Constitutional Amendment

Early Right Wing Reaction to Iowa Ruling

A short round-up of some of the earliest responses to the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous marriage ruling:

Rep. Steve King:

“This is an unconstitutional ruling and another example of activist judges molding the Constitution to achieve their personal political ends. Iowa law says that marriage is between one man and one woman. If judges believe the Iowa legislature should grant same sex marriage, they should resign from their positions and run for office, not legislate from the bench.

“Now it is the Iowa legislature’s responsibility to pass the Marriage Amendment to the Iowa Constitution, clarifying that marriage is between one man and one woman, to give the power that the Supreme Court has arrogated to itself back to the people of Iowa. Along with a constitutional amendment, the legislature must also enact marriage license residency requirements so that Iowa does not become the gay marriage Mecca due to the Supreme Court’s latest experiment in social engineering.”

Family Research Council:

Today, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins condemned the decision by the Iowa Supreme Court striking down the state's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and forcing same-sex "marriage" on the state. The ruling in Varnum v. Brien was the fourth in favor of legalizing same-sex "marriage" by a state high court. California's ruling was overturned by the people at the ballot box last November; Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only states which currently give marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

"Same-sex 'marriage' continues to be a movement driven by a liberal judicial elite determined to destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well. The casual dismissal of the facts of human biology and thousands of years of human history, simply to pander to a small band of social radicals, is bizarre and indefensible," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC).

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"We urge Iowans to contact their legislators and urge them to move quickly to pass a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, joining the twenty-nine states that have already defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in their state constitutions," stated Mr. Perkins.

Eagle Forum:

"This decision should be a wake-up call to Americans that traditional marriage is under assault not only in liberal havens, like Massachusetts and California, but also in traditionally conservative states," said Eagle Forum President Phyllis Schlafly. "The American people will not continue to stand by silently in the face of more and more of these activist court rulings that openly defy the will of the people."

"Over the past few decades, many of the most far-reaching social, economic, and political decisions have been made by judges rather than elected representatives," Schlafly said. "Only elected representatives have the power to make laws, not judges."

"We can never allow the definition of marriage to simply mean two consenting persons who agree to share quarters and start applying to the government for benefits," concluded Schlafly. "Eagle Forum calls on the Iowa state legislature to work to adopt a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman only, and by subsequently passing a state law that withdraws jurisdiction from the state courts over this issue."

Alliance Defense Fund:

“The Iowa marriage law was simple, settled, and overwhelmingly supported by Iowans. There was simply no legitimate reason for the court to redefine marriage,” said long-time Iowa attorney and ADF Senior Legal Counsel Douglas Napier. “The court stepped outside of its proper role of interpreting the law and has instead overruled the will of the people and created new law. Marriage as one man and one woman has been the law in Iowa for 170 years. The Defense of Marriage Act was nearly unanimously supported by the legislature when it was passed. It was supported by the governor and a majority of Iowans.”

“Now it’s time for the Iowa Legislature to allow the people to vote on marriage as one man and one woman by placing a marriage amendment on the ballot. Let Iowans be heard. The legal definition of marriage should be in their hands, not the hands of unelected judges,” Napier added.

Concerned Women for America:

The most disappointing aspect of this ruling is that many pro-family groups and Christian voters continue to hope the judicial or legislative branches will fix the problem when we, the people have failed to honestly stand on the principles of God which gave our Forefathers direction, protection and great wisdom. Until we rightly handle these issues in God's house, we will continue to fail in the court house, the state house and the school house. George Washington warned us it would be impossible to rightly govern without the Bible, until we repent and return to those same principles, we will fail to properly govern and succeed as a nation.

Iowans need to look to the people of California for encouragement and begin working today to pass an amendment by asking our legislators to allow us a vote on an amendment. Sitting legislators should not only support a bill that would allow Iowans a say in the vote, but they should demand their constituents' voices be heard by sponsoring the bill and offering to bring it to the floor. Any legislator not willing to sponsor such a bill is proving their loyalty is with political agendas and not with the people of Iowa or the intent of our Founding Fathers.

Christian Coalition:

The President of the Christian Coalition of America, Roberta Combs said: "American voters time after time have said they do not want to allow homosexual 'marriages' in America. In fact, some 30 states, by an average approval rating of 70%, including California last November, have approved constitutional amendments banning homosexual 'marriages.' State and federal judges should not be legislating their personal viewpoints from the bench. The American people and their representatives are the only ones who should be making our country's laws."

It is way past time for the United States Congress to finally pass a federal constitutional amendment banning homosexual "marriage" once and for all. Considering the fact that some 30 states have overwhelmingly passed such state amendments, and that 38 states are required to ratify a federal constitutional amendment, such a federal amendment will undoubtedly be ratified by more than enough state legislatures. It is time for Congress to act.

Traditional Values Coalition:

This latest decision makes it all the more urgent for Iowa to pass a constitutional amendment that will define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The Iowa Supreme Court may be less anxious to declare a constitutional amendment unconstitutional. If the Court dares to do so, it will mean that Iowans are not self-governing, but are being ruled by a judicial oligarchy.

If this ruling is permitted to stand without challenge, it will result in the persecution of Christians and anyone else who criticizes homosexual conduct.

This ruling will mean that schools will be forced to teach that homosexual marriage is normal – and parents who object will face ridicule and possible criminal penalties against them.

This ruling will be used to force pastors to conduct same-sex ceremonies or face penalties.

Religious groups could lose government funding, tax exempt status or other benefits if they openly oppose same-sex marriage.

Religious employers could face penalties for refusing to provide spousal benefits to same-sex couples.

Religious colleges could be forced to extend housing benefits to same-sex couples.

Iowans must start to work immediately on getting a constitutional amendment passed to protect marriage. Their religious freedoms are in jeopardy if they fail to do so.

Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber:

“What a contrast. Today, the Iowa Supreme Court cast aside any semblance of judicial restraint doing exactly that which the U.S. Supreme Court detested. It unequivocally engaged in ‘judicial legislation,’ unconstitutionally manufacturing law from the bench. No one in his right mind would suggest that the framers of the Iowa Constitution could have ever imagined the silly and incongruous notion of ‘same sex marriage,’ much less considered it a ‘fundamental right.’

“The Iowa Supreme Court has earned its rightful place in the judicial activism hall of shame. It has infected the wholesome heartland with the same malady eating away at natural marriage, family and morality at our nation’s coastal and ideological fringes.

“If you think you saw a fight in California to restore natural marriage with the successful passage of Proposition 8, then hold on to your hats. Something tells me the fine folks of Iowa don’t cotton to seven black robed autocrats supplanting mid-western values with San Francisco vice.”

 

... And Out Come The Wolves

It has only been a few hours since Michael Steele's GQ interview first hit the blogs, but a variety of right-wing leaders have already blasted him for his heresy on the issues of homosexuality and reproductive choice.

As we mentioned before, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Charmaine Yoest, formerly of FRC and now president of Americans United for Life, and anti-choice activist Jill Stanek had all weighed in to question his commitment to the right-wing agenda and his standing as Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

And the hits just keep on coming:

Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition: "I'm a little surprised that Michael Steele, being the leader of the Republican Party, is at odds with the pro-life platform, the platform that conservative put in place... If this is his viewpoint, he has made it be known. I'm just surprised that the leader of the party is at odds with the pro-life platform."

