Mississippi

Tony Perkins Embraces the Extreme Personhood Movement

The anti-choice campaign to pass “Personhood Amendments,” the radical plan once shunned by major Religious Right organizations, continues to gain prominent supporters within the conservative movement. Following in the footsteps of other right-wing leaders like Bryan Fischer, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has come out in favor of the Personhood Amendment, which would give legal rights to zygotes and criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, common forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.

As voters consistently voted down Personhood Amendments by lopsided margins in Colorado, leading groups like National Right to Life and Americans United for Life refused to back the Amendment and the Colorado Eagle Forum warned allies in 2009 that the Personhood movement intends to “spread their disaster to key swing states like Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Montana.”

And now the Personhood movement is doing exactly that, but this time with the support of major Religious Right figures, and even Republican politicians.

Fischer, the American Family Association, and the Liberty Counsel have come out strongly in favor of the Personhood Amendment that will be on Mississippi’s November ballot, as have top Republicans like Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Alan Nunnelee.

In Georgia, Perkins praised the Personhood Amendment introduced by state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, saying, “The Georgia Personhood Amendment is a reflection of a growing pro-life sentiment across the country.”

But in 2007, James Bopp, the General Counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, criticized the Personhood measure in Georgia, known as the Human Life Amendment (HLA), in a legal memo. Warning of “the inevitable striking down” of the amendment and that “significant damage would be done,” Bopp said that “the proposed HLA has serious flaws and is not a wise use of pro-life resources at this time.”

Georgia and Mississippi aren’t the only states where the Personhood movement is moving into high gear.

The State House in North Dakota just passed a personhood bill that one supporter said “should shut down” the state’s last clinic that provides abortion services, and a subcommittee in the Iowa State House also approved a personhood bill. Personhood USA, the leading advocacy organization, has pledged to mount fights in states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Montana as well.

Tony Perkins Embraces the Extreme Personhood Movement

The anti-choice campaign to pass “Personhood Amendments,” the radical plan once shunned by major Religious Right organizations, continues to gain prominent supporters within the conservative movement. Following in the footsteps of other right-wing leaders like Bryan Fischer, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has come out in favor of the Personhood Amendment, which would give legal rights to zygotes and criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, common forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.

As voters consistently voted down Personhood Amendments by lopsided margins in Colorado, leading groups like National Right to Life and Americans United for Life refused to back the Amendment and the Colorado Eagle Forum warned allies in 2009 that the Personhood movement intends to “spread their disaster to key swing states like Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Montana.”

And now the Personhood movement is doing exactly that, but this time with the support of major Religious Right figures, and even Republican politicians.

Fischer, the American Family Association, and the Liberty Counsel have come out strongly in favor of the Personhood Amendment that will be on Mississippi’s November ballot, as have top Republicans like Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Alan Nunnelee.

In Georgia, Perkins praised the Personhood Amendment introduced by state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, saying, “The Georgia Personhood Amendment is a reflection of a growing pro-life sentiment across the country.”

But in 2007, James Bopp, the General Counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, criticized the Personhood measure in Georgia, known as the Human Life Amendment (HLA), in a legal memo. Warning of “the inevitable striking down” of the amendment and that “significant damage would be done,” Bopp said that “the proposed HLA has serious flaws and is not a wise use of pro-life resources at this time.”

Georgia and Mississippi aren’t the only states where the Personhood movement is moving into high gear.

The State House in North Dakota just passed a personhood bill that one supporter said “should shut down” the state’s last clinic that provides abortion services, and a subcommittee in the Iowa State House also approved a personhood bill. Personhood USA, the leading advocacy organization, has pledged to mount fights in states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Montana as well.

Porter's Ohio Effort Being Undercut By Her Former Employer

As we have noted in the past, the groups pushing the anti-choice "personhood" amendments all around the country have tended to operate on their own because other established anti-choice groups have refused to support the efforts because a) they are unlikely to pass and b) they are unlikely to survive court challenges.

And despite the fact that the whenever "personhood" has made it onto the ballot, it has failed miserably, organizers continue to press the issue, and are even picking up support for an effort in Mississippi from the American Family Association while Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is introducing national "personhood" legislation in Congress.

And in Ohio, Janet Porter has resurfaced with her own "personhood"-like legislation called "The Heartbeat Bill." The legislation would ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected and, just like with the various "personhood" efforts, Porter's former colleagues at Ohio Right to Life are refusing to support her measure because it won't stand up in court: 

[T]he so-called “Heartbeat Bill” legislation, which would ban abortion as early as 18 to 24 days after conception, isn’t supported by the Ohio Right to Life Society. That organization is backing a number of other anti-abortion bills, including a ban on late-term abortions after 20 weeks except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother or the irreversible impairment of a major body function.

Mike Gonidakis, the group’s executive director, said the heartbeat legislation would not survive a court challenge. “Despite noble aspirations, there is no scenario under which the heartbeat legislation will be upheld by any court and therefore no lives will be saved by passage of this bill,” Gonidakis said in an e-mail. “Our goal is to protect the lives we can now and that is why we introduced the late-term ban.”

...

