Bush and the Christian Right: $100 million for discrimination
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Journal Contributing Writer
Jan 6, 2006, 01:05
"The literal blood of the thousands of gay people
physically wounded by hate . . . is on the hands of Jerry Falwell, James
Dobson, Tony Perkins, and so many others who spew hate for partisan gain and
personal enrichment." --Matt Foreman, President, National Gay and Lesbian
"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. . . . It's
just a goddamned piece of paper!" -- President George W. Bush
The so-called "Healthy Marriage Initiative" is the
latest scheming, malicious way for the pathological Bush administration
and Christian Right to intentionally disenfranchise, demean,
denigrate and hurt gay and lesbian Americans, their children and their
It was a small item in the "News in Brief" section
of James Dobson's Focus on the Family's December 22, 2005, CitizenLink daily update e-mailed to "LinkMembers@LISTSERV.FAMILY.ORG"
Senate Approves Money to Strengthen Marriage
The U.S. Senate passed a provision Wednesday to provide
funding for programs to strengthen marriage.
Included in the Omnibus Deficit Reduction bill is a
proviso for The Healthy Marriage Initiative
that would set aside $100 million [annually] to help families stay together.
Lanier Swann, director of government relations for Concerned Women for America (CWA),
said marriage is a fundamental element of society.
"The healthy-marriage initiative will provide financial
resources for educational and skill-based programs that will teach couples to
make their marriages work," she said. "Children who come from
single-parent homes experience more poverty, emotional and behavioral problems
than those who come from households with two parents.
Mom and dad benefit, too," she added. "Physical,
financial, mental and emotional health result from a healthy marriage."
Marriage is "a
fundamental element of society." In fact, in its Loving v. Virginia ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declared marriage
is "one of the basic civil rights of man," and the freedom to marry
is "essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness." But "basic
civil rights" and "the orderly pursuit of happiness" mean
nothing to Bush or the Christian Right.
Families staying together are without doubt important.
Families often do need resources to help achieve that goal. It is also
absolutely true that parents -- and their families -- benefit physically,
financially, mentally and emotionally from a healthy marriage. But Bush and the
Christian Right care only about some parents and some families.
Gay and lesbian couples and their real-world American
families -- that include hundreds of thousands if not millions of children --
are excluded from the benefits of The Healthy Marriage Initiative paid for with
their tax money because the federal
government -- based on perverted, malignant religious ideology -- denies them
the civil right to a civil marriage.
There had been an earlier Focus on the Family report on The
Healthy Marriage Initiative inappropriately titled "President's Marriage
Proposal Gets Help from Pro-Family Groups." How can any of these groups --
or George W. Bush and his policy makers -- call themselves "pro-family"
when their actions are specifically designed to exclude and, thereby, hurt
families headed by same-sex parents? John D. Moore, professor of health science
and psychology at American Public University, was correct:
When President George W. Bush decided to publicly embrace
a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, cloaking his remarks in
the guise of religion, he psychologically violated millions upon millions of
gay and lesbian youth around the nation as well as the many millions more who
are their parents and relatives. . . . Make no mistake -- his intolerant
message was quite clear: "You and your family are not part of the American
Ever since Vermont legalized civil unions between same-sex
partners, and especially since the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that "equality"
meant "equality" in relation to civil marriage, the Christian Right's
hate-based anti-family arguments haven't changed.
There was the initial outcry that same-sex marriage would "destabilize
traditional marriage." That turned out to be utter nonsense. With a
year and a half's experience of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts -- as well
as civil unions and domestic partnerships in several other sates -- "traditional"
marriage and families have not been affected -- much less "destabilized"
-- in any way.
Then there was the Christian Right's ridiculous ranting that
same-sex marriage would destroy society:
Unless the people of the State of Massachusetts rise up
with one voice in opposition to this lawless and socially destructive behavior
[same-sex marriage], it will destroy society as we know it. --Steve Crampton,
Chief Counsel, Center for Law and Policy, American Family Association, December
American society has not been destroyed. It has, however,
been demeaned by the Christian Right's unbridled hatred
of gay and lesbian Americans and the pathological attempts to hurt their
And then there were James Dobson's fear-mongering arguments
in his 2004 book Marriage Under Fire.
