Marriage Equality

PFAW Foundation Releases Report Analyzing Critical Issues To Be Argued In SCOTUS Marriage Cases

WASHINGTON – Today People For the American Way Foundation released a new report outlining the history and arguments surrounding the two marriage cases before the Supreme Court this term: Hollingsworth v. Perry, challenging California’s Proposition 8, and U.S. v. Windsor, challenging Section 3 of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The report, Equal Protection or ‘Social Tradition:’ The Supreme Court’s Test in the Marriage Cases, details the legal histories of the current Supreme Court cases as well as past cases addressing the issue of marriage discrimination.  PFAW Foundation Senior Fellow Jamie Raskin, the report's author, takes apart conservative arguments against marriage equality, including those based on the goal of legislating social morality.  Released just before the Supreme Court hears oral argument, the report provides timely, in-depth analysis and historical background on the central issues of the cases.

“The only real question is what role the Court will play in the historical process of vindicating the rights of the people,” the report notes. “Will it constitutionalize discriminatory ‘traditions,’ as it did in Bowers v. Harwick, or will it defend the rights and liberties of the people, as it did in Lawrence v. Texas?”

The full report is available at www.pfaw.org.


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Ohio Anti-Gay Leader Encouraged Portman to Put Son in Ex-Gay Therapy, Vows to Fight His Reelection

Sen. Rob Portman has, unsurprisingly, been faced with a barrage of criticism from Religious Right groups since he announced that, inspired by his gay son, he had changed his mind to support marriage equality. But perhaps no one has been more upset with Portman than Ohio anti-gay leader Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values. Last week, Burress called Portman “a very troubled man” who is  “distraught over what’s happened to his son.”

On Wednesday, Burress took to “ex-gay” activist Michael Brown’s “Line of Fire” radio program to recount a conversation he had with Portman shortly before the senator’s announcement. Portman was “dejected” and “basically sad throughout the conversation,” Burress says. And while Burress had initially thought Portman was “looking for help for his son to walk away from the lifestyle” through "ex-gay" therapy,  it eventually became “obvious that he was going to embrace his son’s behavior, which was devastating, because he just gives his son no chance whatsoever of understanding, you know, that he doesn’t have to be that way.”

Burress knows who to blame for this change of heart in father and son: Yale University, where the younger Portman is currently a freshman. At Yale, Burress says, Portman’s son was “probably associating with the other homosexual activists” and ultimately “forced his dad’s hand on this thing.”

Burress: He called me the night before he went public and told me that he was the first one that he wanted to call, and we shared ideas and thoughts. And when he first called me, I thought he was looking for help for his son to walk away from the lifestyle, because I’m pretty sure that he knows that I spent four and a half years on the board of an international organization helping people walk away. And he dropped the bomb on me by saying he was going to change his opinion, which I still today cannot believe that he did that because this is a principled issue and you just don’t turn your back on principled issues.

Brown: Phil, do you think, and you wrote a very gracious but firm editorial that’s getting a lot of national exposure, do you think that he was unaware before this that his son felt that his homosexuality was not a choice? Because he announced it as if this was a new revelation.

Burress: Well, he knew about it for two and a half years. So, apparently in thinking back, he, they learned about it while he was a freshman in high school, and now he’s a, excuse me, a junior in high school, and now he’s a freshman at Yale. And I don’t think there’s any coincidence to this whatsoever that he came home, probably associating with the other homosexual activists at Yale, and I think maybe he forced his dad’s hand on this thing because, that’s just my gut feeling, because Rob started off the conversation by saying, ‘I’ve got some really bad news,’ and he was dejected and basically sad throughout the whole conversation. And it ended up being a conversation, a dad to a dad, but it was obvious that he was going to embrace his son’s behavior, which was devastating, because he just gives his son no chance whatsoever of understanding, you know, that he doesn’t have to be that way. And I told him that it’s not innate, it’s a learned behavior.

Later in the program, Burress promised electoral defeat for Portman if he runs for reelection in 2016. Burress notes that former Ohio Republican Sen. Mike DeWine lost his bid for reelection in 2006 after opposing a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Burress neglects to mention that DeWine, who supported a federal gay marriage ban,  in fact lost to Democrat and gay-rights supporter Sherrod Brown.


Brown: What do we do now? Do we just say, ‘Another loss, throw in the towel, America’s capitulating,’ or can we bring about change?

