2004 US Republican Party Platform/6

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"We are living in a time of great change – in our world, in our economy, in science and medicine. Yet some things endure – courage and compassion, reverence and integrity, respect for differences of faith and race. The values we try to live by never change. And they are instilled in us by fundamental institutions, such as families and schools and religious congregations. These institutions, these unseen pillars of civilization, must remain strong in America, and we will defend them. We must stand with our families to help them raise healthy, responsible children."

— President George W. Bush

Families are the cornerstone of our culture — the building blocks of a strong society. In families, children learn values and ideals, as well as the basic lessons that get them started on a lifelong path of education. We believe that every child deserves the chance to be born and grow up in a loving family. We also believe that while families exist in many different forms, there are ideals to strive for. Evidence shows us that children have the best chance at success when raised by a mother and a father who love and respect each other as well as their children. We also know that family breakdown makes America less stable. To create a sturdy foundation for the strength and success of our citizens and our nation, Republicans support policies that promote strong families. We also support a government that makes it easier for parents to raise their children in a world that offers unprecedented opportunities and new challenges. We offer an approach based on our common values and our common hopes. It will lead to a better America, one family at a time.

The Next Steps in Welfare Reform

In 1996, the Republican Congress made history by passing welfare reform that revolutionized the way the government helps people build better lives for themselves. The federal government gave states the flexibility to manage the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and both states and federal authorities began treating welfare as a step up rather than a way of life. Since the 1996 Republican-led law, welfare caseloads have declined by half, and nearly three million Americans have been lifted out of poverty.

But there is more work to do. We need to build on the results of the 1996 reforms and continue to move welfare recipients into jobs and off the welfare rolls. This is especially important for single women and mothers, who continue to rely on welfare and fear that they cannot find a job or enter a training program because they need to care for their children.

We endorse President Bush's plan to extend the benefits of welfare reform by strengthening work requirements and promoting healthy marriages, and offering training, transportation, and child care services to help people become self-sufficient. Every American deserves a chance to know the pride of earning a paycheck and providing for his or her family.

Promoting Healthy Marriages and Responsible Fatherhood

We support the President's welfare reform proposals that promote child wellbeing and stronger marriages. We recognize the importance of having in the home a father and a mother who are married. The two-parent family still provides the best environment of stability, discipline, responsibility, and character. We recognize that fathers play a critical role in providing stability for their children. Studies show that children are much more likely to do well in school and avoid crime and drugs when they have a responsible father in their lives. Promoting responsible fatherhood will have long-lasting benefits for families and for communities. We support President Bush's initiatives to reaffirm the important role fathers play in their children's lives and to help men meet the responsibilities of fatherhood.

Supporting Adoption and Foster Children

We support the President's strong efforts to promote adoption through increased tax incentives and bonuses to states that place older children in permanent family homes, as well as his efforts to promote foster care by increasing the allocation of funds for preventive and family services.

Promoting Healthy Choices, Including Abstinence

Children's health remains a top priority for every family and for our country. Despite advances in medicine, environmental progress, and increased efforts to keep children safe at home and in communities, alarming trends in overweight children and childhood obesity jeopardize the health of millions of children. Too many of America's youth do not exercise, are overweight, and have poor dietary habits. This leads to complications in childhood and as adults. Five chronic diseases associated with obesity – heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (such as bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma), and diabetes – account for more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States.

Extensive research, much of it conducted or funded by the federal government, has shown that improving overall health, and thus preventing disease and premature death, is as easy as making small adjustments and improvements in the activities of daily life. We applaud the President's effort to increase public awareness about the benefits of physical fitness through programs like "HealthierUS," which focuses on physical activity; a nutritious diet; medical screenings; and healthy choices – and "VERB," which encourages young people to be physically active every day.

Each year more than three million American teenagers contract sexually transmitted diseases, causing emotional harm and serious health consequences, even death. We support efforts to educate teens and parents about the health risks associated with early sexual activity and provide the tools needed to help teens make healthy choices. Abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including sexually transmitted HIV/AIDS. Therefore, we support doubling abstinence education funding. We oppose school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling, and related services for contraception and abortion. We oppose school-based mental health programs that include recommendations for the use of psychotropic drugs.

Improving Work Schedule Flexibility

The President and Republicans in Congress are working to provide private-sector workers the same flexible scheduling options that government employees already enjoy. Now that more families have both parents in the workforce, American workers need more control over their work schedules. More flexibility in the workplace will help Americans to better manage the demands of work and family. And that will make families stronger. Comp-time and flex-time enable employees to choose paid time off as an alternative to overtime pay. Both of these programs would be voluntary to employees and would include employee protections to prevent employers from coercing or forcing employees to take time off in lieu of receiving overtime pay.

Protecting Family Privacy

President Bush created the National Do Not Call Registry, a tool that will help ensure that telemarketers respect the privacy of our nation's citizens. It will allow people to limit most unwanted telemarketing calls by registering their home or cell phone numbers. Registration can be completed by phone or over the Internet, and it is free of charge. The service also comes at no expense to the taxpayers.

Unauthorized and unwelcome email, commonly known as spam, interferes with efficient and effective business and family communications. We support efforts to address this growing problem.

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing financial crimes in our nation. Last year alone, nearly 10 million Americans had their identities stolen by criminals who robbed them and the nation's businesses of nearly $50 billion through fraudulent transactions. The crime of identity theft undermines the basic trust on which our economy depends. And like other forms of stealing, identity theft leaves the victim poorer and feeling terribly violated.

