5 Signs the Christian Right Still Wields Too Much Power in America
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Romney, who named Robert Bork to head his legal advisory team, would almost certainly nominate Supreme Court justices who would continue to chip away at a woman’s right to a legal abortion if not overturn Roe v. Wade altogether -- another of Romney’s stated goals. That would throw the question of legal access to abortion to the states, where a number of laws criminalizing abortion have already been passed contingent on Roe falling. Does Kazin really believe that if the 2012 elections bring us a Republican president and Republican congressional majorities, the Republican base will not demand -- and get -- further restrictions on women’s access to abortion and family planning?
5. Massive Resistance to LGBT Equality
Kazin is correct that the Religious Right is losing the public opinion battle when it comes to support for equality for LGBT Americans, where progress has been extraordinary. The hard-fought end to the ban on military service is a sign that laws are beginning to catch up with public opinion.
But just because the Religious Right is a minority does not make it a powerless one. They and their allies in Congress have managed to prevent passage of federal anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in spite of overwhelming public support for such measures. And they have managed to pass dozens of state-level constitutional amendments denying same-sex couples the right to marry – many of those provisions also preventing even the most basic legal recognition and protection for gay couples and their families. In 2010, Maine voters overturned an equality law after opponents forced it onto the ballot. New Yorkers won marriage equality last year (barely), but residents in Maryland and New Jersey did not. There will be several tests in legislatures and the ballot box, both pro and con, in 2012; we may see additional victories, but they are far from assured.
It is good news that support for equality is high among younger Americans, so time seems to be on our side when it comes to LGBT equality, but to cite an economic aphorism, “in the long run we’re all dead.” Many individuals and families have been harmed and will continue to be harmed by anti-equality campaigns waged by the Religious Right and its allies in the Catholic and Mormon hierarchies.
Progress is not linear or irreversible. Reconstruction gave way to Jim Crow. Kazin looks at statistics about young people’s attitudes, and at the growing group of Americans who claim no religious affiliation, and declares “the end of the Christian Right.” But the increasing number of secular-minded Americans does not prevent the well-organized forces of the Religious Right from continuing to impact public policy, especially in areas of the country where they are strongest. This political and cultural movement will not be sinking beneath the horizon anytime soon.