They were addressed and summarily invalidated in "Out of Focus on the
Family: A Response to Arguments Against Same-Sex Marriage," published in
the peer-reviewed scholarly journal Popular
Culture Review (16:1, February 2005, 45-75), where a version of the
following economic responses appeared.
In his book, Dobson offered 11 arguments against same-sex
marriage, the last of which claimed such unions would bring about the end of
the world: "The culture war will be over, and the world may soon become 'as
it was in the days of Noah.'" Dobson offered equally ridiculous economic
6. The health care system will stagger and perhaps
This could be the straw that breaks the back of the
insurance industry in Western nations, as millions
of new dependents become eligible for coverage. Every HIV-positive patient needs only to find a partner to receive
the same coverage as offered to an employee. It is estimated by some analysts
that drastic increases in premiums can be anticipated and that it may not be
profitable for companies to stay in business.
And how about the cost to American businesses? Will they
be able to provide health benefits? If not, can physicians, nurses, and
technicians be expected to work for nothing or to provide their services in
exchange for a vague promise of payments from indigent patients? Try selling
that to a neurosurgeon or an orthopedist who has to pay increased premiums for
malpractice insurance. The entire health care system could implode. [italics
of new dependents"? Millions of newly married heterosexual dependents are
added each year. It's more than a bit difficult to believe that the total
number of gay and lesbian Americans who choose to marry could possibly result
in millions more. And even if it did, does that legitimate and justify
discriminating against them and excluding them from the civil institution
called "marriage" and the benefits it confers on them and their
HIV-positive patient." Playing on stereotypes and fears is the standard MO
for the Christian Right's political activists. Aside from the fact that
heterosexuals also have HIV and most insurance companies have "preexisting
condition" clauses, should a genome scan be performed on every woman who
wants to marry to make sure she does not carry the genes that predispose her to
breast cancer? How about refusing to insure anyone who gets a suntan in the
summer? It's a fact that such exposure to the sun causes skin cancer, which is
very expensive to treat.
undisputed fact that marriage lowers health risk and, therefore, health care
costs. A May 2004 news release from the American Heart Association attested to
that. It detailed the research of Dr. Stephen Morewitz, who presented his
finding in "Marital Status as a Risk Factor for Hypertension Impairment"
to the American Heart Association's 5th annual Scientific Forum on Quality of
Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, Washington,
May 16-17, 2004. Dr. Morewitz and his researchers analyzed data from the
National Health Interview Survey, which included information from more than
30,000 adults. The study concluded that married persons are less likely to have
high blood pressure or suffer from related health problems. The same conclusion
was reached by Gary Cohan, M.D., and expressed in his article "Rx:
Marriage," posted on Advocate.com, March 12, 2004. (Unfortunately, Dr.
Cohan's article is no longer available, but a letter about
it and another of his articles is.)
the health benefits of marriage is not new. E. J. Graff, in her book, What Is Marriage For?, quoted British
public-health statistician William Farr, who remarked in 1858 that "marriage
is a healthy state. The single individual is much more likely to be wrecked on
his voyage than the lives joined together in matrimony." Graff added that:
The data have been eerily consistent ever since: whether
measuring by death rate, morbidity (health problems such as diabetes, kidney
disease, or ischemic heart disease), subjective or stress-related complaints
(dizziness, shortness of breath, achiness, days in bed during past year,
asthma, headaches), or psychiatric problems (clinical depression or
debilitating anxiety after a cancer diagnosis), married people do better than
unmarried -- single, widowed, divorced.
marriage could help lower partners' blood pressure, reduce their risks for
other illnesses and thereby save insurance companies money, since that economic
interest seems to be one of Dr. Dobson's main concerns. But even that concern
is overridden by Dobson's pathological attacks on homosexuals and desire to see
them and their families harmed. How odd for someone whose organization is
on the Family."
