Friday, June 18, 2004

2004 Texas GOP Platform: Dishonesty!

The Texas Freedom Network informed me yesterday that the Texas GOP has published its 2004 platform. I also find via the Texas GOP website that it is available (PDF) online. It should not be surprising that this is a very frightening document. There's the usual anti-women, anti-science, and anti-homosexual rhetoric. But as I skimmed through the 24-page manifesto, I did find one very confusing position:
Americans with Disabilities Act – The Party supports amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act to exclude from its definition those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress, thereby reducing abuse of the Act.
Now this is an interesting list of things to exclude from the Act. (The ADA is a 1990 federal Act designed to protect Americans who have disabilities which "substantially limit one or more major life activities" from discrimination in the workplace.) So the Texas GOP wants to reduce the number of protected disabilities. They think that the following ought not to be protected:
  • infectious diseases
  • substance addictions
  • learning disabilities
  • behavior disorders
  • homosexual practices
  • mental stress
I don't particularly feel right now like getting into an argument about this list on the merits. But I am prepared to argue some of it as a matter of law. Let's take the juciest-looking item on the list, "homosexual acts". One might expect this list item to polarize the electorate, with conservatives looking to take protections away from gays and liberals opposing it. But here's the thing about the ADA: Homosexuality has never been protected by it. Nor should it be, because it's not a disability, nor does it substantially limit major life activities (although I wouldn't necessarily put it past the GOP to argue that heterosexual sex is a major life activity...). The current law is very clear on the matter. Here's 42 U.S.C. §12211(a) (on the books since 1990, the same as the rest of the ADA):
(a) Homosexuality and bisexuality.—For purposes of the definition of "disability" in section 12102(2) of this title, homosexuality and bisexuality are not impairments and as such are not disabilities under this chapter.
So why does the Texas GOP platform include REMOVING an item from the list that wasn't on it in the first place? Stress, too, I should note, is not protected under the ADA. Case law: Paleologos, 990 F.Supp. 1460 (N.D.Ga. 1998); Krocka, 969 F.Supp. 1073 (N.D.Ill. 1997). And substance abuse is also statutorily excluded in (b)(3) of the U.S.C. section quoted from above. So three of the six items on the list of things to stop protecting are already not protected. It can't be a coincidence that these are the three items most likely to resonate with conservative voters as belonging off the list. Of the remaining items, "infectious diseases" and "behavior disorders" are too vague to evaluate or even understand. And "learning disabilities" pretty obviously belongs on the list of protected disabilities. Who's willing to run on an anti-retarded people platform? Apparently, the Texas GOP is, as long as that component is hidden as part of an anti-homosexual, anti-freeloader component. But you'd think they could bury the provision in suggestions for "changes" that don't just describe the status quo. I'm pretty shocked at the dishonesty, here. In the absense of a better explanation ("The GOP leaders don't know what the ADA actually says"), I have to conclude that it is attempting deliberately to mislead the public about what is and is not on the federal books.

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