Marriage Equality

Barber: We'll Never Recognize Gay Marriage And Will Be Persecuted For It

On yesterday's "Faith and Freedom" radio program, Mat Staver and Matt Barber urged activists to sign on to the statement released several weeks ago by dozens of anti-gay activists who vowed never to accept any Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality.

And now that the Supreme Court has done just that, the strength of this vow will be tested, but Barber insisted that "we will not cross this line."

"Come what may," Barber proclaimed, "come the persecution, come the penalties, come what may, the full weight of government, we will not pretend that a man can marry a man or a woman can marry a women under any circumstances, in any context whatsoever."

Barber insisted that "the persecution is already starting to happen" and now "the court has opened the floodgates for persecution to occur," so anti-gay activists must be willing to rise up in resistance because "the line in the sand is drawn":

Staver: With DOMA Ruling, 'We're Crossing Into The Realm Of Revolution'

Last year, Mat Staver warned that if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, it could lead to a civil war. And now that the Court has done that by striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Staver is once again issuing that same warning. 

Saying that the DOMA decision is actually worse than Roe v. Wade because that decision never forced anyone to get an abortion whereas now Christians are being forced to capitulate and accept gay marriage as legitimate under fear of persecution, Staver claimed that the nation is "crossing into the realm of rebellion, we're crossing into the realm of revolution" just like the nation faced heading into the American Revolution:

Klingenschmitt: Justice Kennedy's DOMA Decision Is 'Blasphemy'

"Dr. Chaps" Gordon Klingenschmitt is predictably dismayed by the Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, striking down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, declaring that in striking down the legislation, the Court majority has ruled that Christians are evil.

Asserting that Jesus was inside the hearts of those in Congress who passed DOMA (and the Holy Spirit was inside President Bill Clinton when he signed it,) Klingenschmitt said that with this ruling, Kennedy looked into the hearts of those responsible for this law and declared that they had "an evil motive." 

"He's looking at Jesus in us and calling him evil," Klingenschmitt fumed. "He's looking at the Holy Spirit in us and calling it a demon.  Justice Kennedy, you are full of blasphemy":

Crouse: Gay Marriage Is Ruining America Because Only Straight Married Families Volunteer in Hospitals

Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse visited Eagle Forum Live on Saturday, where she spoke with Phyllis Schlafly about the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The two were not optimistic for the future of the country after the DOMA decision. In fact, Crouse implied that same-sex marriage would undermine community volunteerism because “a man and a woman committed to each other for life” are “where we get our volunteers for hospitals, our volunteers for services to the homeless, our volunteers for all sorts of community outreaches, from the local scout troop to volunteering to visit the sick in individual churches.”

Schlafly: Tell us what you think about the real importance and the role that traditional marriage has played in our society and must play in our society if we’re going to continue to be a free country.

Crouse: Well, I think we’re all used to hearing the arguments that marriage is best for individuals, it’s best for women, it’s best for men, it’s best for children. And I have a whole book on how marriage has really, the demise of marriage has really hurt our children. But I think the thing that is really relevant right now is the fact that marriage is so good for communities, for nations. You cannot have a strong nation without strong marriages, it’s just as simple as that, because marriage is a husband and a wife working together.

A man and a woman committed to each other for life and committed to their children are the backbone of communities. That’s where we get our volunteers for hospitals, our volunteers for services to the homeless, our volunteers for all sorts of community outreaches, from the local scout troop to volunteering to visit the sick in individual churches. Volunteers generally come from families, people who are invested in the community and have a long-term interest in that community’s strength. And the same thing holds for nations.

Later in the conversation, Schlafly lamented that public schools are teaching children “that there are all kinds of families and you have to be respectful of all kinds.” Crouse responded that “it’s even worse than that,” because “we cannot even look at magazines at the supermarket checkout counter without having in our face homosexual embraces and couples who are flaunting [sic] public opinion and flaunting public mores.”

“It’s, I think, very egregious that we have to live with these kinds of public demonstrations that are trying to desensitize our children,” she added.

Schlafly: Janice, I wish you’d particularly address the problem in the schools, because I’m concerned that what the children are going to be taught in schools and what they cannot be taught in the schools.

Crouse: Well, we’re already seeing so much bias against Christians in our schools. It’s appalling to me as the grandmother of seven children who are in public schools. I’m seeing the evidence in a variety of different schools, from elementary through high school, where children are not allowed to express their own personal views in the context of the school, as though they only have freedom of speech at home or in the confines of their church or local synagogue or temple, wherever they worship.

Schlafly: Well, Dr. Crouse, it’s even worse than that. In their courses, they’re teaching them that there are all kinds of families and you have to be respectful of all kinds, and don’t pay any attention to what your parents say.

