An “overwhelming majority” of Americans support federal legislation protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination, new data from Republican pollster Alex Lundry finds – including a majority (56%) of Republican voters. In fact, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is so in keeping with basic American values that eight in ten people think that it is already on the books, according to the poll.
An innovative statistical modeling method…allows us to estimate support for ENDA in all 50 states by combining data from our national survey with state level census data. The result? We estimate that across all 50 states a majority of voters support passing federal nondiscrimination protections.
Politico’s Maggie Haberman writes that the new data comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seeks more Republican support for the bill and as advocates urge Congress to move it forward this fall.
As we have noted in the past, passing ENDA is simply common sense. Employees should be evaluated on how well they do their job, not on who they are or who they love. And as poll numbers increasing show, Americans from all parts of the country of all political stripes agree.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wants to be the state's next Governor. But he has been dogged by an ethics scandal involving gifts he received from the head of a company that has sued the state. So last week, Cuccinelli tried to put the issue to rest by saying he'd contribute $18,000-the value of his questionable gifts-to a medical charity, saying, "I'm trying to wipe the slate clean here so we can focus on what's gonna matter in people's lives in Virginia in the next four years."
Of course, Cuccinelli's contribution doesn't magically wipe away questions about his character. And there's plenty of other evidence for Virginians to consider about the character of his record, and what four years of Cuccinelli as governor could do for -- or rather to -- the state.
Cuccinelli says his campaign is focused on jobs and the economy, but his extreme record as a state legislator and attorney general makes it clear that he considers himself commander-in-chief of the Religious Right's culture warriors.
He has bullied members of the Board of Health into adopting his anti-choice extremism. He has smeared and tried to defund Planned Parenthood. He even slams comprehensive sex education programs. As the Washington Post noted this week, he "was instrumental in ensuring that new regulations will result in the closure of many of the state's abortion clinics."
As a state senator, Cuccinelli was one of a handful of sponsors of an unconstitutional "personhood" bill that would have criminalized many common forms of contraception. Cuccinelli hasn't disavowed his support for "personhood" bills or their goal of making abortion illegal. But as a candidate for governor, he is trying to distance himself from the effects such legislation would have on women and families in Virginia. He claims that such legislation, which would grant legal rights to an egg at the moment it is fertilized by a sperm, wouldn't interfere with access to birth control. He is not telling the truth.
Here's another reminder of what kind of governor Cuccinelli would be: one of his first steps as Attorney General was to tell Virginia's public colleges and universities that they had to abandon policies against anti-gay discrimination. He reversed a legal opinion by his predecessor in order to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children. He refused to support repeal of the state's unconstitutional anti-sodomy law. He argues that consensual sex between gay adults is a detriment to society and should be illegal. As a state senator, he even opposed legislation that permitted private companies to voluntarily extend health benefits to employees' domestic partners.
Cuccinelli is also a champion of the Tea Party's anti-government extremism. He calls President Obama a tyrant. He filed suit against the Affordable Care Act five minutes after it was signed into law, a self-aggrandizing publicity stunt. He has falsely told people that under the law the government could send people to jail for not buying insurance. He even slams safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for making people dependent on government.
There is seemingly no right-wing fringe to which Cuccinelli will not pander. He has used the power of his office to harass scientists in a climate-change-denying witch-hunt. He has called for a constitutional convention to rescind 14th amendment birthright citizenship. He said he was considering not getting his infant son a social security number because it was being used to track people. He flirted with birtherism.
And this week, he celebrated Constitution Day by appearing with right-wing radio host Mark Levin. Levin is an anti-union, anti-environmental-regulation, anti-public-education activist who rails against "establishment" Republicans and calls President Obama a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. In 2007, Levin's Landmark Legal Foundation nominated Rush Limbaugh for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Cuccinelli is an example of the strong political coalition that has been made between right-wing Catholics like himself and conservative evangelicals, including Virginia-based powerhouses like Falwell-founded Liberty University and Pat Robertson's broadcasting empire. Cuccinelli has criticized people, like President Obama, who support marriage equality for thinking they "know better than God." And he says homosexual behavior is "intrinsically wrong" and destroys people's souls and shouldn't be allowed in a "natural law based country."
