Commentary Sexual Health

Marriage Promotion for Eighth Graders: Even Among Abstinence-Only Programs, Heritage Keepers Stands Out

Martha Kempner

A closer look at Heritage Keepers. This ridiculous program that was just given the Obama administration's seal of approval is clearly designed to promote marriage rather than educate young people or prevent pregnancy for that matter. 

See all our coverage of Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education here.

Yesterday, in an article written for Rewire by a number of my friends and colleagues I, like many of you, learned that the Obama administration had quietly added the Heritage Keepers abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum to a list of effective programs based on flawed, as-yet unpublished research.  I was horrified.  When Obama was elected, I had been sure, like so many other sex educators and advocates, that the days of these fear-based programs being taking seriously and given federal money were behind us.  This new administration, I assumed, would support science over ideology and these programs that are so clearly based on opinions and not facts would fall quietly (or better yet loudly) from grace.  I knew I was wrong about how it was going to be before yesterday but the fact that the abstinence-only-until-marriage program that earned the administration’s seal of approval was actually Heritage Keepers was an extra-bitter reminder of the way things still are.

I began reading abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula and writing reviews for SIECUS in 1998 when I got my first job there as part of the community advocacy project.  I can’t count how many curricula I read—cover-to-cover—in my 11 years with the organization and I have to admit that they all started to blend together and I have to check which one is which. I know that Sex Respect is the one that used to tell teens to take Jesus on their date and the early drafts of Choosing the Best were where one would find the suggestion to wash his/her genitals with Lysol after sex to prevent STDs.   But so much of what they say is similar if not exactly the same. 

The analogy about sex being like fire, safe if contained in the fireplace of marriage but dangerous if allowed to run free—appears in at least three of the ones I’ve read but I can’t tell you which three.  The story of the frog that jumps out and saves his life if put in hot water but is lulled into a sense of security and dies if the water is gradually made hotter is used to illustrate the danger of experimenting with other sexual behaviors like French kissing in at least two curricula but don’t ask me which two. I can’t even remember which ones contains my very favorite dramatization of pre-marital sex.  One in which a woman is rushed to the emergency room to find out that she has scarring in her fallopian tubes and will never ever become a mother.  I love this story because of its melodrama, its refusal to acknowledge the number of different ways a woman with blocked fallopian tubes could become a mother, and its completely unacknowledged irony—this woman saved herself for marriage and suffered anyhow because her fiancé had an affair and lied to her. It’s used as an example to show why abstinence is important but it’s actually an example that shows why condoms and STD screenings are important.  I can tell you why I love it but I can’t remember which curriculum I read it in.  As I said, they all blur together.

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But not Heritage Keepers.  I can tell you exactly where I was when I read it.  It was almost 6 years ago, after my oldest daughter was born.  I was technically still on maternity leave but had to write two curricula reviews before I returned to work in September.  My sister was in town on a business trip so I left the baby with the new nanny and holed up in her fancy hotel room across from Bryant Park.  As I read the poorly photocopied version we had finally acquired, I screamed out loud to no one (my sister was at meetings all day).  “Are you kidding me?” I asked that flat screen TV  (often with an expletive added).   “Are these people for real?” I yelled at the mini bar.

What struck me most about the curricula was that it wasn’t even trying to be sex education like so many of the abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum I had read which had whole lesson plans dedicated to the perils of STDs, pregnancy, and relying on condoms.  Though it included a tiny bit of information on body parts, said a few words on how condoms don’t work, and borrowed the Medical Institute’s slide show on outrageous STDs, it was barely about sex. This was about marriage. It tells students why (heterosexual) marriage is so important—for individuals, for children, for society.  And it explains in great detail, using lots of (sketchy) statistics, why no other relationship can possibly be as fulfilling or as important. It is essentially a marriage promotion curriculum for the under-15 set.  

Selling Marriage to 13-Year-Olds
Heritage Keepers explains to its middle school students that:

“The marriage is union is different from all other relationships in that it involves an intellectual, emotional, social and familial union.”*

In case they don’t get why this is so special:

“You could have a familial union with your parents, an emotional union with your best friend, a social union with a teammate, and an intellectual union with a chess partner. But in marriage you share all of these unions, and are bound to each other and the children you have together by a lifetime commitment.”