Crouse: Exactly. And it’s even worse than that, when you have indoctrination as early as preschool and in elementary school, as early as first grade and kindergarten, where kids are reading books. And we cannot even look at magazines at the supermarket checkout counter without having in our face homosexual embraces and couples who are flaunting public opinion and flaunting public mores. It’s, I think, very egregious that we have to live with these kinds of public demonstrations that are trying to desensitize our children.

Crouse added that she was appalled that “too many” conservatives “are unwilling to die” for the anti-gay cause, and have instead become “complacent” and decided to “live and let live”:

Conservatives, far too many, are unwilling to die for it. They are too complacent, they are too laissez faire, they really do not understand the impact of what’s happening in this country, to the point that they are willing to take a stand and make a difference. Far too many people are saying, ‘Well, I live and let live. I’m not going to be judgmental. This is what I believe, but I’m not going to foist my beliefs off on other people,’ or, ‘I can’t go out there into the public square and say these kinds of things.’ I think we have to discover a courage, we have to be very brave, we have to be willing to say, ‘This is where I stand. These are the values that made this country great. These are the values that are important to me and to my family and to my family’s future and to the family of this country.’
 

Gay Legislator Blocked from Speaking in 'Rebellion Against God's Law'

Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims, an openly gay legislator, was blocked from speaking on the floor of the state House on Wednesday by a colleague who believed Sims’ plans to speak about the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage decision would be in "open rebellion against God’s law.”

According to WHYY, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe raised a procedural objection to stop Sims from speaking during a part of the House session in which legislators often give wide-ranging remarks.

"I did not believe that as a member of that body that I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law," said Metcalfe, R-Butler.

Metcalf is a far-right legislator who has sponsored a marriage amendment to the state’s Constitution and “birther” legislation, and called for overturning birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment in order to “bring an end to the illegal alien invasion.”

Sims, who said he appreciated the apologies and support he received from other Republican members of the House, has asked the legislature to reprimand Metcalfe for his comments. 

Perkins: SCOTUS Gave Gays Benefits Meant for 'Real Spouses'

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has already called the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act “absurd,” and warned that it presents “a clear and present danger to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion in our country” and pushes America further down the road to becoming Sodom and Gomorrah.

In a member email today, Perkins elaborates on his outrage, claiming that the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision means “the landscape has been fundamentally altered in a society where the rule of law is slowly unraveling.” In guaranteeing that legally married same-sex couples are treated as married by the federal government, Perkins writes, the Supreme Court requires the government to provide benefits to married gay couples that “until yesterday, were reserved for real spouses.”

And, of course, Perkins added that we are on our way to legalized polygamy, which he claims is a part of the liberal “agenda.”

That said, the landscape has been fundamentally altered in a society where the rule of law is slowly unraveling. Twelve states can now force taxpayers to supply more than 1,100 benefits which, until yesterday, were reserved for real spouses. And both the court and rogue leaders like Jerry Brown have, in the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, "declared open season on any law that... can be characterized as mean-spirited." In a nation where our own President feels no obligation to defend the law, it's no wonder the Human Rights Campaign thinks it can impose same-sex "marriage" on every state in five years.

When the Left fell short of their goals yesterday, it gave our movement the most valuable commodity of all: time to persuade the country of the consequences. But it also meant that the waves of attack will keep coming -- stronger and more vicious than ever before. Emboldened by Justice Anthony Kennedy's sharp rebuke of our side, liberals aren't even bothering to hide the rest of their agenda. Polygamists popped the corked on a little champagne of their own after Wednesday's rulings, as they wait their turn for nationwide acceptance.

Jennifer Roback Morse: Hollywood to Blame for Gay Marriage Decisions

Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage knows who to blame for yesterday’s marriage equality victories in the Supreme Court: Hollywood. Roback Morse, the campaign spokesperson for Proposition 8 in California, discussed the marriage equality decisions on today’s Sandy Rios in the Morning. She blamed Hollywood for the Supreme Court’s decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA, saying that Hollywood is “dominated by all aspects of the sexual revolution.”

Morse also blamed television for American’s “distorted view” of how many gay people there are in the country. “They’re only about 2% of the population,” she claimed. “But if you watch TV all day, you’ll think it’s 30 or 40% of the population’s gay.”

Morse urged anti-gay activists “to go down fighting” and suggested that the freedom of speech is at stake: “You need to speak out while you still can because these guys are closing in on us in all kinds of dimensions.” According to Morse, gay rights advocates believe “the sexual revolution is the highest objective and will bend the rule of law and bend the Constitution” in order to realize their goals.

Dumping DOMA: The Next Step

PFAW is a strong supporter of the Respect for Marriage Coalition and applauds Representative Nadler, Senator Feinstein, and their 200 bipartisan cosponsors for taking swift action to dump DOMA.
PFAW

LaBarbera Reacts to DOMA Ruling: 'Craven' Kennedy 'Sold out Almighty God for a Place in the Gay Hall of Fame'

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality apparently had to spend quite some time stewing over the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, finally coming out today with a press release slamming the decision. The high court’s decision, LaBarbera writes, “continues America’s godless trajectory toward sexual and gender chaos” and helps to make us “a Profane Nation at war with our own heritage.”

