RELIGIOUS RIGHT WATCH
2012 TEXAS GOP PLATFORM: TURNING BACK THE CLOCK IN AMERICA
The religious right's dominance over the Texas Republican Party remains clearly evident. In many ways the 2012 party platform turns back the clock on issues such as religious freedom, public education, voting and gayrights, and even solutions to the nation's economic troubles. Numbers in parentheses indicate specific pages in the platform. Click here for the full 2012 platform as adopted by Texas Republicans. Click here to go back to the main Texas GOP platform page to find analyses of the 2010 and 2008 platforms.
Threatening Religious Freedom
The party platform once again proclaims that the United States is a “Judeo-Christian Nation” and insists that the separation of church and state is a “myth.” (P-14)
The party distorts constitutional restrictions on displaying religious symbols in government buildings when it expresses opposition to “any governmental action to restrict, prohibit, or remove public display of the Decalogue or other religious symbols.” (P-7) Americans have long had the right to display – openly and publicly – the Ten Commandments and other religious symbols on their own property.
The platform again calls for revising the Internal Revenue Service code so that clergy can “address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status.” (P-4) But the code doesn’t prohibit clergy from addressing issues of the day. It prohibits religious institutions and other tax-exempt nonprofits from engaging in partisan political campaigns.
Republicans admirably call for Congress to sanction foreign governments that engage in religious persecution. (P-14) But the party platform also specifically targets the mythical threat of Islamic (Sharia) law in America (P-2).
Texas Republicans also wants Congress to weaken a key safeguard for religious liberty by withdrawing Supreme Court jurisdiction from causes involving that constitutional freedom. (P-5) Doing so would open the door to government favoring the religious views of some while disfavoring those of others.
The platform insists that public schools emphasize “the Judeo-Christian principles upon which America was founded.” (P-13)
The party would forbid any government oversight of faith-based entities that receive taxpayer funds. (P-17)
Undermining Public Education
Even though state lawmakers cut billions of dollars from public schools in 2011 (which resulted in the layoff of thousands of teachers across Texas), the state GOP platform explicitly calls for “reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions.” (P-17)
The platform also calls for a voucher scheme that would drain tax dollars from public schools to pay for tuition at private and religious schools. (P-12)
Texas Republicans “oppose any sex education other than abstinence until marriage.” (P-12) Interestingly, this differs from the 2010 platform, which said “until heterosexual marriage.” In any case, the party remains opposed to teaching high school students medically accurate information about contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases even though Texas has one of the highest teen birthrates in the nation.
The party repeats past support for expanding the authority of the highly politicized State Board of Education, including giving it the power to appoint the state’s education commissioner. The platform also calls for giving the state board sole authority over textbook adoptions, although Senate Bill 6 (passed by the Legislature in 2011) gives local school districts the authority to bypass SBOE textbook decisions. (P-13)
The platform again calls for the abolishment of the U.S. Department of Education. (P-13)
The new GOP platform does not repeat previous explicit support for teaching “intelligent design”/creationism alongside evolution in public school science classrooms. It does, however, include typical anti-evolution code words employed by creationists in insisting that schools teach “all sides” of scientific theories and that “theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.” (P-12) Creationists have used those arguments to promote anti-evolution claims that simply have no basis or support in established science and scientific evidence. Far-right groups have also used such language to attack the overwhelming scientific evidence on global climate change.
Texas Republicans again call on “Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.” (P-12)
Texas Republicans also repeat their previous opposition to teaching “critical thinking skills and similar programs” in public schools, suggesting that they “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” (P-12)
The party would prohibit “any paid public school employee or contractor to lobby the legislature or the SBOE, unless on an unpaid basis and in an unofficial capacity.” (P-12) 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 the board on such issues.
The War on Women’s Health Care, Birth Control and the Protection of Children
The Texas GOP would severely restrict the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies and reproductive health.
