Monday, March 30, 2015

Welcome to Indiana - Turn Your Clocks Back 60 Years

The State of Indiana is a quirky place.   One of the state's better known eccentricities is the fact that different counties used to have  different time zones.   Up until 2006, some parts of Indiana observed daylight savings time, and others did not.

Then there is  the state of affairs in Gary, IN.  One of Indiana's better known cities.   Made famous in  Meredith Wilson's classic American musical "The Music Man",  singing about Gary, Indiana  gave a very young Ron Howard his first moment of stardom in the 1962 movie adaptation.

 Fast forward to 2102, Gary Indiana has become the subject of Russian Television  (RT) documentaries on urban blight,  and the failure of the American economic model, and by extension  , the  American Dream. Even going so far as to draw comparisons between Gary, Indiana  and  the ghost town around the  Chernobyl nuclear accident evacuation zone.

A place that proudly extols its social conservatism, Indiana has a "abstinence based " approach to sex education, and education on HIV prevention is practically non-existent, with the reason being Indiana Conservatives say,  HIV is a "gay disease". So it should come as no shock that Indiana, this past week,  had to declare a public health emergency, due to a massive spike HIV infections in one county. The increase stems from intravenous drug users sharing contaminated needles. Indiana's Republican Governor, Mike Pence, a long time opponent of HIV Prevention and education programs like needle exchanges, suddenly reversed that position when he found his state staring an epidemic in the face.

One might think,  that with all these challenges on his plate, Governor Pence would have enough to keep himself  busy.   Apparently not.   

You see, many conservatives inside the national Republican Party  loooovvveee Mike Pence, and  they reallllyyyyy want him to run for President in 2016.    They see him as one of the few Republican Governors who hasn't yet completely destroyed his own state.   He is a clear social conservative,  he is a strong opponent of women's rights to control their own reproductive health,  he clearly is against "the gays", he has a college degree and great Presidential  candidate hair!

So like many GOP Governors who are toying with the idea of challenging Jeb Bush's long march to the Republican Presidential nomination,  Pence knows he needed to throw those same social conservatives a bone to chew on, to keep his name on their "dark horse / dream candidate" wish lists.

Sadly for Pence,  Indiana doesn't have any cases of voter fraud he could  use to pass new laws to prevent African-Americans and Latinos from voting.  So he needed a different crisis.   One that would give  conservatives even more reason to rally to  the dream of Mike Pence as their standard bearer.   Unlike Michigan,  Indiana doesn't have a lot of Muslims, so  the "Islamo-facist" boogey-man wasn't going to work, so who's left?   

Social conservatives have felt rather bruised and battered over the past few months.   The remarkable advance of marriage equality  across the US, in conjunction with the expected US Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage nationwide, later this Spring,  has given the anti-LGBT conservative right wing  little cause for joy  lately.

Yet some states have  flirted with an idea of how to strike back at the advance of LGBT rights.  It is ironically, not a new  tactic.   Back 60 years ago,  states opposed to ending racial segregation used this same argument in their bids to halt the advance of civil rights for people of color.    The argument of  "Religious Liberty."

It is the claim that  If you don't let people  discriminate against certain groups  in public accommodation,  it is  a violation of freedom of religion.  Because  their  religion says those certain groups  are icky, and going to hell

Mike Pence's flip flop on needle exchange is potentially a big problem for him politically with social conservatives.   He desperately needs something he can point at to shore up his now slightly damaged right wing bona fides.    Oh, wait...that's right,  Just attack the Gays!  But call it protecting religious liberty.
It is something of a tradition for Republican Governors with Presidential ambitions, to at some point throw their own states under the bus.  Meaning they will invariably do things that will clearly harm their own states economically,  but will potentially woo conservative GOP primary voters  or campaign donors elsewhere.    Be it  Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's attack on Unions,   New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's sweetheart-deal of a  get away with pollution-free card for Exxon,   or,  Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's... well entire record.

