The Right Wing Can’t Admit It’s Lost The Marriage War

If you need an example of just how unmoored the right wing is from reality, look no further than the decision of antimarriage activists to petition the Supreme Court to stop marriage in California just two days after the Court gave it the go ahead. Yes, in what has to be a textbook case of denial, marriage opponents somehow thought that the same folks in robes who just lectured them on the dignity of gay and lesbian relationships would suddenly change their minds and agree with them. Of course, that was a short-lived belief. Justice Anthony Kennedy swatted the petition down without a second thought.

If the right wing wants to throw good money after bad, that’s their choice. But by pursuing such a quixotic (which is a nice way of saying hair-brained) appeal, they underscore one key fact: they can’t admit that they’ve lost. It’s not that they are in denial. In their more lucid moments, they know marriage equality is inevitable.

James Dobson, one of the patriarchs of the religious right, says that the Supreme Court ruling was devastating “even if eventually legally we are able to walk it back a bit.” That is hardly a trumpet call to battle victory. Instead it’s a monument to qualifiers. Any more hedging and the entire phrase would have to be in air quotes.

But the right wing can’t give up. In large part, it’s principle, as they genuinely believe marriage equality is immoral. But it’s hardly the only issue they consider immoral. In fact, there are two reasons why the right wing can’t give up.

The first is that the success the religious right has had with abortion rights. After the huge setback of Roe v. Wade, the right wing has managed to put major restrictions around a woman’s right to choose. In states with GOP majorities,legislatures have tightened the restrictions on abortion clinics, with the goal of driving as many as possible out of business. Those successes are a road map for effectively undoing a Supreme Court decision as much as possible. Don’t think they aren’t mulling that over when it comes to marriage equality.

The second reason is more complicated. A lot of the right wing’s identity is tied up in its antigay activities. Without them, what would the right be about? It has nothing to replace them with, at least at present. This is the problem facing the GOP: it has to change if it’s going to survive. But religious conservatives have no reason to change for political reasons. They will hang on to the bitter end. That’s why the right may recognize marriage equality is inevitable, but they will never stop fighting it every way they can.

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  • Charles175

    What the religious right is frightened so much of is the fact that there is growing enormous evidence that we are born this way. Sin on the other hand is purely choice. Being born gay removes the sin aspect and they just cannot handle this.

  • Taliaferro

    Not only are we born with our sexual identity, their much quoted adage that God created marriage between one man and one woman, is becoming ludicrous. In the first place, God did not create marriage, the church did. In the second, many Biblical patriarchs had more than one wife. A third point, is that marriage has meant different things at different times in history. These fossilized ignorant people, mostly men, don’t realize that not many care for their pronouncements anymore. They are no longer relevant. They might scream and carry on, but their day is, mercifully, past.

  • Dakotahgeo

    Wow!!! Just… WOW!!! Probably the most succinct article I have ever read on marriage equality vs. the religious christian Taliban extremists. They are certainly no Christians by any stretch of the imagination! They will definitely go down with the ship and I will NOT tell them where the floatation devices are… Nosiree!

  • Jared MacBride

    It’s all about money. Their fight against marriage equality is really about keeping the contributions coming in so they don’t have to look for real jobs.

  • CalgaryBill

    @Taliaferro It appears that you are another one who’s bought into the lies of the church and of the right wingers. Marriage was originally a state institution, only sometimes also celebrated by local religious groups. Then throughout the first 1000 years of CE it was a purely social institution, until, as the Dark Ages began, the church became afraid of losing power and money. The Catholic Church only then started doing marriages.

    To a thinking person, marriage is any state-sanctioned union. Churches should perhaps be allowed to add their own spin, calling it a religious union; it should not be considered marriage.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    The Supreme Court is doing its best to bolster the conservative tide in this Country by allowing Citizens United and undoing the essential provision in Shelby County v. Holder, Voting Rights Act of 1965. Already, despicable cheaters are working their magic in North Carolina and Texas. Virginia and Arizona will be hot on their heels with their own gerrymandering and oppressive tactics. That’s how desperate this party is. The Conservatives on the Supreme Court handed them two huge gifts and yet, still, the GOP gets slapped down. I hope this Voting Rights Act dissolution wakes the sleeping giant in oppressed minorities and back-fires right back into their laps. The Church will turn its ugliness towards Muslims and raise money creating fear out of that for a few decades, once they realize that the gay heyday is over. It’s all about money with these earthly, worldly charlatans.

  • Charles

    @Charles175: I’m wondering, what “evidence are you referring too? And sin is not purely a choice. I don’t like this apologetic excuse of “born that way” As if we need the scientific community to justify who we are. Born of not people shouldn’t be barred from marrying the same sex.

  • erikwm

    When Sophie Scholl, leader of the the White Rose resistance movement, was tried and sentenced to death in a kangaroo court by the Nazis in 1943, she famously told the court — “where we stand today, you will stand soon.”

    The religious right has cast gays and lesbians as social pariahs for decades, but soon, they will be the social pariahs. The roles are reversing. Where we once stood, they will stand soon.

