BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Reports of the Decline of the Religious Right are Premature
Rocking and reeling from November’s election debacle, the Republican Party has been desperately trying to find its footing. A major goal – as stated in its post-election Growth and Opportunity Project report – has Party leadership looking to rebrand and re-market itself to younger people minorities and gays, an almost impossible task considering the power of its conservative Christian base.
Despite its stated desire to reboot, the Republican National Committee came out of its April meet-up in Los Angeles affirming that it can not and will not be embracing change, at least as far as "The Gay" is concerned.
According to ABC News, RNC members “voted unanimously to reaffirm the language in the GOP platform defining marriage ‘as the union of one man and one woman.’ The resolution went further, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to ‘uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.’”
Just prior to the LA meeting, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins issued the kind of warning that scares GOP/RNC officials. In his email newsletter, Perkins urged supporters to withhold financial donations from the Party until it rejects any compromises on traditional social values.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, the daily online newsletter of the Family Research Council, the Republican National Committee pointed out before the Los Angeles confab that the RNC is “feeling [it] from social conservatives”: “After suggesting that a more gay-and abortion-friendly party might appeal to voters, the Republican National Committee is facing a revolt from one of the strongest blocs of its coalition. Together with 12 other conservative organizations, FRC made it quite clear what the RNC stood to lose by running left-of-center on issues like life and marriage. ‘We respectfully warn GOP leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support.’"
NBC news’ Michael O’Brien reported that “Thirteen social conservatives, representing various influential groups, wrote [RNC chair Reince] Priebus ahead of the RNC's [recent] quarterly meeting … in Los Angeles to sternly rebuke the conclusions of a post-election report that advised Republican elected officials to adopt a softer tone toward social issues.”
The letter – launched as a preemptive strike -- warned the Party that they are making “a huge historical mistake if it intends to dismantle this coalition by marginalizing social conservatives and avoiding the issues which attract and energize them by the millions.”
Relating to the Party’s stated goal of expanding minority outreach, the letter pointed out that “Minority outreach, to be successful, needs to be personal and genuine. It needs to focus on issues where there is mutual agreement like traditional marriage, vouchers, and abortion. That’s how relationships are formed and trust is built to work together to elect candidates who support these issues.”
The letter maintains that “many homosexuals are active in the GOP because they agree with Republicans on economic issues. The fact that the Party is strongly committed to traditional marriage has not prevented their involvement through GOProud or Log Cabin Republicans. We deeply resent the insinuation that we have treated homosexuals unkindly personally.
“…. Republicans would do well to persuade young voters why marriage between a man and a woman is so important rather than abandon thousands of years of wisdom to please them.”
Signatories to the letter included: Gary Bauer, President, American Values;
Paul Caprio, Director, Family-Pac Federal; Marjorie Dannenfelser, President, Susan B. Anthony List; Dr. James Dobson, President and Founder, Family Talk Action; Andrea Lafferty, President, Traditional Values Coalition; Tom Minnery, Executive Director, CitizenLink; William J. Murray, Chairman, Religious Freedom Coalition; Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council; Sandy Rios, VP of Government Affairs, Family-Pac Federal; Austin Ruse, President, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute; Phyllis Schlafly, President, Eagle Forum; Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, Founder, Traditional Values Coalition; and, Tim Wildmon, President, American Family Association.
Last month, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) claimed that evangelicals would “walk" away from the GOP if the party pivots on gay marriage. And last week, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) said that it would be "suicidal" for the GOP to embrace marriage equality.
The FRC’s Perkins ended his newsletter with a recommendation that, “Until the RNC and the other national Republican organizations grow a backbone and start defending core principles, don't give them a dime of your hard-earned money. If you want to invest in the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who reflect your values and organizations you trust—like FRC Action. At least then you can relax, knowing that your money will be spent advancing faith, family, and freedom!”
Not surprisingly, by the end of the RNC’s Spring meeting the 168-member body approved the following resolutions against same-sex marriage and it called for the U.S. Supreme Court o uphold the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s anti-gay Prop. 8:
“Resolved the Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America, and further:
“Resolved the Republican National Committee implores the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.”
Over the years, conservative Christian evangelicals have threatened to leave the Party time and time again. It has been an empty threat. After all, they would either have to sit out major elections to teach the GOP a lesson, form their own Party and put up their own candidates, or do the unthinkable; throw in their lot with the Democrats.