Crossposted on my blog Standing at the Intersection of Church and State as “Widening one pothole in the intersection to fill another: Religious conservatism and its practical effects.” with edits to fix formatting issues.
With all of the news regarding George Rekers and what he did or did not do with his rentboy, I got to thinking about how popular religious, conservative figures actually end up contributing to the social maladies that they are supposed to be fighting. I especially thought about it in relation to several prominent religious conservative politicians in my home state of Minnesota. Current Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, US Representative Michelle Bachmann, and Republican Gubernatorial candidate/Current State Representative Tom Emmer all have expressed anti-gay attitudes in their legislative habits. How do their actions contribute to social maladies like homelessness, drug abuse, and sex-work trafficking?
I was originally going to write a headline for this article that read “Pawlenty, Bachmann, and Emmer linked to sex trade and drug dealing in Loring Park”, but I thought better of it. While the headline would be attention-grabbing, I don't have the direct evidence to back it up.
What I do have is circumstantial at best, but I think it is compelling. My case after the jump.
- Fact: Governor Tim Pawlenty has vetoed any pro-Gay legislation when it has come up
Pawlenty has vetoed a number of LGBT-rights bills in his career as governor. He vetoed a bill to beef up anti-bullying efforts in schools; legislation that would give control to local municipalities in deciding who could receive domestic partner benefits (twice vetoed); and a bill would have expanded current laws that allow for the use of sick time to care for spouses and dependent children including same-sex couples.
- Fact: Due to his refusal to raise taxes, he has cut various educational, health and government assistance programs. While the legislature has proposed many versions of the budget, Mr. Pawlenty has rejected them and sent them back because they did not include cuts he favored. According to Minnesota Senator Ken Kelash, the delay in approving a budget has resulted in the legislature being required to make even more cuts because a Federal grant will not arrive in time to affect the budget shortfall.
- Pawlenty, Bachmann and Emmer have all campaigned to remove various LGBT rights or block granting them. In 2003 and 2006, Michelle Bachmann introduced an anti-gay marriage amendment (which failed both times) and has made multiple antigay statements, implying that LGBT people are child molesters and are sexually dysfunctional.
- Pawlenty and Bachmann are both self-identified conservative, evangelical Christians. While I have not seen anything from Emmer identifying his beliefs, his campaign certainly seems in line with Pawlenty's and Bachmann's publicly expressed opinions.
- A 20-40% of the homeless youth in America are homeless due to anti-gay attitudes in their families. Some ran away; others were kicked out. Conservative, evangelical Christians often kick their children out when they find out that they are gay, and express other anti-gay attitudes as well. These attitudes are given credence by the various statments from Mr. Pawlenty, Ms. Bachmann, and Mr. Emmer.
- Because these young people are kicked out of their homes due to conservative attitudes, and no safety net due to the budget cuts, they struggle to provide for basic needs–food, shelter. Education falls to the wayside and they often drop out of school, further complicating the issue. Now they have no skills to get better paying jobs and work their way up.
- They turn to sex work and drug dealing because those “jobs” don't require an education, and are often lucrative for short periods.
In conclusion, by publicly making anti-gay statements, taking anti-gay political actions, and cutting the various saftey net programs, Minnesota's GOP stars are contributing to the decline of society.