Marriage Equality

Appeals Court Strikes Down Discriminatory DOMA, Congress Should Repeal It

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages sanctioned by the states, is unconstitutional.

Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, issued the following statement:

“Every federal court that has reviewed DOMA’s section 3 has found that it violates our constitutional principles. This should be no surprise. DOMA hurts gay and lesbian married couples by denying them some of the most basic protections of marriage, and it does so for no reason but prejudice against LGBT families. Our Constitution guarantees all Americans equal protection under the law, and DOMA clearly violates that principle.

“House Speaker John Boehner has wasted nearly a million and a half taxpayer dollars on defending this indefensible law. I am confident that the Supreme Court would not let DOMA stand, but I hope that they never have to review it. Most Americans don’t want to hurt their gay and lesbian neighbors, and we’ve seen over and over again that DOMA does real harm to real people. Congress must recognize the harm that DOMA has done and repeal it before it hurts more legally married Americans.”

A People For the American Way petition calling for the repeal of DOMA has gathered over 200,000 signatures.

###

Where does Harry Jackson live now?

A few years ago, anti-gay activist Harry Jackson claimed that he had moved from Maryland into the District of Columbia in order to lead an unsuccessful campaign against marriage equality in the District.  Jackson’s legal residency was the topic of much debate at the time; Jackson signed an affidavit affirming his DC residency.  But now, Jackson is supporting an anti-marriage equality campaign in Maryland.  Will he be eligible to vote against marriage equality in Maryland?  At the Values Voter Summit this past weekend, Jackson bragged that he had ordained and pastored Derek McCoy, who directs the Maryland Marriage Alliance and asked VVS attendees for financial support. Jackson, in a workshop promoting his own campaign to use marriage as a wedge issue against Obama and other Democrats in seven swing states, caught himself when talking about the struggle over marriage in Maryland.  “I live in – have a church in that state,” he said. 

Sessions Suggests Gay Republican Welcome in House as Long as He Avoids ‘Personal Crusade’

Cross-posted at AlterNet

Pete Sessions heads the National Republican Congressional Committee and in that role his top goal is electing Republicans. To that end, Sessions has worked with Log Cabin Republicans – and was honored by the group with its Barry Goldwater Award in 2010 – in spite of his own strongly anti-gay voting record: during the past three sessions of Congress his rating on HRC’s scorecard has ranged from zero all the way to six percent and now sits at three percent.  Sessions has voted repeatedly for federal constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage, and against ENDA and repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

At a press event in Tampa this morning, Sessions was asked about Richard Tisei, an openly gay Republican congressional nominee in Massachusetts.  The questioner specifically asked how Tisei, who is pro-choice and pro-marriage equality, would fit in with the Republican caucus.
 
“I have a litmus test and that’s to be able to get elected,” said Sessions, who said he is in regular communication with Tisei and will be a strategic and tactical partner in his race.  Sessions did not talk about LGBT issues directly, but said it was his sense that Tisei is “not on any personal crusade” but “wants to become a professional member of Congress.” Tisei’s opponent, Rep. John Tierney, has been hurt by financial scandals involving his wife and other family members.
 
Indeed, there’s no “personal crusade” on behalf of LGBT equality evident on Tisei’s campaign website, whose issues page does not mention LGBT issues – it focuses on right-wing talking points on the economy, Medicare, education, and Israel.
 
Sessions’ attitude reflects a growing split between the Republican Party’s conservative evangelical base – which flexed its muscle in this year’s platform committee – and the growing support among Americans, including Republicans, for LGBT equality.  Politico reported in March that Republican congressional leaders have tried to dial back the caucus on marriage, while anti-gay activists continue to battle marriage equality around the country.
 
“I will proud to have him be a member of our conference,” said Sessions.   But if he does win, Tisei probably shouldn’t expect too much support from his colleagues for any “personal crusades” for equality.

Barber: Polygamy and Incest are 'Inevitable' if Gay Marriage is Legalized

On today's "Faith and Freedom" program, Matt Barber declared that gay activists don't actually want marriage equality but rather are interested in "deconstructing the Judeo-Christian notion of marriage as marriage has always been." 