I suppose marriage can have all of these components (though I know a few marriages that are lacking at least one) but I refuse to believe that it’s the only relationship that could have them all.  Even leaving aside the possibility of a committed relationship with a partner (same-sex or opposite sex) to whom one is not married, I firmly believe that my relationship with my children, my parents, my sister, and even my niece and nephew contain each of these components.  And while I might not legally have a “familial” relationship to my best friend we are closer and take better care of each other than many siblings.

Heritage Keepers isn’t interested in helping young people develop the skills to have numerous good relationships—romantic or otherwise—in their lives, the program is only interested in promoting marriage.  To this end Heritage Keepers spends an equal amount of time criticizing cohabitation as it does defending marriage:

“When couples live together outside of marriage, the relationships are ‘weaker, more violent, less [equal], and more likely to lead to divorce.”

It goes on to say:

“People who live together before marriage experience ‘significantly more difficulty in their marriage with adultery, alcohol, drugs and independence [not wanting to depend on each other for anything] than those who do not live together.’”

These exact statements are repeated four pages later, indicating that they are very important. Heritage Keepers then uses statistics on divorce and infidelity to prove that cohabitation is a very bad idea. According to the curriculum: 

“…only 3 percent of people who did not engage in premarital sex were unfaithful to their spouse, but 18 percent of people who engaged in premarital sex ‘fairly often’ with someone other than their spouse were unfaithful to their marriage partner.”

And:

“The divorce rate of women who live with their partners before marriage is eighty percent higher than the rates for women who do not.”  

I am pretty sure that the goal of these statistics is to convince students that having premarital sex causes infidelity and that cohabitation causes divorce. In fact, the curriculum states:

 “Actually, practicing sex outside of marriage increases the chance of infidelity within marriage…it establishes a pattern.”

While this may sway the average eighth grader who isn’t paying attention in Algebra, we all know that even if statistics are accurate, correlation does not mean causation. Statistics on the number of previously cohabitating couples who divorce, for example, don’t prove that living together causes divorce but they may show that people who think living together is socially acceptable also think it’s okay to use divorce to get out of a bad marriage.

More troubling thought, without ever mentioning the possibility of same-sex relationships, this focus on marriage completely dismisses them as an acceptable option. After all, cohabitation without the legal bonds of marriage (which, if you missed the point, is bad) is all that’s open to same-sex couples in most states.  Young people who are gay or lesbian or questioning their sexual orientation do not need yet another voice telling them that a happy life with a fulfilling relationship is just never in the cards for them.

Selling marriage to a those who are more than a decade away from their potential wedding days has another set of side effects as well.  I would have to imagine that many kids in this class are more likely to apply the messages they’re hearing to the family they currently live in rather than the one they may or may not build someday.  What about the kid whose parents live together but aren’t married, the kid who has same-sex parents, or the one (or ten) whose parents are divorced? A middle school student has absolutely no control over his/her family structure and yet they will be told more than once that their parents are less committed or more likely to cheat on each other.  

The curriculum has this to say about family structure:

“In a familial union, you live in one household, and typically share the same name. Children born to the two of you will be part of your new family.”  

My daughter has friends and relatives whose parents don’t live together and, hell, I don’t have the same last name as her.  What would she think of their families or ours if she were subjected to this program?

Condemning Pre-Marital Sex
After telling young people that marriage is the only morally and socially appropriate relationship, the curriculum argues that a happy marriage is only possible if one avoids all premarital sexual activity. 

As yesterday’s article mentioned, Heritage Keepers compares sex to fire.  The teacher is told to narrate a scene about fire in a fireplace in the present tense to make it seem like the students are there.  She’s told to use “highly evocative” words like “cozy,” “comfy,” “toasty,” “warm,” and “nice.” Students are asked to add to the scene describing the fire and how it makes them feel. The teacher then changes the scene to discuss the possibility of creating a fire in the middle of the living room.  The teacher’s manual explains:

“Although building fire in a room without a fireplace is, of course, a ridiculous idea, the tone of your delivery and the details and explanations you include should treat it as reasonable. Mention sensible-sounding precautions, such as opening the windows for ventilation, building the fire in a trash can….”

