Peter J. Smith

Why did cultural conservatives lose the battle over “Don’t ask, don’t tell?”

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith

December 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Why did cultural conservatives lose the battle over “Don’t ask, don’t tell?” In 1993 a Democrat-controlled Congress overwhelmingly passed the federal law banning open homosexuals from serving in the armed forces. So what changed in the past 17 years?

Certainly a handful of Republicans had a hand in its passage. Six Republicans – Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mark Kirk of Illinois, George Voinovich of Ohio, and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine – reneged on their word to help their party block all legislation until the big item of funding the federal government was settled.

Well, promises, promises. After the 63-33 vote for cloture, repealing DADT was a fait-accompli. So two more Republicans jumped on board, Sens. John Ensign of Nevada and Richard Burr of North Carolina, making eight total GOP votes for repeal.

Eight liberal Republicans put the final nail in the coffin on DADT. Or did they?

Conservatives should hesitate before they jump to that conclusion.

In fact, just five of the eight Republicans who voted to repeal DADT have solid socially liberal positions and records on “gay rights” and abortion: Brown, Murkowski, Kirk, Collins, and Snowe.

Voinovich, however, has a social conservative record: he has a 100 percent pro-life rating from the National Right to Life Committee, and has scored high marks in the past for his votes from pro-family groups such as Family Research Council (88%, 2007-2008) and the American Family Association (100%, 2007-2008).

The Ohio senator also voted for a U.S. constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and thereby ban same-sex “marriage.”

Voinovich is not a typical RINO (Republican In Name Only) like the Senate ladies from Maine. Neither are Ensign and Burr. Both have high pro-life ratings, and voted to protect the traditional definition of marriage in the Constitution.

Burr explained his vote, saying that while the 1993 law was a “generationally right” policy, its repeal was “inevitable.” 

Andrew Stiles at National Review Online observes in a Dec. 20 analysis of Burr’s “surprising vote” that the GOP caucus did not put up a vigorous defense of DADT. He quotes Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) admitting to NRO that repeal was “something people knew was going to happen.” Corker said he believes that if Democrats actually did have hearings, even more Republicans may have jumped on board.

These events should set off alarm bells for cultural conservatives: the message is no longer resonating the way it did in 1993.

In 1993 a Democrat-controlled Congress banned homosexuals from serving in the U.S. military. But today, a Gallup poll released on December 9 shows that two-thirds (67%) of the country have no moral conviction that banning homosexuals from the military is a just policy.

Conservative analyst John Guardiano argues at the Daily Caller that when it comes to “blame,” conservatives should look no further than themselves.

Social conservatives deserve to lose the culture war, he says, because many “pathetically inarticulate and tongue-tied” conservative leaders and journalists are failing to connect with the American people and make a persuasive case against politically and rhetorically savvy “gay rights” activists.

Guardiano lays bare the embarrassing, illogical rhetoric of the well-intentioned (but painfully wrong) Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and the intellectual vacuity of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to make his point.

“Instead of avoiding so-called gay rights, ‘marriage equality,’ and issues of religious liberty and federalism, conservatives need to learn to talk about these issues with the same level of political skill, dexterity and sophistication that they talk about, say, taxes and missile defense,” he says.

I agree. Ultimately, conservatives are failing on messaging. The politicians and the American people no longer get why retaining the 1993 law was either good for the troops or good for the country. Prudential reasons were not going to trump the moral conviction that DADT had to go. As far as prudence goes, the Pentagon plans to repeal DADT slowly, because the United States still is engaged in full-scale combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For most Americans, homosexuality is a very abstract concept. A look into the details of the lifestyle and its health consequences confirms fairly quickly that homosexual behavior is physically, sexually, emotionally destructive. But Americans won’t learn that from watching sitcoms like “Will & Grace,” where two homosexuals were among the principle characters of the eight season NBC program.

Matt Lewis at Politics Daily gives credit to Hollywood for having influenced the popular imagination to accept homosexual behavior as fairly normal – basically just like heterosexual relations, except the person they love is of the same sex. (Lewis also points out that Will and Grace was very popular among Republican women.)

Lewis is right, but he could go even further: it is the breakdown of marriage, and acceptance of casual sexual relationships among heterosexuals (also depicted on TV) that has primed the popular imagination to see little substantial difference between heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior. Once the distinction is blurred, saying homosexuals can’t serve, and homosexuals can’t marry (each other), begins to look like little more than unthinking prejudice, unworthy of a more progressive age.

Of course, social conservatives are not losing across the board. Lewis notes that social conservatives have “given ground on the gay issue, but gained it on the life issue,” pointing out that over half the country identifies itself now as pro-life.

But will the country be able to sustain a culture of life, without a culture of traditional marriage and family? I wouldn’t bet on it.


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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Arguments don’t have genitals

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

“As soon as he grows his own uterus, he can have an opinion.”

