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Anti-Gay Activists Adopt a Dubious Model — the Confederacy

By Leah Nelson on May 14, 2012 - 10:21 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Neo-Confederate

Conservatives tend to object when the gay rights movement is compared to the civil rights movement, often claiming that LGBT activists are trying to “hijack” a unique moment in American history.

It had been our impression here at Hatewatch that this objection was underpinned by an antipathy toward being compared to racist reactionaries who protested desegregation, the end of laws barring mixed-race marriage, and the other triumphs of the civil rights movement.

So it’s a little mystifying that in the last two weeks, two prominent anti-gay activists have compared their crusade to the Civil War – and themselves to the Confederacy.

Last week, in a widely republished op-ed, Pat Buchanan described the battle over marriage equality as “the Antietam of the culture war.”

And earlier this month, Lou Engle, an evangelical pastor who has called homosexuality a “spirit of lawlessness” and suggested that it should be criminalized, exhorted his followers to model their fight against the “homosexual agenda” on Confederate generals’ stand against “Washington, D.C.”

Describing the Civil War as a “storyline that God gave us,” Engle said that General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate army, “had an anointing or something,” and “was able to restrain Washington. He took his stand and held back those forces!”

Say what?

To the best of our recollection, the South did not emerge victorious from the, ah, War of Northern Aggression.

Antietam, the 1862 battle Buchanan referenced in his essay, ended when Confederate troops withdrew from Maryland, having failed to persuade that slave state to join their cause. The Emancipation Proclamation soon followed, and within three years, General Lee had surrendered.

Comparing the position of LGBT people today to that of blacks under slavery – which is essentially what Buchanan and Engle are doing by casting themselves as the Confederacy (which was, like them, defending an indefensible status quo) – seems a little harsh. But if that’s the analogy they want to go with, hey, they’re welcome to it.

And if this is the vision culture warriors have for their campaign against marriage equality, it looks like things are going even better than we thought.

  • Kevin

    I’m a Confederate and I support gay marriage. I always have. It’s a damn ebarrasment when people try to compare their stance against gay rights to the Confederacy’s stance against Federal invasion. It’s an insult to me, and my Confederate ancestors.

    It’s a no-brainer that gay men served in both the Union and Confederte armies. Throughout the whole war, only 3 men were ever discharged of “innapropriate intercourse” , and they were three yankee sailors. There were undoubtedly gay politicians, business managers, military leaders and citizens in both the United States and Confederate States.

    So please, do not think that all Confederates are against gay rights. I am with you.

    My Texan aunt is gay, and also a huge Confederate. So there are gay Confederates out there haha.

    And let me add, that Lou Engle has stated multiple times that he disagrees with the Confederate cause and that “they were wrong”. So he is NOT aConfederate, and does NOT represent the population of Confederate Americans. He’s just an idiot who doesn’t know history. Caring men like Robert E. Lee (who dispised slavery, by the way) would not want people to treat their gay brothers and sisters in this ignorant way.

    I fly both a Confederate flag and a rainbow flag. Call me what you want, but I love two things in life; our loving God, and Dixie. God Bless, my friends

  • MrsCaptJack

    Justina ~ You DO understand that people are born gay, right? No one chooses to gay. I know a woman who was told by a couple guys they were going to rape the gay out of her. Why would anyone want that? Would you voluntarily pick a lifestyle where that could happen to you at any time? What if your daughter were lesbian or your son gay? Would you cease to love them?

    No one just decides to be LGBT. You’re born that way, just the same as skin colour.

  • Justina

    I am appalled about this adoption of the Confederacy model. I realize they probably are thinking that the nation is so overrun with perversion and approval of it that some might think in terms of secession – which would be a bit unworkable and even silly.

    But my own reason for disliking the civil rights comparison to LGBT is that they have no right to such a claim. civil rights was about discrimination based on one thing only, inherited physical looks that you have no control over and that have NO BEARING ON YOUR PERSONALITY CHARACTER OR ABILITY.

    LGBT is about behavior. Aside from issues of right and wrong – and they are wrong – you could also compare their silliness at best, to someone claiming a civil rights comparison to discriminatory laws against skate boarders.

  • Luke Thomas

    People who are so “anti-gay” have homosexual desires themselves and try to cover it up putting on these hate fronts to the world. The psychological term is “reaction formation” which is a defense mechanism. This happens to be a FACT, which is what motivates people to be so anti-gay. Otherwise if a person is against gay marriage, they simply don’t need to marry someone their own sex.

  • Bob Carr

    Lincoln was right about ‘preserving the Union.

