjoying all the attention, and it brings to mind the words of longtime Gingrich ally Matt Towery after Gingrich announced he wouldn’t seek the presidency. "The question is, around Washington: Was it a scam?”

The Right Demands Post Flip-Flop Consistency

In early October, Ann Coulter appeared on "Hannity & Colmes" and stated that she has no problem with politicians "flip-flopping" on issues, provided they do so in the right direction:
COLMES: Mitt Romney, the other possible contender, flip-flopped on every issue, has flip-flopped on illegals, flip-flopped on gays... COULTER: He's flipping in my direction. COLMES: But he's flip-flopped. He's changed his position. It depends on what office he's running for in terms of what he says. COULTER: Have I ever said I'm against flip-floppers? ... I just want them to flop in my direction.
With Mitt Romney working to position himself as a consensus candidate for the various right-wing leaders who cannot make up their minds about who to support but know that they will not accept Giuliani, it seems as if this mentality is starting to gain traction:

But [Giuliani's] position on abortion seems to have benefited Mr. Romney, whose new, pro-life position has helped him with religious conservatives. Some say they fear Mr. Giuliani’s pro-choice stance enough to overlook Mr. Romney’s late-in-life conversion.

“If they come around to seeing things our way the last thing we should do, I think, is throw stones at them,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an influential social conservative group. But, he warned, “For whatever reason, the positions Governor Romney has arrived at are his positions, and if he is to remain politically viable in any way, he will have to maintain those positions.”

The latter part of Perkins' statement pretty well sums up Romney's current predicament in that the only reason he is even being considered a legitimate candidate by the Right is because he has done a 180 degree turn away from his record in Massachusetts and blatantly pandered to their agenda. And many on the Right seem perfectly willing to overlook that, provided that Romney remains committed to the post flip-flop positions he now claims to hold. It must be difficult to run for President when the people you have been pandering to suddenly start demanding consistency and accountability.

Romney Picks Up Endorsement From Bob Jones University

The Wall Street Journal reports "Robert R. Taylor, dean of the university’s college of arts and sciences, said he believes the former Massachusetts governor is the only Republican candidate who both stands a chance of winning the White House and will reliably implement the anti-abortion, antigay marriage, pro-gun agenda of Christian conservatives. 'The fact that I’m seen as a Religious Right person would hopefully get others to step out for him.'"

Romney Blames Media for Mormon Phobia

In an interview with Christianity Today, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney addresses the questions some readers may have about a Mormon candidate. But Romney apparently blames the media and those “who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others”:

[Q.] How do you think relations between Mormons and Trinitarian Christians have changed during your lifetime?

I don't know that there's been a significant change relating to doctrine. [But] several months ago, not long before he died, I had the occasion of having the Rev. Jerry Falwell at our home. He said that when he was getting ready to oppose same-sex marriage in California, he met with the president of my church in Salt Lake City, and they agreed to work together in a campaign in California. He said, "Far be it from me to suggest that we don't have the same values and the same objectives."

[Q.] Have you seen changes between 1968, when your father ran for President, and now?

In terms of the relationship between the faiths, I don't see any particular differences. I know the media today focus far more on people of faith. In some circles, the bias against believers is pronounced. There are some people who would like to establish a religion of secularism in this country to replace all others. So people of faith are routinely scrutinized in a way they were not when my dad ran in 1968.

Blaming the media for questions about Romney’s religion is something we’ve seen before (although blaming people who want to “replace all religion” with “secularism” may be a newer one). But if Romney is looking for someone to blame, perhaps he should start with the religious-right activists he’s been trying hard to court. As we posted before:

Surprise! Gays Not Popular at Religious Right’s GOP Debate

Given the radical right’s longstanding obsession with denying legal recognition or protections to LGBT Americans, it’s not surprising that several questions at the "Values Voter Debate" were about protecting America from the gays. Also not surprisingly, these candidates lined up to oppose equality.

The first question of the night, from the American Family Association’s Buddy Smith, was about “protecting” marriage.  Every candidate except libertarian Ron Paul pledged to push for a federal marriage amendment.  Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee touted his record of pushing a marriage amendment in his state and promised to lead an effort to have a constitutional amendment that would affirm marriage as “one man, one woman, for life.”  Rep. Tom Tancredo pledged to do everything possible to pass a federal constitutional amendment, warning that Americans are just “one kooky judge” away from having homosexual marriage forced on them.  Sen. Brownback bragged of his efforts in the Senate to pass the FMA and complained that President Bush had not done more to pass it.  Alan Keyes, who had just tossed his hat in the ring, took a shot at the absent Mitt Romney, calling him “single-handedly responsible” for gays getting married in Massachusetts (not, shall we say, a view widely shared among marriage equality activists).