  • Grinning_Wolf

    I disagree Erik but only because I truly believe that we’re better than that. Whereas the xtian right will do anything to hurt LGBTQ people – that includes passing legislation that would put us in jail or/and mental hospitals JUST for being gay (it was the USA xtian right that backed the Uganda kill the gay bill btw), refuse to pass legislation that will stop discrimination against LGBTQ in the workplace, refuse to pass legislation to stop discrimination in housing, the list goes on ….
    For our side? We don’t do that. We never have. Whenever gay folks sit down to discuss what needs to be done to make our lives better, I have yet to hear anyone say, “AND BTW… when all is said and done.. Let’s make those right wing wankers SUFFER!” It’s just not how the majority of us think. All we want is to be treated with respect and allowed to pursue life, liberty, etc. without getting thrashed for being who we are…and that’s it. Equal treatment, period. No one is asking for the religious nutjobs to be tossed into mental hospitals and prisons (although, sometimes it seems so VERY clear that some of these people truly are delusional – listen to the pastor from Westboro church in any interview, OMG! He is mentally unwell!) But we just don’t do that kind of crap. I think, by in large (and, of course, there are exceptions) folks from our community just aren’t interested in hurting other people. I also think the our communities have a very high rate of empathy in terms of how we treat other people suffering emotional pain. Most people in the GLBTQ communities have, in one way or the other, experienced pain solely because of our orientation/identity. Many of us have lost jobs, been physically bashed, gotten bashed and/or kicked out the military, been treated like crap throughout our school careers, etc. Ya… We might make a joke about “they’ll get theirs”.. but no one really wants to see any of these people suffer. I might sound condescending BUT I truly believe the majority of GLBTQ people are above that crap (along with our straight allies and PFLAG families etc). In terms of philosophy and who practices what … I have noticed for years that the GLBTQ communities are incredibly “Christian” in the way we lives our lives. We love our brothers/sisters as we love ourselves, we don’t make judgments on others, we care and share with those in need (Go back to the 1980s AIDS crisis and it was amazing how fast we all came together to help one another), I could go on but .. I think you catch my drift. I just wish the xtian right would wake up… Wake up and stop trying to hurt people from our communities for doing nothing more radical than being WHO WE WERE BORN TO BE. Know what I mean? Take care.

  • Hunter

    @Taliaferro: A point of information: the Church did not create marriage — the Church didn’t even recognize it as a sacrament until the beginning of the thirteenth century. Marriage has always been a community ritual, with clergy optional — and that’s something that goes back to the ancient Mediterranean and beyond. The Church is trying to appropriate it.

  • Hunter

    @Charles175: It’s a little deeper than that — remember, to Christians, everyone is a sinner — according to them, we’re all “born that way.” What happens is that as the evidence for a biological basis for sexual orientation mounts, their “gays chose to spit in God’s eye” argument loses a lot of traction. Notice how the emphasis is shifting to “Big Gay, Inc.” and a shadowy conspiracy to take over the world. Shades of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    We’re still sinners. We’re just the sinners that they’ve chosen to vilify.

  • Hunter

    @Grinning_Wolf: We don’t have to do anything to hurt them. They’re doing enough damage to themselves. I think the thrust of Erik’s comment is that there is a certain inevitability to the rise of fall of power groups. The “Christian” right is fading, and making themselves very unpopular while they’re doing it. Paganism has a take on that: what you send out will come back to you.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    The Tedious Right is fading because they foolishly entwined themselves into a political machine. Politics and religion don’t potentiate each other. Politics, tainted by religion, is usury. Religion, tainted by politics, is oppression.
    To be true, even when others hate us for it, is courageous.

  • hephaestion

    James Dobson is said to be gay, and so he will never give up his attempts to prove that he is not gay.

  • rand503

    The Chrisitianists understand, up to a point, that they are losing on this issue. But what they believe is that there will be a “backlash” and that kids will grow up to be conservatives. They believe that if they just keep “educating” people about the evils of homosexuality and that same sex marriage has destroyed marriage, then people will start to restrict it, and eventually reverse it.

    IOW, they are following their model with abortion. Yes, they are able to get restrictions on abortion now, 40 years after Roe v. Wade, and yes, many people still think abortion is wrong, but these are two separate issues. They don’t realize the gay issue is one way — once people lose their fear of gays, it’s gone forever.

    I also like the comment above that without gays to hate, the religious right is lost. Sure, they can always hate muslims and abortionists, but that just doesn’t have the oomph of hating gays. No one is worried that their precious little boy will become a muslim or an abortionist!

    So if you put this all together, the religious right will continue to hate on gays until they have no one to take over when they die off. They will not ever declare a truce in this war, and will fight to the bitter end.