That was a comment left on The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page by a woman who presumably opposes men speaking out against misogyny, domestic abuse, rape culture, and female genital mutilation as well. Apparently, you see, male genitals disqualify people from speaking out on various human rights issues deemed by women who define themselves by their uteruses while protesting angrily against being defined by their uteruses as “women’s issues.”

Which abortion isn’t, by the way. It’s a human rights issue.

To break it down really simply for our confused “feminist” friends: Human beings have human rights. Human rights begin when the human being begins, or we are simply choosing some random and arbitrary point at which human beings get their human rights. If we do not grant human rights to all human beings, inevitably some sub-set of human beings gets denied protection by another group with conflicting interests. In this case, of course, it is the abortion crowd, who want to be able to kill pre-born children in the womb whenever they want, for any reason they want.

Science tells us when human life begins. Pro-abortion dogma is at worst a cynical manoeuvre to sacrifice the lives of pre-born human beings for self-interest, and at best an outdated view that collapsed feebly under the weight of new discoveries in science and embryology. But the abortion cabal wants to preserve their bloody status quo at all costs, and so they make ludicrous claims about needing a uterus to qualify for a discussion on science and human rights.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

In fact, feminists love it when men speak up on abortion, as long as we’re reading from their script, which is why the carnivorous feminists have such a support system among the Deadbeat Dads for Dead Babies set and the No Strings Attached Club.

Male abortion activists have even begun to complain about “forced fatherhood,” a new cultural injustice in which they are expected to bear some responsibility for fathering children with women they didn’t love enough to want to father children with, but did appreciate enough to use for sex. Casual fluid swaps, they whine, should not result in custody hearings.

This is not to mention a genuine social tragedy that has men forcing or pressuring women to have abortions or abandoning them when they discover that the woman is, indeed, pregnant.

Or the fact that abortion has assisted pimps, rapists, and misogynists in continuing the crimes of sex trafficking, sexual abuse, and sex-selection abortion.

And coming against these disgusting trends are thousands of men in the pro-life movement who believe that shared humanity means shared responsibility, and that when the weak and vulnerable are robbed of their rights, we have to stand up and speak out.

We are not at all convinced by the feminist argument that people should think with their reproductive organs or genitals. We think that the number of people currently doing that has perhaps contributed to the problems we face. And we refuse to be told that protecting the human rights of all human beings is “none of our business” and “outside of our interests.”

Arguments don’t have genitals, feminists. It’s a stupid argument trying to protect a bloody ideology.

Reprinted with permission from CCBR.


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Rachel Daly

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Gvmt strikes UK Catholic school admission policy that prefers Mass attendees

Rachel Daly
By Rachel Daly

St. Joseph's Catholic Primary School in Epsom, England, was ordered to change its admissions policy after it was ruled discriminatory by the nation's Office of Schools Adjudicator, according to Your Local Guardian. St. Joseph's reportedly had been granting preferred acceptance to students whose families attended Mass at the affiliated church.

St. Joseph’s School is for students from age 4 to 11 and describes itself as “enjoy[ing] a high level of academic success.” The school furthermore places high priority on its Catholic identity, affirming on its homepage that “We place prayer and worship at the center of everything we do.”

The school states in its current admissions policy that it was "set up primarily to serve the Catholic community in St Joseph’s Parish" and that when the applicant pool exceeds 60 students, its criteria for prioritizing students includes "the strength of evidence of practice of the faith as demonstrated by the level of the family's Mass attendance on Sundays." 

Opponents of this policy reportedly argue that since donations are asked for at Mass, it could allow donation amounts to influence acceptance, and that forcing non-accepted local students to seek education elsewhere imposes a financial burden upon their families. 

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As Your Local Guardian reports, the adjudicators dismissed claims that donation amounts were affecting school acceptance, given that it is impossible to track donations. Nonetheless, the adjudicators maintained that "discrimination ... potentially arises from requiring attendance at the church rather than residency in the parish."

The Office of Schools Adjudicators, according to its website, is appointed by the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State of Education, to perform such functions as mediating disputes over school acceptances. The Office's ruling on St. Joseph's will require the school to release a revised admissions policy, which is expected in the next few days.

Reprinted with permission from the Cardinal Newman Society.


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Carolyn Moynihan

African women at risk of HIV, hostages to birth control

Carolyn Moynihan
By Carolyn Moynihan

Which should be the priority for a health organisation: preventing an incurable disease, or preventing a natural function that might have adverse physical consequences?

Preventing the disease, you would think. But the World Health Organisation would rather expose African women to HIV-AIDS than withdraw its support from a suspect method of birth control, arguing that childbirth is also risky in Africa. Riskier, apparently, than the said contraceptive. And at least one of WHO’s major partners agrees.

This is one of the stories you will not have read in coverage of the International AIDS Conference held in Melbourne last week, despite the fact that WHO made an announcement about it during the conference and the findings of a highly relevant study were presented there.

