Religious Right groups and their political allies who are gearing up for an impending Senate vote on the so-called Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) have turned up the volume on an already vociferous lobbying campaign against Senators of both parties, many of whom are not supporting the constitutional amendment. At the centerpiece of Religious Right mobilization efforts is the incendiary charge that allowing some states to grant equal marriage rights to gay couples would mean an end to churches’ freedom under the First Amendment to decide which marriages they bless or even to discuss their interpretation of scripture.
The charge is so clearly ludicrous that the temptation for journalists is to ignore it. But it must be reported and examined as central to the strategy of groups opposed to equality for gay Americans. There is a reason this claim is repeated over and over by leaders of the push to amend the Constitution. It is easier to convince people that they should support – and demand – discrimination against gay and lesbian people if you have previously convinced them that gays are out to destroy their churches and take away their religious liberty.
This kind of rhetoric is designed to inflame, not inform. Elected officials who repeat such charges – and who stand shoulder to shoulder with Religious Right figures who make them – should be held accountable for embracing such dishonest and divisive tactics.
The fact that fair-minded Americans across the political spectrum are resisting calls for a constitutional amendment has only fueled increasingly hysterical rhetoric claiming that allowing gay couples to marry will destroy Western civilization, result in an increase in terror attacks on the United States, destroy the institution of marriage, and rob churches of their freedom to criticize homosexuality or even to quote scripture.
Below are just a sampling of the many deceptions and distortions being used to try to build support for the FMA.