Marriage Equality

Ted Cruz, the Houston Hype, and the Dishonesty of the Anti-Equality Movement

Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America  specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right's primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response to this week's controversy over subpoenas sent to a few religious leaders in Houston.

Cruz told the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody that there is a "real risk" that preachers will be hauled off to jail for preaching against homosexuality, recycling an old and equally ludicrous charge that hate crimes laws would result in pastors being dragged from the pulpit.

Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response." But he adds: "The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.

Cruz is lying. And he has lots of company promoting the Houston hype. Todd Starnes of Fox News charged, "There is a war over religious liberty in Houston, Texas." The Family Research Council's Ken Blackwell said it smacked of totalitarianism and said it suggested that it was "a domestic version of the terrorists outside of our country" who think "America is evil." Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, declared, "This is how religious liberty dies."

As exciting as it is to hear the alarm bells and read the hyperventilating emails, the truth is far less dramatic. Sorry, Sen. Cruz, but the government is not policing sermons for political correctness. It's not going to start tossing anti-gay preachers in jail.

So what is the real story?

The immediate cause of the ruckus was a subpoena sent by attorneys for the city of Houston to several pastors who had been active in opposition to the city's new anti-discrimination law. Conservatives ran a signature-gathering campaign to put the law before the voters, but city attorneys ruled that so many of the signatures were not valid that the effort did not qualify for the ballot.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Religious Right law firm, stepped in and sued the city over that decision. As part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, attorneys for the city sent subpoenas to five prominent pastors asking for sermons and other communications they had about the ordinance, the signature gathering effort, and the controversy over homosexuality and gender identity.

Here's the problem. The subpoena was sent to pastors who are not party to the lawsuit, and it asked for some materials that do not seem directly relevant to the determination of whether signatures were collected in accordance with the law. By giving pundits something to scream about, the subpoena was a gift to Religious Right leaders and their political allies, who thrive on promoting the myth of anti-Christian religious persecution in the U.S. And they have run with it.

On Friday the city narrowed the scope of their discovery request somewhat. And it's entirely possible that a judge will further limit the amount of materials the city can collect in the Religious Right's lawsuit. That's how our legal system works.

It's terribly inconvenient to the Religious Right's narrative that progressive religious leaders are among those who have criticized the Houston attorneys' subpoena. Among those who criticized the city's subpoena as troubling and overly intrusive were supporters of LGBT equality and church-state separation. Baptists of all stripes weighed in. Both progressive religious leaders and atheists publicly agreed. Even the ACLU! So much for the supposed enemies of religious freedom.

Even some religious conservatives have denounced the Houston hype. In reality, the entire episode undermines right-wing claims that religious liberty is hanging by a thread in America. Indeed, it demonstrates that Religious liberty is widely respected as a core constitutional principle and a fundamental American value — by people across the religious landscape and our fractured political spectrum. If only Ted Cruz and his allies were as committed to the constitutional and legal equality of Houston's, and America's, LGBT citizens.

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post. 

Richard Land: Houston Subpoenas Foretell True LGBT 'Agenda'

In an interview with Newsmax yesterday, former Southern Baptist Convention public policy chief Richard Land reacted to the controversy over subpoenas issued to Houston pastors , warning that the incident is a harbinger of a future shaped by the gay “agenda” in which pastors will be prosecuted under unconstitutional hate speech laws.

“Are you afraid at some point that your sermons are going to have to be dictated?” the Newsmax host asked Land.

“Well, I think that there’s certainly the danger that they’re going to try to make any biblical reference to homosexuality hate speech,” Land responded.

He added: “I think that this is a warning. This is an overreach by a group that, let’s make no mistake about it, their agenda from the beginning has been not only to have their lifestyle tolerated but to have it affirmed and have it paraded before our children as normal and healthy and to marginalize anyone who disagrees with that to the level of being Klansmen. They want to turn us into Klansmen.”

Eugene Delgaudio Warns Gay Men Will Soon Be 'Skipping Down To Adoption Centers To Pick Out A Little Boy For Themselves'

Eugene Delgaudio, a Loudoun County, Virginia Republican supervisor who heads the group Public Advocate of the United States is warning his supporters that gay people are preparing to “terrorize daycare centers, hospitals, churches and private schools” by teaching schoolchildren “perverted sex acts” and getting married, at which point “[y]ou’ll see men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to ‘pick out’ a little boy for themselves.”

In a fundraising email yesterday with the subject line, “They say you support homosexual ‘marriage,’” Delgaudio told supporters that he is the only one who can reverse the “Homosexual Agenda” in Congress.

You see, the radical homosexuals are storming through Washington demanding passage of their agenda.

And with the Democrats dominating the Senate and Barack Obama calling the shots in the White House, they say NOW is the time to push their perverse “lifestyle” on every man, woman and child in America.

And they insist YOU actually support them.

To make matters worse, more and more Republicans in Congress are coming out in favor of the Homosexual Agenda .

The Homosexual Lobby has already rammed through Thought Control and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I can only begin to imagine how much more damage the radical homosexuals will do now that they’ve broken the ranks of the opposition party.

As the President of Public Advocate of the United States, I’ve devoted thirty years to battling the radical homosexuals in Washington.

Backed by Hollywood celebrities, the media, and millions of your tax dollars, the radical homosexuals have many Congressmen, both Democrat AND Republican, quivering with fear -- and because of that they have a radical homosexual-friendly majority in control of Congress.

That’s why pro-Family Senators and Congressmen are counting on me to find out if you really support the Gay Bill of Special Rights and homosexual “marriage” as the radical homosexuals claim .

