JewsOnFirst, February 2, 2006
Religious right organizations hailed the election of Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner by his Republican colleagues to the second-most important post in the House of Representatives. Organizations campaigning for church-state separation, gay rights, reproductive rights and public education saw little to celebrate. Jews concerned about those issues will find Boehner's record troubling, especially his votes with the Republican extreme right on church-state issues.
Boehner has repeatedly supported efforts to legislate religion into the public square. According to the National Jewish Democratic Council, he has voted to permit religious discrimination in hiring for federally funded programs. He voted against confronting religious coercion at the Air Force Academy and against the removal of a huge Ten Commandments sculpture from Alabama's highest courthouse. And he has supported numerous school prayer measures -- including one to deny federal funds to schools that do not allow prayer. (He currently chairs the House education committee.)
The National Jewish Democratic Council has posted a detailed list of measures antithetical to values held by a majority of Jews which Boehner has supported. You can see them by clicking here for the NJDC website, then looking for "What Every American Jew Should Know About John Boehner" in the Domestic Policy section.
The NJDC list also notes Boehner's support for "intelligent design" in the Ohio public schools, his repeated votes against reproductive rights and his terrible record on the environment.
Boehner has a 0% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which monitors legislation on gay and lesbian issues, according to 365Gay.com, which also reports that Boehner is a sponsor of federal legislation against gay marriage. He has supported barring gay couples from adopting and stripping school libraries of books about gays. Click here for the report.
Meanwhile, religious right organizations expressed happiness with Boehner's anti-abortion stance. "The GOP has a new majority leader in the U.S. House -- and his unabashedly pro-life leanings have at least one pro-family leader singing his praises," enthused an Agape Press article, which you can read by clicking here.
On another note, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency posted a "breaking news" item, reporting that Boehner not the first choice of pro-Israel organizations. "The pro-Israel community privately preferred [Missouri Rep. Roy] Blunt, who as majority whip has taken a lead role in passing pro-Israel legislation and in leading congressional delegations to Israel." (Organizations that support the First Amendment, civil rights and privacy saw little difference between Blunt and Boehner.)
Continued JTA: "Boehner, however, also has a solid pro-Israel voting record and Ohio Jewish leaders said he reached out to them although his mostly rural southern constituency has almost no Jews."
JTA then concluded: "Boehner was chairman of the House Education committee and some national Jewish groups are wary of his avid pro-school voucher record, as well as his preference for a greater role for religion in the public square."