Analysis Politics

Texas Republicans’ New Anti-Gay, Anti-Immigrant, Anti-Abortion Platform

Andrea Grimes

The 2014 Texas GOP platform endorses "reparative therapy" for gay and lesbian Texans, removes a call for new pathways to citizenship, and thanks lawmakers for "pro-life" legislation.

Texas Republicans met in Fort Worth last week for their biannual convention, approving a 2014 platform that moves the party further rightward. According to the platform’s draft language, delegates returned to a hardline anti-immigrant stance that rescinds a 2012 “Texas Solution” that had included a guest worker program, and endorsed “reparative” therapy for people “seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle.” The platform draft also includes a “thank you” to Texas legislators for “passing strong women’s health and pro-life legislation,” a reference to the state’s new omnibus anti-abortion bill that in September is expected to shutter all but six of Texas’ legal abortion facilities.

Critics of the new platform worry that it moves the Texas Republican Party not only rightward but backward, and away from the interests of groups that the party will need on its side in the coming years as Texas becomes more and more racially and culturally diverse, and as more and more Texans, especially young people, come to support same-sex marriage.

A representative for Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy told TWC Austin News that the 2014 platform “will absolutely convince our Hispanic voters that we’re the party that wants to deport their mothers and their grandmothers.” And after the Republican delegates solidified language endorsing “reparative therapy,” a representative for the gay conservative organization Metroplex Republicans said that his group was “here today to try to pull the party into the future,” to no avail. 

After the party delegates officially voted to rescind their “Texas Solution” to immigration reform in favor of a more militarized, Tea Party-style take on border security, one supporter cheered: “We won. They lost.”

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That adversarial, us-versus-them mentality seems to pervade the entirety of the party’s 2014 platform, a document unabashed in its disdain for immigrants and gay and lesbian Texans, which has no room for advocates of increased gun regulation and which supports “a women’s [sic] right to choose” only those options which may be left after the wholesale “reversal of Roe v. Wade.”

The document’s message is clear: You’re either for the Texas Republican Party, or you’re against the Texas Republican Party. You win, or you lose. It is, in many ways, the perfect platform for a party that has nominated Tea Party darling state Sen. Dan Patrick as its candidate for Lt. Governor and Ted Nugent’s buddy, attorney general Greg Abbott, as its gubernatorial candidate.

Issue-by-issue, the platform leaves little room for debate or nuance on issues ranging from reproductive rights to economic policy to education.

On abortion: Texas Republicans “are resolute in our support of the reversal of Roe v. Wade,” and they call for complete fetal “personhood,” detailing steps toward their “final goal of total constitutional rights for the unborn child.” This line of legal thinking, which situates a fetus as a wholly separate entity from a pregnant person, can provide the “basis for arresting women, locking them up, and forcing them to submit to medical interventions, including surgery,” according to a 2013 study by National Advocates for Pregnant Women, published in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.

On foster care: The platform is silent on the state’s tragically underfunded child welfare system, but for a call to end “bureaucratic prohibitions on corporal discipline” in foster homes. This despite the fact that, according to a Texas Observer investigation, “more than one in 20 children killed by abuse or neglect in Texas in the past five years died while in state custody.” In the 2012 fiscal year, 14 children died of abuse or neglect while in state custody—yet the Texas Republican Party believes foster parents are too limited in their legal ability to punish their wards with physical pain.

On LGBTQ rights: Gay Republicans won a small victory in this year’s platform, finally convincing their party to scratch decades-old language stating that “practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit.” But the 2014 platform replaces that language with equally discriminatory and damaging mandates: “Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples.” The 2014 platform also seeks to deny the ability of same-sex couples to adopt foster children, and recognizes “the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking to escape from the homosexual lifestyle.”

On climate change: The platform situates climate change not as a demonstrable reality—according to 97 percent of climate scientists—but as a vast liberal conspiracy, calling it a “political agenda which attempts to control every aspect of our lives.”

On education: The 2014 platform calls for “reducing taxpayer funding to all levels of education institutions” and makes clear its opposition to “national or international core curricula” like Common Core or CSCOPE. It also flip-flopped from its 2012 position opposing “the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs,” instead encouraging “the teaching of critical thinking skills, including logic, rhetoric and analytical sciences starting at an early age,” or at least the ones that don’t “have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

On the federal government: Texas Republicans would like to see state senators elected not by Texas voters but by the state legislature, the Federal Reserve abolished, and the repeal of the federal hate-crimes law.

On the workplace: While the 2014 platform, like its precursors, calls for a total repeal of federal minimum wage laws and urges the state legislature to “resist making Workers’ Compensation mandatory for all Texas employers,” it’s notably silent on the issue of equal pay, despite the fact that the GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott has, like Gov. Rick Perry, strongly opposed new legislation that would make it easier for Texans to bring suit against employers they say engage in gender-based pay discrimination.

