republicans

Rand Paul: "My Goal Is To Make DeMint Look Like a Moderate"

During the last election, it seemed that just about every Republican running for office was eager to wrap themselves in the mantle of the Tea Party ... but now that the election is over, it doesn't seem that members of Congress are particularly eager to keep on carrying it:

Although dozens of Republicans sailed into office with the help of the tea-party movement last year, finding a self-identified "Tea Party Republican" on Capitol Hill is harder than you'd think.

The first meeting of the Senate Tea Party Caucus on Thursday attracted just four senators - out of a possible 47 GOP members - willing to describe themselves as members. The event was as notable for who wasn't there than who was.

• Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., once a tea-party darling, has for now declined to join the caucus, whose first meeting was organized by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

• Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican whose campaign sprang from the small-government movement, has passed for now.

• Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., showed up to address the group of activists Thursday, but then hustled out of the room, ignoring reporters' questions about whether he was in or out.

But those who did show up at the meeting seem eager to demonstrate the bona fides as Tea Party activists pressed Sen. Jim DeMint to cut at least $1.4 trillion in spending per year while Rand Paul burnished his reputation for being one of he most extreme members of the Senate:

[Sen. Rand] Paul's approach - bold, specific and unwaveringly conservative - is exactly what the most engaged activists of the tea party have been seeking. One of the biggest applause lines at Thursday's meeting came when staunch conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., quoted Paul as saying, "My goal is to make DeMint look like a moderate."

Rand Paul: "My Goal Is To Make DeMint Look Like a Moderate"

During the last election, it seemed that just about every Republican running for office was eager to wrap themselves in the mantle of the Tea Party ... but now that the election is over, it doesn't seem that members of Congress are particularly eager to keep on carrying it:

Although dozens of Republicans sailed into office with the help of the tea-party movement last year, finding a self-identified "Tea Party Republican" on Capitol Hill is harder than you'd think.

The first meeting of the Senate Tea Party Caucus on Thursday attracted just four senators - out of a possible 47 GOP members - willing to describe themselves as members. The event was as notable for who wasn't there than who was.

• Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., once a tea-party darling, has for now declined to join the caucus, whose first meeting was organized by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

• Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican whose campaign sprang from the small-government movement, has passed for now.

• Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., showed up to address the group of activists Thursday, but then hustled out of the room, ignoring reporters' questions about whether he was in or out.

But those who did show up at the meeting seem eager to demonstrate the bona fides as Tea Party activists pressed Sen. Jim DeMint to cut at least $1.4 trillion in spending per year while Rand Paul burnished his reputation for being one of he most extreme members of the Senate:

[Sen. Rand] Paul's approach - bold, specific and unwaveringly conservative - is exactly what the most engaged activists of the tea party have been seeking. One of the biggest applause lines at Thursday's meeting came when staunch conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., quoted Paul as saying, "My goal is to make DeMint look like a moderate."

Bachmann Invites Jay Sekulow To Teach Her Constitution Class

Jay Sekulow runs the American Center for Law and Justice, the Religious Right organization founded by Pat Robertson to be a right-wing counterweight to the ACLU.  In that capacity, Sekulow has recently been leading the fight against the construction of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque."

Today, Sekulow had Rep. Michele Bachmann on his radio program to discuss last night's State of the Union address and her response and during the conversation Sekulow asked her about the Tea Party classes on the Constution she is hosting for members of Congress featuring the likes of Justice Antonin Scalia and Wallbuilders' David Barton ... and apparently also Sekulow:

Bachmann: Our opening speaker was Justice Antonin Scalia. We had both Democrats and Republicans - we had four Democrat members of Congress. It was very civil, it was very open and we hope to invite all of the Supreme Court Justices to come and speak to us. But we also hope to have people like yourself, Jay - we've invited you to come and speak to members of Congress, to speak about the Constitution. The topic will be up to the speakers choice but the whole purpose and intent is to have members thinking about the Constitution and our limitations under the Constitution. That has not been a focus here in Congress in recent years. We intend to change that and this was a very good first meeting this week.

