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VIEWPOINTS Nothing new in GOP's platform
by Rev. Irene Monroe
2012-08-29

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The GOP's anti-abortion platform hasn't changed—it is identical to that of its 2008 platform, allowing abortions only in cases of rape and incest.

The GOP's anti-gay platform also hasn't changed—it is identical to that of its platform, allowing marriage only between a man and a woman.

The Grand Old Party's future, which includes younger generation of social conservative and LGBTQ voices, depends on its ability to have open discussions about abortion, reproductive coercion and gay rights.

Yet no Log Cabin Republican is among the GOP's list of invited speakers at the convention.

As a matter of fact, "the Log Cabin Republicans may be glad to get a sentence in the Republican platform suggesting that all Americans be treated with respect and dignity, but that's all they're getting. The rest of the document will be an homage to how to respectfully tell the LGBT community that they don't have true American values and need to just shut up already," Hunter of the Daily Kos ( hunter.dailykos.com ) wrote.

Clearly, the GOP is also signaling that it neither wants nor cares about the safety and full rights and protections of its citizens—especially their female, LGBTQ Republicans and Republican families.

In case I wasn't paying attention, the GOP hit me with a bucket of cold water in the recent incident with U.S. Republican Missouri Rep. Todd Akin. Akin's remark about rape—made on a St. Louis television station—stated a bogus, magical biological defense mechanism that highlighted not only insensitivity but also pure ignorance.

"It seems to be, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, it's really rare," Akin said. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."

Akin apparently also has a rape hierarchy—classifying some rapes as "legitimate" and some as "illegitimate."

If the GOP had hoped to avoid controversy before the national convention, it has failed. If it had hoped to woo independent heterosexual women voters, an important constituency the Romney-Ryan team hopes to win, it has failed there, too.

Moderate Republican and independent women voters have long been leery of the party's insensitivity to their issues, especially the issue of abortions justified in cases of rape.

The GOP platform upholds an oppressive stance on abortion, one, that in my opinion, could be loosely defined as "reproductive coercion" which is a form of sexual violence. One form of reproductive coercion refuses to let women use forms of birth control, as the Catholic Church suggests, and it controls women's reproductive health decision-making. Prohibiting women to make choices for their well-being is a form of violence.

In commenting on Akin's remarks, Obama stated the following:

"So what I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women. And so, although these particular comments have led Governor Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions—or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape—I think those are broader issues, and that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party."

Although Akin has apologized for his remark, stating he misspoke, the incident is a classic illustration of deeply held sentiments many still hold about rape: that there's "legitimate rape" versus "fake rape," and "she wanted it."

Obama came out with a full-throated condemnation of Akin's remarks about victims of "legitimate rape."

"Let me first of all say, the views expressed were offensive," the president said. "Rape is rape. And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me."

When rape is misunderstood, it is also assumed to be particularly to a specific gender (female) and sexual orientation (heterosexual). And, sadly, only a certain voice is heard over other voices even if the assault is assumed to not be a "legitimate rape." Male and LGBTQ rape victims are too often dismissed.

In exposing the myth about rape, new studies show that males—heterosexual or gay—are at a greater risk of being raped because of the stigma that "real men" aren't rape. These victims are less likely to speak up than women. With a high percentage of male rape in prisons, parks and in sports, according to the U.S. Justice Department, one in 33 men in the United States has been a victim of a rape or attempted rape, compared with one in six women. Many assume gay sexual intimacy is synonymous with rape, thinking being gay is all about forced and violating sex.

So I give thanks to the GOP for waking us up. We are not included and, in fact, we are endangered. The 2012 Republican National Convention (RNC) kick-off officially began Aug. 27 with the theme "A Better Future."

But for whom?


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