We praise President Bush and Republicans in Congress for passing the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, which established a national system of fraud detection so that identity thieves can be stopped before they run up tens of thousands of dollars in illegal purchases. Thanks to this law, victims can make one phone call to report the crime to alert all three major credit rating agencies and to protect their credit ratings. We further praise President Bush and Republicans in Congress for passing the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act, which provides a real deterrent by toughening the prison sentences for those who use identity theft to commit other crimes, including terrorism. It reflects our government's resolve to answer serious offenses with serious penalties. And we praise President Bush for the broader effort he has waged to prevent identity theft. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, and Secret Service are working with local and state officials to crack down on the criminal networks that are responsible for much of the identity theft that occurs in America. The Federal Trade Commission is training local law enforcement in the detection of identity theft and has set up the ID Theft Data Clearinghouse, which keeps track of complaints across the country and provides those records to prosecutors seeking to take down organized identity theft rings.

Protecting the Educational Rights of Parents and Students

As stated earlier, we applaud efforts to promote school choice initiatives that give parents more control over their children's education. By the same token, we defend the option for home schooling and call for vigilant enforcement of laws designed to protect family rights and privacy in education. Children should not be compelled to answer offensive or intrusive questionnaires. We will continue to work for the return of voluntary school prayer to our schools and will strongly enforce the Republican legislation that guarantees equal access to school facilities by student religious groups. We strongly support voluntary student-initiated prayer in school without governmental interference. We strongly disagree with the Supreme Court's rulings against student-initiated prayer.

Protecting Children from Obscenity and Exploitation

The Republican Party shares the position of the United States Supreme Court in Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973), that obscene material is "unprotected by the first amendment" (413 U.S. at 23) and that "to equate the free and robust exchange of ideas and political debate with commercial exploitation of obscene material demeans the grand conception of the first amendment and its high purposes in the historic struggle for freedom." Miller, 413 U.S. at 34. We therefore support vigorous prosecution of obscene material by the U.S. Department of Justice.

We applaud the Congress for passing, and the President for signing, the Protect Act. As the President said, this law "will greatly assist law enforcement in tracking criminals who would harm our children, and will greatly help in rescuing the youngest victims of crime." The law formally established a national Amber Alert coordinator in the Department of Justice to help facilitate efforts to find missing children. It also added important tools to fight child exploitation by making obscene images of children, even those created with computer technology, illegal. We agree that strengthening the laws against child abuse will protect our children, help preserve the family structure, and promote a healthy environment in which our children can grow.

With ever more children accessing material over the Internet, we support efforts to bolster online protections that prevent children from being exposed to pornographic images and solicitations. And we applaud public and private efforts to create online safe areas for children. We praise President Bush and Congressional Republicans for their leadership in passing the Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act, which created a secure domain on the Internet where parents know that it is safe for their children to learn and play and explore.

Protecting Marriage

We strongly support President Bush's call for a Constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage, and we believe that neither federal nor state judges nor bureaucrats should force states to recognize other living arrangements as equivalent to marriage. We believe, and the social science confirms, that the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage. We further believe that legal recognition and the accompanying benefits afforded couples should be preserved for that unique and special union of one man and one woman which has historically been called marriage.

After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization, the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country, and anything less than a Constitutional amendment, passed by the Congress and ratified by the states, is vulnerable to being overturned by activist judges. On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. The Constitutional amendment process guarantees that the final decision will rest with the American people and their elected representatives. President Bush will also vigorously defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which was supported by both parties and passed by 85 votes in the Senate. This common sense law reaffirms the right of states not to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states.

President Bush said, "We will not stand for judges who undermine democracy by legislating from the bench and try to remake America by court order." The Republican House of Representatives has responded to this challenge by passing H.R. 3313, a bill to withdraw jurisdiction from the federal courts over the Defense of Marriage Act. We urge Congress to use its Article III power to enact this into law, so that activist federal judges cannot force 49 other states to approve and recognize Massachusetts' attempt to redefine marriage.

Promoting a Culture of Life

As a country, we must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.

Our goal is to ensure that women with problem pregnancies have the kind of support, material and otherwise, they need for themselves and for their babies, not to be punitive towards those for whose difficult situation we have only compassion. We oppose abortion, but our pro-life agenda does not include punitive action against women who have an abortion. We salute those who provide alternatives to abortion and offer adoption services, and we commend Congressional Republicans for expanding assistance to adopting families and for removing racial barriers to adoption. We join the President in supporting crisis pregnancy programs and parental notification laws. And we applaud President Bush for allowing states to extend health care coverage to unborn children.

We praise the President for his bold leadership in defense of life. We praise him for signing the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. This important legislation ensures that every infant born alive – including an infant who survives an abortion procedure – is considered a person under federal law.

We praise Republicans in Congress for passing, with strong bipartisan support, a ban on the inhumane procedure known as partial birth abortion. And we applaud President Bush for signing legislation outlawing partial birth abortion and for vigorously defending it in the courts.

In signing the partial birth abortion ban, President Bush reminded us that "the most basic duty of government is to defend the life of the innocent. Every person, however frail or vulnerable, has a place and a purpose in this world." We affirm the inherent dignity and worth of all people. We oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment because of disability, age, or infirmity, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which especially endanger the poor and those on the margins of society. We support President Bush's decision to restore the Drug Enforcement Administration's policy that controlled substances shall not be used for assisted suicide. We applaud Congressional Republicans for their leadership against those abuses and their pioneering legislation to focus research and treatment resources on the alleviation of pain and the care of terminally ill patients.