This is the final post in a four-part series exploring how American right-wing groups have supported Russia’s recent spate of anti-gay laws and its crackdown on LGBT citizens.
Last week, Serbian authorities abruptly cancelled a planned gay pride parade in Belgrade, citing “serious security concerns” about right-wing groups opposing the event. A few days later, an American group stood up to claim credit: the Rockford, Illinois-based World Congress of Families.
In its press release celebrating the parade’s cancellation, WCF highlighted its role in last week’s Belgrade protest against the planned parade. Speaking at the protest were WCF communications director Don Feder and the group’s top man in Moscow, Alexey Komov. Also present was Fabrice Sorlin, the far-right nationalist French activist who organized a delegation of American and French activists to advocate for anti-gay laws at the Duma in June, the subject of our last post.
It’s no coincidence that the WCF was able to pull such a delegation to Belgrade: For the past several years, the organization has built an organization in Russia to advocate for anti-gay policies there and throughout Eastern Europe. WCF staff in Russia actively advocated for recent anti-gay laws, including a ban on gay “propaganda” – essentially a gag rule on gay rights advocacy – and the curtailing of international adoptions to gay couples and single people in countries that allow marriage equality. Through WCF, American Religious Right groups are able to provide support to anti-gay movements in Russia and throughout the world.
The World Congress of Families was founded in 1997 by Religious Right activist (and former Reagan National Commission on Children appointee) Allan Carlson as a project of the Rockford, Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion & Society. WCF’s purpose is to be a multi-faith, multi-national coalition of social conservative groups working to push its vision in the United Nations and in governments around the world. But it draws its most prominent support from the American Religious Right.
The WCF has friends in high places. The Bush administration’s representative to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women spoke at the WCF’s 2004 world meeting in Mexico City, saying, “As one of the pillars of civilization, families must remain strong and we must defend them during a time of great change.”
Since President Obama took office, the WCF has found itself in a different role, joining with groups like the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (CFAM) to resist the administration’s efforts to include gay rights in international human rights efforts and its repeal of the Mexico City Policy. WCF has strongly opposed international efforts to decriminalize homosexuality, and has even whitewashed the push by some Ugandan officials to make homosexuality a capital crime.
The group continues to draw financial support from nearly every major Religious Right organization in the United States. The WCF’s American “partners” include Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, Alliance Defense Fund and Americans United For Life. Concerned Women For America’s Janice Shaw Crouse is a member of its board. Leaders of many of these groups are also staples at WCF’s annual conferences.
The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown is also an enthusiastic booster of WCF’s work. In an August fundraising email, WCF quoted Brown:
The World Congress of Families is THE group standing up for the family around the world. They have done amazing work in uniting all of those who stand for the truth about marriage and family. It has been an honor to partner with WCF and to be a part of their most recent Congress in Australia and regional conference in Trinidad and Tobago. I wholeheartedly endorse their work and urge you to financially support their efforts.
Through the World Congress of Families, American Religious Right groups that might shy away from international affairs in their more public work provide very direct support to efforts preventing international recognition of gay rights as human rights, and to the crafting of anti-gay policies abroad. And that is exactly what’s happening in Russia.
This month, the World Congress of Families joined with five other American groups in signing a statement with over 100 groups from around the world supporting Russia’s “gay propaganda” law and condemning the international outcry surrounding it.
In early June, shortly before the Russian Duma passed its ban on “gay propaganda,” World Congress of Families managing director Larry Jacobs told End Times radio host Rick Wiles that the ban was a “great idea,” as it would prevent gay people from “corrupting children.”
“The Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world,” he said. “At the UN, they are really the ones standing up for these traditional values of family and faith.”
Just a few days after the “propaganda” bill was passed, Jacobs took to Voice of Russia radio to defend the law, saying, “Russia is actually doing something that used to be pretty common in the west, which is trying to protect children from harmful materials.” Asked whether the U.S. should consider a similar law, Jacobs dodged: “Interesting question, and one that certainly politically would not fly, and again, mostly because of special rights and lobby interest groups on both sides of the issue.”
The World Congress of Families has done more than cheer on Russia’s anti-gay crackdown from the sidelines. It has also built an advocacy structure within the country.
In 2012, WCF helped found a Russia-based group called FamilyPolicy.ru, a group whose goal was “to build [a] highly efficient network of pan-Russian grassroots socially conservative activists, that would be able to consistently exert real influence on the family policy in Russia, at the U.N. and internationally.”
The top staff members at FamilyPolicy.Ru also hold positions with the WCF. FamilyPolicy.ru’s president, Alexei Komov (the one who spoke at the rally in Belgrade), is WCF’s official “Representative in Russia.” Komov also heads a program for St. Basil’s, the foundation headed by Konstantin Malofeev, the businessman and activist who hosted the June meeting on anti-gay laws attended by Brian Brown and Fabrice Sorlin.
In March 2013, WCF appointed FamilyPolicy.ru staffer Pavel Parfentiev to be its “ambassador to European institutions.”
Shortly after its founding, FamilyPolicy.ru held a “demographic summit” dedicated to providing “solutions to Russia’s well-below replacement fertility rate.” The summit featured Parfentiev, the World Congress of Family’s Don Feder and John Mueller of the Washington, DC based Ethics in Public Policy Center. The “demographic winter” theme is central to the scholarship and advocacy of WCF and the Howard Center, which fault feminism, gay rights, legal divorce, birth control and other progressive advances for falling population in the developed world. (In 2011, Jacobs attended a Moscow conference that influenced Russian activists in adopting American anti-choice tactics) And it is a program that Russian president Vladimir Putin has enthusiastically embraced .
FamilyPolicy.ru quickly became a leader in Russian anti-gay politics. In an interview with Voice of Russia radio in June, Parfentiev claimed credit for being an “initiator” of Russia’s ban on adoptions to gay couples and single people in countries that allow gay couples to marry. “As far as I know, I was one of the first people that publicly spoke about the necessity of such a move,” he said. “Of course, I would support this move because, in fact, I was one of its initiators.”
Parfentiev also advocated for Russia’s gay propaganda ban. In March, he sent a detailed memo to the European Commission for Democracy through Law defending the law (then still in progress) and a similar proposed measure in Ukraine. In May, he sent a similar memo to the Council of Europe.
When the Duma passed the propaganda ban in June, Parfentiev posted gleefully on Facebook that he “got greetings and congratulations from many foreign colleagues representing the movement to protect the family.”
Alexei Komov, meanwhile, has proved to be a prolific spokesperson for the anti-gay cause in Russia. In an interview with Voice of Russia radio in August, Komov announced that Russia remains “the last bastion of moral values” against a UN-sponsored push to recognize gay rights around the globe. In another interview, he Komov praised Republicans and the Tea Party for defending “traditional family values” in the United States.
When the World Congress of Families announced its participation in the statement of support for the gay “propaganda law,” Komov and Parfentiev sent out their own press release. The release quotes Komov as saying:
This announcement shows, despite the attempts of supporters of the interests of the so-called" sexual minorities "to create the opposite impression, that a huge number of people and human rights organizations around the world are supporting Russia in an effort to protect their children and their family values from aggressive immoral propaganda.
Parfentiev added a statement comparing gay rights advocacy to “the use of toxic chemicals in baby food”:
Statement organizations in the world confirms that Russian law meets the generally recognized rules of international law. Protect children from propaganda contrary to the family and moral standards - completely normal, routine step. In fact, it is no different, for example, prohibit the use of toxic chemicals in baby food - against which hardly anyone will object. It's amazing how far-fetched and artificial boom created outrage around this simple measure by those who seem to displease the family and family values are simple. Therefore, Russia today is very important this support of the international civil society."
Perhaps the clearest sign that the World Congress of Families is invested in Russia’s anti-gay renaissance – and sees it as a model for the world -- is that it has scheduled its next world conference for Moscow.
