WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptist public policy leader Richard Land has urged 11 Republican senators to oppose a United Nations treaty critics say would undermine parental rights and American sovereignty.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s president encouraged the senators to join 30 other GOP members in cosponsoring a resolution that says President Obama should not send the United Nations (U.N.) Convention on the Rights of the Child to the Senate for ratification.
The Obama administration and Senate Democratic leadership could try to advance the treaty during a lame-duck congressional session scheduled after the Nov. 2 election, Land warned.
Foes of the treaty are seeking to enlist 34 cosponsors in order to thwart a ratification attempt. Senate ratification requires a two-thirds majority, or 67 of 100 senators. If opponents have 34 senators committed to vote against the treaty, it could deter any effort to bring the treaty to the floor to be ratified.
One of the 11 Republicans who had yet to commit when Land wrote his letter has decided to become a cosponsor, it was announced Oct. 13. Sen. George LeMieux of Florida became the 31st cosponsor of S. Res. 519.
On the same day LeMieux’s commitment was announced, the chairwoman of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child urged the United States and Somalia to ratify the treaty. Yanghee Lee of South Korea made her appeal before the U.N. General Assembly. Those two countries are the only U.N. members that have not agreed to the treaty. The United States signed the document in 1995 during the Clinton administration, but the Senate has failed to ratify it.
The treaty, which was approved by the General Assembly in 1989, establishes special protections, as well as economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights, for children under the age of 18, according to the U.N.
In his letter, however, Land said the treaty “would virtually strip the United States of her sovereignty as primary guardian of parental rights in our nation.”
Regarding parental authority, the federal government would be under the authority of an international committee if the U.S. ratifies the treaty, Land told the senators. Senate ratification would mean the treaty becomes the “supreme law” in America, he said.
The international panel “would be afforded liberty to impose draconian child-rearing dictates on our government, and would ultimately hamstring parental authority on such things as religious upbringing, discipline, and education,” Land said. “Just as disturbing, the treaty would give children unprecedented rights against their parents — a reversal of traditional roles.”
In addition to LeMieux, the Republicans receiving letters from Land were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee; Scott Brown of Massachusetts; Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine; Judd Gregg of New Hampshire; Richard Lugar of Indiana; Richard Shelby of Alabama and George Voinovich of Ohio.
Corker has signed a letter opposing the treaty’s ratification, although he has not agreed to cosponsor the resolution, according to the organization ParentalRights.org.
Land also thanked the resolution’s sponsor, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, in a letter.
In expressing the sense Obama should not send the treaty to the Senate, S. Res. 519 says it “is incompatible” with the U.S. Constitution, laws and traditions, would undercut American self-government and favor governmental interference over families’ independence.
Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.