Supreme Court

Voting Discrimination: Still an Obstacle to Democracy

This week, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging the protections of the Voting Rights Act. Based on a simple idea, one that is enshrined in our Constitution, the right to vote cannot be denied on the basis of race. It is considered by the Department of Justice to be "the most effective civil rights statute enacted by Congress," prohibiting voting discrimination in order to protect the right to vote for all Americans.

When President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he called the vote "the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice" and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called it the "foundation stone for political action." I call it a sacred right!

The centerpiece of that Act and the case is Section 5. It requires that all or portions of sixteen states with a history and a contemporary record of voting discrimination seek and gain approval federally before they put any changes in election practices into effect. Preclearance as it is known is intended to stop voter disenfranchisement before it can start.

In 1970 and again in 1975, Congress voted to extend the Voting Rights Act. At that time US Representative Barbara Jordan, my (s)hero and co-founder of People For the American Way, sponsored legislation that broadened the provisions of the Act to include Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.

As recently as 2006, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize Section 5 of the law with some critics then and now misguidedly asserting that it overstepped its boundaries, that voting discrimination really isn't a problem anymore, or that voting discrimination in other parts of the country somehow delegitimizes Section 5. I'd like to invite those critics to hear directly from people across the country who devoted countless hours to ensuring that marginalized communities were able to vote this past election.

In 2011 and 2012 I organized faith leaders from 22 states in combating voter suppression efforts and turning out the vote among specific communities. This election cycle offered many powerful reminders why Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is still needed. Texas, for example, passed a discriminatory voter ID law that would have required voters to present government-issued photo ID at the polls, which would have especially burdened poor people and people of color. But because Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act still stands, this law was defeated and the right to vote was protected. Reverend Simeon L. Queen of Houston, Texas, a comrade in the struggle, reflected: "It is inexcusable that nearly 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, politicians are still trying to make it harder for African Americans in Texas to vote. I wish the Voting Rights Act wasn't still necessary, but thank the Lord it's still there."

Since 1980 I have been fortunate to work with men and women, some who started before I was born, to fight for laws protecting the right to vote. Despite the commitment of those who devoted their lives to voter protections, the right to vote remains fragile for many Americans. From voter ID laws to restrictions on early voting, as a country we cannot allow anyone to say "this isn't a problem anymore" to communities who are experiencing, as others witness, those problems at the polls each election.

President Johnson called the vote "a powerful instrument," Dr. King the "foundation stone," and for me it's a sacred right for breaking down injustice, removing obstacles to democracy and empowering the dis-empowered. When discriminatory laws threaten Americans' fundamental right to vote, we are called to utilize every tool available. Across the country we have seen the importance of courts in successfully fighting back against voter suppression efforts. Section 5 remains a key to protecting communities, my community from future attempts at disenfranchisement. Hopefully, prayerfully, the Supreme Court will realize this.

 This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

 

PFAW Foundation

The Right Wing Takes Aim at Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is under attack this week in the Supreme Court by Shelby County, Alabama, backed by much of the legal infrastructure of the Right.

Randy Thomasson: Gay Rights Ushering in Civil War

Save California’s Randy Thomason on Friday appeared on Istook Live, the Heritage Foundation radio program hosted by former Republican congressman Ernest Istook, to discuss the Supreme Court case on Proposition 8.

He accused the California state officials who refused to defend Prop 8 of “dissing God” and went on to warn that “usurpers of the United States Constitution” have methodically and stealthily “infiltrated” the government and the courts in order to launch another civil war.

This not the characteristic of a Republic when there are sworn public servants, they have raised their right hand and they have pledged to defend the state constitution, to do their duty, to implement the law, they have made a public pledge before God and now they are dissing God, they are dissing the United States and the state constitutions and the people who elected them. An uninformed public that allows this to happen is just as bad when they vote foolishly or they vote wickedly. We have evidence abounding that there is a civil war occurring in the United States of America, it’s not being done with guns or knives, but it’s being done by usurpers of the United States Constitution and they have positioned themselves in power, they have infiltrated the constitutional land of the United States, they have gotten there with the help of ignorant people or wicked people and then they have implemented their own will.

Thomasson later said that President Obama is using lies and deception to bring about gay rights laws.