Leading the “the hosting committee” for the event will be Alexei Komov. Also on the committee is Konstantin Malofeev, the private equity head who convened “Traditional Values” roundtable with Brian Brown and the French activists that we reported on yesterday. The leading theme of the roundtable discussion was that Russia would be a leader for the world in stemming the trend toward greater freedoms and equality for gay people – a trend that Malofeev claimed would “lead to the physical extinction of humans.”
As we reported yesterday, Malofeev spoke at last year’s World Congress of Families gathering in Sydney, where, where, according to one attendee, he held out Russia as a model for the world, saying, “Now Christian Russia can help liberate the West from the new liberal anti-Christian totalitarianism of political correctness, gender ideology, mass-media censorship and neo-Marxist dogma."
Anti-gay activists in the United States, finding it increasingly difficult to push their agenda at home, have turned to Russia both as a place receptive to their politics and as a “savior” of the world against increasing social liberalism. In doing so, they have provided international backing for an oppressive, anti-democratic regime that is increasingly using LGBT people as scapegoats for broader political dissatisfaction.
When they support the World Congress of Families and attend its events – including the upcoming conference in Moscow – American groups send the clear message about how far they are willing to go to promote anti-gay ideology.
This is the second post in a four-part series exploring how American right-wing groups have supported Russia’s recent spate of anti-gay laws and its crackdown on LGBT citizens.
On June 13, 2013, just days after the Russian Duma passed laws banning on gay “propaganda” and actions that “offend religious feelings,” a delegation of five French Catholic anti-gay activists --at least one with ties to the far-right Front National party -- traveled to Moscow at the invitation of the Duma committee on family, women and children to discuss, among other issues, Russia’s plans to tighten its ban on adoption by same-sex couples abroad. Joining them was one of the most well-known figures in the American anti-gay movement, National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown .
Brown had worked closely with the French anti-gay movement in its protests of the country’s marriage equality law, traveling to Paris to demonstrate against the law and signing onto an email to members of the Collectif Famille Mariage, one of the most prominent groups working to oppose marriage equality in France. (Excerpt: "You are the people who invented Gothic art and built these wonderful cathedrals soaring toward the sky, inspiring the entire civilized world…The new cathedral that you are building right before our eyes is composed of living stones: you, dear Resistance fighters, young people and adults, men and women, boys and girls!” )
The French activists joining Brown were far-right thinker Aymeric Chauprade; activist Odile Téqui; François Legrier, president of the Mouvement Catholique des Familles; and Hugues Revel, president of Cahtoliques en Campagne.
The French delegation was led by Fabrice Sorlin, head of the far-right nationalist group Dies Irae, which is named after a liturgical poemabout the Day of Judgment and has been accused of racist and anti-Semitic behavior and, according to Box Turtle Bulletin, “had been working to create autonomous militias in France under the inspiration of American white nationalist Luther Pierce’s conspiracy-laden novel The Turner Diaries.” (The group has denied the charges .) Sorlin is also a former candidate for the far-right Front National party, and chair of a group called Alliance France-Europe Russia, which is dedicated to forging a “strong connection between Europe and Russia” and uniting “the Anglo-Saxon world” against the emerging economies of China and India based, in part, on shared “Christian values.” The project of building a stronger alliance with Russia is a project held dear by the French far-right.
Le Figaro notes that elected officials at the front of the French anti-marriage movement did not respond to the Duma’s invitation to attend the meeting for fear of being “associated with a campaign of homophobia directed by Moscow” but that the name of the far-right Le Pen family “was mentioned several times” at the event.
According to Russian news reports, the French activists and Brown attended two events in Moscow. One was a joint meeting on changes in international adoption laws with the Duma’s committee on foreign affairs and its committee on family, women and children – whose chair, Yelena Mizulina, authored the ban on gay “propaganda” and the adoption bill.
The other event was a roundtable discussion on "Traditional Values: The Future of the European Peoples," hosted by the St. Basil the Great Foundation – a Russian Orthodox group run by Konstantin Malofeev, the head of a private equity group and spirited anti-gay activist – and also sponsored by the Duma’s family committee, the right-wing Center for Social-Conservative Policy, and a new multi-party group of Russian MPs formed, with approval of the Russian Orthodox Church, to “protect traditional Christian values” and fight “aggressive liberalism” inreaction to Pussy Riot’s protests. Among the measures pushed by the group was the new law imposing jail time for “insulting religious feelings.”
The National Organization for Marriage did not publicly announce Brown’s participation in this international meeting of anti-gay minds. However, his presence was mentioned by Revel in a blog post about the visit, in which he noted that Brown gave a “remarkable speech in the Duma.”
The NOM leader also spoke to Russia 1’s Vesti news program:
According to a re-translation of the Russian translation of the interview with Brown, he told the reporters that restricting Russian adoptions to gay and lesbian couples was a way of halting a slippery slope of “very negative developments all over the world”:
Right now you’re having the fight about adoption, but the adoption issue is indivisible from the marriage issue. If you don’t defend your values now, I’m afraid we’re going to see very negative developments all over the world.
We reached out to NOM for more information about Brown’s trip and a copy of the speech he gave to the Duma, but did not receive a reply. But luckily, the committee that hosted the activists posted copies of all the speeches on their website.
In his speech to the committee (again, translated to Russian and back again to English), Brown warned of the dangers of allowing gay people to adopt children, saying “Every child should have the right to have normal parents: a father and a mother,” and sharing some of NOM’s favorite stories of the supposed religious persecution following marriage equality in the U.S.:
But we are now convinced, having heard the presentations of our French brothers and sisters, that we are talking about very serious problems indeed. We are talking about violations of rights, we are talking about the rights and problems of children in their education. We should not shy away from this and should not forget about it and create an illusion for ourselves. A reconsideration of the definition and understanding of marriage is in fact a real threat to rights. Very soon after a law was passed that legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Massachusetts, we saw that religious organizations were closing down, religious organizations that dealt with adoptions and that did not support adoption by same-sex families. They were closing one after another.
We have actually seen that in some schools, they are talking to children about homosexuality, but in fact they don’t have the right to learn about a lot of things like that until a certain age.
I think that this visit, the invitation to visit Russia, will enable the development of this movement around the world. We will band together, we will defend our children and their normal civil rights. Every child should have the right to have normal parents: a father and a mother.
If anything, Brown’s speech was one of the most restrained at the Duma meeting. You can get an idea of the flavor of the event from the speech of one of the French activists, Aymeric Chauprade , who gleefully portrays Russia as a guiding light for anti-gay activists throughout the world:
In this new battle, ladies and gentlemen [of the Duma], those who do not want the U.S. anti-missile shield, the dominance of NATO, or the war against Syria and Iran are in the same camp as those who refuse the loss of sovereignty, population replacement on a grand scale, FEMEN, gender theory, homosexual marriage, as well as the further commodification of the human body.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with President Putin and all the driving forces of Russia that your country has embarked upon an unprecedented shift in the military, geopolitics, economics, energy and spirituality that commands the admiration of French patriots!
Patriots around the world, as committed to the independence of nations as they are to the foundations of our civilization, turn their eyes at this time towards Moscow.
Fabrice Sorlin, the nationalist leader, went even further, comparing Russia’s anti-gay stand to its protection of Europe against the Mongol hordes and against fascism in the twentieth century (Translated from the French by Google):
Dear friends, I say to you-- The people of France taking to the streets today to defend fundamental values are watching you closely. For throughout history, if France has often played the role of rouser of our conscience, Russia for its part has always played that of protector of the nations of Europe.
To name but two examples, first let us recall the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan that you fought in the 13th century, thereby protecting Europe from their invasions.
But let us above all remember the twentieth century, where once again you were the shield as well as the sword of Europe, crushing the fascism that was then sweeping over her-- paying for it the dearest human toll that any nation has ever paid.