In fact, Barber claimed, the institution of marriage has always been about restricting which sorts of relationships are legitimate, which is why "people can't marry children, people can't marry close relatives, people can't marry their favorite pet."  Barber then warned that if "we're going to break the institution of marriage and radically redefine it" then "polygamy is inevitable if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land and we can no longer have prohibitions on incestuous marriage":

FRC’s Sprigg: Gay Rights Movement Winning Through ‘Intimidation’ and ‘Emotional Blackmail’

On the Janet Mefferd Show yesterday, the Family Research Council’s Peter Sprigg shared his theory of how gay rights activists are winning the battle for public opinion: through “intimidation” and “emotional blackmail”:


Sprigg: There are people with big bucks who are trying to move the Republican Party in a more liberal direction on this issue. And while, you know, I think it will be a long time before – I don’t think it’ll ever happen that the Republican Party will endorse same-sex marriage – but what I fear more than that is some candidates in office and officeholders simply going silent on the issue.

Mefferd: Oh, that’s happening.

Sprigg: That is definitely happening and that’s where the big concern is, because if we are not willing to fight to defend marriage, then that increases the chances we will lose it.

Mefferd: Well, and that’s what’s so frustrating, especially for us as Christians, when we look at so many people who don’t have the spine to talk about it. ‘Well, let’s just work the issue back around to the economy, everybody wants to talk about the economy, I don’t want to talk about something controversial.’ Part of it, I think, is because they don’t want to be vilified, they don’t want to be called names, because that’s what the activist crowd does, they call you names, they insult you, they make your life pretty miserable. Look what they’re doing to Dan Cathy! Who does want to put up with that?

Sprigg: Right. That’s exactly right. It’s a form of intimidation that they’re using, a sort of emotional blackmail almost. And with some people it’s effective. They don’t want to pay that price.

Freedom for 'Phobes

It has been known for years that Chick-fil-A supports right-wing groups. The company has given out gift cards at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit. At a recent Religious Right gathering, a speaker talked about how wonderful it was to live and work in Atlanta, where, he said, there’s a Baptist church on every corner and the streets are paved with Chick-fil-A.

So I am no fan of Chick-fil-A, but I’m a big fan of freedom, and that includes Chick-fil-A’s freedom to open its restaurants, even in cities where progressive political leaders don’t like the reactionary politics promoted by the company and its owners.

There’s been a robust campaign by advocates for LGBT equality to call more attention to Chick-fil-A’s contributions to “traditional family” groups, which total in the millions of dollars. But the feathers really flew when company president Dan Cathy made comments in an interview with Baptist Press bragging about his company’s position on marriage – “guilty as charged” -- and his comments to an Atlanta radio station.

I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” said Cathy.

I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is all about,” he added.

It’s no surprise that Cathy’s comments have stirred supporters of LGBT equality to respond. Much of that response has been in the best traditions of free speech and protest. In Washington, D.C., this week, the Human Rights Campaign organized a protest in front of a Chick-Fil-A food truck. Other activists have rallied outside Chick-Fil-A stores and some students have protested the company’s presence on their campuses.

In addition, a number of political leaders have spoken out in defense of marriage equality and in opposition to the company’s support for discrimination. Twenty years ago, I would never have imagined elected officials taking the time to publicly criticize a business on behalf of the ability of same-sex couples to get married. It’s a good thing – a sign of amazing progress.

But a couple of politicians have gone too far – suggesting that the power of government should be used to prevent the company from opening restaurants based on its political donations and the positions of its owners. That’s not a good thing. As a matter of principle, the government shouldn’t treat individuals differently based on their political or religious beliefs, or companies based on the political activities and contributions of their owners.  As others have noted, we wouldn’t want cities or states to have the power to prevent the opening of stores whose owners support LGBT equality or other progressive causes. 

People For the American Way’s headquarters is located in the District of Columbia, where elected officials have recognized that LGBT people should be treated equally under the law. DC’s progressive public policies stand in stark contrast to the anti-equality work of groups like the Family Research Council, but we would never suggest that the DC government could or should have prevented FRC from planting its headquarters in the center of downtown DC. Our commitment to freedom and equality should extend to those who don’t share it.

