Religious Right Watch
2010 TEXAS GOP PLATFORM: ANOTHER EXERCISE IN EXTREMISM
The religious right’s dominance over the state party is clearly evident in the 2010 party platform. Numbers in brackets below indicate specific pages in the platform. Click here for the full 2010 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 certain 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-15] “The Republican Party supports the historic concept, established by our nation’s founders, of limited civil government jurisdiction under the natural laws of God, and repudiates the humanistic doctrine that the state is sovereign over the affairs of men, the family and the church.” [P-4]
• The party platform calls sweeping away from the federal tax code limits on politicking by clergy and houses of worship. [P-3]
• “We support school subjects with emphasis on Judeo-Christian principles (including the Ten Commandments) upon which America was founded and which form the basis of America’s legal, political and economic systems.” [P-14]
• The party would forbid any government oversight of faith-based entities that receive taxpayer funds. [P-17]
• “We oppose any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue [Ten Commandments] or other religious symbols.” [P-6]
• Basing its position on the Bible, the platform offers a full-throated embrace of Israel: “Our policy is based on God’s biblical promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel and we further invite other nations and organizations to enjoy the benefits of that promise. “[P-21]
Undermining Education, Sound Science and Medical Research
Under the control of religious conservatives, the state GOP reaffirmed its support for policies that undermine public schools, sound science and medical research.
• Texas Republicans “oppose any sex education other than abstinence until heterosexual marriage.” That position would prohibit public schools in a state with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation from teaching students age-appropriate, medically accurate information about birth control and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. [P-14]
• The Texas GOP would require that public schools teach creationist-based and discredited junk science like “intelligent design” alongside evolution in science classrooms. The platform suggests that evolution is not established, mainstream science. [P-12]
• The party calls for expanding the power of the highly politicized State Board of Education (SBOE) by turning over the responsibilities of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (which oversees public colleges and universities) to the SBOE and by giving the SBOE sole authority over content in and the adoption of public school textbooks. [P-14] The latter provision 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 party would prohibit “any paid public school employee or contractor” (“unless on an unpaid basis or in an unofficial capacity”) from lobbying the Legislature or the State Board of Education. [P-13] That prohibition would limit the ability of classroom teachers and education specialists employed by public school districts to meet with SBOE members or speak to the full state board about issues such as the revision of curriculum standards and the adoption of textbooks. In fact, a number of SBOE members have in the past publicly expressed their hostility to teachers who have testified before board on such issues.
• The party opposes government support for early childhood development programs [P-12] and job training in public schools [P-13].
• 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 receiving tax-funded vouchers meet state standards and other regulations set for public schools. [P-13, P-23]
• Texas Republicans also support a federal tax deduction for expenses related to private and home schooling. [P-18] 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 state party also calls for special rights for privately educated students, including exemptions from local ordinances that set daytime curfews for all students. [P-14]
• Texas Republicans want to lift requirements for meeting quality education standards, such as small class sizes, from public schools. [P-23]
• Texas Republicans call for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education. [P-15]
• The party would end the tenure system entirely for all Texas public colleges and universities (a change that would threaten the academic freedom of faculty). [P-15]
• 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-9]
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.
• Laying claim to the heritage of the Civil Rights Movement, the GOP platform declares that the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. [P-13] In fact, many African Americans were Republicans prior to the 1960s, but there appears to be no documentation showing that King was a member of the GOP. His father was Republican but supported John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election after Kennedy helped bring about the release of his son, King Jr., from jail (for trespassing at an Atlanta sit-in) shortly before the election. King Jr. voted for Kennedy in 1960 and then Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and he publicly denounced the GOP presidential candidate in 1964, Barry Goldwater. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/18/AR2006101801754.html) King Jr. called the GOP convention that nominated Goldwater a “frenzied wedding . . . of the KKK and the radical right.” (The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., Warner Books, 1998, page 247) The new Texas GOP platform neglects to note that many conservative, pro-segregation Democrats ultimately switched to the Republican Party.
• In one particularly contradictory passage, the platform voices support the government “reasonably profiling to protect us” from terrorism yet calls on officials “to revise laws or executive orders that erode our essential liberties.” [P-2]
• The party opposes affirmative action. “We believe it is simply racism disguised as a social value.” [P-2]
• The Texas GOP supports congressional passage of the so-called “Constitutional 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-4]
• 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-4]
• Republicans oppose “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-5]
• The platform opposes giving federal courts jurisdiction in cases involving family law. [P-6]
• The party opposes no-fault divorce and supports “Covenant Marriage,” which would make it harder for abused spouses to escape domestic abuse. [P-7]
• 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-11]
• The party opposes U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. [P-9]
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.