Cuccinelli has clearly aligned himself with the far right within the Catholic Church and, like Paul Ryan, opposes the Church's advocacy on behalf of anti-poverty programs. He hasslammed the Catholic bishops for advocating for government assistance for the poor, saying that has "created a culture of dependency on government, not God." He complained that the archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia included issues like poverty, hunger, and health care on a voting guide without making clear that they, in Cuccinelli's opinion, are clearly less important than abortion.
Cuccinelli has convinced the Religious Right that he's their guy. That's why Rick Santorum has endorsed him and the Family Research Council's PAC is helping him raise money.
But if Ken Cuccinelli wants to convince Virginia voters that he's not going to govern as a right-wing culture warrior, he'll have to do more than trying to "wipe the slate clean" on his ethical standards. He'll have to erase from the public record his own extreme record. And that will be a lot harder than writing a check.
(also posted at Huffington Post)
WASHINGTON – In response to the revelation that Target Corporation gave a $50,000 donation this year to a group supporting anti-gay Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement:
“This is a disappointing move from a company that vocally supports LGBT rights. Last year, Target put out a line of gay pride t-shirts and the company has gone out of its way to talk about its commitment to LGBT families. But through the Republican Governors Association, Target is supporting one of the most extreme anti-gay candidates in the country. Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has worked to rescind non-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation, favors turning back the clock by reinstating sodomy laws, and believes that being gay ‘brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.’ If Target wants to be seen as a pro-equality company, it is going to need to rethink its contributions to groups supporting virulently anti-gay candidates.”
With the Employment Non-Discrimination Act scheduled for a Senate committee vote this week, here’s a look at Right Wing Watch’s collection of recent – and classic – claims from the Religious Right about ENDA. Because ENDA is common-sense civil rights legislation that would expand federal employment protections against discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the Right cannot gain much traction by opposing ENDA on its merits. Instead, resorting to fear-mongering and lies, they contend that ENDA will lead to everything from the end of religious freedom to sexual assault and death.
Here are highlights of Right Wing Watch’s reporting on right-wing opposition to ENDA:
5. Tony Perkins: ‘Totalitarian Homosexual Lobby’ Out to Destroy Religious Freedom with ENDA (March 2013)
“Like a B-grade 1950’s horror-movie, ENDA is coming back from the dead,” warned Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a recent mailing. Perkins said President Obama is working with the “totalitarian homosexual lobby” to sneak ENDA into law, and if that happens, “Our freedom of religion will be destroyed.”
“In fact,” says Perkins in his letter, “under ENDA biblical morality becomes illegal.”
Read the full article here.
4. Steve Crampton: ENDA is Insanity (June 2012)
Speaking about a Senate hearing on ENDA, Liberty Counsel’s “Faith and Freedom” radio host Steve Crampton marveled that a transgender person was actually allowed to testify on behalf of the legislation and complained that ENDA is not about “equal rights” but rather “special rights” for gays and cross-dressers.
Crampton stated that if ENDA passed, he could come into work – “God forbid,” he said – wearing a dress and would be allowed to use the women’s restroom. “In years past,” Crampton said, “we had another word for this: it’s called insanity.”
Read the full article here.
3. Andrea Lafferty Cites CT School Shooting to Rally Opposition to Non-Discrimination Policies (December 2012)
Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition used the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in order to bolster her campaign against ENDA. While speaking to Janet Mefferd about the Orange County, Florida, school system’s new non-discrimination policy that is similar to ENDA, Lafferty said that just as parents are upset about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and are concerned about keeping their children safe, they should also be worried about ENDA’s “devastating effects” as schools will have “people with some real issues playing out their personal problems in the classroom.”
Lafferty maintained that ENDA is part of the left’s “open season” on Christians on behalf of “fringe minorities and people that are truly sick.” She warned that Chick-fil-A restaurants may soon be “forced” to hire “weirdos” seeking to undermine Christian businesses, warning that transgender people are committing “the ultimate act of self-hatred” and need “special medical treatment” rather than job protections.
Read the full article here.
2. Bryan Fischer: Businesses Threatened by ‘Flaming Homosexual’ Job Applicants and the ‘Return of Jim Crow Laws’ (January 2013)
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer warned in a blog post that “ENDA would represent the return of Jim Crow laws.” On his radio program Focal Point, Fischer warned that if ENDA is signed into law businesses will be faced with a barrage of “flaming homosexual” job applicants. “The homosexual lobby,” Fischer said, “will send a guy in there wearing stilettos, a dress and dangly earrings” in order to provoke Christian business-owners “not to hire him.”