Sekulow: I look forward to participating [and] we appreciate you're not only representing the people of your district, you're representing all of use that share the concerns and the desire to see Constitutional Conservatism placed forward and Congresswoman, thanks for being with us and thanks for the bold stand you are taking in Washington.

Bachmann: Thank you. You're wonderful and thank you for your ministry.

Bachmann Invites Jay Sekulow To Teach Her Constitution Class

Jay Sekulow runs the American Center for Law and Justice, the Religious Right organization founded by Pat Robertson to be a right-wing counterweight to the ACLU.  In that capacity, Sekulow has recently been leading the fight against the construction of the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque."

Today, Sekulow had Rep. Michele Bachmann on his radio program to discuss last night's State of the Union address and her response and during the conversation Sekulow asked her about the Tea Party classes on the Constution she is hosting for members of Congress featuring the likes of Justice Antonin Scalia and Wallbuilders' David Barton ... and apparently also Sekulow:

Bachmann: Our opening speaker was Justice Antonin Scalia. We had both Democrats and Republicans - we had four Democrat members of Congress. It was very civil, it was very open and we hope to invite all of the Supreme Court Justices to come and speak to us. But we also hope to have people like yourself, Jay - we've invited you to come and speak to members of Congress, to speak about the Constitution. The topic will be up to the speakers choice but the whole purpose and intent is to have members thinking about the Constitution and our limitations under the Constitution. That has not been a focus here in Congress in recent years. We intend to change that and this was a very good first meeting this week.

Sekulow: I look forward to participating [and] we appreciate you're not only representing the people of your district, you're representing all of use that share the concerns and the desire to see Constitutional Conservatism placed forward and Congresswoman, thanks for being with us and thanks for the bold stand you are taking in Washington.

Bachmann: Thank you. You're wonderful and thank you for your ministry.

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:

Newt Gingrich Wants to Eliminate EPA, Once Backed Efforts to Fight Climate Change

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who is inching closer to a presidential run, told a meeting of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association that he wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. Like other leading Republicans, Gingrich says that the EPA’s life-saving oversight is too burdensome for businesses, calling the agency “a job-killing, centralizing engine of ideological litigation and regulation that blocks economic progress at every turn.” He wants to replace it with an agency that is more friendly to business, asserting that the “EPA’s current attempts to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and thereby the entire American economy, is the latest and definitive proof that the EPA has gone well beyond its original mandate.”

But the potential presidential candidate may want to remember his advertisement for the Alliance for Climate Protection, the group founded by Al Gore, where he joins Nancy Pelosi to call for action against global climate change. Now that the GOP has become the party of climate change denialism, it’s no wonder that Gingrich is now calling for the elimination of the EPA.

Newt Gingrich Wants to Eliminate EPA, Once Backed Efforts to Fight Climate Change

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who is inching closer to a presidential run, told a meeting of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association that he wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. Like other leading Republicans, Gingrich says that the EPA’s life-saving oversight is too burdensome for businesses, calling the agency “a job-killing, centralizing engine of ideological litigation and regulation that blocks economic progress at every turn.” He wants to replace it with an agency that is more friendly to business, asserting that the “EPA’s current attempts to regulate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and thereby the entire American economy, is the latest and definitive proof that the EPA has gone well beyond its original mandate.”

But the potential presidential candidate may want to remember his advertisement for the Alliance for Climate Protection, the group founded by Al Gore, where he joins Nancy Pelosi to call for action against global climate change. Now that the GOP has become the party of climate change denialism, it’s no wonder that Gingrich is now calling for the elimination of the EPA.

Ellmers: Taxpayer-Funded Health Care OK for Me Because My Congressional Salary Isn’t Enough to Live in DC

North Carolina’s freshman Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, last featured in RWW’s The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress, refers to herself as a “product of the Tea Party” and even opposes mandating that insurance companies cover matenity care because it is “very costly.” Despite her staunch hostility to the Democrats’ “imperial ruling class attitude” and the “socialistic form of government,” Ellmers has decided to take taxpayer-subsidized health care plan because of the high cost of living in Washington DC. Apparently, the Congresswoman’s $174,000 annual salary isn’t enough to live part-time in the nation’s capital without taxpayer-funded health insurance:

Appearing on a WPTF radio call-in show Monday, Ellmers was asked by a caller whether she intended to participate in "that luxury plan" offered to members of Congress.