He saves his special vitriol for Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the DOMA opinion, whom he predicts “will go down in history as one more craven elitist who sold out Almighty God for a place in the Gay Hall of Fame.”

Yesterday’s decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and effectively invalidating Californians’ vote to preserve marriage as between a man and a woman — continues America’s godless trajectory toward sexual and gender chaos.  We have become a Profane Nation at war with our own heritage and the Judeo-Christian moral values that helped make us great.

Healthy societies discriminate against sexually immoral behavior: homosexuality, sex outside marriage, pornography, incest, etc. This benefits children and adults by using the law to reinforce stable moral boundaries and steer citizens away from destructive (sinful) behaviors. So it was stunning to read the majority decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy – a Reagan appointee – overturning DOMA’s pro-natural-marriage provision in the name of the children.

Kennedy surely has earned his future laudatory obit in the New York Times for capitulating to “gay” activist ideology — but among clear-thinking Americans who still know right from wrong he will go down in history as one more craven elitist who sold out Almighty God for a place in the Gay Hall of Fame.

The Kennedy majority’s legal insanity is what emerges from an Isaiah 5:20 culture (evil is good and good evil) that puts deviant sexual identities on a pedestal, to be celebrated as protected “civil rights.” The LGBT Pandora’s Box has been flung open, and there will be much more folly and destruction to follow — including the public policy madness of establishing “gender identity” (read: extreme gender confusion) as a parallel “civil right.”

At least the Supreme Court did not create a national “right” to homosexual “marriage.” But we must be vigilant, as future LGBT litigation, coupled with the appalling self-righteousness of Kennedy’s liberal court majority, will combine to make this the next goal of the judicial supremacists.

LaBarbera also discussed the DOMA decision on VCY America’s Crosstalk yesterday. He attacked President Obama’s statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision, calling it an example of “radical egalitarianism,” and warned that marriage equality will now be “foisted” upon children which is “not good for their hearts and souls.”

The other thing that strikes me, Jim, is the radical egalitarianism of that statement. You know, this idea of homosexual love, homosexual unions are equal to marital unions, it’s not all equal. A marriage between a man and a woman produces children, it’s the very foundation of human civilization. And the idea that two men or two women is somehow ‘equal’ to that is a liberal falsehood. And I’m worried that it’s going to be foisted by necessity now upon children, especially in the states that have so-called homosexual marriage, they will be taught that same-sex so-called marriage is equal to the real thing, and that’s not good for their hearts and souls.
 

In 2016, Remember This Week at the Supreme Court

It's been a week of mixed emotions for those of us who care about civil rights. There was the elation today when the Supreme Court overturned the so-called Defense of Marriage Act -- the discriminatory law that has hurt so many Americans in its nearly 17 years of existence -- and let marriage equality return to California. There was the anger when the Court twisted the law to make it harder for workers and consumers to take on big corporations. And there was the disbelief and outrage when the Court declared that a key part of the Voting Rights Act that was so important and had worked so well was now somehow no longer constitutional.

But throughout the week, I have been reminded of one thing: how grateful I am that Mitt Romney will not be picking the next Supreme Court justice.

It remains true that this Supreme Court is one of the most right-leaning in American history. The majority's head-in-the-sand decision on the Voting Rights Act -- declaring that the VRA isn't needed anymore because it's working so well -- was a stark reminder of why we need to elect presidents who will nominate Supreme Court justices who understand both the text and history of the Constitution and the way it affects real people's lives.

We were reminded of this again today when all the conservative justices except for Anthony Kennedy stood behind the clearly unconstitutional DOMA. Justice Antonin Scalia -- no stranger to anti-gay rhetoric -- wrote an apoplectic rant of a dissent denying the Court's clear role in preserving equal protection. If there had been one more far-right justice on the court, Scalia's dissent could have been the majority opinion.

Just think of how different this week would have been if Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were not on the court and if John McCain had picked two justices instead. We almost certainly wouldn't have a strong affirmation of LGBT equality. Efforts to strip people of color of their voting rights would likely have stood with fewer justices in dissent. And the rights of workers and consumers could be in even greater peril.

As the Republican party moves further and further to the right, it is trying to take the courts with it. This week, we saw what that means in practice. As we move forward to urge Congress to fix the Voting Rights Act and reinforce protections for workers and consumers, and work to make sure that marriage equality is recognized in all states, we must always remember the courts. Elections have real consequences. These Supreme Court decisions had less to do with evolving legal theory than with who appointed the justices. Whether historically good or disastrous, all these decisions were decided by just one vote. In 2016, let's not forget what happened this week.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

PFAW

Supreme Court Dumps PART of DOMA

The Supreme Court today ruled that the core section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. DOMA’s Section 3, which the Court vacated, prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in the states, thereby hitting legally married gay and lesbian couples with extra taxes and depriving them of a slew of federal protections.