He has finally in an election year, last year, decided that he needed money from wealthy homosexual businesspersons and their supporters and he came out with the truth. He really is a supporter of everything homosexual, bisexual, transsexual; he has imposed it on the military, he’s imposing it on marriage, he’s imposing it on our culture.



There are professional liars and there are professional double-talkers, and I’m not sure what you have here but you do have someone that is giving multiple messages. He already gave his message, he gave his message last year, in an interview he said that he supports homosexual marriages being legal, and that means everywhere. So it doesn’t matter what he says now. I guess he is working on a legacy; well the legacy is that America is really going down, down. Not simply because of foolish voters who don’t check out the real policies or real positions of the candidates or don’t even check out what’s best for children, but they listen to the lies and the myths and statements of candidates themselves and they just vote on image or they vote on feeling. That’s really self-idolatry.

Supreme Court to Consider Allowing Even More Money into Campaigns

The Roberts Court says it will consider a case challenging aggregate campaign contribution caps.
PFAW Foundation

FRC Urges Congress to 'Pressure the Supreme Court' on Marriage Cases

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.”

Crampton: If SCOTUS Strikes Down DOMA, the Homosexual Agenda 'Will Eradicate Us'

The other day, Matt Barber and Steve Crampton of Liberty Counsel were discussing the Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments on Proposition 8 later this year, when Crampton warned that any decision to strike it down would put society "on the verge of total collapse."

The two followed that up with a discussion of the related decision to by the court to hear arguments over the Defense of Marriage Act, which both Barber and Crampton discussed in an equally reasonable fashion, with Barber warning that gay marriage will be the sledgehammer that crushes religious liberty in America while Crampton proclaimed that the homosexual agenda "will eradicate us and they will not stop until the homosexual totalitarian view of the world is forcefully imposed on every American":

Thomas More Law Center Warns SCOTUS Gay Rights Victory Would Lead to 'Ideological Totalitarianism'

The Thomas More Law Center, a right-wing legal group whose advisory board includes Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Rep. Allen West, is warning the Supreme Court that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would lead to “ideological totalitarianism” and hand gay rights advocates “a legal weapon with which to beat down ideological opponents.”

In an amicus brief filed last week [pdf], Thomas More argues:

To enshrine one side of a deeply divisive issue in constitutionally untouchable concrete is to fashion a legal weapon with which to beat down ideological opponents, at the cost of intellectual liberty. For this Court to say that it is irrational or illegitimate for a government to recognize, and act upon, the distinction between the potentially procreative marital act, and every other sexual act, would be for this Court implicitly to declare as irrational, benighted, or bigoted, all those individuals who adhere to the traditional view of marriage.

Already those who dare to voice objections to any part of the political program of various LGBT advocacy groups risk vilification, marginalization, or worse. Liberty suffers when one side of a debate is delegitimized as a matter of constitutional law.

….

In Lawrence, this Court has held that sexual acts between persons of the same sex may not be prohibited. But to go further and say that no government may treat such acts as different, for purposes of government policy or official recognition, from the unique marital acts of a man and a woman, would be enormously to expand the constitutional power this Court already affords sexual choices as such. To take that additional step would be to declare unacceptable and illegitimate the recognition of the uniqueness of the marital act. Those who subscribe to that recognition, in turn, then become pariahs, ignoramuses, or bigots in the eyes of the law.

Opponents of the legal redefinition of marriage already face the prospect of significant retaliation. Equating such persons, as a matter of constitutional law, with racist rednecks or backwards fools, serves as a legal license to continue or increase the legal and social marginalization of such persons. The price is the loss of liberty for those individuals who can no longer obtain gainful employment in their fields….and the loss of intellectual diversity for larger society…This Court should not foster the imposition of what would be, in effect, an ideological totalitarianism, i.e., a regime in which the unquestioning acceptance of the same-sex marriage movement represents the only permissible point of view. (Citations omitted)

The Thomas More Law Center is prone to this sort of dramatic prediction. The group unsuccessfully sued the Justice Department over the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which it claimed would create “a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior.” The group further claimed that "the sole purpose of this law is to criminalize the Bible and use the threat of federal prosecutions and long jail sentences to silence Christians from expressing their Biblically-based religious belief that homosexual conduct is a sin." The Shepard-Byrd Act, of course, only imposes jail sentences on people who have actually committed crimes and has yet to “criminalize the Bible.”