Janet Porter, a key backer and a former Ohio Right to Life legislative director, said, “If we never ask, we’re never going to get it.”

Porter's Ohio Effort Being Undercut By Her Former Employer

As we have noted in the past, the groups pushing the anti-choice "personhood" amendments all around the country have tended to operate on their own because other established anti-choice groups have refused to support the efforts because a) they are unlikely to pass and b) they are unlikely to survive court challenges.

And despite the fact that the whenever "personhood" has made it onto the ballot, it has failed miserably, organizers continue to press the issue, and are even picking up support for an effort in Mississippi from the American Family Association while Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is introducing national "personhood" legislation in Congress.

And in Ohio, Janet Porter has resurfaced with her own "personhood"-like legislation called "The Heartbeat Bill." The legislation would ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected and, just like with the various "personhood" efforts, Porter's former colleagues at Ohio Right to Life are refusing to support her measure because it won't stand up in court: 

[T]he so-called “Heartbeat Bill” legislation, which would ban abortion as early as 18 to 24 days after conception, isn’t supported by the Ohio Right to Life Society. That organization is backing a number of other anti-abortion bills, including a ban on late-term abortions after 20 weeks except when necessary to prevent the death of the mother or the irreversible impairment of a major body function.

Mike Gonidakis, the group’s executive director, said the heartbeat legislation would not survive a court challenge. “Despite noble aspirations, there is no scenario under which the heartbeat legislation will be upheld by any court and therefore no lives will be saved by passage of this bill,” Gonidakis said in an e-mail. “Our goal is to protect the lives we can now and that is why we introduced the late-term ban.”

...

Janet Porter, a key backer and a former Ohio Right to Life legislative director, said, “If we never ask, we’re never going to get it.”

Arizona to Consider Bill Banning ‘Race-Based Abortion’

The anti-choice movement has consistently attempted to tar reproductive freedoms as anti-black genocide. Most recently, Rick Santorum said that it was “almost remarkable for a black man” like Obama to support abortion rights, and Terry Heck believes that Obama’s pro-choice position made him a “disgrace” to “his ancestors” like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

Now, a state legislator in Arizona wants to “criminalize abortions if they’re sought because of race or sex,” reports Cronkite News:

If a state lawmaker has his way, women seeking abortions in Arizona would be required to sign documents saying they’re not terminating a pregnancy because of the fetus’ race or sex.

Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, is sponsoring two bills that would criminalize abortions if they’re sought because of race or sex. Doctors knowingly performing abortions for those reasons would face Class 3 felony charges.

Michelle Steinberg, an Arizona policy manager for Planned Parenthood, said women should never have to make a case to get an abortion and called the bills demeaning and bizarre.

“This could be a slippery slope in terms of requiring women to disclose why they’re choosing abortion,” she said. “Women should never have to present a case to get an abortion.”

Montenegro didn’t respond to several requests for interviews left with his office and with a spokesman for House Republicans. However, he told Capitol Media Services that abortion clinics are targeting minority areas and that more females are aborted than males.

Steinberg said the fact that minority women seek more abortions stems from other problems.

“This idea that minority women are having abortions at higher rates than white women speaks more to rates of poverty, access to contraception and a lack of sex education,” she said. “This is not racial genocide for God’s sake; this is a real problem that we’re not addressing.”



U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican representing Arizona’s second district, in 2009 sponsored similar legislation: the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. The bill, which never made it out of committee, would have criminalized abortion because of the “sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent.”

Illinois and Pennsylvania have laws prohibiting sex-selection abortions. Several other states, including Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Idaho and Oklahoma have tried to enact legislation that would prevent sex- or race-selection abortions.



Roy Spece, a lawyer and professor at the University of Arizona’s law and medical schools who co-authored a book on cases of bioethics and the law, said Montenegro’s bills could move Arizona backward.

“We could return to the era when you have hospital committees who would decide why each specific woman’s reason for having an abortion is sufficient,” he said.

Arizona to Consider Bill Banning ‘Race-Based Abortion’

The anti-choice movement has consistently attempted to tar reproductive freedoms as anti-black genocide. Most recently, Rick Santorum said that it was “almost remarkable for a black man” like Obama to support abortion rights, and Terry Heck believes that Obama’s pro-choice position made him a “disgrace” to “his ancestors” like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.

Now, a state legislator in Arizona wants to “criminalize abortions if they’re sought because of race or sex,” reports Cronkite News:

If a state lawmaker has his way, women seeking abortions in Arizona would be required to sign documents saying they’re not terminating a pregnancy because of the fetus’ race or sex.

Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, is sponsoring two bills that would criminalize abortions if they’re sought because of race or sex. Doctors knowingly performing abortions for those reasons would face Class 3 felony charges.

Michelle Steinberg, an Arizona policy manager for Planned Parenthood, said women should never have to make a case to get an abortion and called the bills demeaning and bizarre.

“This could be a slippery slope in terms of requiring women to disclose why they’re choosing abortion,” she said. “Women should never have to present a case to get an abortion.”

Montenegro didn’t respond to several requests for interviews left with his office and with a spokesman for House Republicans. However, he told Capitol Media Services that abortion clinics are targeting minority areas and that more females are aborted than males.