Burress: We can bring about change alright, and what’s surfacing now is what happened to Mike DeWine, Senator Mike DeWine, when he opposed us in 2004. I chaired the marriage amendment in Ohio to change the constitution here in Ohio and Senator DeWine came out against us. And he’d been in the Senate for, I think, two or three terms, and obviously that cost him his election. When he ran again, he got beat because he switched his position. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the same thing’s going to happen, based on the emails and the calls we’re getting, is that people are not only devastated but are angry that they have somebody up there that they voted for to represent their point of view and their values and he’s turned his back on them. This is a non-negotiable issue with our organization and he will be listed on our annual, what we call Ohio Election Central, our reporting agency where we endorse candidates, as ‘unacceptable for public office.’

 

Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA: Paul Gordon

This piece is the eighth in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.

At the end of 2008, my husband and I were married in the same synagogue where I’d had my bar-mitzvah more than three decades earlier.  As a 13 year-old in the 1970s, I read from the Torah and spoke to the congregation about letting the people we love know how much we love them. But as a closeted 13 year-old, I never dreamed that 30 years later, I’d be standing in the same chapel, with all the same people who are dearest to me, publicly professing my love for another man. Rick and I were surrounded by family and married in the traditions of our faith. And as we drank from the Kiddush cup, we adapted a practice from the Passover Seder; since Prop 8 had just passed, we removed eight drops of wine as a symbol that our joy was diminished by the suffering caused by marriage discrimination.

Passover is my favorite holiday because it is about living in a just society.  It teaches us to welcome the stranger, because “we were strangers in the land of Egypt.” It is a lesson that, unfortunately, must be learned and relearned, as every society has those whom it unjustly treats as outcasts.

It’s appropriate that the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in both the Prop 8 and Defense of Marriage Act cases during the week of Passover. Although the Constitution uses the language of “equal protection” instead “strangers in the land of Egypt,” the underlying values are the same. It is wrong – and unconstitutional – for states to prohibit us from marrying and for the federal government to refuse to recognize our marriages. What better time than Passover to dump DOMA and strike down Prop 8?

Paul Gordon, Senior Legislative Counsel
People For the American Way

PFAW

Barber & Crampton: Christians Must 'Rise Up' and 'Resist' if SCOTUS Strikes Down DOMA

On a recent "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Matt Barber and Steve Crampton discussed the looming Supreme Court hearing over the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act during which they declared that if the Court strikes it down, "it is high time the people rise up against the tyranny of the judiciary."

"If the judges foist this upon us, we need to resist," proclaimed Crampton, which prompted Barber to respond that Christians will have seriously consider civil disobedience, saying "in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr, it may be the time for peaceful civil disobedience when it comes to the fundamental deconstruction of our most fundamental institutions":

Hagee: Sodom and Gomorrah Was God's 'Pilot Study' for Dealing with 'the Homosexual Society'

On this week's "Hagee Hotline," Pastor John Hagee responded to a question from a viewer about whether God would hold this nation accountable if it ever legalized gay marriage by declaring that biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah was "God's pilot study for his response to the homosexual society," and warning that it was not a matter of the government approving it but rather "if the people accept it, and if the righteous accept it, judgment will come":

Challenging the Right's Religious Liberty Claims

The ongoing campaign by the Religious Right and its conservative Catholic allies to redefine religious liberty in America – which has been covered extensively by PFAW and Right Wing Watch – is the focus of a new report released on Monday by Political Research Associates, a think tank that also monitors right-wing organizations. “Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights,” was written by Jay Michaelson, who published a condensed version in the Daily Beast.

Michaelson’s report reviews the organizational players and the strategies they employ, among them: mixing fact and fiction; claiming that there is a war on religious liberty; and reversing the roles of victim and oppressor to portray as religious liberty “victims” people who claim a right to discriminate against others. He notes that Religious Right disinformation has had some success in shaping public opinion: in Minnesota last year a large plurality of marriage equality opponents believed that if marriage equality became the law, churches would be forced to solemnize same-sex marriages, even though there is universal agreement that the First Amendment guarantees that churches are free to choose which relationships to bless or not to bless.

The PRA report includes the following recommendations for social justice advocates:

1. Define and publicize the campaign to redefine religious liberty

2. Organize a unified response

3. Counter misinformation

4. Reclaim the religious liberty frame

5. Develop academic responses

6. Leverage religious communities

7. Ongoing research and monitoring

Religious liberty was also the topic of a forum at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., cosponsored by the Newseum’s Religious Freedom Education Project, Moment Magazine, and the Committee on Religious Liberty of the National Council of Churches. Moment, an independent Jewish Magazine, has also published a special Religious Freedom issue for March/April 2013.  At the conference, two large panels brought together a range of religious and secular voices to discuss and debate the meaning of religious liberty and the claims that liberty is under attack in the U.S. today.