People For the American Way Foundation president Michael Keegan said of the Supreme Court’s ruling: “Today’s  DOMA ruling is a profound step forward for loving, committed same-sex couples across the country. The decision is premised on the plain fact that there is no good reason for the government to recognize some legally married couples while discriminating against others.”

PFAW launched a campaign to “Dump DOMA” in 2008. Since then, our petition calling on Congress to repeal the discriminatory law  has gathered 230,000 signatures.

But the effort to overturn DOMA is not over. While Section 3 was the law’s most damaging provision, DOMA’s Section 2, which says that states don’t have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, still stands. We will continue to work to overturn the remainder of DOMA and ensure that all gay and lesbian Americans have the right to marriage, no matter which state they make their home.

While our work continues, today’s decision represents a historic turning point for equality.  DOMA will no longer tear apart binational couples. It will no longer impose a “gay tax” on legally married same-sex couples. It will no longer deny benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees. It will no longer deny gay and lesbian veterans benefits for their spouses.

The story of Edith Windsor, the plaintiff who brought DOMA to the Supreme Court, and Thea Spyer, her late wife and partner of 40 years, illustrates what this decision will mean to so many Americans:
 

PFAW

DOMA Decision Slices Right Wing Talking Point on Referendums

Today's opinion shatters the ridiculous right-wing line that marriage equality laws are illegitimate without a referendum.
PFAW Foundation

PFAW Foundation Applauds Wins at Supreme Court

The Supreme Court's rulings in the marriage cases mark an important victory for all Americans who value the principle of equal justice under law.

Rep. John Fleming: Overturning DOMA Would Lead to Sham Marriages

On the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch last night, Rep. John Fleming (R.-LA) weighed in on the pending Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality. Fleming likened gay marriage to marriage between a U.S. citizen and a foreigner, claiming that federal recognition of gay marriage would cause straight people to enter into same-sex marriages for practical benefits. Same-sex marriages would then have to be questioned to determine if they were “done for convenience” or as the result of a bribe. Host Tony Perkins added that gay marriage would never be legitimate, because there is no way to “verify” the validity of the couple.

Fleming: But you know, it’s interesting. Humans can be very innovative sometimes and I can actually see where two people of the same sex, even who are not themselves homosexual in any way, could find a way to get married just for the purpose of sharing those benefits and only for practical reasons. So you can see the ramifications if the Supreme Court comes out and allows that.

Perkins: No question about it. And there’s no way to necessarily verify that. What you can then set up is a case where you discriminate against couples who are in some jurisdictions, because if they move their marriage is not recognized. And they could then be treated in a way that’s different than heterosexual couples that are cohabitating. It’s a mess once you go down this path.

Fleming: It is. It would be similar to marrying someone from a foreign country. Is it done for convenience? Did someone pay somebody to be married? I mean you can see how the whole institution of marriage could be demeaned. It could certainly be reduced in its importance and taken off the lofty place that we now hold marriage.

Fleming also said that fathers are being “marginalized” as a result of the decline of the traditional family. He stated that “fathers have a less and less important role in procreation now,” although the biology behind that last point was a little unclear.

Perkins: There’s really an alarming rate of fatherlessness in America. And we’re beginning to see the consequences of that as we’ve moved away from that normative definition of what marriage and family has been and should be.

Fleming: No question, Tony. The long term trend over the last three decades is to marginalize fathers. Fathers have a less and less important role in procreation now, in rearing children, in providing for families. Even in many cases, even when they’re actually in the marriage and they exist as a father, oftentimes being marginalized in their importance there. So it’s an alarming cultural direction.

Dozens of Anti-Gay Activists Vow to Resist Any SCOTUS Ruling In Favor of Marriage Equality

As the nation awaits the Supreme Court's rulings on two high-profile marriage equality cases, several dozen Religious Right activists have signed on to a "Marriage Solidarity Statement" that was drafted by Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver and Deacon Keith Fournier, vowing to resist any ruling in favor of equality.

This who's who of anti-gay activists has collectively declared that they "will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love" because "this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross":

As Christian citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love. The Sacred Scriptures and unbroken teaching of the Church confirm that marriage is between one man and one woman. We stand together in solidarity to defend marriage and the family and society founded upon them. The effort to redefine marriage threatens the proper mediating role of the Church in society.

Experience and history have shown us that if the government redefines marriage to grant a legal equivalency to same-sex couples, that same government will then enforce such an action with the police power of the State. This will bring about an inevitable collision with religious freedom and conscience rights. We cannot and will not allow this to occur on our watch. Religious freedom is the first freedom in the American experiment for good reason.

...