    From reading the ‘Fedarealist Papers’, I find that the ‘Confederation’ was what the US Constitution was designed to replace, to prevent, among other things, plots by Factions, Sects, Smugglers and foreign enemies.

    Therefore, all this nostalgia for the Southern Confederacy is basically a desire for more diviseve, treasonous activity.

    Read the ‘Federalist Papers’! States Rights are not what is claimed, although Alexander Hamilton did soft-pedal the issue, to our disadvantage!

  • David young

    What can you expect from blithering idiots?

    This just goes to show the lack of intelligence found in the Rerligious Right!

    Stupid is as stupid does!

  • Krissy

    If you’re going to invoke a war, at least invoke the winning side.

  • Aron


    I don’t think anyone here disparaged Bobby Lee. In fact, I seem to recall describing him in rather glowing terms…

  • April

    My slave owning great, great mother would have called it “The Late Unpleasantness”, and would’ve been horrified to hear Robert E Lee disparaged. Were she alive today, however, she’d likely be one of the white majority city of Charleston, S.C. which went for Obama. And she’d be proud that her great great grand daughter, had been in the Civil Rights Movement in the South.

    So much awful stuff on this site, just thought I’d remind you everyone isn’t bad, and people evolve, as do cultures. If the New York Times would call “stop and frisk” what they’d call it were it in Mississippi, ethnic profiling, racial discrimination, or plain old racism, I’d be heartened about the North. But it saves white lives, so who cares?

  • Terry Washington

    Memo to Pat Buchanan and his ilk- the Confederacy went down to defeat-just like the Third Reich and apartheid era South Africa!


  • Tom Townsend

    I think that the strongest commonality between opposition to marriage equality and opposition to the ending of slavery is that neither is a morally or logically defensible viewpoint. Yet people tend to cling to their beliefs out of instinct I think, so the only the tool they have to make an argument is simple reflexive defensiveness.

  • Karen, a tired old lesbian

    The roaches are crawling out of the woodwork and the mention of marriage equality.

  • Sam Molloy

    The seemingly positive references to slavery in the Bible were written at a time when, as I understand history, being a slave was more or less a respectable job compared to being totally unemployed and unwanted by anyone for anything, in other words a beggar. Being a member of a respectable, powerful household at that time could be compared to working for IBM in the 1950’s. The references to the Israelites being in bondage as a people in Egypt were not so positive, and they worked hard to be free, with some supernatural help. The slavery of recent times in the Americas was based on race, and more similar to the Israelite’s situation.

  • Linnea

    Uhh, they *do* know the Confederacy was the losing side, and had to give up slavery, right?

  • Mitch Beales

    My guess is Pastor Engle is better at screeds than he is at creeds.

  • Aron


    And that is why Robert E Lee is a great man worthy of our esteem and memory, and Pastor Engle won’t even be considered a footnote in history.

  • CM

    “General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate army, ‘had an anointing or something …’”

    Uh-huh, and I suppose Lou Engle’s recital of the Creed starts out, “I believe in one God or whatever …”

    To help Pastor Lou and anyone else whose understanding of history is so vague, I’ll copy once again a quote from Gen. Lee himself, written in 1865 after he knew the Confederacy had spectacularly failed:

    “It should be the object of all to avoid controversy, to allay passion, give full scope to reason and to every kindly feeling. By doing this and encouraging our citizens to engage in the duties of life with all their heart and mind, with a determination not to be turned aside by thoughts of the past and fears of the future, our country will not only be restored in material prosperity, but will be advanced in science, in virtue and in religion.”

  • IludiumPhosdex

    Quoth Erika:

    It actually makes perfect sense to me. The Confederacy was largely based upon a narrow White Supremacist interpretation of the Bible.

    So was apartheid South Africa, for that matter.

  • Erika

    It actually makes perfect sense to me. The Confederacy was largely based upon a narrow White Supremacist interpretation of the Bible. The opposition to gay marriage is based upon a narrow Hetereosexual Supremacist interpretation of the Bible. Hence, they are acknowledging what we all should have known all along – that had the people who oppose gay marriage been around in 1860 they would be saying that God ordained slavery and being ready to secede. Its nice they finally admitted it.

  • Aron

    Bobby Lee didn’t command THE Confederate Army. He commanded A Confederate army. I’m sure Braxton Bragg, PGT Beauregard, Joseph E Johnston, et al, might be a little bit irked at Engle’s ignorance.

    History. KNOW ABOUT IT!

  • Mitch Beales

    There is one very apt comparison between the Confederacy and those who oppose marriage equality. The end of both is without doubt in defeat and infamy.