Charles Haynes, the First Amendment expert who heads Newseum’s religious liberty committee, noted that the broad coalition that came together to back the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the 1990s is no longer.  Michael Lieberman, director of the Civil Rights Policy Planning Center for the Anti-Defamation League, suggested a reason: that the coalition had intended RFRA to be a shield against government restrictions on the free exercise of religion, but that conservative groups had turned RFRA into a spear used to attack anti-discrimination laws.

One central principle of PFAW’s Twelve Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics became clear: while people can agree on the broad principle that religious liberty protects the freedom to live in accord with one’s religious beliefs, that consensus breaks down quickly when deciding how law and policy should react when religious liberty comes into tension with other constitutional principles like equality under the law. Indeed, panelists strongly (but civilly) disagreed on to what extent organizations – whether religiously affiliated institutions or business corporations – should be able to claim exemption from anti-discrimination laws or the HHS requirement for insurance coverage of contraception. 

Richard Foltin of the American Jewish Committee argued for a shades-of-gray, rather than a black-and-white approach, saying organizations should be viewed on a spectrum, with churches and sectarian institutions on one end and corporations at the other. Foltin said the AJC has submitted amicus briefs in favor of marriage equality at the Supreme Court, but also believes that there are significant religious liberty questions that courts will have to deal with as marriage equality is implemented.  (As noted at another point during the day, the states that now recognize marriage equality all have somewhat different religious exemptions.)

Michaelson proposes five tiers of organizations with differing levels of claims to religious liberty: churches/denominations; religious organizations; religiously affiliated organizations; religiously owned business, and religious individuals. The right-wing, he says, keeps trying to “move the sticks” from the first three groups to the latter two.  He notes that the Mormon Church owns extensive business interests, including shopping malls, and says that if business owners are allowed to claim exemption from anti-discrimination laws and other regulations based on religious belief, many employees will have their rights and interests restricted. 

Author Wendy Kaminer argued that the religious liberty of institutions is over-protected rather than threatened, saying that she believes some claims for religious liberty are actually demands for religious power to impose their beliefs on others.  If business owners are allowed to claim a religious exemption from generally applicable civil rights laws, she asked, what would be the limiting principle to such claims? Could business owners cite religious beliefs to ignore child labor laws, or to refuse to hire married women?  Kaminer challenged what she called an emerging legal double standard: when it comes to taking government funds, advocates say religious organizations need a level playing field and should be treated like every other organization. But when it comes to free exercise claims, and groups like Catholic Charities say they shouldn’t be subject to generally applicable laws, they don’t want a level playing field but special privileges.

Holly Hollman, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said that overblown rhetoric about threats to religious freedom is damaging to public understanding of religious liberty. She suggests that the first response to someone who talks about threats to religious liberty should be to ask them what specifically they are talking about.  For example, while people may be concerned when they hear about “an assault on religious liberty,” most Americans do not see a problem with requiring religiously affiliated institutions to abide by anti-discrimination laws or meet contraception requirements.

Legal scholar Jeffrey Rosen suggested that on church-state issues, the Supreme Court justices could be divided into three camps: religious supremacists, advocates of “religious neutrality,” and strict church-state separationists.  The separationists, he said, had their heyday in the 1970s and early 1980s, but that the courts have been moving more toward a “religious neutrality” approach, which he said in some cases is really a cover for the religious supremacists yearning for an openly religious state.  He said a landmark of the triumph of “neutrality” over separation was the 1995 Rosenberger case, in which the court said a public university could not deny funding from a religious publication because of its religious nature.  In the future, he said, Justices Breyer and Kagan may be willing to embrace a “religious neutrality” approach in hopes of winning votes to try to keep Robert and Kennedy from joining the Scalia-Thomas religious supremacists.

Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has filed lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate and which has urged the Supreme Court to uphold Prop 8 and DOMA, portrayed religious liberty issues not as part of a culture war but as the necessity in a pluralistic society of recognizing that differences exist and allowing everyone the maximum ability to live according to their beliefs. He suggested that most church-state conflicts are blown out of proportion and can be resolved relatively easy with a willingness to work around individual religious liberty claims. Kim Colby of the Christian Legal Society endorsed that view, and noted that the Supreme Court will likely be deciding cases in the near future about what constitutes a “substantial burden” on a person’s religious beliefs and what might qualify as a “compelling state interest” that would justify that burden.

Michaelson challenged Rienzi’s portrayal, saying that “religious liberty” itself has become a code word for a new tactic in the culture war against LGBT equality and reproductive rights, and that it was wrong to pretend there would be no victim if a business owner were granted the right, for example, to ignore laws against anti-gay discrimination.  Pharmacies, he said, used to have lunch counters that were segregated. Would it have been OK to justify that discrimination by saying there was another lunch counter down the street, the argument used by advocates for allowing pharmacists to refuse to provide some drugs based on their religious beliefs?