Steinberg said the fact that minority women seek more abortions stems from other problems.

“This idea that minority women are having abortions at higher rates than white women speaks more to rates of poverty, access to contraception and a lack of sex education,” she said. “This is not racial genocide for God’s sake; this is a real problem that we’re not addressing.”



U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican representing Arizona’s second district, in 2009 sponsored similar legislation: the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act. The bill, which never made it out of committee, would have criminalized abortion because of the “sex, gender, color or race of the child, or the race of a parent.”

Illinois and Pennsylvania have laws prohibiting sex-selection abortions. Several other states, including Georgia, Mississippi, New Jersey, Idaho and Oklahoma have tried to enact legislation that would prevent sex- or race-selection abortions.



Roy Spece, a lawyer and professor at the University of Arizona’s law and medical schools who co-authored a book on cases of bioethics and the law, said Montenegro’s bills could move Arizona backward.

“We could return to the era when you have hospital committees who would decide why each specific woman’s reason for having an abortion is sufficient,” he said.

Republican Leaders Continue To Embrace Bryan Fischer

As we have said time and time again, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is among the most openly and viciously bigoted Religious Right leaders active today ... but that does not seem to bother any of the Republican leaders who continually appear on his radio program.

Just last week, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker joined Fischer to discuss his anti-choice legislation, and before that it was presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty telling Fischer he'll reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

This is in addition to past appearances from Sen. Jim Inhofe, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Alan Nunnelee, and Rep. Raul Labrador.

And the pattern continues, as in the last few days Fischer has had two more Republican members on Congress on his program, starting last Friday with Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey who joined Fischer to discuss his anti-choice efforts:

And then on Monday, Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia also joined Fischer to discuss his appearance on Bill Maher and defend his Creationist views:

Bryan Fischer spends the majority of his time viciously attacking gays and Mulsims (and bears) and yet Republican leaders are eager to make time to regularly join him on his radio program.

 

Republican Leaders Continue To Embrace Bryan Fischer

As we have said time and time again, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is among the most openly and viciously bigoted Religious Right leaders active today ... but that does not seem to bother any of the Republican leaders who continually appear on his radio program.

Just last week, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker joined Fischer to discuss his anti-choice legislation, and before that it was presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty telling Fischer he'll reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

This is in addition to past appearances from Sen. Jim Inhofe, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. Alan Nunnelee, and Rep. Raul Labrador.

And the pattern continues, as in the last few days Fischer has had two more Republican members on Congress on his program, starting last Friday with Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey who joined Fischer to discuss his anti-choice efforts:

And then on Monday, Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia also joined Fischer to discuss his appearance on Bill Maher and defend his Creationist views:

Bryan Fischer spends the majority of his time viciously attacking gays and Mulsims (and bears) and yet Republican leaders are eager to make time to regularly join him on his radio program.

 

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 2/01/11

Michele Bachmann

SOTU: “Tea Party State of the Union Response” is widely panned, mocked on SNL (HuffPo, 1/31).

Budget: Veterans groups blast Bachmann’s proposal to slash veterans benefits (UPI, 1/28).

Congress: Invites Religious Right notable and anti-Islam activist to teach class on Constitution (RWW, 1/26).

Haley Barbour

Civil Rights: Congressman says Barbour's civil rights work in Mississippi more symbolic than substantive (Clarion Ledger, 1/30).

South Carolina: Privately meets with top South Carolina GOP activists (CNN, 1/25).

John Bolton

Foreign Affairs: In CNSNews interview, claims Obama “basically doesn’t care” about foreign and national security issues (1/31).

Budget: Tells neoconservative group that defense department shouldn’t face budget cuts (Philly Daily News, 1/28).

Mike Huckabee

PAC: Leadership PAC “plagued by anemic fundraising” (Politico, 1/31).

Health Care: Lauds ruling on reform law, says “it’s nice to see the courts upholding the Constitution” (Sunshine State News, 1/31).

Foreign Affairs: Justifies Israeli settlements by saying they are building in “the place that God gave them.” (AP, 1/31).

Polls: Ahead of rivals in early GOP polls with strong support among conservatives (TPM, 1/27).

Jon Huntsman

2012: Leaves post as Ambassador to China, advisers start New Horizons leadership PAC (Salt Lake Tribune, 1/31).

Religion: Will Huntsman’s Mormon faith hurt his presidential aspirations? (WaPo, 1/31).

Sarah Palin

PAC: Led other potential presidential candidates in final quarter fundraising (National Journal, 1/31).

Second Amendment: Defended gun rights and praised conservationism at Safari Club (AP, 1/31).

SOTU: Rants against Obama’s “WTF” moments, says he can’t be trusted (Facebook, 1/27).

Tim Pawlenty

Iowa: Courts Religious Right activists in next visit to Iowa (Iowa Independent, 1/31).

Foreign Affairs: Says Obama Administration’s response to crisis in Egypt was “inconsistent and bordering on incoherent” (Minnesota Post, 1/31).

PAC: Freedom First PAC has about $155,000 on hand after midterm election (WaPo, 1/28).

Religious Right: Meets with anti-choice radical Rob Schenck (RWW, 1/28).

