The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage equality case.
In preparation for this, a sad collection of Religious Right leaders trooped to the microphone at the National Press Club on Friday to denounce marriage equality – again.
The event was notable mainly for the obscure nature of its speakers. Leading off was the Rev. Rick Scarborough, a Religious Right second-stringer from Texas whose great ambition in life was to become the new Jerry Falwell. (He failed.) Also appearing was Keith Fournier, a right-wing Roman Catholic who used to hang out with the Christian Coalition back in the 1990s; Mat Staver, the perpetually angry founder of the Liberty Counsel; E.W. Jackson, failed candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia and Janet Boynes, who runs an “ex-gay” ministry.
James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, was supposed to be there but sent a video instead.
Americans United’s Sarah Jones attended the event and did live tweeting. As I followed along in the office, I was struck by how weak the arguments of the anti-marriage equality crowd are.
Here they are in a nutshell:
Our pastors will be forced to preside at same-sex marriages: Not as long as we have a First Amendment. Read it and the case law that flows from it, will you? It’s quite clear that no pastor can be compelled to offer religious sacraments to anyone. Massachusetts has had same-sex marriage since 2004. How many members of the clergy there have been penalized, fined or imprisoned for refusing to marry a same-sex couple? Zero. It simply isn’t going to happen, and if Religious Right leaders had any sense, they would drop this loser argument.
Court decisions mandating marriage equality are just like the Dred Scott ruling: Well, no. See, the Dred Scott ruling disenfranchised an entire class of people and made them second-class citizens. It restricted liberty and freedom and gave people fewer choices. A ruling upholding marriage equality would do the opposite.
God doesn’t like it: Says who? A bunch of Religious Right zealots don’t speak for God. A band of progressive religious leaders plans to rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow to support same-sex marriage. They’ll be citing the same Bible as the fundamentalists. That’s why we don’t base public policy on ancient religious books. People don’t agree on how to interpret them.
Courts can’t redefine marriage because God has ordained it: See “God doesn’t like it” above. You know those ancient holy books the Religious Right wants to base society on? Chapters in them sanction polygamy, forced marriages, marriages with minors, etc. Sounds like the religious law concerning marriage isn’t as rigid and unchangeable as some people think.
“Ex-gays” exist, therefore we should not have marriage equality: Talk about a non-sequitur! The fact that some people are willing to say they have changed their sexual orientation because they found Jesus in no way means that the rights of others should be denied.
We’re all going to die!: According to the Religious Right, if the Supreme Court approves marriage equality, God will quickly smote us – you know, fire, brimstone, plagues of frogs and all that. He’ll get positively Old Testament on us. The problem is, they say this all of the time. God was supposed to blast us when the Supreme Court removed mandatory school prayer and Bible reading from public schools in the early 1960s. And when abortion was made legal in 1973. And when the high court invalidated laws banning consensual gay sex in 2003. And when the justices struck down key portions of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. You get the idea.
We WILL NOT abide by this ruling!: Oh, put a sock in it, already! No one is going to be forced to marry a person of the same sex, and, as I mentioned above, no clergy will be compelled to preside at same-sex weddings if they’d rather not. So what exactly are these conscientious objectors going to do – break into churches that support marriage equality and disrupt the weddings of same-sex couples? It’s easy to blather and portray yourself as a freedom fighter when you don’t actually have to do anything.
So this is all the Religious Right has – this weak tea? Seriously? No wonder record numbers of Americans now support marriage equality.