Ryan T. Anderson

Marriage Equality Opponent: Gay Marriage 'Mess' Started With Contraception

The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson — the fresh face of the movement against marriage equality — agreed with an interviewer last week that the road to marriage equality started with widespread contraception use, saying that the acceptance of gay marriage came about because “we’ve had a culture since the ‘60s, since the sexual revolution, that has largely made a mess of human sexuality, the family and marriage.”

Patrick Coffin, who hosts a podcast for the group Catholic Answers, asked Anderson whether “the widespread acceptance of contraception” was “the first domino to fall” on the way to marriage equality.

“Yes, the sexual revolution explains quite a bit of this,” Anderson agreed. “We only arrived at the place where we are today, in 2015, at the cusp of a potential Supreme Court case redefining marriage everywhere because we’ve had a culture since the ‘60s, since the sexual revolution, that has largely made a mess of human sexuality, the family and marriage. It’s only after a generation or two of premarital sex, non-marital childbearing, the hookup culture, pornography, no-fault divorce, that you’d then be at the point of saying, ‘Oh, yeah, marriage has nothing to do with men and women.’”

Opponents of marriage equality don’t always acknowledge that the rights that they would like to roll back don’t stop with gay marriage. But just as the gay rights and women’s rights movements have been intertwined for decades, so has the opposition to those advances.

In fact, Anderson made this very argument in a 2006 essay in defense of the radically anti-contraception Quiverfull movement (made famous by the Duggar family), in which he wondered if a backlash against gay marriage might lead Christians to reexamine their "sexual practice" and come to realize "the immorality of contraception":

As people continue to see the bad results of the sexual revolution, they are likely to reevaluate their current attitudes toward sex, and while doing so they may find that the logic of human sexuality leads right back to traditional Christian orthodoxy. Might the continued push for same-sex "marriage" and the normalization of homosexuality prove to be the tipping point, the catalyst for a widespread reexamination of Christian sexual practice? Might these issues push the envelope so far that, as faithful Christians reflect on the reasons why they must conclude that homosexual acts fail to embody the truth of human sexuality, they come to realize that these same reasons entail the immorality of contraception? (For the moment I’ll assume that anyone entertaining this line of thought has already concluded that premarital and extramarital sex likewise fail to embody the truth of human sexuality.)

Last month, during the Supreme Court arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges marriage equality cases, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg challenged the idea that the definition of marriage has existed for “millennia,” pointing out that the ground for same-sex marriage was paved by a “change in the institution of marriage to make it egalitarian” for women. More recently, the legal fight for reproductive rights for women — starting with defending the right to contraception — has gone hand in hand with the fight for LGBT rights.

This post has been updated with Anderson's 2006 article.

Ryan T. Anderson: Gay Marriage Advocates Like Opponents Of Interracial Marriage

Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan T. Anderson, a vocal opponent of marriage equality, spoke to Sandy Rios of the American Family Association today about the controversy over “religious freedom” measures in states like Indiana and Arkansas. During the interview, Anderson took issue with gay rights supporters who assert that businesses that cite moral reasons to deny services to same-sex couples aren’t acting all that differently from businesses that denied services to interracial couples by claiming that such relationships were immoral and unnatural.

While anti-miscegenation laws were implemented throughout the United States for centuries until the Supreme Court struck them down in 1967, and it wasn’t until fairly recently that a majority of Americans began to accept that interracial relationships are moral (many, and disproportionately white evangelicals, still do not believe so), Anderson suggested that interracial marriage opponents never really held sway.

“What does race have to do with marriage?” he asked. “Absolutely nothing. And no great thinker at any point in human history ever said race had anything to do with marriage.”

Well, they may not be the greatest thinkers of human history, but plenty of leaders of the Religious Right movement believed that the Bible required them to oppose interracial marriage. Bob Jones said that any “Bible-believing Christian” would oppose interracial marriage, Jerry Falwell preached against it, and Jesse Helms — who has been honored by Anderson’s own group — “got his political start by bashing interracial marriage.”

Anderson then went one step further, insisting that gay rights advocates are the ones acting like the opponents of interracial marriage.

“For the past generation, there have been a bunch of lies told in the public schools and in the media, lots of propaganda, but propaganda can’t win in the long run. In the long-run, the truth wins out,” Anderson said. “In the same way when there were some racists who tried to say that you can’t have interracial marriage, that was propaganda, it was a lie, and it failed. In the same way, trying to eliminate that marriage is about uniting the two halves of humanity, not black and white, because that’s not the two halves of humanity, the two halves of humanity, male and female, husband and wife, mom and dad, you can’t erase that, and in the long run the truth will win out.”

Rick Santorum Presents Latest 'Religious Persecution' Movie

Two current Religious Right fixations — the “persecution” of American Christians and the need for conservatives to do more to influence the pop culture — have come together in movies like “Persecuted” and “We the People—Under Attack.” The latest entry, “One Generation Away: The Erosion of Religious Liberty,” was screened by Rick Santorum at the Heritage Foundation on Monday night.

