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Religious Right Reacts With Fury to Prop 8 Knockdown

By Mark Potok on August 5, 2010 - 12:19 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT

In the hours since a federal judge struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage yesterday, religious-right organizations have sent up an angry howl of protest, accusing the judge of doing everything from overruling the Constitution to laying the groundwork for a contemporary version of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Tim Wildmon, leader of the American Family Association, called the decision “tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional” and said it “cavalierly trashed” the votes of some 7 million Californians who voted to approve Proposition 8 in 2008. “It’s also extremely problematic that Judge [Vaughn] Walker is a practicing homosexual himself. … His situation is no different than a judge who owns a porn studio being asked to rule on an anti-pornography statute.” Wildmon went on to demand that the U.S. House of Representatives impeach Walker.

Randy Thomasson, president of, which worked to support the proposition during the 2008 campaign, sounded a similar theme, saying that the ruling dealt a “terrible blow” to the country and that the “biased, homosexual judge” had “imposed his own homosexual agenda.” Bishop Harry Jackson, leader of Stand4MarriageDC, called the judge’s ruling a “slur” against those who had voted for Prop 8. And former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the judge’s “notorious decision” showed “outrageous disrespect for the Constitution.”

In fact, Walker found that Proposition 8 merely asserted “the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples” without any rational basis. “The Constitution cannot control private biases, but neither can it tolerate them.”

But that’s not the way most religious-right organizations and activists saw the decision. On the contrary, they seemed to believe that it was them who were being discriminated against. Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, for example, said that the decision would lead the government, “almost Soviet-style,” to reeducate American children. Andy Pugno, general counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund that represented supporters of the proposition, said the judge had “literally accused the majority of California voters of having ill and discriminatory intent” in voting for it. Robert George of the American Principles Project said his decision was a “usurpation of democratic authority” and described same-sex marriage supporters as having a “revolutionary sexual ideology.” Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council blamed “the far Left” for pushing judges to such decisions, and said that “this dangerous decision” had to be appealed. And David E. Smith, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, said that “radical forces” and “tyrants who threaten to destroy this country” were to blame.

Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, put it even more starkly. “This is a grievously serious crisis in how the American people will choose to be governed,” he said. “If and when the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court, then the American people will have to decide whether they will insist on continuing to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, or whether they’re going to live under the serfdom of government by the judges, of the judges and for the judges.”

Actually, the decision supported the very American idea that people have “rights” that cannot be legislated away via the “tyranny of the majority.” There was a time in this country when a majority of eligible Americans would most certainly have voted to keep from giving the vote to black men and women. But the courts, as is their assigned role according to the Constitution, finally ruled that African Americans had basic rights that could not voted away. Similarly, many civil rights attorneys believe that in the end, the Supreme Court will rule, as Walker did yesterday, that society has no right to discriminate against homosexuals in marriage.

James Edwards is no official of a religious right organization — far from it. But the racist and anti-Semitic host of the Memphis-based radio show “The Political Cesspool” seemed to understand that last point better than most of the ruling’s more “mainstream” opponents. “You can thank Martin Luther King and his crusade to make it illegal to recognize important distinctions between human beings for this,” Edwards wrote on his blog yesterday. “Had the courts never thrown out laws against interracial marriage, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.”

Larry Keller, Leah Nelson and Evelyn Schlatter contributed to this post.

  • Frank

    “Lou, if you choose your sexual orientation it does not mean you’re straight. It means you’re bisexual. Now, I have no problem with you being bi, it’s a free country. But please don’t deny my boyfriend and I our rights because you have to decide between XX and XY.”

    Bisexuality isn’t a ‘choice’, just as heterosexual or homosexual attraction isn’t a choice.

    Some bisexuals choose to express either their heterosexual or homosexual side, but that’s repression, not ‘choosing’ who they are attracted to.

  • Guardian

    That’s the problem with the liberal agenda. They think they are above the people who they are suppose to serve. How do they get to the point they think they are so much greater, smarter or wiser than everyone else. How can they sit on their high horse and say “It doesn’t matter what the people think”.
    Well thank God the 9th circuit court saw through this activist judge’s radical agenda and put a stop to it. I usually don’t agree with the 9th on most things but I have to give them cudos for doing the right thing this time.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    It doesn’t matter what the people of California thought about the constitutionality of the law. What matters is what the courts thought about it. The law is that the courts are responsible for interpreting the Constitution. In determining the law was unconstitutional, the judge DID serve the people.

  • Guardian

    Apperantly the majority of California thought that upholding prop 8 truely lined up with the Constitution. One gay judge, not judges, decided to impose his will over the will of the people he has sworn to serve. Well I think its pretty clear which people he has chosen to serve. If the vote would have went the other way, would it be right for one ‘Christian’ judge to overturn the vote because of his or her religious beliefs? We as Americans can not allow this type of judicial prejudice to go unchecked.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Activist judge” means judge whose position makes me angry. Laws need to be in line with the Constitution. Apparently the judges see this is unconstitutional, and they would be right.

  • Guardian

    The issue has been argued and the people of California have made their decision. This isn’t about marriage anymore, it’s about the constitutional right of Americans to govern themselves; to vote on an issue and have that vote mean something. When one activist judge can overturn the will of the American people and try to make his will the ultimate authority then where does it end?
    My constitutional right to vote has been infringed upon! This is a dark road we are going down and it’s headed for a cliff!

  • MrsCaptJack

    @Snorlax for your comment about choice ~ So well said, I almost stood up and cheered!

    @Loretta ~ Read the comment above yours that talks about the Centurion who pleaded with Christ to save his lover, whom Christ then healed. When you tell your gay friends that you profess to love you don’t think they deserve the right to marry, what do they say?

    @PhotoJack ~ Wish I could have marched with you! The celebration here in the desert was smaller, but still joyful.

    And at those who think gay marriages will result in tons of divorces, please know that I prepared the very first petition for a domestic dissolution in my area. The Court Clerk called me to make sure that I knew that I’d used the domestic partner forms. She told me they’d never processed one before even the supervisors where unsure what to do. Since that day about three years ago, I’ve done maybe three more. Yet I’ve lost count of how many hetro divorces I’ve done. I had about five come in within the last two weeks. Who’s messing with idea of “holy matrimony” now?

  • Mike Magruder

    Best way to accuse your opponents of ignorance is to study more and to be more precise in your writing. You should also avoid references to religion.