Brown win a setback for gay activists, liberal causes
WASHINGTON (BP)--When Massachusetts citizens stunned the political world by electing Republican Scott Brown Tuesday, they not only delivered a significant blow to the current health care bill but they also dealt a setback to a host of causes and bills supported by homosexual and abortion rights groups.
Brown, who upset Democrat Martha Coakley by a margin of 52-47 percent, isn't a social conservative on every issue, but he's not a social liberal either. Backed by Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Brown is pro-choice but sides with pro-lifers on a host of issues, including supporting parental notification laws and opposing partial-birth abortion, taxpayer funding of abortion and the so-called Freedom of Choice Act. Coakley, also pro-choice, takes the opposite stance on those specific issues and was endorsed by the major pro-choice groups.
The difference between Brown and Coakley is even greater on homosexual issues. Brown opposes "gay marriage" and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and supports the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Coakley, an outspoken supporter of "gay marriage," again took the opposite stance on those issues.
As Massachusetts attorney general, Coakley's office filed a federal lawsuit last year seeking to overturn much of the Defense of Marriage Act and force the federal government to recognize "gay marriages" from Massachusetts. Brown, by contrast, as a state senator voted for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man, one woman. The amendment was defeated. Brown does support same-sex civil unions.
The National Organization for Marriage -- a leading opponent of "gay marriage" -- spent $50,000 in the final days in automated phone calls to 800,000 households to elect Brown.
"Scott Brown not only voted against our community, but he did so unequivocally, proudly and loudly," Arline Isaacson, chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus, told Keen News Service. "Brown voted at least 20 times against marriage equality, over and over again."
Brian Brown, the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, saw it much differently, calling the election "a victory for marriage."
"The support of the people of Massachusetts for traditional marriage was clearly a factor in this election as marriage supporters turned out to elect Scott Brown to the United States Senate," Brian Brown said in a statement.
Of course, Scott Brown will be replacing former Sen. Edward Kennedy, a champion of abortion rights and homosexual issues who personally made phone calls to state legislators in 2007 to help defeat a Massachusetts marriage amendment.
Coakley tried unsuccessfully to make Brown out to be a radical right-winger.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called Brown's victory "the biggest [political] upset I can think of in my lifetime," with the only possible exception, he said, being the GOP winning the House in 1994.
Every adjective in the book -- "tsunami," "tidal wave," "earthquake" -- could be used to describe Brown's win, Land said.
"This would be like the Democrats winning Orrin Hatch's seat in Utah. This is the most Democratic state in the union. We're talking about Edward Kennedy's old seat," Land said.
Health care was at the heart of the Massachusetts campaign, with Coakley promising to vote for the current health care bill and Brown pledging to oppose it. Brown repeatedly said the bill would lead to higher taxes, and his theme stuck. Once he is sworn in, Democrats will have 59 seats in their caucus, preventing them from breaking filibusters -- 60 votes is required -- without GOP support. No Senate Republican backs the current bill.
"It is a three-alarm wake-up call to the Democratic leadership in the Senate, House and the White House," Land said. "... This was first and foremost about the fact that, nationwide, by an almost 2-to-1 margin Americans do not want the health care reform that is being rammed down their throat by the Democratic leadership in the Congress and the White House. If they refuse to heed this call and try to continue to jam this down the throat of the American people, they're going to provoke a catastrophe on steroids for their electoral prospects in November. Thank God for representative government."
Even though Land opposes the current health care bill, he said he remains in support of reforming health care. He suggests that the Democrats "start over and do it piece by piece and do it transparently." He said three initial steps would lower health care prices: 1) passing tort reform, 2) applying the Commerce Clause to health insurance to force competition between companies and 3) giving a tax credit of about $5,000 to every family that doesn't get insurance through an employer and expanding medical savings accounts. Congress could then tackle problems with catastrophic health insurance and the uninsured, he said.
"I don't know of any American who is opposed to all health care reform," Land said. "If you do those things -- and they could be done in a bipartisan way -- you would alleviate many of the most pressing problems that you face. You take it a piece at a time.... That's the direction that they should go."
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.