PFAW Foundation

John Kirkwood on Gay Judges: 'We Were Better Off When the Mafia Ran Illinois'

Illinois pastor John Kirkwood joined Peter LaBarbara on Americans for Truth About Homosexuality Radio Hour last week to discuss a pending challenge to Illinois’ ban on same-sex marriage. The two were up in arms because the Cook County circuit court judge presiding over the case, Sophia Hall, is openly gay. Not only do they want Judge Hall to recuse herself from the case (the Right made a similar, unsuccessful demand of Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over the Prop 8 trial in California), but they take issue with the very existence of openly gay judges.

Kirkwood, perusing a newsletter article about a function honoring openly LGBT judges in Cook County compared the event to one honoring “the adulterous judges of Cook County” and mused, “We were better off when the Mafia ran Illinois because they were interested in making a profit, not making some kind of political statement that is totally abhorrent.”

LaBarbara: It’s just amazing, John. I mean, you know, Cook County is corrupt, but it’s hard to appreciate how corrupt it is if you’re outside of Illinois. And this is a county that, and we have a photo here of Judge Hall, she’s one of 14 openly homosexual judges in this county.

Kirkwood: Yeah, you know, it’s affectionately called “Crook County” now. And I can actually make the bold statement, and it might sound absurd as a pastor, but we were better off when the Mafia ran Illinois because they were interested in making a profit, not making some kind of political statement that is totally abhorrent.

….

Kirkwood: It just occurred to me how outrageous it would seem if the headline you read is, “Seek to Honor the Adulterous Judges of Cook County.”

LaBarbara: Right, right, well that goes to, John, that goes to you as a pastor and all of us. We’re believers and we regard homosexuality as a serious sexual sin. And so, yeah, just even the language: “gay judges.” I mean these are judges who are openly practicing immoral conduct, they’re proud of it, and even though they don’t think like that, that’s how many people regard homosexuality and that’s the problem.

Class Warfare from NOM’s Brian Brown

Conservatives of all stripes have indignantly cried “class warfare” in response to the Obama administration’s call for increased taxes on the richest Americans. They’ve denounced criticisms of Mitt Romney’s stealthy, wealthy approach to banking and taxes as anti-capitalist and un-American. They charge that liberals concerned about growing economic inequality are unfairly stoking resentment against successful people. Will the same conservatives now denounce a dangerously socialist-sounding fundraising email from the National Organization for Marriage and its president Brian Brown?
 
In an appeal of less than 700 words, with the subject line "If You Only Open One Email From Me This Month...Ma​ke It This One," Brown sounds the alarm about “gay marriage billionaires” (twice), “wealthy homosexual activists” (twice), “elite fat cats,” and the “gay lobby’s money.” The Human Rights Campaign is described, without being named, as “the largest and wealthiest radical homosexual lobby in Washington.”
 
Politics of envy, anyone?
 
Full text of the Brian Brown email below:

Fischer: Gay Biological Parents Should be Denied Custody and Only Allowed Supervised Visits

On his program yesterday, Bryan Fischer was discussing the study produced by professor Mark Regnerus purporting to show that children of same-sex parents fare worse than children of heterosexual parents and the news that the University of Texas would be conducting an investigation into his study, seeing the latter as proof that "the homosexual lobby is vicious, they are venomous, [and] they are filled with hatred."

During the discussion, Fischer cited the study as evidence that children in same-sex homes are at a higher risk for sexual molestation, prompting him to declare that any parent "who goes into the homosexual lifestyle after siring children" should be denied custody and only allowed to have supervised visits with their children:

AFA Promotes Barton's Christian-Persecution Bunk

The American Family Association describes itself as “a Christian organization promoting the biblical ethic of decency in American society with emphasis on moral issues that impact families.”  We know from AFA’s primary spokesperson Bryan Fischer that rank bigotry doesn’t seem to run afoul of AFA’s definition of decency.  So where does honesty figure in?

