As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear arguments about marriage equality, the right wing is out in force trying to make its (impossibly feeble) case against it. Chief among its stars is Ryan Anderson, a 33-year-old scholar at the Heritage Foundation, who is putting a pretty new face on the same old ugly arguments.
Anderson is out making the circuit as the “reasonable” voice against marriage equality. His argument, in essence, is that the state’s right to regular marriage is all about protecting the children who are the product of marriage. Those children, of course, are the offspring of a man and a woman only.
Anderson concedes that this may not necessarily be the only argument about marriage and not even necessarily the right one. But he also argues that the Constitution protects states who agree with him. In other words, states can be wrong, but that’s okay because the Constitution allows it.
“We’re having a national conversation about this, and that shouldn’t be short-circuited by the Supreme Court,” Anderson told the Washington Post in a glowing profile.
It’s a breathtaking jump in logic. The role of the Supreme Court is to make sure that wrong arguments about the Constitution aren’t used to protect states from violating people’s rights.
Anderson is using an old, old argument, but because he’s fresh-faced, he’s been getting away with it. It’s the same argument used to pass California’s Proposition 8, and it has the same flaws. Anderson says that state is not in the business of “consenting adult romance.” But the state also doesn’t administer fertility tests to prospective brides and grooms. It doesn’t disallow post-menopausal women to wed.
The protection of children argument applies only to a segment of the population getting married (which inconveniently includes some same-sex couples). The state doesn’t care about all those people not having kids, but it let’s them get married too. The state’s definition of marriage isn’t as narrow as Anderson would like you to think.
Of course, considering where Anderson works, this logic comes as no surprise. The Heritage Foundation was once a legitimate conservative think tank, but since has become a right-wing hack machine. It’s run by Jim DeMint, the former South Carolina Senator who had a long anti-gay record. Instead of trying to come up with new conservative policies, the Foundation is now all about politics. Being a scholar at the Heritage Foundation these days is comparable to being a security guard in the Mafia.
And a little digging into his past would show that Anderson buys into many of the same homophobic arguments that characterize the worst of the right wing. He’s sung the praises of the ex-gay movement, compared homosexuality to alcoholism and claimed that Glee was corrupting American youth.
In the Post profile, he argues that lesbian relationships are short-lived because women leave relationships when their needs aren’t met. (As if it requires two people to leave the relationship, instead of just one.) Gay men are more promiscuous (where have we heard that one?) and marriage equality will pave the way to polygamy.
Anderson says that time may prove him wrong, but that it’s no time to rush the conversation. “I’m inclined not to rush to a conclusion,” he told the Post. Of course, he’s not inclined to get married yet, either. Anderson is still single.
What surprises Anderson is that people think he’s bigoted. “On the marriage issue, they don’t think you’re just wrong, they think you’re evil,” he told the Post. We’ll leave the judgment to history. That day of judgment is probably a lot closer than Anderson thinks.
Photo credit: Heritage Foundation