Forget about the economy. Now that the mid-term elections are over, the religious right and the conservative majorities are eying up what's easiest to "fix" … tapping into religious sentiment to make sure that gays and lesbians are not treated equally under the law.
Reversing Gay Marriage Rights.
A group called "Cornerstone Action" thinks that it has a good chance of overturning marriage equality in New Hampshire. The group's executive director, Kevin Smith, told the American Family Association's news service,
"I think there's no doubt we'll get majority votes in both chambers to pass it," Smith suggests. "We expect the governor will veto any repeal of same-sex marriage. But then it comes down to getting enough of the majority to override it, and I think there is a pretty good chance that we'll be able to override his veto."
Across the state last night, the people of Iowa asked for new leadership which is responsive and truly representative of the people. IFPC Action is hopeful that this new leadership in the Iowa House and Governor’s Office will be forceful in working with the Senate to give Iowans our right to vote on a constitutional amendment overriding the Iowa Supreme Court’s unconstitutional decision.
The electorate showed last night that Iowans want and deserve to be allowed to join the 31 other states from all corners of the United States that have voted and uniformly reaffirmed that marriage is the union of male and female, bride and groom, one man and one woman.
New Constitutional Amendments.
In North Carolina, the conservative majority is talking about putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would limit marriage to one man and one woman. WRAL News reports,
Now with Republicans solidly in the majority in the General Assembly starting this January for the first time in more than a century, chances for a vote in the House and Senate are fairly strong, GOP lawmakers said.
Until now, legislative leaders "have just turned a deaf ear," said the Rev. Ron Baity, senior pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He's helped lead rallies of thousands of Christian conservatives in Raleigh asking lawmakers to vote on a marriage amendment. "This election should send a signal to our elected officials that maybe they should stop and listen to the voices of the people and allow the people of North Carolina to vote up or down on the issue."
The Minnesota Family Council has a similar goal for its state. The Christian Broadcasting Network reports,
Gay rights activists had predicted 2012 would be the year they could make a serious push for gay marriage in the North Star State. But now, the Republican takeover of the state legislature has them on the defensive.
The Minnesota Family Council says it will push for a statewide vote in 2012 to ban gay marriage. Previous attempts in 2004, 2005 and 2006 were blocked by the state's old Democratic-controlled Senate.
Anti-Bullying and Tolerance.
After Exodus International announced that it was dropping the "Day of Truth" that counteracted the "Day of Silence" in public schools because of gay teen suicides, Focus on the Family announced that it was taking over the event, renaming it "the Day of Dialogue." The Day of Silence began in 2001 for gay and lesbian students who were afraid to speak up. Focus on the Family's Candi Cushman stated,
“We’re trying to raise awareness that more than one side needs to be heard on the issue of homosexuality, and we’re helping to ensure that Christian students have the chance to express their viewpoint.”
Cushman has been critical of including gays and lesbians in anti-bullying efforts because this was part of the "homosexual agenda." Her sentiment is being voiced throughout the country by religious groups, particularly because of some of the explicit descriptions about homosexuality in tolerance materials. The New York Times reports,
Some districts, especially in larger cities, have adopted tolerance lessons with minimal dissent. But in suburban districts in California, Illinois and Minnesota, as well as here in Helena, the programs have unleashed fierce opposition.
“Of course we’re all against bullying,” Mr. DeMato, one of numerous pastors who opposed the plan, said in an interview. “But the Bible says very clearly that homosexuality is wrong, and Christians don’t want the schools to teach subjects that are repulsive to their values.”
The Times notes that passage of language in the federal safe schools act to protect gay and lesbian youth from bullying is unlikely to occur in the near future.
DADT, Employment Protection and Other Notes.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which bans members of the military to be openly gay, is unlikely:
Chances appear increasingly remote that Congress will lift the military's ban on openly gay service members this year, even though a Pentagon report is unlikely to conclude that repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy would disrupt the armed forces.[…]
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates this week reiterated the Obama administration's call for repeal, the latest indication that the Pentagon report, due Dec. 1, would not pose an obstacle to ending the ban on gays.
A number of senators had cited the Pentagon report as a reason for putting off a decision, saying they wanted the study's assurances that repeal would not jeopardize military readiness. But some have continued to oppose repeal, even though Pentagon officials have emphasized that the study would represent a road map for how to change the policy.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would make it illegal for employers to fire workers based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity is unlikely to be heard during the lame duck session and unlikely to pass over the next two years.
And finally, Right Wing Watch reports that Focus on the Family is warning Republicans that they better toe the line and support FRC's anti-gay agenda and that the Family Research Institute is promoting 1950s material alleging that "one homosexual can pollute a Government office."