Marriage equality is on the march in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case later this month that could extend same-sex marriage nationwide as early as the end of June.
Religious Right groups are in full-blown panic. They know they are likely running out of options to stem the marriage tide, and one of their few remaining ploys is to create hysteria with absurdist arguments that the legalization of same-sex marriage will result in war – and they mean that literally.
This has been going on for some time, with the likes of the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins and Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver spreading gloom and doom.
Now, Focus on the Family (FOF) founder James Dobson is getting in on the act. During a recent conference call with anti-gay activists, Dobson, who retired from FOF a few years ago and now runs a broadcasting outlet called Family Talk, said America could be dragged into a civil war over marriage equality. (Thanks to Right Wing Watch for the audio.)
“Talk about a Civil War, we could have another one over this,” Dobson fumed.
Dobson’s far-fetched prediction is nothing new. Back in 2012, Staver said marriage equality “could cause another civil war.”
Of course there is no actual danger here. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for 11 years, and somehow America has not descended into chaos. As others have joined the Bay State over time, it has not brought us any closer to internecine armed conflict.
The true threat to civil liberties, as usual, is actually from the Religious Right. Dobson said far right Republicans in Congress are “scared to death” to oppose same-sex marriage, leaving just one solution to end this supposed threat to Christians: amend the U.S. Constitution.
“I agree with [Home School Legal Defense Association founder] Michael Farris that the only thing we can do is to have a state constitutional convention to re-examine the Constitution,” Dobson said. “I wish I could say I believe pouring a lot of opposition, which may not even be there now, onto the Supreme Court is going to make a big difference.”
This is another old idea that hasn’t gained much traction since the original Constitutional Convention in 1787. If two-thirds of the states call for a Constitutional Convention, one must be convened. So far, the U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times. None of those amendments were passed via Constitutional Convention.
Some, like Farris, who call for a convention claim their goal is to force Congress to balance its budget. The problem is, once a convention is under way, nothing is off the table – from outlawing same-sex marriage to banning abortion. This is a truly frightening scenario that has never happened precisely because it is almost impossible to limit what can and can’t be amended.
Yet Farris has been advocating for a Constitutional Convention for years through his Convention of the States project. And if he ever succeeds, Dobson and his allies would likely push for an amendment banning same-sex marriage. Such an extreme measure is really all the Religious Right has left when it comes to stopping the spread of marriage equality, and it’s not hard to see why they view it as a viable option.
Just like a civil war over marriage, let’s hope a Constitutional Convention never comes to pass. If Dobson and his pals ever gain the power to do a rewrite of the First Amendment, disaster is sure to follow.