As the backlash against Indiana has grown, the usual suspects have slithered out from underneath their rocks to claim that Indiana is being "bullied by intolerant liberals".   And that  this  law is not about denying rights but protecting the rights of "people and families of faith".  Saying this new law in Indiana is not about discrimination against LGBT people is such an obvious lie as, to be laughable.   It is no different  from states  in the 1950's and 60's who claimed racial discrimination was a protected religious belief.  

(hat tip to Matt Baume over at HuffPost).

In 1946, Mississippi Governor Theodore Bilbo wrote, "[p]urity of race is a gift of God ... And God, in his infinite wisdom, has so ordained it that when man destroys his racial purity, it can never be redeemed."

One of Bilbo's gubernatorial successors added that "the good Lord was the original segregationist."
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court went even further: "[t]he natural law which forbids [racial intermarriage] and that social amalgamation which leads to a corruption of races, is as clearly divine as that which imparted to [the races] different natures."

Lambda Legal breaks down the lies coming from Gov. Pence
Governor Pence continues to deceive the public about this deeply flawed law. Let's clarify a few things.

Gov. Pence myth: SB 101 is just like Illinois law that then-State Senator Obama voted to support.

Truth: Gov. Pence fails to point out that Illinois has robust non-discrimination clauses in its state Human Rights Act that specifically protect LGBT people. Indiana does not. This matters because those seeking to discriminate in Indiana may claim that the lack of a state wide law barring sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination means that there is no compelling state interest in enforcing local ordinances providing such protections.

Gov. Pence myth: This law only reinforces established law in Indiana.

Truth: The language in SB 101 is so broadly written that someone can sue even without their religious beliefs having actually been burdened simply by claiming that is 'likely' to happen.

Gov. Pence myth: SB101 is just like federal law that President Clinton signed 20 years ago.

Truth: SB 101 is substantially broader than the federal law. The federal RFRA can only be invoked against government action. SB 101 goes much further, inviting discrimination by allowing religious beliefs to be raised as a defense in lawsuits and administrative proceedings brought by workers, tenants and customers who have suffered discrimination. In addition, SB 101 makes it easier to claim a burden on religious freedom than the federal RFRA by defining the 'exercise of religion' as 'any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.'

"If Governor Pence meant it when he said that SB101 isn't intended to allow discrimination against LGBT people, then why were amendments designed to make that explicit repeatedly rejected during the legislative process? If he truly means what he says, then he and the legislature should work together to add this language: 'This chapter does not establish or eliminate a defence to a claim under any federal, state or local law protecting civil rights or preventing discrimination.' And the Indiana government should include gay and transgender people within Indiana's protections from discrimination."

SB101  It is unconstitutional, and un-American.    It will do nothing but wreak economic damage on the State of Indiana  and for what?  A thinly veiled attempt to keep the social conservative love affair with Mike Pence alive.

The debate over the Indiana law has clearly shown one thing.   Right wing social conservatives truly believe the United States Constitution only applies to them.   

They see equal treatment under the law for people they don't like, as discrimination against them.     Think about that for moment.  These are people who think that  if anyone different from them is  given the same rights, not more rights, not different rights, not special rights.  Just the exact same rights as they have, that is somehow an attack on them.

Funny enough there is a word  in the dictionary that means exactly that...

bigot: noun big·ot \ˈbi-gət\  : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dear Republicans, Behold Your Future!

Texas Senator, and Tea-Party nutcase, Ted Cruz's announced yesterday that he is running for president.

I was going to write a fairly detailed analysis of just how nutty Cruz is, breaking down each of his main platform points and then comparing and contrasting them with , you know... reality.   But as I started to write, I realised I just don't care. Ted Cruz in all his glorious wackjob-ness is the embodiment of just why the Republican Party cannot be taken seriously, on any issue

There once was a time, when the United States had two political parties that articulated arguments for their respective political and governing philosophies. Where America's national political discourse was a wide open marketplace of competing ideas.

Contrasting views on the role and scope of Government, were debated side by side along with questions of America's role in the world, and our duty and obligations to own people at home.