But your role does not end there. For though times have changed, today another danger threatens France and Europe—that of the loss of its bearings, of its traditional values; in short, the suicide of our Civilization.
Francois Legrois, the head of Mouvement Cahtolique des Familles, put it this way:
Our European governments are coming up against this ideology that puts them at risk and that may drive them to social suicide. This means both demographic suicide, because homosexuality is the same as infertility, but also to moral suicide, because in this situation a person does not know where he comes from and where he is going. Such a person will become only a resentful person who has no reason to love either his family or his motherland.
The only alternative is a return to reality, a return to Christianity, which is a genuine treasure that we must open for ourselves once again. This implies a policy that defends the family against that which would lead to its collapse.
Needless to say, this message was well received by the hosts of the two events. At a press conference after the Duma meeting, Mizulina, the committee chair who spearheaded the propaganda and adoption measures, said:
You heard what our French colleagues said: that today the whole world is looking at Russia with hope that Russia will hold fast and not give in to this unusual pressure from European governments and will conserve its own traditional family identity. It’s perfectly clear that Europe today, faced by the collision of two very serious values—the right of children to a family and the right of sexual minorities to a family—is making its choice in favor of sexual minorities.
This line of reasoning continued at the roundtable meeting. Malofeev, the head of the St. Basil the Great Foundation, who seemed to be the emcee of the roundtable, is fond of the message that Russia is the savior of civilization. He spoke at last year’s World Congress of Families gathering in Sydney, where, according to one attendee, he promised, “Now Christian Russia can help liberate the West from the new liberal anti-Christian totalitarianism of political correctness, gender ideology, mass-media censorship and neo-Marxist dogma." (We’ll be reporting more on his connections to the World Congress in a later post.)
Speaking at the roundtable, Malofeev called the passage of the gay “propaganda” ban “a great success and a big step forward for Russia.” He added that the world must follow Russia’s lead or risk human extinction:
Against the backdrop of what is going on in France and other countries, we are seeing the degradation of civilization. We can even use the term ‘anticivilization,’ and this anticivilization is progressing. Things are happening that will lead to the physical extinction of humans.
At another point in the meeting, Malofeev praised the French for realizing that "Moscow is really the center of their salvation":
The French have realized that Moscow is really the center of their salvation in this case, the center of salvation for conservative, Christian, European values. Russians need to recognize that we are already leaders. We should not strive to be like someone else, but rather need to help others so that they can become more like us.
Yurii Shuvalov, head of the Center for Socio-Conservative Policy, another sponsor of the roundtable, told reporters at the meeting that it is incumbent on Russia to "present an alternative" to a world that is increasingly embracing LGBT rights and where "morality has been turned upside down and cannot gain a foothold."
Archpriest Dmitri Smirnov, a Russian Orthodox leader, added that a “wealthy minority” supporting gay rights “is acting with undeclared motives that cannot be explained other than by Satanism.”
Besides Brown, there was another American guest at the roundtable, who enthusiastically embraced the Russia-as-savior line.
Russian news reports mention that also present to give the American perspective was a man named Jack Hanick. On his LinkedIn page and in interviews, Hanick describes himself as a founding employee of Fox News, who worked there for 15 years as a news director. Fox News confirmed that Hanick was an employee from 1996 through 2011 where he worked in “a production role dealing with the visual aspects of the show” rather than in any “editorial capacity.”
Hanick told the roundtable that God had called on Russia to “stand up for traditional values”:
When it came time to stand up for traditional values, this was the place. God called on this country to fulfill that role.
In an August interview with a Russian magazine, Hanick expanded on his view that Russia’s flirtation with theocracy should be a model for the United States (choppy translation via Google Translate):
In the U.S., serious problems, including the decline of morals and the general, brought the separation of church and state. According to the Constitution of 1787, the government had no right to do one of the official religions - so understood separation of church and state. But 200 years later, it has acquired a different meaning: everything about the faith, was expelled from everyday life, it was given a special place and time - a few hours a week, within the church. This is a horrific result because it shows that we have gone from that promise with which our laws were written 200 years ago, have distorted it.
In Russia the issue of separation of church and state, obviously, is much less of an issue, and I see this a positive thing. If in the U.S. religion removed from public debate, in Russia - thanks to the Church and state - these topics are submitted to the agenda.
The appeals of the Americans and the French at the meeting were effective. Five days later, the Duma passed a ban on the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples and by single people living in countries that allow marriage equality.
Our next post will look at another American was prominent in news reports about the event, although he was not present: University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus.
Correction: This post originally called the St. Basil the Great Foundation a Catholic group. It is a Russian Orthodox group.
Update: French translations have been edited for clarity and accuracy.
Last year, when some internal planning documents from the National Organization for Marriage were released as part of court filings, public attention focused on the group’s explicit racial wedge strategies designed to foment tensions between LGBT and African American communities. But the documents also revealed NOM’s desire to play globally: they talk of “Internationalizing the Marriage Issue” and working “to halt the movement toward gay marriage worldwide.”
In an email sent yesterday, NOM President Brian Brown brags explicitly about supporting the international work of the World Congress of Families, a project of The Howard Center for Religion Family and Society, and making a pitch for donations to the group. Here’s Brown’s quote:
The World Congress of Families is THE group standing up for the family around the world. They have done amazing work in uniting all of those who stand for the truth about marriage and family. It has been an honor to partner with WCF and to be a part of their most recent Congress in Australia and regional conference in Trinidad and Tobago. I wholeheartedly endorse their work and urge you to financially support their efforts.
Just who is Brown so proud to be raising money for? In just the past several months, World Congress of Families spokesmen have:
The World Congress of Families, of course, defines “natural family” in a way that excludes same-sex couples: “the term 'natural' precludes incompatible constructs of the family as well as incompatible behaviors among its members.” The Howard Center hosted a symposium in Washington, D.C. earlier this year in which a parade of right-wing speakers claimed that the real “war on women” comes from “those who present themselves as champions of women’s rights.”
WCF summits and regional gatherings held around the world - -this year’s was held in Sydney, Australia -- are a magnet for speakers from American Religious Right leaders like Peter LaBarbera who share anti-choice and anti-LGBT equality strategies with their international allies. As Brown mentions in his fundraising pitch, WCF held a Caribbean conference in Trinidad in June. Among the long list of American religious right figures speaking, in addition to Brown, were Janet Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America and WCF’s own Don Feder.
Next year’s World Congress of Families conference will be held in Moscow. Perfect.
National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown is convinced that marriage equality advocates, who just helped pass laws legalizing same-sex marriage in Delaware and Rhode Island, will go down in defeat since they are opposed to “the will of the majority of Americans” and solely rely on the support of “our cultural elite.”
Speaking with Janet Mefferd yesterday, Brown argued that Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), who both support marriage equality, will lose their re-election races in 2016 over the marriage issue…if they even opt to run again.
Brown: If the Republican Party were to change its platform, that would be the death knell for the Republican Party. Right now the Democratic Party has changed its platform, has wholeheartedly embraced the redefinition of marriage. The Republican Party right now gives voters — and again, the majority of voters who have been able to vote on this issue have voted to protect marriage in this country — it gives those voters a party that at this point stands up for traditional marriage. We need to be encouraging Republican lawmakers to be speaking out more on the importance of marriage, not attempting to imitate the Democratic Party in embracing the redefinition of marriage.
Mefferd: Very, very well said. You’re seeing people like Rob Portman and Mark Kirk come out as Republicans backing now homosexual so-called marriage. What do you think the response needs to be from the voters, working very hard to get them out of office? Brown: They need to be primaried, period. I think that folks in Ohio, if Rob Portman decides to run again, he will be primaried, he may not run again because there’s been such a backlash in his state, and I think the same is true of Mark Kirk.