Evangelical leader Lou Engle: "Steele's argument that abortion is a matter of "individual choice" is extremely disappointing, especially in light of past statements in which he promised to protect and defend human life. "Steele's remarks to GQ indicate that he may be confused about "choice" and the "law." The law is supposed to protect human life, not permit the taking of it. And, it can never be a "choice" for an individual to take a life."

Mike Huckabee has likewise spoken out via a post on his Huck PAC blog:

Comments attributed to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele are very troubling and despite his clarification today the party stands to lose many of its members and a great deal of its support in the trenches of grassroots politics. Since 1980, our party has been steadfast and principled in believing in the dignity and worth of every human life. We have supported a Constitutional amendment to protect life and the party has taken the position that no one individual has the supreme right to own another person in totality including the right to take that life. For Chairman Steele to even infer that taking a life is totally left up to the individual is not only a reversal of Republican policy and principle, but it's a violation of the most basic of human rights--the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. His statement today helps, but doesn't explain why he would ever say what he did in the first place.

Finally, Ken Blackwell, who's support for Steele helped put him over the top during the RNC election back in January, has issued a not-so-veiled call for him to step down:

"Chairman Steele, as the leader of America's Pro-Life conservative party, needs to re-read the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, and the 2008 GOP Platform. He then needs to get to work -- or get out of the way."

Blackwell's decision to cut himself loose from Steele is, in many ways, primarily an effort to save his own reputation.  He was the Religious Right's choice for RNC Chairman but dropped out early in the election when it was clear he wasn't going to win. He then endorsed Steele, of whom the Right was already suspicious, and set about attempting to explain his decision by saying that he had been assured that Steele fully supported the GOP platform which, as Religious Right leaders are fond of reminding everyone, was among the most right-wing platforms the party has ever had.

As Blackwell explained it:

Over breakfast on January 30, Mr. Steele and I discussed the 2008 platform. During that conversation he earnestly expressed his full support of the platform. This is a platform that is unabashedly pro-life, strongly grounded in Second Amendment freedoms, and fully embracing limited government and the rule of law.

That conservation and my perception of Mr. Steele’s authentic embrace of those principles provided me with the basis upon which I could endorse him with a clear conscience and firm conviction once I determined it was time for me to exit the race.

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Principle must trump politics. I would rather endorse no one than endorse someone I feared might abandon the GOP’s values and priorities.

I supported Mr. Steele because, by energetically advocating the principles and policies in the GOP platform, he can reunite and grow the GOP once again. Republicans face daunting challenges, but by being true to our principles Republicans can be the real agents of change.

Of course, Steele's commitment to those principles is now being called into question ... as is Blackwell's judgment in supporting him, which largely explains why he was among the first to tell Steele that it might be time for him to "get out of the way."

Robots, Futurama, and Marriage Equality

For the last few days, Pam has been covering the marriage amendment rally in North Carolina that was held yesterday where, as the News and Observer put it, a thousand people to showed up to demand that state legislators give them a chance to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

In her post today, Pam also highlights this new argument for the need for such an amendment:

Two well-known conservative Christian commentators who spoke at the rally described a breakdown of society should gay couples be allowed to marry -- including a rise in single-parent households and in the number of dependents wanting Social Security and health insurance benefits.

David Gibbs III, a lawyer who in 2005 fought to keep brain-damaged Terri Schiavo on life support, told rally participants gay marriage would "open the door to unusual marriage in North Carolina.

"Why not polygamy, or three or four spouses?" Gibbs asked. "Maybe people will want to marry their pets or robots.”

Frankly, I think Gibbs has been watching too much Futurama:

Watch more Futurama videos on AOL Video

It should be noted as well that pseudo-historian David Barton was also a featured speaker:

The rally was sponsored by Return America of Davidson County and by NC4Marriage, a new nonprofit group set up to fight for a constitutional amendment. Many participants were already wearing bumper stickers and buttons made for the campaign, reading, "Let the people vote," or "One Man, One Woman, That's Marriage."

At least a half-dozen state legislators attended the rally under sunny skies and 31-degree temperatures. Each speaker asked that people not leave before visiting with their legislators and asking them to support legislation allowing a referendum. And though many people eager to escape the cold jumped into church vans immediately after the hourlong rally, others flooded the legislative offices.

"Don't just call today, call them once a week," said David Barton, founder of WallBuilders, a ministry devoted to educating Americans about the nation's religious foundation. "Let them feel the heat until they see the light."

Dirtiest RNC Race Ever and Nothing Will Change

Ralph Z. Hallow reports that, according to insiders involved in the race to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee, the current campaign, which is to be decided tomorrow, has become the "dirtiest ever":

From anonymous charges of racism, old-fashioned graft and outright incompetence, the six-man race for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee has devolved into the dirtiest - and most closely watched - in recent history.

The 168 members who Friday will elect the next chairman have been inundated with anonymous e-mails attacking the characters and capabilities of the various candidates and, in at least one case, accusing a candidate of conspiring with political consultants to cash in on the millions of dollars in future advertising by the party.

"This is dirtiest ever - and remember, I was the longest-serving state party chairman in the history of this committee," said RNC member and former Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett, a supporter of Mike Duncan, the incumbent national chairman who is seeking a second two-year term.

One candidate, South Carolina Republican Chairman Katon Dawson, is the subject this week of an unsigned e-mail to RNC members that bore a hypothetical USA Today front page with the banner headline, "RNC members choose 'whites only' chairman," as a warning of how a Dawson win would be spun.

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On Monday, Indiana RNC member James Bopp Jr., who formed a self-described conservative rump group of RNC members to fight the [Michael] Steele candidacy, sent members a signed e-mail basically accusing Mr. Steele of lying about his casual relationship with the RLC.

It quoted Mrs. Whitman as saying that she was proud to join with "Michael Steele in creating a powerful and influential group that can bring our party back to its roots while promoting the common-sense centrist values we all hold so dear." The word "centrist" among members of the dominant strain of the Republican Party is an epithet.

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Another anonymous e-mail to members noted that Saul Anuzis does not have a formal education beyond high school - he attended college for four years but did not finish his degree - and called the salaried Michigan Republican chairman "a paid political hack whose greed and misconduct lost him his job in government. After fifteen years of trying to make it in business, he came back to what he knew best: politics for pay."

A particularly vicious whack at Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state and the other black man chasing the chairman's post, appeared in a Jan. 6 anonymous e-mail claiming he was "dangerously incompetent" as secretary of state and accusing him of using taxpayer money to finance TV ads to "boost his own name recognition" in preparation for his failed run for governor.

As entertaining as it has been to watch them tear each other apart, Hallow reports that the viciousness stems from the fact that, in terms of actual substance, there doesn't appear to be any actual differences among the candidate's stances on the hot-button issues of the day:

However, when The Times submitted three questions on the biggest hot-button issues - gay marriage, immigration and federal bailouts - little substantive difference emerged among the six men.

Mr. Duncan was the lone candidate who did not respond initially to the questions, instead sending a single response attacking President Obama and not even doing so on the issues in question. All six men support a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants and doubt the government's competence to bail out industries failing in the marketplace.

So no matter who wins, it looks like we'll have yet another anti-gay, anti-immigrant, obstructionist chairman at the RNC. 

How has that been working out for them lately?  

The Less Things Change

Last week we noted that Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church had tapped a new pastor to replace the late D. James Kennedy who appeared intent on modernizing the church and removing it from the political and culture wars.  