Already we can see where they’re going with this, right?  These sensible-sounding precautions are akin to, say, birth control and condoms because, you know, opening the window to contain fire has a similar efficacy rate (98-99 percent) when done correctly. (I don’t actually know much about fire but aren’t you supposed to cut off its oxygen supply not give it more?)

Anyhow, the teacher is supposed to keep this silly story going and begin to tell the tale of what happens when this fire set in the middle of the room escapes from its “insufficient, provisional boundary.”  The curriculum’s authors suggest the teacher uses adjectives like “dangerous,” “painful,” “devastating,” and “scary” as she describes the room and all its contents burning to the ground.

The punch-line of this exercise is simple:

 “Sex is like fire. Inside the appropriate boundary of marriage, sex is a great thing! Outside of marriage, sex can be dangerous!”

This concept of appropriate boundaries is emphasized again and again throughout the curriculum. Students are essentially told that outside of marriage sex can lead to painful STDs, emotional scars, the inability to bond, and, of course, the shame of knowing you did something morally wrong.  Those wedding rings must be made of some powerful stuff though (stronger I’m guessing than my own choice of platinum) because once you slip them on, sex is wonderful and completely worry free. 

My favorite Heritage Keepers’ illustration of why waiting for marriage is so important is when the students are taken on a guided—or two separate—guided journeys of their wedding day. One for the girls and one for the boys.  To set the mood, the boy’s starts like this:

“You are standing in front of everyone looking good in your tuxedo, but wishing your collar was not so tight.”

It continues:

 “The doors swing open and there stands your bride in her white dress, looking more gorgeous than you have ever seen her. Even though every eye in the place is on her she is looking at you. This is the woman you have waited for who has waited for you…This woman loves you and trusts you with all that she is and all that she has. You want to be strong, respectful and courageous for her. With all your heart, you want to protect her, and by waiting you have.”  

Note that his motivation for waiting is to protect her.  You’ll see in her story, that her motivation is very different.  The girl’s story starts with this:

“Everything is just as you have seen it in a million daydreams…The flowers you spent so much time choosing fill the room like soft perfume.”  

Because, of course, all girls spend a lifetime planning their wedding, but I digress. It sounds remarkably similar to the boy’s story but the roles are reversed.  She wants him to protect her and cherish her and, by not making her have sex before this day, he has proved he does. But it gets so much better or at least more ridiculous:

“Finally it’s your matron of honor’s turn to go…it reminds you of her wedding. How strange it felt when she told you, long ago, that she was marrying your first boyfriend.”

When the doors open and she sees her groom, the bride realizes that she can’t even remember her ex-boyfriend’s name and she is pleased because:

“There is no guilt in your past, nothing you did with that ex-boyfriend makes you cringe. You never let yourself forget that the promise of love cannot fill the place of a vow and a ring.”

Putting aside the fact that in this oddly detailed story, you, the bride, can’t remember the name of your best friend’s husband, the message to girls is clear.  You can enjoy your wedding day if, and only if, you’ve never had sex because if you had an ex-boyfriend and you’d done dirty sex things with him well, then obviously you would be standing there in your nice, white, duchess satin dress, turning beet red with embarrassment and cringing as every sordid detail of your past sex life came flooding back in sea of shame and regret.

These were the messages that made me scream the loudest into the void of my sister’s empty hotel room. I had new baby girl.  I was now the mother of a daughter who might—heaven forbid—one day be subjected to a program like this that told her that a “real woman” knows herself, is confident, sends a clear message, and is caring. That clear message that is being alluded to, by the way, is that she will not put out until marriage because while boys will horny boys, it is her job to be the keeper of the purity. 

It’s almost six years later, said baby is sitting next to me (home sick) actually reading this article over my shoulder and she has a little sister who (thankfully) is at daycare right now.  But more importantly, it’s six years later and we have what I had hoped was going to be an administration that was more supportive of my daughters’ futures—one that would not try to promote marriage, perpetuate restrictive gender roles, or suggest that purity was the most important thing my girls could strive for. 

Needless to say, I am very disappointed.

* Note:  All of the quotes from Heritage Keepers come from a review I wrote while at SIECUS.  You can find this review and many others on SIECUS’ Community Action Kit website. 

Analysis Politics

Donald Trump and Mike Pence: The Anti-Immigrant Ticket

Tina Vasquez

“My greatest fear is that this ticket doesn’t seem to realize immigrants are actually an incredible resource that fuels our country," Wendy Feliz of the American Immigration Council told Rewire.

