In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I decided to take a tour of the reactions from some of the most outspoken culture warriors of the religious right. As expected, their responses used religious belief as reasons to deplore the decision that same-sex marriage should not be relegated to second-class status as compared to heterosexual marriage. The outrage included calling it an assault on religious liberty, a leftist agenda and part of an anti-Christian crusade. Other comments included the death knell of marriage, a loss of freedom and that the free speech rights of Christians will be lost. Here’s a quick rundown of selected reactions I found:
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, declared that striking down DOMA presents a “clear and present danger to the freedom of speech and freedom of religion in our country.”
Brian Brown, President of the National Organization of Marriage, called the ruling a “stench” and illegitimate decision, a rogue decision rewarding corruption, and a sad day for marriage and democracy.
Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and host of the 700 Club television show, is sure that the DOMA ruling will lead the United States to ruin and go the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. “The defenders of traditional lifestyle and biblical values are going to be marginalized very quickly.” He also wondered if Justice Anthony Kennedy has gay law clerks and was influenced by them.
Charisma magazine news editor Jennifer LeClair claimed that “we are in the end times” and alluded to a “satanic agenda.”
Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and a staunch conservative Christian, said simply, “Jesus wept.”
Michelle Bachmann (R), United States Congressional Representative from Minnesota, stated that “Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted.”
Tim Huelskamp (R), United States Congressional Representative from Kansas, said of the Supreme Court justices that “The idea that Jesus Christ himself was degrading and demeaning is what they’ve come down to.” He also is proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Now, maybe it’s just me, but all of this strikes me as “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Anyone can publicly protest something with inflammatory language, and some obviously enjoy the attention. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how the Supreme Court decision deserves such vitriol. It doesn’t take any legal rights away from anyone. It doesn’t force anyone who doesn’t want to into a same-sex marriage. It does, however, one simple and important thing: Expand freedom. How can that be a bad thing?
Gay marriage doesn’t change a heterosexual marriage in any way. Sure, some people don’t think a gay couple should get to use the term “marriage” to describe the same legal contract they’ve entered into. But marriage isn’t a sacred word that only very special people can have. It’s a civil contract. It can be done by a judge, a justice of the peace, a ship captain or a pastor. For a fee, anyone can go to certain websites and become a priest or minister of some sort and perform legal marriages.
People are often resistant to change. Change isn’t always progress, but progress is always change. Let’s remember, the traditions of marriage have changed over time. At various times in history marriages were arranged, in order to obtain power, or wealth, or land, etc. The Old Testament contains stories of various marriage arrangements, with one-man-one-woman not necessarily the case. Of course, Christians tend to follow the New Testament, but some are quick to quote Old Testament verses out of context to back up their position. I’m not painting all Christians with the same narrow-minded brush; more and more, mainstream denominations are becoming more inclusive.
If you’re opposed to gay marriage, that’s OK. The SCOTUS ruling isn’t forcing you to like it. If you disapprove of gay marriage, you are free to speak out about it. Anything said, however, can be countered by a different opinion. That isn’t losing the right to free speech just because someone disagrees with you. Our country is not uniform, and there will always be various viewpoints on issues.
I don’t see this as a win-lose situation. There isn’t a winner or loser; it’s equalization. No side gets more than the other. The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.” Let’s keep working toward that ideal.