On race: The Texas Republican Party opposes “any form of reparation,” as well as affirmative action, which it says “reintroduces race as a divisive force in American life.”

On immigration: Echoing Lt. Governor nominee Dan Patrick’s preferred “illegal invasion” language, and tying in with gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott’s perspective that Texas’ border region with Mexico is a “third world,” the 2014 GOP platform emphasizes that “the U.S. Border must be secured immediately!” It calls for Congress to develop a visa program that “does not provide amnesty, does not cause mass deportation and does not provide a pathway to citizenship but does not preclude existing pathways.” Visa applicants would also be required waive their rights to “apply for financial assistance from public entitlement programs.”

On international law: Just in case the federal government or the state legislature decides to throw out the constitution and/or the entirety of the American legal system: “We also urge the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress to enact legislation prohibiting any judicial jurisdiction from allowing any substitute or parallel system of Law, specifically foreign Law (including Sharia Law), which is not in accordance with the U.S. or Texas Constitutions.”

On Benghazi: Because of course: “We call for Congress to act on the Benghazi cover up and the failure to protect American Citizens including U.S. military personnel by the Obama Administration.”

The platform is not officially binding, but acts as a roadmap for Republican leaders to follow over the next two years. And while the platform covers a wide range of issues, it situates one in particular as taking precedence over all others: legislation aimed at the further deregulation of guns and gun ownership, according to a draft resolution “in support of prioritizing constitutional carry legislation” necessary to “remove restrictions on Texans’ right to own and bear arms.”

If Texas Republicans fare well at the polls this November, this is a roadmap that could make for one heck of a well-armed journey.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Republican National Convention Edition

Ally Boguhn

The Trump family's RNC claims about crime and the presidential candidate's record on gender equality have kept fact-checkers busy.

Republicans came together in Cleveland this week to nominate Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC), generating days of cringe-inducing falsehoods and misleading statements on crime, the nominee’s positions on gender equality, and LGBTQ people.

Trump’s Acceptance Speech Blasted for Making False Claims on Crime

Trump accepted the Republican nomination in a Thursday night speech at the RNC that drew harsh criticism for many of its misleading and outright false talking points.

Numerous fact-checkers took Trump to task, calling out many of his claims for being “wrong,” and “inflated or misleading.”

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 Among the most hotly contested of Trump’s claims was the assertion that crime has exploded across the country.

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” Trump claimed, according to his prepared remarks, which were leaked ahead of his address. “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.”

Crime rates overall have been steadily declining for years.

“In 2015, there was an uptick in homicides in 36 of the 50 largest cities compared to the previous years. The rate did, indeed, increase nearly 17 percent, and it was the worst annual change since 1990. The homicide rate was up 54.3 percent in Washington, and 58.5 percent in Baltimore,” explained Washington Post fact checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. “But in the first months of 2016, homicide trends were about evenly split in the major cities. Out of 63 agencies reporting to the Major Cities Chiefs Association, 32 cities saw a decrease in homicides in first quarter 2016 and 31 saw an increase.”

Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, said in a statement posted to the organization’s website that 2016 statistics aren’t sufficient in declaring crime rate trends. 

“Overall, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-inducing soundbites are counterproductive, and distract from nuanced, data-driven, and solution-oriented conversations on how to build a smarter criminal justice system in America,” Grawert said. “It’s true that some cities saw an increase in murder rates last year, and that can’t be ignored, but it’s too early to say if that’s part of a national trend.” 

When Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, was confronted with the common Republican falsehoods on crime during a Thursday interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he claimed that the FBI’s statistics were not to be trusted given that the organization recently advised against charges in connection with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.

“According to FBI statistics, crime rates have been going down for decades,” Tapper told Manafort. “How can Republicans make the argument that it’s somehow more dangerous today when the facts don’t back that up?”

“People don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods,” said Manafort, going on to claim that “the FBI is certainly suspect these days after what they did with Hillary Clinton.”

There was at least one notable figure who wholeheartedly embraced Trump’s fearmongering: former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. “Great Trump Speech,” tweeted Duke on Thursday evening. “Couldn’t have said it better!”

Ben Carson Claims Transgender People Are Proof of “How Absurd We Have Become”

Former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson criticized the existence of transgender people while speaking at the Florida delegation breakfast on Tuesday in Cleveland.  

“You know, we look at this whole transgender thing, I’ve got to tell you: For thousands of years, mankind has known what a man is and what a woman is. And now, all of a sudden we don’t know anymore,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon. “Now, is that the height of absurdity? Because today you feel like a woman, even though everything about you genetically says that you’re a man or vice versa?”