But just because change might be coming to the church doesn’t seem to mean that any sort of similar change will be coming to its political arm, Coral Ridge Ministries:  

Many traditional marriage supporters have been taken aback by the pro-gay rights tone the Whitehouse.gov website has taken for its "Civil Rights" agenda, which supports the expansion of hate crimes statutes, discrimination employment laws that would grant special protections to the LBGT community, gay civil unions, gay couples' adoption rights and the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask-Don't Tell" policy.

Coral Ridge Ministries, a Christian media organization, also sent out an e-mail alert over the weekend stating, "Our new president wants to force Americans to accept homosexuality in the workplace and in the military."

"Right now, the President has the political wind at his back. Most in the media and Congress are cheering for him and his agenda to succeed," the ministry added. "That means he most likely will unless men and women of moral conviction and courage stand up and say 'No!'"

The email from Coral Ridge Ministries can be found here:

“It’s only the third day of Barack Obama’s presidency, but he just announced his aggressive plan to force Americans to accept homosexuality.

His just-revealed gay rights agenda, posted on the http://whitehouse.gov website, is a dream come true for the homosexual lobby. Our new president wants to force Americans to accept homosexuality in the workplace and in the military. Plus, he will push hard to pass hate crimes legislation and give marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

Here’s a short list of what our new president wants to do:

- Pass hate crimes legislation that will criminalize opposition to homosexuality.
- Allow homosexuals to enter into civil unions, which will 'give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples.'
- Repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
- Oppose a federal constitutional amendment to limit marriage to a man and a woman.
- Repeal federal law to allow open homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military.
- Give homosexual couples the right to adopt young children.
- Fight AIDS with sex education, condoms, and needle-exchange programs.

Right now, the President has the political wind at his back. Most in the media and Congress are cheering for him and his agenda to succeed. That means he most likely will unless men and women of moral conviction and courage stand up and say 'No!'..."

Happy Gary Bauer Day

Today is the annual March for Life, held every year on January 22 to protest abortion and press for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

As such, Religious Right groups are doing what they do every year, with the Family Research Council  hosting its Blogs for Life Conference and March for Life organizers and activists complaining that the media isn't paying attention to them and nobody takes them seriously:

Still, Nellie Gray — who founded the March for Life 36 years ago — pines for some meaningful attention from the press. Her marchers hit the streets near the Capitol on Thursday, virtually retracing the steps of an estimated 1.8 million inaugural revelers whose every move was chronicled by a crush of media just two days earlier.

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"Anyone climbing on a bus from somewhere else, thinking they're going to wave into a network news camera, is going to be very disappointed. In the last 20 years, despite large annual crowds, the liberal manufacturers of TV have simply never found the March for Life to be the slightest bit newsworthy," said Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, drawing a comparison to a liberal antiwar activist.

"Everyone knows that a single Cindy Sheehan in the summer seems to be worth more than 20,000 pro-lifers in January."

For his part, Gary Bauer has seemingly decided to dedicate this day to getting his name in print - first with an op-ed with Star Parker in The Weekly Standard:

A century and a half ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case that African Americans have no rights under the Constitution. Barack Obama's election would seem to put the final nail in the coffin of that evil philosophy. With its Roe decision, however, the court again wrongly declared that some Americans are entitled to no constitutional rights and can be destroyed at the discretion of others. Sadly, that evil philosophy will be given new hope under President Obama.

The battle for equal rights has reached a major milestone. But Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of full equality will remain just a dream as long as unborn children are denied the right to life, the most fundamental right of all.

And secondly with a solo op-ed in the Politico debunking the "myths" of Roe:

Another misconception concerns what would happen if Roe were overturned. The day after Roe’s reversal, abortion policy would revert back to the states. Some states would severely restrict abortion, while a bigger group of more populous states would likely pass laws guaranteeing the same access to abortion they have now. So, far from ending the abortion battle, Roe’s reversal would mark the beginning of a battle to which the past 35 years have been a prelude.

A post-Roe America would look like the America of today in terms of the sheer volume of abortions. The major difference would be an anti-abortion movement toiling to tackle 50 separate abortion policies simultaneously. Another important difference is that we would no longer teach young Americans the lie that — among their cherished constitutional rights of free speech, religion and assembly — there is also a right to take the life of an unborn baby.

A final misconception about Roe is one too often held by its opponents: that Roe’s reversal is the ultimate anti-abortion goal and that support for constitutional protections for the unborn betrays the federalist principles of conservatism. But by asserting states’ rights, Roe’s anti-abortion opposition effectively (if unwittingly) accepts Roe’s reasoning that prenatal life is not a due process right within the constitutional framework and, therefore, that the unborn child is not a constitutional “person.”

Moreover, in our system of government, certain issues are left to the states while others are deemed so essential to our understanding of democracy that they must be taken up nationally. We fought a civil war over the conviction that some issues are too fundamental to be decided state by state. Just as slavery was an assault on human dignity, the slaughter of millions of unborn children is an assault on a natural human right that exists prior to, and regardless of, the whims of a majority.

So you see there really is nothing to worry about - anti-choice activists merely want to overturn Roe so that the issue can be decided by the states ... and then they can eliminate the right to reproductive choice in all fifty of them by passing a constitutional amendment making it illegal. 

Funny or Die, Great Americans, and the FMA

A few weeks ago, Funny or Die released its "Prop 8 - The Musical" parody that did not go over well with the Religious Right. 

But now its parent company looks to have made a move that just might make it all up to them.  Among the various other new media sites it has been rolling out is one called Great Americans, which is "focused on the men and women who serve our nation in uniform" and celebrating "their lives, their service, their sacrifice, and their example to us all."

That, in itself, is not all that interesting.  But what is interesting, as uncovered by Andrew Wallenstein of the Hollywood Reporter, is that the site is being run by Matt Daniels, who just so happens to be the former head of the Alliance for Marriage and the man almost single-handedly responsible for the Federal Marriage Amendment:

But if GreatAmericans.com is an unlikely addition to the Or Die family, its charter member might strike an even odder presence. Creator and executive producer Matt Daniels introduces himself on the site's home page in a video in which he descends a subway escalator in a rough section of Harlem, where he grew up poor. He tells us he might never have survived were it not for role models in his life, thus inspiring a Web site that serves as a showcase for other heroes.

But what Daniels doesn't mention, nor does the news release that announced the site's launch, is his claim to fame: Five years ago, Daniels was a leading opponent of legalizing gay marriage and even authored a proposed constitutional amendment banning the practice. As founder of Alliance for Marriage, he emerged as a high-profile figure in the conservative movement one election cycle before the gay-marriage issue exploded in the form of California's Proposition 8.

Of course, both Daniels and Or Die Networks insist that his current venture has nothing to do with his past activities:

In an interview, Daniels indicates that he no longer is with AFM and his new enterprise is unrelated to his previous efforts.

"Anybody looking at the portal and what is actually being promoted, what is actually being celebrated, can make their own judgment on the face of what we represent, and we'll stand by that," he says. "This is an utterly and completely different venture."

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Or Die Networks CEO Dick Glover does not see Daniels' background, of which he was aware, as relevant.

"One of the very big issues, and it was very extensively discussed, is that this site is not a political site," he says. "Political views don't matter if it's not a business issue."