Frankly, if you really do support the radical Homosexual Agenda -- or if you just no longer care enough to stand up for the Family -- insiders in Congress say the entire Homosexual Agenda could pass in a matter of months.

Passage of the Homosexual Agenda will ignite a firestorm that will rip through families, communities and businesses:

* Special job rights for homosexuals. Businesses may have to adopt hiring quotas to protect themselves from lawsuits. Every homosexual fired or not hired becomes a potential federal civil rights lawsuit.

Radical homosexuals will terrorize daycare centers, hospitals, churches and private schools. Traditional moral values will be shattered by federal law.

* Same-sex marriages and adoptions. Wedding gown-clad men smooching before some left-wing clergyman or state official is just the beginning.

You’ll see men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to “pick out” a little boy for themselves.

* The Homosexual Classrooms Act, which pushes their agenda into our schools. Your children or grandchildren will be taught homosexuality is moral, natural and good. High school children will learn perverted sex acts as part of “safe sex” education.

With condoms already handed out in many schools, radical homosexuals will have little trouble adopting today’s “if it feels good do it” sex-ed curriculum to their agenda.

But the email doesn’t stop there. Delgaudio goes on to tell the harrowing story of a recent “stormy night” in which he drove to a deserted warehouse where “long-haired, earring-pierced” men were printing gay-rights petitions until they spotted him and chased him away, shouting, “This time, Delgaudio, we can’t lose!” [UPDATE: Joe points out that this story is a favorite of Delgaudio's.]

One stormy night, I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I’d heard something was up and wanted to see for myself.

As I rounded the final turn, my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses.

Trembling with worry, I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined.

Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling .

My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press.

Suddenly a dark-haired man screeched, “Delgaudio, what are you doing here?” Dozens of men began moving toward me. I’d been recognized.

As I retreated to my car, the man chortled, “This time, Delgaudio, we can’t lose !”

Driving away, my eyes filled with tears as I realized he might be right. This time the radical homosexuals could win.

You see, even though homosexuals are just 1% of the population, if every one sent a petition to Congress, it would generate a tidal wave of two or three million petitions or more.

Hundreds of thousands of pro-homosexual petitions will soon flood Congress , and my friends in Congress tell me there’s virtually nothing on Capitol Hill from the tens of millions of Americans like you who oppose the radical Homosexual Agenda and the Gay Bill of Special Rights.

I made up my mind that night to write to you and as many other patriotic Americans as possible. To stop the radical homosexuals and protect marriage, there must be an immediate outpouring of support from folks like you.

Delgaudio then repeats his fundraising plea to reach “twice as many” families as “all the homosexuals in America” so that he can finally let Congress know that the “radical homosexuals are lying.”

I’ve identified nearly 10 million families I believe would join our struggle for morality if only I can reach them. That’s more than twice as many as all the homosexuals in America ... and most of these families represent two or three voters each. But without your financial help, I’ll never be able to reach them.

My hope is you care enough to contribute sacrificially so I can reach these families.

A generous gift of $25 will let Public Advocate reach 45 more families. $50 will help us rally more than 97 homes. And a special gift of $100 will generate over 215 contacts.

Only you know whether chipping in $10, $20, or more is best suited to your budget.

I ask you to do what you can.

The radical homosexuals boast you support same-sex marriage, special job rights and the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Please let Congress know the radical homosexuals are lying.

H/T RWW reader Erik

Brian Brown Gets Defensive About His Russia Activism: 'Absolute Lies And Slurs'

Joe Jervis points us to a debate on C-SPAN this weekend between the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown and Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson, where things got a little contentious when Wolfson confronted Brown about his anti-gay activism in Russia.

Brown has never explicitly advocated for repressive Russian anti-gay policies, including the infamous “gay propaganda” ban, but he has acted as an outside validator for Russian politicians imposing the harsh new policies.

Last year, for instance, he spoke to a Russian parliament committee about the supposed dangers of gay adoption just a few days before the legislature voted to tighten its prohibition on the adoption of Russian orphans by same-sex couples or by couples in countries where same-sex marriage is legal.

And this year, Brown was a member of the planning committee for a World Congress of Families event in Moscow that was to take place at the Kremlin and was financed by members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. Although the World Congress of Families dropped its official sponsorship of the event under pressure from some of its member groups, the event went ahead as planned, with Brown as a featured speaker. That conference ended with delegates issuing a resolution calling for more countries around the world to pass “gay propaganda” bans like Russia’s.

When confronted with all of this from Wolfson, Brown simply denied that any of it had taken place, calling Wolfson’s accusations “absolute lies and slurs.”

Brown can hardly be blamed for Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, which was going on far before he set foot in the country. And we would welcome a clarification from him on whether he knew anything about the closing resolution of the conference he attended this month. But he can’t avoid scrutiny for his work in Russia and elsewhere, in which he has lent credibility to politicians and activists whose goals are far more severe than stopping marriage equality…and it certainly won’t work for him to deny that any of this is taking place.

Fischer: Gay Marriage Can't Be Legal Because Government Is To Be 'A Minister Of God'

On his radio program today, Bryan Fischer made the case that the government can never endorse any position that is contrary to the will of God because government was established by God specifically for the purpose of carrying out his will, which is why gay marriage can never be legal.

As Fischer explained, the entire idea of civil government came from God and therefore all earthly political and legal authority stems from God. As such, the purpose of civil government is to carry out the will of God, meaning that government can never remain neutral on moral issues.