The July-August 2012 issue of the group’s magazine, AFA Journal, includes a two-page spread from David Barton, the “historian” whose lies and misrepresentations have earned him condemnation from actual scholars – including evangelical Christians. The article, “Evidence of executive enmity” supposedly summarizes the evidence that the “anti-biblical” President Obama “has an ax to grind with people of biblical faith.”  Barton complains about a range of Obama administration policies and recycles false and misleading claims that have been repeatedly debunked, as RWW’s Kyle Mantyla has noted repeatedly. Barton also claims that Obama demonstrated “preferential deference for Islam’s activities and positions.”

Among Barton's Christian-persecution claims is that retired Lt. Gen. William Jerry Boykin was disinvited from speaking at West Point “because he is an outspoken Christian.”  (In reality Boykin was disinvited after many faculty and cadets – most of them Christian – opposed Boykin as an inappropriate speaker given his inflammatory statements describing US foreign policy as a spiritual war against Islam.)

Also featured in the AFA Journal is a quote from “Catholic sociologist” David R. Carlin, Jr, asserting in Crisis magazine that “[T]he drive for same sex marriage is not simply about same sex marriage or the moral legitimization of homosexual behavior; it is also about the de-legitimizing of Christian morality” and that “those who are pushing for the institution of same sex marriage are ipso facto pushing for the elimination of the Christian religion.”  But what about all those Christians who support marriage equality? Carlin dismisses them: "The trouble with 'liberal Christianity' is that it isn’t Christianity."

Obama is Not a Christian Because 'the Bible is Very Clear About Homosexual Acts Being a Very Evil Thing'

All year, Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission has been releasing monthly videos laying out "irrefutable proofs that Barack Obama is NOT a Christian!"

Today the CADC released its latest video focusing on Obama's support for gay rights, claiming that he has "recently come out of the closet" in support of marriage equality and thus "has revealed his true anti-Christian colors." 

But Cass is particularly upset by the way Obama "invokes Christ to try and justify his anti-Christ position" because "the Bible is very clear about homosexual acts being a very evil thing":

Garlow: 'If Necessary, Here we Die' in Fighting Gay Marriage

Last month, the Family Research Council hosted its annual "Watchmen on the Wall" conference in Washington DC and, in conjunction, organized a press conference where event speakers would gather to announce their support for the Defense of Marriage Act.

Among the speakers at the press conference was Jim Garlow, who took President Obama to task for saying that his Christian faith played a role in his support for marriage equality.  Declaring that anyone can call themselves a Christian but still be ill-informed, biblically illiterate, and even an apostate, Garlow offered Obama a lesson in "Basic 101 of Christianity" to set him straight that marriage has always been, and always will be, a union between on man and one woman. 

Garlow then closed out his remarks by likening those opposing marriage equality today to Revolutionary War pastors who fought the British because, just like them, these Religious Right activists are are willing declare "if necessary, here we die!": 

Allen West's "American Way'

Congressman Allen West (R-FL) is out with a new ad this week. Set to soaring, dramatic music, the Congressman tells the story of his upbringing and how describes how his father gave him the opportunity live the American Dream. He runs through typical Republican talking points calling for tax cuts and slashing services, and laments the failings of Washington. It’s standard campaign-ad fare, and he concludes by stating “I’m just getting started; that’s the American Way.”

However, West’s record suggests that his notion of the “American Way” is rather at odds with the Constitution’s promise of freedom and equality for all.

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of religion for all Americans, and Article VI of the Constitution states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” But West thinks that Representative Keith Ellison (D-MI), a practicing Muslim, represents the "antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established." He also harbors some vehemently anti-Islamic ideas.

America is a country that values free speech and open debate. Yet West has a habit of resorting to calling his colleagues who disagree with him Communists. Liberals, he said, can just “Get the hell out of the United States of America.” 

Freedom of the press doesn’t seem to be high on his list either. He once called for censoring American news agencies for publishing information about the government’s activities.

West believes America is a land of opportunity – something to which he owes his own success – but “equality” and “fairness” somehow fly in the face of liberty. Marriage equality, he says, is not only un-American but will destroy society as we know it.