On Friday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, giving legitimacy to concerns a Trump presidency would be anti-choice and decimate LGBTQ rights. As Rewire reported last week, Pence has voted against nondiscrimination efforts, signed a so-called religious freedom bill, opposed marriage equality, and attemptednumerous times—to defund Planned Parenthood, something Trump has promised to do if elected president.

But the two Republicans also have something else in common: They are brazenly anti-immigrant.

Despite a misleading article from the Daily Beast asserting that Pence has had a “love affair with immigration reform” and has “spent his political career decrying anti-immigrant rhetoric,” the governor’s record on immigration tells a different story.

Let’s take a look at Trump’s “xenophobic” and “racist” campaign thus far, and how closely Pence’s voting aligns with that position.

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Donald Trump

For months it seemed, Donald Trump’s talking points in the media rarely drifted away from anti-immigrant rhetoric. During his kickoff speech, he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “killers” and in the months since, has promised to build a 2,000-mile-long wall along the United States-Mexico border to keep “illegals” out, a wall the billionaire has promised that Mexico will pay for.

Despite being called “racist” by members of his own party, Trump’s immigration plan is largely consistent with what many Republicans have called for: a larger border wall, increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, requiring all U.S. companies to use E-Verify to check the immigration status of employees, increasing the use of detention for those who are undocumented and currently residing in the United States, and ending “birthright citizenship,” which would mean the U.S.-born children of undocumented parents would be denied citizenship.

Again, Trump’s proposed immigration policies align with the Republican Party’s, but it is the way that he routinely spreads false, damaging information about undocumented immigrants that is worrisome. Trump has repeatedly said that economically, undocumented immigrants are “killing us by “taking our jobs, taking our manufacturing jobs, taking our money.” 

Market Watch, a publication focusing on financial news, reported that this falsehood is something that a bulk of Trump supporters believe; two-thirds of Trump supporters surveyed in the primaries said they feel immigration is a burden on our country “because ‘they take our jobs, housing and health care.'” This, despite research that says deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently call the United States home would result in a “massive economic hit” for Trump’s home state of New York, which receives $793 million in tax revenue from undocumented immigrants. A recent report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy also found that at the state and local level, undocumented immigrants nationwide collectively pay an estimated $11.6 billion each year in taxes.

Trump has also been accused by Muslim Americans and members of the media of engaging in “reckless, dangerous Islamophobia” at every opportunity, using terrorist attacks to call for a ban on all Muslim immigration, while also using terrorism in a self-aggrandizing manner. In a statement released after the Pulse nightclub shooting, Trump said, “I said this was going to happen.”

These dangerous assertions that all U.S.-based Muslims are secretly harboring terrorists or that undocumented immigrants are killing “thousands of peoplea narrative he continued to push at the Republican National Convention by having the families of three Americans killed by undocumented people speak—can be deadly and inspire hatred and violence. This was made all the more clearer when in August 2015 two white brothers cited Trump when they urinated on and beat a homeless Latino man. According to Huffington Post, the men “alegedly [sic] told police they targeted the man because of his ethnicity and added, ‘Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.’” Trump’s response? He said that his supporters are simply “passionate” people who want America “to be great again.”

Mike Pence

Wendy Feliz, a spokesperson with the American Immigration Council, succinctly summarized Pence’s immigration approach to Rewire, saying on Monday that he “basically falls into a camp of being more restrictive on immigration, someone who looks for more punitive ways to punish immigrants, rather than looking for the positive ways our country can benefit from immigrants.”

After Trump’s announcement that Pence would be his running mate, Immigration Impact, a project of the American Immigration Council, outlined what voters should know about Pence’s immigration record:

Pence’s record shows he used his time in Congress and as the Governor of Indiana to pursue extreme and punitive immigration policies earning him a 100 percent approval rating by the anti-immigration group, Federation for American Immigration Reform.

In 2004 when Pence was a senator, he voted for the “Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments.” The bill failed, but it would have required hospitals to gather and report information on undocumented patients before hospitals could be reimbursed for treating them. Even worse, the bill wouldn’t have required hospitals to provide care to undocumented patients if they could be deported to their country of origin without a “significant chance” of their condition getting worse.

