Craig Parshall of National Religious Broadcasters added to the torrent of right-wing doomsday prophesies about marriage equality yesterday, claiming that a Supreme Court victory for gay rights would ultimately lead to hate speech laws wielded against Christians. In an interview with his wife Janet Parshall, a talk show host with Moody Radio, he warned that “the next victim will be not just the traditional view of marriage and the health of society, but it’s going to be the free speech rights of Christians as well.”
We have a hate crimes law on the federal level now that we didn’t used to have. It’s only been in play for a few years, but I’m already seeing indications that it could migrate toward the suppression of speech. So there’s no question in my mind that if either or both of these decisions go the wrong way, the next victim will be not just the traditional view of marriage and the health of society, but it’s going to be the free speech rights of Christians as well.
He was also upset that Justice Kennedy, during the arguments on Proposition 8, had brought up the well-being of California children being raised by same-sex couples. “There are some 40,000 children in California…that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?,” Kennedy asked.
Parshall, who has previously called the children of gay and lesbian parents “victims of gay mentality,” said that in this case the views of children shouldn’t be considered. “We don’t leave it up to children to make those decisions,” he said. “Either the parents make it, or a high-level court, or society through Proposition 8 voting, has to decide those moral, societal value questions.”
(Of course, in this case, the parents are not able to make the decision to get married because they are legally barred from doing so).
The issue was, I thought, brought to a head in a very interesting, but I think wrong-headed, question by Justice Kennedy, the swing vote again, who said, ‘Well, but what about those 37,000,’ and actually, excuse me, he said, ‘the 40,000 children living in same-sex relationships in California?’ Actually, the number’s 37,000, I think he rounded it up, that’s fine. The 37,000 children. ‘What about them? They want their putative father and other significant other to be called a married couple.’ Well, number one, do they? I don’t think a survey has been made of those 37,000 children. But, number two, we don’t leave it up to children to make those decisions. Either the parents make it, or a high-level court, or society through Proposition 8 voting, has to decide those moral, societal value questions. The child doesn’t make the decision about whether marriage should be instituted for the purpose of gay parents.
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.
WASHINGTON – Today People For the American Way Foundation released a new report outlining the history and arguments surrounding the two marriage cases before the Supreme Court this term: Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenging California’s Proposition 8, and U.S. v. Windsor, challenging Section 3 of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The report, Equal Protection or ‘Social Tradition:’ The Supreme Court’s Test in the Marriage Cases, details the legal histories of the current Supreme Court cases as well as past cases addressing the issue of marriage discrimination. PFAW Foundation Senior Fellow Jamie Raskin, the report's author, takes apart conservative arguments against marriage equality, including those based on the goal of legislating social morality. Released just before the Supreme Court hears oral argument, the report provides timely, in-depth analysis and historical background on the central issues of the cases.
“The only real question is what role the Court will play in the historical process of vindicating the rights of the people,” the report notes. “Will it constitutionalize discriminatory ‘traditions,’ as it did in Bowers v. Harwick, or will it defend the rights and liberties of the people, as it did in Lawrence v. Texas?”
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.”
Last week the Equal Justice Task Force of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation, joined with a broad coalition of organizations in filing amicus briefs for the marriage equality cases being considered by the Supreme Court. These cases – Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges California’s Proposition 8, and Windsor v. U.S., which challenges Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – represent landmark opportunities for our nation to move toward making marriage equality a reality for all Americans.
“As African American faith leaders, we feel it is our responsibility to question hatred and discrimination wherever it happens – and especially in our laws,” said Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. “Laws singling out and preventing same-sex couples from getting married are blatantly discriminatory and they hurt our communities. These amicus briefs voice our support for equal rights and equal justice for all of God’s children.”
The amicus brief for the Hollingsworth case, a continuation of the 2010 brief PFAW Foundation submitted when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the case, exposes the discriminatory nature of the supposedly “moral” rationales for Proposition 8:
This Court has refused for three-quarters of a century to uphold laws disfavoring minority groups based on religious or moral disapproval alone—with the one, now-discredited exception of Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986). And for good reason: Time and again throughout our nation’s history, laws that disadvantaged or degraded particular groups have been justified by resort to morality and religion. And time and again, our society has come to see those laws as repugnant, and the religious and moral disapproval justifying them as little more than a means to enshrine the status quo.
Likewise, the amicus brief for the Windsor case points out:
This Court has long implicitly acknowledged the connection between religious justifications and the Equal Protection guarantee. The Court’s decision overturning Virginia’s law forbidding marriage between persons of different races is illustrative. In Loving v. Virginia, the Court dismissed the Virginia trial judge’s proffered religious-based rationale, which cited God’s hand in creating different races, recognizing instead that “[t]here is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification.” 388 U.S. 1, 11 (1967). Ultimately, the Court recognized that the anti-miscegenation law served no secular purpose, and was based on nothing more than racial discrimination—even if disguised as a moral or religious belief.
