Virginia Attorney General and Republican Candidate for Governor, Robert McDonnell, wrote a 93 page master’s thesis in 1989, “The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade”, for the evangelical school he attended in Virginia Beach, Regent University. In that thesis, he states that women and feminists are “detrimental” to the family. He describes feminism as one of the “real enemies of the traditional family.” He declares a 1972 Supreme Court decision in Eisenstadt v. Baird, which legalized contraception use by unmarried couples, illogical. At the end of his thesis, he maps out a 15-point plan that the Republican Party should implement in order to protect American families.
McDonnell spent 14 years in the General Assembly before going on to be Attorney General and his political track record exhibits blatant opposition to women’s rights. During his 14 years in the General Assembly, he pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he wrote of in his thesis, including restrictions to abortion, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor “the family”. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women. Then in 2004, he voted against allowing student health centers on college campuses to dispense emergency contraception, and has supported a lot of anti-choice legislation throughout his tenure, including a ban on late-term abortions, mandating that minors receive parental consent prior to having an abortion and requiring women seeking abortions to observe a 24-hour waiting period.
Now as he runs for Governor of Virginia, he tries to distance himself from his thesis, which clearly exhibits a lot of misogynist sentiment. However, actions speak louder than words and his track record is telling enough. According to Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal:
It would be one thing if this thesis was a satire, but it was a policy directive to the Republican Party. McDonnell went on to enact major planks of the policy agenda developed and described in the thesis. It also revealed that he has a well-developed belief against separation of church and state. One of his defenses on his views regarding working women is that his wife and two daughters work. However, we have seen with other advocates of the religious right that personal lives often have no relationship to public policy positions. We must evaluate McDonnell’s views by his actions as a public official, which have furthered an anti-women’s rights record.
I am sick of the religious right using rhetoric of “the American family” to promote and further homophobia and misogyny. It is frightening and disturbing having people like McDonnell as public officials.