The ADL’s Lieberman said that from his perspective as an advocate for minority religions these do not seem like small or easily resolved issues, and said there was a clear prospect that individual rights would not be safeguarded if, for example, majoritarian school prayer were permitted.  Hoda Elshishtawy, legislative and policy analyst at the Muslim Public Affairs Council also noted the reality of a major power differential between members of majority and minority religions.  Dan Mach, director of the ACLU’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, noted that there are widespread abuses in public schools, citing an example of a South Carolina public school that set aside a day explicitly intended to try to convert as many students as possible to Christianity.

Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance, who moderated the first panel, noted that even on the day the First Amendment was passed, not everyone agreed with it or agreed with what it meant. We’ve been working it out ever since then and can’t quit, he said.  Charles Haynes made a similar point in his closing remarks, noting that in spite of all the differences evident in how we apply First Amendment principles, the ability to continue having the conversation is a reminder of how well those principles have worked to protect religious liberty in an increasingly diverse nation.

Ralph Reed Makes 'The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage'

A few weeks ago, Ralph Reed stopped by the offices of the Wall Street Journal to make "The Case Against Gay Marriage" which he did by declaring that "all the statistics and data that we have" prove that children of intact, loving families to better than children who do not grow up in such families. 

Reed proceeded to cite some unnamed CEO who claimed to have studied the most productive staff in the company and discovered that "the number one determinant of how hard they worked and how dedicated they were" was coming from an intact, loving family.

Of course, that might lead one to ask how exactly that is supposed to be an argument against gay marriage, since gay marriage would only lead to the creation of more intact, loving families, but Reed wasn't buying it because "we have not tested that thesis on a national level." 

Apparently the anecdotal evidence that Reed gleaned from some anonymous CEO was very convincing but the idea that gay families could also produce productive, hard working citizens was too untested and so it would be dangerous to "tinker" with the institution of marriage so "willy-nilly":

NOM's Peters: Regardless of 'Propaganda,' the Human Heart Knows Gay Marriage is Wrong

Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage was the guest on today's episode of "WallBuilders Live" where he discussed the organization's efforts to spread its anti-marriage equality message to the next generation, saying that the key to their success will be finding a way to overcome the "intolerance and hatred" on campuses against those who promote this message.

Insisting that being anti-gay marriage does not make one anti-gay, Peters asserted that, despite all the "propaganda," the human heart simply knows that gay marriage is wrong and so this position will eventually win out, and it is imperative to work to prevent people from becoming confused and lost in the meantime:  

I'd say that the two big steps to getting to that message, of course, are fighting against the intolerance and hatred that is directed against us, especially in schools. You have a lot of pro-marriage people my age and younger in schools right now and they don't feel safe right now in sharing their pro-marriage convictions on that vast majority of college and high school campuses. That is something that has got to end.  We've got to figure out how to break down this ostracizing of pro-marriage viewpoints.

And second of all, we have to continually talk to people about how being pro-marriage is not anti-gay and that there is simply nothing discriminatory about seeing the love of a man and a woman as unique and special and worth protecting.

...

Marriage just speaks to the human heart and no matter how much propaganda you try to throw at that, the human heart always reestablishes what it knows to be true.  And we just know it's true that there is a difference between two men coming together and a man and a woman coming together.  And so I think that is the core message of marriage that eventually will overcome.  The question is how many people in the meantime are confused, how many people lose out on that saving message.

Senator Portman’s change of heart and the legacy of Harvey Milk

Why did Senator Portman’s change of heart take two years? Why has he continued to support the anti-gay policies of his party? There’s a lot of debate on both points, but one thing is certain: it was his son’s own coming out that forced the Senator to come out in support of marriage equality, and to do that interview and write that op-ed.
PFAW

CPAC Reject McDonnell Welcomed at Religious Right Prayer Breakfast

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was not officially welcomed at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, but he was invited to speak at Friday morning’s prayer breakfast hosted by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, along with a couple Members of Congress.

Not everybody was happy that McDonnell was on the premises: activists from the National Taxpayers Union and the insanely anti-gay Public Advocate USA gave out anti-McDonnell flyers and stickers to people entering the breakfast.  McDonnell’s sin against CPAC orthodoxy was his support for a transportation plan in Virginia that activists say violates a campaign pledge against raising taxes.  Public Advocate also complained that by praising the General Assembly’s approval of a gay district court nominee, McDonnell “BROKE HIS PLEDGE TO SUPPORT TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE.”