The story is this: there is increasing evidence that the method of contraception preferred by family planning organisations working in Africa (and elsewhere) facilitates the transmission of HIV. The method is the progesterone injection in the form of either DMPA (Depo Provera, the most common) or NET-En (Noristerat).

Millions of women in sub-Saharan Africa receive the injection every three months. The method overcomes problems of access. It can be given by nurses or health workers. A wife need not bother her husband for any special consideration; the teenage girl need not remember to take a pill.

But for 30 years evidence has been accumulating that, for all its “effectiveness” in controlling the number of births, the jab may also be very effective in increasing the number of people with HIV.

Three years ago at another AIDS conference in Rome, researchers who had analysed data from a number of previous studies delivered the disturbing news that injectables at least doubled the risk of infection with HIV for women and their male partners.

That study had its weaknesses but one of the experts present in Rome, Charles Morrison of FHI 360 (formerly Family Health International, a family planning organisation that also works in AIDS prevention), considered it a “good study” and subsequently led another meta-analysis that addressed some of the issues with previous research.

Last week at the Melbourne conference he presented the results. His team had re-analysed raw data on the contraceptive use of more than 37,000 women in 18 prospective observational studies. Of these women, 28 percent reported using DMPA, 8 percent NET-En, 19 percent a combined oral contraceptive pill, and 43 percent no form of hormonal contraception. A total of 1830 women had acquired HIV while in a study.

The analysis showed that both injectables raised the risk of infection by 50 percent:

Compared to non-users [of any hormonal contraceptive], women using DMPA had an elevated risk of infection (hazard ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.31-1.86), as did women using NET-En (1.51, 95% CI 1.21-1.90). There was no increased risk for women using oral contraceptives.

Similarly, comparing women using injections with those using oral contraceptives, there was an elevated risk associated with DMPA (1.43, 95% CI 1.23-1.67) and NET-En (1.30, 95% CI 0.99-1.71).

Morrison also noted:

The results were consistent in several subgroup and sensitivity analyses. However, when only studies which were judged to be methodologically more reliable were included, the increased risk appeared smaller.

Morrison acknowledged that observational studies such as the FHI analysis depended on have their limitations. He is looking for funding to conduct a randomised controlled study – something that, after 30 years of suspicions and evidence, still has not been done.

So what is his advice to the birth control industry? Stop using this stuff in regions with a high prevalence of HIV until we are sure that we are not feeding an epidemic?

No.

One reason is that FHI is at least as interested in contraception as it is in HIV prevention. Though its website reflects a broad range of development activities, its core business is integrating birth control programmes with HIV prevention. The WHO – one of its partners -- describes the US based, 83 percent US government funded non-profit as “a global health and development organization working on family planning, reproductive health and HIV/AIDS.”

Another reason is that FHI 360 has a vital stake in precisely the kind of contraceptives that are under suspicion. Its annual report refers to:

Our trailblazing work in contraceptive research and development continues, as we develop and introduce high-quality and affordable long-acting contraceptives for women in low-income countries. Research is under way to develop a new biodegradable contraceptive implant that would eliminate the need for removal services. We are also working with partners to develop an injectable contraceptive that would last for up to six months. Currently available injectables require reinjections monthly or quarterly, which can be challenging where health services are limited.

That project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.

So Morrison did not argue in Melbourne for restrictions on the use of injectables, and neither did the WHO, whose representative at the conference outlined the UN body’s new guidelines on contraception and HIV. Mary Lyn Gaffield said a review of studies up to – but not including Morrison’s – did not warrant a change to WHO’s policy that DMPA and NET-En should be available, without restriction, in areas of high HIV prevalence.

The most WHO will advise is that women should be informed of the risk:

“Women at high risk of HIV infection should be informed that progestogen-only injectables may or may not increase their risk of HIV acquisition. Women and couples at high risk of HIV acquisition considering progestogen-only injectables should also be informed about and have access to HIV preventive measures, including male and female condoms.”

Condoms? How do they defend such cynicism? By equating the risk of HIV with the risks of motherhood – complications of pregnancy or childbirth, maternal death and the effect on infants... And yet motherhood remains risky precisely because 90 percent of the world’s effort is going into contraception!

Seven years ago a meeting of technical experts convened by WHO to study the injectables-HIV link showed the reproductive health establishment worried about that issue, to be sure, but also concerned that funding was flowing disproportionately to HIV-AIDS programmes, setting back the cause of birth control. The integration of family planning and HIV prevention spearheaded by FHI 360 looks like they have found an answer to that problem.

Whether African women are any better off is very doubtful. They remain pawns in a game that is, above all, about controlling their fertility. They and their partners are encouraged to take risks with their health, if not their lives, while researchers scout for funds to do the definitive study.

FHI had an income of $674 million last year, most of it from the US government. Couldn’t it give Charles Morrison the money to do his research today?

Reprinted with permission from Mercatornet.com.


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