Obama’s explanation for his vote [i.e., that he voted for it because of its provisions to teach children how to resist molestation and sexual abuse] has been accepted by nearly all commentators. And perhaps that is indeed why he voted for Senate Bill 99, although we don’t know for sure. But we do know that the bill itself was much more than that. The fact is, the bill’s intention was to mandate that issues like contraception and the prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases be included in sex-education classes for children before the sixth grade, and as early as kindergarten. Obama’s defenders may howl, but the bill is what it is.
This is obviously a tricky question, since original intent is notoriously hard to discern – and as Ross notes, the McCain campaign is pretty much getting what they asked for when they decided to run an ad on such a hot-button issue. But there can be little doubt that the text of the bill itself certainly suggests that it was going to be used to require – in an “age-appropriate way”, of course! – kindergartners taking courses in sexual education or family life to be taught, not just about avoiding molestation and the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate sorts of touching, but also about contraception and STDs.
Perhaps someone else’s investigation of this issue has turned up more than Obama’s insistence that he voted for the bill only because of the parts about inappropriate touching. (A question, though: if this were the case, and the bill in fact mandated all sorts of other “comprehensiveness” in sex-ed classes for kindergartners, wouldn’t that be bad enough?) But if so, then I haven’t seen it, and York’s difficulties in getting his phone calls returned suggests that that wouldn’t be an easy endeavor. And so while I think it’s indisputable that the McCain ad on this topic is still wildly misleading in lots of crucial ways, I certainly don’t think that the case against Obama’s support for this bill deserves to be regarded as closed. I am, however, still open to being corrected here.