Anti-Gay, Anti-Immigrant, Birther Groups Join Forces to File Mother of All Prop 8 Briefs

In reading through the amicus briefs submitted by anti-gay groups to the Supreme Court, we’ve been generally impressed by the relative restraint of their legal arguments compared to their day-to-day anti-gay tirades. But not so with the two briefs submitted last week by a hodgepodge coalition of conservative groups.

Citizens United’s National Committee for Family, Faith and Prayer filed two no-holds-barred amicus briefs last week, one in defense of Prop 8 [pdf] and one in defense of DOMA [pdf]. They were joined in both by the anti-immigrant groups Declaration Alliance and English First; WorldNetDaily affiliate the Western Center for Journalism; the Institute for Constitutional Values (founded by white supremacist ally Michael Peroutka, who also argues that the solution to school violence is to abolish schools); Gun Owners Foundation (the research wing of Gun Owners of America); the extremely and occasionally comically anti-gay Public Advocate; the birther group U.S. Justice Foundation; Protect Marriage Maryland and others. Far-right Virginia Del. Bob Marshall and Sen. Dick Black joined the DOMA brief. Both are signed by Michael Boos, general counsel of Citizens United, and by Herb Titus, an attorney with a sideline as a birther advocate.

So I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the filings contain passages like this one, in the Prop 8 brief, arguing that laws against homosexuality affirm rather than deny the humanity of gay people:

Second, while the discrimination against Blacks in America denied them their rightful status as a member of the human race vis-à-vis their white counterparts, the discrimination against homosexuals affirmed their status as full and equal members of the human race. Indeed, the very definition of the “crime against nature,” was employed to emphasize that the sexual behavior condemned was contrary to the law of human nature. Homosexual behavior, then, while unnatural did not mean that those guilty of it were any less human.

Or this one from the DOMA brief arguing that gays and lesbians have not historically faced discrimination because some criminal sodomy laws also “extended to opposite sex unnatural couplings”:

As a class, homosexuals have not been discriminated against in the way that the court of appeals has so “easily” assumed. The appellate panel below concluded that “the most telling proof of animus and discrimination is that, for many years and in many states, homosexual conduct was criminal.” Yet historically, even the crime of sodomy was not so targeted. Rather, it was defined as “carnal copulation against the order of nature by man with man; or in the same unnatural manner with woman; or by man or woman in any manner with a beast.” Thus, the crime of sodomy was “known in the common law by the convertible and equivalent name [] of ‘crime against nature,” the offense not only extended to opposite sex unnatural couplings, but was one of several sexual offenses that fit under the broad category of “offenses against the public health, safety, comfort and morals.” Among these sexual offenses were bigamy, adultery, fornication, lewdness and illicit cohabitation, incest, miscegenation, and seduction, all of which could be committed by persons of the opposite sex. Rather than a narrow negative purpose, these laws reflect a perceived concern for the public health, safety, comfort, and morals of certain sexual behaviors.

Or that the groups oh-so-cleverly invoke the court’s Obamacare decision to argue that the extra taxes same-sex spouses pay under DOMA are an acceptable way of “deterring certain activities”:

Additionally, this Court has consistently ruled that Congress’s power to tax is not limited to the purpose of raising revenue. Thus, this Court found that it is permissible for Congress to adopt a taxing policy for the purpose of deterring certain activities by the levying of a tax on them, as well as for the purpose of collecting revenue. Therefore, according to precedent, it is a constitutionally permissible exercise of Congress to adopt a tax policy for the purpose of nurturing traditional marriage as the ideal family structure for raising children, just as this Court has recently observed, that it is perfectly permissible for Congress to impose a tax “to encourage people to quit smoking” or “to shape decisions about whether to buy health insurance.”…It is not for the courts to second-guess whether Congress should promote a traditional family policy in the exercise of its taxing powers.