Read the full article here.
1. Mat Staver: ENDA Will Result in the 'Death of Some Individuals' (June 2012)
Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver is ratcheting up the rhetoric in opposition to ENDA, even going so far as to say that if passed the legislation may lead to child molestation, sexual assault, and death. Staver told Jim Schneider of VCY America on Crosstalk that ENDA “will put individuals at risk and ultimately result in significant damage and even death of some individuals”:
Staver: So you can go into these restrooms or changing rooms, if you’re a man, and want to go in and molest, or watch, or sexually assault young girls. So, I mean, the absurdity of this is just beyond understanding how someone could be in favor of it. This will ultimately, in addition to colliding with religious liberty, in addition to forcing a radical agenda on people, this also will put individuals at risk and ultimately result in significant damage and even death of some individuals.
Read the full article here.
In last month’s American Family Association magazine, Ed Vitagliano lamented that gay people might not want to be friends with Christians who are opposed to marriage equality. Vitagliano is probably not boosting his chances of making gay friends with his article in June’s AFA Journal, a two-page spread with “Sodom” plastered across the top.
The thrust of the article is that “embracing homosexuality is a sign of deep spiritual sickness” in a culture. America, he writes, is on the verge of suppressing the truth about God’s plan and the duality of gender. “A downward death spiral results from such suppression,” he warns.
The homosexual movement has had such great success because Americans have become arrogantly self-indulgent and idolatrous. Straight America has embraced homosexuality because straight Americans first embraced the sexual revolution for the satisfaction of their own perverse sexual appetites.
Judgment came to Sodom because violent homosexuality was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. As a prevalent sin, however, it was the manifestation of an underlying wickedness that permeated the entire culture – a wickedness that was not limited to the homosexual.
Thus homosexuality often becomes the barometer of a culture rotting out from the inside. If the problem were only homosexuality, then the simple act of pushing it back into the closet (if that were possible) would be enough to forestall judgment.
But what Ezekiel 16 teaches us is this: By the time a culture accepts idolatry, abortion and homosexuality, it is already ripe for the devastation wrought by God’s wrath.
Whether they live in a decidedly pagan culture or one, like America, that is an admixture, Christians are called to be salt and light.
Standing against the unrighteousness permeating our society might not be the easy thing to do, but it’s a whole lot easier than running from the fire and brimstone that inevitably follow.
The latest fundraising pitch from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins blasts “the national Republicans” whom he says are “running away from the natural and biblical definition of marriage, flocking to the radical side in support of same-sex ‘marriage.’”
Perkins’ letter insists that allowing same-sex couples to get married is dangerous to religious liberties, to the next generation, and “dangerous to civilization itself.” Perhaps worst of all is that Obama’s “machine” would benefit from the GOP alienating its conservative base:
Sacrificing our values, and their distinctives as a Party, will send millions of voters packing. One terrible side effect: President Obama’s machine will be stronger than ever. Their radicalization of American public policy will intensify.
But be assured that Perkins “cares deeply” about gay people:
Please understand: this is no vendetta. We care deeply about those who engage in either heterosexual sex outside of marriage or homosexual behavior in any context. Both are immoral and unhealthy. We want what is truly best for them and for our nation.
What is truly best for them is a lifestyle of biblical morality. (emphasis in original)
Perkins calls for a “massive outpouring of outrage from principled conservatives” and urges supporters to sign a petition to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. And, of course, to send a check.
The claim that American Christians are facing horrible persecution for their religious beliefs – and are on the verge of being rounded up and thrown into jail by tyrannical secularists – has been a staple of Religious Right groups’ rhetoric for decades. And as conservative evangelicals’ anti-gay views have lost popular support, they’ve doubled down on their claims that gay rights are incompatible with religious liberty. In recent years, conservative Catholics have joined in crying “religious persecution” in response to the advance of marriage equality for same-sex couples and the Obama administration’s requirement for insurance coverage of contraception.
On CNN’s Belief Blog, correspondent John Blake has given voice to these claims in a post titled “When Christians become a ‘hated minority.’” That headline hinted that this piece would be problematic. And that was confirmed with the opening sentence, which cites the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg, who goes on to say that anti-gay Christians are victims who are being forced into the “closet.”
Where to begin?