Santorum said the movie will be released in September. His EchoLight Cinemas is trying to create an alternative to Hollywood distribution channels by building a network of thousands of tech-equipped churches who will sell tickets for "One Generation Away" and other movies. He says the long-term strategy is to bring more people into churches and put the church back at the center of the culture.

"One Generation Away" is described as a documentary, but it’s really a preaching-to-the-choir call to arms for conservative Christians and pastors to get more involved in culture war battles while they still have the freedom to do so. Among the film’s producers are Donald and Tim Wildmon from the American Family Association, which Santorum said is packaging a shorter version of the movie into more of an activist tool.

The title comes from Ronald Reagan – specifically from a speech to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce in 1961, a time in which Reagan was working with conservatives to rally opposition to Medicare – “socialized medicine”:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

The thrust of "One Generation Away" is that religious freedom in the United States is disappearing fast, and if the church doesn’t fight for it now, it will soon be gone forever. Before running the film on Monday, Santorum quoted Cardinal Francis George, who said during the debate about insurance coverage of contraception, “I expect to die in my bed. I expect my successor to die in prison. I expect his successor to be a martyr.” That’s just the kind of hyperbolic “religious persecution” rhetoric we have come to expect from Religious Right leaders and their allies in the Catholic hierarchy.

At one point toward the end of the movie, it seems as if the filmmakers might be striking a more reasonable tone, with a couple of speakers saying that Christians should stand up for the rights of people of different faiths — even though the AFA’s chief spokesman opposes First Amendment protections for non-Christians— and others actually acknowledging that it is problematic for American Christians to be complaining of “religious persecution” over policy disputes when Christians and others are facing horrific, deadly persecution in many other parts of the world.

But that caution is quickly abandoned as the movie makes a direct comparison of the status of the Christian church in America with the church in Germany as the Nazis came to power. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor who tried to mobilize German Christians to resist Nazi tyranny and was executed by the regime, is held up as the model that American Christians need to be willing to follow.

Eric Metaxas, a Bonhoeffer biographer who became a Religious Right folk hero when he questioned President Obama’s faith at a National Prayer Breakfast attended by the president, warned that if the church doesn’t link arms to fight, all will be lost. “The good news,” he said, “is that the American church is slightly more attuned to the rumbling heard in the distance than the German church was in the 30s. The bad news is, only slightly, right?”

The movie cuts to Mike Huckabee saying that Bonhoeffer could have saved his life if he had been willing to soften his faith, but that instead he resisted and rebuked the Nazi regime. And then we’re back to Metaxas to complete the Nazi analogy:

 “The parallel today is simply that. You have a government, a state, which is getting larger and larger and more and more powerful, and is beginning to push against the church. There’s a window of opportunity where we can fight. If we don’t wake up and fight before then, we won’t be able to fight. That’s just what happened in Germany. And that’s the urgency we have in America now. And people that’s incendiary, or I’m being hyperbolic. I’m sorry, I wish, I wish, I wish I were. I’m not.”

Filmmakers said at the screening that they had conducted 75 interviews for the movie, and it sure feels like it.  It includes names that will be well-known to RWW readers, like Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Harry Jackson, Tim Wildmon, Alveda King, Robert George, Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, Eric Teetsel of the Manhattan Declaration, and Ryan Anderson and Jennifer Marshall of the Heritage Foundation.

Also appearing are Rep. Doug Collins; Rick Perry backer Robert Jeffress; Matthew Franck of the Witherspoon Institute, which sponsored the infamous and discredited Regnerus “family structures” study; Stephen McDowell of the dominionist Providence Foundation; Gregory Thornbury of Kings College; lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, the Beckett Fund, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund; and a number of pastors.

The film also includes interviews with some opponents of the Religious Right, including Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Princeton’s Peter Singer, and Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Santorum told the audience at Heritage that he wishes he had even more of his opponents included in the film because “they scare the hell out of me” and would help motivate the right-wing base.

In order to keep the movie from being one brutally long succession of talking heads, the filmmakers resort to a tactic of constantly shifting scenes, a couple of seconds at a time, in a way that feels like they got a volume discount on stock images of Americana: boats on the water, kids playing softball, families walking together. There are also odd random fillers, like close-ups of the pattern on a couch in the room in which a speaker is sitting. The endless, repetitive succession of images actually makes the film feel even longer than it actually is. (Zack Ford at ThinkProgress had a similar reaction to this technique.)

The meat of the film, or the “red meat,” mixes the personal stories of people being  victimized by intolerant secularists and/or gay activists with miniature David Bartonesque lectures on the Christian roots of America’s founding; the fact that the phrase “separation of church and state” never appears in the U.S. Constitution; the notion that the American government is trying to replace “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship” and require any expression of faith to take place behind church walls; and the disgracefulness of making any analogies between the civil rights movement and the LGBT equality movement. The 1947 Supreme Court decision in which Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” phrase was invoked by the Court and “changed everything” is portrayed as nothing more than a reflection of Justice Hugo Black’s hatred of Catholics.

