Elections Open Door to Radical Agendas

by Dan Quinn

The Associated Press notes that the religious right is preparing to use the November elections to push a radical legislative agenda in states across the country starting in January. The religious right’s hit list includes women’s reproductive rights, embryonic stem cell research, divorce laws and equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans. The Texas Freedom Network has already identified other likely battles coming when the legislative session opens in Austin in January, including reform of the State Board of Education and responsible sex education in public schools.

You can help stop the religious right’s radical agenda in Texas by signing up for a ´╗┐TFN Rapid Response Team. TFN will keep Rapid Response Team members updated on critical legislation as it ´╗┐moves through the state House and Senate. We will also provide the tools you need to take action to top attacks on religious freedom, equal rights and public education.

But how does the Associated Press see the religious right’s legislative agenda shaping up across the country? Read on.

Women’s reproductive rights will come under heavy attack in many states where Republicans are taking control of both the executive and legislative branches of government. But the right’s radical efforts won’t stop there.

Embryonic stem cell research, which only recently has begun emerging from the eight years of bureaucratic and political shackles imposed on it by the Bush administration, is also endangered. Religious-right pressures groups and allied officeholders are threatening to ban that hopeful medical research entirely. People suffering from life-threatening diseases and other serious medical conditions such research could help — like Parkinson’s, diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injuries — would lose what many scientists say is a promising route to possible treatments in the future.

Marriage laws are another target of religious-right groups. One goal is the passage of so-called “covenant marriage” measures that make it harder for couples to divorce. Advocates for victims of domestic violence have long warned that such governmental interference in private relationships would put spouses at increased risk of abuse.

Gay and lesbian Americans will also become targets of measures intended to further stigmatize and discriminate against their relationships. For example, religious-right groups are insisting on the repeal of laws in some states that simply allow the domestic partners of public employees access to health insurance.

The AP article explains that not all Republicans support such extremist policies:

“I’m a little bit nervous,” said Rep. Dean Kaufert, a Republican state House member in Wisconsin, where Republicans, including incoming governor Scott Walker, campaigned on enacting tough immigration legislation and banning embryonic stem cell research. If Republicans overreach, “the danger is the citizens of the state will just say we’ll clean house again and we’re going to keep doing it until we get it right,” he said.

Yet the religious right’s iron grip on the Republican Party in many states, especially in Texas, means that radical social policies — rather than policies truly intended to help working families in difficult economic times — will likely dominate legislative work. Republican officeholders who are insufficiently obedient will be relentlessly attacked in the lead up to GOP primaries in 2012.

We had hoped that the 2008 elections marked a turning point in the battle against the radical and intolerant agenda of the religious right. But bad elections results this November don’t have to lead to bad public policies next year. Sign up for a Rapid Response Team today and help TFN defend the mainstream values we all share — religious freedom, civil and equal rights for all and strong public schools.