"God has called government to take sides in the culture war," Fischer said, "and God is instructing civil government to take the side of that which is right and good. That means government and those who hold government power have a divine responsibility to know the difference between good and evil so that they can reward the former and punish the latter."

Thus, when government bans gay marriage, "it is doing a good thing," Fischer said. "It is doing a divinely ordained thing. It's doing its job. It's fulfilling its role as a minister of God":

Right Quietly Pours Money Into Montana, Hoping To 'Flip' Pivotal State Supreme Court

Conservative legal advocates from throughout the country have been quietly pouring money into a Montana state supreme court race, hoping to topple a court majority that has bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on campaign finance issues and could soon have a voice in cases with national implications involving abortion rights and LGBT equality.

The Right’s chosen candidate is Lawrence VanDyke, a former state solicitor general with a perfect pedigree for pro-corporate and Religious Right donors. Not only has VanDyke indicated his support for the U.S. Supreme Court’s dismantling of campaign finance laws and lamented that the current Montana high court is insufficiently “pro-business,” but, in his position as solicitor general, steered the state government toward taking positions against abortion rights, marriage equality and gun restrictions in other states.

What's more, in his writings as a law student, VanDyke was unguarded in his social conservative views, fretting about same-sex marriage, endorsing discredited “ex-gay” therapy and defending the teaching of anti-scientific “Intelligent Design” in public schools.

The Right Sees An Opportunity In Montana

At last month’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, the Family Research Council’s political action committee hosted a private $100-a-head reception featuring conservative luminaries including Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, GOP congressmen Steve King, Vicky Hartzler and Mark Meadows, and congressional candidate Dave Brat of Virginia, who unseated former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an upset primary election this year.

A flyer for the event announced that along with those national Republican politicians, FRC would be “showcasing a very important State Supreme Court candidate, Lawrence VanDyke of Montana, who we hope can flip the court in that state.”

VanDyke’s presence on the fundraiser’s roster was telling. As FRC’s flyer made clear, a VanDyke victory would change the ideological balance on a court that has been a thorn in the side of opponents of campaign finance reform and could soon be facing nationally watched cases on abortion rights and marriage equality.

VanDyke has not yet submitted a campaign finance report showing how much money, if any, FRC was able to bundle for him at the fundraiser, and his campaign did not respond to our inquiry about whether he was personally present at the Values Voter event. But a review of VanDyke’s campaign finance reports shows that his candidacy has attracted keen interest from out-of-state donors, including some of the country’s leading conservative legal activists.

[UPDATE: VanDyke's Oct. 20 fundraising report revealed some of the contributions from FRC and its allies.]

Since filing for the race to unseat sitting Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat in March, VanDyke has raised about $78,000, more than one-third of which — roughly $29,000 — has come from 114 individual out-of-state donors. By contrast, Wheat has raised just under $85,000 for his reelection bid, only $1,100 of which came from just five out-of-state donors.

Among those who have contributed to VanDyke’s campaign are recognizable names in conservative legal circles. Kelly Shackelford, president of the right-wing legal group Liberty Institute (a major sponsor of the Values Voter Summit) contributed $100, while another top Liberty Institute official, Hiram Sasser, gave $320, the maximum gift allowable as of VanDyke's last fundraising report. Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network and a Harvard Law School classmate of VanDyke’s, and her husband Roger also each maxed out with $320 contributions. Thomas Spence, an official at the conservative Regnery publishing house also sent the maximum contribution to VanDyke’s campaign. Two employees of the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom have together contributed $370. Christopher Murray, a lawyer who served on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, also contributed $320.

Nearly $7,000 of VanDyke’s contributions have come from employees of the law firm Gibson Dunn, where Vandyke worked before entering public service. That includes $320 each from Theodore Olson, the conservative attorney argued the Citizens United case (but who has become better known as a marriage equality advocate), and controversial Bush appeals court nominee Miguel Estrada. VanDyke’s campaign also received $320 each from Eugene Scalia — the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and a Wall Street reform-buster in his own right — and his wife.

Montana’s Cowgirl Blog notes that prominent Montana social conservatives Greg and Susan Gianforte — who fund creationist efforts and support anti-gay policies — have also each contributed the maximum amount to VanDyke’s campaign. He has also received the maximum contribution from the Montana Gas & Oil PAC and — in the form of an in-kind gift of catering — from the PAC’s treasurer, Dave Galt.

Cowgirl Blog also notes that VanDyke got a major assist last month from a newly created group called Montanans for a Fair Judiciary, which sent a statewide mailer in favor of his candidacy. The group, which was registered last month, is staffed by a former Montana GOP official and a corporate lobbyist for oil and gas clients, among others.

And just last week, a Washington, D.C.-based group called the Republican State Leadership Committee Judicial Fairness Montana PAC — an offshoot a national group funded by big business interests including the Reynolds tobacco company and Koch Industries — bought $110,000 worth of television ads supporting VanDyke and slamming Wheat as soft on crime. The group has also been mailing out leaflets accusing Wheat of siding with “environmental extremists.”

All of this attention from national activists and corporate backers has caught the attention of a group of six retired Montana Supreme Court justices, who signed a letter last week calling VanDyke an “unqualified corporate lawyer,” adding, "Given [his] background, Mr. VanDyke is an excellent corporate pick although that is obviously not good news for Montanans.”

MTN News reported:

The letter from the judges notes that VanDyke has received the maximum allowable campaign contributions from numerous out-of-state lawyers who represent major corporations, including more than 20 at the Gibson firm - including at least one who represented Citizens United.

"Corporations are buying judicial races because they want judges who will not hold them accountable," the draft letter from the retired justices says. "If the disinformation they are spreading successfully manipulates Montanans into electing an unqualified corporate lawyer, we will lose our fair and impartial court."

