Peter Montgomery's blog

Bad News For Republicans Hoping For A Platform Less Hostile To LGBT Equality

The platform approved at the Republican National Convention in 2012 was, we said at the time, “a far-right fever dream, a compilation of pouting, posturing, and policies to meet just about every demand from the overlapping Religious Right, Tea Party, corporate, and neo-conservative wings of the GOP.” Every attempt at moderating language — whether on equality for LGBT people or the right of D.C. residents to congressional representation — was shot down by the far-right activists on the party’s platform committee.

At the convention that year, supporters of the LGBT-friendly Log Cabin Republicans vowed that things were changing, and that never again would the Republican platform include anti-equality language about “preserving and protecting traditional marriage” as “a union of one man and one woman” that “must be upheld as the national standard.” A group called Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry launched a million-dollar “Reform the Platform” campaign, which has since been absorbed by American Unity Fund, a pro-marriage-equality group affiliated with hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer, a major Republican Party donor.

But the road to a more gay-friendly Republican platform is going to be a rocky one. Earlier this month, the Louisiana Republican Party chose its two delegates to the platform committee: stridently anti-gay Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Sandy McDade, political chairman of Eagle Forum, which “adamantly opposes” marriage equality.

Four years ago, FRC and Eagle Forum teamed up to make anti-equality language in the platform even stronger. Perkins bragged at the time:

With a presence in the committee meetings, the FRC Action staff has been able to help delegates hold the line of social issues.

Just this morning, our efforts made what was already a good document even better. Before this week, the GOP’s draft platform included solid language defending the family – and FRC Action, in tandem with Eagle Forum, made it even stronger.

In a press release celebrating his re-selection to the platform committee this month, Perkins again boasted about the role he had in shaping 2012’s anti-gay platform:

In 2012, my role as a delegate gave me the opportunity to play a key role in amending the marriage plank, which led to the committee approving a much stronger version than 2008's. We also tightened language on obscenity and pornography, protected conscience rights, explained how abortion hurts women, and supported the Second Amendment in D.C.

Both Perkins and McDade are backing Ted Cruz, even though Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly is in the Trump camp. Perkins is a member of Cruz’s Religious Liberty Advisory Council, which suggests that he’ll also be pushing for anti-gay platform language under the banner of religious liberty.

Cruz Backer Bryan Fischer Calls For Ban On Mosques To 'De-Islamize' America

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, long a font of anti-Muslim bile and other bigotry, has posted a call to “de-Islamize” America.

Fischer’s “de-Islamization” program has three planks, one of which has already been promoted by GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump:

  1. Immediately suspend immigration by Muslims. Fischer says that “unvetted, untrammeled immigration of Muslims to the U.S. is a form of insanity.” Islam, he says, “is the Ebola virus of culture.” He says, “Preventing carriers of this cultural virus from entering America is simply common sense…”
  2. No More Mosques. Fischer says there is no constitutional problem with state governments banning mosques “if we use the Constitution given to us by the Founders and not the one mangled by the courts.” Fischer argues that the First Amendment’s establishment clause does not apply to the states, which he says “have unilateral authority to regulate religious expression within their borders.” In other words, he would see no constitutional barrier to Texas, for example, allowing only Baptists to worship openly.
  3. No more Muslims in the military. Fischer says Congress can and should bar Muslims from service in the armed forces.

Earlier this month, Fischer was scheduled to participate in a campaign rally with presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The Cruz campaign ended up canceling his visit to Mississippi, saying the candidate did not feel well.

There’s no reason to think, however, that Fischer’s most recent anti-Muslim comments will threaten his standing with the Cruz campaign, which recently named Frank Gaffney, one of the country’s most vitriolic anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists, to Cruz’s national security advisory team. Cruz himself, in his response to recent terrorist bombings in Brussels, called for empowering law enforcement “to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

 

Rafael Cruz, Dinesh D'Souza And Selectively Flexible 'Moral Absolutes' On Marriage

Last Saturday, right-wing pundit and propagandist filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was married in a ceremony that was reportedly to include “prominent players in conservative politics.” Among them was the celebrant, presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s father and campaign surrogate Rafael Cruz, whose fiery rhetoric on the campaign trail has given him folk-hero status among the Religious Right.

D’Souza has spent time on the moral values high horse. In his absurd and reprehensible 2007 book “The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11,” D’Souza lumped divorce and homosexuality together as “liberal family values” that offend the Muslim world. He declared that acceptance of divorce is one of the changes in America that “reflect the triumph of liberal morality, the morality of the inner self.’”

