March 2005 Church & State | People & Events

Presidential strategist Karl Rove has urged members of the Religious Right to be patient, reminding them that it may take some time to engineer the changes they want to see in American society.

“Now we’ve got a big job ahead of us – that is to take the agenda we talked about in the campaign and make it a reality,” Rove told attendees at the Christian Inaugural Gala in Washington. “We also have to be patient because not everything is going to be done overnight.”

The Jan. 19 event, sponsored by the Traditional Values Coalition and other Religious Right organizations, also featured an appearance by Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who thanked Religious Right activists for helping re-elect Bush.

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) spoke at the event as well. Thune, who unseated Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle with the help of James Dobson of Focus on the Family, said passage of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is a possibility.

“We’ve got some heavy lifting ahead of us, but I think more and more of these, perhaps, senators that represented red states in this last election realize they can’t afford to get too out of step with their constituents, especially when it comes to some of these cultural issues,” Thune said.

The main speaker at the event was outgoing Attorney General John Ashcroft. Ashcroft said that when he lauded Bush for his resolve, Bush replied, “John, I know what I believe in and in whom I believe.”

The Family Research Council, a group allied with Focus on the Family, also held an inaugural event. During the event, the group gave “true blue” awards to House and Senate members who scored 100 percent on its scorecards.

Senators on the list include Majority Leader Bill Frist, Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Sam Brownback of Kansas. House members included Henry Hyde of Illinois, Mike Pence of Indiana and Tom DeLay of Texas. All of the awardees are Republicans.

Since the inaugural events, some Religious Right activists have grumbled that Bush seems to be forgetting them already. In media interviews, Bush seemed to pour cold water on the marriage amendment, saying it does not have the votes to pass the Senate.

Senate Republicans responded by putting the amendment at the top of their list of priorities for this year. In addition, Bush included language supporting the marriage amendment in his State of the Union address.