In addition to the party’s hard-core opposition to abortion, the platform calls on lawmakers to pass the so-called "Life at Conception Act." (P-8) That legislation would define a person's life as beginning at conception, a measure so radical that Mississippi voters strongly rejected it at the polls in 2011. Declaring that a person's life begins at conception would not just bar all abortions, including those because of rape or incest. It could also seriously complicate medical treatment for women with problem pregnancies, such as ectopic pregnancies, that threaten their own lives. In addition, it could deter in vitro fertilization, which often requires the creation of multiple embryos. And it would effectively ban embryonic stem cell research, a promising area of medical research that provides hope to people suffering from life-threatening and other serious medical conditions.
The state GOP platform also supports withholding any public funding for health care
providers (especially Planned Parenthood) that are affiliated with abortion providers
or that advocate for the right of a woman to seek an abortion. (P-9)
Republicans adopted that position even though providers are already prohibited
by law from using public funds for abortion and, in fact, use public funding
only for women’s health and prevention services.
The party platform also seeks to ban “morning after” pills (such as Plan B and Ella) for contraception as well as RU486. (P-8) It also opposes requiring that health insurance plans include coverage for birth control and contraceptive services. (P-14)
The party opposes U.S. Senate ratification of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. (P-10)
The platform decries proposed measures requiring that crisis pregnancy centers post signs telling potential clients that they provide limited or no medical services, calling such requirements a “violation of their (pregnancy centers’) Constitutional rights. But it supports government requiring 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 and 9)
Threatening Civil/Equal Rights, Voting Rights and Judicial Independence
The new party platform drops the 2010 platform's unsubstantiated declaration that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. It also drops a plank that would essentially gut protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even so, the new GOP platform includes familiar attacks on judicial independence and equal rights and adds new planks opposing the Voting Rights Act and other voting protections.
The party calls on the federal government to “clarify” the 14th Amendment so that it limits "citizenship by birth to those born to a citizen of the United States with no exceptions." (P-21) The 14th Amendment has long protected the right to U.S. citizenship for anyone born in the United States.
The party platform now calls for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act, the 1965 law passed to end efforts to restrict the rights of minorities to vote and freely choose their representatives in government. It also calls for repeal of the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in the wake of the 2000 presidential election debacle that ended when the U.S. Supreme Court halted a voter recount in Florida and gave the election to then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush over then-Vice President Al Gore. The law is designed to help ensure that every vote counts and to establish minimum election administration standards. (P-5)
Moreover, the platform renews efforts to suppress voting by repealing laws that make it easier to register to vote (such as “motor voter” laws). The party wants to require re-registration every four years and supports the recently passed “voter ID” law. (P-5) Such measures make it harder for minorities, students and low-income or elderly citizens to vote.
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 platform calls for Congress to adopt the so-called Judicial Conduct Act of 2005, a measure pushed by religious-right groups that defines grounds for impeaching federal judges and Supreme Court justices in such a way that would threaten the independence of the judiciary from political pressure. It would, for example, allow the impeachment of judges if politicians make the subjective judgment that they have acted unconstitutionally. (P-4 and 5)
Texas Republicans also want Congress to withhold Supreme Court jurisdiction in cases involving abortion, religious freedom and the Bill of Rights. (P-5) Doing so would eliminate a vital constitutional check on the tyranny of the majority over the minority and put important constitutional rights of Americans entirely at the mercy of partisan politicians.
The party opposes no-fault divorce and supports “Covenant Marriage,” which would make it harder for abused spouses to escape domestic abuse. (P-7)
Renewing an Obsession with Homosexuality
The Texas GOP platform has long revealed an obsession with and overbearing hostility toward the rights of gay people. Interestingly, the 2012 platform dropped previous explicit support for sodomy laws and opposition to allowing gay people to adopt children. But it does express opposition to “mandates that deny mothers a choice in selecting a traditional home for their children.” (P-10) Moreover, the platform clearly sees LGBT Texans as second-class citizens.