Ellmers responded that she signed up for a Blue Cross, Blue Shield federal employees plan, one of the options offered to members of Congress.

"Unfortunately, being here in Washington is very expensive," Ellmers said. "Yes, we do have a salary, and we do have benefits. It costs a lot of money to be here. I've signed on to the private plan, just like so many in America are on. "The benefit is available to me. People need to understand out there, it costs a lot of money to be here in Congress."

Ellmers, a nurse who is married to a physician, makes a congressional salary of $174,000 per year.

While Ellmers believes that residents of Washington DC who don’t have health insurance (and most likely earn less than $174,000) shouldn’t receive any government assistance to receive coverage whatsoever, she is fine with taxpayer-funded health insurance for herself.

Ellmers recently rejected an invitation by President Obama, who she likened to “Louis XIV, the Sun King,” to attend a reception at the White House for all new members of Congress “because she chose not to go.”

Ellmers: Taxpayer-Funded Health Care OK for Me Because My Congressional Salary Isn’t Enough to Live in DC

North Carolina’s freshman Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, last featured in RWW’s The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress, refers to herself as a “product of the Tea Party” and even opposes mandating that insurance companies cover matenity care because it is “very costly.” Despite her staunch hostility to the Democrats’ “imperial ruling class attitude” and the “socialistic form of government,” Ellmers has decided to take taxpayer-subsidized health care plan because of the high cost of living in Washington DC. Apparently, the Congresswoman’s $174,000 annual salary isn’t enough to live part-time in the nation’s capital without taxpayer-funded health insurance:

Appearing on a WPTF radio call-in show Monday, Ellmers was asked by a caller whether she intended to participate in "that luxury plan" offered to members of Congress.

Ellmers responded that she signed up for a Blue Cross, Blue Shield federal employees plan, one of the options offered to members of Congress.

"Unfortunately, being here in Washington is very expensive," Ellmers said. "Yes, we do have a salary, and we do have benefits. It costs a lot of money to be here. I've signed on to the private plan, just like so many in America are on. "The benefit is available to me. People need to understand out there, it costs a lot of money to be here in Congress."

Ellmers, a nurse who is married to a physician, makes a congressional salary of $174,000 per year.

While Ellmers believes that residents of Washington DC who don’t have health insurance (and most likely earn less than $174,000) shouldn’t receive any government assistance to receive coverage whatsoever, she is fine with taxpayer-funded health insurance for herself.

Ellmers recently rejected an invitation by President Obama, who she likened to “Louis XIV, the Sun King,” to attend a reception at the White House for all new members of Congress “because she chose not to go.”

House GOP Looks to Overturn Marriage Equality in DC

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said that his Republican Study Committee, the ultraconservative group that counts a majority of the GOP caucus as its members, told The Hill that he supports congressional action to reverse Washington DC’s marriage equality law. “I think RSC will push for it, and I’m certainly strongly for it,” the Ohio Republican said, “I don’t know if we’ve made a decision if I’ll do it or let another member do it, but I’m 100 percent for it.” Jordan voted against every major piece of gay-rights legislation and recently announced his boycott of CPAC over the conference’s inclusion of GOProud.

Even though the Republican Study Committee claims to be committed to “a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government” and reducing “government regulations [and the] size of government,” anti-gay attacks apparently take priority over its dedication to federalism and small-government.

The DC Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality in 2009, and marriage rights for gays and lesbians went into effect in early 2010. National and local Religious Right groups, led by Bishop Harry Jackson, just last week lost a lawsuit challenging the law.