But what is truly remarkable about the Citizens United coalition’s legal arguments is their eagerness to burn all bridges and declare everything they come across unconstitutional. While the Family Research Council and Liberty Counsel, presumably trying to appeal to Justice Anthony Kennedy, hold their noses and accept Kennedy’s pro-gay rights opinions in Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans as law, Citizens United et al have no such scruples. Not only should Lawrence and Romer be overturned, this group argues, but so should Bolling v. Sharpe, the 1954 Brown v. Board companion case that desegregated the District of Columbia’s public schools. Bolling was the first decision in which the Supreme Court explicitly found an equal protection component in the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, thus setting the stage for six decades of prohibitions on discrimination by the federal government – all of which the coalition would like to see go.

But these groups don’t just go after decades of legal precedent. They also personally attack two judges who ruled against Prop 8 before it reached the Supreme Court, in particular district court judge Vaughn Walker, who is openly gay:

With the understanding of Judge Walker’s personal interest in the outcome of the case, it becomes much easier to understand his finding every fact for the plaintiffs and his willingness to impute ill will to the proponents of Proposition 8. For example, having in his personal life rejected 6,000 years of moral and religious teaching, we can see how Judge Walker could readily determine that California voters were motivated solely by “moral and religious views…that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples [and] these interests do not provide a rational basis for supporting Proposition 8.” The same is true for Judge Walker’s conclusion that supporters’ motivations were: “fear,” “unarticulated dislike,” not “rational,” based on “animus toward gays and lesbians,” “irrational,” “without reason,” and “born of animus.” Petitioners were entitled to have their case heard by an impartial judge – not one who was leading a secret life engaging in behaviors which he appeared to believe were being unfairly judged and criticized by the proponents of Proposition 8.

 

(Citations omitted in block quotes)
 

Crampton: Society Will Be on the 'Verge of Total Collapse' if SCOTUS Strikes Down Prop 8

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Matt Barber and Steve Crampton discussed the Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments on California's Proposition 8 later this spring, with Crampton warning that the American people need to be made aware of just how important this case will be because "society itself is on the verge of total collapse if we give up what marriage really means":

Liberty Counsel Warns Gay Marriage Will Keep Boys and Girls from Becoming Men and Ladies

Back in 2010, when a federal district court in California heard the first legal challenge to the anti-gay Proposition 8, the judge asked the attorney defending Prop 8 how marriage equality would hurt the ability of straight couples to bear and raise children. The attorney sputtered and answered, “I don’t know.” A key witness for Prop 8’s supporters had the same answer, and later changed his mind to support marriage equality.

Four years later, the case is coming before the Supreme Court, and marriage equality opponents are still struggling to answer that question. In an amicus brief [pdf] filed with the court last week, the anti-gay Liberty Counsel took a shot at it. If marriage equality is achieved, Liberty Counsel argues, “Many boys will grow up without any positive male influence in their lives to show them what it means to be a man, and many girls will grow up without any female influence to show them what it means to be a lady.”

Not only does Proposition 8 further the state’s interest in steering childrearing into the husband-wife marriage model, but it furthers the important interest in providing male and female role models in the family. Male gender identity and female gender identity are each uniquely important to a child’s development. As a result, one very significant justification for defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman is because children need a mother and a father. We live in a world demarcated by two genders, male and female. There is no third or intermediate category. Sex is binary. By striking down Proposition 8, this Court will be making a powerful statement: our government no longer believes children deserve mothers and fathers. In effect, it would be saying: “Two fathers or two mothers are not only just as good as a mother and a father, they are just the same.”

The government promotion of this idea will likely have some effect even on people who are currently married, who have been raised in a particular culture of marriage. But this new idea of marriage, sanctioned by law and government, will certainly have a dramatic effect as the next generation’s attitudes toward marriage, childbearing, and the importance of mothers and fathers are formed. By destroying the traditional definition of marriage, the family structure will be dramatically transformed. Many boys will grow up without any positive male influence in their lives to show them what it means to be a man, and many girls will grow up without any female influence to show them what it means to be a lady.

The repercussions of this are incalculable and will reshape the culture in which we live. Many children learn appropriate gender roles by having interaction with both their mother and their father and by seeing their mother and their father interact together with one another. By redefining marriage to state that this is not a family structure that the state wants to foster and encourage, this Court will be overturning centuries of historical understandings of family and the home.

