Religious-Right Shriekout over Marriage Equality

The U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear appeals to lower court rulings overturning same-sex marriage bans could very quickly lead to marriage equality in at least 30 states and possibly all states not far into the future. So religious-righters and their politician pals are in meltdown mode.

Peter LaBarbera of the despicable Americans For Truth About Homosexuality is pointing at the Bible and calling for “civil disobedience on a massive scale” in opposition to marriage equality. That echoes calls from Southern white bigots for “massive resistance” to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down school segregation in 1954 — calls that didn’t stop integration but contributed to racial animosity and violence.

Bryan Fischer from the anti-gay hate group American Family Association, which Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked to organize his football stadium prayer extravaganza in 2011, compared marriage equality to slavery:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is the Dred Scott of gay marriage. Legalizes something morally indefensible.”

Closer to home, gay-obsessed Jonathan Saenz at Texas Values comforted himself by noting that the Supreme Court’s sort of non-decision on Monday doesn’t make same-sex marriage legal in the Lone Star State — yet. It appears that the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will still have a say on that (although likely not the final say). But Saenz also repeated the well-worn lies that allowing LGBT people to marry will hurt children and somehow threaten religious freedom for everybody else:

“Redefining marriage comes at a high cost: it costs kids either a mom or a dad (who are not interchangeable), and it costs people of faith their First Amendment religious freedom rights as government imposes the new definition across all aspects of society.”

We find it remarkable that someone’s religious freedom could be dependent on government discriminating against other people. But that’s the “logic” Saenz offers.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was also upset Monday, calling the court’s decision “judicial activism at its worst”:

“The Constitution entrusts state legislatures, elected by the People, to define marriage consistent with the values and mores of their citizens.  Unelected judges should not be imposing their policy preferences to subvert the considered judgments of democratically elected legislatures.”

That seems hypocritical, to say the least, considering that Cruz wants the courts to strike down Obamacare as unconstitutional even though that action would “subvert the considered judgment of democratically elected” members of Congress who passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

Of course, even if he didn’t want to, Cruz has to sound militant on this issue. That’s because religious-righters are insisting that Republican politicians take a stand against equality. Iowa-based talk show host Steve Deace, who apparently thinks watching two women kiss is a threat to liberty, said the Supreme Court’s non-decision on Monday threatens the “35-year marriage between Christians and the Republican Party.”

Former Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken seems to agree, calling out a supposed “lack of political courage on the issue of marriage by GOP leaders.”

We wonder how much courage it really takes for a Republican politician to kowtow to the anti-gay fanatics who dominate the GOP base, especially in Texas. It seems to us that the more courageous are those who stand up for equality, not against it. So who are those courageous politicians? Maybe we’ll finally get a chance to see — but don’t hold your breath.

10 thoughts on “Religious-Right Shriekout over Marriage Equality

  1. “35-year marriage between Christians and the Republican Party??”
    Really? Is that a Traditional Marriage between a man and a woman? It sure doesn’t sound like it.

  2. It’s good to finally see Dan using the words “despicable” and “bigots” in a blog column, words that I usually use! But events have pushed him to this and of course the words are quite appropriate as the reactionary religious extremists cases vex apoplectic over the latest improvement in civil liberties. Individuals my age have lived through many improvements on the long arc of increasing social justice, individual liberties, and civil rights in the United States in education, voting rights, religious rights, marriage rights, free speech, and many other liberties. We are still experiencing these changes today. Readers should be delighted that they are living in an era of progressive social change and are able to experience such history for themselves. If you worked for these changes, you should be even more delighted.

    Jonathan Saenz is such a wonderful example of mock moralists who call themselves conservatives because it sounds like a good name. He is not a conservative, of course, but a reactionary, i.e. a radical of the right who wants to keep social injustice, political authoritarianism, and fundamentalist religion strong with the false justification of tradition, in reality, a tradition of discrimination. His claim that “redefining marriage . . . costs people of faith their First Amendment religious freedom rights as government imposes the new definition across all aspects of society” is nonsense, of course. Not only is Saenz’s argument illogical by claiming that some citizens lose their religious freedom rights when other citizens begin exercising their new marriage right–or as Dan paraphrased it, that government discrimination is necessary for religious people to exercise their religious freedom–but Saenz’s argument is exactly backward. In fact, people like him have been the one’s denying others their First Amendment religious freedom by enforcing discriminatory marriage requirements for generations, even for centuries.

    As I have pointed out before, religious Fundamentalists such as Saenz persist in conflating religious or sacramental marriage with civil marriage. By long opposing marriage equality they are imposing their personal religious marriage definition on others who wish to have civil marriages or marriages within a different religion, a religion that isn’t bigoted against gays. So it is Jonathan Saenz himself who wishes to deny the “First Amendment religious freedom rights” to others by continuing to advocate that “government imposes” a religious definition of marriage “across all aspects of society.” The right in question is the secular separation of religion and government expressed in the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. Rarely do legal briefs in favor of marriage equality name this right and you never read about this right in news reports. Instead, the Equal Protection of the Law Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment is used in both briefs and news articles. However, both rights are equally important and logically require marriage equality.