Mitt Romney

Health Care: Obama aide says administration “got some good ideas” from Romney’s Massachusetts health law (CNN, 1/31).

PAC: Raised more than all other prospective candidates in 2010 (NYT, 1/31).

New Hampshire: Meets with New Hampshire businessmen (Union Leader, 1/31).

Rick Santorum

Religious Right: Set to address the far-right group Catholic Citizenship (AP, 1/29).

Iowa: Hires staffers with ties to corporate-backed group to lead Iowa campaign (RWW, 1/28).

SOTU: Pens New Hampshire op-ed criticizing Obama’s State of the Union (Union Leader, 1/27).

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 2/01/11

Michele Bachmann

SOTU: “Tea Party State of the Union Response” is widely panned, mocked on SNL (HuffPo, 1/31).

Budget: Veterans groups blast Bachmann’s proposal to slash veterans benefits (UPI, 1/28).

Congress: Invites Religious Right notable and anti-Islam activist to teach class on Constitution (RWW, 1/26).

Haley Barbour

Civil Rights: Congressman says Barbour's civil rights work in Mississippi more symbolic than substantive (Clarion Ledger, 1/30).

South Carolina: Privately meets with top South Carolina GOP activists (CNN, 1/25).

John Bolton

Foreign Affairs: In CNSNews interview, claims Obama “basically doesn’t care” about foreign and national security issues (1/31).

Budget: Tells neoconservative group that defense department shouldn’t face budget cuts (Philly Daily News, 1/28).

Mike Huckabee

PAC: Leadership PAC “plagued by anemic fundraising” (Politico, 1/31).

Health Care: Lauds ruling on reform law, says “it’s nice to see the courts upholding the Constitution” (Sunshine State News, 1/31).

Foreign Affairs: Justifies Israeli settlements by saying they are building in “the place that God gave them.” (AP, 1/31).

Polls: Ahead of rivals in early GOP polls with strong support among conservatives (TPM, 1/27).

Jon Huntsman

2012: Leaves post as Ambassador to China, advisers start New Horizons leadership PAC (Salt Lake Tribune, 1/31).

Religion: Will Huntsman’s Mormon faith hurt his presidential aspirations? (WaPo, 1/31).

Sarah Palin

PAC: Led other potential presidential candidates in final quarter fundraising (National Journal, 1/31).

Second Amendment: Defended gun rights and praised conservationism at Safari Club (AP, 1/31).

SOTU: Rants against Obama’s “WTF” moments, says he can’t be trusted (Facebook, 1/27).

Tim Pawlenty

Iowa: Courts Religious Right activists in next visit to Iowa (Iowa Independent, 1/31).

Foreign Affairs: Says Obama Administration’s response to crisis in Egypt was “inconsistent and bordering on incoherent” (Minnesota Post, 1/31).

PAC: Freedom First PAC has about $155,000 on hand after midterm election (WaPo, 1/28).

Religious Right: Meets with anti-choice radical Rob Schenck (RWW, 1/28).

Mitt Romney

Health Care: Obama aide says administration “got some good ideas” from Romney’s Massachusetts health law (CNN, 1/31).

PAC: Raised more than all other prospective candidates in 2010 (NYT, 1/31).

New Hampshire: Meets with New Hampshire businessmen (Union Leader, 1/31).

Rick Santorum

Religious Right: Set to address the far-right group Catholic Citizenship (AP, 1/29).

Iowa: Hires staffers with ties to corporate-backed group to lead Iowa campaign (RWW, 1/28).

SOTU: Pens New Hampshire op-ed criticizing Obama’s State of the Union (Union Leader, 1/27).

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) Proposes Legislation “Identical” to Radical “Personhood” Amendment

Right Wing Watch has been covering the extreme “personhood” movement, which after being overwhelmingly rejected by voters in Colorado, has emerged as a powerful force in Mississippi, where the amendment will be on the 2011 ballot. Now, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is taking the “personhood” fight to the national level by introducing legislation in the Senate mirroring Mississippi’s personhood initiative.

The “personhood” movement seeks to give legal rights to zygotes and would effectively criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, common forms of birth control and even in vitro fertilization. The once-fringe “personhood” activists were initially renounced by Religious Right organizations as unrealistic and unhelpful to the anti-choice cause, but now groups like the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel along with leading Republican politicians have embraced the Mississippi Personhood campaign led by Les Riley, a radical activist who supports the separatist “Christian Exodus” movement.

Senator Wicker spoke to the AFA’s Director of Issue Analysis and resident bigot Bryan Fischer on Focal Point and pledged to introduce the “Life at Conception Act.” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) plans to introduce a companion bill in the House.

About two minutes in to the interview, Wicker tells Fischer that “a personhood amendment to the state constitution [will be] voted on very soon in my state, and I’m not the only one who’s seized on to this idea and of course it will be introduced in the House of Representatives also.”

Fischer replies, “In fact we have talked on this program frequently about the personhood amendment, and in fact I believe if I’m not mistaken Senator Wicker, the language in Mississippi’s personhood amendment and in your ‘Life at Conception Act’ are virtually identical in the key paragraphs.” Wicker backs up Fischer’s claim, saying, “That is certainly my understanding, yes sir.”

