Doug LaMalfa, from California’s 1st District, and Why he Needs to Go

12May14
Doug_LaMalfa

Doug LaMalfa, representing California’s 1st District. Public domain image.

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) has several strikes against him, not the least of which is that he favors laws that follow biblical law. Being religious is not, in and of itself, a problem. It’s when those of certain faiths let that faith interfere with lawmaking, to the point where the policies they favor are bad for society.

First of all, LaMalfa is one of 101 U.S. Representatives who co-sponsored the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, which prohibits the federal government from acting against a person or organization that acts in accordance with the religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. That includes revoking tax exempt status from non-profits.

The problem there is that this bill doesn’t specify whether “acts” in accordance with religious beliefs include political activities. Non-profits are generally prohibited under law from engaging in certain political activities, and when they do, they can lose their tax-exempt status. It also doesn’t provide any protection for organizations fighting for marriage equality. So organizations on the side of marriage equality could lose their tax-exempt status by violating the law in an open-and-shut case. But the IRS would have much more of a minefield to navigate when it came to whether a non-profit violated the law in opposing marriage equality.

LaMalfa also wants abstinence-only sex education. In fact, he co-sponsored the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act of 2013, which sought $550 million for abstinence-only programs. While that Act did require those programs to be medically accurate and evidence-based, it also required them to teach abstinence as the psychologically, morally, and socially optimal choice regarding all sexual choices. There were no specifics regarding teaching about STDs or contraception. Leaving that language out could bias the grants towards programs that leave out info about STDs and contraception.

Abstinence only education doesn’t actually reduce sexual activity among teens. In fact, these teens are more likely to contract STDs not just through intercourse, but also through oral and anal sex, because they don’t see these activities as actual sex. Comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed, on the other hand, that teaches abstinence as merely the best way of preventing STDs and pregnancy, and includes accurate teaching about contraceptive methods, does have an effect on teen sexual activity.

Abstinence only education can also be psychologically damaging for several reasons. It teaches kids that sexual feelings are something to be ashamed of, which can carry over into adulthood and preclude healthy sexual activities even in marriage. It can be especially damaging to young women, because it portrays young women who succumb to sex as sluts, whores, unclean, and immoral, but still does the “boys will be boys” thing.

It can be especially damaging for LGBT youth and for rape victims; LGBT youth never learn when sex is okay for them, and rape victims may not feel just the violation, but also feel that they’re ruined for marriage now, because they’re no longer virgins.

LaMalfa also wants public funding via vouchers even for religious schools. He really wants vouchers for all schools, so parents can send children where they want, but public funding for religious schools is a violation of the First Amendment, because it means taxpayers are funding religion.

Finally, he would like to see the Ten Commandments posted in all public schools, which is also a violation of the First Amendment, unless he’d also like to see the fundamentals of other religions posted alongside.

The reason this post focuses on things like sex ed, marriage equality and public funding for religious schools is because those demonstrate that he’s trying to get Christian law into U.S. law, in spite of U.S. law. As stated at the beginning, simply being religious, even Christian, isn’t a reason to vote someone out of office. However, when religious beliefs (ANY religious beliefs, not just Christian beliefs) begin to dictate policymaking in defiance of the First Amendment, there is a problem. This is why LaMalfa needs to go, California. All you 1st District voters should get rid of him this year.

For more on LaMalfa’s views on various issues, click here.

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