As these briefs highlight, discrimination – even if cloaked in the language of religious or moral beliefs – is still discrimination.
In an interview with the American Family Association’s news affiliate Instant Analysis (formerly OneNewsNow), Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality condemned the large group of corporations that joined legal briefs asking the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8.
LaBarbera blasted the corporations for “pushing homosexuality on the American public,” calling the amicus brief “a tool of repression against Christians and people of faith who simply want their right to not support homosexuality.” He claimed that if the Supreme Court rules against Prop 8, “that will be a sad day for American freedom” and “a disaster,” as deciding who should have the freedom to marry “should be left up to citizens.”
Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality acknowledges that corporations are at liberty to do what they want privately, such as adopting pro-homosexual policies.
“... But when you start pushing homosexuality on the American public using the government, that's another matter,” he offers. “Then it becomes a tool of repression against Christians and people of faith who simply want their right to not support homosexuality.”
According to the family advocate, the Prop. 8 case before the nation's high court is essentially the “Roe v. Wade” of the homosexual movement.
“If the court steps in and overrides the decision of the people of California not to support homosexual so-called marriage, that will be a sad day for American freedom,” he tells American Family News. “All across the nation citizens have spoken on this issue – [and] at the very least it should be left up to citizens.
“If the court imposes national homosexual marriage, that will be a disaster – and it will fuel the culture wars for decades to come.”
Of course, it is absurd to argue that a Supreme Court decision against DOMA or Prop 8 actively represses or takes away the rights of marriage equality opponents. But the Religious Right is often inconsistent in its arguments. Another AFA news item, however, explicitly rejects paying any attention to how the public feels, contradicting LaBarbera’s argument.
Sam Rohrer, a former Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania and head of the Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network, tells the AFA that the public’s view on marriage equality doesn’t matter because judges should rule according to “moral law” established by God as “the base of the Constitution and the individual rights guaranteed by it are based on the Bible.”
The Christian Post reported on Monday that The Washington Post has published two polls that show "Americans are done with DOMA." But the Pennsylvania Pastors' Network (PPN) contends that the results are "likely skewed."
PPN president Sam Rohrer believes that polls are worth about the amount it cost to conduct them - particularly when they are financed by organizations that advocate for the destruction of marriage, including the Respect for Marriage Coalition.
"When they use polls to try to substantiate and/or to prove an acceptance of a position that has not been historically sound, I'm saying [that] is an inappropriate use of polls," Rohrer submits. "And any judge that looks to the poll as a determination of how they may or may not judge and rule on this case is to embrace moral relativism rather than moral law."
That is especially relevant now, as the U.S. Supreme Court is to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act next month; the resulting ruling is expected near the end of June.
The Coalition's poll results show that 83 percent of Americans, "regardless of their personal opinion on the issue," believes same-sex "marriage" will be legal nationally "in the next five to ten years." But that can only happen if the federal Defense of Marriage Act is repealed by the Supreme Court or Congress.
And a national survey conducted on behalf of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) reportedly reveals that 59 percent of registered voters "oppose" Section 3 of DOMA, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and a spouse as someone of the opposite gender.
The PPN president asserts that the purpose of the recent polls is to influence public opinion and the courts.
"What the Pastors' Network is saying is that when making a decision, a moral decision where you're talking about an institution created by God, God doesn't need public opinion polls; so neither should a judge consider what polls may or may not be," Rohrer contends. "It's a moral decision, and moral decisions ought to be made based on what God says -- not what some poll may or may not say."
Part of the oath of office high court justices take is to support and defend the Constitution. And as Rohrer points out, the base of the Constitution and the individual rights guaranteed by it are based on the Bible -- not the popular view of the culture.
People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court’s announcement this afternoon that it will hear Windsor v. U.S., a case challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case challenging California’s Proposition 8:
“As we saw with last month’s state ballot measures affirming marriage equality, more and more Americans are coming to understand that laws preventing same-sex couples from getting married do real harm to our families, friends, and neighbors. There’s also absolutely no legitimate reason for the federal government to recognize some legally married couples while refusing to recognize others. Laws like Proposition 8 and DOMA go against the central American ideal of equal justice under the law,” said Keegan. “We applauded the earlier court decisions that found both Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. There’s no question that the Constitution’s guarantee of equal justice under law applies to all people—gay or straight. The cases the court agreed to hear today are a landmark opportunity for our country to move towards making marriage equality the law of the land once and for all.”
“It is time to for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the side of equality and send a powerful message: our country will no longer selectively discriminate against loving, committed couples.”
Today, the California Supreme Court denied a court challenge to Proposition 8 and allowed a bare majority of voters to place the controversial language in the State Constitution. The language bars civil marriage for same-sex couples in California, despite the fact that the Supreme Court found marriage to be a "fundamental right" just last year. The Court also upheld the unions of 18,000 same-sex couples who wed before Proposition 8 took effect.