In his book, “A Time for Action: Empowering the Faithful to Reclaim America,” Rafael Cruz called the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling “one of the biggest signs of our country’s moral degradation” and decried “secular humanists” for rejecting the idea of moral absolutes:

Everyone, then, feels entitled to establish his or her own standards by which to live. This has given rise to the attitude “if it feels good, do it,” the pursuit of hedonism, immoral or chaotic behavior, greed, and even a life of crime.

On the campaign trail for his son, Rafael Cruz insists that there are moral absolutes that run in opposition to the values of “tolerance”:

“So we’re supposed to prostitute our principles on behalf of tolerance,” Rev. Cruz said.

“Well, I’ll tell you what. There are absolutes. There are absolutes,” he emphasized. “Start being biblically correct instead of politically correct.”

Many conservative evangelical and Catholic leaders teach that divorce is not, except in particular circumstances, “biblically correct.” According to the biblical book of Matthew, Jesus said divorce was unacceptable except in the case of a spouse’s sexual immorality; in the books of Mark and Luke, Jesus is quoted saying that someone who divorces and remarries is committing adultery.

D’Souza is a questionable icon for so-called traditional values. He resigned as president of King’s College in 2012 after a scandal over his traveling with, and calling himself engaged to, a woman while he was still married to his first wife. When called out on his behavior by a conservative reporter, D’Souza apparently lied about having filed for divorce, said he had “done nothing wrong” and proclaimed that he was sure that the woman with whom he was having an affair was “the one for me.”  D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to criminal campaign finance law violations in which he reportedly used both his then-wife and then-mistress as straw donors to a friend’s political campaign. Since then he has consistently portrayed himself as the victim of a political vendetta.

The twice-divorced Rafael Cruz officiating at D’Souza’s wedding — the second marriage for both bride and groom — is one more example of how flexible the Religious Right’s “moral absolutes” about marriage can be when they hit close to home, or when they involve a political ally such as Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh.

And that makes it easy to understand why fewer and fewer Americans are buying the Religious Right’s argument that its conveniently flexible “moral absolutes” justify overriding the constitutional principle of equality under the law and denying loving same-sex couples and their families the ability to protect their commitments through marriage.

Trump Turns To Far-Right Heritage Foundation For Future Supreme Court Nominees

While many Americans grimly wonder which would be worse for the country, President Donald Trump or President Ted Cruz, one issue isn’t providing much help: Both candidates are making it clear that their potential nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court would be terrible.

We reported yesterday on Cruz’s suggestions that he would nominate his best friend in the Senate, Utah’s Mike Lee. Under his extreme views of the Constitution, much of what the federal government does is unconstitutional, including Social Security and Medicare.

What about Trump? Last year, Trump called Clarence Thomas his favorite justice. This year, he declared Justice Antonin Scalia’s death a “massive setback” for the conservative movement and joined right-wing conspiracy theorists in raising suspicions that Scalia had been murdered.

Last month Trump tossed out the names of two right-wing appeals court judges, William Pryor and Diane Sykes, as two potential nominees from a Trump administration. Pryor calls Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona, two landmark cases protecting the rights of women and criminal defendants, respectively, “the worst examples of judicial activism.” Sykes, like Pryor, has upheld damaging voter ID laws. She also argued that anti-gay groups have a constitutional right to receive government subsidies regardless of whether they engage in discrimination.

Now, Trump is pledging to release a list of seven to 10 potential justices from which he commits to choosing a nominee – and that list is being put together with help from the far-right Heritage Foundation. Heritage is a massively funded right-wing powerhouse that is home to, among others, anti-marriage-equality activist Ryan Anderson, who is urging social conservatives to resist the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Heritage and its more explicitly political arm Heritage Action have demanded even greater obstructionism from congressional Republicans. Even before Scalia’s death, the group had urged the GOP to refuse to confirm any executive branch or judicial nominations except for appointments dealing with national security. Heritage senior fellow Hans von Spakovsky has even demanded that Scalia be allowed to “vote” – even though he is dead – on a case that right-wing activists were hoping the court would use to destroy public sector unions.

Trump met in Washington yesterday with congressional Republicans, and at a press conference he pushed back against accusations by Cruz that he couldn’t be counted on to name a conservative to the court. “Some people say maybe I’ll appoint a liberal judge,” he said. “I won’t.” He promised that his nominee would be “pro-life” and “conservative.”

Trump also explicitly warned (or taunted, depending on your view) Republicans opposed to his nomination that if they support a third-party candidate against him, they will allow a Democrat to name Supreme Court justices who “will never allow this country to be the same.”

