Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.
In December 2011, during the run up to the 2012 Presidential Elections, a social media storm erupted over a 30 second ad produced by Rick Perry for President. In the ad, ‘Strong’, Perry states ‘There’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school’, a statement which not only managed to rake in over 800,000 dislikes on YouTube (topped solely by Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’), but is also fundamentally wrong.
Perry is obviously frustrated by the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in December 2010, the policy which banned openly gay and lesbian Americans from fighting for their country, permitting only those who fought in the closet. Politically for Perry, it might have seemed beneficial to condemn homosexuality since a poll from 2011 showed 57% of Conservative Republicans supported the policy, who conveniently make up the majority of his support base.
The repeal also received criticism from America’s two largest churches The Southern Baptist Convention and the Catholic Church, who pleaded with Congress to stop Obama’s efforts to repeal the act, claiming allowing openly gay men and women into the forces would breach other soldier’s freedom of religion guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. Although by using the Constitution to justify their bigotry, the Baptists and Catholics evidently ignored the promises of the 14th Amendment, which states ‘Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law’, although the primary aim of this was to protect the newly freed Slaves in the South from discrimination, it guarantees liberty to all citizens of America, one such liberty being the right to be of a different sexuality. The freedom to be gay is a basic human right in any nation which labels itself free.
Perry continues ‘I promise to end Obama’s War on Religion and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage, faith made America strong, it can make her strong again’. Regardless of the fact George Washington himself agreed America wasn’t in any way, a Christian nation in the Treaty of Tripoli 1797, on which historian John Fea comically notes ‘If the Treaty of Tripoli is correct…someone obviously forgot to tell the American people’, one of America’s founding principles is the idea of separation of Church and State, a separation which Perry clearly has little concern for. Those who believe Obama has declared a ‘War on Religion’ use his support of gay marriage, abortion rights and free birth control to prove their ‘point’, although these legislation are the reinforcements in helping to protect the American Dream, supporting the liberty and freedoms of all people, not just those who conform to strict, religious conservatism in the South and the Heartland. Conservative attacks on liberal politicians is simply how the right operate, while glossing over similar statements made by their own, for example, Republican Congressman Charlie Dent declared his support for gay rights; ‘I value personal freedom and a more limited role for Government in our lives’, which was one of the foundations of the Republican party as a whole. It seems ‘Big’ Government intervention is only an issue when gays are being defended, as opposed to the numerous attempts by George W. Bush and the Republicans to impose a federal (nationwide!) ban and even a constitutional amendment against their right to love and marry.
The Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the establishment of a religion by congress is evidently, to many Republicans at least, as real as the Santa Claus. Still, it is ignored, similarly with American history, in his wording, Perry links the banning of prayer in schools to Obama, the conservatives ultimate scapegoat for all of America’s problems. The ban was enforced by the Supreme Court in 1962 and it is highly unlikely that the one year old Obama influenced the move. Furthermore, Perry’s rhetoric in the ad, was a united stance in 2012 Republican candidate selection process, because it simply worked, evident with a shameful moment in Florida, when a serving soldier was booed by the audience to the silence of all of the candidates. Perhaps Obama’s response sums up Perry’s silence best when he said ‘You want to be commander-in-chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient’. A nation founded upon the creed that all men are created equal must not only protect freedom of religion, but protection against unlawful acts and bills. For after all, Jesus himself never condemned homosexuality, surely then, Rick Perry is a misinformed product of the Religious Right in America, whose influence is slowly declining into the history books of all of those who stood on the wrong side of history.
For now though, although the Supreme Court is on course to make equality a reality for millions of Homosexuals, a new battle rages over amnesty for illegals, it’s unlikely that we’ve heard the last from Rick Perry.
Photo courtesy of Jim Young http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/08/obama-texas-democrats-money.html