Pro-life Congressman blasts Family Research Council over election attack ads

A pro-life Congressman is speaking out about the decision of the socially conservative Family Research Council to run ads attacking him just prior to last week’s election. The first Vietnamese American to serve in Congress, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) was unseated last week by pro-choice Cedric Richmond. Rep. Cao, who has a solid pro-life voting record, was attacked by the Family Research Council on conservative talk radio due to his votes in favor of including sexual orientation in hate crimes law and his support for repealing the military ban on gays serving openly.

About the ads, Rep. Cao told me late yesterday:

For a conservative Christian organization to attack a Republican pro-life candidate in a general election is as ignorant as it is inexcusable.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported last week that FRC bought ads on the conservative talk radio station WRNO, known locally as “Rush Radio” due to the conservative nature of the programming. The ad attacked Cao’s votes on gay issues, saying his record “places your personal liberties at jeopardy.”  

Several pro-life activists I spoke with declined to comment. The National Right to Life Committee did not respond to several requests. However, one pro-life activist denounced FRC’s actions. Psychologist Rachel MacNair, Vice-President of Consistent Life, a pro-life think tank, told me that

FRC sabotaged the pro-life cause — not just in losing a vote in Congress, but in the far deeper matter of public persuasion for the ultimate goal of making abortion unthinkable.

Can you be pro-life and moderate or supportive on gay issues? Public opinion polls show that the public is become more moderate on gay issues while growing more negative toward abortion.  If these trends continue, pro-life political groups may need to decide which social issue is more important to them. In the case of Rep. Cao, FRC’s anti-gay sentiment trumped support for a pro-life Congressman, one FRC endorsed in 2008.

Earlier today, FRC Action president Tony Perkins issued a statement to me defending the move to oppose Cao.

First, FRC Action is not a Republican organization. We are a conservative Christian organization that advocates for the family based upon biblical values and truths.  Many of the problems we face today in America are the result of Republican leadership.

When Cao first ran in 2008, he sought my support and promised to be a conservative, morally based vote for the family.  I endorsed him in that race and because of the unique situation with Jefferson under indictment and no other viable Democrat in the race, Cao won.  In the last two years he has amassed one of the worst voting records of any Republican in Congress on our issues.  By the way, the homosexual community masquerading as Republicans in New Orleans decried our ad against Cao because he was pro-life.  Cao was at best a pro-life vote, under pressure. 

Cao was the lone Republican who voted for the government takeover of healthcare when it first passed the House.  A lot of time and energy was spent on getting him to vote against the measure when it came back to the House from the Senate with taxpayer funding of abortion included.  It he was truly pro-life, he would have been leading the charge against President Obama’s plan; instead he was meeting with him in the White House.  Secondly, we are not a single issue organization that only focuses on the life issue.  We look at where Members stand on life, marriage, family and religious liberty.  Cao’s score on FRC Action’s vote scorecard was 62, lowest of the Louisiana House delegation.  His score was lower than Charlie Melancon, the one Louisiana Democrat in the House.

Cao repeatedly voted for key provisions of the homosexual agenda including: Hate Crimes, the overturning of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” even though military leaders said don’t do it.  The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when he recently helped the Log Cabin Republicans (homosexual Republicans) raise money for their political operation.  It was the Log Cabin Republicans that recently filed a lawsuit against the military in an attempt to force them to allow open homosexuality in the military, which military leaders have said could potentially undermine their ability to accomplish their mission.  The Log Cabin Republicans succeeded at the district court level and for one day the military was forced to change their policy and even had to recruit homosexuals.  That case is currently on appeal. 

I also wanted to send a very clear message to Republicans across the country; if you take a stand against the family, we will take a stand against you.  These squishy Republicans need to know that we will come after them, just like the Democrats. 

For his part, Congressman Cao disputes aspects of Perkin’s account. According to Taylor Henry, Communications Director for Rep. Cao, the Congressman “did not personally solicit the endorsement of FRC.” In fact, Henry told me, “Congressman Cao does not recall ever meeting Tony Perkins” and he “did not make any promises to Perkins.” Henry said he cannot speak for the 2008 campaign staff so there may have been some contact at that time but Congressman Cao made no personal commitments to vote with the FRC. 

Regarding his votes on hate crimes and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Henry said Congressman Cao voted in keeping with his views that gay people should receive equal protection under the law.

See also FrumForum on this story.

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  • Timothy Kincaid

    The Log Cabin Republicans succeeded at the district court level and for one day the military was forced to change their policy and even had to recruit homosexuals.

    Poor Tony Perkins. It must be a compulsion, he lies when there’s no point in it.

    Actually it was, I believe eight days rather than one. But that’s of no consequence.

    But the bit about “even had to recruit homosexuals” exists only in his imagination. Tony thought it would sound more outrageous, so he just said it. It’s been a long long time since Tony Perkins cared about – or even considered – whether his words were truthful.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Unless, of course, by “recruit homosexuals” he means “let the gay folk who walk in the door fill out the paperwork”

  • Richard Willmer

    The idea that someone who is ‘pro-life’ cannot be ‘progressive’ on hate crimes is ridiculous! The basic human rights, and the intrinsic human dignity, of LGBT persons are identical to those of the unborn child … and of every human person.

    In moral terms, I have no problem at all with Rep. Cao’s position. In legal terms, I do think that a ‘legal framework’ for abortion is a ‘tragic necessity’.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    I know that at one time there was a pro-life gay organization (it may still exist). If I recall correctly, they were welcomed by pro-life advocates.

  • Well I guess for Tony .. Pro-life also means pro-lying. I find this qute distburbing but .. unfortunately .. not surprising. I am refering to hs assertion that to support equal treatment for gay and lesbian people would somehow destroy the personal liberties of others.

    In another note .. I didn’t know that support of national healthcare was a violation of Christian principles .. I must wonder what chapter and verse he is reading from to get that view.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Timothy

    In Anglo-Catholic circles here in the UK is really quite common for people to oppose BOTH all forms of malice, in speech and action, and unjust discrimination against LGBT persons AND the notion that abortion is somehow ‘OK’ (the ‘tragic need’ for a ‘legal framework’ notwithstanding). Philosophically and morally, these two positions are entirely consistent, in my view.

    Rep. Cao is obviously displeased he was not re-elected, but he is, I strongly aver, correct in principle to ‘blast the FRC’.

  • ken

    As someone who is firmly pro-choice, I found this quite amusing. And this is another point for Rabbi Shmuley’s argument about how some conservative christian’s are too focused on gays.

  • I believe Mr. Perkins should not have supported either candidate in this race, rather than come-out, against Senator Cao. The man who won, Cedric Richmond, is another ‘Bill Jefferson’. Senator Cao has integrity, this word does not appear to be in Mr. Richmond’s vocabulary. He has plans to become a “RICH-MAN”, off the backs of the ignorant people in his district. People deserve what they elect. “How’s that hope and change working for you ” ?