While American eyes over the past month were focused on the liberation of Iraq, liberals fighting a culture war in the United States won some victories.
On April 9, as Baghdad residents with a lot of help from their friends pulled down the big Saddam statue, the U.S. Senate passed a faith-based-initiative bill stripped of provisions that would have reduced governmental bias against religious groups. Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, summarized well how we arrived at this point: "Instead of planting the faith-based flag on the high ground of principle and fighting for a genuine bill, Republican sponsors labored to appease Democrats with concession after concession."
President Bush's faith-based initiative still has life to it. Regulatory changes are helping. Across the country groups not waiting for Washington have started church programs and schools. But the legislative agenda went off track early in 2001 when administration officials decided to emphasize a centralized grant-making approach instead of tax-credit and voucher proposals (see WORLD, March 24, 2001).
On April 9 also, as Baghdad became free, some students at nearly 2,000 middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities across the United States observed a day of silence-not to thank God for His mercy, but to back gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals who are purportedly unable to speak freely. It was the eighth annual national Day of Silence, with student organizers like Ryan Frazer of Conifer High School in Colorado telling journalists that he frequently heard at school homosexual slurs such as, "Oh, that homework assignment is so gay."
Reports from across the country showed student activists holding up cards about their silence, and teachers overwhelmingly playing along. One Auburn student taped her mouth shut. A University of Texas sophomore who knew some sign language handcuffed her wrists to make sure she remained mute in every respect.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party became even more intensely the party of abortion (with the exception of some brave pro-lifers fighting a guerrilla war within it). Presidential nomination frontrunner John Kerry said he would impose a pro-abortion litmus test on federal judges, and rallies for D.C. Appeals Court nominee Miguel Estrada on April 15 and 16 did not change his mind.
The Washington Post on April 11 happily reported that for the first time a chairman of the Republican National Committee had addressed a homosexual organization. When Marc Racicot quietly met in March with 300 members of the Human Rights Campaign, was he just reading them statements from the Republican Platform 2000 that "we do not believe sexual preference should be given special legal protection or standing in law" and "we affirm that homosexuality is incompatible with military service"? I suspect not.
It's fine for an RNC chairman to meet with gays and gain their support for lower taxes and a strong national defense. But it's a big victory for liberalism if Mr. Racicot suggests that the GOP is willing to hug an anti-family agenda. All of this bears watching as we return from Iraq-war tunnel vision and examine cultural terrorism here at home.