Like Rep. Louie Gohmert, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage also participated in pastor Rick Scarborough’s Tea Party Unity conference calls back in March, where he made the “libertarian” argument against legalizing same-sex marriage.
Brown commended his anti-gay organization for having been able to “motivate a lot of the Tea Party groups” along with “African American and Hispanic folks” around their shared fear that gay marriage will undermine the Constitution and jeopardize “the future of Western civilization.”
After discussing how NOM is “working with leaders like Senator [Marco] Rubio or Ted Cruz,” he warned that marriage equality will grow the size and scope of government. If the state recognizes same-sex unions, Brown claimed, then public officials will “use the power of the state to punish, repress and marginalize” anti-gay activists.
He said that NOM’s opposition to marriage equality rests on the “libertarian argument” that if the state refuses to “recognize the truth that marriage is by its nature the union of a man and a woman” then “you’re giving the power to the state to call black white and white black, to put a falsehood into the law and a state that can do that is a state that pretty much can do anything.”
This is an issue where we can get new blood to support the Constitution, I mean that’s what’s at stake, Constitutionalism. When you have African American and Hispanic folks stepping up and saying that we will stand up for traditional marriage, we can make inroads there. I think the local Tea Party groups that have helped us with marches, helped us in any way they can, they’ve understood that this is about marriage, this is about the future of Western civilization, but this is also about our Constitution and whether judges can willy nilly create law out of thin air and I think that that has helped motivate a lot of the Tea Party groups.
We need leaders and we’re working with leaders like Senator [Marco] Rubio or Ted Cruz, or whoever they may be, who understand what’s at stake and will really lead the party and sort of counter some of these arguments. The second part of this is this false libertarian argument that somehow the state should just get out of marriage altogether. That is not going to happen. There is really one or two outcomes that’s going to happen in this: either we’re going to have the state embrace this new definition of marriage and use the power of the state to punish, repress and marginalize those of us that know that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, or we’re going to have the state recognize the truth about marriage.
Ours is actually a libertarian argument. We’re not arguing that the state create marriage, the state does not create marriage, but the state has to recognize the truth that marriage is by its nature the union of a man and a woman. When it abandons that truth, you’re giving the power to the state to call black white and white black, to put a falsehood into the law and a state that can do that is a state that pretty much can do anything.
Brown also fielded a question from notorious ant-gay activist Brian Camenker of MassResistance, who asked why NOM is not taking “a hard stance” against same-sex relationships and openly calling homosexuality “perverse” and “unnatural.”
Brown said that NOM tries to avoid making those arguments outright simply for tactical reasons as they are trying to sway Justice Anthony Kennedy and “it’s not likely that a stronger argument about homosexuality is really going to shift Kennedy.”
However, Brown said that other groups should continue “taking a harder line in focusing more on homosexuality.”
“Different groups need to do different things, not all groups have to do the same thing,” Brown explained. “So folks that are taking a harder line in focusing more on homosexuality, there need to be different groups doing different things.”
Camenker: It’s concerning to a lot of people that the arguments being used in the various court cases concede that homosexual relationships are legitimate and not a perversion or what have you, we just don’t like them, and we wonder if there was more of a hard stance that they are not legitimate, that it is perverse, unnatural and what have you, that we might have some better success in some of the cases.
The second part of the question is I understand that you’re at CPAC, what is it like being virtually the only pro-family, pro-marriage guy there? I’m very disturbed at the way CPAC is being run this year.
Brown: Whenever I’m asked about what I think about homosexuality, I’m very clear, I believe and as a Catholic I believe in the traditional teaching of our church. I think that sex is reserved for marriage, period. As far as the legal arguments go we may differ. I think a lot of the legal arguments have been made in the Prop 8 case especially have been made to speak to [Justice] Kennedy and Kennedy has already found in the Lawrence case, for example, that states can’t ban sodomy. So it’s not likely that a stronger argument about homosexuality is really going to shift Kennedy.
I know some people think we need to focus more on homosexuality. All I’ll say is that when asked I state what I believe and many of the religious supporters that we’ll have at the march clearly will stand up and proclaim biblical truth on marriage, but I’m not sure whether legally that is the best strategy. Also, different groups need to do different things, not all groups have to do the same thing. So folks that are taking a harder line in focusing more on homosexuality, there need to be different groups doing different things.
Yesterday in an interview with Religious Right broadcaster Janet Mefferd, National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown said that his group’s march against gay rights near the Supreme Court reminded him of the Civil Rights Movement. “I was not alive during the Civil Rights Movement but this is what it must have felt like,” Brown said.
This isn’t the first time Brown has compared anti-gay activists to the Civil Rights Movement, however, that hasn’t stopped him from criticizing President Obama for linking the movement for gay rights to the struggle for racial equality.
We were hoping for 5,000 people and we ended up with over 10,000. We filled the whole area in front of the court when we marched. It was a diverse coalition, we had African American leaders, Hispanic leaders, State Sen. Ruben Diaz brought 30 buses from the Bronx; it was just amazing. What I was most happy about, we talked about this before the rally, the way everyone conducted themselves. We were chanting, we were united but when folks tried to get in our way, there were some gay marriage protesters who tried to get in front of the march and stop us even though we had a permit, everyone just knelt down and started praying. I was not alive during the Civil Rights Movement but this is what it must have felt like, people were just so ecstatic to stand up and they did it in a loving, respectful way but they weren’t going to be silenced. I couldn’t be more happy with what happened today, I think it’s a huge step forward for the pro-marriage movement and I don’t think it’s going to be lost on the Supreme Court justices that we were there and we were there in force.
Earlier in the same program, Gary Bauer of American Values told Mefferd that young people tend to back marriage equality because “many of them have breathed the air of the poisoned culture,” and warned that any decision striking down anti-gay marriage laws “would be a serious disaster for our country.”
Bauer: Among young people many of them have breathed the air of the poisoned culture and they might have a different view on it but I do not believe the average college student, burdened with maybe $100,000 of student debt, looking at dim job prospects, is thinking first and foremost when they get up in the morning: wow, I sure do hope men can marry men.
Mefferd: Right, right. I don’t think that’s probably a front burner issue for any of them either. This is interesting though, what we are hearing now from the news reports, the SCOTUS Blog had a number of people who were writing articles today about this, indicating that Justice Anthony Kennedy thinks, it may be the case, that the case should be dismissed with no ruling at all. Now I don’t know how many people expected that coming out of the court today but what is your take on this idea that they could just keep it to California, they may just decide to dismiss the case altogether?
Bauer: I’m hearing the same thing; it would be something of a surprise. I wouldn’t be dancing a jig if that’s the ruling but it sure is better than the ruling that I fear which is that this propaganda campaign will panic Kennedy and maybe even somebody like Chief Justice Roberts to rule that this is a constitutional right hidden in that same provision that has the right to abort babies and that every state’s vote has been struck down. That would be obviously a disaster not only for folks like us but I believe it would be a serious disaster for our country.
For weeks, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown has been touting the “historic” March for Marriage, telling supporters “this is our time” to "change history." A month ago he wrote excitedly about a “game-changer,” a $500,000 matching gift from one of the major donors that keep NOM afloat. Brown had been inspired by a massive turnout for an anti-marriage-equality protest in France, and hoped for something similar in Washington. But even with big donors and heavy-weight Religious Right co-sponsors, Brown and his allies couldn’t pull it off. Not even close.
In reality, NOM’s rally had a few, perhaps several, thousand attendees. (NOM’s Thomas Peters claims 15,000, which seems, um, generous.) And every time one of the speakers tried to make the crowd feel like part of a larger movement by talking about the 200,000 people they said marched recently for one-man/one-woman marriage in Puerto Rico, or the hundreds of thousands or millions in France and Spain, or even the 585,000 who have signed the Manhattan Declaration or the half million who marched against legal abortion, it only served to highlight how few bothered to show up in Washington. According to various speakers, the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia sent five busloads; anti-gay state senator Ruben Diaz claimed 32 buses from New York. Brian Brown gave a shout out to some Chinese Christians from Chicago.