Paul Weyrich, a founder of the modern Religious Right political movement, closed the first section of the program by asking what candidates would do to counteract “the homosexual agenda.”  Most candidates went back to the need for a marriage amendment to prevent, in Keyes’ typically tempered words, the “destruction of traditional marriage.” Brownback and Rep. Duncan Hunter talked about keeping gays from serving openly in the military.  Libertarian Ron Paul, while saying he is opposed to legislating morality, called for eradicating hate crime laws. Brownback also attacked hate crimes laws as criminalizing thought and moving into an agenda of not allowing people to speak their beliefs.  Businessman John Cox talked about common sense but spouted nonsense, talking about opening floodgates to bestiality and polygamy and warning darkly of “transvestite” teachers in public schools as a reason to support “school choice” and homeschooling.

During the “yes or no” segment of the program, Stephen Bennett, self-proclaimed “former homosexual,” argued that homosexual behavior is immoral and dangerous, and asked whether, as president, candidates would support legislation ensuring that schools would forfeit federal funding if they expose children to “homosexual propaganda” that puts them at risk. All the candidates clicked their green lights to answer “yes.”   A later question asking whether they would pledge to veto ENDA also won unanimous support.  

During a segment in which questions were directed at a single candidate, anti-gay zealot Peter LaBarbera asked the absent Mitt Romney why voters should trust him when he spent so much of  his career promoting “anti-life” and “pro-homosexual” policies and not challenging Marriott’s providing pornography in its hotels as a member of its board.  But perhaps the most memorable anti-gay question came from Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who cited Abraham Lincoln in criticizing Fred Thompson’s “federalist” approach to marriage, essentially making marriage equality the moral equivalent of slavery:

While you were senator you opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, but recently you stated that you would support a marriage amendment that would prevent judges from imposing same-sex marriage, so long as it would not prohibit state legislatures from adopting same-sex marriage. This reasoning is like saying that you favor a constitutional amendment that prohibits judges from imposing slavery, so long as the state legislatures were free to do so. Does not your position fundamentally misunderstand the universal importance of marriage in the same way my latter example about slavery indicates a misunderstanding of human dignity?

We Want Your Votes, But Not Your Questions

As we’ve chronicled several times over the last few weeks, the “Values Voter Presidential Debate” is scheduled for September 17 in Florida.  Featuring a variety of right-wing leaders, the event is designed to give Republican presidential candidates an opportunity to directly address the concerns of, and answer questions from, figures like Phyllis Schlafly, Don Wildmon, Paul Weyrich, Roy Moore, Janet Folger, and Rick Scarborough.

Unfortunately for the organizers of the event, not one of the four top GOP candidates is willing to be seen with them:

The festivities, however, look likely to go off without a marquee name. Queried yesterday by The New York Sun, the McCain campaign cited a scheduling conflict. "We are not attending," a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, Brooke Buchanan, replied by e-mail. "It's the last day of the No Surrender tour — we will be in South Carolina."

Likewise, the Romney campaign's Florida spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, told the Sun that the former Massachusetts governor had "declined due to a scheduling conflict."

Mr. Thompson's press office also is citing "another event on his calendar that day."

The Giuliani camp didn't even bother with the scheduling-conflict ruse, providing the Sun with the text of a letter the former mayor's campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, sent to the debate's organizers on Friday. "Thank you for your kind invitation for Mayor Giuliani to attend a presidential debate hosted by Values Voters," Mr. DuHaime wrote. "Unfortunately Mayor Giuliani will be unable to accept your invitation."

Undoubtedly, that snub is not sitting well with them – and it is probably only being made worse by this:

Today FRC Action announced that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney will speak in a prime-time slot at the Washington Briefing 2007: Values Voter Summit on Friday evening, October 19.

So Romney is willing to show up at a “values voters” event hosted by the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Values and others that features the likes of Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Robert Knight, and Richard Land but won’t have anything to do with the other Values Voter folks?  

