Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage knows who to blame for yesterday’s marriage equality victories in the Supreme Court: Hollywood. Roback Morse, the campaign spokesperson for Proposition 8 in California, discussed the marriage equality decisions on today’s Sandy Rios in the Morning. She blamed Hollywood for the Supreme Court’s decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA, saying that Hollywood is “dominated by all aspects of the sexual revolution.”
Morse also blamed television for American’s “distorted view” of how many gay people there are in the country. “They’re only about 2% of the population,” she claimed. “But if you watch TV all day, you’ll think it’s 30 or 40% of the population’s gay.”
Morse urged anti-gay activists “to go down fighting” and suggested that the freedom of speech is at stake: “You need to speak out while you still can because these guys are closing in on us in all kinds of dimensions.” According to Morse, gay rights advocates believe “the sexual revolution is the highest objective and will bend the rule of law and bend the Constitution” in order to realize their goals.
The Supreme Court today ruled that the core section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. DOMA’s Section 3, which the Court vacated, prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in the states, thereby hitting legally married gay and lesbian couples with extra taxes and depriving them of a slew of federal protections.
People For the American Way Foundation president Michael Keegan said of the Supreme Court’s ruling: “Today’s DOMA ruling is a profound step forward for loving, committed same-sex couples across the country. The decision is premised on the plain fact that there is no good reason for the government to recognize some legally married couples while discriminating against others.”
PFAW launched a campaign to “Dump DOMA” in 2008. Since then, our petition calling on Congress to repeal the discriminatory law has gathered 230,000 signatures.
But the effort to overturn DOMA is not over. While Section 3 was the law’s most damaging provision, DOMA’s Section 2, which says that states don’t have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, still stands. We will continue to work to overturn the remainder of DOMA and ensure that all gay and lesbian Americans have the right to marriage, no matter which state they make their home.
While our work continues, today’s decision represents a historic turning point for equality. DOMA will no longer tear apart binational couples. It will no longer impose a “gay tax” on legally married same-sex couples. It will no longer deny benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees. It will no longer deny gay and lesbian veterans benefits for their spouses.
The story of Edith Windsor, the plaintiff who brought DOMA to the Supreme Court, and Thea Spyer, her late wife and partner of 40 years, illustrates what this decision will mean to so many Americans:
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.
This piece is the eighth in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.
At the end of 2008, my husband and I were married in the same synagogue where I’d had my bar-mitzvah more than three decades earlier. As a 13 year-old in the 1970s, I read from the Torah and spoke to the congregation about letting the people we love know how much we love them. But as a closeted 13 year-old, I never dreamed that 30 years later, I’d be standing in the same chapel, with all the same people who are dearest to me, publicly professing my love for another man. Rick and I were surrounded by family and married in the traditions of our faith. And as we drank from the Kiddush cup, we adapted a practice from the Passover Seder; since Prop 8 had just passed, we removed eight drops of wine as a symbol that our joy was diminished by the suffering caused by marriage discrimination.
Passover is my favorite holiday because it is about living in a just society. It teaches us to welcome the stranger, because “we were strangers in the land of Egypt.” It is a lesson that, unfortunately, must be learned and relearned, as every society has those whom it unjustly treats as outcasts.
It’s appropriate that the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in both the Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases during the week of Passover. Although the Constitution uses the language of “equal protection” instead “strangers in the land of Egypt,” the underlying values are the same. It is wrong – and unconstitutional – for states to prohibit us from marrying and for the federal government to refuse to recognize our marriages. What better time than Passover to dump DOMA and strike down Prop 8?
Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel
People For the American Way
In an interview on The Janet Mefferd Show yesterday, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly attacked Sen. Rob Portman’s newfound support for legalizing same-sex marriage, calling his announcement “dumb” and a “stupid statement.” Schlafly, who unlike Portman has maintained her opposition to marriage equality even after learning that she has a gay son, said that Ohio voters may “feel sorry for him” because “maybe he was pressured by his son to do this.”
She insisted that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) “does not proscribe a national rule against gay rights” and protects states’ rights.
However, Section 3 of DOMA requires the federal government to discriminate against legally married same-sex couples. Even the American Family Association’s legal counsel admits that Section 2, which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex unions that are legal in other states, likely violates the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause.
Mefferd: What do you make of Sen. Portman’s announcement last week?
Schlafly: I think it was a rather stupid statement that he made. He doesn’t appear to understand what DOMA is all about. His statement is not in accord with the facts and it’s inconsistent. If he stands up for states to be able to make their own decisions about marriage, DOMA allows that, we have about a half a dozen states that have made that unfortunate decision and they’re not interfered with by DOMA. I don’t understand. Portman was always advertised as one of the brightest of the Senators and he doesn’t seem to understand that the Defense of Marriage Act does not proscribe a national rule against gay rights; it doesn’t do that at all. It just says if one state adopts same-sex marriage the other states simply do not have to recognize it. What can be more states’ rights than that?
Mefferd: That shouldn’t be the way people shift positions as far as public policy is X is happening in my family therefore I’ve changed my mind completely for the entire country.
Schlafly: I agree with you and I think it’s really a dumb way to create legislation and my guess is that the Ohio voters will take care of that in the next election; I think they won’t respond to that type of an argument. They’ll feel sorry for him, maybe he was pressured by his son to do this, but I think the legislators should stand up for what the majority of people want and not decided based on personal experience.
During the debate over the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Religious Right groups like the American Family Association warned that the law would “criminalize negative comments concerning homosexuality” and “take away our religious freedoms.”
Of course, none of that happened, but that hasn’t stopped anti-gay activists from making the exact same false claims again and hoping more people will fall for it.
Yesterday, AFA president Tim Wildmon appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show and alleged that if the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) then we will see “persecution against Christians” and restrictions on the freedom of speech.
Wildmon: You’re headed down the road of persecution against Christians who believe in the Bible as their standard for moral behavior. In Canada now they have different rules there where you can’t even criminalize the lifestyle itself or you’ll be charged with a hate crime. You know that’s the road we’re headed down if these laws, if DOMA is struck down, if Prop 8 is struck down, then you’re headed for control of speech, even if it’s religious speech.
Ironically, the AFA’s own legal counsel, Pat Vaughn, admitted that “the Defense of Marriage Act is probably unconstitutional.”
This piece is the sixth in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.
Growing up as a gay woman in a conservative Salvadoran household was like being the protagonist in one of the telenovelas that I used to watch with my Maminena, my grandma. Thankfully, here in Maryland, being gay is no longer an obstacle to marrying the love of my life.
After a hard-fought battle, my girlfriend and I now have the right to say, “I do.”
Unlike most economic development initiatives, tax increases, and transportation projects, our ability to marry was taken to the polls and put to a vote. Marriage for same-sex couples is still treated like an earned privilege rather than a given right. While we won the right to marry in Maryland, thanks to DOMA our marriage would not be recognized under federal law.
My relationship, under this law, does not count. DOMA is a vehicle for discrimination and it hurts our families.
When thinking about equality, whether it’s equal protection under federal law, marriage equality or equal protection for our transgender community, two words come to mind: unconditional love.
Unconditional love. That is what equality means to me: unconditional love for our community, constituents, neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates, friends, family members. Because when you truly love, you don’t let discrimination and injustice take place in your community – or in your country.
The Defense of Marriage Act is just as outdated as the concept of “traditional marriage” being restricted to heterosexuals only. It’s time to dump DOMA – let unconditional love take its place.
Alumna of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Front Line Leaders Academy