Among the Republicans huddling with Trump? Heritage Foundation president and former Sen. Jim DeMint.

NOM's Brian Brown Asks For Money to Make Kasich 'Toxic'

Religious Right leaders who back Ted Cruz for president are beginning to turn their fire on Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose continued presence in the race they believe is preventing Cruz from defeating Donald Trump. Last week Glenn Beck slammed Kasich as a delusional “son of a bitch” who might go down in history as the guy who “possibly destroyed the republic.”

Today the National Organization for Marriage, which endorsed Cruz in December, sent out a plea for money to go after Kasich, who NOM’s president, Brian Brown, describes as “a liberal Republican who has abandoned the fight for marriage, is extremely weak on religious liberty and who cannot be trusted to appoint strong, conservative constitutionalist judges to the US Supreme Court who would reverse the Court's illegitimate marriage ruling.”

Brown suggests that Kasich, who cannot mathematically win a majority of delegates prior to the Republican convention, is hoping either that “the GOP power brokers” will hand him the nomination or that he can at least build enough bargaining power to cut a deal for himself at the expense of the country.

“If you liked John Boehner, you’ll like John Kasich – lot’s [sic] of talk but no guts to actually fight for conservative principles like preserving marriage,” writes Brown, who complains that Kasich would “do nothing” to help business owners who run into trouble for refusing to provide services to same-sex couples. “That is why NOM is committed to ensuring that the American people learn the truth about Kasich and make him toxic as a potential vice presidential pick.”

More from Brown:

I'm asking for your immediate financial help so that we can get the truth about John Kasich out to voters and the media and stop any consideration of him as the GOP nominee, or even the vice presidential selection. Your membership contribution of at least $35 will go a long way toward helping us shine the light of truth on the Kasich record.

NOM is one of the few groups willing to take on the politically-correct yet powerfully wrong elite in America, which is what John Kasich represents. But to be effective, we need to increase our membership dues from grassroots supporters like you. Please act today to make a membership contribution of at least $35 which will allow us to take the fight to Kasich and others who disrespect the importance of marriage and refuse to protect the rights of average Americans to live out their beliefs about marriage in their daily lives.

Please make your membership contribution of at least $35 today so that we can ramp up our efforts to derail Kasich, the last remaining establishment Republican who has abandoned us when we needed him most. If you can afford to give more than the minimum $35, please do so.

Thank you for standing strong for God's design for marriage, and for helping us fight the PC crowd that refuses to stand with us for the truth of marriage and religious liberty.

What Would It Look Like If Ted Cruz Put His Pal Mike Lee on the Supreme Court?

Back in December, Kyle reported that Glenn Beck, who believes Ted Cruz is anointed by God to be president, suggested that a President Cruz should nominate Utah Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. This weekend, while campaigning in Utah, Cruz himself floated the prospect, saying Lee “would look good” on the court.

“Good” is not really the right word. “Terrifying” is more like it.

Lee, who calls Cruz his “best friend at work,” has perhaps the most extreme view of the Constitution of anyone in the Senate. Lee is a fervent “tenther,” someone who believes the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution radically restricts the authority of the federal government. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2010, “Lee offered glimpses of a truly radical vision of the U.S. Constitution, one that sees the document as divinely inspired and views much of what the federal government currently does as unconstitutional.”

Lee dismisses Supreme Court rulings upholding a women’s right to abortion. He called the court’s marriage equality ruling a “breathtaking presumption of power.” People For the American Way noted in a 2010 report that Lee “has denounced as ‘domestic enemies’ those who disagree with his radically limited view” of the Constitution.

Here are a few things that Sen. Mike Lee believes are unconstitutional for the federal government to be engaged in:

This list helps explain why right-wing law professor Jonathan Adler, a force behind the King v. Burwell challenge to the Affordable Care Act, has also suggested that the next Republican president should put Lee on the court.

For an ardent self-described constitutionalist, Lee has a lot of problems with the Constitution as amended over the years and as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Lee published a book last year called “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document.” He believes the 16th amendment, allowing the federal government to collect income taxes, should be repealed, leaving it to the states to determine how they would tax their own citizens to pay for the extremely limited federal government that would fit his vision of the constitution. He also thinks the 17th Amendment was a mistake and thinks the power to elect U.S. senators should be taken away from voters and returned to state legislatures. He also wants to "clarify" the 14th Amendment through legislation to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to parents who are not citizens or legal residents and wants to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and to impose congressional term limits. He supports a campaign by some right-wing activists for state legislators to convene an “Article V” convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution.