Inside the prayer breakfast, McDonnell (like the Coalition’s Executive Director Gary Marx an alum of Pat Robertson’s Regent University) was introduced by Rep. Randy Forbes and warmly received.  McDonnell gave a talk that was light on conservative red meat and focused on themes of faith and service, urging activists to pray for humility and wisdom.  He did say it is the job of public officials to get things done according to “Judeo-Christian principles.”  And he cited George Washington saying that the nation could not expect “the smiles of heaven” if it abandoned “eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself have ordained.”

Forbes, a leader of the congressional prayer caucus, said our nation’s problem is that God belongs on the throne, we’ve taken Him off, and we need to put Him back up there.  Forbes resorted to a caricature common among Religious Right leaders, complaining about people he said were trying to change the concept of church-state separation to mean that no one in government can speak about their faith and no one in church can talk about the government.

Also speaking was Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who invoked a mural of the radical abolitionist John Brown that portrays him with a Bible in one hand, a rifle in the other, and the tornado of the civil war approaching. He called the HHS requirement for insurance coverage of contraception a “tremendous threat” and an attack of religious liberty. “What would John Brown be doing now?” he asked, suggesting that Brown would be on his knees in prayer but also on his feet demanding action from Congress.  Huelskamp complained that his colleagues in Congress are not acting to protect religious liberty, and denounced their “deafening silence” on threats to marriage. Huelskamp has previously complained to Tony Perkins about “the folks on the left that would like to delete, exclude and repeal any religious liberties or any religious values throughout our entire government and our entire society.”

Rachel Campos-Duffy, a conservative activist, author, and Real World: San Francisco alum who is married to Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, talked about the dangers of churches and families having ceded territory to “an ever-expanding and insatiable government.” For example, Campos said, school breakfast programs for poor students give parents an excuse not to make breakfast for their own kids and just push them out the door rather than talking to them.

Ralph Reed didn’t make the breakfast, but Gary Marx delivered a version of Reed’s post-2012 “it’s not my fault” analysis. Marx ran through statistics on the millions of contacts the Faith & Freedom Coalition made with the 23.3 million evangelical and Catholic voters in its proprietary database, and he said five million more evangelicals voted in 2012 than in 2008, with 78 percent of them voting for Romney. He said the group is actively engaged in this year’s Virginia elections and pledged that 2014 will see the largest mid-term conservative turnout ever.

The breakfast opened with a prayer by Father John De Celles of St. Raymond Penafort Roman Catholic Church in Springfield, Virginia, and closed with a benediction from Rabbi Aryeh Spero of the Caucus for America, who called for a reaffirmation of our “national identity” as a “Judeo-Christian nation” and denounced those who threaten the country from within by trying to "dismantle" that heritage and usurp God’s will.

Footnote: Among the VIP attendees acknowledged from the podium was conservative mega-donor Foster Friess, who backed Rick Santorum’s presidential bid but who has more recently encouraged a more moderate approach to LGBT issues, which he has said is due to his familiarity with gay people, including his brother-in-law and his partner.  There was no mention at the breakfast of news that broke last night about Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s about-face on marriage after his son came out to him. 

Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA: Jen Herrick

This piece is the seventh in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.

Nine years ago, as I was preparing to leave Ohio University, I said goodbye to Adam, one of my best friends. I remember writing to him in a card that I hoped our husbands would someday get to meet. That November – November 3, 2004 to be precise – I was on the phone with him, and he was heartbroken at what for many was a difficult election (including Ohio passing a state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman).

Fast forward to 2011, and a visit with Adam and his partner of several years, Michael. Marriage equality came up in conversation. It seemed to us to be possible but still five or ten years away.

Then came 2012. In May, President Obama affirmed his support for the freedom to marry of same-sex couples. In December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear cases challenging California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

With oral arguments looming at the end of the month, Adam’s reaction to the President’s announcement rings ever more true:

THANK YOU President Obama! Those of you who know Michael and I: we have such an incredibly strong, stable, loving relationship. Opening our relationship up to marriage does nothing but STRENGTHEN the institution!

That’s exactly why we should dump DOMA.

Yes, dumping DOMA is just one step on the long road to marriage equality. But it’s an important step, and one that’s many years overdue. DOMA unconstitutionally defines marriage for all federal purpose as the union of one man and one woman. That means that legally married couples in nine states and the District of Columbia are denied the more than one thousand rights and benefits that the federal government ties to marriage. That means that these couples and families aren’t afforded the safety and security that comes along with many of those rights. That means that they are discriminated against based solely on their sexual orientation.

That means that if Adam and Michael were to legally marry, despite progress made under the Obama administration, the federal government – bound by the discrimination enshrined in law – would have no choice but to turn its back on them in most cases.

That is not right. Dump DOMA.

Jen Herrick, Senior Policy Analyst
People For the American Way

PFAW

FRC to Pastors: Now THIS is an Anti-Gay Sermon!