Featured “persecution” stories include:

  • a long advertisement for Hobby Lobby and its owners, the Green family, which recently won its legal battle against the contraception mandate;
  • a baker and florist who ran afoul of their state’s anti-discrimination laws when they refused to provide services for a same-sex couple getting married;
  • cheerleaders at a public high school in Texas who were challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation for creating football game banners featuring Christian scriptural quotes;  
  • Catholic Charities being “forced” to give up adoption services rather than place children with same-sex couples;
  • an ACLU challenge to a large cross at the Mt. Soledad war memorial; and
  • the supposed frontal attack on the religious freedom of military chaplains as a result of allowing LGBT members of the armed forces to serve openly. On this issue, Tony Perkins declares, “The military is being used as a vanguard of radical social policy. And in order for that policy to permeate and to take root, you’ve got to take out the religious opposition.”

In spite of the parade of horrors, the movie tries to end on an upbeat note, saying that the early Christian church expanded while it was being suppressed, and that it will only take “one spark of revival” to change the nation.  A familiar theme at Religious Right conferences is that blame for America’s decline rests with churches that don’t speak up and pastors who don’t preach or lead aggressively enough. One Generation Away ends on this point, telling Christian pastors it is their responsibility to wake up and challenge their congregants to live their faith “uncompromisingly.”

During the Q&A after the screening, Santorum said the fact that Hobby Lobby was a 5-4 decision demonstrated the importance of the 2016 election. “Part of me almost wishes we’d lost,” says Santorum, because that would have made the threat clearer to conservative activists. “We are one judge away,” he said, adding that “if we get a Democratic president, our five, or four-and-a-half, justices are not going to hold out forever.”

“I just worry,” he said to the young people in the audience, “that the longer we delay, and America sleeps, and your generation is indoctrinated the way it is, the harder it will be to come back.”

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.

Anti-Gay Groups Rev Up Anti-ENDA Rhetoric As Senate Vote Nears

As RWW has been documenting, anti-gay groups have been getting wildly over the top in their denunciations of the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act, which would add to federal anti-discrimination law protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  With a procedural vote in the Senate scheduled as early as Monday evening, anti-LGBT groups are getting increasingly shrill.

On Friday night, the Family Research Council blasted out a breathtakingly dishonest alert charging that under ENDA “employers would be forced to reward workers based on their sexual preferences.” FRC’s Tony Perkins called ENDA a “republic-altering piece of legislation that has the power to fundamentally destroy Americans' First Amendment rights.”

Through ENDA (which FRC has blocked for a decade), businesses would be ordered to make hiring, firing, and promotion decisions -- not based on a person's qualifications -- but on their sexual expression. Homosexuals, cross-dressers, and transgendered workers would automatically qualify for special treatment that other workers would not. Can you imagine walking into your child's classroom and meeting a teacher dressed in drag? Neither can most Americans. But unfortunately, that's just one of the many consequences of adopting a law as dangerous as this one. Preschools, daycare centers, summer camps, religious chains like Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-A -- they'll all be subject to the law, regardless of their personal beliefs and workplace standards.

Also on Friday, the National Organization for Marriage blasted ENDA, calling it “a Trojan horse built to attack the foundational institution of marriage between a man and a woman.”

That’s the same line taken a day earlier by Ryan Anderson, a protégé of Robert George and the Heritage Foundation’s answer to young Americans’ support for LGBT equality. Anderson wrote in National Review online that “ENDA would create special privileges based on sexual orientation and gender identity, backed up by coercive enforcement.” Anderson also says “ENDA would further weaken the marriage culture and the ability of civil society to affirm that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that maleness and femaleness are not arbitrary constructs but objective ways of being human.”

Anderson and others call ENDA a threat to religious liberty even though the bill in fact includes a broad exemption for religious organizations, an exemption that is broad enough to raise concerns among some backers of the law. But for Anderson, even that religious liberty exemption is “inadequate and vaguely defined.” He says ENDA would interfere with the rights of business owners to run their businesses the way they want.

That was also the theme of a hyperventilating alert send on Sunday by former military chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt warning that the Senate was preparing to vote “to punish Christian Business Owners.” He says ENDA will trample religious freedom and “will force Christians into bankruptcy and lawsuits if they refuse to hire homosexuals that oppose their corporate mission.”

In reality, ENDA has broad support in the business community and is backed by large majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Not only that, but majorities of all religious groups – including white evangelical Protestants – support laws to protect gay and lesbian people from workplace discrimination. So clearly, ENDA’s opponents do not speak for all Christians, or even all evangelical Christians, most of whom agree that fairness on the job is an American value that is worth upholding in law.

As President Barack Obama notes in an op-ed published in the Huffington Post on Sunday, ENDA is a concrete expression of America’s ideal of equality under the law:

America is at a turning point. We're not only becoming more accepting and loving as a people, we're becoming more just as a nation. But we still have a way to go before our laws are equal to our Founding ideals. As I said in my second inaugural address, our nation's journey toward equality isn't complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the content of their character." That's what ENDA helps us do. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.

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