If the Supreme Court were to issue a decision that redefined marriage or provided a precedent on which to build an argument to redefine marriage, the Supreme Court will thereby undermine its legitimacy. The Court will significantly decrease its credibility and impair the role it has assumed for itself as a moral authority. It will be acting beyond its proper constitutional role and contrary to the Natural Moral Law which transcends religions, culture, and time.

As Christians united together in defense of marriage, we pray that this will not happen. But, make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the true common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.

Considering that Staver and others who signed this declaration have predicted that any ruling in favor of gay marriage will lead to civil war, one has to wonder just how these anti-gay activists intend to resist any such ruling.

Tea Party Senators Kick Off Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Conference

Four of the Tea Party’s favorite senators – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, and Marco Rubio of Florida – addressed the kick-off lunch for this year’s “Road to Majority” conference, which is sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Rand Paul made his case for a humbler foreign policy, suggesting that anti-abortion “pro-life” advocates should also think about the lives of 18- and 19-year old soldiers sent abroad before applauding a politician who talks with bravado about pre-emptive wars.  He said that even when American soldiers go to war with the best of intentions, the law of unintended consequences can be merciless.

Paul told activists that there is a worldwide “war on Christianity” that is being waged not only by “liberal elites” but also by American taxpayers through the country’s financial support of countries that persecute Christians. “American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East.”

Paul took the requisite political shot at Barack Obama, saying the "scandals" surrounding the administration were causing the president to lose his "moral authority" to lead the country.

Johnson said the root cause of the country’s problem was that too many Americans were either never taught or have forgotten the “foundational premise” of the country. The nation’s founders, he said, understood that while government is necessary, its growth is something to fear. “Far too many Americans,” he said, “are willingly trading their freedom and ours for the false sense, the false promise of economic security.”

Johnson said he would like Americans to take their disgust about the IRS, or Benghazi, or the NSA, and apply it in a broader way to the federal government.  He said people who talked about restoring trust in government have the wrong idea.  What we should do, he said, is foster a healthy distrust of the government.

Lee said conservatives had not focused too much on families, but too little.  He said conservatives have to have an agenda that includes “forgotten” families at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, policies that address the effect of stagnant wages, rising costs of housing, etc. He called for a new “conservative reform” agenda that didn’t seem all that new: tax cuts to encourage entrepreneurship, school choice, and welfare reform, as well as an end to “corporate welfare.” 

Lee said conservatives are opposed to big government because a small government encourages a healthy civil society. Conservatives, he said, aren’t about a “you’re on your own” philosophy, but rather a “we’re in this together” one. But in his take, “in this together” does not involve the government. Without an intrusive government, he said, communities and churches would take care of people. Remember, Lee is the guy who believes the welfare state is unconstitutional, along with restrictions on freedom such as child-labor laws.

Marco Rubio has taken some heat from some of his fellow conservatives recently for his advocacy of immigration reform.  Reed is on record supporting comprehensive reform, but talking points for the activists’ post-lunch lobbying on Capitol Hill reflect tensions within the movement.  While it talked about the biblical basis for a compassionate immigration policy, it also talked about the rule of law and a so-called “enforcement trigger.”  One of the talking points says, “Alongside our principles, we vehemently oppose amnesty and guaranteed paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.”

Rubio revisited his campaign theme of American exceptionalism.  He used a biblical passage from Matthew chapter 5 to encourage activists to keep bringing their faith into their political activism, especially, he said, at a time when people are told they should silence their faith.

Rubio expanded on the notion that Christians should be the “salt of the earth” and a light unto the world to take on the foreign policy portion of Rand Paul’s remarks, without naming Paul specifically. A call to retreat from the world, he said, is a call for America to hide its light, and there is no nation that can replace the U.S. and its example of freedom:

“Our light must shine so that others will look to us and give glory to our heavenly father.”

Rubio made a couple of references to protecting marriage, but none of the senators explicitly addressed the battle over marriage equality. Talking points for activists’ afternoon lobbying visits on Capitol Hill were clearer. “Public polling overstates the support for same-sex marriage,” claim the talking points “The American people have overwhelmingly supported traditional marriage in votes on state referenda and initiatives.”

Also on the lobbying agenda: asking representatives to support the House of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, which would allow churches and preachers to engage in explicit electoral politicking without consequences for their nonprofit tax status.

For LGBT Seniors Fighting DOMA is About Economic Survival

For the elderly, the fight against DOMA often isn’t only a question of receiving federal recognition for a marriage – it’s also a question of basic economic survival.
PFAW

American Family Association: Gay-Accepting Straights Inviting 'Devastation Wrought by God's Wrath'

In last month’s American Family Association magazine, Ed Vitagliano lamented that gay people might not want to be friends with Christians who are opposed to marriage equality. Vitagliano is probably not boosting his chances of making gay friends with his article in June’s AFA Journal, a two-page spread with “Sodom” plastered across the top.

The thrust of the article is that “embracing homosexuality is a sign of deep spiritual sickness” in a culture.  America, he writes, is on the verge of suppressing the truth about God’s plan and the duality of gender. “A downward death spiral results from such suppression,” he warns.