Though it’s true that in 2006 Pence championed comprehensive immigration reform, as the Daily Beast reported, the reform came with two caveats: a tightening of border security and undocumented immigrants would have to “self-deport” and come back as guest workers. While calling for undocumented immigrants to self-deport may seem like the more egregious demand, it’s important to contextualize Pence’s call for an increase in border security.

This tactic of calling for more Border Patrol agents is commonly used by politicians to pacify those opposed to any form of immigration reform. President Obama, who has utilized more border security than any other president, announced deferred action for the undocumented in June 2012, while also promising to increase border security. But in 2006 when Pence was calling for an increase in border security, the border enforcement policy known as “Operation Gatekeeper” was still in full swing. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Operation Gatekeeper “concentrated border agents and resources along populated areas, intentionally forcing undocumented immigrants to extreme environments and natural barriers that the government anticipated would increase the likelihood of injury and death.” Pence called for more of this, although the undocumented population expanded significantly even when border enforcement resources escalated. The long-term results, the ACLU reported, were that migrants’ reliance on smugglers to transport them increased and migrant deaths multiplied.

There are more direct ways Pence has illustrated a xenophobic agenda, including co-sponsoring a congressional bill that would have made English the official language of the United States and as governor, blocking Syrian refugees en route to Indiana, saying he would not accept any more Syrian refugees out of fear they were “terrorists.” The governor also added Indiana to the Texas lawsuit challenging expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). And he praised the inaction by the Supreme Court last month to expand DACA and DAPA, which leaves millions of undocumented immigrants living in fear of deportation.

According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, “when a child who is not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian is apprehended by immigration authorities, the child is transferred to the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Federal law requires that ORR feed, shelter, and provide medical care for unaccompanied children until it is able to release them to safe settings with sponsors (usually family members), while they await immigration proceedings.”

The ORR added that these sponsors “live in many states,” including Indiana, which received 245 unaccompanied minors between January and July 2014. Pence was reportedly unaware that unaccompanied minors were being placed in his state by the federal government, something he said he was made aware of by media reports. These are asylum seeking children, often girls under the age of 10, escaping violence in their countries of origin who arrive at the United States-Mexico border without an adult. Many, including advocacy organizations and the Obama administration, have contended that the circumstances surrounding unaccompanied minors is not simply an immigration issue, but a humanitarian crisis. Not Pence. In a letter to President Obama, the Indiana governor wrote:

While we feel deep compassion for these children, our country must secure its borders and provide for a legal and orderly immigration process …. Failure to expedite the return of unaccompanied children thwarts the rule of law and will only continue to send a distorted message that illegally crossing into America is without consequence.

In the four days since Pence was named Trump’s running mate, he’s also taken a much harsher stance on Muslim immigration. Back in December when Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” Pence tweeted that banning Muslims from entering the United States was “offensive and unconstitutional.” However, on Friday when Pence was officially named Trump’s VP pick, he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “I am very supportive of Donald Trump’s call to temporarily suspend immigration from countries where terrorist influence and impact represents a threat to the United States.”

Wendy Feliz of the American Immigration Council told Rewire that while Pence’s rhetoric may not be as inflammatory as Trump’s, it’s important to look at his record in relation to Trump’s to get a better understanding of what the Republican ticket intends to focus on moving into a possible presidency. Immigration, she said, is one of the most pressing issues of our time and has become a primary focus of the election.

“In a few days, we’ll have a better sense of the particular policies the Republican ticket will be pursuing on immigration. It all appears to point to more of the same, which is punitive, the punishing of immigrants,” Feliz said. “My greatest fear is that this ticket doesn’t seem to realize immigrants are actually an incredible resource that fuels our country. I don’t think Trump and Pence is a ticket that values that. An administration that doesn’t value immigrants, that doesn’t value what’s fueled our country for the past several hundred years, hurts all of us. Not just immigrants themselves, but every single American.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Trump Selects Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to Join His Ticket

Ally Boguhn

And in other news, Donald Trump suggested that he can relate to Black people who are discriminated against because the system has been rigged against him, too. But he stopped short of saying he understood the experiences of Black Americans.

Donald Trump announced this week that he had selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) to join him as his vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket, and earlier in the week, the presumptive presidential nominee suggested to Fox News that he could relate to Black Americans because the “system is rigged” against him too.