As a Senate candidate he said he would like to abolish the federal Departments of Energy and Education, dismantle the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and phase out Social Security altogether. As a senator, Lee orchestrated shutting down the government in an effort to defund Obamacare, even though Cruz took most of the blame for it.

Cruz and Lee share a sort of gleeful pride in playing the outsiders who have contempt for “the establishment.” Lee is reportedly the guy who suggested that Cruz run for Senate; he was among those who endorsed Cruz in his long-shot primary for his Senate seat. This month, he became the first of Cruz’s Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential run.

More than 50 Conservative Catholics Back Ted Cruz

The latest announcement in the Ted Cruz presidential campaign’s ongoing rollout of endorsements from right-wing leaders is a group of more than 50 “Catholic influencers” led by Robert George, the intellectual muscle for the Religious Right, and Ken Cuccinelli, former attorney general of Virginia and failed gubernatorial candidate. The campaign announced the endorsement of Robert George yesterday; some others on the list have also been announced previously.

Not surprisingly, the list of Catholics for Cruz is heavy on culture warriors who have been fighting to criminalize abortion and resist legal equality for LGBT people and same-sex couples. Although Cruz is not Catholic, he made a reference to the Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis, saying “we have an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable and safeguard the truth revealed through Scripture and the tradition of millennia.”

One eyebrow-raising name on the list is Anne Schlafly Cori, president of Missouri Eagle Forum and daughter of Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, who endorsed Donald Trump last week

Also on the list:

Franklin Graham: Christians Must Vote, Even If Only For The Lesser Of Two Heathens

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network this week, right-wing evangelist Franklin Graham declared that Christians have a duty to vote even if their options do not include a candidate with a strong biblical worldview:

"And I'm not going to tell people who to vote for, I'm not going to do that -- let God tell you who to vote for," he said. "You may have to hold your nose, you may have to decide which is the least heathen of the two heathen."

Graham, who is travelling across the country for his Decision America tour, told CBN that he has no faith in either political party and that he left the Republican Party after congressional Republicans failed to defund Planned Parenthood. But he said America is at a “moral tipping point” and he denounced voices from “a left movement within the evangelical community” who he said were telling people not to vote if a particular candidate, seemingly a reference to Donald Trump, is the GOP nominee.

The goal of his tour, he said, is to encourage Christians to run for public office and vote for candidates who uphold biblical principles. The six-part pledge he wrote asks voters to promise to pray for the country and to vote in every election – “supporting, where possible, candidates who uphold biblical principles.”

Signers of Graham’s pledge also commit to “prayerfully consider running for office,” even though Graham told CBN that he has never considered doing so himself. He thinks he can do more, he said, by challenging the church and challenging Christians to get out and vote.

On previous stops on his Decision America tour this year, Graham has said that if every city in America had a Christian mayor we wouldn’t have “evil” and “wicked” laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination, and that there is “only one election left” to save America from godless secularism. In the midst of it all he found time to announce his support for a spectacularly unsuccessful boycott of Girl Scout Cookies called by St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson. 

Ted Cruz Extends Anti-Gay Endorsement Bonanza With Religious Right Intellectual Leader Robert George

As we have noted repeatedly, Ted Cruz has enthusiastically welcomed the endorsements of and associated with a lot of extreme anti-gay activists, including the kind who scream from the stage that gay people should be executed. But not all anti-gay activists are of the ranting sort; some are prominent lawyers who draft legislation and devise legal strategies for restricting equality. Today, Cruz trumpeted the endorsement of the most prominent of these “respectable” anti-gay activists, Robert George.

George operates from Princeton University, where he teaches law and directs the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions. He is a prime mover behind the effort to brand opposition to abortion and LGBT equality as religious liberty questions. He is a very busy man. In fact, it seems as if there are few anti-equality efforts that don’t bear his fingerprints in some way.

It goes on and on. According to his bio at the Witherspoon Institute, where he is a senior fellow:

Professor George serves on the boards of directors of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and the Center for Individual Rights. 

George’s dual role at the Witherspoon Institute and the Bradley Foundation were noted during the controversy over the infamous Regnerus study, which has been widely discredited but it still cited by anti-equality advocates as “evidence” that gay people and couples should not be allowed to adopt or be parents. Witherspoon sponsored the research to the tune of nearly $700,000 and Bradley kicked in $90,000.

George’s influence extends beyond his own work. A former student and George protégé, the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, has become a leading voice in opposition to marriage equality; they co-authored with Sherif Gergis the book “What is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense.”