The homosexual movement has had such great success because Americans have become arrogantly self-indulgent and idolatrous. Straight America has embraced homosexuality because straight Americans first embraced the sexual revolution for the satisfaction of their own perverse sexual appetites.

Judgment came to Sodom because violent homosexuality was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. As a prevalent sin, however, it was the manifestation of an underlying wickedness that permeated the entire culture – a wickedness that was not limited to the homosexual.

Thus homosexuality often becomes the barometer of a culture rotting out from the inside. If the problem were only homosexuality, then the simple act of pushing it back into the closet  (if that were possible) would be enough to forestall judgment.

But what Ezekiel 16 teaches us is this: By the time a culture accepts idolatry, abortion and homosexuality, it is already ripe for the devastation wrought by God’s wrath.

Whether they live in a decidedly pagan culture or one, like America, that is an admixture, Christians are called to be salt and light.

Standing against the unrighteousness permeating our society might not be the easy thing to do, but it’s a whole lot easier than running from the fire and brimstone that inevitably follow.

Tony Perkins Knows What's Best for Gays – and the GOP

The latest fundraising pitch from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins blasts “the national Republicans” whom he says are “running away from the natural and biblical definition of marriage, flocking to the radical side in support of same-sex ‘marriage.’”

Perkins’ letter insists that allowing same-sex couples to get married is dangerous to religious liberties, to the next generation, and “dangerous to civilization itself.” Perhaps worst of all is that Obama’s “machine” would benefit from the GOP alienating its conservative base:

Sacrificing our values, and their distinctives as a Party, will send millions of voters packing. One terrible side effect: President Obama’s machine will be stronger than ever. Their radicalization of American public policy will intensify.

But be assured that Perkins “cares deeply” about gay people:

Please understand: this is no vendetta. We care deeply about those who engage in either heterosexual sex outside of marriage or homosexual behavior in any context. Both are immoral and unhealthy. We want what is truly best for them and for our nation.

What is truly best for them is a lifestyle of biblical morality. (emphasis in original)

Perkins calls for a “massive outpouring of outrage from principled conservatives” and urges supporters to sign a petition to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. And, of course, to send a check.

Blockbuster Decisions Coming Soon from the Supreme Court . . .Will Conservative Justices Twist the Constitution to Subvert Equal Protection?

MEMO

TO: Reporters and Editors
FROM: Jamie Raskin, Senior Fellow, People for the American Way Foundation
DATE:  May 24, 2013

RE: Blockbuster Decisions Coming Soon from the Supreme Court . . .Will Conservative Justices Twist the Constitution to Subvert Equal Protection?

The Roberts Court will soon release major decisions shaping the future of voting rights protection, affirmative action in university admissions, and the rights of marriage for gay and lesbian Americans. In each case, the promotion of equal rights under law in our society is opposed by a conservative agenda that seeks to enshrine inequality in the name of “federalism,” “color-blindness,” or “social tradition.” What is at stake in these cases is whether America continues its journey towards strong and inclusive multi-racial democracy or accepts conservative arguments that undermine constitutional and social progress.   

Congressional Protection of Voting Rights versus “Federalism Costs”:

The Voting Rights Act on the Chopping Block in Shelby County v. Holder

In Shelby County v. Holder, conservatives seek to dismantle the essential machinery of modern voting rights protection, which is the pre-clearance procedure for voting changes in covered jurisdictions. This procedure is contained in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the monumental statutory achievement of Congress in the last century. Chief Justice Roberts, in a near-miss decision on the same subject in 2009, has already expressed the sentiment of his conservative colleagues that the provision now “raises serious constitutional questions.” At oral argument in Shelby County, Justice Scalia offered his view that the Voting Rights Act has become nothing more than a “racial entitlement.” Despite broad bipartisan support in Congress for the Voting rights Act, including Section 5, the conservative legal movement is mobilized for its destruction.

Section 5 obligates covered states and jurisdictions to “pre-clear” changes affecting voting with the Department of Justice or the federal district courts in Washington. This procedure affects states and counties that were the worst offenders against voting rights and has been in place for nearly a half-century. Section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment clearly gives Congress the “power to enforce” voting rights “by appropriate legislation.” The Court has four times—in South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966), Georgia v. U.S. (1973), City of Rome v. U.S. (1980), and Lopez v. Monterey County (1999)—rejected invitations by states to declare Section 5 as outside of Congress’ powers under the 14th and 15th Amendments.  Thus, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and later Alaska (along with certain jurisdictions in California, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota) have had to prove that proposed changes in election laws do not disadvantage minority voters. While the Justice Departments and the courts routinely approve more than 99 percent of submitted plans, the VRA remains a critical stop against laws meant to disenfranchise racial minorities. Hundreds of state plans and thousands of proposed changes have been rejected under the law, preventing a backslide in the project of building a strong interracial democracy.