Congressman West may have produced a slick ad, but the agenda he pushes in Congress would increase inequality, harm working families, destroy core constitutional liberties and cripple Americans’ ability to address pressing problems through government. That’s not the American Way.

PFAW

Prop 8 Appeal Sent to the Supreme Court

This afternoon, the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal of the Prop 8 case.  In February, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit struck down Prop 8, finding California's revocation of the right of same-sex couples to marry same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional. The 9th Circuit's decision means that either the Supreme Court will take up the case or the 9th Circuit’s decision striking down the law will stand.

The appeals court ruling is on narrow grounds unique to California, where same-sex couples were left with all the state rights of marriage but not the name. It found that taking away gay and lesbian couples’ designation of “marriage” while leaving their rights unchanged did not serve any of the purposes put forth by its defenders. Instead, its only purpose and effect was to lessen a targeted group’s status and dignity by reclassifying their relationship and families as inferior. The Court did not address the larger question of whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry. While the Supreme Court will be presented with the narrower question as framed by the Ninth Circuit, it is impossible to tell, if it agrees to hear the case at all, whether they will rule on this principle or more broadly on the ability of states to deny lesbians and gays the right to marry.

PFAW Foundation

Perkins: Americans Will Never Accept Gay Marriage Because it 'Violates Reason and Natural Law'

Recently, Tony Perkins and Harry Jackson sat down for a half-hour interview with CBN's David Brody to discuss President Obama's support for marriage equality and what it will mean for the 2012 election.

Brody has posted the entire interview on his blog, in which Perkins compared the issue of gay marriage to the issue of abortion, declaring that Americans will never accept the legitimacy of gay marriage, regardless of what the courts rule, because "same-sex marriage violates reason and natural law" and warning that any Supreme Court ruling upholding the legality of gay marriage will "create great unrest in this society": 

For his part, Jackson saw the President's statement as an opportunity to create a new "Black-Brown coalition" among African Americans and Hispanics rooted in opposition to the Democratic Party's growing support for gay rights and fueled by resentment against gay activists who are trying to push minorities to the back of the line. 

Jackson said comparisons between the push for gay rights and the struggle for civil rights are nonsense because systematic discrimination and violence against the gay community "never happened" and warned that if African Americans and Hispanics don't escape the "Democratic Party plantation," then "America's best days are over": 

No Reason for DOMA, Says Appeals Court

 A federal appeals court in Boston today upheld a lower court ruling that called the key section of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” unconstitutional. Section 3 of DOMA bans the federal government from recognizing legal marriages between people of the same sex, meaning that it willfully discriminates against a set of married people when it comes to Social Security benefits, joint-filing tax breaks, military spousal benefits and immigration. When DOMA was passed in 1996 no states allowed gay and lesbian couple to marry – its provisions were purely theoretical. Today, marriage equality exists in six states and the District of Columbia, and DOMA actively harms thousands of married Americans – 100,000 couples, according to the court.

In its decision concluding that DOMA violates the Constitution, the unanimous First Circuit panel – two out of three of whom were nominated by Republican presidents – was cautious. The panel said that under First Circuit precedent DOMA doesn’t trigger “heightened scrutiny” – a tougher standard for the federal government to meet. It also declined to address any arguments based on the premise that lesbians and gays have a constitutional right to marry (as opposed to having their existing marriages recognized by the federal government).

But the court was clear that Section 3 of DOMA does not meet the “rational basis” test for upholding a federal law that denies equal protection to a group long subject to discrimination – in other words, there’s just no good reason for DOMA to do the harm that it does.

