Religious Right Watch
2008 Texas Republican Party Platform:
Another Exercise in Extremism
The religious right’s dominance over the state party is clearly evident in the 2008 party platform. Numbers in brackets below indicate specific pages in the platform.
Attacking Religious Freedom
The state party renewed its assault on religious freedom for all people, regardless of their faith beliefs. In fact, far-right extremists once again pushed through a platform that calls on government to promote their own religious views above all others.
· The Texas GOP declares that “America is a nation under God founded on Judeo-Christian principles” and that the party is pledged “toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state.”[P-18]
· “We support school subjects with emphasis on the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems.” [P-17]
· The party platform calls for revising the federal tax code to sweep away limits on politicking by clergy and houses of worship. [P-9]
· The party also calls for legislation permitting student-sponsored prayer in public schools and seeks to end what it calls “censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents.” [P-17]
· “We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) or other religious symbols.” [P-11]
· Despite problems such as abuse of clients and financial mismanagement that have plagued some programs in the past, Texas Republicans call for less oversight and regulation of faith-based providers of social services. [P-18]
Undermining Sound Science, Medical Research and Public Education
Under the control of religious conservatives, the state GOP reaffirmed its support for policies that undermine public schools, sound science and medical research.
· The Texas GOP would undermine the teaching of evolution in science classes by promoting “intelligent design”/creationism and the so-called “weaknesses” of theories such as evolution. [P-17] The platform does not acknowledge that evolution is the foundation of all the biological sciences and that scientists have repeatedly debunked arguments about so-called “weaknesses” of the theory.
· Texas Republicans “oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.” That position would prohibit teaching students age-appropriate, medically accurate information about birth control and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. [P-17]
· The party platform opposes medical research involving embryonic stem cells even though scientists have identified such research as holding the most promise for treating and curing serious medical conditions such as cancer, spinal cord injuries, juvenile diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Moreover, the party would impose criminal penalties on medical professionals and scientists who engage in such research. [P-14]
· The state GOP supports draining millions of dollars from public schools to pay for private and religious school tuition through tax-funded vouchers. It opposes requiring that private and religious schools even those that would receive tax-funded vouchers meet any state standards and other regulations set for public schools. [P-16] Further, the platform calls for the abolition of property taxes, which provide nearly all local funding for public schools in Texas. [P-21]
· Texas Republicans also support a federal tax deduction for expenses related to private and home schooling. [P-21] Such a plan would benefit primarily high-income families that could cover the remaining cost of sending their children to private schools. It would also mean less funding available for public education for all other families.
· The party supports giving the heavily politicized State Board of Education sole authority over content in and the adoption of public school textbooks. [P-16] Doing so would return Texas to the days when publishers were forced to make hundreds of changes to their textbooks to meet the personal, political and religious objections of censors on the state board. The Legislature limited the state board’s authority in 1995.
· The state GOP calls for “maximizing” local control over public schools, which would sweep away statewide quality education standards that have helped more students succeed over the past two decades. [P-16]
· Texas Republicans call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education and government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development. [P-16, P-17]
· The state party also calls for special rights for students in private schools, including exemptions from local ordinances that set daytime curfews for all students. [P-16]
Threatening Judicial Independence and Civil/Equal Rights
The state GOP remains hostile to an independent judiciary and to protecting the civil and equal rights of all Texans.
· The Texas GOP supports congressional passage of the so-called “Constitution Restoration Act,” which would among other provisions bar the U.S. Supreme Court from hearing and ruling in cases regarding governmental entities or officials who acknowledge “God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” The law would also permit the impeachment and removal of judges who listen to such cases. [P-10]
· The platform opposes giving federal courts jurisdiction in cases involving family law. [P-12]
· The party would forbid judges from determining the constitutionality of laws and end Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom and the Bill of Rights. It calls for the impeachment of judges who, through the subjective judgment of others, “abuse their authority.” [P-10]
· The party opposes affirmative action. “We believe it is simply racism disguised as a social value.” [P-9]
· Republicans oppose measures, such as “Motor Voter” laws and the “Help America Vote Act,” that make it easier for Americans to register and vote and help ensure that their votes will be accurately counted. They would also impose new requirements that make it harder for people to register to vote or maintain their voter registration. [P-10]
· The party opposes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. [P-14]
· The party would gut the Americans with Disabilities Act by excluding from its protections “those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress.” [P-16]
· The party opposes no-fault divorce and supports “Covenant Marriage,” which would make it harder for abused spouses to escape domestic abuse. [P-12]
Renewing an Obsession with Homosexuality
The platform declares that Texas Republicans “deplore all discrimination.” [P-19]Yet the platform also commits Republicans to widespread and systematic discrimination against anyone who is not heterosexual.
· By supporting “sodomy” laws, the Texas GOP would have government imprison and/or fine adults who engage in even private, consensual sexual intimacy with someone of the same gender. Texas Republicans also call for removing from federal courts any jurisdiction over cases involving same-gender sexual relations. [P-12]
· The platform calls for the passage of a federal constitutional amendment that forbids any state from permitting same-sex marriage or any other legal recognition of or benefits for (including insurance or retirement benefits) same-sex relationships. The party would make issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples a felony offense. Civil officials performing such ceremonies could also be charged with a felony offense. [P-12]
· The party opposes the right of gay and lesbian parents to adopt or even to have legal custody of their children. The party would also bar visitation rights for gay and lesbian parents unless ordered by a court and supervised under government authority. [P-12, P-14]
· The party supports repeal of the state’s hate crimes statute (which increases penalties for those crimes committed because of bias toward a person’s “race, color, disability, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, gender or sexual preference”). [P-19]
· Republicans oppose allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the nation’s armed forces. (They also oppose permitting women to serve in any combat role.) [P-23]
Opposing Reproductive Rights for Women
The Texas GOP would severely restrict the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies and reproductive health.
· The Texas GOP supports a federal constitutional amendment that bars a woman from choosing to end her pregnancy. It also supports extending constitutional protections to fetuses, the effect of which would be to criminalize abortion with no exceptions. [P-12]
· The party opposes the sale and use of emergency contraceptives such as the “morning after pill” and of RU-486, a drug used to end an early-term pregnancy. [P-13]
· Texas Republicans call for government to require that providers of abortion services distribute anti-abortion propaganda about alleged risks of abortion to adults, characteristics of the fetus and abortion alternatives. [P-13]
· The party opposes licensing and granting liability and malpractice insurance to doctors who perform abortion or facilities where abortion services are provided. [P-13]
· The platform calls for a strict candidate litmus test, instructing Republicans to support only candidates who oppose abortion. [P-12]
· The party calls for the Legislature to permit Texans to purchase “Choose Life” license plates. The party supported no alternatives. [P-13]
Trashing Good Government
· The Texas GOP opposes any taxes or regulations designed to deal with the serious threat of climate change. [P-21]
· The platform calls on the state Legislature to transfer from the Travis County Public Integrity Unit to another body the powers and funding needed to investigate and prosecute charges of government corruption (such as those against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land). [P-11]
· The party opposes mandatory vaccination programs for infectious diseases that endanger children in public schools and the general public outside them. [P-16]
· Texas Republicans call for the elimination of the Social Security tax and privatization of that vital retirement program. [P-15] The party also wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service and federal taxes on earned income, inheritance, gifts, capital gains and corporate income. Republicans would replace such taxes with a regressive national sales tax. [P-21]
· The state party reaffirmed its hostility to international cooperation by calling for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. It also opposes measures, such as the Endangered Species Act, that protect the environment. [P-9]
· The party supports the repeal of minimum wage laws. [P-22]