9 Ways to Halt the Right Wing Culture Wars and Bring Sanity to Sexual Policy
Continued from previous page
Proposal #2: End Abstinence Policies
The Bush administration’s abstinence-only crusade is a failure. Mounting research data indicates an upswing in pregnancy among teen girls, including Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, and that the abstinence-only policy must be replaced. Abstinence-only education contributes to unwanted pregnancies, oftentimes leading to unwanted abortions. According to the ACLU, the federal government has spent more than $700 million since 1997 on abstinence-only programs and, last year, allocated approximately $170 million to such programs.
Obama once insisted: “As President, I will improve access to affordable health care and work to ensure that our teens are getting the information and services they need to stay safe and healthy.” Democrats need to take Obama at his word and quickly move to end funding for existing abstinence-only programs and implement a more humane, sex-positive and age- appropriate educational programs.
In addition, humane sex education is only half the challenge in addressing the needs of teens and young people regarding their sexual health. The monies that have been wasted on abstinence-only programs should be more wisely spent on providing health care screenings and, where appropriate, birth control materials. A young person needs to be supported in terms of both her/his mind and body for an effective sex education program to work.
Proposal #3: Remove Religion from the Classroom
U.S. District Judge John Jones ruled in December 2005 that the board of Dover, PA, school district had violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by requiring biology teachers to include “intelligent design” in their curriculum. In a trial recalling the legendary 1925 Scopes monkey trial, the judge found that such intellectual hokum was nothing more than a disguised form of creationism smuggled into the classroom under a different name.
For the last half-century, Americans have attempted to restrict religious practice in public life, especially prayer in school. In 1962, Engel v. Vitale ended state-mandated, teacher-led prayer; the following years, Abington Township v. Schemmp extended Engel. The 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman called for the strict separation of church and state. And the 1985 Wallace v. Jaffree decision ended the moment of prayer in the classroom. While believes of all stripes need to have their First Amedment rights protected, even in voluntary group meeting in schools, religion needs to removed from the classroom.
The tyranny of religion is the ignorance it fosters. As evident in the Dover decision and other battles over evolution, this ignoce has found expression and public-policy legitimacy in the many false Bush-administration claims like those that linked abortion to breast cancer and advised that condoms do not prevent conception or transmission of sexual diseases. The administration of lies must be thoroughly repudiated and replaced.
Proposal #4: Accept Civil Unions & Marriage among Same-Sex Couples
President-elect Obama has come out in favor of civil unions and in opposition to marriage among same-sex couples. The recent electoral decisions banning gay marriage in Arizona, California and Florida reflect a deep fear among many Americas about the meaning of marriage, personal intimacy, in a rapidly changing world.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, twenty-six additional states that have constitutionally restricted marriage to one man and one woman. These states are: Alabama (2006), Alaska (1998), Arkansas (2004), Colorado, Georgia (2004), Kansas (2005), Idaho (2006), Kentucky (2004), Louisiana (2004), Michigan (2004), Mississippi (2004), Missouri (2004), Montana (2004), Nebraska (2000), Nevada (2002), North Dakota (2004), Ohio 2004), Oklahoma (2004), Oregon (2004), South Carolina (2006), South Dakota (2006), Tennessee (2006), Texas (2005), Utah (2004), Virginia (2006) and Wisconsin (2006).
In addition, fifteen states have passed laws, but not constitutional amendments, restricting marriage to one man and one woman. These include Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.