But as Wallenstein notes, such disclaimers might not cut it with some of its other sites founders, stars, or customers:

As Daniels attests, there is nothing overtly ideological about GreatAmericans.com. Still, having Daniels in the Or Die camp is ironic given his new associates. Not only did Funny Or Die recently stage a star-studded mock musical salute to overturning Prop 8 featuring Jack Black, John C. Reilly and Neil Patrick Harris, but also the company's investors include HBO, long a bastion of gay-friendly programming.

Or Die Networks might not think its a big deal to partner with, and offer a platform to, the man responsible for the Federal Marriage Amendment, but we are guessing that there are a lot of other people out there who might disagree.

Marriage Amendments Introduced in Wyoming and Indiana

Yesterday was a busy day for anti-marriage equality advocates, with constitutional amendments being introduced in two states. 

First in Indiana, where the Alliance Defense Fund, the Family Research Council, and the Indiana Family Institute joined state legislators in announcing their efforts to pass an amendment after a similar effort failed in 2007.  As FRC 's Tony Perkins explained:

Legislators in Indiana, one of the minority of states that has yet to pass a marriage protection amendment, renewed their effort today by introducing a new amendment to the state's constitution. I was on hand today in Indianapolis as lawmakers vowed to put the Hoosier state in the column with the 29 other states that have taken marriage out of the hands of activist judges. An amendment was narrowly defeated in the General Assembly in 2007. This afternoon, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) joined me for a private pastors briefing in the Indiana Supreme Court Chambers. Mike has been a good friend and solid ally on this issue in the U.S. House, and with his help, Indiana churches stand to bring a victory for marriage to his home state.

After a House and Senate meet-and-greet with key Indiana lawmakers, I joined amendment sponsors State Reps. P. Eric Turner (R-Marion) and Dave Cheatham (D-North Vernon), Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute, our friends at the Alliance Defense Fund, and Pastor Ron Johnson Jr. for a press conference in the state Capitol on the importance of the constitutional amendment to the state.

And trying to make up for another effort that also failed two years ago, a similar group of legislators and Religious Right activists in Wyoming are gearing up to pass their own amendment, all while absurdly trying to insist that the effort is in no way motivated by any animus toward gays:

Sen. Curt Meier, R-LaGrange, one of the bill's sponsors, said Monday that the issue came to the forefront in the last election cycle, when voters in California voted to ban same-sex marriage. Meier said many Wyoming residents approached their lawmakers to find the status of the law in Wyoming.

Meier said the proposal to change Wyoming's constitution isn't motivated by any dislike of gays and lesbians.

"I really think what we're trying to do is protect the institution of marriage, and trying to make the family unit as strong as it can be for the future," he said.

A newly formed group called WyWatch Family Institute is lobbying for passage of the proposed amendment. The group's Web site describes it as a "group of Judeo-Christian families who have a goal to preserve traditional family values in the great state of Wyoming."

The group is getting advice from Focus on the Family Action, and the Alliance Defense Fund, said Becky Vandeberghe, chairwoman and lobbyist with the Wyoming group. Focus on the Family is a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based evangelical group founded by evangelist James Dobson, while the Alliance Defense Fund is an Arizona-based conservative Christian legal group.

"We're trying to protect the children, because when you have a same-sex marriage, you're denying that child either a mother or a father," Vandeberghe said. "And the family unit is very, very precious to us, and we want to make sure that every child has that."

Asked whether her group is motivated by any religious conviction that homosexuality is wrong or immoral, Vandeberghe said, "It plays a small part in it. But a large part is just wanting to protect traditional marriage."

Two More Culture Warriors Seek RNC Chair

Over the weekend, Family Research Council fellow Ken Blackwell announced that he was seeking to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee:

Ken Blackwell, a former U.N. ambassador and former Ohio secretary of state, has become the second black man to plunge into the heated contest for Republican National Committee chairman, The Washington Times has learned.

Mr. Blackwell, 60, joins former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the other black Republican seeking to be the next national chairman when the 168-member Republican National Committee meets Jan. 28-31 in Washington.

Mr. Blackwell has worked with economic, national security and religious conservatives in his party.

"I am a full-portfolio conservative," Mr. Blackwell, 60, said in a phone interview Saturday from his home in Cincinnati. He noted that he is a board member of of the National Taxpayers Union, the Club for Growth and the National Rifle Association and holds fellowships at the Family Research Council and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

In a letter to RNC members announcing his candidacy, Mr. Blackwell notes that he "vocally opposed tax increases offered" by his state's Republican governor and "helped to successfully lead the fight to amend the Ohio Constitution to ban government recognition of same-sex marriages."

Blackwell first made a name for himself back in 2006 when he linked up with the “Patriot Pastors” [PDF] in Ohio run by Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson:  

It was during the Issue 1 campaign that Parsley and Johnson began a fruitful collaboration with the amendment’s chief proponent, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell’s close association with Parsley and Johnson has continued since the passage of the anti-gay constitutional amendment, ranging from public rallies and “Patriot Pastors” policy briefings to flying on a church-owned plane.

With Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign in full swing, the “Patriot Pastor” events have featured Johnson and Parsley highlighting Blackwell and extolling the candidate’s virtues. At a rally on the state Capitol steps, Parsley boomed over a Jumbotron screen, “Let the Reformation begin! Shout it like you’re going to carry the blood-stained banner of the cross of Christ the length and breadth of the Buckeye State!” Parsley then introduced Blackwell as “a man of great conviction, consistently standing for family, life, marriage, and faith throughout his public service.” At other events, Johnson followed Blackwell’s speech to pastors by presenting the man he called a “leader of leaders” with a “courageous leadership award” in the form of a large, gilded-eagle trophy—a ritual he repeated a number of times before different audiences of pastors.

And today, Mike Huckabee’s campaign manager Chip Saltsman has announced his own bid for the RNC chairmanship and Huckabee is already doing what he can to generate support for his close ally:  

I am proud to endorse Chip Saltsman for RNC Chair.  Chip has proven to be a dynamic leader within the Republican Party over the years.  His youth and experience are combinations that are vital to leading the Party into the 21st Century.  Over the last two years I have seen Chip in action and have observed and admired his talents as a tactician and strategist.  Chip Saltsman's management of my Presidential campaign showed Chip's skills to operate in a very frugal manner, something that will greatly benefit the RNC.

As the Party searches for the leadership skills necessary to lead the Republican Party forward I believe that they will find that Chip Saltsman is the right person for the position of RNC Chair.  Chip's technological skills will be an important part of his accomplishments with the RNC. The national party needs to function so as to empower and assist local and state party organizations and become a more ground-up, grassroots army.  Chip Saltsman will bring energy and a willingness to listen and open doors to new ideas.  I urge you to visit Chip's website at www.chipsaltsman.com and learn more about this uniquely talented man.

What Is Angering The Right Now?

Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission is angry at Jack Black for this:

Accordingly, Cass is calling on Black to apologize:

In a short video posted on FunnyorDie.com entitled, "Prop 8 The Musical," an all star cast of Hollywood celebrities perform a low budget musical farce that defames Christ, mocks Christians and distorts the teaching of the Bible.

"Jack Black should remember from his days at Hebrew School that homosexual acts aren't funny and are roundly condemned in the Bible," said Dr. Gary Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. "Appearing as a sarcastic, rotund Christ, Black distorts the Bible and condones shameful, homosexual acts. Associating Christ with perverse activity is an affront to all people of faith, especially Christians. Apparently Black and company find it hilarious to falsely accuse Christians while they intentionally distort the Bible. Black ought to apologize."

