The Bush Vs. Kerry Briefs: Sexual Politics

Candidates' stances differ on sex education, abortion.

What do two rich white men have to do with your sex life? Probably a lot more than you'd like. Sexual politics in America's two major parties are pretty black-and-white.

The Republicans generally want kids to "keep it in their pants" till they're in a healthy, committed relationship (i.e. marriage). The Democrats, however, are bigger believers in the "no glove, no love" ideal — if you're having sex, make sure it's safer sex. What you're doing behind closed doors isn't the only thing politicians are talking about. They could also have a say on who you're doing it with, and whether or not you can have an abortion.

Sex Education

The Bush administration has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting abstinence-only programs in public schools. These programs require schools to tell kids that sex before marriage is not the best idea and spend scant, if any, time on contraception. The thinking goes: "If you give kids a plan B, they won't take plan A as seriously."

John Kerry, however, is down with sex-ed programs that are often called "abstinence-plus." These programs encourage abstinence but also teach about condoms and other contraceptives for students who do decide to have sex before marriage.


Controversy over what constitutes a human life continues to be a hot topic in politics. The Republicans have generally leaned toward a stance that considers the human embryo a person whose rights are protected under the Constitution. Rather than abortion, they suggest adoption. The Democratic platform generally leaves it to the woman to decide whether abortion is a suitable procedure and supports preserving the right to choose.

President Bush strongly opposes abortion, and he's signed some of the most significant abortion legislation since the procedure was legalized, including a ban on a controversial method referred to by many as "partial-birth abortion." He has said he will not seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, but rather seek to promote a "culture of life" so that people will choose not to have abortions.

While Senator Kerry says he is personally opposed to abortion, he is a strong supporter of a woman's right to choose. He has pledged to nominate only judges who support abortion rights, and he says he voted against the partial-birth abortion ban because it didn't contain an exception that would've allowed it if it were necessary for the mother's health.

Gay Marriage

Bush takes a strong position on same-sex marriage — he believes it is wrong and wants to amend the Constitution to ensure that homosexuals can't marry. Yet the president encourages state legislatures to consider civil-union options and allow the citizens of their states to vote on them.

Like President Bush, John Kerry believes marriage is between a man and a woman only, and like the president he supports civil unions and equal treatment for same-sex couples. Kerry differs from the president, though, when it comes to amending the Constitution to make same-sex marriages illegal. He was one of 14 senators to oppose the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal recognition to same-sex marriages.

Check out the headlines section of for more Bush vs. Kerry briefs, and don't forget to vote on November 2.