It was a time when leaders like Eisenhower, who had seen the horrors of war first hand cautioned us all against seeing war as just another factor of an economic equation.    Where leaders like Nixon, yes,  Richard M. Nixon, even with all his personal faults, sins and demons,  knew America could not  achieve lasting peace and security without actually sitting down and talking with our adversaries.   Where leaders like Gerald Ford,   didn't just wave "country first" around on banner, but rather lived that ideal,  fully aware of what it would cost him politically.
It  was a time when leaders like Ronald Reagan, could sit down with a leader like Tip O'Neil.  Understanding that  the heat of political differences can be  the furnace from which broad workable solutions for the country as whole, could be forged.    And it was a time when a leader like George HW Bush understood that a Superpower must live the example of  just use of .military might.   Where military force  is  used within the confines of, and with the justification of,  international  law.
Now?  The once Grand Old Party gets Ted Cruz. 

America should have a robust debate on the costs of, and access to Health Care and Health Insurance. Yet how can you have a debate on the issue of health care reform when the GOP go-to talking point is to claim that prohibiting insurance companies from dropping you because you got sick, is worse than slavery, or the holocaust ?

You can't. So it comes as no surprise that when pressed to answer what they would do in place of the affordable care act, NONE of the GOP would-be Presidential contenders including Cruz, are able to give even a coherent answer.

 America should have a robust debate on the nature and scope of our role on the world stage. Yet how can you have a debate on how best to ensure national security,  when the GOP's reflex reaction to America engaging with other nations, is to all but commit treason. Sending letters to foreign leaders to undermine US foreign policy for the sole purpose of trying to politically damage the President of the United States?

You can't. So it comes as no surprise that when pressed to explain how they would ensure peace and security, we have a cast of chicken hawks, all to eager to start yet another war,  that none of them, nor their sons and daughters would ever dream of actually fighting in.
America should have a robust debate on taxation, and how we as country can best live within our means. Funding both our obligations and our aspirations. Yet how can you have a debate when the GOP's only economic model is to insist that Robin Hood in reverse will somehow help everyone?  

You can't. So it comes at no surprise that the GOP Presidential contenders embrace the idea that giving the wealthiest of Americans massive tax cuts, and then having everyone else bear the costs for those giveaways,  is a path to magical economic prosperity.  In spite of  clear, irrefutable historical and mathematical proof to the contrary.

So  as the nonsensical , fact free rantings of  Texas Senator Ted Cruz, get their 15 minutes of  fame, I urge my republican  friends to take good  hard look.    This is  your Party's future.   As the  tea party faithful scream about "wanting their country back",  when will you finally  stand up and take your Party back?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Republican Party's Gay Addiction...

A key moment from Ang Lee's Oscar winning film "Brokeback Mountain" is when  the character of Jack Twist (played by Jake Gylllenhal ) expresses his frustration with the limitations of his secret relationship with Enis Del Mar (played by  the late Heath Ledger).  The tension boils over and he exclaims how he wishes he was able to end the relationship but can't. 


In the run up to the 2016 Presidential Election,  the Republican Party is deep in the throws of their own Brokeback  (Anti-Gay)  romance,  In this case, it is a deep rooted need to embrace homophobia and anti-gay politics that the GOP, despite  many in the party wanting to , just can seem to quit.

In the aftermath of their 2012 election defeats,  the GOP did some very  real soul searching.   In the. "autopsy" report issued by the Republican National Committee,  it seemed for a brief few days that Republicans had achieved  some clarity as to why they lost.    The report argued that the GOP needed to be a "big tent" and the politics of running against specific groups of Americans.  (Latinos,  Blacks,  LGBT, and poor people, etc..),  was not a recipe for future electoral success.  Well that clarity lasted about a week.

Soon  the GOP was soon back to claiming it was poor people and illegal immigrants wanting "free stuff" that propelled Democrats to victory.  Along with a clear Liberal agenda to "destroy the family" by supporting  not just Marriage Equality,  but  any sort of LGBT Rights.    