It seems as if Romney is willing to accept an invitation to speak to right-wing leaders and activists but is unwilling to actually take questions from them.  While FRC and FOF tend to be considered more “reputable” right-wing groups than the Eagle Forum or Vision America, there is, in actuality, no substantive difference between the views, rhetoric, or mission of these groups.  In fact, several of the participants in the Values Voter Debate are also participating in FRC’s Values Voter Summit, including Star Parker, Bobby Schindler, and Phyllis Schlafly.

So why is it that Romney is willing to pander to the Right at the Values Voter Summit, but is unwilling to actually answer questions from them at the Values Voter Debate? 

Could it be because, while they want their support, they hope to achieve it in a way that allows them to avoid publicly pandering to them by answering questions such as “Do you believe the Ten Commandments should be posted on public property?" or “Do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?”

Alan Keyes Readying Run for President?

It has now been three months since the launch of the Alan Keyes-backed “We Need Alan Keyes For President” movement and the organization’s petition urging him to run has garnered a mere 1700 signatures  - but that seems to be enough to convince Keyes that he is needed in the GOP primary:

Several Republican presidential hopefuls have committed to be in the Mountain State for the West Virginia Republican Presidential Convention.

A spokesman for the West Virginia GOP says 10 candidates have registered for their February convention.

Among those attending will be Sam Brownback, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, and Gene Zarwell.  

More interestingly, it appears as if Keyes might also be participating in the upcoming “Values Voter Presidential Debate” September 17th in Florida.  According to the latest press release: “Seven Republican candidates have confirmed their attendance, but hundreds of encouraging calls are being made to the few remaining unconfirmed candidates.”

Those “remaining unconfirmed candidates” just happen to be the top four Republican hopefuls, each one of which has declared that they won’t be attending:

The festivities, however, look likely to go off without a marquee name. Queried yesterday by The New York Sun, the McCain campaign cited a scheduling conflict. "We are not attending," a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, Brooke Buchanan, replied by e-mail. "It's the last day of the No Surrender tour — we will be in South Carolina."

Likewise, the Romney campaign's Florida spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, told the Sun that the former Massachusetts governor had "declined due to a scheduling conflict."

Mr. Thompson's press office also is citing "another event on his calendar that day."

The Giuliani camp didn't even bother with the scheduling-conflict ruse, providing the Sun with the text of a letter the former mayor's campaign manager, Michael DuHaime, sent to the debate's organizers on Friday. "Thank you for your kind invitation for Mayor Giuliani to attend a presidential debate hosted by Values Voters," Mr. DuHaime wrote. "Unfortunately Mayor Giuliani will be unable to accept your invitation."

A WorldNetDaily article announcing that WND’s own Joseph Farah will be moderating the event, lists only six confirmed participants: Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback, Ron Paul and John Cox.  But since the Values Voter press release says that seven have agreed to participate, could Keyes be that final “candidate?” It is entirely possible, considering that an earlier version of the very same WorldNetDaily article listed Keyes as participating, as does the most recent Rick Scarborough Report.

Perhaps Keyes should hurry up and decide if he is indeed running because a presidential campaign would almost surely raise some concerns about his continuing participation in Vision America’s supposedly non-partisan70 Weeks to Save AmericaCrusade, not to mention concerns about the fairness of the Values Voter debate considering that Keyes was one of the founders of the very organization that is sponsoring it..  

The Passing of D. James Kennedy

D. James Kennedy, the longtime leader of the Coral Ridge megachurch in Florida has died at the age of 76.

Since suffering a heart attack late last year, Kennedy’s health had steadily declined, leading to the shuttering of his Center for Reclaiming America for Christ in April and his official retirement from Coral Ridge Ministries last week, after which we put together a profile of his lengthy and influential career.

PFAW has long monitored Kennedy and his affiliate organizations, leading him, at one point, to claim that “the diabolical mission” of People For the American Way was “to crush the influence of the Christian religion in American society.”  

Below are some other memorable quotes from his years as a leading right-wing figure: 

“God’s Warriors”: Rick Scarborough – “Christ-Ocrat”

CNN's Christiane Amanpour interviewed Vision Americas’ Rick Scarborough for her series "God's Warrirors" amidst his seventy-week “crusade” to save America and rally right-wing voters ahead of next year’s election. In this clip, Scarborough rails against sex education, hate crimes legislation, and gay marriage while calling for the impeachment of federal judges. Transcript after the jump
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