To give you an idea of the kind of parenting that Liberty Counsel supports, its lawyers Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, who are named on its brief, are also representing a woman accused of kidnapping her daughter rather than let her have contact with her other mother (the woman’s former same-sex partner).
 

Will the Supreme Court Read the Most Horrific Children's Book of All Time?

Earlier this week, we looked at the slightly conflicted amicus briefs that the Family Research Council submitted to the Supreme Court ahead of its consideration of two major marriage equality cases. Today, Warren Throckmorton alerts us that the “ex-gay” group Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays (PFOX) has submitted its own brief to the Court.

The PFOX amicus brief [pdf], unsurprisingly, argues that gays and lesbians should not be a “protected class” under the law because homosexuality “is not an immutable characteristic.” As evidence, it presents the stories of four self-proclaimed “ex-gays” whose lives purportedly show that “sexual orientation can shift over time and does so for a significant number of people.”

One of the stories the brief presents is that of “Richard Cohen, M.A…an ex-gay who is now married with 3 children. He struggled for much of his life with unwanted same-sex attraction. Richard is the founder of the International Healing Foundation (IHF) and the author of Coming Out Straight, Gay Children Straight Parents, Let’s Talk About Sex, and Alfie’s Home.”

As it happens, Cohen is one of the most prominent purveyors of reparative therapy, the harmful process of trying to “cure” homosexuality that was recently banned for minors in California. And his book Alfie’s Home, cited in PFOX’s Supreme Court brief, is the most horrifically disturbing children’s book we have ever seen. We know, because we are unlucky enough to have a copy in our research library. Here is some of what the Justices have in store if they check out Cohen’s work:

Alfie’s Home was published in 1993 by Cohen’s International Healing Foundation. It starts out with a picture of the protagonist on a boat with his dad.

But it goes bad fast, going right for the right-wing myth that homosexuality is caused by childhood sexual abuse…

…and by insufficiently attentive parents:

Eventually, Alfie seeks help and takes part in the “touch therapy” advocated by Cohen…

…which leads him to “realize that I’m not gay” and start dating a woman:

You can see Cohen’s “touch therapy” in practice in this 2006 CNN interview:

He also made a cameo on the Daily Show.

For their own sakes, I hope the Justices don’t look too far into Cohen’s story. But if they do, they’ll get a revealing glimpse of the world that is trying to sink gay rights laws across the country.
 

Sotomayor Debunks Right-Wing Line on Courts

In an interview with “60 Minutes” this weekend, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor gave one of the best debunkings I’ve seen of the Right's line that a judge should be no more than an umpire, exercising no independent judgment and facing no difficult questions. Using the politically neutral example of the 3rd Amendment, Sotomayor explains how even the most seemingly clear-cut parts of the Constitution still require interpretation by judges and Justices:

Chief Justice John Roberts made headlines when, in his confirmation hearings, he said that a judge’s job was merely to call “balls and strikes.” The comforting words of his analogy hide the fact that most of the issues the Supreme Court approaches are complex and require human judgment – that’s why they reach the Supreme Court in the first place. They also conveniently obscure the fact that the conservative bloc on the Court is plenty influenced by their own ideology – there are plenty of examples here.

Justice Elena Kagan, in her confirmation hearings, gave another great rebuke to Roberts’ flawed baseball analogy. “We know that not every case is decided 9-0,” she said, “and we know that’s not because anybody’s acting in bad faith. It’s because reasonable people can reasonably disagree sometimes. So in that sense, the law does require a kind of judgment, a kind of wisdom. “

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PFAW

Staver: Supreme Court could spark Second Revolution and Civil War over Marriage Equality

According to Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver, if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, America may head toward outright revolt and a second civil war. Staver told Janet Parshall that marriage equality will mean that the institution of marriage, freedom of speech and the freedom of religion will be “destroyed” and “bulldozed over.”

Like Family Research Council president Tony Perkins who last month maintained that the Supreme Court may start a “revolution” and “break this nation apart” by striking down gay marriage bans, Staver said that the court “could split the country right in two” as “this is the thing that revolutions literally are made of.”

“This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, then anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing,” Staver said, “This could cause another civil war.”