As the last two years have seen massive shifts in both public attitudes and actual laws regarding LGBT rights.  The GOP has flirted  with letting go of its almost pathological need to oppose civil rights for Gays and Lesbians.  Yet each time such experiments with  enlightenment  were short lived, when  howls of protest from the far right invariably would send Republicans scurrying back to the homophobic fold.

Just as the issues of abortion and tax cuts for the wealthy were litmus tests for Republicans in the 80's and 90;s. The issue of how much do you hate  the Gays,  and  want take away health care from poor people,  are the new standards  for differentiating  "true conservatives" from RINO's. (Republicans in Name Only).     Polling data,  US Population demographics,  and constitutional law all clearly indicate running against the. "Homo-facist Agenda" (as the far right lights to call equal rights for. LGBT Americans)  to be a losing issue outside  of  right wing the Republican base.  Yet like Enis Del Mar to Jack Twist,  the GOP just can't help themselves. 

The latest twist on this trend (no pun intended) comes from 2016 GOP Presidential hopeful,  Dr Ben Carson.    A qualified neurosurgeon,  Carson was being interviewed on CNN when the subject of Gay rights came up.    Carson clearly reading his "tea party wants to hear this___",  talking points,  responded that "absolutely"  being Gay or Lesbian was a choice.  He went on to cite prisons as proof of this.  Claiming that some people enter prison straight, and then are Gay when they get out.  Posing the question of what "happened" to them while in prison as proof that Homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle,  rather than a innate orientation.

Well when the reality based world responded with howls of laughter at what was either Carson's professed ignorance, or blind  loyalty to a talking point designed to pander to GOP primary voters,  Carson did the unexpected.     He effectively ended his Presidential campaign before it ever began, by doing the unthinkable.  He apologised.

By expressing just  a hint of moderation on the issue of  Gay Rights,  even  the suggestion he supports a more libertarian view that States should be free to make their own decisions on marriage equality,  Carson has ended what slight hope he might had of lasting even halfway through the 2016 GOP primary process.   The predictable outrage on the Tea-Bagging right over Carson's apology began this morning, right on cue.

The conventional wisdom on the American political right,  is that the RNC 2012 autopsy was flawed, and the real reason they lost was they were not conservative enough.  Consequently,  the 2016 Republican primary process will be a race to far right.  Most significantly  on social issues, Health Care  and  immigration.    The more pragmatic elements of the GOP are indeed hopeful that an expected  US Supreme Court ruling in June,  will settle the  same sex marriage  issue  for the country as a whole.  Yet that particular  hope is a false one.   

Just as Roe v. Wade did nothing to remove women's reproductive rights as litmus test (for both parties) in American politics.   A SCOTUS ruling granting nation wide marriage equality will only stoke the fires on the Tea-Party right to "take the country back",  and homophobia will remain a core addiction of the GOP, that try as some  Republicans might,  the Party  just can't seem to quit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Reading 2016's Tea (Party) Leaves...

I was catching up on news from the US when I came across this little gem from Rachel Maddow's. "best new thing in the world" segment....

As cute as this story is, and kudos to NC Senator Jackson for making the best out of a snow day. It does raise a rather sad point.     All those really worthwhile things that Jackson "passed" during his day of being a Senate of one,  wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing if  the rest of his Senate colleagues were there at work with him.    

The list of  things Jackson "voted on" during his marathon solo session,  are a  brief glimpse in the a land  of "might have been".  Had the voters of North Carolina not cast ballots voting against their own best interests.  Things like, education,  health care, environmental protection all are non starters with Jackson's Republican  counterparts.  So much so that lobbyists, sprang into action,  phoning the guy like mad. .  Apparently   fearing that those things MIGHT  (through some obscure loophole),  be passed be a single Senator,   

Such legislative impotence is not limited to the State level.   We just saw the Republican controlled  United States Congress cast its. 56th vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  (aka Obamacare). Yes   you read that correctly.   Other issues like climate change,  the threat of Islamic State,  the current measles outbreaks,  America's crumbling infrastructure, confirming a new Attorney General of the United States... all have taken a back seat to yet another vote, the sole purpose of which is, to try to  take away health insurance from more than 11 million Americans,  for no reason other than the hope of politically damaging President Obama. 