If the Family Research Council gets its way, evangelical Christians all across America will hear their pastor deliver a sermon written by an FRC official condemning homosexuality and the advance of marriage equality this weekend or next.  On March 26 and 27 the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in cases involving California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and this week FRC emailed pastors urging them to hold a “Stand for Marriage Sunday” before then, providing links to a sermon and full-color bulletin insert recapping its main points.

The 4300-word suggested sermon and accompanying power point presentation start with the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and march through every Religious Right talking point on homosexuality, marriage equality, and the Satanic, anti-Christian, Nazi-like gay rights movement that is inviting the downfall of civilization. Here are the section heads and some highlights:

Section 1: The Divine Pattern

The sermon says God created men and women to complete each other, and actually includes, “Aren’t you glad God created Adam and Eve, and not just Adam and Steve?” It quotes James Dobson saying “More than ten thousand studies have concluded that kids do best when they are raised by mothers and fathers.” And it asserts that in both the Old and New Testaments, “one man and one woman in a marriage covenant relationship for life is the divine pattern.” (The sermon does not address the abundant inconvenient exceptions to one-man, one-woman marriage in the Bible.)

After reviewing all the ways marriage makes people, couples, and children happier, the section concludes:

God’s way works! Think about it. Every civilization in history is built upon the institution of marriage. It is the foundation. The happiness of couples, the welfare of children, the propagation of the faith, the wellbeing of society, and the orderliness of civilization are all dependent upon the stability of marriage according to the divine pattern. When this God-given pattern is undermined, the whole superstructure of society becomes unstable. Any deviation from the divine pattern invites disaster.

Section 2: The Deceptive Perversion

According to the sermon, homosexuality is a deceptive perversion, a sin that is “open rebellion against the divine pattern.” It cites the familiar “abomination” verses and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Section 3: The Definitive Problem

This section compares gay-rights advocates’ claims that people are born Gay or that “God made us gay” to Nazi propaganda. “They essentially practice Joseph Goebel’s Nazi philosophy of propaganda, which is basically this: Tell a lie long enough and loud enough and eventually most mindless Americans will believe it.” The sermon also compares homosexuality to other “sexual sins” such as promiscuity, adultery and pedophilia. “I do not believe,” it says, “that God would not place in your genetic code something that would damn your immortal soul.” [sic on the double negative]

Section 4: The Destructive Program

This section recounts the dangers of the “radical homosexual agenda,” its goal of “silencing critics in the clergy and Christian media,” and its conquest of the entertainment, educational, and legal arenas, citing a litany of familiar Religious Right horror stories about the alleged persecution of Christians who stand against the merciless gay rights steamroller.  And it pushes one of the primary talking points of Religious Right leaders and their conservative Catholic allies: that equality and religious liberty are fundamentally incompatible:

Where homosexual activists win legal approval, whether by court action or legislation, they often deny our full rights as Christians because a homosexual’s so-called “civil rights” and a Christian’s freedom of conscience and speech opposing homosexuality are mutually exclusive.

“Listen,” the sermon warns, “homosexual activists won’t stop at recognition, their aim is domination. They will not stop until they win over our children and our convicting voice is silenced.”

Section 5: The Determined Plan

These are the action steps FRC wants people hearing the sermon to take:

Action Step 1: Pray

The sermon calls on people to pray for spiritual revival and for “God’s mercy on a nation that is speeding toward Sodom, and hurtling toward Gomorrah.”

Action Step 2: Practice

This section says Christians give up their credibility to challenge the culture when their divorce rate is the same as everyone else’s, and urges people to follow biblical instructions on marriage and home life.

Action Step 3: Participate

This section is a direct rebuke to people who think politics are of the world, something Christians should stay out of. “Since God created the institution of government, would He want His people to stay out of it? No. If Christians don’t ‘render to Caesar’ (Matt. 22:21) and don’t function as ‘salt’ and ‘light’ (Matt. 5:13-16) in the arena of government, then we disobey the commands of Christ and allow Satan to prevail by default.”  The sermon urges people to write blog posts, use Facebook and Twitter, comment on news stories, knock on doors, contact elected officials, and join the March for Marriage being organized by the National Organization for Marriage and its allies in Washington DC on March 26.

Action Step 4: Proclaim

This section urges people to tell those in the “homosexual lifestyle” that they do not have to remain “slaves to sin” but can pray away the gay.

Let’s stand along these poor misguided and lost people trapped in Satan’s snare. Let’s love them out of that sinful and destructive lifestyle! ... But let’s also exercise our rights as Christian citizens! Listen, we can make the difference. Together, Christians all across America can protect and preserve marriage for our children and our children’s children. Let’s stand for God’s plan for marriage because our future depends on it. And all of God’s people said: Amen!