In fact, while the platform declares that Texas Republicans “deplore all discrimination,” the same section of the platform calls for repealing the state’s hate crimes law and, until such repeal, the removal specifically of sexual orientation (but no other characteristic) as a protected category in that law. (P-15) Thus it appears that the Texas GOP is prepared to tolerate, at least temporarily, a law designed to protect all Texans – other than LGBT people – from hate crimes. The platform also opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect against job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (P-4)
Despite the GOP platform’s declaration of “Equality for All Citizens,” it would forbid any official recognition whatsoever for same-sex families. For example, it calls for full enforcement of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition even of same-sex marriages that are already legal in some states. It also calls for adoption of a federal constitutional amendment that would define marriage in the United States as between only one man and one woman and prohibit individual states from recognizing same-sex marriages (even though some states already do). In addition, it opposes “creation, recognition and benefits for partnerships outside of marriage that are being provided by some political subdivisions.” Finally, it calls on Congress to withhold from federal courts jurisdiction in cases involving family law, especially marriage, thus eliminating a final avenue for same-sex couples to seek equality in America. (P-7)
The platform also declares the “incompatibility of homosexuality with military service” (P-20) despite the bipartisan repeal of the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against openly gay members of the U.S. military.
If none of those specifics make the party’s hostility clear enough, the platform is explicit in its broad condemnation of the lives, freedom and equality of LGBT people. It states that Republicans “affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. 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 public policy, nor should ‘family’ be redefined to include homosexual ‘couples.’ We believe there should be no granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values.” (P-7 and 8)
Undermining Environmental Protections and Medical Research
The platform calls for repealing the Endangered Species Act and the abolishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. It also includes this: “We strongly oppose those efforts that attempt to use the environmental causes to purposefully disrupt and stop those interests within the oil and gas industry.” (P-3)
Texas Republicans would criminalize medical embryonic stem cell research, which researchers believe offers the possibility of important advances in the treatment of debilitating and deadly medical conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, cancer and spinal cord injuries. Moreover, the party would require the withholding of all federal or state funding (for any purpose) from any public institution that engages in such medical research. (P-9 and 10)
Assaults on Open and Sensible Government
In a bow to “birthers” who claim that President Obama isn’t a natural born citizen of the United States, the Texas GOP platform would require that presidential candidates provide “an original or certified copy of a valid birth certificate” to the Texas Secretary of States’s office. (P-5)
The platform insists that “(a)ll bills passed in the U. S. or Texas House of Representatives or their respective Senates should require a recorded and preserved vote. (P-2) But the same platform elsewhere calls on House Republicans to meet in private to choose, by secret ballot, who should be speaker of the House. Republican House members are then bound by the platform to support whichever candidate is chosen behind those closed doors. (P-6) That measure is an obvious shot by the party’s far-right members at Republican House Speaker Joe Straus.
The platform again calls for privatizing Social Security and “gradually phasing out the Social Security tax” (P-11), thus effectively ending the program.
The party would allow college students to carry guns on campus. (P-14)
The platform calls for “the establishment and maintenance of a volunteer Constitutional State Militia with assistance from County Sheriffs.” (P-14)
The party calls for the United States to withdraw from the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization (P-22) and the United Nations and expel the UN headquarters from American soil (P-20).
The platform supports abolishing the Departments of Education and Energy and all other federal agencies not specifically noted in the U.S. Constitution and seeks to rollback all non-military spending to “at least pre-2008 levels” (P-16) even as the economy slowly recovers from the worst financial crisis and recession since the Great Depression.
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 platform also calls for repealing the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and minimum wage laws. (P-19)
The party wants to replace all federal taxes, including the income tax, with a regressive national sales tax. (P-17)
The party would limit jury service only 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.
And in a supreme effort to turn back the clock, the party platform section on “Strengthening the Economy” includes the following passage from the 1932 Republican Party’s national platform (P-16):
We support the principles regarding the public economy as stated in the Republican Party Platform of 1932 to wit:
Resolution Regarding the Public Economy
Whereas, constructive plans for financial stabilization cannot be completely organized until our national, State and municipal governments not only balance their budgets but curtail their current expenses as well to a level which can be steadily and economically maintained for some years to come.
We urge prompt and drastic reduction of public expenditure and resistance to every appropriation not demonstrably necessary to the performance of government, national or local.
The Republican Party established and will continue to uphold the gold standard and will oppose any measure which will undermine the government’s credit or impair the integrity of our national currency. Relief by currency inflation is unsound in principle and dishonest in results. The dollar is impregnable in the marts of the world today and must remain so. An ailing body cannot be cured by quack remedies. This is no time to experiment upon the body politic or financial.
Source: Republican Party Platform of 1932
June 14, 1932