    Dogmatic, coercive, and fundamentalist religions have long enjoyed having their particular sacramental marriage used as the definition of civil marriage by law in the United States. So civil marriage has long been, defacto, religious marriage. There is no logical reason for this to be the case except the perpetuation of tradition, an argument devoid of legal logic, and the adopted legal reasons are unconstitutional. Knowing this, the advocates of continued marriage inequality have come up with some really amazing legal arguments, such as the “compelling interest of the government to promote childbirth” and the raising of children in families with both a father and mother. Really? How much thought was given to coming up with such absurd arguments?

    Finally, I might add that in addition to the constitutional objections of marriage inequality laws, there are also factual, social, and scientific objections. For example, studies have shown that gay couples are just as good as traditional heterosexual couples in raising children in a nurturing and non-exploitative environment. Senator Ted Cruz makes the elementary error of believing that the majority can trump the Constitution. As a sitting senator he should know the opposite is the case. But facts have never stood in the way of reactionaries, hypocrites, and bigots. They are governed by hate-filled emotions, not facts, and either legal effort or government action is necessary to ultimately refute them. Every generation of progressive citizens is responsible for accomplishing this.

  3. Rather than holding my breath, let me try this. Imagine a vehemently anti-gay individual standing on a stage in an auditorium. The folks in attendance are about 100 sets of parents with two things in common: They have at least two children and one of them is gay. Now, imagine the reaction(s) when the speaker attempts to convince the audience that the way they must have raised “Jennifer” or “Derrick” was somehow defective, causing their child to become “…. abnormal….” It wouldn’t be pretty but it might give the guest speaker a new perspective. I could ramble on & on but I’ll let it go at that.

  4. I once made a comment on the blog that was once on the Jonathan Saenz website before the organization changed its name, and they replied with an argument about same-sex marriage and religious freedom. I do not remember and do not have the original words, but it went something like this:

    Company benefits for employees are often based on marriage. If an employee is married, their spouse and children can receive medical benefits through the company. The company pays part of the premiums, and the employee pays a portion of the overall premiums from his paycheck. That is not a problem when the employee is a man and his wife is a woman. It becomes a religious freedom problem if the employee is one sex and their spouse is the same sex. If the owner of the company is a right-thinking Christian, he will be opposed to same-sex marriage as a moral issue. Under ordinary circumstances, because of his religious beliefs on same sex marriage, the company owner would refuse to pay premiums for the same-sex spouse for moral reasons and because the state does not recognize same-sex marriage. However, if the state officially recognizes same-sex marriage:

    1) Then the religious freedom of the company owner is taken away because he no longer has any legal right to refuse paying the insurance premiums for the same-sex spouse. His freedom to act on his religious beliefs has been taken away by the government.

    2) All conservative Christians believe that they will one day stand before the judgment seat of God and be told to give an account of their life. God will be very angry with the company owner because He has records showing that the company owner paid insurance premiums for a same-sex spouse, “a moral abomination before the Lord.” God will say, “Why did you do that when you knew it was wrong?” The company owner will say: “The government forced me to recognize same sex marriage against my will and pay the premiums.” God will say: “That’s not good enough Jones. You should have tried harder to avoid paying. I will save you by grace through Jesus Christ, but because of this indiscretion, I am hereby confiscating 50 percent of the Heavenly riches that would have otherwise been yours had you fully kept the faith on this same-sex marriage issue.” In other words, same-sex marriage will further impact the company owner’s religious freedom because being forced to pay the insurance premium for the same sex spouse will one day deny the company owner the religious freedom to properly get his “ducks in a row” in this life so he can argue in favor of himself at the final judgment—and the company owner will, as a result, suffer great personal loss of riches one day in the kingdom of Heaven because of it.

    I bring this up just to show that these people do have a fairly coherent argument about how official approval of same-sex marriage denies their religious freedom. I am not saying I support it. I am just saying that it does have some logic to it—perhaps logic they are not particularly good at articulating—and that it cannot be totally dismissed out of hand.

    1. And what would happen if the poor business owner had been proprietor of a wholesale shrimp and crawdad supply house? Then he would have had multiple abominations to answer for!!

  5. Thanks Steven Schafersman for your wonderfully clear, succinct, and well reasoned commentary.

  6. I wish I could shake Mr. Schaferman’s hand. What a wonderfully cogent statement regarding constitutional rights. Keep them coming!

  7. This subject has been taxed and no change will come on either side. For a variety of reasons.