Staver: Basically marriage will be completely destroyed, families will be destroyed, children will be hurt by this and freedom of speech and freedom of religion, including in the pulpit itself, will absolutely be bulldozed over. This would open a floodgate of unimaginable proportions. That’s why with those kinds of consequences to have five of the nine justices ultimately have this kind of power in their hands, that’s not how this court and this country was established, to have five individuals to be able to have that kind of catastrophic, social reengineering power in their hands, that’s just not something that was envisioned by the founders.

Parshall: Absolutely right. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind so we need to be in prayer, but I also think we need to be preparing our hearts as well Mat that if in fact the Supreme Court decides to trample underfoot the truth of God’s word, we as a church are going have to decide what we’re going to do. Mat, you know I’m going to appeal to your pastor’s heart, that means that every single pastor who is called to hold out the word of life is going to have to decide whether or not he is going to sidestep certain passages for fear of some sort of response from the government.

Staver: This is the thing that revolutions literally are made of. This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, then anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing. This would be the thing that revolutions are made of. This could split the country right in two. This could cause another civil war. I’m not talking about just people protesting in the streets, this could be that level because what would ultimately happen is a direct collision would immediately happen with pastors, with churches, with Christians, with Christian ministries, with other businesses, it would be an avalanche that would go across the country.

He even argued that marriage equality laws “destroy the very foundation of our family” and have “catastrophic consequences,” including “the unraveling of the United States.”

Parshall: There is no ambiguity as to what the definition of marriage is. Here are nine people in black robes who are basically going to judge, and I’m going to put this in the vernacular of the common man, these are nine people who are basically going to say: God didn’t say that and here’s our ruling. I know I really distilled it down but you’ve got judges who are basically going to decide for us at the high level, potentially, how marriage should be defined. That’s amazing. Who would have thought we would ever find ourselves in that place?

Staver: It’s stunning. That’s why I am very concerned that this has made its way to the United States Supreme Court because only five of those nine can make a decision and so five people, potentially, in the United States, only five out of the hundreds of millions that we have, have in their hand this opportunity to literally wreck marriage, to destroy the very foundation of our family and the biblical definition of marriage. The consequences are staggering. This could be the Roe v. Wade of marriage and family. If we ultimately say as a court and if the country follows it that marriage is between two people of the same sex and it’s now how common sense, history and the Bible ultimately defines it, that has catastrophic consequences. That is staggering and it is actually something that we ought to be in significant prayer about because this could be the unraveling of the United States.

Justice Scalia’s 7 Worst Anti-Gay Statements

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two landmark cases on marriage equality. Yesterday, Justice Antonin Scalia reminded us again why gay rights advocates, to put it mildly, aren’t counting on his vote.

Scalia is the Supreme Court’s most outspoken opponent of gay rights. He led the dissent to the two major gay rights decisions of his tenure on the Court, the decisions to strike down Texas’ criminal sodomy law and to overturn Colorado’s ban on local anti-discrimination measures. And in his spare time, he minces no words about his uncompromising opposition to gay rights. Here are seven of his most egregious anti-gay statements:

  • Compares bans on homosexuality to bans on murder: Yesterday, Scalia asked a gay law student, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
  •  …and to bans on polygamy and animal cruelty: In his dissent to the Colorado case, Romer v. Evans, Scalia wrote, “But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible--murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals--and could exhibit even 'animus' toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.”
  • Defends employment and housing discrimination: In his dissent to Lawrence, the decision that overturned Texas’ criminal sodomy law, Scalia went even further, justifying all kinds of discrimination against gays and lesbians: “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as ‘discrimination’ which it is the function of our judgments to deter.”
  • Says decision on “homosexual sodomy” was “easy” because it's justified by long history of anti-gay discrimination: In a talk at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this year, Scalia dismissed decisions on abortion, the death penalty and “homosexual sodomy” as “easy”: “The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion,” he said. “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
  • Says domestic partners have no more rights than “long time roommates”:  In his dissent in Romer, Scalia dismissed the idea that a law banning benefits for same-sex domestic partners would be discriminatory, saying the law “would prevent the State or any municipality from making death benefit payments to the ‘life partner’ of a homosexual when it does not make such payments to the long time roommate of a nonhomosexual employee.”
  • Says gay rights are a concern of “the elite”: In his Romer dissent, Scalia lashes out at the majority that has upheld gay rights: “This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that 'animosity' toward homosexuality is evil. “
  • Accuses those who disagree with him of supporting the “homosexual agenda”: Lifting a talking point straight from the far right, Scalia accused the majority in Lawrence of being in the thrall of the “homosexual agenda”: “Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”

