On April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Constitution requires state governments to recognize same-sex marriages. Opponents of LGBTQ equality redoubled their activist efforts in the days leading up to April 28th, alarmed at the possibility of a SCOTUS decision that would recognize same-sex marriages across the country. In a prior post, Republic of Gilead shared quotes from Religious Right leaders who spoke at a press conference at the National Press Club. In this post, I'd like to share quotes from another anti-LGBTQ event in recent days.
On April 25th, the National Organization for Marriage led the National March for Marriage from Third Street to the Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., reports the International Business Times. Scheduled speakers included NOM president Brian Brown, Josh Duggar, Sen. Ruben Diaz, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, and others. Thousands of anti-LGBTQ demonstrators proclaimed their opposition to same-sex marriage, according to the Washington Post. Think Progress shared photos of the rally participants, including attendees from NOM, Human Life International, AFTAH, and the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.
Right Wing Watch shared video excerpts of speeches at the rally. Predictably, the speeches contained the same tired arguments against same-sex marriage that the Religious Right has used for years. Fear, self-righteousness, and heteronormativity pervaded speeches at the National March for Marriage
First, Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, California, declared that the Supreme Court was "incapable" of changing God's definition of marriage. "You mess with the definition of marriage, and you burn. You're toast! You can't win that one!" he warned.
Garlow delivered a convoluted interpretation of the Hebrew words for male and female (ish and isha), claiming that they have letters that spell the beginning of the Tetragrammaton (יהוה), the Hebrew name of God. He argued that humans can only fully express the image of God when paired with a member of the opposite sex (thereby excluding same-sex couples, widows, widowers, singles, and celibate persons from the image of God). The implication, it seemed, is that humans are only complete and godly when married to a member of the opposite sex, a belief with dehumanizing implications.
"When you have male and female together, you have the imago dei, the image of God. No male by himself is an expression of the full spectrum of the image of God. No female by herself is a full expression of the full spectrum of the image of God. Nor are two men or two women. Only as a male and female come together -- yod heh, God -- the image of God is stamped upon that covenantal marriage relationship."Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, vowed to obey God's law over U.S. law in the event of a Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage. He invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in defense of his stance, oblivious to the irony of comparing his anti-equality efforts to King's pro-equality efforts.
"Supreme Court of the United States, with all due respect, we warn you, do not cross this line. And as much as I'm an attorney and I respect the rule of law, I also respect a higher law, and when an earthly law collides with the higher law, we have no choice [but] to obey the higher law. We cannot comply to Caesar's demands that are in direct conflict with the higher law, and that's what the Dr. Martin Luther King wrote in Letter from Birmingham Jail."Fr. Johannes Jacobse, founder of the American Orthodox Institute, repeated the tired argument that opposite-sex marriage is the only valid form of marriage because it produces children. He warned the audience that national legalization of same-sex marriage would somehow lead to state control over people's lives and a withering of freedom.
"Marriage is one man and one woman because it takes one man and one woman to create a child. This is written in nature, and if we look deeply into nature, what do we discover? We discover intent, purpose, and meaning, and that meaning comes from the very mouth of God. If we do not recognize that, if that consciousness grows dim, then what we end up doing is seeing the state as the source and the arbiter of what makes human relationships morally licit. We can't do that because if you give to Caesar the things that are God's, he never gives it back! And in the end, in the end, the state will be telling you how to live, and you will lose your freedom."Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that speakers resorted to fear tactics and appeals to self-righteousness. Opposition to LGBTQ equality has no logical basis, so Religious Right leaders will appeal to emotion rather than reason. However, more Americans are realizing that equal rights for LGBTQ citizens are reasonable, and so this emotion-driven rhetoric is falling on deaf ears.
To watch additional video coverage of the National March for Marriage, click here.