• “We affirm that this section is a response to the attacks on traditional family values. These include well-funded, vigorous political and judicial attempts by powerful organizations and branches of the government to force acceptance, affirmation and normalization of homosexual behavior upon school children, parents, educational institutions, businesses, employees, government bodies and religious institutions and charities. These aggressive, intolerant efforts marginalize as bigots anyone who dissents.” [P-7]
• “We believe that the practice of homosexuality 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, refuse to recognize, or grant special privileges including, but not limited to: marriage between persons of the same sex (regardless of state of origin), 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.” [P-7]
• The party supports sodomy laws that criminalize private, consensual intimacy between people of the same gender (and opposite gender, for that matter). Texas Republicans also call for removing from federal courts any jurisdiction over cases involving same-gender sexual relations. [P-7]
• 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-9]
• 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-6,7]
• The party declares that Republicans “deplore all discrimination” and then calls for the repeal of hate crime laws (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”) and, until such repeal, at least the removal sexual orientation as one protected category. [P-16]
• 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-21]
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 platform calls for a strict candidate litmus test, instructing Republicans to support only candidates who oppose abortion. [P-7]
• The Texas GOP supports a federal constitutional amendment that bars a woman from being able to choose 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-7]
• The party would require that any woman choosing to have an abortion first undergo a sonogram. [P-8, P-23]
• 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-8]
• 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-8]
• The party opposes laws that seek to stop protesters from blocking access to clinics that provide abortion services. [P-15]
• The party opposes licensing and granting liability and malpractice insurance to doctors who perform abortion or facilities where abortion services are provided. [P-8]
Attacking Government and Immigration
• Texas Republicans beefed up their “state sovereignty” plank this year, extolling the “independent sovereign authority of our State government”: We strongly resolve that the Texas Legislature honor Texas’ State Sovereignty, as reserved under the 10th Amendment, with the understanding that Texas will retain its sovereignty, freedom and independence and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not expressly delegated to the federal government by the U. S. Constitution, and oppose mandates beyond the scope of the Federal authority.” [P-19] The platform even calls for “the establishment and maintenance of a volunteer Constitutional State Militia, with assistance from County Sheriffs.” [P-15]
• The party supports allowing “U.S. citizens who, because of religion or conscience,” to withhold answering any census question. [P-2]
• The party would require turnout of at least 25 percent of registered voters for formal approval in bond elections. Considering typical voter turnout rates in Texas, such a requirement would make passage of many bonds extremely unlikely. Further, it allows nonvoters to essentially control an election without even turning out to vote. [P-13]
• The Texas GOP would abolish the Federal Reserve System. [P-19]
• 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-6]
• The party calls for repeal of the recently passed health care reform bill and offers no support for ending insurance discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions. [P-11]
• The party calls for abolishing the U.S. Department of Energy. [P-17]
• Texas Republicans call for the privatization of Social Security. [P-10] The party also wants to replace all federal taxes with a regressive national sales tax. [P-18]
• The party supports the repeal of minimum wage laws and opposes making Workers’ Compensation mandatory for all Texas employers. [P-19]
• The party calls for amending the Constitution to suspend automatic citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants in the United States. The party would also limit citizenship only to those born to U.S. citizens. [P-20]
• The Texas GOP favors repeal of the Endangered Species Act. [P-3]
• “Jury service should be limited to registered voters.” [P-4] Such a provision would, of course, discourage people from registering to vote and exempt large numbers of citizens from ever having to serve on a jury.
• The party opposes mandatory vaccination programs for infectious diseases (the elimination of which would endanger children in public schools and the general public outside them). [P-12]
Armed and Paranoid
• The party supports laws that allow people to carry firearms openly in public, and it opposes the right of property owners (such as private companies) to prohibit people from bringing concealed firearms to job sites. [P-15]
• Texas Republicans oppose allowing any jurisdiction to recognize “any substitute or parallel system of Law, specifically, but not limited to, Sharia Law . . . which is not in accordance with the Constitutions of Texas or of the United States of America.” [P-2]
• The state party reaffirmed its hostility to international cooperation by calling for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, identifying such cooperation as a threat to American sovereignty. [P-22]
• Texas Republicans are now officially on the record as “birthers”: “A candidate must submit proof of qualifications for the office being sought, including proof of citizenship and in the case of a presidential candidate, an original or certified copy of a birth certificate, bearing names and signatures of parents, attendant(s), as well as date, time and location of birth for the purpose of satisfying the requirement of being a ‘natural born citizen.’” [P-5]
• The platform renews the Republican obsession with ACORN: “Neither Texas public schools nor their students should be used by groups (such as ACORN community organizers), as instruments to promote political agendas, but rather to focus on history, reading, writing, mathematics, and science.” [P-14] Well, who wouldn’t support keeping politics out of schools? “We oppose any government support of special interest organizations, such as ACORN and the ACLU.” [P-18]
• The Texas GOP opposes the implantation of computer chips (Radio Frequency Identification Chips) in humans – except, apparently, for noncitizens. [P-16]