‘Changing The Face of the Montana Supreme Court’

While VanDyke’s personal connections seem to behind quite a bit of his financial support from out-of-state conservative leaders, his featured spot at the Values Voter Summit hints that the conservative legal movement and the Religious Right see an opportunity in his candidacy.

Montana conservatives have made no secret of their desire to pack the state Supreme Court with justices in their ideological mold. Last year, the Great Falls Tribune published leaked emails between conservative Republicans in the state senate discussing a “long term strategy” for displacing more moderate Republicans in the state legislature and “changing the face of the Montana Supreme Court.”

One lawmaker wrote of the need to “purge” the party of moderates, after which “a new phoenix will rise from the ashes.”

In 2012, Montana conservatives were able to elect the likeminded Laurie McKinnon to the state Supreme Court thanks in part to a dark money group called the “Montana Growth Network” run by a Republican state senator that spent at least $42,000 on her campaign — more than the candidate spent herself. The “Montanans for a Fair Judiciary” group that has been campaigning for VanDyke is linked to the firm that was employed by the “Montana Growth Network” to boost McKinnon.

National conservative groups have good reason to take an interest in the race as well.

Montana’s Supreme Court gained national attention in 2011 when it bucked the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of campaign finance regulation, ruling that the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United did not invalidate Montana’s century-old ban on corporate spending in elections. The 5-2 decision, in which Justice Wheat joined the majority, openly defied the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling. One of the two dissenting justices wrote that the state court must follow the high court’s precedent but used the opportunity to excoriate the Supreme Court for its Citizens United logic. On appeal, the Supreme Court summarily reversed Montana’s opinion, ending the state’s corporate spending ban.

Montana’s Supreme Court may soon also be in the center of the legal debates on same-sex marriage and abortion rights. State anti-choice groups have indicated that they might challenge Montana’s abortion clinic buffer-zone bill in the wake of the Supreme Court’s striking down of a similar bill in Massachusetts. In addition, marriage equality cases are working their way through both state and federal courts in Montana.

A Movement Candidate

Although Montana’s judicial elections are ostensibly nonpartisan, VanDyke’s resume makes him seemingly a perfect candidate for conservative activists hoping to drag the state's high court to the right. At Harvard Law School, VanDyke was active in the conservative Federalist Society and wrote an article for the school’s law review favorably reviewing a book arguing for allowing public schools to teach anti-scientific Intelligent Design.

In an article for another school publication, VanDyke lamented that courts in Canada had been “forcing same-sex marriage on the populace” and warned of a “trend of intolerance towards religion as homosexual ‘rights’ become legally entrenched.” In the same article, he cited a study supporting debunked “ex-gay” therapy to support the “view that homosexuals can leave the homosexual lifestyle.” (The author of that study has since recanted.)

After graduating from law school, VanDyke clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown, perhaps the most stridently conservative of that court’s activist pro-corporate wing, known for her extreme opposition to government regulation and her writing of a prequel to the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. After a stint at Gibson Dunn, VanDyke became an assistant solicitor general in Texas and was named solicitor general of Montana early last year.

In public statements, VanDyke has indicated that he would have sided with the U.S. Supreme Court on Citizens United, defending the decision in a debate last month. And although his race is officially nonpartisan, VanDyke has made it very clear which side of the aisle he falls on, accusing his opponent of judging “like a liberal Democrat” and being “results-oriented” in his rulings — a loaded accusation favored by conservative activists.

VanDyke has also hinted that he would be more favorable to business interests on the court, touting an endorsement from the Montana Chamber of Commerce and saying, “I don’t think anybody who follows our court thinks it’s a pro-business court.” On his website, he backs efforts to “produce and preserve” natural resources, which he contrasts with his opponent's siding with preservationists in a dispute over drilling gas wells. In September, he spoke at a “Coal Appreciation Day” sponsored by a coal industry group.

VanDyke’s website also touts his support for the death penalty and an expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment, noting his work as state solicitor general defending a bill that would have invalidated federal firearms regulations on weapons manufactured and kept in Montana. (The law was ultimately struck down in federal court). In that position, VanDyke also pushed for Montana signing on to Alabama briefs in favor of overturning semiautomatic weapon bans in New York and Connecticut. At the time, he bantered over email with Alabama’s solicitor general, Andrew Brasher, about shooting elk with semi-automatic firearms, attaching a picture of himself hunting with “the same gun used by the Navy Seals.”

Ultimately, Montana signed on to both briefs, and VanDyke evidently made a useful connection as well: This year, Brasher contributed the maximum amount to his Supreme Court campaign.

VanDyke recently announced that he had been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.

In his role as solicitor general, VanDyke also worked on efforts to oppose same-sex marriage and abortion rights, including signing on to amicus briefs filed in other states.

VanDyke, meanwhile, is running on the message that he will follow “the law, not politics” and accusing Justice Wheat of being overly partisan. In the same interview in which he lamented that the current state supreme court was unfavorable to business interests, he said, “I have not promised anybody that I’m going to be a pro-business judge or that I’m going to be a conservative judge...I’m going to be a fair and balanced judge.”

Judicial Elections Draw More And More Big Money

Last year, Justice at Stake reported on the fast increase of spending in judicial elections, leading to judicial races seeming “alarmingly indistinguishable from ordinary political campaigns” and blurring “the boundaries that keep money and political pressure from interfering with the rule of law.”

