Religious Right on Gay Marriage: 'We Will Never, Never, Never, Never Give In'

The Atlantic/June 25, 2013

Christian conservatives compared the struggle over gay marriage to epic crises and tragedies: to communism, to the financial crisis, to the biblical story of Lazarus coming back from the dead. But while many in the religious right are saying the fight over gay marriage isn't over, even though the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional on Wednesday, lots of Republicans just want it to go away.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted, "My thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: 'Jesus wept.'" Retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann said, "Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted." (When asked about Bachmann's statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded, "Who cares?") The National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez was appalled that President Obama tweeted "Today's DOMA ruling is a historic step forward for #MarriageEquality. #LoveIsLove." Under the headline, "The President of 'Love,'" Lopez wrote, "One might find oneself nostalgic both for the days a Democratic president signed the Defense of Marriage Act today and the days before Twitter as the president of the United States tweets." The Democratic president she's referring to, of course, is Bill Clinton, who violated his marriage vows with a 21-year-old intern. He was a different kind of President of Love.

The most dramatic immediate reaction was from the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer in a series of tweets: "Sodomy-based marriage is an egregious violation of the 'Laws of Nature and Nature's God.' May God have mercy on us. ... In our battle to defend marriage as God has defined it, we will never give in. We will never, never, never, never give in. ... Solzhenitsyn: 'One word of truth outweighs the whole world.' That includes the Supreme Court." (Fischer excels at getting attention far beyond his influence, and pressured Mitt Romney's campaign to fire a newly hired foreign policy adviser because he's gay. The aide eventually quit.)

Before the decision was ever handed down, the Christian Post's Eric Metaxas wrote, "The False Narrative of Gay Marriage: It Is Not Inevitable." Metaxas explains that it looks like gay marriage is winning, but that's a mirage: "In his book, The Black Swan, Nicholas Nassim Taleb discussed what he calls the 'narrative fallacy.' This refers to our 'limited ability' to look at a sequence of facts "without weaving an explanation into them." A push to legalize gay marriage in Illinois recently failed, he said. "While we face an uphill battle, what else is new?"

The National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown wrote, "There's a stench coming from these cases that has now stained the Supreme Court. It's imperative that Congress continue to protect the right of states to not recognize faux marriages in their state." His colleague Maggie Gallager said the fight would go on for decades, just like the fight over abortion:

"[Justice Anthony] Kennedy's decision is the Roe v. Wade of this generation, not this generation's Brown v. Board of Education. Like Roe, Kennedy stepped in to disenfranchise millions of voters' concerns to tilt unfairly the scale of justice controversial moral issue trending in a liberal direction. But like Roe the deep questions involved in marriage will not simply go away: At the heart of the gay marriage argument is an untruth: unions of two men or women are not the same as unions of husband and wife. The law cannot make it so. It can only require us to paint pretty pictures to cover up deep truths embedded in human nature."

And yet there are many conservatives who indicated they do not want this battle to go on forever and ever. Conservative pundit Dana Loesch said this was a blow to Democrats, because DOMA was an example of big government. "DOMA doesn't surprise me. Even I thought it was unconstitutional," RedState editor Erick Erickson tweeted. House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying, "While I am obviously disappointed in the ruling, it is always critical that we protect our system of checks and balances. A robust national debate over marriage will continue in the public square, and it is my hope that states will define marriage as the union between one man and one woman." Likewise, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul advised, "I would tell people who are for traditional marriage: the battle is lost at the federal level; concentrate on your state." But the fight in the states will not be to stop gay marriage - dozens banned it in their state constitutions between 2004 and 2006. The fight in the states is going the opposite direction, just as it is federally.

Update: Ralph Reed, who runs the Faith and Freedom Coalition, called the ruling "an Orwellian act of judicial fiat." Glenn Beck warns that polygamy is next: "If you change one variable - a man and a woman to a man and a man or a woman and a woman, you cannot tell me that you can't logically change the variable - one man, three women - one woman, four men. You can't do that. Who are you to say that if I'm a devout Muslim and I come over here and I have three wives who are you to say if I'm an American citizen that I can't have multiple marriages." The Mormon Church, which helped pass Prop 8, issued a statement.

By ruling that supporters of Proposition 8 lacked standing to bring this case to court, the Supreme Court has highlighted troubling questions about how our democratic and judicial system operates. Many Californians will wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong when their government will not defend or protect a popular vote that reflects the views of a majority of their citizens.

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