The ethnically diverse speakers’ list was a mix of old and new, including some familiar faces on the anti-gay circuit, such as Harry Jackson, Gary Bauer, and Iowa’s Bob Vander Plaats. Harry Jackson led the crowd in a chant that he said was a prayer for the Supreme Court: “Let God arise and his enemies be scattered.” Bauer delivered a blustery message to the Republican Party that if they “bail” on marriage, he’ll lead as many people as he can out of the GOP (which may not be that much of a threat). Vander Plaats urged Supreme Court justices to look to the Founding Fathers, Billy Graham, and Pope Francis. Also speaking were Doug Mainwaring, now making the circuit as the anti-equality gay man the Religious Right loves to love; Frank Schubert, the mastermind of the dishonest Prop 8 campaign and every anti-equality campaign since then; and Jim Garlow, who made a name for himself among the Religious Right with his pro-Prop 8 organizing. Garlow insisted you cannot call yourself a Christian and support the Court’s “obliterating” what he called a “core aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (Garlow should have seen the packed crowd at the morning’s pro-equality interfaith service at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation.) Garlow warned Supreme Court justices that they will one day stand before “the Chief Justice of the Universe” and will be held accountable if they defy His ways.
A couple of groups sent under-30 speakers to say how wrong the media is to suggest that Millennials are a lost cause on this issue. But facts are facts, and polls show that support for marriage equality is overwhelming among under-30 Americans: 72 percent of Millennials believe same-sex couples should be able to get legally married, including 58 percent of under-30 Republicans.
Many of the speakers were on-message to the point of being boringly redundant, repeating the message on marchers’ pre-printed signs: “Kids do best with a mom and a dad” and “Every child deserves a mom and a dad.” Sometimes this came with a strong shot of gender stereotypes: mothers provide tenderness and fathers provide protection. Brian Brown even showed a video of the Religious Right’s newest heroine, the 11-year old who testified against marriage equality in Minnesota and asked which of her parents she did not need, her mother or father. Perhaps someone could explain that no same-sex couples seeking to get married have any desire to force her to get rid of either parent.
NOM’s backers for the marriage march included the far-far-right-wing Catholic group Tradition, Family & Property, with its scarlet banners, capes, and marching band (see Adele Stan’s reminder who TFP is), Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, a couple of Catholic dioceses, the Knights of Columbus and the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Brown gave special thanks to the Mormon-run GFC Foundation for providing grants for buses.
National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown joined Steve Deace on Friday to discuss the marriage equality cases being argued this week at the Supreme Court. If the Court rules broadly in favor of equality, Brown said, NOM would turn its focus toward advocating for a Federal Marriage Amendment banning marriage equality throughout the country. Responding to conservatives who are concerned about the Federal Marriage Amendment’s infringement on states’ rights, Brown invoked Abraham Lincoln: “We need a solution in this country, we cannot be, as Lincoln said, half slave, half free. We can’t have a country on key moral questions where we’re just, where we don’t have a solution.”
I think we’re going to win these cases. But say the worst happens and we lose in a broad way – that means that the Court somehow does a Roe, a Roe v. Wade, on marriage and says that all these state constitutional amendments are overturned, gay marriage is now a constitutional right – well, we’re going to press forward on a Federal Marriage Amendment. We’ve always supported a Federal Marriage Amendment, and there’s a lot of misconceptions about it. Some people try and argue, ‘Well, this is against federalism.’ No, our founders gave us a system where we can amend the Constitution. We shouldn’t have to do this, we shouldn’t have to worry about activist judges, you know, making up out of thin air a constitutional right that obviously none of our founders found there and no one found there until quite recently. But if we do, for us, the Federal Marriage Amendment is a way that people can stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough.’ We need a solution in this country, we cannot be, as Lincoln said, half slave, half free. We can’t have a country on key moral questions where we’re just, where we don’t have a solution. And if the Court forces a solution, the way we’ll amend that is through the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Election Day was a disaster for the National Organization for Marriage: it lost in all four states in which marriage equality was on the ballot in some way; it failed to take out another Iowa Supreme Court justice who had ruled in favor of equality; and it failed in its mission to defeat Barack Obama.
Religious Right groups have publicly seethed at the Southern Poverty Law Center's decision a couple of years ago to designate several of them as hate groups for consistently spreading false, inflammatory, and defamatory propaganda about LGBT people. It is now clear that Religious Right leaders are hoping to exploit this week's shooting at the Family Research Council to try to damage the SPLC.
FRC's Tony Perkins said this week that the SPLC gave the shooter "license" to attack the organization by calling it a hate group. Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber accused the SPLC of having blood on its hands. The American Family Association and Traditional Values Coalition were among others who blamed SPLC for the attack. Religious Right groups have long equated any criticism of their positions or tactics as attacks on their freedom of speech and religion; now they are taking it a step further to say that critics must stop calling out their hateful rhetoric and naming it as such.
It is important not to let Religious Right groups exploit this violence - which was quickly and unequivocally condemned by progressive movement leaders, including People For the American Way President Michael Keegan - to divert attention from the Religious Right's anti-gay extremism. As Right Wing Watch has noted, FRC was not labeled a hate group because of a simple policy disagreement, as FRC's backers would have you believe; the SPLC cited very specific examples of FRC's wildly inflammatory anti-gay language.
You don't have to look far. Last year Perkins called gay-rights activists vile, hateful, pawns of Satan. In 2010, Perkins responded to President Obama's call for civility on the issue of homosexuality by slamming the president for criticizing Uganda's kill-the-gays bill. Perkins described the infamous law as "enhanced penalties for crimes related to homosexuality" and an effort to "uphold moral conduct." FRC spokespeople have supported laws criminalizing homosexuality overseas and here in the U.S.
Perkins, of course, has lots of company in the anti-gay right who are now joining in the attack on SPLC.
One of them is Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, who went on CNN on Thursday to say it is "totally irresponsible and unacceptable" to call FRC a hate group. But Brown was flummoxed when CNN anchor Zoraida Sambolin confronted him with an actual example of FRC rhetoric claiming that "one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets' of a new sexual order." Brown repeatedly refused to acknowledge that such rhetoric is hateful, exposing his call for "civility" as nothing but empty political posturing.
Speaking of civility, Brown has presided over at least one anti-gay rally at which a fellow speaker said gays were worthy of death. And NOM welcomed onto its board author Orson Scott Card, who had written that the advance of marriage equality was tyranny worthy of revolution:
How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn. [...] American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.
Eagle Forum’s San Diego chapter is hosting a conference in June to unite conservatives in Democratic-leaning California before the upcoming election:
Tomorrow, Friday June 1, 4-9pm prominent national, state and local leaders will address hundreds of conservatives at the "Rise Up California" Eagle Forum San Diego Convention at Skyline Church in Rancho San Diego. The purpose of the convention is to gather, energize, educate, empower and activate conservative Californians 4 days prior to the primary, and into the November general election.
Brian Brown and Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage will also address the conference alongside Vision America’s Rick Scarborough, a birther and “Christocrat” who believes AIDS is part of God’s judgment and is working against the “sexual anarchy led by sodomites.” The NOM leaders’ appearance with Scarborough, who as Kyle noted earlier today mourned the decline of the white population, won’t help their attempts to distance NOM from a campaign memo based on sowing racial divisions and build a “rainbow coalition” to oppose the gay rights “storm.”
Joining them will be Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, the anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who was banned from CPAC and the “Weyrich lunch” for his extremist views and attacks on fellow conservative leader Grover Norquist.