Frank Pastore is miffed as well:

The strategy behind this shaming-of-the-public production is simple: lampoon the supporters of the constitutional amendment into embarrassment so that the next time same-sex marriage shows up on the ballot, they’ll do the “loving thing,” and support it rather than reject it, which is the only one true path to social penance, cultural redemption and liberal forgiveness—at least in the mind of the same-sex marriage crowd.

Elsewhere, Bill Donohue is up-in-arms over the "cultural fascists" who "hate Christmas"

“Cultural fascists invoke ‘diversity’ every December as cover for neutering Christmas—they never choose some other month to practice their multicultural religion. And by the way, who are these people from other religions who hate Christmas? I never met one. It would be more accurate to say that it’s precisely the persons who make this charge who hate Christmas.”

This has been another installment of "What Is Angering The Right Now?"  If this keeps up, I might just have to turn this into a regular feature.

Marriage Equality “Deprives Children of a Mom or a Dad”

Back in October we noted that the Family Policy Council of West Virginia was pressing the Governor and state legislature to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the next ballot based entirely on a poll they took that reportedly showed that more than 70% of voters would support such an amendment.  Shortly thereafter, the call was seconded by the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists and now the Family Policy Council is starting to mobilize right-wing support in order to force the Governor and legislature to place an amendment on the ballot  

Members of West Virginia's religious communities are mobilizing to protect traditional marriage.

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia has taken the lead in asking Democratic Governor Joe Manchin and the legislature to let voters decide whether to change the state's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage." Jeremiah Dys, founder of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, explains the apparent conservative viewpoint.
 
"They do not want their government setting a policy, and they especially do not want courts imposing a system that...deprives children of a mom or a dad -- and so we're simply asking our legislature, we're asking our governor especially, to lead the effort to allow West Virginians to do what they want to do," he notes.

As we noted last time, West Virginia does not have a petition process allowing citizens to gather signatures and place a constitutional amendment on the ballot so any such amendment must first pass through the state House and Senate, both of which are controlled by Democrats, so it is up to the Family Policy Council to pressure them into letting West Virginians “do what they want to do” and pass an anti-gay constitutional amendment so as to ensure that the courts don’t “deprive children of a mom or a dad.”

Prop 8 Proponents Try to Distance Themselves From Their Allies

The San Francisco Chronicle has a good article on how the folks behind Yes on 8 are trying to bar the Campaign for California Families, Randy Thomasson, and Mat Staver from getting involved in the on-going legal dispute because of the latter’s extreme anti-gay views, which Yes on 8 fears will make them all look bad: 

The group, now known as the Campaign for Children and Families, is run by Randy Thomasson, who for years has been one of California's most visible opponents of gay rights and what he bills as "the homosexual agenda."

The people behind Prop. 8 have been butting heads with Thomasson for years, arguing that his efforts to outlaw same-sex marriage and curb domestic partnership arrangements are a long step further than a majority of California voters is willing to go.

In 2005 and again in January, Thomasson and his allies proposed initiatives that not only would bar same-sex marriage but that also "voids or makes unenforceable" rights conferred by California law on couples, gay or heterosexual, registered as domestic partners, including community property, child custody, hospital visitation and insurance benefits.

"It was like the nuclear option to obliterate the entire domestic partners law," [Andrew Pugno, general counsel for the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign] said. "We were constantly hassled by that organization, who thought we weren't aggressive enough."

But the disputes between the groups have grown in the past few days, with Thomasson launching an all-out attack against the Supreme Court for accepting the challenge to Prop. 8, a court decision Pugno and others from ProtectMarriage.com had welcomed.

"If the court disobeys the constitution by voiding Prop. 8, it will ignite a voter revolt," Thomasson said in statement released after the court agreed Wednesday to hear arguments over the validity of the constitutional amendment. "The court is playing with fire by threatening to destroy the people's vote on marriage."

Pugno and others from the Prop. 8 campaign want to avoid such fiery challenges and threats to the court and keep matters on a quiet legal level until the court rules on same-sex marriage sometime after March.

"What we are not doing is discussing the possibility of recalling justices who oppose us," Ron Prentice, chairman of the Yes on Prop. 8 effort, said in an e-mail to supporters Wednesday. "Making threats to recall justices from office is counterproductive and harmful to our chances of winning in court."

So the “moderates” who want to deny equality for gays are afraid that people like Thomasson, who’s been busy freaking out about everything the use of “Party A” and “Party B” on marriage licenses and proposals for Harvey Milk Day, are going to make them look too extreme?  I think that, considering that they just spent tens of millions of dollars to getting California voters to strip gay couples throughout the state of their constitutional right to marriage, it’s a little late for the Yes on 8 troops to start worrying about looking like of bunch of anti-gay extremists.

Baptists Press for Marriage Amendment in WV

After last week's election, the Christian Coalition announced that one of its primary goals for the short-term future was seeing that the 20 states that do not currently ban gays from getting married do so and that those states that do allow marriage put an end to the practice.  

Presumably, the first step in that battle will take place in West Virginia. The Family Policy Council of West Virginia is already threatening the Governor that if he doesn't call a special legislative session to put an amendment on the ballot, he'll face the wrath of the voters and now the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists has joined the call:

The resolution, adopted at the 38th meeting of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists, passed unanimously.

"As citizens of West Virginia, we avail ourselves of the opportunity to affirm the historic, legal, and reasonable definition of marriage by supporting and promoting a marriage amendment to the state constitution," the resolution states. "... [W]e will strongly encourage Christians throughout West Virginia to engage in the civic process in defense of marriage and in support of the government's leadership in defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman (Romans 13)."

...

The resolution commits to praying regularly for the governor, legislators and judges. It also makes it clear that West Virginia Southern Baptists believe "same-sex unions are not the same as opposite-sex couples."

"[T]o believe otherwise is to ignore the uniqueness of each gender's design and undermines marriage (Genesis 2:18)," the resolution reads. "The break down or weakening of the institution of marriage has devastating moral, spiritual, economic, and social effects on the whole of society. Marriage protects children by giving them an opportunity to grow up in the ideal environment: with a married mom and dad. Knowingly depriving children of that opportunity exposes our children to a great social experiment that is in no one's best interest."

As the Baptist Press article "West Virginia does not have a petition process allowing citizens to gather signatures and place a constitutional amendment on the ballot" so any such amendment must first pass through the state House and Senate, both of which are controlled by Democrats.   But seeing as passing anti-gay amendments seems to be the only thing the Right has been having any success with in recent years, it is probably safe to assume that West Virginia leaders are going to be coming under increasing pressure to put one on the ballot there as well.

It’s Not That Kind of Culture War

Townhall today features a gloating report on how evangelical and rural voters provided the muscle to push through Arkansas’ anti-gay, anti-family, anti-child constitutional amendment to prevent unmarried couples from becoming foster or adoptive parents.

 

Rural and evangelical voters propelled Arkansas to adopt one of the nation's few bans against unmarried couples becoming foster or adoptive parents.

Championed by religious conservatives and fueled by a pulpit campaign, the ban passed with the endorsement of 56.9 percent of the voters. Major support came from rural counties in southwest Arkansas, where about two-thirds of voters supported the measure.

. . .

The ban, which takes effect Jan. 1, will reduce the pool of available homes for children who need parents and guardians, the governor said.

 

 

 

 

They must be so proud.

 

I used to live in Arkansas, so I was a little confused by the photograph they used to illustrate the article. It didn’t look like any part of the state I remembered, but I guess that’s because it’s actually a Congolese rebel army.

