Former PA Gov. Tom Ridge Accuses Social Conservatives of 'Tyranny'

The former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, who was faulted by a grand jury report for permitting convicted abortionist Kermit Gosnell to operate his “house of horrors” without state inspections, told a group of gay and lesbian Republicans that their party’s pro-life and pro-family advocates are “narcissists and ideologues” who are imposing “tyranny” on the United States.

As LifeSiteNews reported, both a former governor and Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge excoriated the social conservatives of his party during an address at a gathering of the Log Cabin Republicans’ Spirit of Lincoln dinner on October 23rd. The mission of Log Cabin Republicans is to “advance the interests of the gay and lesbian community within the Republican Party” of the U.S.

The event was attended by “special guests” Republican Reps. Ted Poe (TX), Pete King (NY), Darrell Issa (CA), and Mike Fleck (PA).

“Sometimes we [Republicans] just come across as too damned self-righteous, and I’m sorry, that’s just not the 21st-century political party GOP that I think we need to govern America,” Ridge said.

“Many Americans are outraged by the moralistic attacks on the gay and lesbian community from some within our party,” Ridge continued, lambasting what he called “the narcissists and ideologues within our party” who promote an “offensive and exclusionary view,” as well as an “unacceptable rigidity and self-righteousness on social issues.”

As Ridge attacked the pro-life and pro-family community, he simultaneously lamented a “lack of civility and statesmanship” in the political arena.

Pro-life activists, Ridge said, “forget about separation of church and state” and participate in activities that are “consistent with what a church may propose but should not necessarily be at the epicenter of governing.”

“God-fearing” people, Ridge continued, could also support abortion and homosexuality. Those who opposed abortion and same-sex marriage, he said, “should be more concerned about their own relationship with God.”

Quoting scripture, Ridge admonished those with traditional family values, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

According to Ben Johnson at LifeSiteNews:

The Catholic has long supported abortion-on-demand and in February, he became one of 130 self-identified Republican leaders who signed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court to support gay “marriage.”

Regarding the former governor's record on abortion, the grand jury in the Gosnell trial placed the blame for the abortionist’s ability to operate his clinic without state interference – even as he snipped the spinal cords of babies born alive during late-term abortion procedures – directly at the doorstep of Ridge himself.

In 1995, the grand jury report states, the administration changed from pro-life Democrat Gov. Bob Casey to pro-choice Republican Gov. Tom Ridge. The transition led officials to conclude “that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.”

Despite continued complaints about Gosnell – including those made by attorneys representing women who had been injured by him during an abortion, as well as a hand-delivered one from a physician who advised the Pennsylvania Department of Health “that numerous patients he had referred for abortions came back from Gosnell with the same venereal disease – Gosnell was arrested only after officials learned he was running a “pill mill.”

In his address, Ridge continued as well his long-time advocacy for illegal immigrants. The Republican Party, he said, must find a way to “legitimize” illegal immigrants or risk becoming a party of “just white males.”

Ridge said the GOP must become “a party worthy of the 21st century, a non-judgmental party,” and “a more positive and compelling force for change.”

Using President Ronald Reagan as an example of a Republican who advocated for a “big tent,” Ridge said:

In recent years – Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Lamar Alexander, Orin Hatch, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham – among others – were castigated by devout hardliners for not being conservative enough. Not conservative enough?

Reagan would I dare say be considered too moderate for our party today. He wasn’t an in your face ideologue. He was practical, nonjudgmental and conservative. Reagan had been a Democrat; had been divorced; had been an actor; and had run one of the most liberal unions in the country – the Screen Actor’s Guild. I don’t think he could have been our nominee in 2012.

And don’t even get me started about Abraham Lincoln’s chances.

Giving his permission to pro-life and pro-family Republicans to “be an advocate in a private way for those points of view,” Ridge counseled that, in his judgment, those issues “should not be at the epicenter of your political agenda” and “certainly shouldn’t be… such a critical issue for the GOP nationally.”

Ridge bemoaned that while “there are Republicans out there who will be forever pro-life,” he told the LGBT audience they could be dealt with “perhaps by changing their rhetoric, if not their hearts.”

Taking a cue perhaps from President Obama, Ridge explained that he went through his own change of heart with regard to gay marriage.

“When I was governor, I signed the Defense of Marriage Act,” he confessed to the group. “Since that time, frankly, my point of view has evolved.”

In 1996, Ridge’s support of his state’s marriage defense act was advantageous to him politically. The law helped to anchor his position as a force in national politics, as evidenced by his consideration as a possible running mate for Bob Dole that year.

President George W. Bush also weighed Ridge as a possible running mate but thought otherwise because of the latter’s liberal views on abortion. In July of 2000, Deal Hudson, publisher of the conservative Catholic magazine Crisis – and head of a Catholic advisory group to the Bush campaign – said of Ridge, “His relationship to his bishop makes him an untenable choice” as a running mate.

Ridge was nevertheless tapped by Bush to be the first Secretary of Homeland Security after the 9/11 attacks. After leaving the Bush administration, however, Ridge wrote a memoir in which he implied that Bush pressured him to change terror threat warnings for political reasons. The New York Times, however, said he provided “no evidence that politics motivated the discussion.”

Ridge’s insinuation led conservative columnist Michelle Malkin to categorize him as a “weasel.”

In 2008, John McCain referred to Ridge as “one of the great leaders” of his party, “and he happens to be pro-choice. And I don’t think that that would necessarily rule Tom Ridge out” as a vice presidential running mate, McCain said.

More recently, after Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe vowed to get around the rules so that his state’s substandard abortion facilities could remain open, Steve Rossie of the Family Foundation said, “Remember, it was then-Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge who ignored the law in that state requiring abortion center inspections that allowed Gosnell to go unnoticed for years, harming untold numbers of women and children.”

The full text of Ridge’s address can be read here.


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