Despite their election night "bruising," social-conservative groups are counseling each other to keep the faith, prepare for another day – and "modernize" their views.
Although new battle plans have not been made public, the social issues of abortion, gay marriage, family breakdown and the expansion of the welfare state will remain in play. Lamentations were heard from many corners.
"The event we have just witnessed was far more than a general election – it was a referendum on the soul of America," Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, wrote Thursday.
"Millions of Americans looked evil in the eye and adopted it Abortion, same-sex marriage, and immorality carried the day," he said. But "no matter what the populace does, we are not allowed to waver and must remain steadfast God calls us to remain faithful, no matter the consequences."
"On every level – presidential, congressional, social – it was a bruising day for our movement that no amount of spin can improve," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and its political-action group.
"Americans had a choice, and they made it," but only a few positive highlights came from it, Mr. Perkins said, pointing to the election of new conservatives in Texas, Nebraska and North Carolina, and re-election of others in battleground states of Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio.
Social-conservative groups suffered a complete rout on gay marriage: They and their allies failed to prevent gay marriage from going into effect in Maine, Maryland and Washington state, and they failed to add a constitutional amendment in Minnesota that would have defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Minnesota voters even threw out Republican leadership in both of their legislative chambers, partly because of the marriage amendment.
Moreover, in Iowa, voters chose to retain a state Supreme Court judge who approved gay marriage for the state in 2009, again bucking the efforts of traditional-values groups.
In Florida, voters rejected measures that would have banned taxpayer-funded abortion and permitted public funding of religious schools.
President Obama's re-election means his signature health care plan will go forward with its requirement for free contraception and abortion-inducing products, and he will likely select at least one more Supreme Court justice.
The pro-life camp, on the other hand, came away with meager results – a rare victory was approval of a Montana law that says a parent must be notified before a girl younger than age 16 can get an abortion.
"I'm sure that most of you, as I am, are a little shell-shocked at the result of the election. I was one of those optimists who believed we could elect a pro-life president and maybe even put a pro-life majority in place in the Senate," Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, said in an email to supporters. "We do not always understand why something happens, but we do know that we are in God's hands. We will not give up."
In a Family Research Council Action webcast on the "aftermath and aftershocks" of Election 2012, Mr. Perkins steered supporters to a column by Matt Lewis in the Daily Caller that said Republicans need "modernization, not moderation." It's time to "find a way to make conservatism relevant to a new generation and, frankly, to a larger demographic group," Mr. Lewis told the webcast.
"The values issues" are a bridge to connect with Hispanics, Asians and other nonwhite groups, agreed Mr. Perkins.
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