 

Is this a signal of the next steps for the Religious Right? Preventing children from finding loving homes by any means necessary?
 

We Took a Poll and Now We Demand Satisfaction

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and the Alliance Defense Fund, commissioned a poll of registered voters that found, lo and behold, that they would vote for an anti-gay marriage amendment:  

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia has released the findings of a new poll it commissioned on the issue of marriage in West Virginia.  The poll reveals significant support among West Virginia voters for a state constitutional amendment defining marriage.

“West Virginians want to define marriage for themselves,” said Jeremy Dys, the FPC’s president and general counsel.  “They do not want their government to set a policy – and they especially do not want a court to impose a system – that knowingly deprives children of a mom or a dad.  The results of this poll demonstrate that now is the time for a marriage amendment in West Virginia.”

The poll, commissioned by the FPC and performed in late July by Advantage, Inc., found that 73% of the more than 500 registered West Virginia voters surveyed say they would support an amendment worded, “Only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

The findings of the poll, available at www.familypolicywv.com, suggests that an additional 73% of West Virginia voters would be “more likely” to vote for a candidate who favored an amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

It is pretty common for right-wing groups to commission polls that just happen to “prove” that the population at large shares their agenda.  But in this case, the FPC was so taken with the findings of their small poll that they are demanding action from the Governor … and now:

As the general election approaches, a Christian evangelical group has issued an ultimatum to Gov. Joe Manchin: call a special session to pass a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, or face the wrath of voters.

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia told the governor on Oct. 9 that he had until Wednesday to agree to call the Legislature into session. The conservative group, formed in March, cites polling it commissioned of around 500 registered voters that it says found 73 percent supporting an amendment defining marriage as a "union of one man and one woman.''

"The donors to this organization, as well as my board, are asking -- rather stridently -- that we release the poll to the public as soon as possible,'' Jeremy Dys, the group's president, said in a letter to the governor's office. "If he has determined that the timing is not right, the duty I have to our donors and the Board of Directors requires that I release this as soon as possible.''

Amending the constitution would also require a statewide vote. Dys said such a vote should take place next year, when no legislative seats are up for election, so "no politician should fear displacement from their current position, should that be of any concern,'' his letter said.

But Dys also called for a special session this year, arguing "the current legislature is a known quantity and our analysis shows strong support for the passage of such a resolution.''

The Many Sides of Sarah Palin

Ever since John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate, the central question has been “Who is Sarah Palin?”  The fact of that matter is that nobody really seems to know, especially Palin herself.

When the announcement came down, politicos of every stripe began scrambling to examine her thin record in an attempt to figure out just what McCain thought that she could bring to the ticket beyond crass electoral benefits.    Everyone, that is, except the Religious Right, which hailed the decision with a staggeringly over-the-top fervor considering that McCain had just named a one-term, relative unknown to fill out his ticket.

But as more becomes known about Palin, it is becoming increasingly clear just why the Right was so overjoyed.

Her militant opposition to abortion, going so far as to even refuse to support her own mother-in-law’s candidacy for Mayor because she was pro-choice; her efforts to oppose equality for gays and lesbians; her apparent affiliation with the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party; her support for teaching Intelligent Design; her reported efforts to censor library books and fire the town librarian – on and on it goes, with new details seemingly emerging by the hour, all suggesting that Palin is indeed the dream candidate the Right has been praying for.

Lost in all of this is Palin’s apparent willingness to utilize right-wing wedge issues when they suit her political needs and then downplay them when they don’t.

As John Stein, whom Palin defeated to become mayor of Wasilla, Alaska in 1996, recently told KCAW, Palin worked to inject the issue of abortion into the traditionally non-partisan mayor’s race and helped her pave the way for her own political aspirations: “The fundamental Christian values were very much a part of her background and the election, interestingly enough, tended to turn around the abortion issue.  John Stein: pro-choice.  Sarah Palin: anti-abortion.  That was heavily promoted by local, state, and I think even national anti-choice groups.”

When she ran for Governor in 2006, Palin was only one of two candidate to respond to the Eagle Forum of Alaska’s Questionnaire – a questionnaire that the organization is now trying to hide by taking it off of their website – in which she explained her opposition to abortion, providing benefits to same-sex couples, to sex-ed and contraception distribution in schools, to hate crimes legislation, and declaring that “Preserving the definition of ‘marriage’ as defined in our constitution” would be among her top priorities if elected.

So while Palin is clearly willing to exploit wedge issues when they serve her needs, she seems to prefer to do so on the down-low and somewhat away from the public eye.  When her opponent for Governor in 2006 tried to make an issue of her staunch anti-abortion views, Palin dismissed the issue, saying “I think it's a shame ... that anyone would try to make this issue a headline, banner issue in the campaign when it's not” and saying that she wouldn’t push for state constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion because “there is no law that I could sign in office that could ever supersede the Supreme Court's ruling.”  While standing by her militant views, she insisted that "I am not one to be out there preaching and forcing my views on anyone else."

When she was criticized for her views that creationism should be taught in science class, she backed off, saying that she wouldn’t "have religion as a litmus test, or anybody's personal opinion on evolution or creationism" for members of the state school board.

In fact, it seems that when ever anyone tried to actually pin Palin down on her right-wing positions, her response was to dismiss the efforts as divisive and hypothetical:

A significant part of Palin’s base of support lies among social and Christian conservatives. Her positions on social issues emerged slowly during the campaign: on abortion (should be banned for anything other than saving the life of the mother), stem cell research (opposed), physician-assisted suicide (opposed), creationism (should be discussed in schools), state health benefits for same-sex partners (opposed, and supports a constitutional amendment to bar them).

Palin and her staff complained that efforts to raise these issues in public were divisive and hypothetical. The normally unflappable candidate seemed put-upon when she faced a string of such questions in the last debate, on public television and radio Thursday night.

“It’s interesting that so many questions do resolve around that centeredness that I have,” she said with a half-smile.

Palin said her reading of the Bible would not “bleed over into policy.”

In fact, Time Magazine suggests that central operating principle of Palin’s political career is the willingness to adopt a “new political identity” that suits her needs at any given moment:

By the time Sarah Palin was entering state politics, the hottest issue in Alaska wasn't gay marriage or even abortion. It was corruption and cronyism. … She needed a new political identity to make it to the next level, so ethics reform became her calling card. "She's a very savvy politician," says Halcro. "So wedge issues were not part of the portfolio."

"If anything," he says, "she got tired of answering questions about them." Halcro recalls one debate in October 2006 in which, after repeated questions about her opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest, she looked at the moderator with exasperation and asked if they were going to talk about anything besides abortion. It was detracting from her new message: cleaning up the capitol.

In the end, her political journey from banner-waving GOP social conservative to maverick reformer may simply be about good timing. It's what former journalist Bill McAllister, who now works for Palin's press staff, used to call "Sarah-dipity" — that uncanny gift of knowing exactly what voters are looking for at a particular moment. And, of course, the political will to give them what they want.

This ploy might have worked on the state-level, but Palin is now in the national spotlight and her “I’m-a-right-winger/I’m-a-moderate-independent-maverick” shtick is no longer going to fly.

While the McCain campaign is obviously pushing the narrative that Palin is a “co-maverick”, the GOP’s right-wing base is screaming that she is their dream come true and, it goes without saying, that both of those things cannot be true.  And considering that Palin had been scheduled to be honored by Phyllis Schlafly and Republican National Coalition for Life today at the convention but cancelled at the last minute, it looks like the McCain campaign hasn’t quite been able to figure out which way it wants to go.