Watch:

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) Proposes Legislation “Identical” to Radical “Personhood” Amendment

Right Wing Watch has been covering the extreme “personhood” movement, which after being overwhelmingly rejected by voters in Colorado, has emerged as a powerful force in Mississippi, where the amendment will be on the 2011 ballot. Now, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is taking the “personhood” fight to the national level by introducing legislation in the Senate mirroring Mississippi’s personhood initiative.

The “personhood” movement seeks to give legal rights to zygotes and would effectively criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, common forms of birth control and even in vitro fertilization. The once-fringe “personhood” activists were initially renounced by Religious Right organizations as unrealistic and unhelpful to the anti-choice cause, but now groups like the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel along with leading Republican politicians have embraced the Mississippi Personhood campaign led by Les Riley, a radical activist who supports the separatist “Christian Exodus” movement.

Senator Wicker spoke to the AFA’s Director of Issue Analysis and resident bigot Bryan Fischer on Focal Point and pledged to introduce the “Life at Conception Act.” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) plans to introduce a companion bill in the House.

About two minutes in to the interview, Wicker tells Fischer that “a personhood amendment to the state constitution [will be] voted on very soon in my state, and I’m not the only one who’s seized on to this idea and of course it will be introduced in the House of Representatives also.”

Fischer replies, “In fact we have talked on this program frequently about the personhood amendment, and in fact I believe if I’m not mistaken Senator Wicker, the language in Mississippi’s personhood amendment and in your ‘Life at Conception Act’ are virtually identical in the key paragraphs.” Wicker backs up Fischer’s claim, saying, “That is certainly my understanding, yes sir.”

Watch:

Leading GOP Contenders to Speak At Forums Hosted By Iowa's Leading Anti-Gay Group

The other day, Brian noted that Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would soon be heading to Iowa to discuss "pro-family issues, all the way from life and marriage to economic policy and energy policy" at a forum being hosted by the right-wing group The Family Leader

The Family Leader is the new group that is being run by Bob Vander Plaats after his successful effort to remove three state Supreme Court justices over the court's gay marriage ruling ... and it looks like Pawlenty will be just the first in a series of GOP presidential hopefuls to participate in such forums for the anti-gay group: 

The series line-up begins with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on Monday, February 7. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and businessman and radio host Herman Cain have also made commitments to participate. Other invited speakers include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Senator John Thune, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and Indiana Representative Mike Pence.

“Iowans play a vital role in hosting the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus, and it is our privilege to offer this Presidential Lecture Series in order to provide our very influential base an opportunity to gain insight into our political process,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. “Our base is serious about its role in the political process and the Presidential Lecture Series is a focused strategy to facilitate meaningful exposure to our constituents.”

It is worth pointing out that Vander Plaats' crusade against the Supreme Court continues to this day, leading a former advisor to declare that he has become "obsessed with the gay-marriage issue" and that his effort had deep support from many of the national anti-gay Religious Right groups, including the American Family Association and its bigot-in-chief Bryan Fischer.

Leading GOP Contenders to Speak At Forums Hosted By Iowa's Leading Anti-Gay Group

The other day, Brian noted that Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would soon be heading to Iowa to discuss "pro-family issues, all the way from life and marriage to economic policy and energy policy" at a forum being hosted by the right-wing group The Family Leader

The Family Leader is the new group that is being run by Bob Vander Plaats after his successful effort to remove three state Supreme Court justices over the court's gay marriage ruling ... and it looks like Pawlenty will be just the first in a series of GOP presidential hopefuls to participate in such forums for the anti-gay group: 

The series line-up begins with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty on Monday, February 7. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and businessman and radio host Herman Cain have also made commitments to participate. Other invited speakers include former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Senator John Thune, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and Indiana Representative Mike Pence.

“Iowans play a vital role in hosting the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus, and it is our privilege to offer this Presidential Lecture Series in order to provide our very influential base an opportunity to gain insight into our political process,” said Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. “Our base is serious about its role in the political process and the Presidential Lecture Series is a focused strategy to facilitate meaningful exposure to our constituents.”

It is worth pointing out that Vander Plaats' crusade against the Supreme Court continues to this day, leading a former advisor to declare that he has become "obsessed with the gay-marriage issue" and that his effort had deep support from many of the national anti-gay Religious Right groups, including the American Family Association and its bigot-in-chief Bryan Fischer.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 1/18/10

Michele Bachmann

GOP: Scheduled to address Montana GOP's Lincoln/Reagan Dinner on Feb 5 (Politico, 1/17).

Iowa: Conservatives in Iowa excited about Bachmann's appearance at Iowans for Tax Relief event this week (Minnesota Public Radio, 1/17).

Religious Right: Ultraconservative writer Joseph Farah praises potential Bachmann bid (WND, 1/11).

Haley Barbour

Immigration: Draconian Arizona-style law on immigrant rights to be considered by the Mississippi state legislature (Fox News, 1/17).

2012: Says he won't make a decision about a presidential run until the spring (WSJ, 1/14).

John Bolton

2012: Tells Russia Today that he could win the GOP nomination since he is in "the mainstream of the Republican Party" (GOP12, 1/17).

