Rick Santorum and more: How social issues intruded on 2012 campaign
In an election year that was supposed to be all about economic recovery, social values having to do with sex – birth control, abortion, and gay marriage – are playing prominent roles.
In an election year that was supposed to be all about getting the country out of its economic doldrums, social values – mainly having to do with sex – have intruded big time. Largely, but not exclusively, it’s the realm of Rick Santorum.Skip to next paragraph
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In some cases (birth control vs. religious beliefs), they’ve taken firm root in the presidential election. In others (abortion and same-sex marriage), they lurk about the periphery – likely to inject themselves more deeply as the nominating process sorts itself out.
President Obama’s policy move requiring schools, hospitals, and other religious institutions to provide birth control to employees – even though it was adjusted to make insurance companies and not the institutions themselves responsible – continues to gain political traction left and right.
To conservatives, it’s all about government intrusion into religious beliefs and practices. To liberals, it’s about personal choice and women’s rights in the most private of issues.
A congressional hearing this past week illustrated the heated divide. On an issue of particular importance to women, the hearing on Obama’s birth control policy, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California, began with a panel of religious leaders – all of them men.
"I look at this panel, and I don't see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventative health care services, including family planning,” complained Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) of New York, one of several women lawmakers who walked out in protest.
“Where are the women?” she asked.
Meanwhile, same sex marriage was making news in three states. With a vote in the state legislature, Washington State was on track to become the seventh state where couples of the same gender could legally marry. New Jersey lawmakers approved gay marriage as well, although Gov. Chris Christie – frequently mentioned as a Republican vice presidential candidate – quickly vetoed it in favor of a voter referendum on the issue.
State legislators in Maryland Friday afternoon approved a new law allowing gay marriage, which Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley supports. Like New Jersey, opponents of same-sex marriage in Maryland vow to take it to a referendum, where – if the voting history in many other states is a guide – chances are it’ll be defeated