Right Finds No Need to Work Over McCain on GOP Platform

Back when the Republican primary was still hot and heavy, Phyllis Schlafly told right-wing voters in New Hampshire that it was their job to “work these guys over” and pin them down on the issues important to them.

Once John McCain secured the nomination, the Right then began girding for what it expected to be a bloody fight before the convention over the party’s platform:

Conservative activists are preparing to do battle with allies of Sen. John McCain in advance of September's Republican National Convention, hoping to prevent his views on global warming, immigration, stem cell research and campaign finance from becoming enshrined in the party's official declaration of principles.

McCain has not yet signaled the changes he plans to make in the GOP platform, but many conservatives say they fear wholesale revisions could emerge as candidate McCain seeks to put his stamp on a document that currently reflects the policies and principles of President Bush.

"There is just no way that you can avoid anticipating what is going to come. Everyone is aware that McCain is different on these issues," said Jessica Echard, executive director of the conservative Eagle Forum. "We're all kind of waiting with anticipation because we just don't know how he's going to thread this needle."

But they needn’t have worried, because the McCain campaign decided to sit this one out and let them have their way:

Republicans are inviting suggestions for their party platform this year, and thousands have responded online. But when a committee meets to draft the document in Minneapolis next week, one voice will be largely absent: John McCain's.

The Republican standard-bearer is at odds with his party on such hot-button issues as global warming, immigration, campaign-finance overhaul, stem-cell research, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Many party stalwarts are also deeply skeptical when it comes to judicial nominations, given his Senate record.

Instead of fighting with party activists to form the platform around his own ideas, Sen. McCain has taken a hands-off approach.

And so they did:

Republicans on Tuesday debated election principles influenced by their conservative base as well as by presidential candidate John McCain, taking a hard line on abortion while edging toward a more moderate position on global warming.

In its platform debate, the party stuck to its call for a constitutional abortion ban despite McCain's opposition to that, and toughened already uncompromising language on the issue.

Conservatives succeeded in removing a line from a platform draft urging a reduction in abortions _ underscoring their point that abortion should be eliminated.

So why did McCain decide to take a hands-off approach this time around?  Maybe because he remembers what happened to Bob Dole back in 1996; Phyllis Schlafly certainly does

In recent years both parties' platforms have become less relevant: they're often written by and for the parties' bases and largely ignored by the candidates. That's what happened in 1996, when Republican candidate Bob Dole, angry at some of the language in the document, claimed he hadn't read it. Dole lost his bid for the presidency to incumbent President Bill Clinton.

Still, the platform can be a harbinger of new directions the party is likely to go, and conservatives say McCain would do well to pay attention to it.

``When we didn't do what Bob Dole wanted he just went out and said he wasn't going to pay attention to it anyway,'' said Phyllis Schlafly, the founder of the advocacy group Eagle Forum, who has been active in Republican politics since 1952. ``And we know what happened to Bob Dole.''

The Call Gets Political

When we wrote about The Call a few weeks ago, we noted that their mission claims to be less about politics and more about “fasting and prayer for the benefit of the nation.” Of course, such claims are somewhat undermined by the fact that they tend to hold events in Washington, DC just before presidential elections.  

We also noted that, prior to the event, Tony Perkins, Mike Huckabee, and others were scheduled to join The Call’s founder Lou Engle for a press conference – one that seems designed to be openly political and to counter the joint John McCain-Barack Obama event at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and top evangelical leaders will join forces next week to amplify issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and stem-cell research in the race for the White House.

Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and Lou Engle, the leader of The Call, a young adult movement, plan to hold a news conference Friday calling on Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to spend more time talking about issues that matter to evangelical voters.

According to Engle, the goal of the event is to “drive the issue of abortion like a wedge into the soul of the nation” and the focus of the press conference seems to be to put added pressure on McCain to pick a suitable running mate, start pushing their issues, and overall alleviate their concerns about him: 

Evangelical leaders are urging McCain, a lifelong opponent of abortion rights, to commit to pushing a constitutional amendment on gay marriage. Social conservative leaders also want him to take a firm position on banning federal funding for stem-cell research.

“I don’t trust John McCain,” Engle said.

McCain’s pledge to appoint strong anti-abortion judges like Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito does nothing to alleviate Engle’s worries.

“Ronald Reagan promised that and he gave us some of the worst judges we have today,” he said.

The Right Goes All In to Stop Marriage Equality in California

As we have noted over the last several weeks, the Religious Right’s response to the California marriage ruling has been noticeably over-the-top, even for them.  Throwing out everything from Nazi metaphors and warnings that the end of the world was upon us to hateful language and ridiculous scare-tactics, the Right’s response has consisted almost entirely over rhetorical over-reaction. 

But now that same-sex marriages have begun in California, the Right appears to be transitioning from over-reaction to action and begun ramping up its organizing efforts to amend the California Constitution to “provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized.” 

Just yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Focus on the Family dumped a quarter-million dollars into the effort:

The initiative campaign proposes to amend the state Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. It received $250,000 this week from an evangelical group, Focus on the Family, and declared that the debate about same-sex marriage "is not over." Focus on the Family, led by James C. Dobson, posted a statement on its website declaring that California's "judicially imposed social experiment has hastened the demise of religious freedom across the U.S."

Today, the Family Research Council sent out an email seeking to have its own quarter-million dollar investment be doubled by a matching grant for the fight in California and across the nation:

I'm writing to ask you to give a generous donation to Family Research Council's MARRIAGE CAMPAIGN.

Your donation and others will be doubled by a Matching Grant up to $250,000!

Traditional marriage is now in grave peril across the nation due to the outrageous decisions by activist judges and radical legislators in Massachusetts, California, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Oregon. With reckless disregard for logic and law, these threats open the door to:

    * Counterfeit marriage being imposed on states with marriage amendments
    * Erosion of traditional morality as homosexuality is normalized
    * Schools teaching that homosexual behavior and homosexual "marriage" are social goods
    * Restriction of religious freedom and free speech

In response to the marriage crisis, FRC has launched our Marriage Campaign.

Our initial goal: raise $2 million immediately to educate the nation on the centrality of marriage, respond to threats and lies across the country, educate leaders and pastors, and register voters.

The crisis is so great that FRC has been given a $250,000 Matching Grant to help fight this battle and others

FRC plans to use the money is raises to, among other things, “Educate the grassroots and government leaders, Launch paid advertising and press events, Alert and inform FRC's powerful network of churches and Flood TV, radio, newspapers, and the Internet with FRC experts doing eye-opening interviews.”

FRC plans to use the money is raises to, among other things, “Educate the grassroots and government leaders, Launch paid advertising and press events, Alert and inform FRC's powerful network of churches and Flood TV, radio, newspapers, and the Internet with FRC experts doing eye-opening interviews.”

The group through which FOF and FRC will presumably channel their money and efforts is ProtectMarriage.com, a who’s who of right-wing organizations and individuals.  ProtectMarriage itself appears to kicking its efforts into high-gear, beginning with what they seem to be billing as the single most important conference call ever:

Dear Pastors, Friends and Christian Leaders,
 
We have labored to make this letter as short as possible.  However, the gravity of this moment caused us to need to share several critical items.  Please read carefully – at least this first page.
 