Foreign affairs: Knocks Obama Administration's handling of the political crisis in Lebanon (The Hill, 1/16).

Mike Huckabee

Alaska: Travelling to Alaska with a "Christian-based" cruise (HuffPo, 1/14).

Religious Right: Sarah Posner analyzes Huckabee's ties to Evangelical voters, "Christian nation mythology" (Religion Dispatches, 1/12).

Sarah Palin

Fox News: Tells Sean Hannity that Tucson shooting was "left-leaning," defends herself from criticism (Mediaite, 1/17).

Polling: Performs well among Republicans nationwide, but not in early primary states (Public Policy Polling, 1/14).

Arizona: Video response to Tucson shootings widely panned (Politico, 1/13; Salon, 1/12).

Tim Pawlenty

Economics: Opposes raising the debt ceiling despite prospect of default (HufPo, 1/16).

Religious Right: Tells Bryan Fischer of AFA that he supports reinstating Don't Ask Don't Tell (RWW, 1/13).

Palin: Says that her "bullseye" crosshairs map of congressional Democrats isn't "his style" (MinnPost, 1/12).

Mike Pence

2012: Former GOP Congressman launches a draft-Pence petition called the American President Committee (AP, 1/17).

Reproductive Rights: Planned Parenthood criticizes Pence's legislation to strip the group of federal funds (Muncie Star Press, 1/12).

Media: Introduces bill to block possible implementation of the Fairness Doctrine on talk radio (The Hill, 1/12).

Gun Violence: Denounces calls for gun control measures after Tuscon shootings (TPM, 1/12).

Rick Perry

2012: Begins polling voters outside of Texas (NRO, 1/17).

Immigration: Presses for new laws to curb immigrant rights (NYT, 1/15).

Mitt Romney

Foreign affairs: Meets with Israel's Prime Minister after visiting Afghanistan (Politico, 1/14).

Campaign: Hires new political director and pollster (RealClearPolitics, 1/13).

2012: Signs point to spring announcement as Romney steps down from the board of Marriott International (AP, 1/12).

Rick Santorum

South Carolina: Addressed the Aiken Republican Club 2011 kickoff meeting (The Augusta Chronicle, 1/17).

Religious Right: Keynoted major anti-choice rally in Columbia, South Carolina (The State, 1/16).

New Hampshire: Interviewed by Boston Herald at Granite Oath PAC house party (Boston Herald, 1/14).

John Thune

CPAC: Set to address Conservative Political Action Conference in February despite Religious Right boycott (Argus Leader, 1/13).

GOP: Keynote speaker for Missouri Republican Party's Lincoln Days fundraiser (News Leader, 1/11).

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 1/18/10

Michele Bachmann

GOP: Scheduled to address Montana GOP's Lincoln/Reagan Dinner on Feb 5 (Politico, 1/17).

Iowa: Conservatives in Iowa excited about Bachmann's appearance at Iowans for Tax Relief event this week (Minnesota Public Radio, 1/17).

Religious Right: Ultraconservative writer Joseph Farah praises potential Bachmann bid (WND, 1/11).

Haley Barbour

Immigration: Draconian Arizona-style law on immigrant rights to be considered by the Mississippi state legislature (Fox News, 1/17).

2012: Says he won't make a decision about a presidential run until the spring (WSJ, 1/14).

John Bolton

2012: Tells Russia Today that he could win the GOP nomination since he is in "the mainstream of the Republican Party" (GOP12, 1/17).

Foreign affairs: Knocks Obama Administration's handling of the political crisis in Lebanon (The Hill, 1/16).

Mike Huckabee

Alaska: Travelling to Alaska with a "Christian-based" cruise (HuffPo, 1/14).

Religious Right: Sarah Posner analyzes Huckabee's ties to Evangelical voters, "Christian nation mythology" (Religion Dispatches, 1/12).

Sarah Palin

Fox News: Tells Sean Hannity that Tucson shooting was "left-leaning," defends herself from criticism (Mediaite, 1/17).

Polling: Performs well among Republicans nationwide, but not in early primary states (Public Policy Polling, 1/14).

Arizona: Video response to Tucson shootings widely panned (Politico, 1/13; Salon, 1/12).

Tim Pawlenty

Economics: Opposes raising the debt ceiling despite prospect of default (HufPo, 1/16).

Religious Right: Tells Bryan Fischer of AFA that he supports reinstating Don't Ask Don't Tell (RWW, 1/13).

Palin: Says that her "bullseye" crosshairs map of congressional Democrats isn't "his style" (MinnPost, 1/12).

Mike Pence

2012: Former GOP Congressman launches a draft-Pence petition called the American President Committee (AP, 1/17).

Reproductive Rights: Planned Parenthood criticizes Pence's legislation to strip the group of federal funds (Muncie Star Press, 1/12).

Media: Introduces bill to block possible implementation of the Fairness Doctrine on talk radio (The Hill, 1/12).

Gun Violence: Denounces calls for gun control measures after Tuscon shootings (TPM, 1/12).

Rick Perry

2012: Begins polling voters outside of Texas (NRO, 1/17).