But the case against Section 5 today turns on neither constitutional precedent nor text nor the facts of political life on the ground, but rather on the talk-show fallacy that a nation which twice elects an African-American president simply cannot contain any states or counties where minority voters face actual barriers to participation. Backing up this non-sequitur intuition are constitutional myths: that Congress has to treat all states and counties the same and cannot distinguish among them based on their records of committing voting rights violations. and that the pre-clearance mechanism in the Voting Rights Act and its “coverage formula” impose far too high “federalism costs” on covered areas (i.e., it allegedly takes too much power from the states). All of these taking points are supposed to justify the Court’s substituting its judgment for that of Congress and to find that Section 5 is no longer a “congruent” or “proportional” remedy, under either the Fourteenth Amendment or the Fifteenth Amendment, for threats to voting rights.  But the lower courts in this case reviewed more than 15,000 pages of Congressional findings and testimony and were convinced of the continuing need for preclearance to deal with the disingenuous disenfranchising and diluting schemes in the covered areas, including voter photo ID laws, tightening restrictions on registration and at the polls, and racist gerrymanders.  

The arguments against Section 5 appeal to the racial fatigue of Supreme Court arch-conservatives, who are willing to give state legislatures, a majority of which are in conservative Republican hands today, the freedom to restrict voting rights. The pre-clearance procedures of Section 5 are the major obstacle to this goal because they mean that all of the traditional hijinks of Jim Crow politics must be submitted in advance to federal judges or DOJ civil rights lawyers for approval. Rather than placing the burden on African-Americans and other minority voters to find lawyers and make the case against repressive practices after they go into effect, the covered jurisdictions have to affirmatively show that their innovations are not discriminatory or “retrogressive” before the damage is done. As the Supreme Court put it approvingly in South Carolina v. Katzenbach, “After enduring nearly a century of systematic resistance to the Fifteenth Amendment,” Congress chose “to shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of the evil to its victims.”

The word “federalism” does not appear in the Constitution, nor does the opaque and mysterious phrase “federalism costs,” which has become the key mantra for the conservatives.  At least four Justices—and we’ll see about Justice Anthony Kennedy—appear poised to use these malleable concepts to override the clear enforcement powers that the Constitution explicitly assigns to Congress through Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment and Section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment. Thus, the Supreme Court is on the brink of usurping Congressional power plainly granted by the Constitution by thwarting Congressional decisions to enforce the equal rights of Americans to vote and participate in the political process. 

Racial Integration, Inclusion and Diversity versus “Color-Blindness”:

Affirmative Action Walks the Plank in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

The ceaseless attack on affirmative action returns again this Term with Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a sweeping challenge to a modest use of race and ethnicity in UT’s admissions process that was adopted to correct for continuing weakness in the numbers of minority students on campus. The twist here is that most UT students are admitted through a policy guaranteeing admission to students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their public high school classes. About one-fifth of the class is admitted outside of that race-neutral policy, and affirmative action plays a role in this small part of the process.   

Most people thought that the lawfulness of such a policy was settled for at least 25 years in 2003, when the Court decided Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, cases testing the constitutionality of affirmative action programs as practiced, respectively, at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Michigan’s undergraduate program. The majority upheld the Law School’s “holistic” use of race and ethnicity in the process to promote diversity in the educational experience because all consideration of applicants remained individualized and there were no quotas and no numerical targets used in the selection process. (The University of Texas modeled its law school’s affirmative action program after that upheld in Grutter in 2003.) Meanwhile, the majority invalidated the undergraduate plan because racial or ethnic minority status was quantified and treated as adding bonus points in a rigid numerical weighing system, a process that the Court said leaned towards being a quota system. While rejecting the college plan as a blunt instrument, Justice O’Connor found that the kind of diffuse and holistic use of minority status embodied in the law school program was permissible. She thought such affirmative action would be warranted for a period of what she predicted to be another quarter-century. Given that most public universities remained segregated through the 1950s and 1960s, this seemed like a sensible time-line.

The Grutter decision reaffirmed and updated Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the 1978 high Court decision which struck down numerical quotas for minority admission but approved the generalized use of race in the admissions process to promote the compelling interest in having a diverse student body. Grutter was met with relief and enthusiasm throughout American academia, in the business sector, by the armed services, and across American society.

Now, once again, conservatives hope to turn the Constitution against the project of equal rights and equal opportunities.  The key move is to claim that Equal Protection mandates absolute “color-blindness” and therefore forecloses any conscious efforts to build diversity and inclusion into the educational experience of students. But the history of the Equal Protection Clause demonstrates that its Framers clearly contemplated that government would seek to take account of the racial implications of official discrimination in the past to fashion consciously inclusionary policies going forward.   