Bishop Jackson has unsuccessfully demanded a popular referendum to decide the fate of marriage equality in the District, saying that the issue should be left up to DC voters rather than their elected representatives in the Council and going so far as writing to Congress to demand a popular vote on the issue. In Congress, however, DC’s Delegate does not have the right to vote on legislation and was stripped by Republicans of her limited voting powers.

Clearly, given his aggressive stance in support of DC’s voters’ ability to have a say in the matter, Bishop Jackson will come out strongly against Congressman Jordan’s proposal any minute now…

House GOP Looks to Overturn Marriage Equality in DC

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said that his Republican Study Committee, the ultraconservative group that counts a majority of the GOP caucus as its members, told The Hill that he supports congressional action to reverse Washington DC’s marriage equality law. “I think RSC will push for it, and I’m certainly strongly for it,” the Ohio Republican said, “I don’t know if we’ve made a decision if I’ll do it or let another member do it, but I’m 100 percent for it.” Jordan voted against every major piece of gay-rights legislation and recently announced his boycott of CPAC over the conference’s inclusion of GOProud.

Even though the Republican Study Committee claims to be committed to “a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government” and reducing “government regulations [and the] size of government,” anti-gay attacks apparently take priority over its dedication to federalism and small-government.

The DC Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality in 2009, and marriage rights for gays and lesbians went into effect in early 2010. National and local Religious Right groups, led by Bishop Harry Jackson, just last week lost a lawsuit challenging the law.

Bishop Jackson has unsuccessfully demanded a popular referendum to decide the fate of marriage equality in the District, saying that the issue should be left up to DC voters rather than their elected representatives in the Council and going so far as writing to Congress to demand a popular vote on the issue. In Congress, however, DC’s Delegate does not have the right to vote on legislation and was stripped by Republicans of her limited voting powers.

Clearly, given his aggressive stance in support of DC’s voters’ ability to have a say in the matter, Bishop Jackson will come out strongly against Congressman Jordan’s proposal any minute now…

FRC Pressuring House Republicans To Eliminate Marriage Equality in DC

Yesterday we noted that the National Organization for Marriage was undaunted by the fact that the Supreme Court had rejected the Religious Right's challenge to Washington DC's marriage equality law and was vowing to continue the fight and expecting the new Republican majority in the House to help them.

It turns out that the Family Research Council had exactly the same idea and is calling upon its activists to contact Rep. Darrell Issa and urge Congress to "override the D.C. government's decision" and either "reject the marriage law outright or order the District to adopt a new statute that would put this issue on the ballot":

Tuesday's decision was not an endorsement of gay "marriage" in this city or anywhere else. It was simply the court recognizing its own limitations. On matters affecting the District, Congress is the absolute authority. The justices are leaving it to them to clean up this mess, or not.

Last year, when the city council exploited the process and forced same-sex "marriage" on the District, House leaders could have--and should have--gotten involved. Instead, members chickened out and did nothing. Fortunately for D.C. voters, times--and the party majorities--have changed. I've been discussing possible steps GOP leaders could take to do what the city didn't do: give the people a voice. Believe it or not, Congress has the power to override the D.C. government's decisions any time it wants. It could reject the marriage law outright or order the District to adopt a new statute that would put this issue on the ballot. What the Left doesn't want you to know is that D.C. doesn't have the authority to block referendums on marriage. Only Congress does.

"The answer for us," Bishop Jackson said yesterday, "is to return to the political process." And you can help! With a strong new Speaker at the helm, Americans can demand that our nation's capital follow our nation's law--which is that marriage is the union of a man and woman. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is the Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee. As a representative from California, where Proposition 8 is under attack, he knows firsthand the importance of leaving these issues in voters' hands. Email or call him (202-225-3906) today and encourage him to give the people of Washington, D.C. the same opportunity.

FRC Pressuring House Republicans To Eliminate Marriage Equality in DC

Yesterday we noted that the National Organization for Marriage was undaunted by the fact that the Supreme Court had rejected the Religious Right's challenge to Washington DC's marriage equality law and was vowing to continue the fight and expecting the new Republican majority in the House to help them.