Pence Selected to Join the GOP Ticket 

After weeks of speculation over who the presumptive nominee would chose as his vice presidential candidate, Trump announced Friday that he had chosen Pence.

“I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate,” Trump tweeted Friday morning, adding that he will make the official announcement on Saturday during a news conference.

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The presumptive Republican nominee was originally slated to host the news conference Friday, but postponed in response to Thursday’s terrorist attack in Nice, France. As late as Thursday evening, Trump told Fox News that he had not made a final decision on who would join his ticket—even as news reports came in that he had already selected Pence for the position.

As Rewire Editor in Chief Jodi Jacobson explained in a Thursday commentary, Pence “has problems with the truth, isn’t inclined to rely on facts, has little to no concern for the health and welfare of the poorest, doesn’t understand health care, and bases his decisions on discriminatory beliefs.” Jacobson further explained: 

He has, for example, eagerly signed laws aimed at criminalizing abortion, forcing women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds, banning coverage for abortion care in private insurance plans, and forcing doctors performing abortions to seek admitting privileges at hospitals (a requirement the Supreme Court recently struck down as medically unnecessary in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case). He signed a ‘religious freedom’ law that would have legalized discrimination against LGBTQ persons and only ‘amended’ it after a national outcry. Because Pence has guided public health policy based on his ‘conservative values,’ rather than on evidence and best practices in public health, he presided over one of the fastest growing outbreaks of HIV infection in rural areas in the United States.

Trump Suggests He Can Relate to Black Americans Because “Even Against Me the System Is Rigged”

Trump suggested to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that he could relate to the discrimination Black Americans face since “the system [was] rigged” against him when he began his run for president.

When asked during a Tuesday appearance on The O’Reilly Factor what he would say to those “who believe that the system is biased against them” because they are Black, Trump leaped to highlight what he deemed to be discrimination he had faced. “I have been saying even against me the system is rigged. When I ran … for president, I mean, I could see what was going on with the system, and the system is rigged,” Trump responded.

“What I’m saying [is] they are not necessarily wrong,” Trump went on. “I mean, there are certain people where unfortunately that comes into play,” he said, concluding that he could “relate it, really, very much to myself.”

When O’Reilly asked Trump to specify whether he truly understood the “experience” of Black Americans, Trump said that he couldn’t, necessarily. 

“I would like to say yes, but you really can’t unless you are African American,” said Trump. “I would like to say yes, however.”

Trump has consistently struggled to connect with Black voters during his 2016 presidential run. Despite claiming to have “a great relationship with the blacks,” the presumptive Republican nominee has come under intense scrutiny for using inflammatory rhetoric and initially failing to condemn white supremacists who offered him their support.

According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll released Tuesday, Trump is polling at 0 percent among Black voters in the key swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

What Else We’re Reading

Newt Gingrich, who was one of Trump’s finalists for the vice presidential spot, reacted to the terrorist attack in Nice, France, by calling for all those in the United States with a “Muslim background” to face a test to determine if they “believe in sharia” and should be deported.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton threw her support behind a public option for health insurance.

Bloomberg Politics’ Greg Stohr reports that election-related cases—including those involving voter-identification requirements and Ohio’s early-voting period—are moving toward the Supreme Court, where they are “risking deadlocks.”

According to a Reuters review of GOP-backed changes to North Carolina’s voting rules, “as many as 29,000 votes might not be counted in this year’s Nov. 8 presidential election if a federal appeals court upholds” a 2013 law that bans voters from casting ballots outside of their assigned precincts.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the election goals and strategies of anti-choice organization Susan B. Anthony List, explaining that the organization plans to work to ensure that policy goals such as a 20-week abortion ban and defunding Planned Parenthood “are the key issues that it will use to rally support for its congressional and White House candidates this fall, following recent setbacks in the courts.”

Multiple “dark money” nonprofits once connected to the Koch brothers’ network were fined by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) this week after hiding funding sources for 2010 political ads. They will now be required to “amend past FEC filings to disclose who provided their funding,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 

Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum and Ben Weyl explain how Trump’s budget would end up “making the deficit great again.”

“The 2016 Democratic platform has the strongest language on voting rights in the party’s history,” according to the Nation’s Ari Berman.