The court looked at several justificiations offered for the law by DOMA’s supporters and found that each comes up short. Supporters say DOMA will save the federal government money (reports say that it actually costs the government money…and saving money isn’t a good enough reason for legal discrimination in the first place); that allowing lesbians and gays to marry harms children (it doesn’t, and Section 3 of DOMA doesn’t affect these couples’ rights to raise children anyway); and just plain moral disapproval (Supreme Court precedent says this isn’t enough of a reason). And finally, the court takes on the constant argument of opponents of same-sex marriage: that somehow gay couples getting married will harm the institution of marriage for everyone else:

Although the House Report is filled with encomia to heterosexual marriage, DOMA does not increase benefits to opposite-sex couples--whose marriages may in any event be childless, unstable or both--or explain how denying benefits to same-sex couples will reinforce heterosexual marriage. Certainly, the denial will not affect the gender choices of those seeking marriage. This is not merely a matter of poor fit of remedy to perceived problem, but a lack of any demonstrated connection between DOMA's treatment of same-sex couples and its asserted goal of strengthening the bonds and benefits to society of heterosexual marriage.

This is the crux of any number of court decisions that have struck down barriers to marriage equality. The main reason given for many laws that seek to deny marriage rights to gays and lesbians is that same-sex marriage will somehow weaken marriage for everybody else. It’s a claim that just doesn’t hold water.

The First Circuit panel did, however, go out of its way to defend DOMA’s supporters even while rejecting the law.

The District Court judge whose ruling the appeals court upheld declared that DOMA was motivated by “irrational prejudice” toward gays and lesbians. The First Circuit explicitly refuses to go there, instead stating that while that may have been true for some supporters, others were motivated instead by what it characterizes as the non-biased wish to “preserve the heritage of marriage as traditionally defined over centuries of Western civilization.” Under recent Supreme Court precedent, they write, the wish to uphold tradition isn’t a good enough one for denying equal protection. But the Supreme Court can change that if it wants:

In reaching our judgment, we do not rely upon the charge that DOMA's hidden but dominant purpose was hostility to homosexuality. The many legislators who supported DOMA acted from a variety of motives, one central and expressed aim being to preserve the heritage of marriage as traditionally defined over centuries of Western civilization. Preserving this institution is not the same as "mere moral disapproval of an excluded group," and that is singularly so in this case given the range of bipartisan support for the statute.

The opponents of section 3 point to selected comments from a few individual legislators; but the motives of a small group cannot taint a statute supported by large majorities in both Houses and signed by President Clinton. Traditions are the glue that holds society together, and many of our own traditions rest largely on belief and familiarity--not on benefits firmly provable in court. The desire to retain them is strong and can be honestly held. For 150 years, this desire to maintain tradition would alone have been justification enough for almost any statute. This judicial deference has a distinguished lineage, including such figures as Justice Holmes, the second Justice Harlan, and Judges Learned Hand and Henry Friendly. But Supreme Court decisions in the last fifty years call for closer scrutiny of government action touching upon minority group interests and of federal action in areas of traditional state concern.

Recognizing that the Supreme Court will likely review its reasoning, the court stayed the decision, so it will not go into effect yet.

PFAW Foundation

PFAW Foundation Applauds First Circuit DOMA Ruling

A unanimous three-judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a lower-court ruling which held that Section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The panel included two Republican appointees.

Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation, issued the following statement:

“The First Circuit has reached the inevitable conclusion on DOMA: the arguments for such a discriminatory, hurtful law just don’t hold up. Over 16 years, DOMA has denied thousands of legally married Americans the protections and responsibilities granted to all other married couples under federal law. DOMA prevents married couples from providing for each other through Social Security; sponsoring each other for visas; helping each other with the tax benefits reserved for married couples; and prevents some service members and veterans from having their marriages recognized by the military. DOMA marginalizes a group of Americans, declares them inferior, and denies them rights granted to all others.

“ DOMA has caused real harm to Americans. A law that discriminates against a class of people just for the sake of discrimination is contrary to our principles and contrary to our laws.”

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Samuel Rodriguez: Marriage Equality an Assault on Religious Freedom

Samuel Rodriguez, the Hispanic Evangelical leader who is treated as a bridge-builder by some centrist Christians and the Obama White House in spite of his close alliances with the fringes of the Religious Right, has launched a fasting campaign against marriage equality.  Rodriguez, who serves on the White House Task Force on Fatherhood, has expressed “deep disappointment” regarding Obama’s recent embrace of marriage equality.