Part of this increase was attributable to the 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed outside groups to spend unlimited amounts supporting and opposing candidates. In the case of judicial elections, those candidates could be the ones deciding on the future of that very campaign spending.

It’s no wonder that the corporate right and the Religious Right have joined forces to back VanDyke’s candidacy. A little-noticed nonpartisan race in Montana could prove to be an effective long-term investment for a movement that’s trying to solidify a pro-corporate grip on the courts and win back lost legal ground abortion rights and LGBT equality.

This post has been updated to clarify the status of marriage equality cases in Montana.

Did a Nevada Federal Judge Let Personal Beliefs Affect His Marriage Ruling?

Why did the federal district judge who'd upheld Nevada's marriage ban remove himself from the case when the 9th Circuit ordered him to implement its pro-equality decision?
PFAW Foundation

NOM Hails Huckabee, Echoes His Threat To Abandon The GOP Over Gay Marriage

Earlier this week, Mike Huckabee ripped into the Republican Party for what he feels is its insufficient willingness to take a public stand against gay marriage, declaring that he is "utterly exasperated" with the GOP and its leadership on the issue. He threatened to leave the party and take a bunch of "God-fearing, Bible-believing people" with him unless the party speaks out more forcefully against gay rights.

Predictably, the National Organization for Marriage hailed Huckabee as a hero today, praising him for "speaking for millions of Americans who are sick of Republican elitists remaining silent and refusing to fight for the survival of marriage." The anti-gay organization echoed Huckabee's complaints and similarly warned that "millions of conservatives will abandon [the GOP] and join with officials who will fight" if the party does not take a stand on this issue:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today praised Governor Mike Huckabee for his comments calling out Republicans for failing to stand strong for marriage in the face of the unconscionable decision of the US Supreme Court to allow lower court decisions redefining marriage to take effect without so much as even considering their merits. Huckabee told an interviewer that if Republicans abdicate on marriage and abortion he would leave the party and become an Independent. "I'll start finding people that have guts to stand," he pledged.

"Governor Huckabee is exactly right and is speaking for millions of Americans who are sick of Republican elitists remaining silent and refusing to fight for the survival of marriage, the principal building block of society and the foundation of civilization," said Brian S. Brown, president of NOM. "Republicans who remain silent on marriage do so at their own peril and risk losing elections across the country. If conservatives see Republican candidates fail to lead on marriage — or worse, come out in favor of redefining marriage — then conservatives will abandon those candidates."

Brown said that some Republican leaders were actively supporting candidates who are not only in favor of same-sex 'marriage,' but also support abortion. House Speaker John Boehner and the National Republican Campaign Committee are actively supporting Carl DeMaio (CA-52) and Richard Tisei (MA-6), both of whom are campaigning in favor of gay 'marriage' and support abortion.

"NOM has joined with other groups to actively campaign against Carl DeMaio and Richard Tisei, along with Oregon Republican US Senate candidate Monica Wehby, because they are antithetical to the Republican platform and GOP principles," said Brown. "We refuse to follow the leaders in Washington as if we were sheep expected to dutifully support candidates whose positions are an insult to conservatives and will severely damage the nation. We are going to do our best to defeat these candidates because they are wholly unworthy of holding high office."

Brown noted that some prominent Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee, Rep. Tim Huelskamp and others had condemned the US Supreme Court's decision to allow the redefinition of marriage to proceed apace in five states.

"We are grateful for those leaders who have spoken out to condemn the Supreme Court for their unprincipled and outrageous decision to allow the redefinition of marriage to occur in these states," Brown said. "We are prepared to work tirelessly to support them and others who lead in the fight to preserve marriage. But Governor Huckabee is right. If more Republican leaders do not speak up and join the fight, then millions of conservatives will abandon them and join with officials who will fight. Marriage is on the line in our country, and it's time for people to get off the bench and into the battle."

Still More Evidence That David Barton's History Simply Cannot Be Trusted

Several times, we have heard David Barton make the absurd claim that biblical law was directly incorporated into the U.S. Constitution through the Seventh Amendment, which he then uses to assert that laws legalizing abortion and gay marriage are unconstitutional.

Lately, Barton has tried to bolster this argument by citing an obscure 1913 Texas Supreme Court ruling in a case called Grigsby v Reib, which he claims proves that America can never accept a definition of marriage that differs from God's definition.

In Barton's telling, this case was about efforts to attain legal recognition for secular "civil unions" that were separate from marriage as a religious institution but which the court denied on the grounds that "government is not allowed to redefine something that God himself has defined."

On his radio show yesterday, Barton once again cited the case and read excerpts from the decision to argue that gay marriage can never be legal: 

Marriage was not originated by human law. When God created Eve, she was a wife to Adam; they then and there occupied the status of husband to wife and wife to husband ... The truth is that civil government has grown out of marriage. which created homes, and population, and society, from which government became necessary. Marriages will produce a home and family that will contribute to good society, to free and just government, and to the support of Christianity. It would be sacrilegious to apply the designation "a civil contract" to such a marriage. It is that and more; a status ordained by God.

The key finding in this case, Barton asserts, is that the court basically ruled that "we can't do something different than what God's done on" the issue of marriage.

Given that nothing that Barton says ought ever to be taken at face value, we decided to read the court decision for ourselves and, not surprisingly, found that Barton's interpretation of the ruling is entirely misleading.

The case involved a woman named Jessie Stallcup, who claimed to have been the wife of a widower named G.M.D. Grigsby and who had sued Grigsby's sister for control of his estate following his death. Stallcup was a prostitute whom Grigsby used to visit and she claimed that the two had agreed to become husband and wife, though they never held a ceremony, nor did they cohabitate or take any other actions to signal that they were now living has husband and wife.