It turns out that the Family Research Council had exactly the same idea and is calling upon its activists to contact Rep. Darrell Issa and urge Congress to "override the D.C. government's decision" and either "reject the marriage law outright or order the District to adopt a new statute that would put this issue on the ballot":

Tuesday's decision was not an endorsement of gay "marriage" in this city or anywhere else. It was simply the court recognizing its own limitations. On matters affecting the District, Congress is the absolute authority. The justices are leaving it to them to clean up this mess, or not.

Last year, when the city council exploited the process and forced same-sex "marriage" on the District, House leaders could have--and should have--gotten involved. Instead, members chickened out and did nothing. Fortunately for D.C. voters, times--and the party majorities--have changed. I've been discussing possible steps GOP leaders could take to do what the city didn't do: give the people a voice. Believe it or not, Congress has the power to override the D.C. government's decisions any time it wants. It could reject the marriage law outright or order the District to adopt a new statute that would put this issue on the ballot. What the Left doesn't want you to know is that D.C. doesn't have the authority to block referendums on marriage. Only Congress does.

"The answer for us," Bishop Jackson said yesterday, "is to return to the political process." And you can help! With a strong new Speaker at the helm, Americans can demand that our nation's capital follow our nation's law--which is that marriage is the union of a man and woman. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is the Chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee. As a representative from California, where Proposition 8 is under attack, he knows firsthand the importance of leaving these issues in voters' hands. Email or call him (202-225-3906) today and encourage him to give the people of Washington, D.C. the same opportunity.

Iowa GOP Hopes to Ban Gay Marriage and Civil Unions as Vander Plaats Mobilizes Pastors

The battle over marriage equality in Iowa is heating up as Republicans in the State House are moving forward with plans to ban gay marriage and civil unions, an attempt to reverse a unanimous 2009 State Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality. To amend the constitution, “an amendment would require approval by state lawmakers during two legislative sessions, and then approval by voters at the ballot box.” Encouraged by major Republican gains in the midterm elections and the removal of three pro-equality Justices through retention votes, Iowa Republicans have emphasized restrictions on gay-rights and reproductive-rights in their legislative agenda, and Religious Right leader Bob Vander Plaats is pressing for the removal of the entire Supreme Court.

Vander Plaats’s new organization, The Family Leader, recently blasted pro-equality faith leaders in an alert message that questions their faith, stating: “167 ‘religious’ leaders signed a letter delivered to the Iowa Legislature saying that people of faith support homosexual ‘marriage.’ Don’t stay silent while others speak for you and misrepresnt [sic] God.” The group calls on pastors to sign an alternative petition which describes “homosexual behavior” as “immoral and sinful” and “harmful both to the individuals who choose to participate in it and the society that chooses to accept it.”

The mobilization of pastors by The Family Leader comes at a time when, according to the Des Moines Register, Republican leaders are trying to prohibit not only gay marriage but also other forms of legal rights for gay couples such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. The Register reports:

House Republicans will introduce legislation this week to begin the process to amend the Iowa Constitution to ban not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions and domestic partnerships.

That prospect raised alarm with civil rights advocates, who said it would legalize discrimination.

Republicans, who took control of the House in the Nov. 2 elections, had pledged to pass a measure this legislative session that would eventually allow Iowans a vote on same-sex marriage. But the resolution they've prepared is more sweeping than that, a move intended to help place finality on the issue of the legality of same-sex unions, said Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull, who is the lead sponsor of House Joint Resolution 6.

"I think the biggest issue is that if that (a same-sex marriage ban) is carried forward, and then Iowa does civil unions and recognizes that as a substitute status, then, from what I've seen in other states," people would come to consider same-sex civil unions as equal to marriage, Alons said.

As of late Wednesday, no Democrats had signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. Fifty-six of the 60 House Republicans are listed as co-sponsors. The measure is expected to easily pass the House, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to block consideration of a same-sex marriage amendment in that chamber.

The resolution says: "Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state."

