Carl Petersen: Welcome To The GOP’s Era Of Big Government
Is the GOP the party of parents’ rights? Well, that depends, writes Carl Petersen.
When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, he tried to frame himself as a defender of parental rights. According to the presidential aspirant, academic censorship was necessary to ensure that conservative parents maintained the ability to keep their children ignorant about LGBTQ+ issues. Students who sought support while working through gender or sexual identity questions needed to be deprived of confidentiality so that they could be whisked away for conversion therapy as quickly as possible. Religious guilt works best when instilled early.
To no one’s surprise, it did not take DeSantis very long to prove himself to be a hypocrite. Being in danger of having his title of Commander in Chief of the Cultural Warriors usurped by a Florida Representative who proposed legislation “to ‘terminate the parental rights of an adult and hit them with a felony charge if they bring their children to watch drag shows,” DeSantis was forced to weigh in on the subject. He declared that these shows were “not age-appropriate” and stated that he “is considering using child protective services to investigate parents who bring their children to see drag performances.”
DeSantis is not the only Republican Governor looking to weaponize Child Protective Services. In an attack on transgender children and their families, Texas Governor Rick Abbott ordered that Texas Child Protective Services investigate families providing gender-affirming care to their children despite the fact that this treatment, provided under the direction of a doctor, does not “meet the standards for physical abuse or medical neglect as laid out in the Texas Family Code.” Under this policy, mandatory reporters, like teachers, are obligated to contact protective services when they learn that a child is undergoing this care.
These cases combined with the Republican Party’s newly found ability to force women into parenthood establish a new reality where the government will have a say in almost every aspect of our private lives. Newly emboldened, the Right is looking to go further. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has already issued the battle cry to relitigate cases that allowed married couples to use birth control, prohibited states from outlawing sodomy(1), and allowed all couples the right to marry(2).