The case heard by the Texas Supreme Court revolved around Stallcup's contention that she lost her lawsuit because the trial court ignored a binding appellate court precedent that stated that a common law marriage "requires only the agreement of the man and woman to become then and thenceforth husband and wife. When this takes place, the marriage is complete."

The Texas Supreme Court disagreed with Stallcup's contention, pointing out that the ruling in question involved a couple that had lived and presented themselves as husband and wife following their agreement, with the Texas Supreme Court stating that it takes more than a simple verbal agreement to constitute a legitimate marriage.

To demonstrate this point, the Texas Supreme Court proposed a hypothetical situation in which a man and a women met for the first time, agreed to become man and wife, and then went their separate ways, never to see one another again. This obviously would not constitute a binding marriage, the court found, and neither did the relationship between Stallcup and Grigsby on the grounds that, beyond their apparent agreement, they never took any further steps to establish themselves as husband and wife.

"It would be sacrilegious" to give legal standing to such relationships, the court found, because it would then give complete strangers the right to contest seemingly every inheritance by simply claiming to have been the secret spouse of the deceased.

Contrary to Barton's claims that this case enshrines divine principles about marriage into our civil laws, the court repeatedly notes that marriage is a nothing more than a civil contract that requires "neither license nor solemnization of religious or official ceremony" to be legally binding.

​Barton claims that this case was about trying to create a secular alternative to marriage, which the court slapped down because there can never be any legal marriage that does not correspond to "God's definition." In reality, the case addressed the issue of whether a supposedly secret verbal agreement to become husband and wife constitutes a legally binding and recognizable common law marriage and whether the relationship between Stallcup and Grigsby qualified as one under the law, with the court ruling that it did not because it didn't meet the most basic requirements.

This is just one more example of Barton's willingness to intentionally and flagrantly misrepresent history in order to promote his religious and political agenda.

Anti-Gay Mega-Donor Sean Fieler Is Funding Mark Regnerus' New Think Tank

Last year, University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus — author of a widely panned study on same-sex parenting that is nonetheless frequently cited on the Religious Right — helped launch a new group called the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, which has since been publishing his research on topics including pre-marital sex, divorce, religion among college students and masturbation.

According to tax records filed this summer, the Austin Institute receives much of its funding from one donor: New York hedge fund honcho and social conservative mega-donor Sean Fieler.

The 2013 tax return for Fieler’s Chiaroscuro Foundation reports two grants to the Austin Institute, totaling $250,000. Although the public copy of Chiaroscuro’s tax return obscures the dates of its fiscal year, the organization’s 2010 return indicates that its tax year runs from January through December.

Meanwhile, the Austin Institute’s return reports that it took in just $205,000 in contributions between February and June 2013, indicating that a significant portion of its initial funding came from Fieler’s charity.

Fieler’s funding of the Austin Institute shouldn’t come as a surprise. To begin with, he is a trustee of the Witherspoon Institute, the Princeton-based think tank that kicked in $700,000 for Regnerus’ now infamous “New Family Structures” study. The study claimed to show that children raised by gay and lesbian parents suffer all sorts of harmful consequences like drug use and abuse, despite only actually studying two people raised by same-sex couples.

According to the Austin Chronicle, the new group was quickly dubbed “Witherspoon Institute South” — a name stemming from its staff’s plentiful ties to the Witherspoon Institute and the Religious Right.

The Austin Institute grants were among the biggest expenditures last year by Fielder’s Chiaroscuro Foundation, many of which went to groups fighting marriage equality and abortion rights. This year, recipients include Americans United for Life ($20,000), the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty ($260,000), the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), which fights pro-choice and LGBT rights initiatives at the U.N. ($20,000), the National Abstinence Education Foundation ($50,000) and the Susan B. Anthony List ($40,000). As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, Fieler’s foundation also gave $50,000 last year to Morality in Media for its increasingly quixotic anti-porn campaign.

In 2012, the foundation gave $20,000 to the National Organization for Marriage, but seems to have snubbed the group in 2013.

The Chiaroscuro Foundation is just the beginning of Fieler’s influence: Last month, RH Reality Check delved in detail into Fieler’s political spending, including his funding of the American Principles Project and his hand in political races across the country.

While Regnerus’ research at the Austin Institute has so far made less of a splash than his faulty same-sex parenting study, he has continued to lend his voice to the effort to stop marriage equality, including testifying on behalf of a same-sex marriage ban in Michigan this year. (That move caused some of his UT colleagues to distance themselves from his work.)

The Austin Institute’s most noticeable contribution so far is a viral YouTube video applying a pop-economics veneer to the Religious Right’s favorite target, the sexual revolution. The video explains (in economic terms, of course) how contraception led to women turning against each other while men became video-game playing slobs — the only solution to which is for women to band together to withhold sex until marriage.

And the Austin Institute seems primed to provide more research to conveniently reinforce the Religious Right’s policy views — a solid investment for a donor like Fieler.

UPDATE: A reader points out that the Bradley Foundation, a conservative group that includes the Witherspoon Institute's Robert George on its board and that also helped to fund Regnerus' "New Family Structures" study, also reported a $100,000 grant to the Austin Institute last year.

Barber: SCOTUS Is 'Tempting The Wrath Of God' With Gay Marriage Decision

Matt Barber and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel continue to fume about the Supreme Court's recent decision to allow several lower-court marriage equality rulings to stand and have dedicated several recent episodes of their "Faith and Freedom" radio program to ranting about it, with Barber at one point warning that America will soon face divine wrath.

