'Family Values' Conservatives Unimpressed by State of the Union Address

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Conservative groups that advocate "family values" issues such as bans on abortion and homosexual "marriage" were left unimpressed after President Bush's seventh State of the Union address Tuesday evening.

"I applaud the president's leadership as he refused to surrender his role of commander-in-chief to the new majority," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement Tuesday. "However, I believe the president failed to challenge the new majority to advance core family and cultural issues.

"What will become of the culture of life, the defense of marriage and permanent family-friendly tax policies?" Perkins asked. He called on Bush to "fight for the American family, and American families will stand with you!"

Tuesday's State of the Union speech marked the first such address in five years in which the president did not focus on family values issues like abortion, stem cell research and marriage.

In 2003, Bush called on Congress to ban the procedure opponents call "partial-birth abortion." Later that year, he signed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban of 2003, which is now under review by the Supreme Court.

During his 2004 address, Bush pledged to double funding for federal abstinence education programs and urged Congress to rebut "activist judges" who had "begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard to the will of the people and their elected representatives."

He continued pressing for action on marriage in 2005, when he called it "a sacred institution and the foundation of society" and again called for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

In 2005, Bush also said the government "must strive to build a culture of life" and promised to work with Congress "to ensure that human embryos are not created for experimentation or grown for body parts, and that human life is never bought and sold as a commodity."

Again in 2006, Bush called for prohibitions on what he called "the most egregious abuses of medical research," including human cloning and the creation or implantation of human embryos for research. He also criticized "activist judges" for trying to redefine marriage.

Yet in 2007, Bush steered clear of embryonic stem cell research, even as high-profile proponents such as actor Michael J. Fox sat in the House gallery. Bush last year vetoed a bill that would have allowed federal funding for the research, and the new Democratic Congress is again trying to pass the legislation.

Bush mentioned "family" only once in the most recent speech, when he proposed tax deductions for health insurance. He also avoided homosexual "marriage" after a year -- 2006 -- in which efforts to create a constitutional amendment to ban it failed.

See Related Stories:
Bush 'Detached' From Union, Anti-War Activists Say (Jan. 24, 2007)
Environmentalists 'Abandon Hope' After Bush Speech (Jan. 24, 2007)
State of the Union Address 2007 (Jan. 24, 2007)
Democratic Response to 2007 State of the Union Address (Jan. 24, 2007)

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