  • jsancheznv

    In being objective, I understand why the other side does not want to publicly give up: Take a look at the Prop 8 case alone. That measure has costs (both sides) millions and millions of dollars, in addition to emotionally draining lawyers, supporters, and opponents on both sides. Brian Brown “personally” moved his family to California to “ensure” Prop 8’s passage. Five years after a popular vote (which in my opinion should never have taken place because the CA. Sup. Ct. held marriage to be a ‘fundamental’ right that applies to same-sex couples) which narrowly approved Prop 8 a trial was held in federal District Court in San Francisco (by an openly gay judge – not that that matters because I don’t think that is a basis for recusal) who refused to dismiss the case and held a trial on the merits broadly holding Prop 8 unconstitutional; the 9th Circuit affirmed the District Court ruling on narrower grounds; the CA Sup. Ct. issued an opinion holding that proponents of the measure do have standing to appeal in the 9th Circuit; then they lose at the 9th Circuit and the U.S. Sup. Ct. grants cert. only to dismiss the case and vacate the 9th Circuit’s holding because it held proponents did not have standing, thus leaving the District Court holding and Injunction intact. Proponents of Prop 8, after spending a great deal of resources, are told they are mere bystanders and have no standing to assert claims in federal court because their alleged injuries are not real and concrete. Further, while a District Court holding is typically limited to jurisdictions (parts of the state) under the Court’s control, in this instance the Injunction applies statewide because it orders state officials in their official capacities not to enforce Prop 8 because it found the measure facially unconstitutional. Then at the 11th hour, Proponents try a last minute measure to stop marriages in CA after they resumed a few days after the Prop 8 decision (which no one expected and thanks to the 9th Circuit) because under Rule 45 they are allowed 25-days to file a motion for re-consideration – only to see Justice Kennedy who agreed that they DID have standing deny their emergency application to stop the weddings. This, of course, happened moments after the very fabulous AG Kamala Harris married 2 of the plaintiff’s in San Francisco City Hall and tweeted about it just before telling the L.A. County Clerk that marriages must resume “immediately.” And Proponents can’t even go back to federal court because they are not a party of interest, they are mere bystanders. Can you imagine litigating a case for 5-years and pouring millions of dollars and thousands of hours of intellectual labor only to be told you have no standing? Talk about having all the stars aligned against you. I, for one, am happy to see these results and how the stars aligned because they have been aligned against us for such a long time and still are in most federal and appeals courts in this country. It’s like for once our opponents got a flavor of what daily life has been for us in this country for decade after decade. I do not think our opponents are simply in denial that they lost; they are also in denial that the same system (the courts/government) that they have relied on consistently over the years to further their means and objectives has turned on them and given them some of their own medicine. With all this said, I still expect Proponents to try to concoct some type of state court strategy to limit the scope of the injunction. I think it is fair to say that by now they know they will get no dice in federal court. A movie will be made about this. Mark my words.

  • lab

    get real…the right wing can’t admit they lost roe v wade and that was 40 years ago in 1973

  • jsancheznv

    Roe v. Wade is still an on-going fight. Look at what all the legislatures in the Red States are doing by chipping away the spirit of Roe v. Wade.

  • jwrappaport

    @erikwm: Very apt. Our country (and civilization) has been hijacked long enough by superstition and fear.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Hunter: Any serious church history historian/scholar will say the same thing. Marriage was first and foremost a legally sanctioned attainer which transferred property and gave everybody a chance to throw and attend a party, ONE of which Jesus was invited. And what did he do? The first thing Jesus did was produce the best wine in the house! Now THAT’S the kind of Rabbi/Pastor I would want at my wedding!
    Pastor Dak!

  • Derek Williams

    Linking abortion in lockstep with LGBT equality is I believe unwise. We can’t assume all gay people are either in favour of it or against it, and to do so blurs the focus of our equality agenda.

  • lab

    @Derek Williams: I am not linking abortion with gay equality…not like we use it often. I am just saying the right wing will continue to fight gay marriage forever just as it has roe v wade

  • 1EqualityUSA

    The tedious Right constantly links the two, abortion and Equality. It’s their way of bolstering their weak, pathetic argument. Thank you, Derek Williams, for pointing out any mention of these two issues in the same breath.

  • Caliban

    There really is no direct connection between abortion and gay rights. (FWIW I am gay AND pro-choice, but see the two things and apples and oranges.)

    Where they DO intersect, however, is that political conservatives and religious fundamentalist conservatives (who are often but not always the same people) want to control ALL sexuality, because if you can control sexuality you basically control everything. It’s that powerful a force in both individuals and in society at large.

    I truly believe that they WANT sex to have negative consequences, from unwanted pregnancies (why else the opposition to contraception?) to disease and death. They LONG for the days when an unmarried woman being pregnant was a HUGE scandal that came with both shunning and often life-long shame. The long for the days when they could shame and vilify gay people. Because if they can make you AFRAID of sex, ashamed of your sexuality, then controlling YOU is that much easier. I really think it ultimately comes down to control.

    The one thing they cannot stand is to be mocked and laughed at, for their dire pronouncements to be met with rolled eyes.

  • gary47290

    TWhile like the end results, I still don’t understand why our enemies had standing in the trial court, but not on appeal. I was really surprised that SCOTUS didn’t reverse everything on the basis of BAKER V NELSON. Under basic federal judicial rules, it appears that there still is no substantial Federal question.

  • JMdigital

    Good article, but it’s “harebrained” not “hair-brained”. : )

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