As we move into these last few months of relative quiet before the insanity of America's next Presidential Election completely consumes the media's attention.   Plans are being laid by would be GOP hopefuls in advance of the. Cirque du Insanity that will undoubtedly  be the. 2016 Republican Presidential Primaries .

Here in London last week,  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was in town,    Walker , who after a strong showing at the Iowa "Faith and Freedom"  rally last month, suddenly found  himself being touted as something of a GOP frontrunner as he arrived in London.   Unlike his fellow GOP hopefuls  Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal, it seemed that. Walker's visit here was going to be relatively gaffe free...  Then this happened.


Earlier that day,  Governor Walker had breakfast with a group of University of Wisconsin and Marquette University alumni here in London.   A breakfast that I attended and I actually had about. 18  minutes one on one with Walker, where we talked about a number things.  (Most of which isn't relevant for this positing,)  But what is relevant is this;  Make no mistake,  Scott Walker IS running for President.   Even if he hadn't  basically admitted as much during our conversation, (which he did...)   his "punting" on the question of evolution would have been an far more direct indication of his candidacy.

The Republican Presidential Primary process is one that can best be described as a clown car, careening wildly to the right, to the point  that it never actually manages to stay on the road long enough to go anywhere.    GOP primary voters are largely dominated by "tea party" conservatives.   I have blogged extensively about the origins of the Tea Party Movement  and it's impact on GOP politics.  The biggest of which is how it has turned the GOP Presidential primary into a full throttle race to the far right.

In the wake of 2008 and 2012, the conventional wisdom in  Teabagistan  was the reason President Obama was able to win (twice),  was due to the  GOP nominees not being  conservative enough.   So  as we head in to 2016 , the conventional wisdom is, to win the GOP nomination you have to out wingnut all the other wingnuts.

Hence Bobby Jindal's ridiculous claim of. Muslim "no go" zones in major UK cities.  Chris Christie's pathetic display of political twister as he tried to be both for and against childhood vaccinations., and now Scott Walker's desperate attempt to not have to say whether or not he believes in basic science. But Walker's attempts to appeal to the "Skeeters" of the GOP base hasn't stopped at just not answering questions.  

Scott Walker has decided to run against health care, and  against education.  Specifically,  public education and public school teachers.  Walker, who never graduated college likes to tout his "real world" experience to Tea Party Voters.   

Shortly before this London Trip, Walker got caught floating a  trial balloon that essentially advocated the dismantling  of  the entire University of Wisconsin System.  Then he had to try to spin a  lie that it was all some sort of "drafting error" in his budget when it was clear what he was trying to do.

 What is also very clear is,  the Walker Campaign truly thinks that this is a winning strategy with GOP primary voters, and the sad truth is , they are probably right. 

But to my friends who are teachers,  don't think you are alone in being targets for Scott Walker to use to woo Tea Party support.   Apparently. Governor Walker  is more than happy to chat me up over breakfast,  but should I or my husband Eric  be hospitalized while in Wisconsin. Allowing  us  to  visit each other would be a bridge too far.
Madison – Gov. Scott Walker believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.    Democrats who controlled the Legislature in 2009 changed the law so that same-sex couples could sign up for domestic partnership registries with county clerks to secure some – but not all – of the rights afforded married couples.

Wisconsin Family Action sued last year in Dane County circuit court, arguing that the registries violated a 2006 amendment to the state constitution that bans gay marriage and any arrangement that is substantially similar. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the lawsuit, saying he agreed the new law violated the state constitution. Then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, hired Madison attorney Lester Pines to defend the state.   Walker, a Republican, replaced Doyle in January and fired Pines in March. On Friday, Walker filed a motion to stop defending the case.