Cross-posted from PFAW Blog

Justice Scalia’s 7 Worst Anti-Gay Statements

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two landmark cases on marriage equality. Yesterday, Justice Antonin Scalia reminded us again why gay rights advocates, to put it mildly, aren’t counting on his vote.

Scalia is the Supreme Court’s most outspoken opponent of gay rights. He led the dissent to the two major gay rights decisions of his tenure on the Court, the decisions to strike down Texas’ criminal sodomy law and to overturn Colorado’s ban on local anti-discrimination measures. And in his spare time, he minces no words about his uncompromising opposition to gay rights. Here are seven of his most egregious anti-gay statements:

  • Compares bans on homosexuality to bans on murder: Yesterday, Scalia asked a gay law student, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
     
  •  …and to bans on polygamy and animal cruelty: In his dissent to the Colorado case, Romer v. Evans, Scalia wrote, “But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible--murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals--and could exhibit even 'animus' toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.”
     
  • Defends employment and housing discrimination: In his dissent to Lawrence, the decision that overturned Texas’ criminal sodomy law, Scalia went even further, justifying all kinds of discrimination against gays and lesbians: “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as ‘discrimination’ which it is the function of our judgments to deter.”
     
  • Says decision on “homosexual sodomy” was “easy” because it's justified by long history of anti-gay discrimination: In a talk at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this year, Scalia dismissed decisions on abortion, the death penalty and “homosexual sodomy” as “easy”: “The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion,” he said. “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
     
  • Says domestic partners have no more rights than “long time roommates”:  In his dissent in Romer, Scalia dismissed the idea that a law banning benefits for same-sex domestic partners would be discriminatory, saying the law “would prevent the State or any municipality from making death benefit payments to the ‘life partner’ of a homosexual when it does not make such payments to the long time roommate of a nonhomosexual employee.”
     
  • Says gay rights are a concern of “the elite”: In his Romer dissent, Scalia lashes out at the majority that has upheld gay rights: “This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that "animosity" toward homosexuality is evil.“
     
  • Accuses those who disagree with him of supporting the “homosexual agenda”: Lifting a talking point straight from the far right, Scalia accused the majority in Lawrence of being in the thrall of the “homosexual agenda”: “Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”
PFAW

PFAW: DOMA and Prop 8 Cases Offer Supreme Court Landmark Opportunities for Equality

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.”


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Far-Right Leaders Still Condemning "Intrinsically Disordered" Gays and Lesbians While The Rest of the Country Moves Forward

It has been hard to keep up with all of the historic wins for marriage equality in the past few months. Three states passed ballot measures in support of marriage equality, and one rejected a state constitutional amendment banning it. A new CBS News Poll found – consistent with other recent national polls – that a majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court could announce any day whether it will hear cases related to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. It is not hard to see that the tide is turning in our country.

But some people, it seems, are still not getting the memo.

Case in point: Mission America leader Linda Harvey. PFAW’s Right Wing Watch tuned in to Harvey’s daily radio show today and reported on her tired – but disturbing – opinions about what she views as “unnatural” behavior. “Homosexual marriage is wrong because two men together or two women is intrinsically disordered,” Harvey said. “The behavior is unnatural.”

Not to be outdone, televangelist Pat Robertson also shared some homophobic remarks today as he weighed in on the news that two women were married in West Point’s Cadet Chapel. After proclaiming that General Douglas MacArthur, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee must each be “rolling over in his grave,” he asked: “What have they done to our cherished institution?”

But I have a different question. With the country seeing progress for LGBT communities in cities and states across the country, and with more and more Americans supporting marriage equality, the real question is when these far-right leaders are going to realize that they are on the very wrong side of a losing battle.

PFAW

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