Des Moines attorney James Benzoni said such an amendment would run counter to the intent of Iowa laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"The problem you're going to have is that it allows prejudice," Benzoni said. "It's going to open the door now for discrimination, for bullying, for treating people as second-class citizens."

The wording raised questions about whether private companies and governments in Iowa could still extend benefits to domestic partners. State government, for example, provides domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples.



Those who agree with the Iowa Supreme Court ruling have noted that same-sex couples have in previous years been shut out from hospital visitation and inheritance rights. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has listed more than 1,100 benefits the government provides to married couples.

The Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr. of Des Moines, president of the NAACP State Conference for Iowa and Nebraska, has helped lead protests against same-sex marriage. He said Wednesday he agrees with the attempt to also keep domestic partnership or civil unions from gaining legal status.

Ratliff said he believes same-sex marriage further erodes the family, similar to the way that two-income families have eroded traditional nuclear families.

"I think there is an immediate consequence to gay marriage because people let their guard down in relation to what the word of God says," Ratliff said.

Iowa GOP Hopes to Ban Gay Marriage and Civil Unions as Vander Plaats Mobilizes Pastors

The battle over marriage equality in Iowa is heating up as Republicans in the State House are moving forward with plans to ban gay marriage and civil unions, an attempt to reverse a unanimous 2009 State Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality. To amend the constitution, “an amendment would require approval by state lawmakers during two legislative sessions, and then approval by voters at the ballot box.” Encouraged by major Republican gains in the midterm elections and the removal of three pro-equality Justices through retention votes, Iowa Republicans have emphasized restrictions on gay-rights and reproductive-rights in their legislative agenda, and Religious Right leader Bob Vander Plaats is pressing for the removal of the entire Supreme Court.

Vander Plaats’s new organization, The Family Leader, recently blasted pro-equality faith leaders in an alert message that questions their faith, stating: “167 ‘religious’ leaders signed a letter delivered to the Iowa Legislature saying that people of faith support homosexual ‘marriage.’ Don’t stay silent while others speak for you and misrepresnt [sic] God.” The group calls on pastors to sign an alternative petition which describes “homosexual behavior” as “immoral and sinful” and “harmful both to the individuals who choose to participate in it and the society that chooses to accept it.”

The mobilization of pastors by The Family Leader comes at a time when, according to the Des Moines Register, Republican leaders are trying to prohibit not only gay marriage but also other forms of legal rights for gay couples such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. The Register reports:

House Republicans will introduce legislation this week to begin the process to amend the Iowa Constitution to ban not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions and domestic partnerships.

That prospect raised alarm with civil rights advocates, who said it would legalize discrimination.

Republicans, who took control of the House in the Nov. 2 elections, had pledged to pass a measure this legislative session that would eventually allow Iowans a vote on same-sex marriage. But the resolution they've prepared is more sweeping than that, a move intended to help place finality on the issue of the legality of same-sex unions, said Rep. Dwayne Alons, R-Hull, who is the lead sponsor of House Joint Resolution 6.

"I think the biggest issue is that if that (a same-sex marriage ban) is carried forward, and then Iowa does civil unions and recognizes that as a substitute status, then, from what I've seen in other states," people would come to consider same-sex civil unions as equal to marriage, Alons said.

As of late Wednesday, no Democrats had signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. Fifty-six of the 60 House Republicans are listed as co-sponsors. The measure is expected to easily pass the House, but Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to block consideration of a same-sex marriage amendment in that chamber.

The resolution says: "Marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state."

Des Moines attorney James Benzoni said such an amendment would run counter to the intent of Iowa laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"The problem you're going to have is that it allows prejudice," Benzoni said. "It's going to open the door now for discrimination, for bullying, for treating people as second-class citizens."

The wording raised questions about whether private companies and governments in Iowa could still extend benefits to domestic partners. State government, for example, provides domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples.



Those who agree with the Iowa Supreme Court ruling have noted that same-sex couples have in previous years been shut out from hospital visitation and inheritance rights. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has listed more than 1,100 benefits the government provides to married couples.

The Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr. of Des Moines, president of the NAACP State Conference for Iowa and Nebraska, has helped lead protests against same-sex marriage. He said Wednesday he agrees with the attempt to also keep domestic partnership or civil unions from gaining legal status.

Ratliff said he believes same-sex marriage further erodes the family, similar to the way that two-income families have eroded traditional nuclear families.

"I think there is an immediate consequence to gay marriage because people let their guard down in relation to what the word of God says," Ratliff said.

DC Marriage Foes’ Voting-Rights Hypocrisy Exposed

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch legal challenge to marriage equality in the District of Columbia and exposed as hypocritical posturing the claims by Bishop Harry Jackson and his Religious Right allies to be representing the interests of DC voters.

Throughout the past year’s legal challenges to DC’s marriage equality law, Jackson and his allies have argued that District voters have a civil right to vote on the city’s new marriage equality law, in spite of consistent legal opinions and court rulings that such a vote would violate the city’s Human Rights Act by putting civil rights to a vote.
 
But when the conservative U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the clergy’s latest request, the response of one local advocate was telling. Rev. Anthony Evans called the Supreme Court’s action “a travesty of justice:”
 
“This law was forced down the church’s throat and what the Supreme Court has set up is the greatest civil war between the church and the gay community,” Evans said. “And let me just state for the record, we don’t want that fight. We love our gay brothers and sisters. But if the Supreme Court is not going to acknowledge the fact that we have a right as religious people to have a say-so in the framework of religious ethics for our culture and society, then we reject the Supreme Court on this issue.”
 
Evans “civil war” rhetoric seems particularly poorly chosen at a moment when Americans of all political persuasions are looking for more civility in political rhetoric, not to mention his Tea-Party-on-steroids declaration that he “rejects” the U.S. Supreme Court .
 
But what really exposes as fraudulent the claims by marriage foes to be waging a civil rights struggle on behalf of DC voters is Evans’ bragging that “he and others opposed to the marriage law lobbied GOP leaders on the Hill to strip  congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) of her voting privileges on the House floor.”  Evans said his working with House Republicans to revoke even the limited floor voting privileges of DC's congressional delegate was “punishment for her wholehearted support of same-sex marriage.”
 
Of course, national Religious Right groups made it clear months ago that they don't really care about the second-class-citizen status of DC residents when they said that city officials’ support for marriage equality and the Human Rights Act is proof that the District doesn’t deserve self-determination.

DC Marriage Foes’ Voting-Rights Hypocrisy Exposed

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch legal challenge to marriage equality in the District of Columbia and exposed as hypocritical posturing the claims by Bishop Harry Jackson and his Religious Right allies to be representing the interests of DC voters.

Throughout the past year’s legal challenges to DC’s marriage equality law, Jackson and his allies have argued that District voters have a civil right to vote on the city’s new marriage equality law, in spite of consistent legal opinions and court rulings that such a vote would violate the city’s Human Rights Act by putting civil rights to a vote.
 
But when the conservative U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the clergy’s latest request, the response of one local advocate was telling. Rev. Anthony Evans called the Supreme Court’s action “a travesty of justice:”
 
“This law was forced down the church’s throat and what the Supreme Court has set up is the greatest civil war between the church and the gay community,” Evans said. “And let me just state for the record, we don’t want that fight. We love our gay brothers and sisters. But if the Supreme Court is not going to acknowledge the fact that we have a right as religious people to have a say-so in the framework of religious ethics for our culture and society, then we reject the Supreme Court on this issue.”
 
Evans “civil war” rhetoric seems particularly poorly chosen at a moment when Americans of all political persuasions are looking for more civility in political rhetoric, not to mention his Tea-Party-on-steroids declaration that he “rejects” the U.S. Supreme Court .
 
But what really exposes as fraudulent the claims by marriage foes to be waging a civil rights struggle on behalf of DC voters is Evans’ bragging that “he and others opposed to the marriage law lobbied GOP leaders on the Hill to strip  congressional delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) of her voting privileges on the House floor.”  Evans said his working with House Republicans to revoke even the limited floor voting privileges of DC's congressional delegate was “punishment for her wholehearted support of same-sex marriage.”
 