“Governor Walker, in deference to the legal opinion of the attorney general that the domestic partner registry…is unconstitutional, does not believe the public interest requires a continued defense of this law,” says the brief, filed by Walker’s chief counsel, Brian Hagedorn.   
So in Scott Walker's America  it is perfectly ok to prevent two people who are legally married from seeing each other when one of them is  in the hospital .   (Of course,  it doesn't hurt that the one group the Tea Party/GOP base hates more than all those scary brown people is all those icky Gays.)  

Scott Walker may well be the GOP's 2016 Presidential candidate.   He thinks he will be.  He is counting on the Billionaire Koch brothers to put  nearly a Billion Dollars behind that belief.  Gov. Walker's  bromance with the petrochemical billionaires was brought into sharp relief back during the prolonged WI budget stand off, when he got caught out by a prank phone call from a reporter who claimed to be. David Koch.

Scott walker and his fellow GOP  2016 hopefuls are  also counting on GOP primary voters resonating with  attacks on reason and facts,     Because in  as any good resident  of Teabagistan will tell you,  facts are just another liberal conspiracy...

Friday, January 30, 2015

2016 - The GOP's Gospel of Fear...

There is nothing that scares the American Media more than a slow news day. So even though 2015 is not even one month old, the media on all sides of the political / ideological spectrum have all moved on to obsessing over the 2016 election.

Show of hands… anyone really surprised? Anyone? Didn't think so...

Politics in the United States used to be about the art of the possible. What people of divergent opinion but unified intent could accomplish for the country,  when they worked together. Even from this side of the Atlantic I can hear many of you snickering and saying; “Dave, Dave… what are you smoking?”. Yeah, I know. It’s safe to say those days are clearly long gone. 

Politics in America is now a blood sport, and has been for some time. One of the interesting side effects of this is  the impact  on America’s two political parties.  I have blogged at length about how the Republican Party I knew in my youth,  bears no resemblance to the GOP of today.   The  last three months since the 2014 midterm elections  have provided a fascinating glimpse into the inner mind set of the GOP and its "Conservative Base" .

If there is one clear theme that has emerged from the crowded flashmob of GOP 2016 Presidential hopefuls, it is that America is under "attack", or  is  about to be  under "attack".  America's  freedoms, values, families and "job creators" are all under dire threat.

From what you ask?   America is under threat from; 1) Anyone who doesn't believe in a narrow exclusionary definition of Christianity. 2) Anyone who hasn't been born in the United States.  And last but not least,  3) Anyone who is LGBT,  or believes that  LGBT Americans deserve the same civil rights as everyone else.

The would be standard bearers of Republican Party believe that they are not just defending America from various "attacks" , but that they are truly "defenders of the faith", and by faith,  they mean their specific definition of who is a "Christian".   Comedian Will Ferrell's take on this would be funnier if it was not so close to reality.

As recently as the past two weeks,  we have seen  how clearly the GOP is connected to America's own brand of fundamentalist Christian extremism.  While at the same time claiming America is under dire threat from non-Christian religious extremism.   In the 1980's the GOP ran against the threat of Soviet Communism.  In the 1990's  the GOP ran against the threat of  Gay people. After 9-11 it was the threat  of "Islamo fascist terrorism"  and  then in 2004 it was both Islamic terrorists AND the Gays.  2008 and 2012 saw the GOP come full circle  and run campaigns that all but screamed "Vote against the SCARY Black Man!  (Who is probably a Muslim too!)".
Last week it was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who decided the best way to grab the attention of likely GOP voters, was to claim that America was in serious danger of Muslims establishing "no-go zones" in major American cities.   Areas where non Muslims (i.e. white conservative evangelical Christians) would be in danger if  they tried to enter.  As evidence,  Jindal simply  repeated a  disproved lie claiming  such zones already existed in many  European cities.  
When confronted by reporters in London with  the facts,  Jindal squirmed  pathetically.    Yet once back in the US, Jindal doubled down, repeating the lie and standing by his ridiculous assertions.  What is interesting here is his devotion to the talking point,  even when it contradicts reality.  It's  clear that the Governor Jindal feels the path to the GOP Nomination is to  run against "scary Muslims" as much as it is  to run against any other Republican or eventual Democratic Presidential candidate.
This week,  it was the Republican Party itself that was caught with their hands in the extremist cookie jar.    The Republican National Committee, along with the party's. National Chairman,  Reince Priebus were revealed to be participating in all expenses paid junket to Israel.  Paid for by the hate group, the  American Family Association.   An organization that claims the First Amendment to the United States Constitution only applies to Christians.  When caught out on this,  the AFA's response  has been to try  to spin some distance between themselves ,  and the things they themselves have been saying for years.  MSNBC's. Rachel Maddow has the very interesting details.