PFAW is United for Marriage

Marriage equality will be before the Supreme Court on March 26 and 27. PFAW will be there with the United for Marriage coalition. You can join us in DC or attend an event near you.
PFAW

Fischer: Marriage Equality Is Really 'Inequality Under the Law'

Bryan Fischer is a big fan of the line of argumentation that gays already have full marriage equality because they have the same right to marry someone of the opposite sex as anyone else.

He reiterated this argument on his radio program today, adding that gay marriage is really "inequality under the law" because it grants to gay couples "a special carve-out for themselves that is not available to pedophiles and polygamists" and others who "engage in sexually abnormal behavior":

Focus Guest: Gays Needs to Be Told That 'Marriage is Not in the Cards for You'

Just last week, the New York Times ran a profile of a new 'kinder and gentler' Focus on the Family under current president Jim Daly who purports to be trying to change the tone of the debates over contentious issues like abortion and marriage equality while defending his conservative Christian positions on such issues.

Daly operates under the impression that so long as he approaches these debates in a gentle, thoughtful, and prayerful manner, he can open others up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, make converts, and ultimately win people over to his side of the argument.

Today, on Focus on the Family's radio program, Daly and co-host John Fuller welcomed George Mason University Law School professor Helen Alvare onto the program to discuss "The Erosion of Marriage in America," which Alavre blamed on everything from no-fault divorce to the practice of in vitro fertilization.

And while Daly, Fuller, and Alvare were all very careful to continually insist that they were speaking out of love and respect, when it gets down to it, Alvare said, it is ridiculous to think that the Constitution contains any sort of right to marriage equality and so the state simply needs to tell gay couples that "marriage is not in the cards for you":

I don't think that the Supreme Court wants to live through another forty years of post-bad decision making like they did with Roe v. Wade. There is no question that Constitution does not textually have a right to same-sex marriage.  There is no question that it has been banned - you know, we only have a few states allowing it now.  To say that it's a constitutional right would be ridiculous and I don't think they want to be fighting over it for the next forty years.

There is a reason why, pre-Christianity as well as today, the community of citizens has always understood that there is something different about what a man and a woman do when they are romantically interested together and that naturally leads them to say I want you for my whole life.  The fact that this natural connection, older than Christianity, leads to children; the fact that children seem to need, empirically speaking, a mother and a father is why whatever the state wants to say to gay and lesbian citizens - and hopefully they say we love you and we're not going to discriminate against you - they cannot say what you do and what opposite sex couples do has the same intrinsic outcomes and therefore interest of the state.  It simply is not commensurate.

We can also say one final thing, which is when the state is tempted to say this, what you do, opposite sex couple, and what a same-sex couple does, which they can talk about a long-term emotional commitment  that we have seen if we reduce marriage to people's emotional feelings, we get more divorce, we get less marriage, we get more children outside of marriage and the poor pay more.  We don't have to speculate about this any more, we have seen it.  There has been a horrid natural experiment in our country; we know what we are talking about.

We love you.  We won't discriminate against you as gay and lesbian persons, God willing, in the future. But marriage is not in the cards for you.

This seems to pretty well sum up the new approach from Focus on the Family, which is to insist that gays are loved and respected and should not be discriminated against ... but that they just shouldn't ever be allowed to get married.

Marriage Equality Opponent Says 'Bigger Problem' Is No-Fault Divorce

Often lost in the debate over marriage equality is the fact that many of its leading opponents aren’t just interested in keeping the status quo on marriage. Instead, they're seeking to reverse what they see as a decline that began with laws granting greater freedom to women within marriages – specifically, the right to no-fault divorce.

In a conversation with radio host Janet Mefferd Friday, anti-gay writer Frank Turek responded to marriage equality supporters who point to divorce rates among straight couples. “You don’t make the car better by slashing another tire on it,” he said. “ You go back and repair the first tire. And I’m the first one to say that the bigger problem right now is no-fault divorce.”

Turek: I would agree with them that heterosexuals have debased it, heterosexuals have slashed one of the tires of marriage. But that’s not an argument for slashing another tire.

Mefferd: Good point, good point.

Turek: You don’t make the car better by slashing another tire on it. You go back and repair the first tire. And I’m the first one to say that the bigger problem right now is no-fault divorce.

Mefferd: Ah, yes.

Turek: But that is not an argument for same-sex marriage, in fact it’s an argument against it. Why? Because it shows you that when you liberalize marriage laws, you actually have a negative effect on society, which is what the no-fault marriage laws have done. So if you’re going to make marriage even more liberal, if you’re going to even further tear down the definition of marriage and make it totally genderless now, you’re going to have even worse results. You’re going to have even more illegitimacy, more kids that aren’t taken care of.