Rodriguez joined the Southern Baptists’ Richard Land on Land’s May 19 radio show to denounce marriage equality as a threat to religious liberty and to call on churches to be more aggressive in opposing it.  Rodriguez, who tells evangelicals that they should welcome Hispanic immigrants because God has sent them to redeem Christianity in America, insists that a multi-ethnic religious awakening is necessary to defend “Biblical marriage” in America.

Land and Rodriguez both portrayed the advance of gay rights as a threat to religious liberty, with Land claiming, “There is an attempt in our society to basically make it illegal to condemn homosexuality in our churches – it’s called hate speech.”  Rodriguez said the promotion of marriage equality is “an attempt to silence the church of Jesus Christ.”

Excerpts from the interview:

This egregious attempt to redefine an institution that God formed is not only a violation of everything that we understand to be appropriate but it is an incredible incursion into religious liberty and religious expression. So I believe that we need a multi-ethnic kingdom-culture firewall to push back. White evangelicals alone will not be able to defend marriage in America.

...

This is not an issue of equality.  There is an attempt to silence the voice of Christianity, there is an attempt to silence the voice of truth, of righteousness and Biblical justice. So really the church needs to wake up and say, 'Not on our watch.’  We must stand up for Biblical truth. We must vote vertical.  We must look at our legislators and those that represent us on Capitol Hill and say, ‘religious liberty, the family, biblical marriage and life, must stand protected.’

...

I do believe that the power of the pulpit in addressing truth and righteousness is critical.  We can’t sacrifice Biblical truth because at times it becomes confrontational. Listen, Jesus Christ had very strong confrontational moments. This idea that this is a patsy sort of Christianity. That’s not the Christianity that we follow and adhere to. Sometimes, truth hurts.

Random Book Blogging: The Book of Genesis and the Biblical Definition of Marriage

Last week, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis spoke at the Family Research Council's "Watchmen on the Wall" conference where he warned that the failure to embrace a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis is undermining "the doctrine of marriage" and leading to things like gay marriage.

As luck would have it, just last week I bought a copy of "The One Year Chronological Bible" and had begun reading through it in conjunction with my copy of The ESV Study Bible.  Ham's assertion that a literal interpretation was required in order to understand the true nature of biblical marriage was in the forefront of my mind as I began working my way through Genesis, especially once I realized how much polygamy and incest the book contained.

In fact, outside of Adam and Eve, and Noah and his wife, just about every major patriarch engaged in either polygamy or some form of incest, and often both.

According to Genesis 16, Abraham slept with and married his wife's Sarah's slave because Sarah was was unable to bear children. On top of that, according to Genesis 20, Sarah was also Abraham's half-sister and he later took at least one more wife.

Abraham's son Issac was married to Rebekah, who, according to Genesis 24, was the daughter of the son of Abraham’s brother, which would make Rebekah the daughter of Issac's cousin, or Issac's first cousin, once removed.

Rebekah then gave birth to Esau and Jacob.  According to Genesis 26, Esau married two Hittite women and then later took a third wife while Jacob married the daughters of his mother's brother, his first cousins, named Leah and Rachel.  Rachel was unable to bear children and so gave Jacob her servant to sleep with and take as a wife, to which Leah responded by likewise giving Jacob her servant for a wife.

In addition to these arrangements, Genesis 38 tells the story of Judah sleeping with and impregnating his daughter-in-law while Genesis 19 tells the story of God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah where only Lot and his two daughters were saved ... after which Lot's daughters got their father drunk and slept with him and became pregnant.

One of the arguments we hear most often from the Religious Right is that changing "the biblical definition of marriage" by allowing gay marriage will lead to things like polygamy and incest ... which is odd considering that, according to the Book of Genesis, polygamy and incest were predominant forms of marriage.

Barber: 'President Obama has Called Jesus a Liar'

It has come as no surprise that the Religious Right has been up in arms over President Obama's recent announcement in support of marriage equality, but what seems to have really upset them was his citation of the Bible's "do unto others" teaching in explaining his views.

Today, on Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Matt Barber blasted Obama for daring to cite the Golden Rule in support of gay marriage, saying that in doing so "President Obama has called Jesus a liar" and engaged in heresy: 

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