Marriage Equality

Justice Scalia’s 7 Worst Anti-Gay Statements

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

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

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

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

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court’s announcement this afternoon that it will hear Windsor v. U.S., a case challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case challenging California’s Proposition 8:
 


“As we saw with last month’s state ballot measures affirming marriage equality, more and more Americans are coming to understand that laws preventing same-sex couples from getting married do real harm to our families, friends, and neighbors.  There’s also absolutely no legitimate reason for the federal government to recognize some legally married couples while refusing to recognize others. Laws like Proposition 8 and DOMA go against the central American ideal of equal justice under the law,” said Keegan. “We applauded the earlier court decisions that found both Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional. There’s no question that the Constitution’s guarantee of equal justice under law applies to all people—gay or straight. The cases the court agreed to hear today are a landmark opportunity for our country to move towards making marriage equality the law of the land once and for all.”
 
“It is time to for the Supreme Court to weigh in on the side of equality and send a powerful message: our country will no longer selectively discriminate against loving, committed couples.”


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Harvey: 'Homosexual Marriage is Wrong Because Homosexuality is Wrong'

Today on her daily radio commentary, Linda Harvey sought to understand and explain why marriage equality won at the polls for the first time in last month's election, and the best she could come up with was that gay rights activists are skilled at misleading people while anti-gay activists just haven't been blunt enough about the threat that homosexuality poses to our society through encouraging kids to become gay ... or something:

The homosexual lobby is skillful at manipulating public sympathy by tugging on heartstrings while not telling the whole story. Our side sometimes plays right into their hands by also not telling the whole story, even when we get the chance.

...

Until we deal with the core issue - the behavior of homosexuality - it was probably only a matter of time before our side would lose a few races. We need to get to the real problem. Homosexual marriage is wrong because two men together or two women is intrinsically disordered, the behavior is unnatural. These aren't activities that are beneficial or healthy. Homosexual marriage is wrong because homosexuality is wrong.

There's significant dangers to our youth in this. One thing our culture does not want if it wants to survive is to have its youth corrupted and this is happening in oh so many ways now, and homosexuality is one more.  And here's how it works with homosexuality: since no pregnancy threat exists, some people think there's no reason to prohibit behavior in the young, even the very young. Those who acknowledge no authority from God, who find innocence threatening, are targeting our youth with these messages for some reason.

When are we conservatives going to get serious about making a case to prevent the corruption of kids? And that's one of the big reasons why homosexual marriage is wrong: because the young are raised on the mores and traditions of the adults and if same-sex marriage is accepted, then children will begin to consider dating and forming relationship in these very different ways; ways that will be very destabilizing to many of them and to our society.

Barton Says Marriage Equality Election Wins Were 'Rhetorical Victory,' Falsely Claims it Lost in Minnesota

On Friday's "WallBuilders Live" radio program, David Barton and Rick Green hosted another "good news Friday" broadcast during which they traditionally discuss "good news from around the country that the media doesn't report!"

During the broadcast, Barton commented on the various marriage victories during the recent election, seeing "good news" in the fact that, despite the wins, polls show that most Americans still do not support marriage equality ... which is a claim that should probably be taken with a grain of salt seeing as it came from Barton who repeatedly and falsely claimed that marriage equality only won in three out of the four states where it was on the ballot, asserting that "traditional marriage" was victorious in Minnesota:

There is some good news. There are some storm clouds, we saw storm clouds election night. You look at the marriage amendments; three of the four marriage issues went down. In Minnesota, it almost went down, it was like a 50-50 prop; it should not have been that close that marriage is a man and a woman, but going down in Maine, and going down in Washington, and going down in Maryland but preserving barely in Minnesota.

While we did lose three of the four states and almost lost the fourth state, nationally the support is still high. A poll done on election day found that sixty percent of Americans strongly support marriage as a man and a woman.

It's a rhetorical victory for same-sex marriage proponents because they say "hey, we won three out of the last four states that voted on this." Yeah, with about 50.5% support, you know, barely.

There's no compelling victory here, but nonetheless it's regrettable we lost those three states but at the same time you still have nearly two to one support for traditional marriage in America.

Does Barton really not know that the amendment to ban gay marriage in Minnesota lost? Maybe he ought to visit the Minnesota for Marriage website, which led the fight to pass the amendment:

As we shared with you following the election last week, and as you’ve probably heard ad nauseum from the media since then, despite our best efforts, a majority of Minnesota voters rejected the proposal to secure the definition of marriage in our state constitution.

...