Now, I know the same-sex marriage advocates are going to say, ‘What, so same-sex marriage is going to do to your marriage?’ Well, it’s not going to do anything to my personal marriage, but it’s going to debase the institution of marriage into the future, make it a genderless institution, and that will hurt children and hurt the whole country.

Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA: Valeria Carranza

This piece is the sixth in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.

Growing up as a gay woman in a conservative Salvadoran household was like being the protagonist in one of the telenovelas that I used to watch with my Maminena, my grandma. Thankfully, here in Maryland, being gay is no longer an obstacle to marrying the love of my life.

After a hard-fought battle, my girlfriend and I now have the right to say, “I do.”

Unlike most economic development initiatives, tax increases, and transportation projects, our ability to marry was taken to the polls and put to a vote. Marriage for same-sex couples is still treated like an earned privilege rather than a given right. While we won the right to marry in Maryland, thanks to DOMA our marriage would not be recognized under federal law.

My relationship, under this law, does not count. DOMA is a vehicle for discrimination and it hurts our families.
 
When thinking about equality, whether it’s equal protection under federal law, marriage equality or equal protection for our transgender community, two words come to mind: unconditional love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unconditional love. That is what equality means to me: unconditional love for our community, constituents, neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates, friends, family members. Because when you truly love, you don’t let discrimination and injustice take place in your community – or in your country.

The Defense of Marriage Act is just as outdated as the concept of “traditional marriage” being restricted to heterosexuals only. It’s time to dump DOMA – let unconditional love take its place.

Valeria Carranza
Alumna of affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Front Line Leaders Academy

 

PFAW

PFAWF’s African American Ministers Leadership Council Submits Amicus Briefs in Marriage Equality Cases

Last week the Equal Justice Task Force of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, a program of People For the American Way Foundation, joined with a broad coalition of organizations in filing amicus briefs for the marriage equality cases being considered by the Supreme Court.  These cases – Hollingsworth v. Perry, which challenges California’s Proposition 8, and Windsor v. U.S., which challenges Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – represent landmark opportunities for our nation to move toward making marriage equality a reality for all Americans. 

“As African American faith leaders, we feel it is our responsibility to question hatred and discrimination wherever it happens – and especially in our laws,” said Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of the African American Ministers Leadership Council. “Laws singling out and preventing same-sex couples from getting married are blatantly discriminatory and they hurt our communities. These amicus briefs voice our support for equal rights and equal justice for all of God’s children.”

The amicus brief for the Hollingsworth case, a continuation of the 2010 brief PFAW Foundation submitted when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the case, exposes the discriminatory nature of the supposedly “moral” rationales for Proposition 8:

This Court has refused for three-quarters of a century to uphold laws disfavoring minority groups based on religious or moral disapproval alone—with the one, now-discredited exception of Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986). And for good reason: Time and again throughout our nation’s history, laws that disadvantaged or degraded particular groups have been justified by resort to morality and religion. And time and again, our society has come to see those laws as repugnant, and the religious and moral disapproval justifying them as little more than a means to enshrine the status quo.


Likewise, the amicus brief for the Windsor case points out:

This Court has long implicitly acknowledged the connection between religious justifications and the Equal Protection guarantee. The Court’s decision overturning Virginia’s law forbidding marriage between persons of different races is illustrative. In Loving v. Virginia, the Court dismissed the Virginia trial judge’s proffered religious-based rationale, which cited God’s hand in creating different races, recognizing instead that “[t]here is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification.” 388 U.S. 1, 11 (1967). Ultimately, the Court recognized that the anti-miscegenation law served no secular purpose, and was based on nothing more than racial discrimination—even if disguised as a moral or religious belief.


As these briefs highlight, discrimination – even if cloaked in the language of religious or moral beliefs – is still discrimination.

PFAW Foundation

Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA: Reverend Charles Williams II

This piece is the fifth in a series of guest blog posts on “Why It’s Time to Dump DOMA.” In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court arguments on the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, we’re asking friends of PFAW to share why dumping DOMA matters to them. Be sure to check back soon for the latest post in the series.

Is it wrong for committed couples to share retirement and medical benefits? Is it wrong for Americans to expect to receive equal justice under the law?

No, but it is wrong for our government to dictate who we can love and who we cannot. It is wrong for our government to recognize some married couples and not others. But that is exactly what the Defense Of Marriage Act does.

Marriage equality doesn’t hurt anybody or take away anybody’s freedoms. But DOMA does both of those things. Supporters of DOMA sound dangerously like those who said we should outlaw interracial marriages in the previous century. It’s time for this country to say we are done with DOMA and dump it.

Reverend Charles Williams II
Member of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action

PFAW
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