As of this posting, the RNC still has not pulled out of the AFA funded trip, nor has RNC Chairman Reince Priebus responded to reporters questions now that is clear that Bryan Fischer is still very much the face and voice of the. AFA.   Right now,  the clear message of  the Republican Party is that they subscribe the position that  America is a Christian Nation,  and basic civil rights only apply to people of the Christian faith.   
Compounding this message is the GOP position on the threat to America posed by immigrants.   GOP 2016 Clown Car occupant and attention seeking cartoon character Donald Trump,  has made "building a fence" (to keep out the scary brown people),  the centrepiece of his attempt to woo attention from  the Republican base.
The GOP has a problematic relationship at best, with the Latino community.  Demographically one would think it's political suicide to work so hard to alienate the largest voting block in the United States.  Yet, apparently in the GOP mind set,  its more important to have something you can  scare your base with, than it is to expand your electability beyond that base.
Setting aside the GOP's obsession with all things LGBT for the moment, when we look at the rest of the would be Presidential Candidates for the Republicans,  we see the clear trend of not, what they each stand for, but rather what each one hopes will resonate with "the base", because of what they are against.
Sen. Rand Paul - Running against poor people and Immigrants who he says want to steal your jobs and tax dollars.  Gov. Chris Christie - Running against Courts, Judges and Prosecutors who keep looking into possible crimes committed by his administration.  Sen. Ted Cruz - Running against Science and Affordable Health Care.   Gov. Mitt Romney - Announced today that he IS NOT Running. Probably due to the fact he couldn't run against the opponent he wanted. (Barack Obama).  Gov. Scott Walker - Running against Unions, Public Employees  and anything else that might upset the Koch Brothers.  Gov. Jeb Bush - Ok lets be honest here,  Jeb is really running to save his Father's legacy and family name.  He is running  against his brother,  George W. (Good Luck with that one, Jeb.)   Gov. Rick Perry- Running against Science,  scary Muslims and Medicare, .   Gov. Sarah Palin - Running against grammar, syntax and the "Liberal Media".   Gov. Mike Huckabee - Running against anyone who isn't a Christian and those non Christians  having any sort of civil rights. Dr. Ben Carson - Running against Muslims,  the minimum  wage, and oh yeah,  Benghazi. 
And all of the GOP hopefuls  want the good citizens of Teabagistan, (and Iowa), to know that they hate those icky Gay people and Women being able to control their bodies, just as much as they do, and have no reservations taking a felt tip marker to the US Constitution to put those pesky Gays and uppity feminists back in their place. And any attempt to protect the rights of people who think differently is clearly an "attack on Christians!!"

Now lest you think I am completely one sided here, I consider the Democratic side to be just as incoherent.  All I really know about Senator and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at this point is, that   she is clearly  for winning and against losing.

Yet  compared to the GOP's clown car of "Pick  me because here's who / what you should fear / hate",  even the say nothing, do nothing, but raise lots of money -undeclared Clinton candidacy, is infinitely preferable to the cirque du insanity currently gearing up on the Right.

The United States of America is not a fundamentalist  Christian theocracy.  The unmistakeable message  coming from the Republican Party at this stage is, in 2016 they want to elect people who think it should be.