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A Family Issues Scorecard - A Useful Innovation

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Every year Family Research Council (FRC) Action issues a report card detailing how our elected officials in Congress vote on pro-family issues. Defense/foreign-policy conservatives have had ratings for quite some time, as have economic conservatives. Only recently has there been a ratings-system for family issues. Its most recent scorecard details the first session of the 110th Congress

FRC Action rated seven votes in the Senate, including those on embryonic stem-cell research, hate crimes, preventing funding for international groups which support coercive abortion and sterilization. Only twenty seven Republicans in the Senate scored 100% on pro-family issues. Only a few states, such as Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming, have two Senators with perfect scores.

Having the appellation "Republican" attached to a Senator's name is rarely an indication of how the Senator will vote. In Arizona, for example, Senator Jon Kyl scored 100%. But his colleague, Senator John S. McCain, III received a disappointing 42% rating. Some Republican Senators did not score as well as Democrats. Senators Susan Collins and Olympia B. Snowe, both Republicans from Maine, scored 28%. Meanwhile, Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) scored highest among the Democrats, at 85%. After that, Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) received a 42% rating. Most Democrats had a 0% rating.

In the House of Representatives, FRC Action rated sixteen votes, including bills on funding for abortions, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, needle exchange programs, hate crimes and the Fairness Doctrine. There were 119 Representatives with 100% votes. All three Republicans from Nebraska, its entire delegation, scored perfectly. Representative Brad Ellsworth of Indiana had the highest Democratic score, at 81%. As a side note, the new Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, a Republican, received a score of 85%. He was unable to vote on two issues because he was campaigning for Governor.

Years ago when we established ratings of all House votes for the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, I actually had several Members of Congress who wanted to argue with me about their voting record. They wanted a higher rating. One of the calls I received was from Edward I. Koch, then a Democratic Representative from New York and later Mayor of New York City. I had labeled him the most liberal Congressman in the House in 1975. He didn't like that and wanted to argue for a higher score.

Now that FRC Action is publishing this excellent ratings system, Members of Congress may argue for a higher score. And they should. In doing so they could discuss with voters their motivation for voting as they did on important social issues. One can hope that this will provide more transparency and accountability among our politicians. The American public will be the primary beneficiary if Members show concern about their pro-family voting records and begin to address the issues forthrightly.

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