After looking at the results here and in other states, it is clear that we were swimming against a powerful tide that swept the entire nation. Our opponents raised vastly more resources from gay marriage activists across the country who were determined to make this the year their unbroken losing streak would end. They enjoyed the support of the elite in politics, the media and entertainment. And, perhaps worst of all was that many evangelicals, including some prominent pastors and faith leaders, either refused to support the amendment or just remained silent.

Obviously we are very disappointed in the outcome, but we have no regrets in making the effort. Marriage as the union of one man and one woman has served Minnesota well. As our opponents frequently pointed out, marriage remains the union of a man and a woman even after last week’s vote.

Barber: Gay Marriage is a Weapon Designed to Destroy Religious Liberty

On Liberty Counsel's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Mat Staver and Matt Barber discussed a lawsuit filed by a lesbian couple against the owners of Liberty Ridge Farms in upstate New York after they refused to allow the couple to hold their wedding on the grounds, citing religious objections. 

For Barber, this was proof that the push for marriage equality is not actually about marriage or equality, but simply nothing more than "a political and legal calculus that is being used as a weapon to destroy religious liberty": 

Election Is Mandate for Policies Grounded in Progressive American Values

The American people have made their choice -- a resounding victory for President Obama and Vice President Biden and a mandate for their policy agenda.
PFAW

If Only NOM Had Used its 'Devastating' Playbook on Election Day

Election Day was a disaster for the National Organization for Marriage: it lost in all four states in which marriage equality was on the ballot in some way; it failed to take out another Iowa Supreme Court justice who had ruled in favor of equality; and it failed in its mission to defeat Barack Obama.

NOM’s answer to all the above is a new book that Brian Brown calls “the strongest pro-marriage argument ever written.”  Brown says the book What is Marriage? “demolishes the usual objections to our cause.”
 
Brown says it’s “Providential” that the book will be released in just a few weeks.  But if the book is as “devastating” to marriage equality arguments as Brown claims, wouldn’t it have been more “Providential” to have it come out before, not after, NOM lost four statewide campaigns in which it was presumably making all the same arguments? Look for deep discounts on What is Marriage?

PFAW: Marriage Equality Victories a Watershed Moment for LGBT Americans

Washington, DC -- Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, released the following statement in response to victories of marriage equality ballot measures in Maine and Maryland, the lead for a marriage equality measure in Washington, and the defeat of a discriminatory marriage amendment in Minnesota:

"Yesterday was a great day for progressive values, and none more than the American value of equality under the law. For the first time in our history, voters accepted marriage equality at the polls, with marriage equality measures passing in two states and poised to pass in another. In a landmark victory, voters also rejected a discriminatory marriage amendment. And, for the first time in our history an openly gay American won a seat in the U.S. Senate. This is not a fluke, it is a watershed.

"Eight years ago, George W. Bush and Karl Rove hitched their reelection effort to anti-gay animus, pushing discriminatory ballot measures in 11 states in an effort to boost their own campaign. Yesterday, Americans decisively reelected the first president to publicly support marriage equality and turned out to the polls to support their LGBT neighbors.

"These votes are victories for families in Maine, Maryland and Washington who will now have access to many of the protections of marriage. But they are also victories for all Americans, who step by step are building a country where all our neighbors are treated with decency and respect. We have a lot of work left to do, but this much is clear: the politics of exclusion and discrimination is no longer a winning formula."

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Endorsements Cite Supreme Court

Overwhelming majority of endorsements cite the Supreme Court as an enormous contributing factor to keeping President Obama in office.
PFAW

PFAW’s African American Ministers In Action Equality Task Force Supports Marriage Equality Ballot Measures

This week the Equal Justice Task Force of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers In Action released a statement in support of the marriage equality ballot measures in Maryland, Maine, and Washington and opposing a discriminatory marriage amendment in Minnesota.

“At this moment in history, it is important that we stand on the side of faith, compassion, and equality instead of on the side of discrimination and oppression,” said Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Religious Affairs at People For the American Way. “We’ve seen again and again that when laws prevent gay and lesbian couples from getting the protections that only marriage can provide, all families are harmed and all communities suffer. As an African American and a woman I am frightened when one group attempts to limit or restrict the rights of others. We urge voters in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington to reject discrimination and vote to strengthen and affirm all families.”

 

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Michael Keegan: Log Cabin Republicans Kidding Themselves About a Romney Supreme Court

People For the American Way President Michael Keegan responds to the Log Cabin Republicans’ endorsement of Mitt Romney:

I’m not surprised that the Log Cabin Republicans have gone against the best interests of LGBT Americans in endorsing Mitt Romney. Responding to their rationalization would normally not be worth the time, but one of their attempts at self-justification deserves a response. Log Cabin claims, ‘Those who point fearfully to potential vacancies on the United States Supreme Court, we offer a reminder: five of the eight federal court rulings against DOMA were written by Republican-appointed judges. Mitt Romney is not Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan is not Michele Bachmann.’