On an episode set to run on Tuesday, Barber warns that "homosexual conduct is demonstrably and explicitly, throughout the Old and New Testament, called sin. And when you have a sin-centered redefinition of marriage and the government puts its official stamp on sin, you have the government blessing sin, well, sin cannot be blessed, it cannot be sanctified."

By trying to do so, Barber said, America is "tempting the wrath of God":

Marriage Bans Overturned in Idaho and Nevada

Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in favor of equality, striking down same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt delivered the ruling for the panel, which applied heightened scrutiny because the bans are applied on the basis of sexual orientation, and concluded that the state laws violate the equal protection rights of lesbians and gays who wish to marry. The court took note of the particular harm marriage bans impose on families:

“To allow same-sex couples to adopt children and then to label their families as second-class because the adoptive parents are of the same sex is cruel as well as unconstitutional. Classifying some families, and especially their children, as of lesser value should be repugnant to all those in this nation who profess to believe in ‘family values.’”  

The ruling follows the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the appeals of five states seeking to reverse similar cases in which a lower court ruled state marriage bans unconstitutional. This morning, however, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocked the appeals court ruling and asked for a response from the plaintiffs involved in Idaho’s marriage lawsuit by Thursday at 5 pm. 

PFAW Foundation

Mat Staver: Same-Sex Marriage Will Bring About 'End Of Western Civilization'

In an interview yesterday with WND’s Radio America this week, anti-gay legal activist Mat Staver addressed what he sees as the apocalyptic implications of legalizing same-sex marriage, including supposed threats to the economy, government and civilization itself.

Staver fretted over the disintegration of marriage as a “unique relationship” and warned that America’s decline would be the inevitable result of our “experiment” in advancing equality for gays and lesbians

“When less people get married and you have more children out of wedlock, when you destabilize the institution of marriage, you make the economy poorer and you make the society unstable. That’s exactly what we’re having and that’s what we’re going to see here in America and around the world,” he said. “When you tinker with the very basic foundation of family and you assume that gender doesn’t matter, you ultimately affect the rest of society and the strength of civil government.”

Beyond mere social unrest, Staver warned that recent rulings in marriage cases have sent us hurtling towards self-destruction. “This is something that I believe is the beginning of the end of western civilization. You can’t simply redefine and pretend that ontological differences between men and women do not exist. This will have consequences.”

 

Michael Peroutka: Gay 'Deathstyle' Wants To 'Recruit Your Children'

In an interview with Steve Deace yesterday, Institute on the Constitution head and Maryland GOP politician Michael Peroutka claimed that the aim of LGBT rights advocates is to “recruit your children” into their “deathstyle.”

“Is this about sinful people want to engage in their sin, or is this about making a statement that you will go along with the sin?” Peroutka asked about the LGBT rights movement.

Deace responded by repeating his theory that LGBT people are simply seeking “validation” from the government because they can’t get it from God, adding: “We have two moral vices that have a powerful political lobby in America. One is sexually driven and the other one’s driven on covetousness, that’s the welfare state and victimology.”

Deace fretted that as part of this agenda, the gay rights movement is turning “ESPN into homosexual cake-smash make-out sessions.”

“It seems to me that the reason that it’s got to be validated, perversion has to be validated, because recruitment is necessary,” Peroutka added. “This deathstyle — I don’t call it a lifestyle — this deathstyle does not reproduce, it needs to recruit, so it’s got to recruit your children.”

Earlier in the interview, Deace said that governors should just ignore court rulings that they disagree with — such as marriage equality and legalized abortion —saying that if he were governor he would have shut down every abortion clinic in the state “and arrested every employee for killing, every single one of them.”

“The Nazis, everything they did was technically legal too,” he said.

Steve Deace: Gay Rights Advocates Seek 'Validation' Through Marriage And 'Pro-Sodomy Propaganda'

Conservative talk show host Steve Deace was, to say the least, livid at the news this week that the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of a number of lower-court marriage equality rulings, thus allowing same-sex couples in several new states to begin marrying.

Deace spent a good part of his interview Monday with Religious Right activist Bob Vander Plaats railing against the LGBT rights movement, which he declared is “not about ‘I want to visit people I love in a hospital’ or ‘I want to pass on to people I care about an inheritance’” but is instead about a search for “validation and ‘I want someone to validate my desires that my conscience tells me are wrong, that my conscience tells me go against the way I was made.’”

“‘To validate these desires and impulses that I don’t think I can control, and I want you to tell me that I’m okay just the way I am,’” he continued, in the voice of an imaginary gay-rights activist. “‘And if the God who made me, who I ultimately desire validation from…if that God will not validate me, then I will go to the next most powerful force on earth and try to get them to do it, and that is government.’”

He added that “the onslaught of pro-sodomy propaganda in our culture” is yet another step in this search for validation: “You will be made to care when your kids watch the Disney Channel. You will be made to care when you watch ESPN. There is nowhere for you to go. Consider the onslaught of pro-sodomy propaganda our culture has been deluged with and the numbers in that Pew research poll. There’s a backlash.” (He was referring to a recent Pew poll showing a downtick in support for marriage equality.)

Vander Plaats agreed with Deace’s assessment: “This isn’t about Mary and Susy having a garden next door anymore. This is about saturating every piece of life with this very issue for what you talk about, and I think you’re right, Steve: validation.”

Huckabee Urges States To Ignore Rulings On Marriage Equality, Abortion Rights & Church-State Separation

In an interview with Iowa-based conservative talk show host Steve Deace on Monday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee repeated his recommendation that governors simply ignore the Supreme Court’s decision to let stand lower court rulings legalizing marriage equality in several new states, adding that state governments should have also ignored Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court rulings banning school-sponsored prayer.