We could start with the problem of Peter Sprigg being a spokesperson for tolerance. In Blake’s story, Sprigg is quoted saying “Maybe we need to do a better job of showing that we are motivated by Christian love” and “Love is wanting the best for someone, and acting to bring that about.” It’s hard to square Sprigg’s assertion that he is motivated by the best interests of gay people, given that he:
Sprigg says the “real goal of homosexual activists” is not protection from discrimination or marriage equality, but is “to create a society in which it is unacceptable for anyone, ever, anywhere to say that homosexual conduct is wrong, or that homosexual relationships are anything other than fully equal to heterosexual ones.” The CNN piece also cites Bryan Liften, a professor at Moody Bible Institute, saying Christians should be able to publicly say that God designed sex to take place within a marriage between a man and a woman.
Should be? If you haven’t noticed, plenty of Christians have been saying that loudly and proudly and with millions of dollars they have used to enshrine that belief into a majority of state constitutions. People like Sprigg and his boss Tony Perkins, Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage, and any number of conservative evangelicals and Roman Catholic bishops have pretty much an open invitation to say so on national television and before state legislative and congressional committees. Not to mention through their own radio and television networks and vast church networks. Or from the platform of the Republican convention. Freedom of expression, including anti-equality expression, is alive and well.
The CNN post does include Christians with differing views on gay rights, and who acknowledge that simply claiming religious backing for one’s beliefs does not insulate those views from criticism in the public arena. Neither does disagreement equate to discrimination or persecution. Conservative Christians did not see it as a form of religious discrimination to enshrine their view of marriage into laws and state constitutions; but as public opinion shifts and more states make equality the law, they warn of dire threats to their freedom.
Among the Religious Right horror stories linked to in the CNN piece are complaints about pastor Louie Giglio’s withdrawal from President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony in the face of criticism about anti-gay remarks that surfaced online. Criticism of those remarks – even anger and disappointment among pro-equality Obama supporters over Giglio being given a place of honor at the inaugural – does not mean, as some pundits claimed, that people of faith are no longer welcome in the public square. Anyone who heard the prayers, music, and speeches at the inaugural would see that such claims are ludicrous.
It should be noted that Religious Right groups made similarly shrill claims that the addition of sexual orientation to federal hate crimes laws would result in preachers being thrown into jail for quoting scripture on homosexuality. And they claimed that allowing gay members of the armed forces to serve openly would destroy the military. Those claims have been proven to be not just wrong but ridiculous.
Baker quotes evangelical blogger Joe Carter (who used to work at Family Research Council), warning that young people will abandon anti-gay churches “for fear of being called haters.” What is far more likely is that many young Christians will leave anti-gay churches because they have gay friends and disagree with both the anti-gay theology and anti-equality policy positions of the Religious Right. And some may continue to hold traditional theological views on homosexuality while supporting legal equality as a civil matter. Polling shows that the generation gap on LGBT issues is huge within as well as outside the evangelical community – and that many young Christians are disillusioned with the anti-gay fixation of many church leaders.
The CNN piece finishes blogger Carter saying “he foresees a day when any church that preaches against homosexuality will be marginalized. Just as many churches now accept divorce, they will accept sexual practices once considered sinful.”
So let’s end with a consideration of divorce. The Catholic Church denies its religious blessing to divorced couples who get remarried without obtaining a religious annulment of their previous marriage. Many evangelical churches also frown on divorce. But all marriages – first, second, third, or fourth – are treated equally under civil law (good news for Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh!). Yet no one is arguing that the status quo on divorce amounts to an attack on religious freedom – or that Christians who oppose divorce have been marginalized or hounded out of the public square. Their religious beliefs about divorce coexist with public policy that reflects societal reality and the opinions of a religiously diverse America.
This week, NBA center Jason Collins made history when he became the first active player in a major men’s pro sports league to come out as gay. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos aired yesterday on Good Morning America, Collins reflected that “when you finally get to that point of acceptance, there’s nothing more beautiful.” Collins has demonstrated his commitment to being open about who he is – and in doing so, has become a role model to all who are struggling to accept themselves.
Today People For the American Way President Michael B. Keegan sent Collins a letter of congratulations and support:
Becoming the first active player in a major men’s pro sports league to come out as gay could not have been an easy decision. You said yourself that if you had your way, “someone else would have already done this” – but you were the one to take this step, and we’re grateful for your courage.
The majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people report experiencing harassment at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and the need for supportive LGBT role models has never been greater. At this moment, no one can know the full effects of your decision to come out, but what I do know is that it will change the lives of so many others who are struggling to accept who they are.
On behalf of People For the American Way’s staff, board, and members all across the country, congratulations. We are with you.
With best regards,
Michael B. Keegan
President, People For the American Way
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.
If the Family Research Council gets its way, evangelical Christians all across America will hear their pastor deliver a sermon written by an FRC official condemning homosexuality and the advance of marriage equality this weekend or next. On March 26 and 27 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases involving California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and this week FRC emailed pastors urging them to hold a “Stand for Marriage Sunday” before then, providing links to a sermon and full-color bulletin insert recapping its main points.
The 4300-word suggested sermon and accompanying power point presentation start with the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and march through every Religious Right talking point on homosexuality, marriage equality, and the Satanic, anti-Christian, Nazi-like gay rights movement that is inviting the downfall of civilization. Here are the section heads and some highlights:
Section 1: The Divine Pattern
The sermon says God created men and women to complete each other, and actually includes, “Aren’t you glad God created Adam and Eve, and not just Adam and Steve?” It quotes James Dobson saying “More than ten thousand studies have concluded that kids do best when they are raised by mothers and fathers.” And it asserts that in both the Old and New Testaments, “one man and one woman in a marriage covenant relationship for life is the divine pattern.” (The sermon does not address the abundant inconvenient exceptions to one-man, one-woman marriage in the Bible.)
After reviewing all the ways marriage makes people, couples, and children happier, the section concludes:
God’s way works! Think about it. Every civilization in history is built upon the institution of marriage. It is the foundation. The happiness of couples, the welfare of children, the propagation of the faith, the wellbeing of society, and the orderliness of civilization are all dependent upon the stability of marriage according to the divine pattern. When this God-given pattern is undermined, the whole superstructure of society becomes unstable. Any deviation from the divine pattern invites disaster.
Section 2: The Deceptive Perversion
According to the sermon, homosexuality is a deceptive perversion, a sin that is “open rebellion against the divine pattern.” It cites the familiar “abomination” verses and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Section 3: The Definitive Problem
This section compares gay-rights advocates’ claims that people are born Gay or that “God made us gay” to Nazi propaganda. “They essentially practice Joseph Goebel’s Nazi philosophy of propaganda, which is basically this: Tell a lie long enough and loud enough and eventually most mindless Americans will believe it.” The sermon also compares homosexuality to other “sexual sins” such as promiscuity, adultery and pedophilia. “I do not believe,” it says, “that God would not place in your genetic code something that would damn your immortal soul.” [sic on the double negative]
Section 4: The Destructive Program
This section recounts the dangers of the “radical homosexual agenda,” its goal of “silencing critics in the clergy and Christian media,” and its conquest of the entertainment, educational, and legal arenas, citing a litany of familiar Religious Right horror stories about the alleged persecution of Christians who stand against the merciless gay rights steamroller. And it pushes one of the primary talking points of Religious Right leaders and their conservative Catholic allies: that equality and religious liberty are fundamentally incompatible:
Where homosexual activists win legal approval, whether by court action or legislation, they often deny our full rights as Christians because a homosexual’s so-called “civil rights” and a Christian’s freedom of conscience and speech opposing homosexuality are mutually exclusive.
“Listen,” the sermon warns, “homosexual activists won’t stop at recognition, their aim is domination. They will not stop until they win over our children and our convicting voice is silenced.”
Section 5: The Determined Plan
These are the action steps FRC wants people hearing the sermon to take:
Action Step 1: Pray
The sermon calls on people to pray for spiritual revival and for “God’s mercy on a nation that is speeding toward Sodom, and hurtling toward Gomorrah.”
Action Step 2: Practice
This section says Christians give up their credibility to challenge the culture when their divorce rate is the same as everyone else’s, and urges people to follow biblical instructions on marriage and home life.
Action Step 3: Participate
This section is a direct rebuke to people who think politics are of the world, something Christians should stay out of. “Since God created the institution of government, would He want His people to stay out of it? No. If Christians don’t ‘render to Caesar’ (Matt. 22:21) and don’t function as ‘salt’ and ‘light’ (Matt. 5:13-16) in the arena of government, then we disobey the commands of Christ and allow Satan to prevail by default.” The sermon urges people to write blog posts, use Facebook and Twitter, comment on news stories, knock on doors, contact elected officials, and join the March for Marriage being organized by the National Organization for Marriage and its allies in Washington DC on March 26.
