A lot of Republican politicians trade heavily on being “family values” politicians. By which they mean, they support a ban on same-sex couples marrying and a ban on the children of same-sex couples having two legal parents.
What they don’t mean by “family values” is any support for actual families, living together and supporting each other, caring for their children.
If you’ve ever talked to an anti-marriage activist, you generally find that while they’re willing to admit that same-sex couples exist, they are utterly unwilling to acknowledge that they have children: they are too busy carrying a big sign that says in large friendly lying letters that they want to PROTECT children, to think for a moment about the children their bans on marriage and adoption and their promotion of homophobia in schools are attacking. For them, those children are invisible, inaudible, unwanted problems who should never have been born. (About six months ago I had a depressing series of discussions with Renaissance Guy, one of the breed of right-wing “Christians” who hold it to be an essential tenet of their faith to promote legal discrimination against same-sex couples and their children: RG is far from the only such religionist to believe that homophobia is more central to Christianity than caring for children, he just runs a more open blog than most of his co-religionists.)
I’ve been convinced for years that homophobic, racist, and misogynistic bigotry are all growths from the same root, but I’ve been becoming more and more convinced recently that class discrimination is tied in with this too: see the post I wrote a year ago about the attitude that only wealthy families can have fine children (Persephone embraces Hades).
In the Seattle Times this week (Via, via) there’s a fresh example of children officially determined not to exist because of Republican policies.
On the face of it, a “family values” politician ought to have thought well of a woman like Rachel Porcaro: a single mom, granted, no husband around to help support her two kids, which must be one strike against her, but: She’d moved to live with her parents: she was working and taking care of her kids. A family: grandparents, mom, and kids.
But: Rachel Porcaro earned only $18,992 a year. In Seattle, that put her and her two sons below the poverty line. And, she got the “earned income tax credit” which is tax relief for the working poor. Republicans – those “family values” politicians – call that “welfare by the back door”. When the Republicans were in control of Congress, a head-of-family in receipt of earned income tax credit was more than twice as likely to get audited than the rest of the 140 million American taxpayers. Apparently the Republicans would prefer it if a woman like Rachel Porcaro was on welfare, rather than being a working single mom earning barely enough to get by on: tax audits are bitterly discouraging. Granted poor people may commit tax fraud as well as wealthy people, but auditing poor people more than wealthy people is a thoroughly backwards way of going about it – unless you care more for protecting the wealthy and penalizing the poor than you do about actually recovering money from tax cheats.
Not the end of the story, though. Rachel Porcaro’s children were declared non-children by the IRS. She was earning so little they decided she couldn’t claim them as tax dependents: and they disallowed any other claim because there weren’t enough receipts to prove she – or their grandparents – were keeping them in food and clothing.
Republicans claim they’re pro-family. Rightwing Christians claim they’ll vote Republican because they believe in protecting families and children. But these imaginary ideals somehow evaporate into poison gas when they’re faced with the real families, the actual children, directly and visibly harmed by right-wing policies and Republican politicians.