When Deace pressed him on the “maelstrom” that would be set off if state governments simply ignored court rulings on marriage, Huckabee responded that it was in fact the courts that have set off a “constitutional crisis” by ruling in favor of marriage equality.

“I look back to 1973,” he said, referring to the year in which Roe v. Wade was decided, “and I’m wondering what would have happened if the two branches of government, the executive and the legislative, simply said, ‘We appreciate your opinion, court, but now if states wish to empower that, I guess they can do so, but until that happens we’re not automatically going to go killing 55 million babies over the next 40 years.’”

In cases such as Roe and rulings in favor of marriage equality and church-state separation, Huckabee said, elected officials should have said, “Well, the courts have spoken and it’s an important voice, but it’s not the voice of God and the Supreme Court isn’t God” and simply ignored the courts’ rulings.

Earlier in the interview, Deace insisted that a drop in support for LGBT rights reported in a recent Pew poll happened because “people are seeing this really isn’t about consensual love…this is really about in the end using the coercive force of government to get you to abandon your own moral conscience.”

Huckabee agreed, adding, “It’s never been an honest situation where those who were advocating the most extreme levels of changing our culture were sincere and straightforward and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it.”

He added his hope that in reaction to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, “somewhere there will be a governor who will simply say, ‘No, I’m not going to enforce that’” and order county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Janet Mefferd: LGBT Legal Victories Threaten The Republic

Yesterday, Religious Right talk show host Janet Mefferd condemned the “lawlessness” of the U.S. judicial system following recent court decisions that have advanced marriage equality for same-sex couples.

She warned that judges are threatening the system of self-government with their decisions to strike down marriage bans. “The bigger question is: how have we lost our right to govern ourselves?” she asked. “That’s what we’re losing.”  

“They get away with it. You just push the lawless limit and see how much you can get away with, and unfortunately, people are getting away with an awful lot,” she said. “I don’t understand why there aren’t more Christians yelling and screaming — nicely, of course — on this issue of lawlessness. Do we not care about lawlessness? How do you have a republic without law, the rule of law and the respect for law? How does a republic survive when it loses respect for the law?”

An 'Utterly Exasperated' Mike Huckabee Threatens To Leave The GOP Over Gay Marriage

This morning's broadcast of the American Family Association's "Today's Issues" program was dedicated to promoting the AFA's "A Time to Speak" documentary, which is aimed at getting pastors to mobilize their congregations to vote in the upcoming elections.

One guest on the program was Mike Huckabee, who began his interview by threatening to leave the Republican Party if the GOP does not take a stand against the Supreme Court's decision yesterday not to hear appeals of lower court rulings striking down gay marriage bans in several states.

Incensed by the decision, Huckabee declared that "I am utterly exasperated with Republicans and the so-called leadership of the Republicans who have abdicated on this issue," warning that by doing so the GOP will "guarantee they're going to lose every election in the future."

"Guarantee it," he said before proclaiming that the Republicans are going to "lose guys like me and a whole bunch of still God-fearing, Bible-believing people" if the party does not stand and fight on the issues of gay marriage and abortion.

"I'm gone," Huckabee warned. "I'll become an independent. I'll start finding people that have guts to stand. I'm tired of this":

Another Nail in the Coffin for Baker v. Nelson

The Supreme Court's decision not to hear marriage equality appeals may have an important substantive effect on the law.
PFAW Foundation

Look Who Wants To Amend The Constitution Now: Ted Cruz Wants States' Rights Amendment on Marriage

Sen. Ted Cruz has spent the past several months railing against a proposed constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and related campaign-finance cases, which would restore to Congress and the states the ability to “set reasonable limits” on election spending.

Cruz has gone into full hyperbole mode over the amendment, claiming that the campaign to narrowly roll back what many legal experts believe is an erroneous interpretation of the First Amendment is in fact an effort to “repeal the First Amendment,silence pastors and imprison old ladies.

So, of course, it was no surprise at all yesterday to see Cruz himself proposing to amend the Constitution to reverse what he sees as an erroneous interpretation by the courts, this time on the issue of marriage. Roll Call reported on Cruz’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s "tragic" decision yesterday to decline hearing any marriage equality appeals, thus letting same-sex couples in several states get married:

While most Republicans shied away from commenting Monday on the Supreme Court’s historic decision to let stand a slew of lower court rulings legalizing gay marriage, Sen. Ted Cruz torched the court’s decision.

The Texas Republican called the decision “tragic and indefensible” and said he would introduce a constitutional amendment that would ensure states can ban gay marriage.

“By refusing to rule if the States can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution. The fact that the Supreme Court Justices, without providing any explanation whatsoever, have permitted lower courts to strike down so many state marriage laws is astonishing,” he said in a statement.

“It is beyond dispute that when the 14th Amendment was adopted 146 years ago, as a necessary post-Civil War era reform, it was not imagined to also mandate same-sex marriage, but that is what the Supreme Court is implying today. The Court is making the preposterous assumption that the People of the United States somehow silently redefined marriage in 1868 when they ratified the 14th Amendment,” he said.

“Nothing in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the 14th Amendment or any other constitutional provision authorizes judges to redefine marriage for the Nation. It is for the elected representatives of the People to make the laws of marriage, acting on the basis of their own constitutional authority, and protecting it, if necessary, from usurpation by the courts.”

For the record, here is the section of the 14th Amendment that courts have been relying on to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

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