Action Step 4: Proclaim
This section urges people to tell those in the “homosexual lifestyle” that they do not have to remain “slaves to sin” but can pray away the gay.
Let’s stand along these poor misguided and lost people trapped in Satan’s snare. Let’s love them out of that sinful and destructive lifestyle! ... But let’s also exercise our rights as Christian citizens! Listen, we can make the difference. Together, Christians all across America can protect and preserve marriage for our children and our children’s children. Let’s stand for God’s plan for marriage because our future depends on it. And all of God’s people said: Amen!
While the Supreme Court prepares to take up cases on marriage equality, the Family Research Council’s latest mailing [PDF] takes on ENDA – the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act. “Like a B-grade 1950’s horror-movie, ENDA is coming back from the dead,” warns FRC President Tony Perkins. Perkins says President Obama is working with the “totalitarian homosexual lobby” to sneak ENDA into law, and if that happens, “Our freedom of religion will be destroyed.” The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer sounded a similar alarm in January.
“In fact,” says Perkins in his new letter, “under ENDA biblical morality becomes illegal.”
What ENDA would really do is simply extend existing protections against various forms of legal discrimination in the workplace to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The real point of the FRC letter is to raise money from people who think persecution of Christians in America is just around the corner, if not well under way:
“And no battle could be more urgently important than the battle against NEDA. The rights of more than 60 million Americans – the right to live and share our faith and live according to biblical values – are literally at risk of being vaporized by a single vote of Congress or the stroke of the President’s pen.”
Polls show overwhelming public support for protecting gay and transgender people from discrimination on the job. But that doesn’t matter to FRC, which has a lot invested in convincing its supporters that LGBT equality is incompatible with religious freedom.
Several years ago, FRC warned that a federal hate crimes law would be used to silence preachers. Other religious right leaders said Christians would be tossed into jail for preaching against homosexuality. That legislation was signed into law in 2009; as Perkins himself makes clear, the freedom to trash-talk LGBT people has survived.
The Family Research Council has launched what it is describing as “an ambitious, no-holds-barred campaign to keep marriage as between one man and one woman and preserve the American family.” FRC is worried about two cases before the Supreme Court that will have “a lasting impact on the very soul of our nation” -- one on California’s Prop 8 and one on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
In a direct-mail piece dated on Valentine’s Day, FRC President Tony Perkins says it is important to get members of Congress “to pressure the Supreme Court to come down on the right side of marriage.” Recipients of the letter are encouraged to sign petitions to their representative and senators to urge them to “PRESSURE THE SUPREME COURT TO RULE IN FAVOR OF TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE!”
The text of the petition:
[Representative/Senator], as one of your constituents, I ask that you please use your influence to urge the Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and state statutes banning same-sex “marriage.” The covenant marriage relationship between one man and one woman is a universally accepted social tradition that transcends all cultures and predates any religion. It is essential for procreation and the stability of society. I respectfully request that you do all in your power to urge the Court to uphold traditional marriage. Thank you for your service to our country.
The letter also recycles some of the same false claims that FRC and its allies made about federal hate crimes legislation, suggesting the advance of marriage equality will lead to the federal government dictating what pastors can preach about homosexuality or prosecuting those who preach against same-sex marriage. Perkins also claims – falsely – that the “vast majority of Americans do not want to see marriage redefined” and “the vast majority of voters are against the legitimization of same-sex ‘marriage.’” Actually, a majority of Americans supports marriage equality, according to recent polls by Gallup, Wall Street Journal/NBC, Washington Post/ABC, and CBS News.
But what difference do facts make to Tony Perkins? He says that if the Supreme Court were to support marriage equality, it would be “siding with an extreme minority and defying the will of the majority.” That’s why, he says, “the justices need to know up front that this majority will be anything but ‘silent.’”
FRC’s new “Marriage Preservation Initiative” is, of course, not the first effort to recognize, in Perkins’ words, that, “[d]espite the fact that Supreme Court justices have a reputation for being independent, they, too, are political and can be influenced by public pressure.” Back in 2010, after a district court ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, the late Chuck Colson launched his own campaign to convince the justices that a pro-marriage-equality ruling would lead to “cultural Armageddon.”
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.