The Log Cabin Republicans have willfully ignored everything Mitt Romney has said about the Supreme Court.

Romney has said that he will appoint Supreme Court justices and lower court judges in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who are both adamantly opposed to protecting the rights of gay people under the Constitution. Both dissented in Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling that ended criminal sodomy laws. In his dissent, Scalia accused the Court’s majority of signing on to the ‘homosexual agenda.’ These are the kind of Justices that Mitt Romney has promised to nominate to the Supreme Court.

We can also look to Romney’s choice of Robert Bork to lead his judicial advisory committee, a clear signal that he’s ready to cede judicial nominations to the Religious Right. Bork has vehemently disagreed with every pro-gay rights decision the Supreme Court has ever made, and even claims that marriage equality will lead to ‘man-boy associations’ and ‘polygamy.’ This is who Romney has picked to advise him on judicial nominations.

Romney doesn’t just support amending the Constitution to prohibit marriage equality – an amendment that every justice would be obliged to enforce. Everything Romney has said about judicial nominations indicates that he will appoint Supreme Court justices and lower court judges who will do lasting damage to the rights of all Americans – including LGBT people. No LGBT American or anyone who believes in equality should be fooled into thinking otherwise.

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Another Federal Court Strikes Down DOMA

A conservative George H. W. Bush nominee on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals authored a strong decision today declaring section 3 of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Earlier this year, a federal district court judge in Connecticut, that one a Bush-43 nominee, also declared the law unconstitutional. So did a unanimous panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

The case before the 2nd Circuit was that of Edith Windsor, an octogenarian in New York who lost her wife in 2009; they had been together for forty years. The New York Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Windsor, described her case in a press release this summer:

Windsor and Spyer lived together for more than four decades in Greenwich Village. Despite not being able to marry legally, they were engaged in 1967. In 1977, Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Windsor helped her through her long battle with that disease. They were finally legally married in May 2007.

When Spyer died in 2009, she left all of her property to Windsor. Because they were married, Spyer's estate normally would have passed to Edie as her spouse without any estate tax at all. But because of DOMA, Windsor had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes. Payment of the federal estate tax by a surviving spouse is one of the most significant adverse impacts of DOMA since the amount owed, as was true in this case, is often quite substantial.

"Edie Windsor, who recently celebrated her 83rd birthday, suffers from a serious heart condition," said Roberta Kaplan, a partner at Paul Weiss and counsel to Windsor. "Because the District Court's ruling in her favor is entitled to an automatic stay of enforcement, Edie cannot yet receive a refund of the unconstitutional estate tax that she was forced to pay simply for being gay. The constitutional injury inflicted on Edie should be remedied within her lifetime."

The 2nd Circuit opinion leaves no ambiguity as to the discriminatory harm done by section 3 of DOMA. Ian Millhiser at Think Progress pulls out this paragraph of the decision:

[W]e conclude that review of Section 3 of DOMA requires heightened scrutiny. The Supreme Court uses certain factors to decide whether a new classification qualifies as a quasi-suspect class. They include: A) whether the class has been historically “subjected to discrimination,”; B) whether the class has a defining characteristic that “frequently bears [a] relation to ability to perform or contribute to society,” C) whether the class exhibits “obvious, immutable, or distinguishing characteristics that define them as a discrete group;” and D) whether the class is “a minority or politically powerless.” Immutability and lack of political power are not strictly necessary factors to identify a suspect class. Nevertheless, immutability and political power are indicative, and we consider them here. In this case, all four factors justify heightened scrutiny: A) homosexuals as a group have historically endured persecution and discrimination; B) homosexuality has no relation to aptitude or ability to contribute to society; C) homosexuals are a discernible group with non-obvious distinguishing characteristics, especially in the subset of those who enter same-sex marriages; and D) the class remains a politically weakened minority.

That’s an unambiguous indictment of DOMA and of all laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians. Nevertheless, House Speaker John Boehner, who has now spent $1.5 million taxpayer dollars in an attempt to defend DOMA, is likely to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. But the easier option, as PFAW president Michael Keegan points out in a statement today, would be for Congress just to repeal DOMA. It’s done enough harm to millions of people like Edie Windsor, and its effects will become clearer as more and more gay and lesbian couples are allowed to marry, and find that their marriages aren’t recognized by the federal government.

PFAW

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.

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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.

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