Immigration: Presses for new laws to curb immigrant rights (NYT, 1/15).

Mitt Romney

Foreign affairs: Meets with Israel's Prime Minister after visiting Afghanistan (Politico, 1/14).

Campaign: Hires new political director and pollster (RealClearPolitics, 1/13).

2012: Signs point to spring announcement as Romney steps down from the board of Marriott International (AP, 1/12).

Rick Santorum

South Carolina: Addressed the Aiken Republican Club 2011 kickoff meeting (The Augusta Chronicle, 1/17).

Religious Right: Keynoted major anti-choice rally in Columbia, South Carolina (The State, 1/16).

New Hampshire: Interviewed by Boston Herald at Granite Oath PAC house party (Boston Herald, 1/14).

John Thune

CPAC: Set to address Conservative Political Action Conference in February despite Religious Right boycott (Argus Leader, 1/13).

GOP: Keynote speaker for Missouri Republican Party's Lincoln Days fundraiser (News Leader, 1/11).

Personhood Movement Announces 50-State Strategy

The anti-choice movement to use state ballot initiatives to give fetuses and embryos legal rights has announced a nationwide petition drive to bring their radical measure to all fifty states. Opponents of reproductive rights hope to use “personhood amendments” to criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, and common forms of birth control by giving zygotes constitutional protections. While the amendment failed miserably at the polls in Colorado, Personhood USA hopes to bring personhood amendments to states such as Florida, Mississippi, Montana, and Wisconsin, among others.

Personhood activists have their hopes set on Mississippi, where the amendment will be voted on in November. Personhood Mississippi is led by Les Riley, a member of an extreme separatist organization called Christian Exodus, and Riley’s campaign has received the support of notable Republicans like Congressman Alan Nunnelee and Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Phil Bryant, and groups such as the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel.

Now, Personhood USA has launched petition drives in every single state. According to the group, they already have gathered over 900,000 signatures:

"Now in every state in America, prolife volunteers are engaging their communities with the truth of personhood, and are working to change the laws as citizens or lobbying the lawmakers in their state to do their job and protect every person by love and by law, " stated Keith Mason, cofounder of Personhood USA. "We are thrilled to have met our goal to be in all 50 states in just two years, and we are so thankful to be closing in on 1 million signatures defending the personhood of the preborn child."



"Personhood USA functions as a support system, giving as little or as much help as needed, and we have truly been blessed by Jesus Christ as He is accomplishing so much through us in just the past two years. We can't wait to see what He does, in all 50 states, in 2011," added Cal Zastrow, cofounder of Personhood USA. "We will keep working hard for the rights of preborn children, knowing that this is the best chance we've ever had to end abortion in America."

Watch Les Riley explain to the AFA’s Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer back in October about the Personhood movement’s plan to overturn abortion rights:

Leading Republicans Embrace Personhood Amendment and “Christian Exodus,” Separatist Advocate

Last week Right Wing Watch reported on the success of anti-choice activists to place a “Personhood Amendment” on Mississippi’s 2011 ballot to coincide with the gubernatorial election. The radical group Personhood USA hopes to use the so-called “Personhood Amendments” to criminalize abortion, common forms of birth control, stem cell research, and even in-vitro fertilization, by giving legal rights to fetuses and embryos.

Major anti-choice organizations including the National Right to Life Committee have generally shied away from “Personhood Amendments” due to the extreme nature of the measure and the fringe Personhood USA. Colorado voters rejected three different Amendments from Personhood Colorado by wide margins, with the 2010 measure failing with less than 30% of the vote.

Activists in Mississippi, however, have made great headway in receiving support from the Religious Right and the GOP. Leading Religious Right groups and Republican politicians, including the American Family Association (AFA), Liberty Counsel, and Congressman-Elect Alan Nunnelee, have backed Personhood Mississippi’s efforts. Mississippi’s Republican Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Phil Bryant has embraced the Personhood Initiative as well. Bryant, when announcing his bid for governor on the AFA’s radio program, claimed that “one of my goals in public life is to end abortion in Mississippi, so we’re going to work really hard on that.” A vocal and ardent supporter of the “Personhood Amendment,” Bryant called the initiative “another way of trying to stop abortion in Mississippi and simply allow once and for all the opportunity for the people to say we want to do that and we feel so strongly about it that we want to add it to our Constitution.”

Today, Personhood Mississippi (the state affiliate of Personhood USA) will be hosting a rally in Jackson to celebrate the measure’s inclusion on the 2011 ballot, and Bryant is scheduled to speak at the event.

But who is behind Personhood Mississippi and the Personhood Amendment’s sponsor?

The head of Personhood Mississippi is right wing activist Les Riley, a featured blogger of the group Christian Exodus, which has “goal of forming an independent Christian nation that will survive after the decline and fall of the financially and morally bankrupt American empire.”

Christian Exodus had attempted to move thousands of supporters to South Carolina in order to “form a biblically inspired government and secede from the United States,” and also has close ties to the separatist and Neo-Confederate League of the South. Christian Exodus also is encouraging adherents to move to Panama and Idaho in order to build theocratic settlements.

