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Republican Party Animals

May 1, 2010

While Arizona Governor Jan Brewer suggested Friday that her state's illegal immigrants were terrorists, other Republicans have deemed them another kind of animal altogether. Make that animal or insect. As it turns out, the same GOP that likens same-sex marriage to the union of one man and one dog, box turtle or horse also equates illegals with just about every one of God's creatures great and small. All, that is, except human beings.
As the debate over comprehensive immigration reform ramped up in 2007, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (seriously, you can't make this up) suggested border control was akin to herding goats:

"If the answer is 'build a fence' I've got two goats on my place in Mississippi. There ain't no fence big enough, high enough, strong enough, that you can keep those goats in that fence."
"Now people are at least as smart as goats," Lott continued. "Maybe not as agile. Build a fence. We should have a virtual fence. Now one of the ways I keep those goats in the fence is I electrified them. Once they got popped a couple of times they quit trying to jump it."
"I'm not proposing an electrified goat fence," Lott added quickly, "I'm just trying, there's an analogy there."

For his part, Iowa Republican Congressional candidate Pat Bertroche gave undocumented immigrants more credit, putting them instead on a par with dogs. And the same cutting edge technology that allows pet owners to find their lost canines, he insisted, could be deployed to monitor and track people:

"I think we should catch 'em, we should document 'em, make sure we know where they are and where they are going," said Pat Bertroche, an Urbandale physician. "I actually support micro-chipping them. I can micro-chip my dog so I can find it. Why can't I micro-chip an illegal?
"That's not a popular thing to say, but it's a lot cheaper than building a fence they can tunnel under," Bertroche said.

Meanwhile, Texas GOP Rep. Ted Poe stopped just short of comparing the influx of Mexicans to a biblical plague of locusts. Make that grasshoppers:

"Now it seems to me that if we are so advanced with technology and manpower and competence that we can capture illegal grasshoppers from Brazil, in the holds of ships that are in a little small place in Port Arthur, Texas on the Sabine River. Sabine River, madam speaker, is the river that separates Texas from Louisiana. If we're able to do that as a country, how come we can't capture the thousands of people that cross the border everyday on the southern border of the United States? You know they're a little bigger than grasshoppers and they should be able to be captured easier."

Of course, the leading lights of the Republican Party have long turned to analogies from the animal kingdom to deny others' basic human rights and even humanity itself. On no issue has the GOP so frequently turned to barnyard politics as that of marriage equality.
Discussing the 2003 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court establishing marriage equality in the Bay State, John McCain's primary opponent J.D. Hayworth told an Orlando radio show just last month (audio here):

"I mean, I don't mean to be absurd about it, but I guess I can make the point of absurdity with an absurd point. I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse."

Of course, former Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum beat Hayworth to the punch seven years ago. As the AP reported in April 2003, Santorum was worried that man's best friend might become man's best friend with benefits:

"In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

The startled AP reporter responded, "I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out."
The freak out continued in July 2004. Advocating a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in an address to the Heritage Foundation, Texas Senator John Cornyn declared that reptiles, too, needed protection:

"It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right...Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife."

As it turns out, Republicans don't just want to stop a man from marrying a dog, horse, turtle, fish, bird, reptile, amphibian or other mammal. They don't want them procreating, either.
Unsurprisingly, the latest news on that front also comes from Arizona. There, as Politico reported, the legislature passed a bill banning human-animal hybrids. Echoing a 2009 Louisiana law and a Senate bill being pressed by Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, the Arizona measure:

Would prohibit anyone in the state from "creating or attempting to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm."
The measure would also outlaw "transferring or attempting to transfer a human embryo into a nonhuman womb," "transferring or attempting to transfer a nonhuman embryo into a human womb" and "transporting or receiving for any purpose a human-animal hybrid."

Apparently, Republicans don't want to treat humans like animals. Unless, of course, they are women showing up in a family planning clinic in Oklahoma, gay couples seeking a marriage license at city hall - or just people crossing the border from Mexico.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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