Of course, national Religious Right groups made it clear months ago that they don't really care about the second-class-citizen status of DC residents when they said that city officials’ support for marriage equality and the Human Rights Act is proof that the District doesn’t deserve self-determination.

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).

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republicans Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 05/11/2011, 3:41pm
During a rally in Columbus for Janet Porter’s Heartbeat Bill, which would criminalize abortion in the vast majority of cases, Ohio Republican State Representative Jarrod Martin came up with an economic rationale to pass the legislation: to help the U.S. compete with China. Martin argued that since there are far more Chinese students taking AP classes than American students, the U.S. needs to ban abortion so women will have more children in order to rival China’s academic dominance. Martin: When you look at China and you look at their population, the population growth that China... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 05/11/2011, 12:26pm
The rise of the Tea Party and economic libertarians has inspired a revitalization of Ayn Rand’s book sales and sparked more curiosity for her ‘Objectivist’ thinking. Leading Republicans have embraced Rand, as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) called Rand the “the reason I got involved in public service” and Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) gives a copy of Atlas Shrugged to his interns. The movie Atlas Shrugged: Part I premiered at CPAC and won burgeoning interest from conservative moviegoers, until it received abysmal reviews that were so bad it convinced the producer to drop plans... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 05/10/2011, 8:47am
Michele Bachmann Background: NPR looks into her transition from Jimmy Carter volunteer to right-wing culture warrior (NPR, 5/9). GOP: Breaks with Speaker John Boehner over debt ceiling (The Hill, 5/9). Herman Cain Nevada: Addresses conservative group in the early caucus state (Las Vegas Sun, 5/9). Debate: Claims his candidacy gained momentum, new supporters after Fox News debate (CBS News, 5/6). Mitch Daniels Religious Right: Decision to defund Planned Parenthood will bolster social conservative credentials despite 'truce' talk (TPM, 5/9). 2012: Report claims that Daniels' wife is final... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 05/09/2011, 3:41pm
During the heated fight over the federal budget, Republicans won a compromise that stopped the city of Washington D.C. from using its own tax dollars to help low-income women access reproductive health services and added more funding to a DC private school voucher program opposed by local officials. Strongly objecting to the House GOP’s blatant encroachment on home rule, which included financing an ineffective voucher program while taking away crucial funding for women’s family planning, DC Mayor Vince Gray and a number of Council members were arrested during a protest. Anti-... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 05/06/2011, 4:44pm
Chris Rodda @ Dispatches: David Barton's Lies in Action: Randy Forbes Reintroduces 'Spiritual Heritage' Resolution. Hate Watch: David Barton – Extremist 'Historian' for the Christian Right. Lauri Lebo @ RD: Evolution Debunked by I.D. of Bin Laden’s Body. Truth Wins Out: Have You Had 'Ex-Gay' Therapy With Marcus Bachmann? American Prospect: Republicans' Tireless War on Women. MORE
Brian Tashman, Thursday 05/05/2011, 11:14am
  The Daily Show - David Barton Pt. 1 Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook With no academic credentials as a historian, David Barton toldThe Daily Show host Jon Stewart that his involvement in editing textbooks around the country was proof that he is a respected and esteemed historian. However, his work with textbooks if anything reveals his blatant partisanship and pseudo-scholarship. As Mariah Blake writes in The Washington Monthly, Barton’s Christian nation mythology was indeed just one aspect of his role shaping the... MORE
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 05/04/2011, 2:20pm
Religious Right and pro-corporate groups failed today to block President Obama’s nominee for U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, John McConnell, from receiving an up-or-down vote in the Senate. The Senate invoked cloture on McConnell’s nomination in a 63-33 vote, defeating the filibuster against McConnell. Filibusters against district court judges are extremely rare—only a handful of District Court nominees have ever faced cloture votes, and none have ever been blocked—and many Republicans previously vowed they would never filibuster a judicial nominee. Today’... MORE