“A Signature Act that Unifies the GOP”

I hadn’t heard of the “First Amendment Defense Act” until I read about it at RightWing Watch.

Since statutes cannot trump (excuse the phrase)constitutional provisions, you may wonder–as I did–which of our First Amendment liberties requires this ineffectual statutory “assistance.”

The Act

would prohibit the federal government from “taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

I wouldn’t bother commenting on this grandstanding bit of Congressional snit (which, to the extent it conflicts with constitutional law, will have no legal effect), except that six GOP presidential candidates recently endorsed it, much to the delight of those staunch proponents of unrestricted religious liberty (but only for Christians who agree with them): the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America, and the Family Research Council.

The candidates pledging to protect religion-based homophobia against the “agenda” of  LGBT folks who think they are actually entitled to equal civil rights are Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Fiorina, Santorum and Huckabee.

According to Maggie Gallagher of the mis-named American Principles Project, non-signers Bush, Graham, Paul and Trump have verbally expressed support for the measure, demonstrating that the Act “is rapidly becoming a signature issue that unifies the GOP.”

I know that opposition to same-sex marriage has been a “signature issue” for Gallagher, but I think her enthusiasm for keeping LGBT folks second-class citizens has distorted her already questionable analytic abilities. It isn’t just anti-gay bigotry that has come to characterize what’s left of the GOP.

The party’s “signature issue” has become nativism, and a bigotry capacious enough to encompass not just gays, but immigrants and refugees, African-Americans, Muslims…really, anyone who isn’t a white Christian American.

It’s a “signature issue” that will destroy what was once a Grand Old Party.


  1. I don’t understand the GOP of today.
    They want a government small enough to drown in a bathtub but can’t keep their minds out of the bedrooms of private citizens. They have a problem with everyone’s sexual activities which is weird considering their religion says they can only procreate for children yet allow seniors to marry after child baring age.
    They want government to give us freedom of religion but not freedom from their religious rules and bylaws which only serve their religion and then rant about sharia law taking over the country.
    Their reasoning contains no logic.
    Oh wait, we’re talking about the GOP which contains no logic whatsoever.

  2. Very subtle and astute distinction”..really, anyone who isn’t a white Christian American.” I think it describes the current position, but not the final solution. One word is missing that captures the ongoing efforts at winnowing the undesirables and describes the final purity test for a GOP true believer. Allow me to fill it in..”really, anyone who isn’t a white evangelical Christian American.”

  3. If this “signature Act” can/might/will bury the GOP; I say let us all support it. There are too many of the GOP to “Burke” and that is illegal.

    As for the current very confusing situation at Purdue; why should LGBT couples have the same rights as married couples if they are not married? Once they marry – which I THINK is now legal here – then they qualify for married rights anywhere. As the King of Siam so often said, “Is a puzzlement!”

  4. JoAnn, regarding Purdue: the trustees have allowed same sex couples access to employee benefits, but have changed that rule since they can legally get married in Indiana. That rule would now actually discriminate against opposite sex couples that have not been given access to the benefits.

    So, same-sex couples now have the option to legally marry and qualify a spouse for benefits. If they choose not to get married then the benefits sharing option no longer exists and this puts them on equal ground with opposite sex couples that choose not to get married.

    It goes into effect in 2017.

  5. What I have noticed and friends and family of mine have noticed is the Trumpet and other Republicon Candidates have given wings within their world of ethnocentrism to blatant fear, bigotry, and racism. A friend of mine recently went to a Holiday Gathering and was shocked by the openness of the blanket condemnation of Muslims. These other people in attendance blathered about the list of Big Box Stores they were not going to shop at because they no longer displayed signage about Christmas. They did not seem to grasp the fact that Corporate America had long ago removed Christ from Christmas, the holiday was turned into a year end orgy of shopping.
    My friend showed her courage by standing up to these bigots.
    What the Republicons have done is provided “respectability” if you will to outright racism. Thoughts that once lurked in the scum about Muslims, Hispanics and African-Americans now are openly stated.

  6. Nancy; sounds to me as if Purdue is encouraging nobody to marry and everybody should “live in sin” (which could bring the religious right-wing down on them) or…does it mean everybody should get married and live happily ever after with some benefits but not eligible for other benefits which are no longer available.

    Did I get that right:-)

  7. Flashback to 1845 – it’s the Know Nothing Party all over again. see also “Gangs of New York”

  8. This makes perfect sense. they have a long history of this type of thing. It was when the Voters Rights act was passed in the mid-1960’s that millions of bigots abandoned the Democratic party and ran to the welcoming arms of the Republican party. Bigots always have a home in the Republican party. We don’t want them back. We just need to defeat them.

  9. JoAnn, “does it mean everybody should get married and live happily ever after with some benefits but not eligible for other benefits which are no longer available.” – I’m not sure what you are saying here.

    The reason Purdue made the change is due to the fact that same sex marriage is now legal in Indiana and LGBT couples no longer need the benefits protection that Purdue gave them. In light of the fact that same sex marriage is now legal, this outdated rule now actually discriminates against heterosexual couples that live together but choose not to get married.

    Since everyone now has the right to be legally married there is no reason to offer benefits to couples that aren’t married. Everyone now has the same protection to provide benefits to a spouse. If employees choose not to get married then they forego providing benefits to their significant other, which is how it has always been for heterosexual couples that live together.

