Ryan T. Anderson

Heritage Foundation Fellow Trots Out Radical Nullification Argument Against Marriage Equality

The anti-marriage-equality movement seems to have anointed Ryan T. Anderson as its next intellectual leader. Anderson, who is now a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, follows in the footsteps of his mentor Robert P. George and National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher in being able to talk about the marriage issue without spewing fire and brimstone or talking about how gay people make them want to vomit .

This kinder, gentler approach has endeared Anderson and his predecessors to a movement that’s trying to snatch its image away from the likes of Bryan Fischer and Pat Robertson.

But it also can obscure the fact that Anderson’s supposedly intellectual arguments against marriage equality can still be far out of the mainstream.

On Friday, Heritage promoted on its website a video clip of Anderson speaking at a Stanford University event, where he was asked by an attendee why he, as a gay man, should not be able to file a joint tax return if he gets legally married in California.

Anderson responded that legally married same-sex couples should not have access to all the trappings of legal marriage, because while in some states they can “be issued a marriage license,” they “can’t actually get married” because marriage is inherently a union of a man and a woman.

This is basically a nullificationist argument against benefits for legally married same-sex couples. Like those who argue that gun laws or health care reform aren’t actually law because they violate their impression of what the Constitution says, Anderson is saying that even legal, state-sanctioned marriages don’t count because they violate his view of what marriage is, and therefore should not earn legal, state-sanctioned benefits.

Far from trying to brush over this nullificationist argument against marriage equality, Heritage is actively promoting the video to its followers.

The full clip is four minutes long, but the fun really starts at about the 2:10 mark.

Anderson: The reason that you should not have the option of filing a joint tax return is that you can’t get married, given what marriage is.

Questioner: But I could in California, I can get married.

Anderson: You can be issued a marriage license in the state of California, but you can’t actually get married. And I’m sorry to say it that way, but given what marriage is, a union of sexually complementary…

Questioner: How is that not discrimination?

Anderson: And it’s not discrimination, because everyone is equally eligible for entering into the marital relationship, where you understand marriage as a union of sexually complementary spouses, a permanent, exclusive union of man and a woman, husband and wife, mother and father. If you’re not interested in entering into that sort of a union, you’re not being discriminated against.

What you’re asking us to do is to redefine marriage to include the adult relationship of your choice. And the adult relationship of your choice happens to be a same-sex couple. There are other adults who want to have marriage redefined to include the relationship of their choice, which may be the same-sex throuple or the opposite-sex quartet. So what I’m asking you in response is, what principle are you appealing to when you say this is discrimination to vindicate your rights but not their rights? Because it seems to me that your position ultimately leaves to simply the dissolvement of the marital union.

It’s not that you don’t have a right to get married, it’s that you aren’t seeking out marriage. Marriage is by nature a union of sexually complementary spouses, a union of man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father. And based on just what you’ve said about yourself, it doesn’t sound like you’re interested in forming that sort of a union. It sounds like you’re interested in forming a union with another man, and that’s not a marriage. So that’s why I don’t think the law should treat the relationship that you want to form as a marriage.

Heritage Scholar Claims Marriage Equality Bans 'Take Nothing Away From Anyone'

Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan T. Anderson, the anti-marriage-equality movement’s new young voice, claimed in an interview with the LDS Church-owned KSL TV in Salt Lake City, that banning marriage equality “take[s] nothing away from anyone” and “in no way infringes upon the liberty of any American to live and to love how they choose to.”

Anderson claims that in a “live and let live society,” LGBT people would not have marriage rights, but would receive marriage benefits from their employers if their employers chose.

In the interview, transcribed by the Deseret News, Anderson also explains that it’s easy for him to take emotion out of the marriage debate.

KSL: As you lay out your arguments, many people may be unmoved because it seems like you aren’t giving homosexuals the opportunity for true fulfillment, that society is justifying sacrificing some people’s fulfillment at the sake of others. What is your response to that?

RA: Marriage laws take nothing away from anyone. In all 50 states, two people of the same sex can live with each other and love each other. If their house of worship recognizes same-sex marriage, they can have a wedding there. If their business wants to give them marriage benefits, the business can. That’s very much a live and let live society. What’s at stake with the redefinition of marriage is: will the law redefine what marriage is and then force every community, every religious community, except for the four walls of a church, every business community, into treating the same-sex relationship as if it’s a marriage, even when it violates their beliefs about marriage? But defining marriage as between a man and a woman so that as many children as possible have a mother and a father in no way infringes upon the liberty of any American to live and to love how they choose to.

Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson Calls Gay Marriage 'An Elite Luxury Good Bought For On The Backs Of The Poor'

In a talk in Salt Lake City this weekend, Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation claimed that same-sex marriage is “an elite luxury good bought for on the backs of the poor.”

He made the comment while discussing U.S. v. Windsor, in which Edith Windsor argued successfully that she was unjustly forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes after her wife’s death because DOMA prevented the government from recognizing their marriage. Anderson absurdly claimed that the media suppressed the facts of the case, and insisted that the solution to Windsor’s problem was simply to repeal the estate tax.

He continued in the same vein, claiming that free markets, rather than nondiscrimination measures, will protect LGBT people from employment and housing discrimination.

Anderson warned that measures protecting LGBT people from housing and employment discrimination will oppress conservatives: “Too often, the nondiscrimination laws are just used as a way of discriminating against those who hold traditional views about marriage.”

“I think, to a certain extent, if you want to protect housing and employment for any person, encourage free markets,” he continued. “Employers want the best employees, regardless of their sexual attractions. A landlord wants the best tenants, regardless of their sexual attractions. It wouldn’t be, in the long run, for a business, profitable to be discriminating against good employees for no reason whatsoever.”

In fact, 21 percent of LGBT people report having been discriminated against in the workplace, including 47 percent of transgender people. Ample research also shows that the free market has done nothing to prevent LGBT people  from facing discrimination in renting and buying homes.

But Anderson wasn’t just concerned with public policy. Later in the talk, an audience member asked about pro-gay “subliminal messaging” in pop culture. “The television show Glee has done just as much to corrupt a young generation about marriage as anything the Supreme Court has done,” he responded.

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