Last edited: August 14, 2004

State Republicans Obsessed with God and Gays

The Texas Triangle, August 12, 2004

By Brent Brumley

“The Ten Commandments are the basis of our basic freedoms and the cornerstone of our Western legal tradition. We therefore oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols.”

No, it’s not a passage from a sermon at your local Southern Baptist Church, but it could be. Instead, it is a statement from the Texas Republican Party Platform. This document, adopted at the GOP state party convention in early June, is inundated with references to God and religion. And while issues of separation of church and state were tossed out prior to the first “Four More Years” button ever being attached to a polyester, red, white and blue vest, GLBT rights were soon to follow.

The only word in the Texas Republican Platform repeated as often as the word “God” is the word “Homosexual.” And, of course, while any passage referring to a deity is written with the utmost of reverence and respect, the exact opposite is true for any dealing with non-heterosexuals. In fact, the utter contempt with which the state party holds gays and lesbians leaves one feeling they have just emerged from a good old fashioned, barn-burning, tie-them-to-a-fence-and-leave-them-to-the-vultures gay bashing.

Here’s a sample beginning with the preamble:

“We believe that traditional marriage is a legal and moral commitment between a natural man and a natural woman. We recognize that the family is the foundational unit of a healthy society and consists of those related by blood, marriage, or adoption. The family is responsible for its own welfare, education, moral training, conduct, and property.”

Unfortunately, it seems the preamble to the 2004 Platform is the most timid part of the document. It only becomes more vile within the subtext. Sentences like, “We believe the Hate Crimes Law is unnecessary, and that it unconstitutionally creates a special class of victims. We urge that it be repealed immediately,” stand out to a community that has fought for years to deter unusually violent crime like the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. and the unimaginable suffering of Matthew Shepard.

And while Hate Crimes are mentioned, marriage receives the full attention of the state party in a rambling diatribe that leaves no room for guessing about where Texas is headed with regard to the subject of marriage equality.

“The Party supports the traditional definition of marriage as a God-ordained, legal and moral commitment only between a natural man and a natural woman, which is the foundational unit of a healthy society, and the Party opposes the assault on marriage by judicial activists. We call on the President, Congress, and the Texas Legislature to take immediate action to defend the sanctity of traditional marriage. We urge Congress to exercise authority under the United States Constitution, and pass legislation withholding jurisdiction from the Federal Courts in cases involving family law, especially any changes in the traditional definition of marriage. We further call on Congress to pass and the state legislatures to ratify a marriage amendment declaring that marriage in the United States shall consist and be recognized only as the union of a natural man and a natural woman. Neither the United States nor any state shall recognize or grant to any unmarried person the legal rights or status of a spouse. We oppose the recognition of and granting of benefits to people who represent themselves as domestic partners without being legally married. Texas families will be stronger because of the passage by Governor Perry and the 78th Texas Legislature of the ‘Defense of Marriage Act’, which denies recognition by Texas of homosexual ‘unions’ legitimized by other states or nations. We urge the repeal of laws that place an unfair tax burden on families. We call upon Congress to completely remove the marriage penalty in the tax code, whereby a married couple receives a smaller standard deduction than their unmarried counterparts living together. The primary family unit consists of those related by blood, heterosexual marriage, or adoption.”

The Republicans leave no stone unturned with regard to marriage. Texans shouldn’t expect the mayor of a local city to follow the lead of the San Francisco mayor by standing up to the party in power to issue marriage licenses any time soon.

“The Party supports legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple.”

And just when it seems the obsession with the lives of gays and lesbians has reached its ultimate height, the Grand Old Party of Texas created an entire section devoted to homosexuality in general.

“The Party believes that the practice of sodomy tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle in our public education and policy, nor should ‘family’ be redefined to include homosexual ‘couples.’ We are opposed to any granting of special legal entitlements, recognition, or privileges including, but not limited to, marriage between persons of the same sex, custody of children by homosexuals, homosexual partner insurance or retirement benefits. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.”

And remember the joyous rallies held last June when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Texas Sodomy Law? They have an answer for that occasion, toochecks and balances be damned.

“The Party opposes the legalization of sodomy. The Party demands Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.”