The landscape of California will change dramatically as of Monday, June 16 at 5:01 PM.  Every Bible believing pastor and church will be affected.
 
Please join with pastors and Christian leaders all across California who are coming together at 43+ locations for a statewide Pastors Strategic Conference Call, Wednesday, June 25, at 10 AM.
 
For the location list, please see www.protectmarriagesd.com.
 
If you, as a pastor, are willing to host a gathering of pastors and Christian leaders at your church, or you know of a pastor who will host, please contact Chris Clark at pastor@eastclairemont.com  or 858-395-7136.  You need to have speaker-phone capability that can be adequately amplified, along with PowerPoint capabilities for visual purposes.
 
Additionally, please forward this email to as many pastors and Christian leaders as you can or email reply with the email addresses of pastors and Christian leaders so that we can keep them informed of future developments … Be assured that the information shared will be extremely beneficial for the future of the cause of Christ in California.  Saying it another way, it is worth canceling all other appointments in order to be present at one of these locations.

The conference call looks like it is tied to the organization’s efforts to use churches to register thousands of new voters before the November election:

The church in California is being called upon to turn out the vote for the November election, in which voters will vote on a constitutional amendment to nullify a recent court decision legalizing homosexual "marriage" in that state.

ProtectMarriage.com has already signed on a thousand churches to work to increase voter registration and turnout. As spokesman Ron Prentice notes, the church is seen as one of the keys to victory. "[In] many elections, only 50 percent of those church members register to vote," he says. "And so we know that our success hinges on getting out as many votes as possible -- and the church community is available and willing."
 
Prentice explains that as a follow-up to voter registration materials, his group will provide church leaders with specific sermon content on the subject of biblical marriage -- "and then we'll be working with them to get out more and more of their congregation to vote," he adds.

It seems as if it has finally dawned on the Right that a loss in California on the marriage issue could do serious damage to their efforts to pass a federal marriage amendment and permanently deny marriage equality to men and women throughout the nation and they look set to pull out all the stops in an effort to ensure that that does not happen.  As AFA’s OneNewsNow put it: “History has shown that what happens in California affects the rest of the country, so Prentice is calling on people to pray for victory."

Hagee Had Line to the White House

Back when we first started writing about John Hagee back in 2006, we took issue with Kathleen Parker’s claim that people like Hagee were not very influential because nobody at the White House took them seriously.  As we noted at the time, that argument would have been more effective had Hagee and others from his Christians United for Israel not regularly been invited to the White House and had President Bush not been sending messages to their annual gatherings.  

As it turns out, Hagee did indeed have significant influence at the White House, as Scott McClellan confirmed yesterday in an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” – from the transcript:

GROSS: My guest is Scott McClellan. He was the White House press secretary from July '03 to May of '06. And his new memoir about those years is called "What Happened."

I've got a John Hagee question for you. You devote some of your memoir "What Happened" to social conservatives and their influence on policy in the Bush administration. And I know when John Hagee, who's been so much in the news lately, ever since his endorsement of McCain, which that's a bond that's been broken.

Mr. McCLELLAN: Yes.

GROSS: When he had his first summit for the Christian Zionist group that he founded, Christians United for Israel, President Bush sent a recorded greeting to Hagee and to the conference. Did Hagee have much sway within the Bush administration?

Mr. McCLELLAN: Well, he was one of a number of evangelical pastors, social conservative ones that were certainly part of our outreach at the White House. We had a person and a public liaison that was specifically tasked with reaching out to social conservative leaders. And so those leaders, yes, had a heavy influence on some of the White House policies. And I think that was one of the things that also hurt the president was that, at times it looked like his emphasis was on some of these issues that were important to social conservatives, like Terry Schiavo, like the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and stem cell research. I think a lot of people were wondering, `Why are you spending so much time focusing on these issues when, you know, there are issues on energy and health care and the economy that need to be addressed?'

GROSS: So Pastor Hagee was influential within the Bush administration?

Mr. McCLELLAN: I'd say he was one of a number that certainly had some influence and was able to quickly get someone on the phone at the White House. So yes.

Speaking of Hagee, it looks like all the negative press he has received in recent weeks is not dampening his standing in the community, as Joe Lieberman and Gary Bauer continue to stand by him, some Jewish leaders continue to praise his pro-Israel views, and some churches still want him to address their conferences:

jerusalem-hagee.jpg

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Constitutional Amendment Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 03/01/2011, 3:48pm
Republicans in North Carolina are hoping to pass a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, even though gay and lesbian couples are already prevented from getting married under statute. One leading proponent of the ban believes that an amendment, which could potentially be included on the 2012 ballot if it passes the legislature with three-fifths of the vote, would pass because “the public in my opinion knows the difference between perversity and diversity” and that residents “don’t want them here.” The News Observer reports: Supporters of a bill... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/23/2011, 3:06pm
Earlier today it was reported that President Obama had ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. So far, reactions from the Religious Right have been few and far between but we are going to post them here as they trickle in: National Organization for Marriage: “We have not yet begun to fight for marriage,” said Brian Brown, president of NOM. “The Democrats are responding to their election loss with a series of extraordinary, extra-constitutional end runs around democracy, whether it’s fleeing the state in... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 02/23/2011, 3:06pm
Earlier today it was reported that President Obama had ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. So far, reactions from the Religious Right have been few and far between but we are going to post them here as they trickle in: National Organization for Marriage: “We have not yet begun to fight for marriage,” said Brian Brown, president of NOM. “The Democrats are responding to their election loss with a series of extraordinary, extra-constitutional end runs around democracy, whether it’s fleeing the state in... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/25/2011, 2:51pm
Apparently, Sharia law is such a creeping threat to Wyoming that a Republican state legislator wants to make the “Equality State” consider a constitutional amendment barring judges from considering Islamic and international law. In November, Oklahomans passed a similar amendment, which was later blocked by a federal judge over its suspect constitutional grounds. “To date, no Wyoming court rulings have been based on Islamic law, or Shariah,” the Billings Gazette reports, “But state Rep. Gerald Gay, R-Casper, said his proposed constitutional amendment, House Joint... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 01/25/2011, 2:51pm
Apparently, Sharia law is such a creeping threat to Wyoming that a Republican state legislator wants to make the “Equality State” consider a constitutional amendment barring judges from considering Islamic and international law. In November, Oklahomans passed a similar amendment, which was later blocked by a federal judge over its suspect constitutional grounds. “To date, no Wyoming court rulings have been based on Islamic law, or Shariah,” the Billings Gazette reports, “But state Rep. Gerald Gay, R-Casper, said his proposed constitutional amendment, House Joint... MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 01/06/2011, 1:57pm
Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women For America, in the conservative publication The American Thinker ridicules the Obama Administration’s claims that bigotry and inequality still exist in the U.S., but goes on to claim that the Religious Right represents the actual victim of discrimination at the hands of “homosexual activists.” Such fatuous allegations are nothing new from Wright, who participated in the “Green Dragon” series that believes the environmental movement is surreptitiously trying to destroy Christianity and dismissed a study which showed... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 01/06/2011, 12:14pm
Looks like members of Congress and legislators in Arkansas might not be the only elected officials David Barton will be teaching in the coming weeks, as Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent reports that he has also been invited to participate in a joint Minnesota Family Council/Family Research Council summit for Minnesota legislators:  When state legislators checked their office mailboxes Wednesday, they found an invitation to attend a Minnesota Family and Marriage Summit featuring a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a hate group. The summit, to be held next... MORE