The version of
Dobson's sixth argument that first appeared on Focus on the Family's web site
differed slightly from the version that ultimately appeared in Marriage Under Fire. In the web site
version, the line "It is estimated by some analysts that drastic increases
in premiums can be anticipated and that it may not be profitable for companies
to stay in business," read "It is estimated by some analysts that an
initial threefold increase in premiums can be anticipated; even with that, it
may not be profitable for companies to stay in business." In neither case
were "some analysts" identified, nor was any citation or
documentation provided. One has to wonder where Dr. Dobson got the "threefold
increase in premiums" figure, and why it was toned down to "drastic
increases" for the printed version. Once again, Dr. Dobson's malicious
attempt to inspire fear is without basis. In a report released May 6, 2004, the
Human Rights Campaign documented that:
Private employers are instituting domestic-partner health
insurance benefits for gay employees at the rate of three companies a day. . .
. The analysis by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation found that more than
1,000 private employers and colleges and universities added domestic-partner
benefits in 2003, 18% more than the year before. Some 40% of the Fortune 500
companies now offer domestic-partner benefits, including nearly 70% of the 50
top businesses. . . . The report says providing such benefits enhances morale,
productivity, recruiting, and competitiveness. One of the study's authors, Kim
Mills, said the 18% rise is an indication that employers are deciding that such
benefits are good for business.
Dollars and Cents of Gay Marriage," an article by David R. Francis,
appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, August 30, 2004. It documented that,
once again, Dr. Dobson had no legitimate argument, only fear tactics:
"Did you ever wonder why more and more companies,
state and municipal governments, and colleges and universities are granting
benefits to gay workers' partners and children? One big reason: It's cheap. On
average, it would add 1 percent�2 percent tops�to employers' benefit costs,"
says Susan Sandler, editor of a newsletter, HRfocus, for the Institute of
Management and Administration in New York. . . ."Legalizing gay marriage
isn't that costly in economic terms. In fact, research suggests it should save
money for federal and state governments."
It would seem
same-sex marriage would be good for gay and lesbian Americans and their
families, good for government, good for business, and certainly good for anyone
who was truly and honestly focused on the well-being of all American families.
seventh argument read:
7. Social Security will be severely stressed. Again, with
millions of new eligible dependents, what will happen to the Social Security
system, which is already facing bankruptcy? If it does collapse, what will that
mean for elderly people who must rely totally on that meager support? Who is
thinking through these draconian possibilities as we careen toward "a
brave new world"?
thinking through these draconian possibilities?" The Republican Party was.
They made the case to the U. S. House Judiciary Subcommittee during May 2004
hearings on the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Rep. Spencer Bachus, an
Alabama Republican, cited a recent General Accounting Office report that
detailed 1,138 federal laws in which marital status is a factor in receiving
benefits, rights, or privileges. The laws affect everything from a spouse's
ability to collect Social Security, disability, and veterans' benefits to legal
rights to file joint tax returns, apply for joint homeowners' insurance, or
claim family leave to care for a sick partner.
cited a Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of a bill proposed by Rep.
Barney Frank (D-MA) to offer domestic-partner benefits to federal employees.
The CBO predicted that providing health care and retirement benefits to the
partners of current and former federal workers would cost an estimated $1.4
billion between 2004 and 2013. That's not a lot of money considering that in
late 2003 President Bush spent $1.5 billion on a single faith-based PR campaign to "protect marriage" from
people who wanted to get married.
2004 the Congressional Budget Office found that allowing same-sex couples to
marry would actually boost federal income tax revenues by $400 million per year
until the end of this decade mainly because of the so-called "marriage
penalty." Social security payments would rise over time, as would spending
on spousal health insurance benefits for federal workers. Other expenditure
items would be much lower, however, since spending on Medicaid and Supplemental
Security Income (SSI) would fall. The net impact, according to the CBO, would
be a federal budget savings of nearly $1
billion per year.
Ultimately, Bush's and the Christian Right's objection to
same-sex marriage rest solely on a perverted, dogmatic version of religion
advocated by false prophets who claim to know what "God" wants. But
the evolution of the concept of monotheism's "God" requires the growth of all social and
cultural institutions, including marriage. Karen Armstrong's 496-page book The History of God made that crystal
To try to briefly summarize Armstrong's meticulously
researched book would be a gross injustice, but the reviews
by Amazon.com and Publishers Weekly made the case for the argument at hand.