The Cruz campaign released a gushing endorsement from George, who says that Cruz was one of his most brilliant students and is among “the most principled and dedicated public servants” he knows. George’s endorsement of Cruz will come as no surprise to anyone who saw the mutual admiration society that passed for George’s interview of Cruz for EWTN last November. The two commiserated about the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, which George called “another tragic mistake in imposing same-sex marriage on the entire country.”

George recently joined other conservative Catholics in denouncing Donald Trump, who they said degrades our politics and culture and threatens their ability to use the Republican Party to promote Catholic social doctrine. Notably, George did not endorse Cruz until after Marco Rubio suspended his campaign. Rubio’s faith outreach director, Eric Teetsel, was formerly executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, and George is included in the acknowledgments section of Teetsel’s own book on (one man, one woman) marriage. 

Right-Wing Radio Host Mark Levin Joins Team Cruz

Over the last few months Ted Cruz has repeatedly celebrated the endorsements he has received from an array of far-right, anti-gay, Christian-Nation activists. Now, with Marco Rubio’s campaign crumbling, Cruz is picking up more support from Republicans who want to keep Donald Trump from getting the nomination. Last night right-wing author and radio host Mark Levin jumped on the Cruz bandwagon, predicting that Cruz would “wipe the floor” with Hillary Clinton in a debate.

In a long and winding explanation that took about half an hour to finally get to his announcement that he is supporting Cruz, Levin talked about his studies of the founding era and about the changes that have taken place throughout American history to bring us to the point where the two political parties are both part of “the modern centralized socialist state.” And he used the opportunity to promote his books, including "Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America," "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto, Ameritopia," the "Liberty Amendments," and, most recently, "Plunder and Deceit."

When you consider the totality of a candidate’s life and career, Levin said, “it really is a simple decision, is it not? If you’re a conservative, if you’re a constitutionalist, if you’ve been a Tea Party activist, if you’re a Reaganite or a Reagan Democrat, it really is in the end a simple decision. At least it is for me.”

We need somebody who actually understands and comprehends America’s founding, why it’s important. We need somebody who understands how to get it back. Again, it’s not a put-down of Donald Trump. He has different strengths. But right now, we need to get our country back, our Constitution back, our civil society back, our families back. We need to defend our faith. And there’s only one person right now who understands that, and that’s Ted Cruz.

Levin also criticized “the Republican establishment” for their “outrageous” treatment of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Rand Paul. “But the one they despised the most, and the one they despised the longest,” he said, “is Ted Cruz.” Members of the establishment hate Cruz, said Levin, for the same reason they hate movement conservatives who push elected officials to be true to conservative principles.

“The Republican establishment is as diabolical as it’s ever been,” he said. “Maybe even more so. Mitt Romney coming out and giving the speech he gave, was awful. It was cheap … If I have to choose between Donald Trump and the establishment, that’s not a hard choice, I choose Donald Trump,” who he said has more integrity than any congressional leaders. Republican insiders are attacking Trump because they want to impose their will, he said.  And there’s nobody who’s more anti-establishment than Cruz.

“We live in a post-constitutional period for the most part,” he complained. He has spent years railing against “entrenched Republicans,” he said, because they’re perfectly willing to go along with the direction of the country as long as they have some power. “The Republican ruling class stands in the way of us being able to nominate for president of the United States somebody who will begin the long road toward reversing course, somebody who can be relied on as a serious, principled, thoughtful, substantive conservative who has the courage, who has the motivation, who has the willpower to lead this nation, to lead this nation in a totally different direction.”

Here’s a sampling of Levin’s own “serious, principled, thoughtful, substantive” conservatism:

  • Levin suggested in 2013 that President Obama was organizing a Brownshirt paramilitary to defend and promote the Affordable Care Act.
  • He said in 2014 that President Obama’s Jewish donors are “self-haters” who “despise their own country.”
  • At the 2013 Values Voter Summit, Levin said President Obama, Congress and the Supreme Court were engaged in “tyranny” and said that Obama needs to “sit down and shut up.”
  • In 2014 he talked about a poll that asked people what would be the most positive thing about a Hillary Clinton presidency; more people mentioned the potential to elect a first woman president than anything else. Levin’s response:

"Hillary Clinton's gender? Do they mean her genitalia is her top 2016 selling point? Is that what that means?" Levin later said "But the key is it's her genitalia. That's why so many people would vote for her. I wonder if Bill Clinton would vote for her because of that. He seems to -- well, he likes genitalia but maybe not hers."

 

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