Marriage, Hate Crimes, Sodomy Laws, and Homosexuality in generalIs it over yet? Not by a long shot. Texas Republicans are very thorough. There are entire paragraphs (long ones) devoted to Adoption, Sex Education, the Military, and last, but not least, the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On Adoption the party wants a “traditional” home for all children and proposes a law that would allow the birth mother to veto any “non-traditional family” seeking to adopt her child. Of course, “We oppose mandatory open adoption and adoption of children by homosexuals.”

But non-traditional families will never be an issue if the state’s education system will start early enough with proper sex education. However, according to the Texas GOP, sex education classes, if conducted, should be separated by sex.

“To build strong and lasting relationships, we support the requirement that schools teaching sex education must teach directive abstinence until heterosexual marriage with an uninfected person as the only safe and healthy means of preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies among unwed students. We believe programs should teach the physical and emotional risks of abortion specified in State law and rules. We oppose programs that advocate or legitimize pre-marital sexual activity, advocate condoms and birth control use by unmarried minors, advocate abortions, and condone homosexual, bisexual, and transgender acts and/or lifestyles, and elevate minors’ rights to make sexual and health care decisions equivalent to their parents.”

If students are fortunate enough to make it through the gender separated, only offered if necessary, don’t have sex unless you are straight, healthy and married education program to be offered under the Republican ideal school system (which by the way should only be available as a defaultprivate in-home, faith based schooling is preferred), they might want to seek a career in the military.

Texas Republicans support the military. It consists of brave and patriotic Americans. But in support of the armed forces they recommend some standard criteria to be followed by the Commander-in-Chief. There are exactly 15 items on this list of criteria. Items numbered two, three and four, respectively, arethe disqualification of homosexuals from military service; the immediate discharge of HIV positive individuals from service; and the exclusion of women from combat roles.

And finally, this week’s favorite line item in the platform. This paragraph was brought to our attention by the Democratic National Committee and caused The Triangle to investigate the entire state party document. It deals, inaccurately, with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The Party supports amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act to exclude from its definition those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress, thereby reducing abuse of the Act.”

That’s all well and good except for one minor fact. Since its passage in 1990, the ADA has clearly stated that sexual orientation is not a disability, and as such is not covered under the law. And yet, the Texas platform inaccurately calls for the immediate removal of persons with “homosexual practices” from protection under the ADA.

“The Texas Republican party is changing facts in a blatantly homophobic attack against gay and lesbian Americans,” said Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Terry McAuliffe who called on President Bush to renounce language in the platform. “Republicans are abusing the ADA, which has guaranteed equal opportunity and access for millions of Americans, for their own political games.”

Democrats await the adoption of the national Republican Party Platform at the convention to be held in New York later this month. It is anticipated that the national platform will take a much more moderate stance than most state party platforms. According to Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas Executive Director, Randall Ellis, it only makes sense for Democrats to start in the home state of the President to discover the belief system held in the hearts and minds of local Republicans.

“I suspect what’s going on is that they are starting to look at state party platforms and began where George W. Bush comes from to show how far to the right the influence in the party is. One of the things we’ve seen is that the people they are highlighting later this month in New York like Guiliani, Bloomberg, and Pataki are all supportive of GLBT issues. They are missing the hardcore religious right activists that the party seems to pander so much to but cannot use up front for fear of alienating moderates. I suspect we’ll see more and more evidence of what Bush’s party is all about.”

Ellis is on target with his assessment according to a spokesperson for the DNC.

“We are building up to the Republican Platform Committee and we expect their platform will not be as inclusive to GLBT Americans as our platform so we started to look at individual states to see how they might be used nationally. We fear the national platform will misrepresent the national party when they are actually led by right wing anti-gay groups,” said the spokesperson. “They’re going to present a masquerade that they are a party of pro-gay moderates but we know Bush’s support of the Federal Marriage Amendment is on their agenda which is not the agenda of GLBT Americans or most Americans.”

While the national agenda of the GOP is disconcerting to many gays and lesbians throughout the United States, Ellis hopes the state party platform will serve as a wake-up call to the difficult battle ahead for Texans.

“It is important to know what this document says because it shows the outrageous and difficult task GLBT people in Texas face. This platform should be viewed as outrageous and an embarrassment to fair minded people in Texas. This, after all, is the party that is leading our state.”

©2004 Angle Media, Inc.
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