Equal Protection of the Rights of all Citizens in Marriage versus “Social Tradition”:

United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry

Two significant cases raise the important issue of whether gay and lesbian Americans enjoy an equal right to marry and to enjoy all the rights of marriage. Here, straightforward understandings of Equal Protection clash with an extra-constitutional commitment to the “social tradition” of discrimination against gay people.

One case, United States v. Windsor, deals with the constitutionality of Section 3 of “DOMA,” the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which provides that the word “marriage” in any federal law or regulation—including the Social Security Act, the Internal Revenue code, immigration law, and more than 1,000 others—shall apply only to the “legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife.” This sweeping discrimination means that, although hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Americans have won and exercised the right to marry in twelve states and the District of Columbia, the rights, benefits, and duties that they should receive as married people under federal law are categorically withheld from them. Under federal law, married couples who are gay are treated as legal strangers to one another and as unworthy of the rights enjoyed by other citizens.

This discrimination has dramatic consequences. The respondent in Windsor, Edith Windsor, was forced to pay $363,000 in federal taxes on the estate she inherited after her wife (and life partner of 40 years) died, since DOMA prevents same-sex spouses from inheriting marital property on a tax-free basis, a benefit that heterosexual couples take for granted. Windsor won a clean victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which found that discrimination against gay people triggers Equal Protection “intermediate scrutiny” and that Congress could not even demonstrate a valid, much less an important, interest for defining marriage at the federal level so as to exclude from its benefits thousands of married couples in the states.

The other case taken up by the Supreme Court  is Hollingsworth v. Perry, which tests the constitutionality of California’s infamous Proposition 8 ballot measure, which revoked the marriage rights that gays and lesbians had enjoyed in the state under a landmark California Supreme Court decision.  Proposition 8 was voided in a broad pro-marriage decision handed down by California United States District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, a decision that was reaffirmed on narrower grounds by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which essentially found that California had no rational basis for taking away from its gay citizens the marriage rights that it had previously granted. 

Both cases involve government refusing to recognize the equal rights of gay people, either in married couples or couples who want to get married.  With DOMA, Congress denied the same equal rights and benefits to gay married people as it offers to straight married people, and with Proposition 8, California actually revoked the marriage rights of gay people and prohibited the legislature from ever restoring those rights.  The Proposition 8 proponents even sought to use the measure to annul gays’ and lesbians’ existing marriages without their consent.  The discrimination in both cases is plain to see, all of it justified on the grounds of “traditional marriage” and “social tradition.”

The right to get married as a basic civil right has frequently been  addressed by the Supreme Court, but the Court has never addressed whether that right extends to gay and lesbian Americans, and the Court could successfully dodge the underlying issue here. 

One good possibility is that the Court will strike down DOMA as a naked Equal Protection violation, saying that states need not necessarily extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian residents but that, if states do extend equal marriage rights, the federal government may not discriminate against people who avail themselves of those rights. Pro-marriage forces expecting this result place a high burden of hope on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has written excellent majority opinions upholding the equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans in Romer v. Evans (1996) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003). But Kennedy may instead decide purely on federalism grounds, potentially providing a fifth vote to strike down DOMA but preventing any pro-equality legal rationale from having a majority that would bind lower courts in the future.

In the California Proposition 8 case, the Court could say that states that give all of the state-law rights of marriage to gay and lesbian citizens cannot withhold from them the title of marriage; this would affect eight states in a similar situation as California. Another possibility, more remote, is that Justice Kennedy would agree to join the moderate-liberal faction in simply declaring that gay people have equal rights to marry, which would mean invalidating discriminatory  laws still on the books in the vast majority of states. Conversely, the Court might also say that there is no obligation for California to protect the right of gay and lesbian citizens to marry at all. Or, finally, it could dismiss the whole case on either standing grounds—the Attorney general of California refused to defend  Proposition 8, leaving that task to anti-marriage advocates who put the initiative on the ballot—or on the grounds that cert was improvidently granted. There are still many ways to escape the basic issue of discrimination, even though all of the momentum in the states is towards marriage equality and the rationales for discrimination have been collapsing everywhere like a giant house of cards. 

Equal Protection versus the Politics of Inequality

As we await the Supreme Court’s decisions in these cases, Americans should not miss the big picture of this constitutional moment.  In a society that disenfranchised African-Americans and other minorities for centuries and discriminated openly against racial minorities and the gay and lesbian population, we are living through giant progressive changes in political democracy and voting rights, educational opportunity, and marriage rights for all. Yet, in politics, as in physics, every action creates an equal and opposite reaction, and a huge ideological undertow has formed on today’s Supreme Court, which has replaced the values of the long-ago Warren Court with commitments to corporate power over government and government power over people. What is at stake in these cases is whether the Supreme Court will interpret the Constitution to be the instrument of equal protection for all or will twist it to make it the guarantor of inequality and injustice.

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Jamie Raskin, a Senior Fellow at People for the American Way Foundation, is a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law and a State Senator in Maryland.


 

 

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