  10. @Nancy, your understanding of the Purdue health benefits is the same as my understanding. “Since everyone now has the right to be legally married there is no reason to offer benefits to couples that aren’t married. Everyone now has the same protection to provide benefits to a spouse. If employees choose not to get married then they forego providing benefits to their significant other, which is how it has always been for heterosexual couples that live together.”

  11. There is no unifying the Republican Party with a bill that legitimizes bigotry. Such a bill turned act would not only be unconstitutional but would also hasten the dis-unification of the GOP and would result in more turnout of angry and insulted Democrats in elections, a double whammy that could negate Koch and dark money fuel for propaganda designed to elect or reelect their toadies. Additionally, such a “unifying” bill, even if it did somehow become law and marginally unify the party, would only scratch the surface of other and far more numerous divisions within that party, a party that has lost its mission with its inner chaos of brawls between moderates, libertarians, nihilists and other blusterers and egoists who lust for power at any cost.

    As I have blogged many times, the GOP may well be headed for the fate of their failed predecessors (the Whigs) unless they excise the cancer within their midst. Bills that can’t pass or pass constitutional muster if they do will, to reiterate, divide, not unify. In my opinion the Republicans’ only hope to escape the fate of the Whigs (a party that failed due to inner brawls on the issue of slavery) is to swallow the bitter medicine of expelling libertarian and nihilist elements from their party, take a few beatings from Democrats, and come back to center stage with new platforms that welcome minorities, ends to wage and wealth inequality etc. In other words, to sound more like Democrats just as their Republicans predecessors did following WW II when there was still common purpose as between the parties with arguments relegated to details for political consumption by voters.

    Republicans currently (aside from their inner fights for power within) are on the wrong side of history, and even we Democrats will be soon challenged as a substantial majority of younger folks talk more like socialists than either Democrats or Republicans, and recognizing that history is linear, I think both parties should be planning on how to accommodate such new thinking of those who will soon be in the electoral majority.

    I think finally that the country is turning left in its reaction to Republican and Wall Street excesses (note the millennial Bernie crowd), and will perhaps move further left than I as a liberal Democrat want to go. We’ll see; history is, to repeat, linear, and intervening events could change or modify my advice to Republicans who want to save their party from Whigdom as well as to Democrats insufficiently eager to accommodate change for the upcoming millennial majority. It’s a moving target and yesterday’s answers will not solve tomorrow’s problems. To again reiterate, we’ll see.

  12. When you go to that Christmas party, is it better to argue with your halfwit relatives and take a stand for what is right, or is it better to recognize that their lack of intelligence renders your righteous indignation futile? Let’s face it — if they can watch Fox News and take it seriously, they lack the intelligence to understand your positions. Perhaps the best you can do is not challenge their beliefs but instead subtly manipulate them into positions where they may have to accept some of the realities they normally avoid seeing.

  13. I have to be honest with you. I’m pretty sure that people around me are having sex. I don’t know the details because we’ve all agreed that they’re personal. And, to tell you the truth, I can’t imagine anything that I’m less interested in.

    But there are people who are vitally interested in every detail to the point that they want laws and therefore police to be involved in gathering evidence of the details.

    I’m thinking that’s really weird. Why? We have gun rights but not sex rights? People who have them brag about their guns but not the details of their sex lives.

    So I think that it’s not really about sex at all.

    Maybe it’s about change. They are uncomfortable with progress and think that it’s unimaginable that there’s anything possible better than their past. That was humanity’s peak.

    Aren’t we glad that our predecessors didn’t think that way.

    Liberals are optimists, conservatives pessimists. To maintain and build the conservative brand instilling fear of everything different is the key. Fear of everything. Even what might be going on next door.

  14. It’s the “special rights ” argument turned on its head. It’s true that a temporary “special right” might recognize centuries of past discrimination as affirmative action does. There are social supports and conditions traditional straight or bearded marriage never encounters and it will prove painful for som for a while. It makes the case for universal civil rights stronger in the end. Arguably a preferred option in both short and long term.

  15. They are offering fellow bigots a chance to have victims. Do what you like and as long as your victim is you will never be charged. Same thing Hitler offered Germans.
    I doubt if we can overcome this wave of bigotry; whoever wins the election will preside over a country where 20% of our citizens have followed Trump into the arms of Fascism.

  16. http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/04/11/have-seen-enemies-and-they-weak/Cho9J5Bf9jxIkHKIZvnVTJ/story.html?event=event25

    This is a really good Boston Globe article about our topic du jour. We are, here in America now, the safest people to ever walk the planet. Do we enjoy that massive benefit? Not at all. Why? Comfortable people don’t want, they enjoy. How is there money and votes in that?

    So lots of forces stir up fear as often as possible and as much as possible.

    And the bucks and votes come rolling in.

  17. I think I heard this right: As Lindsey Graham bowed out of the race for President this morning, he said (and oh how I love it!) that the way to ‘make America great again’ is for Donald Trump to go to hell!

    I have gained a new appreciation for Lindsey Graham (R-SC). I never knew he had that in him.

  18. Betty,
    Larry Wilmore had a piece where he featured Lindsey Graham. He showed Graham saying some pretty gutsy and true things about Trump, followed by Wilmore’s enthusiasm and excitement, even apologizing for all the bad stuff he had ever said about Graham. Then he followed with a piece of Graham shouting that he wished George Bush was still president. To that, Wilmore was really bummed out and reacted like he had just heard a bit of alertness from a dying man. Graham is not totally predictable, but you have to hand it to him for being so gutsy and having the courage to say what he did about Trump.

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