“Wouldn’t that be the same as if you woke up tomorrow morning after seeing a movie about Afghanistan or reading some books and said, ‘You know what? I’m Afghanistan. Look, I know I don’t look that way. My ancestors came from Sweden, or something, I don’t know. But I really am. And if you say I’m not, you’re a racist,’” Carson said. “This is how absurd we have become.”

When confronted with his comments during an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric, Carson doubled down on his claims.“There are biological markers that tell us whether we are a male or a female,” said Carson. “And just because you wake up one day and you say, ‘I think I’m the other one,’ that doesn’t change it. Just, a leopard can’t change its spots.”

“It’s not as if they woke up one day and decided, ‘I’m going to be a male or I’m going to be a female,’” Couric countered, pointing out that transgender people do not suddenly choose to change their gender identities on a whim.

Carson made several similar comments last year while on the campaign trail.

In December, Carson criticized the suggested that allowing transgender people into the military amounted to using the armed services “as a laboratory for social experimentation.”

Carson once suggested that allowing transgender people to use the restroom that aligned with their gender identity amounted to granting them “extra rights.”

Ivanka Trump Claims Her Father Supports Equal Pay, Access to Child Care

Ivanka Trump, the nominee’s daughter, made a pitch during her speech Thursday night at the RNC for why women voters should support her father.

“There have always been men of all background and ethnicities on my father’s job sites. And long before it was commonplace, you also saw women,” Ivanka Trump said. “At my father’s company, there are more female than male executives. Women are paid equally for the work that we do and when a woman becomes a mother, she is supported, not shut out.” 

“As president, my father will change the labor laws that were put into place at a time when women were not a significant portion of the workforce. And he will focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all,” she continued before pivoting to address the gender wage gap. 

“Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties; they should be the norm. Politicians talk about wage equality, but my father has made it a practice at his company throughout his entire career.”

However, Trump’s stated positions on the gender wage gap, pregnancy and mothers in the workplace, and child care don’t quite add up to the picture the Trumps tried to paint at the RNC.

In 2004, Trump called pregnancy an “inconvenience” for employers. When a lawyer asked for a break during a deposition in 2011 to pump breast milk, Trump reportedly called her “disgusting.”

According to a June analysis conducted by the Boston Globe, the Trump campaign found that men who worked on Trump’s campaign “made nearly $6,100, or about 35 percent more [than women during the April payroll]. The disparity is slightly greater than the gender pay gap nationally.”

A former organizer for Trump also filed a discrimination complaint in January, alleging that she was paid less than her male counterparts.

When Trump was questioned about equal pay during a campaign stop last October, he did not outline his support for policies to address the issue. Instead, Trump suggested that, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Though he had previously stated that men and women who do the same job should be paid the same during an August 2015 interview on MSNBC, he also cautioned that determining whether people were doing the same jobs was “tricky.”

Trump has been all but completely silent on child care so far on the campaign trail. In contrast, Clinton released an agenda in May to address the soaring costs of child care in the United States.

Ivanka’s claims were not the only attempt that night by Trump’s inner circle to explain why women voters should turn to the Republican ticket. During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Manafort said that women would vote for the Republican nominee because they “can’t afford their lives anymore.”

“Many women in this country feel they can’t afford their lives, their husbands can’t afford to be paying for the family bills,” claimed Manafort. “Hillary Clinton is guilty of being part of the establishment that created that problem. They’re going to hear the message. And as they hear the message, that’s how we are going to appeal to them.”

What Else We’re Reading

Vox’s Dara Lind explained how “Trump’s RNC speech turned his white supporters’ fear into a weapon.”

Now that Mike Pence is the Republican nominee for vice president, Indiana Republicans have faced “an intense, chaotic, awkward week of brazen lobbying at the breakfast buffet, in the hallways and on the elevators” at the convention as they grapple with who will run to replace the state’s governor, according to the New York Times.

“This is a party and a power structure that feels threatened with extinction, willing to do anything for survival,” wrote Rebecca Traister on Trump and the RNC for New York Magazine. “They may not love Trump, but he is leading them precisely because he embodies their grotesque dreams of the restoration of white, patriarchal power.”

Though Trump spent much of the primary season denouncing big money in politics, while at the RNC, he courted billionaires in hopes of having them donate to supporting super PACs.

Michael Kranish reported for the Washington Post that of the 2,472 delegates at the RNC, it is estimated that only 18 were Black.

Cosmopolitan highlighted nine of the most sexist things that could be found at the convention.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) asked, “Where are these contributions that have been made” by people of color to civilization?