Lt. Governor Bryant said he wanted to “personally thank Les Riley” for his work, and Les Riley told AFA Radio that Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment is “the biggest news in the pro-life movement in twenty years” because it will not only eradicate reproductive rights in Mississippi but also set up a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

As the “Personhood Amendment” movement finds more allies and greater support in the Religious Right and Republican Party, its extremist leaders and radical beliefs have not changed.

American Family Association Promotes Extreme “Personhood Amendment” in Mississippi

After efforts to amend the Colorado constitution to give constitutional rights to embryos and fetuses badly failed in November, advocates of so-called “Personhood Amendments” are now hoping that Mississippi voters will back a similar amendment in 2011. The Colorado proposal, called Amendment 62, “would have banned abortion, many forms of birth control and embryonic stem cell research in the state.” Mississippi activists were able to put a similar measure on the ballot in 2011 to coincide with the gubernatorial election.

Back in 2008, the American Life League began pushing “Personhood Amendments” to become an integral part of the anti-choice movement; however, many Religious Right groups traditionally resisted “Personhood Amendments” because of their radical nature and tremendous unpopularity. Anti-choice groups in Colorado such as National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Colorado Citizens for Life, and the Colorado Eagle Forum refused to support the “Personhood Amendment.”

Personhood USA, the leading organization behind such measures, likened President Obama to the “Angel of Death,” and activists in Colorado compared pro-choice laws with Nazism.

Now, “Personhood Amendment” proponents will try their luck in Mississippi, which already has strict anti-choice laws, and they are receiving significant publicity and support from a leading Religious Right group: the American Family Association, which is based in Mississippi.

Matt Friedeman of the AFA’s American Family Radio said that if the proposal succeeds in 2011, he hopes it would lead the way to the criminalization of abortion across the country:

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So what we’re hoping for here is that one of these initiatives will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court and they’ll have to decide at that point what to do with it. And hopefully at that juncture we have a pro-life majority, and you never know from year to year to year what’s gonna happen there, but we hope we have a pro-life majority and we hope the day comes when Roe v. Wade is wiped off the books and we can go back to the states. Maybe even, if God would allow, to get a pro-life amendment for the whole country.

Not to be outdone, AFA Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer said that Mississippi’s “Personhood Amendment” will advance his objective of “aligning” the country’s laws with “the word of God:”

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One of the things we look for from our political leaders is we want to see them work to align the public policy of our country with the standards of the word of God, that’s what we want, we want an alignment. We’re not talking about a theocracy where the clergy rules this country; we’re talking about statesmen, both men and women, who are committed as a matter of moral conviction to align the public policy of the United States with the word of God.

As “Personhood Amendment” advocates hope to find a more favorable electorate in Mississippi in 2011, will more Religious Right groups join the AFA in embracing their radical proposals?

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 12/28/10

Haley Barbour

Mississippi: Uses private jet for political and entertainment outings, state spent over $500,000 for his air travel (Politico, 12/27).

Race: Controversy over Barbour’s Citizens Council “whitewash” continues (Christian Science Monitor, 12/22).

John Bolton

Government: Says government should not cut defense spending to shrink the deficit (TPM, 12/27).

Social issues: Denounces non-binding treaty on the rights of indigenous people (Fox News, 12/25).

Mitch Daniels

Social issues: Stands by his support for a “truce” on social issues (Politico, 12/27).

Education: Details private school voucher plan (Courier Journal, 12/24).

Mike Huckabee

GOP: Think Progress investigation ties Huckabee to “a firm notorious for defrauding families facing foreclosure with false promises and predatory fees” (Think Progress, 12/27).

Health Care: Huckabee and Palin’s own 2009 speech challenge Palin’s criticism of Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity efforts (The Hill, 12/27).

Sarah Palin

Language: Claims “Refudiate” was a typo, but she used the term in an earlier interview on Fox News (NY Daily News, 12/27).

Environment: Says conservationists are hypocrites for using pencils and paper (HuffPo, 12/27).

Foreign policy: Former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino says Palin’s reality show and policy role give her an “authenticity” problem (The Right Scoop, 12/26).

2012: Peggy Noonan predicts that Palin won’t run for President but will have immense clout in the primary (GOP12, 12/26).

Tim Pawlenty

2012: Upcoming book tour could serve as “a test of his appeal” to Republican voters nationwide (Gannett, 12/24).

Religious Right: Sidesteps judicial nomination process and appoints Religious Right activist and deputy chief of staff’s wife to district court (RWW, 12/23).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Leaders of Religious Right groups believe Pence can unite social conservatives with fiscal hawks (WSJ, 12/27).

GOP: Columnist believes Pence can successfully run for the nomination by “reuniting the Reagan Coalition” (Forbes, 12/23).

Mitt Romney

Health Care: Struggles to balance his criticism of coverage mandate with his support for a mandate in Massachusetts (HuffPo, 12/27).

2012: Holiday card asks, “Guess which grandchild heard that Papa might run again?” (Politico, 12/22).

John Thune

Government: Flounders in attempt to oppose earmarks while requesting more than $100 million (AP, 12/28).

Minnesota: Headlining MN GOP’s Lincoln/Reagan Dinner (Star Tribune, 12/22).

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