Another speaker is Dinesh D’Souza, who is turning his discredited book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage, into a movie with the help of Republican megadonor Joe Ricketts, who recently had to drop a proposed plan to finance racially-charged ads linking President Obama to Jeremiah Wright.
Other activists appearing at the event include Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Charles LiMandri of the far-right Thomas More Law Center, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for Vice President in 2008 Wayne Allyn Root, Dran Reese of the Salt and Light Council, and anti-environmentalist campaigner Holly Swanson.
While gay conservative groups have come out attacking President Obama for endorsing marriage equality today, Religious Right groups have also started to berate Obama on the issue.
Tony Perkins of Family Research Council said Obama’s position has handed Mitt Romney “the key to social conservative support”:
The President's announcement today that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage finally brings his words in sync with his actions. From opposing state marriage amendments to refusing to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) to giving taxpayer funded marriage benefits to same-sex couples, the President has undermined the spirit if not the letter of the law.
As demonstrated by yesterday's overwhelming vote in North Carolina, redefining marriage remains outside the mainstream of American politics, especially in the critical battleground states and among minority voters. In North Carolina, the amendment received more than 60 percent of the vote in majority-black counties.
Considering that ten of the sixteen battleground states have marriage amendments that could be overturned by the President's new policy position on marriage, today's announcement almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election.
The President has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger Mitt Romney. Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama.
American Values head and former FRC president Gary Bauer claimed to be perplexed that Obama “is spending even one second of his time thinking about how and to radically transform the institution of marriage”:
The charade is finally up. We've always known that Barack Obama supports same-sex marriage. With every action he's taken, from court appointments to his rhetoric, he's been preparing the way to undermine traditional marriage. Obama's finally made that support explicit.
Every American who can't find work, whose home is under water or who can't afford to fill up his gas tank should be wondering why the president is spending even one second of his time thinking about how and to radically transform the institution of marriage. It's a political move meant to energize his left-wing base and distract Americans from his disastrous economic policies."
Bauer later commented in an email to supporters that Obama “may have just lost the presidency”:
President Obama just told ABC News that he now supports same-sex marriage. Surprised? Didn’t think so. Obama is no doubt hoping to energize his leftwing base. And he is betting this will help him to re-energize the youth vote this November. But in fact he may have just lost the presidency.
Attention Republican Party: Obama’s announcement is a chance for boldness. There are many Republicans who would rather not talk about this issue. But if the GOP confronts Obama over marriage, it could make him a one-term president. If Republicans allow Obama to exploit this issue, then it could prove decisive for him. Republicans need to remember that if their candidates can manage to win as much of the vote as the state marriage amendments have received in 31 states, they will win in a landslide in November.
Now look at North Carolina. It is considered a swing state. Obama won it by only 14,000 votes in 2008 – and it is a high priority for the Dems this year, which is why they are holding their national convention in Charlotte and why he has visited the state repeatedly. This morning Obama might be second guessing that Charlotte venue.
Voters in North Carolina passed a marriage amendment yesterday, making clear that marriage is one man and one woman. Obama, Biden and the entire media establishment opposed the amendment. Bill Clinton did robo calls opposing the measure. The voters felt otherwise by a 61% to 39% vote – a huge landslide and a record turnout. Current polls have Romney beating Obama in North Carolina by only two points! Governor Romney should look at the results of the marriage issue. He can win North Carolina by a landslide if he takes on Obama on this issue.
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage pledged to defeat Obama and warned, "God is the author of marriage, and we will not let an activist politician like Barack Obama who is beholden to gay marriage activists for campaign financing to turn marriage into something political that can be redefined according to presidential whim”:
President Obama has now made the definition of marriage a defining issue in the presidential contest, especially in swing states like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Nevada. Voters in all these states, and over two dozen more, have adopted state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. President Obama says that although he personally supports gay marriage, he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. However, that is completely disingenuous. His administration is already trying to dismantle the nation's marriage laws by refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. All the state marriage amendments and laws are at risk under a president who actively wants to change the definition of marriage. NOM will work ceaselessly in these swing states and across the nation to preserve traditional marriage because it is profoundly in the public good to do so. God is the author of marriage, and we will not let an activist politician like Barack Obama who is beholden to gay marriage activists for campaign financing to turn marriage into something political that can be redefined according to presidential whim. The definition of marriage was already headed for the ballot in four states this fall; now it will be one of the defining issues of the presidential election. No state in this country has ever voted for gay marriage. Just yesterday North Carolina voters sent a clear message that America wants to preserve marriage. We intend to win the marriage debate this November.
The Traditional Values Coalition president Andrea Lafferty maintained Obama’s view on marriage equality displays his “radical ideology”:
This isn’t exactly a bold move by the president. Forced by Joe Biden’s big mouth, Obama had no choice left but to publicly embrace an agenda he has privately promoted for years.
I’ve been saying this for the last four years. Obama has always been in favor of homosexual marriage, but was forced to keep his enthusiasm at a distance for fear of offending the American public.
Obama needs new friends. His leadership has completely alienated Wall Street, financial investors, small businesses, soccer moms, and virtually every other constituency by pushing his radical ideology at a time when America needed principled leadership. Who better to appease than the LGBT community with tons of disposable income to fund his re-election campaign?
North Carolina just became the 31st state to affirm the sanctity of marriage. As if mainstream Americans needed any further reasons to reject Obama’s radical social agenda, we were most certainly reminded today.
Matt Smith of the Catholic Advocate said Obama’s support for marriage equality is part of “an anti-Catholic agenda”:
Once again, the President is spending time advancing an anti-Catholic agenda. Marriage was created long before any government came into existence. It is a settled issue in the eyes of the Catholic Church and should not be redefined.
First, the Obama administration takes away grant money helping victims of sex-trafficking over the Church refusing to refer the victims for abortions. Then the Obama administration violates our religious liberties by forcing Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization as the President's health care law is being implemented. And now, should his advocacy for same-sex marriage succeed, Catholic institutions could be forced once again to violate our beliefs.
Many faithful Catholics were fooled by clever political rhetoric in 2008. This year, the anti-Catholic record of the Obama administration should inform their vote."
Rob Schenck of the Faith and Action commented: “Frankly, I question whether he really does in his heart-of-hearts. Maybe I'm naive, but, if I'm right, it's even worse, because it means he has surrendered a moral conviction for political expediency. Very wrong and very sad.”
Update: Faith and Freedom Coalition chairman Ralph Reed said the announcement shows the President is “tone-deaf and out-of-touch with the time-honored values of millions of Americans”:
Four years ago 2008 Barack Obama promised if elected not to raise taxes on those making less than $250,000, pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term — and made clear his support for traditional marriage. All those promises are now broken.
At a time of high unemployment and severe economic distress, President Obama chose the week he launched his re-election campaign to flip-flop on same-sex marriage.
Combined with his administration’s opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, it reveals a president who is tone-deaf and out-of-touch with the time-honored values of millions of Americans. This is an unanticipated gift to the Romney campaign. It is certain to fuel a record turnout of voters of faith to the polls this November.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League claimed Obama “has fully broken with his Christian moorings” and suggested he also favors polygamy:
In 1996, when Barack Obama was up for a state senate post in Illinois, he said he supported gay marriage. Eight years later, when he set his sights on the U.S. Senate, he discovered his Christian roots and said he was against it. In 2008, he said he was opposed to homosexuals marrying, but he also opposed a ballot initiative in California, Proposition 8, that affirmed marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman. In other words, his Christian roots were losing their grip. Since then he’s been “evolving.” Now the evolution is over and he has fully broken with his Christian moorings.
The president of the United States likes the idea of Tom and Dick marrying. He did not say whether he supports Tom, Dick and Harry marrying, or whether he is “evolving” in that direction. Perhaps he has to consult with his mentor on this issue, Mr. Joseph Biden of Delaware.
