Mad Over Marriage: Religious Right Responds To Today’s Supreme Court Rulings

This is not a good day for the Religious Right.

You could say that the American Family Association (AFA) isn’t pleased about today’s Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), meaning that same-sex couples who are lawfully wed in states with marriage equality will have access to a range of federal benefits. This is a pretty big deal.

The court also dealt with a legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage. The case was dismissed on procedural grounds. Most legal observers believe the practical effect of this will be to restore same-sex marriage to the Golden State.

In short, this is not a good day for the Religious Right.

Check out this tweet from Bryan Fischer, resident theocrat-in-chief at the Tupelo, Miss.-based AFA: “With the DOMA decision, we have ceased to be a constitutional republic. The words “We the people’ are now meaningless.”

Fischer then followed up with this gem: “The DOMA ruling has now made the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, incest and bestiality inevitable. Matter of time.”

Fischer’s boss, Tim Wildmon, issued a statement that read in part, “We are deeply saddened by today’s decision to not only allow but encourage same-sex marriage in our country – a country that was founded on biblical principles. We mourn for America’s future, but we are not without hope.”

Wildmon added, “The homosexual lobby and agenda is running rampant across America, and is even pervading our elementary schools….Now, we must warn against the coming persecution, the barrage of criticism and the aggressive action of the homosexual agenda to indoctrinate and change the thoughts and convictions of Americans to accept this lifestyle as the new normal.”

Out in Arizona, the Alliance Defending Freedom also has a case of the grumpies: “This effectively means we will no longer have a national definition of marriage,” carped the group in a statement. “The federal government may now be required to accept any legal definition of marriage that a particular state invents. This leads to many unanswered questions, new government burdens, and consequences that we will have more to say about in the coming days and weeks ahead as we analyze and further unpack this disappointing decision.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, attempted an outrageous spin.

“While we are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the court today did not impose the sweeping nationwide redefinition of natural marriage that was sought,” Perkins said in a statement. “Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex ‘marriage.’ As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify.” (Dude, what polls are you looking at?)

Even the Christian Coalition (yep, that group is still around) got in on the act. Roberta Combs, president of the group, issued a petition supporting “traditional marriage” that reads in part, “[T]he Court has put state marriage laws at risk as well as the religious liberties of tens of millions of America’s Christians….The simple fact is that liberals cannot get their way at the ballot box, so they try to push their radical agenda through our nation's courts by convincing judges to overturn the will of the American people.”

The Liberty Counsel, a project affiliated with Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University, has been dilatory in getting out a statement. But earlier this week, the group opined, “No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the battle over marriage will continue. This is the defining culture line.”

I actually kind of agree with Liberty Counsel on that one. This is a defining line – and the Religious Right is on the wrong side of it.

Today’s rulings won’t be the last word on this matter. The Religious Right is pledging massive resistance. Recently, dozens of luminaries from that movement came together to sign a statement asserting that any high court ruling backing marriage equality would be illegitimate.

“As Christian citizens united together, we will not stand by while the destruction of the institution of marriage unfolds in this nation we love,” asserts the statement. “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.”

The statement is a tad unclear about what these groups plan to do (hold their breath until they turn blue?) but concludes darkly, “[M]ake 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.”

Americans United sees it differently. We’re pleased that the narrow religious views of fundamentalist Christians won’t govern civil marriage law. At the same, we’ve pointed out repeatedly that no houses of worship anywhere will be forced to provide a ceremony for a same-sex couple. That sounds like real freedom to us.

If the polls are right, the Religious Right appears to be on the losing end of this battle. But it’s pretty clear that these groups don’t intend to go down quietly. Brace yourselves; I see plenty of turbulence ahead.