Armstrong, a British journalist and former nun, guides us
along one of the most elusive and fascinating quests of all time -- the search
for God. Like all beloved historians, Armstrong entertains us with deft
storytelling, astounding research, and makes us feel a greater appreciation for
the present because we better understand our past. Be warned: A History of God
is not a tidy linear history. Rather, we learn that the definition of God is constantly being repeated, altered, discarded,
and resurrected through the ages, responding to its followers' practical
concerns rather than to mystical mandates . . . [italics mine]
From Publishers Weekly:
This searching, profound comparative history of the three
major monotheistic faiths fearlessly illuminates the sociopolitical ground in which religious ideas take root, blossom and
mutate. Armstrong, a British broadcaster, commentator on religious affairs
and former Roman Catholic nun, argues that Judaism, Christianity and Islam each
developed the idea of a personal God, which has helped believers to mature as
full human beings. Yet Armstrong also acknowledges that the idea of a personal God can be dangerous, encouraging us to judge,
condemn and marginalize others. Recognizing this, each of the three
monotheisms, in their different ways, developed a mystical tradition grounded
in a realization that our human idea of God is merely a symbol of an ineffable
reality. To Armstrong, modern, aggressively
righteous fundamentalists of all three faiths represent "a retreat from
God." . . . [italics mine]
What's clear is that the concept of "God" is
always evolving. What's also abundantly clear is that today's dogmatic foes of
that evolution and the civil equality of all people -- the "aggressively righteous fundamentalists of all
three faiths [who] represent 'a retreat from God'" -- epitomize nothing
less than a devolution into hate, discrimination and medieval theocratic "thinking."
blasphemy is to speak for "God" when really speaking only for one's
personal and political agendas. In biblical times such false prophets were
dealt with most harshly. In contemporary times, such false prophets -- Jerry
Falwell, Pat Robertson, Lou Sheldon, James Dobson, Don Wildmon, Tony Perkins --
and their theocratic
political organizations' message of hate and discrimination must be
repudiated if the American republic
and civil society are to survive.
religious leaders are already realizing
that as the dubious
connections of the leaders of the politicized Christian Right become known
-- The Rev. Lou Sheldon, who heads the Orange County-based Traditional
Values Coalition, which, according to the Washington Post, got $25,000 from
indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff . . . [link added]; and as they begin fighting
among themselves to see who can propagate more hate to enhance their own
self interests -- [Randy] Thomasson's group [VoteYesMarriage.com and the
Campaign for Children and Families], which is supported by the Rev. Lou Sheldon's
Traditional Values Coalition, has for months taken swipes at
ProtectMarriage.com, which is backed by [James Dobson's] Focus on the Family
and other conservative national Christian organizations. Thomasson did so again
Tuesday [December 27, 2005], calling the competing measure weak and inviting
voters to abandon it in favor of his;
and they continue to increasingly fail in the
The Campaign for Children and Families said last week
that it had not been able to get the number of signatures needed and was
postponing its ballot initiative "for the foreseeable future." (story)
The deadline was Tuesday [December 27, 2005] for submitting names for the June
A second conservative group, ProtectMarriage, also failed
to submit its petitions for the June ballot but said it is now aiming for an
April 13 deadline to make it onto November's ballot. ProtectMarriage said that
it is suspending temporarily its signature drive . . .
In his book Our Endangered Values: America's Moral
Crisis and related interviews,
Jimmy Carter accurately noted that
today's politically motivated Christian fundamentalists -- with the aid of
George W. Bush and other self-righteous Republicans sycophants -- have indeed "managed
to change the nuances and subtleties of historic debate into black and white
rigidities and the personal derogation of those who dare to disagree."
But equality will
always win, eventually, despite despotic, self-righteous "leaders"
like George W. Bush and the pathological, hate-mongering leaders of the Christian
Right who pull his strings.
There is little
doubt that history will record the failed
presidency and political fraud that is George W. Bush, whose perverted
"American" and sanctimonious
"family" values were documented in Doug Thompson's December 9,
2005 Capital Hill Blue report,
"Bush on the Constitution: 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper'":
GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the
more onerous provisions of the [Patriot] act could further alienate
conservatives still mad at the president from his botched attempt to nominate
White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.
"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm
the president and the commander-in-chief. Do it my way."
"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There
is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."
"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,"
Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"
talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm
that the President of the United States called the Constitution "a
goddamned piece of paper."
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