Yesterday, North Carolina voters affirmed marriage as being between a man and a woman. In the 32 times voters have been asked to decide this issue, they have voted 32 times to support traditional marriage. Gay rights advocates have never won.
President Obama will be hurt by this decision in the swing states. More than that, he has now made this cultural matter a major issue in the presidential campaign.
The time has finally come to pass a constitutional amendment affirming marriage as an institution reserved to the only two people who can naturally produce a family, namely a man and a woman.
NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher, now with the Culture War Victory Fund, writes:
On the one hand, morally this is good because lying to the American people is always wrong. President Obama has come clean that he is for gay marriage. Politically, we welcome this. We think it's a huge mistake. President Obama is choosing the money over the voters the day after 61 percent of North Carolinians in a key swing state demonstrated they oppose gay marriage. We now have clear choice between Romney and Obama, and we look forward to demonstrating in November that it's a bad idea for a national candidate to support gay marriage. Marriage is a winning issue for the GOP.
American Family Association president Tim Wildmon tells OneNewsNow:
[He] has finally come out of the closet, if you will, on the homosexual marriage issue. He's in favor of it. He always has been. The only reason he didn't say anything about it before the election last time is because he didn't want to hurt himself [politically].
President Obama, [in] his first year in office, had the homosexual activists to the White House for a dinner and he promised them he would be their 'champion' -- and so he is coming through for them on many different fronts, including the military, changing the military to allow open homosexuality there.
Jim Campbell of the Alliance Defense Fund said his endorsement “promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes”:
This shows that the Obama administration doesn’t understand the public purpose of marriage. Marriage–the lifelong, faithful union of one man and one woman–is the building block of a thriving society. It’s not something that politicians should attempt to redefine for political purposes. The president has spoken eloquently about how fatherless homes often hurt children and society. Today’s statement is a tragic contradiction that promotes the creation of even more fatherless and motherless homes.
Liberty Counsel Action released a statement [pdf] from chairman Mathew Staver, who said the country under Obama’s leadership is “headed to disaster”:
“The President has made the issues in this election very clear,” said Mat Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action. “Today, Governor Mitt Romney said he unequivocally supports natural marriage and opposes ‘marriage between people of the same gender,’ drawing a stark contrast in the upcoming election. For most voters, this election will now be an easy choice,” said Staver.
The decision by the President is not a surprise. He needs to appeal to his far-left base that helped propel him to the White House in 2008 but whose support has weakened in 2012.
“We are six months away from arguably the most critical national election in our lifetime,” said Mat Staver. “America is headed in the wrong direction: we are on the edge of a moral, financial, spiritual, and national security abyss. President Obama’s 2012 campaign slogan is ‘Forward.’ The Titanic was moving forward but headed to disaster. We need to change course.”
Conservative leaders like Gary Bauer and Penny Nance immediately announced their support for Mitt Romney only after their preferred candidate, Rick Santorum, bowed out of the race, while noting that they are more excited about defeating President Obama than electing Romney. Others like Tony Perkins and Michael Farris continued to criticize Romney for his inconsistent stances on social issues and have not yet come out in favor of his candidacy. But the National Organization for Marriage was all too happy to endorse Romney, who signed NOM’s anti-gay pledge, with Brian Brown hailing the former governor as a “true champion” of their cause:
“Now is the time for all people who recognize the importance of marriage to come together to support a true champion, Mitt Romney, against an incumbent who has done virtually everything in his power to undermine the institution of marriage,” Brown said.
“President Obama has declared our nation’s marriage laws to be unconstitutional and not only has refused to defend them, his administration is actively working to repeal them in the courts. He’s come out against state constitutional amendments defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And he has appointed leaders of the same-sex ‘marriage’ movement as national co-chairs of his reelection campaign. Incredibly, Obama still apparently claims to personally support traditional marriage. With friends like President Obama, the institution of marriage doesn’t need enemies.”
NOM’s marriage pledge commits Governor Romney to a variety of actions upon his election as president. These include:
- Supporting an amendment to the United States Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman;
- Appointing Supreme Court Justices and an Attorney General who will apply the original meaning of the Constitution;
- Vigorously defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act in court;
- Establishing a presidential commission on religious liberty; and
- Advancing legislation to return to the people of the District of Columbia their right to vote on marriage.
Meanwhile, televangelist Pat Robertson on the 700 Club today also said that Romney's Mormon faith should not prevent evangelicals from supporting him. Leaders of Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice such as Jay Sekulow and David French were early Romney supporters, and Robertson stressed that Romney is not running for “Chief Rabbi” or “Chief American Pastor,” adding that he doubts Romney will “interject the Mormon religion into the way he governs.”
National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown joined Iowa anti-gay luminary Bob Vander Plaats at a Des Moines rally today to call for a ballot referendum to overturn the state’s marriage equality law. Following Vander Plaats, who compared same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest, Brown argued that making the civil rights of a minority subject to a popular vote is in fact right in line with the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s marriage equality proponents, Brown argued, who are trying to “deprive” their opponents of civil rights– specifically “the right to vote":
Opposition to gay marriage is not rooted in fear and hate as supporters suggest, Vander Plaats said, but rather love and religious truth. He also lashed out at the notion of “marriage equality” as a slippery slope toward no restrictions on relationships whatsoever.
“If we want marriage equality, let’s just stop for a second. Why stop at same-sex marriage? Why not have polygamy? Why not have a dad marry his son or marry his daughter? If we’re going to have marriage equality, let’s open this puppy up and let’s have marriage equality,” he said. “Otherwise, let’s stick to the way God designed it – one man and one woman, period.”
Referring to Senate Democrats’ refusal to advance the amendment and clear the way for a statewide vote, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown invoked Martin Luther King, Jr., to suggest that it was the opponents of same-sex marriage whose civil rights were threatened.
“We hear that this is about civil rights, and that those of us who oppose the redefinition of marriage are somehow bigots,” Brown said. “And yet, what Dr. Martin Luther King called the most important civil right – the right to vote – these very same folks are trying to deprive us of this right.”
The Ninth Circuit Court today upheld a lower court ruling which found Proposition 8, which overturned marriage equality in California, unconstitutional. Religious Right activists immediately denounced the ruling and used the decision to attack gays and lesbians, judges, Hollywood and San Francisco.
The National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown emailed members with a warning that the case will end up with an “all-or-nothing showdown at the United States Supreme Court” and told members that donations are needed to deny “same-sex marriage radicals” a legal victory:
Moments ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit handed down a sweeping ruling striking down California’s Proposition 8 and—for the first time ever—finding a "right" to same-sex marriage in the United States Constitution!
This sets up an all-or-nothing showdown at the United States Supreme Court.
A Supreme Court victory would preserve the marriage laws of 44 states, denying same-sex marriage radicals in their campaign to force gay marriage on the entire nation in one fell swoop. But if we lose at the Supreme Court, marriage will be jeopardized not just in California, but in all 50 states.
NOM also posted additional statements from Brown and board chairman John Eastman, who called it an “absurd ruling”:
“As sweeping and wrong-headed as this decision is, it nonetheless was as predictable as the outcome of a Harlem Globetrotters exhibition game,” said Brian Brown, NOM’s president. “We have anticipated this outcome since the moment San Francisco Judge Vaughn Walker’s first hearing in the case. Now we have the field cleared to take this issue to the US Supreme Court, where we have every confidence we will prevail.”
“Never before has a federal appeals court – or any federal court for that matter – found a right to gay marriage under the US Constitution,” said constitutional scholar John Eastman, who is chairman of NOM. “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most overturned circuit in the country, and Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the author of today’s absurd ruling is the most overturned federal judge in America. Today’s ruling is a perfect setup for this case to be taken by the US Supreme Court, where I am confident it will be reversed. This issue is the Roe v Wade of the current generation, and I sincerely doubt the Court has the stomach for preempting the policy judgments of the states on such a contentious matter, knowing the lingering harm it caused by that ruling.”
The Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Brian Raum dubbed the ruling a “Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage”:
No court should presume to redefine marriage. No court should undercut the democratic process by taking the power to preserve marriage out of the hands of the people. Americans overwhelmingly reject the idea of changing the definition of marriage. Sixty-three million Americans in 31 state elections have voted on marriage, and 63 percent voted to preserve marriage as the timeless, universal, unique union between husband and wife.
We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage–tried in San Francisco–turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court. Every pro-marriage American should be pleased that this case can finally go to the U.S. Supreme Court. The ProtectMarriage.com legal team’s arguments align with every other federal appellate and Supreme Court decision on marriage in American history.
Catholics for the Common Good president William May derided the court for failing to “to protect the centrality and integrity of marriage for children and society”:
"It is outrageous that judges continue to disregard the will of 7 million voters who voted to protect the centrality and integrity of marriage for children and society," May said.
Federal District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker presided over a show trial about marriage in which plaintiff's counsel trotted out witness after witness with emotional arguments in a PR attempt to re-argue Proposition 8.
"Failing to disclose that the judge himself was similarly situated as the plaintiffs (in a long-term committed relationship with a same-sex partner), Walker could find no rational reason for the voters to define marriage between a man and a woman and concluded they were bigoted and discriminatory," said May.
"To reach his judgment about the voters and his decision to strike down Prop 8, he created a new definition of marriage as merely the public recognition of a committed relationship for the benefit of adults. However, the voters of California know that marriage is much more than that. It is the reality that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union. This is what marriage is; that is what it does. It is a reality that can only be recognized by law and never changed."
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council accused the court of “judicial tyranny” and trying to “impose San Francisco values on the entire country”:
"Today's decision was disappointing but not surprising, coming from the most liberal Circuit Court in the country. This Hollywood-funded lawsuit, which seeks to impose San Francisco values on the entire country, may eventually reach the Supreme Court. This is not about constitutional governance but the insistence of a group of activists to force their will on their fellow citizens.
"This ruling substitute's judicial tyranny for the will of the people, who in the majority of states have amended their constitutions, as California did, to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
"However, we remain confident that in the end, the Supreme Court will reject the absurd argument that the authors of our Constitution created or even implied a 'right' to homosexual 'marriage,' and will instead uphold the right of the people to govern themselves.
"Voters in 31 states have voted to uphold the historic and natural definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Twenty-nine, a majority of American states, have actually inserted such a definition into the text of their state constitutions," concluded Perkins.
Focus on the Family analyst Bruce Hausknecht called the ruling “yet another instance of social engineering”:
“Opponents of Prop 8 insist on changing the definition of marriage for everyone, including children who deserve the opportunity to grow up in a home with their own married mother and father," Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst at Focus on the Family, said in a statement after the ruling.
“But no judge has the right to redefine marriage," he continued. "Doing so redefines parenthood, and offers yet another instance of social engineering based on the desires of adults rather than the interests of children."
Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Young Nance asserted that the judges “undermined the foundations of the family and liberty”:
Once again, the Ninth Circuit lives up to its reputation as the most overturned court in the country. Only this time, they have reached a new low. They not only showed a complete disregard for the Constitution, but also for those principles and values that gave birth to it, and for "we the people" who are supposed to be the ultimate authority.
Californians voted overwhelmingly to support the traditional definition of marriage that has been the foundation of this great nation. Our experiences have shown us, as science proves, that the best environment for children to develop as productive members of our society is in a home where there is a mother and a father who love them and each other unconditionally. Yet with a stroke of the pen these three judges have undermined the foundations of the family and liberty.
Shame on them.
We know this issue will eventually end up at the U.S. Supreme Court and we hope, for the sake of our country's future, that they will show much more respect for the Constitution, our foundations and the people who give them the right to make these rulings in the first place.
UPDATE: The Capitol Resource Institute blasted the ruling as “a stunning assault on democracy”:
"This is a stunning assault on democracy and California's initiative process," explained Karen England, Executive Director of pro-family group Capitol Resource Institute and a key leader in the passage of Proposition 8. "Well over 50% of California voters approved Proposition 8; today their will was overturned by a panel of arrogant judges who want to impose their political agenda on the rest of us."
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling is not the end of the road for Proposition 8.
"The truth will always prevail and we are confident that the traditional-and true-definition of marriage will be upheld by the Supreme Court," stated England. "The voice of the people must be heard and respected. The future of California and American families depends upon the sanctity of traditional marriage. It's time for the courts to recognize marriages' critical role in society and protect it."
Former NOM head Maggie Gallagher, now with the Culture War Victory Fund, writes on National Review Online that the ruling represents a “breathtaking exercise in ill-natured illogic”:
In a breathtaking exercise in ill-natured illogic, a divided Ninth Circuit ruled 2–1 that because Prop 8 does not take away civil-union benefits for same-sex couples, it’s an unconstitutional exercise in irrational animus towards gay people.
Dishonestly, the court claimed it did not require any heightened scrutiny to reach this result.
Gordon Klingenschmitt said that the “Founding Fathers are turning over in their graves” as a result of the ruling:
The liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced today that the Founding Fathers wrote homosexual 'marriage' rights into the U.S. Constitution, and overturned California's Proposition 8 traditional marriage law, which had twice been passed by voters. The Founding Fathers are turning over in their graves, since all of them believed sodomy was a crime, and certainly not a Constitutional right.
Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver claimed the ruling “undermines the legitimacy of the judicial system” and represents the “unraveling of the actual judiciary”:
"This is a travesty of justice and it undermines the legitimacy of the judiciary," Staver tells OneNewsNow. "When judges find that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, it's absolutely absurd. This is, I think, an illustration of why the judiciary has lost the confidence of the American people."
"If you look at ideology ... pushed by this particular panel, obviously that's what this panel did: they looked at their own ideological bias, their radical positions -- not the Constitution itself. And when they did that, it undermined their own legitimacy -- and I think this is the unraveling of the actual judiciary. It is the very seeds, as Thomas Jefferson said, of tyranny."
"They're not only saying that the voters don't have the right to amend their own constitution and define marriage, they're also saying that there is a constitutional, guaranteed right to same-sex marriage in the United States Constitution itself. That's absolutely absurd. It is insane to suggest that there is such a right in the United States Constitution."
The Family Leader dubbed the court a “friend of the radical homosexual agenda” and referred to the ruling as a case of bullying:
Today's decision by the liberal 9th Circut Court, while expected, is sad and outrageous on many levels. Not least of which is "we the people" get bullied again by a few "robed masters." It's also evidence that when executives go wobbly on fighting the left's agenda and not appointing ONLY strict constructionist judges, who take the Constitution and due process seriously, we continue to lose these battles. However, the 9th Circuit's opinon is no surprise; they have been a friend of the radical homosexual agenda for years. As for us; we have only begun to and will continue to be in the fight! Join us!
Gary Bauer of American Values chided the “Circus” Court for attempting to “force its radical agenda down our throats” and “threatening religious liberty”:
The Ninth “Circus” Court of Appeals has struck again. Today, a divided three-judge panel overruled the majority of California voters and struck down Proposition 8 — the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The court’s majority ruled that traditional marriage “fails to advance any rational basis.” So in spite of thousands of years of recorded history, in spite of the values held by every major faith, in spite of basic biology and common sense and in spite of the will of the people, these left-wing judicial ideologues believe that normal marriage is irrational.
Here’s the bottom line: The culture war is real. The left does not intend to allow these issues to be decided by the people in their respective states. It will use the courts to force its radical agenda down our throats.
This is why it is so important for men and women of faith to be informed and active in the public policy debates of our time. These decisions are redefining our cherished values and threatening religious liberty.