No You Don't

13 Villains Of Marriage Equality

It’s been a long journey toward marriage equality, and some folks made it a point to make the journey even longer. Thanks to their enmity, viciousness or just plain crassness, these enemies of equality delayed the day when we could finally say, “I do.” Queerty has chosen some of the worse offenders (read about its heroes also) to remind us just who the villains were in this fight. Please make your own nominations in the comments section below.

Tony Perkins

As president of the Family Research Council, Perkins has had his fingers in many an anti-gay pie, but marriage equality holds a special place for him. Not one to minimize the potential for change, Perkins predicts that marriage equality will spark a “revolution” that will “just break this nation apart.” When not forecasting civil war, Perkins is trying to stiffen the spine of Republicans by calling on conservatives to withhold donations to the party until it stops being so squishy on marriage equality. (This may be a version of the GOP that only Perkins can see.) Even as the tide for equality comes in, Perkins will be standing there demanding that it stop long after everyone else will have given up. 

Mike Gabbard

Hawaii was the first state where marriage equality became a viable issue, and Mike Gabbard was the public face of opposition. He and his group, Stop Promoting Homosexuality, had been around for a while, but when the state started considering marriage equality, Gabbard sank to the occasion, pulling out all the stops to “save traditional marriage.” In 1998, Gabbard was a leader in the successful campaign to pass a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. Now a member of the state senate and a nominal Democrat, Gabbard is still attacking any recognition of gay relationships, including civil unions.



Bob Barr

Barr was swept into Congress on the GOP right-wing tsunami of 1994. He decided to make his legislative mark by going after marriage equality. “The very foundations of our society are in danger of being burned,” Barr thundered. So he authored the Defense of Marriage Act, which, at a mere two pages, packs more homophobia per word that perhaps any other federal law still on the books. Barr was well qualified to elect himself the bastion of heterosexual virtue, having been  married three times and once photographed licking whipped cream off a woman at a fundraising event. 

Barr has since changed his tune on marriage equality, saying it’s a matter of state rights. Not civil rights, of course.


Bill Clinton

Bob Barr gave us the Defense of Marriage Act, but Bill Clinton signed it into law. Then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, he ran ads trumpeting that fact, and on Christian radio stations to boot. The move was clearly a political calculation — principle never entered into it.

If selling us out was what it took to win re-election, Clinton didn’t hesitate to do so. He recognized that gay voters were still unlikely to desert him, given the alternative. Clinton finally got around to saying “Oops!” this year, but he has yet to apologize for his naked political play at our expense.



Maggie Gallagher and Bryan Brown

The dynamic duds behind the National Organization for Marriage (and the times), co-founder and president Gallagher and executive director Brown have been involved in marriage battles around the nation. They can point to successes in California (2008), Maine (2009) and Iowa (2010), and they exercised enough sway over the GOP presidential field last year that they got most of the candidates to sign a pledge to push for a federal marriage ban. (The pledge had the nominal benefit of proving that the candidates could indeed write.)

Since then, it’s been all downhill. Besides losing all the elections last fall, NOM has seen a steep drop off in its revenues and is facing growing court pressure to release the names of its donors.

Timothy Dolan

As the Archbishop of New York, Dolan is the de facto head of the Catholic Church in the U.S. As the pope’s stand-in, Dolan has done his share to bring Vatican homophobia to our shores. He has been a driving force behind the hierarchy’s promotion of “religious liberty,” which is another way of saying right to discriminate.

The irony is that Dolan was incredibly inept when he had a chance to tackle marriage in his own backyard, totally fumbling the Church’s reaction to the successful push for marriage equality in New York. Perhaps Dolan knows that he doesn’t have the backing of the faithful; poll after poll show that American Catholics are more likely to support marriage equality then oppose it.

Karl Rove

Dubbed “the architect” by his creation George W. Bush (who also named him, more appropriately, “turd blossom”), Rove made anti-marriage homophobia a winning campaign tactic in 2004. Recognizing that Bush was facing a tough re-election battle, Rove decided to mobilize the evangelical vote by promoting anti-equality ballot measures.

Relying on a decade of using homosexuality, in the words of his biographers, “not as a wedge but as a bludgeon,” Rove decided to “he had to both divide voters and motivate the conservative base by using homosexuality as a monster under the bed.” The result gave Bush enough of an edge to win Ohio and thus the election, while saddling us with 11 new anti-marriage laws.

Michele Bachmann

Heading for the door none too soon, the crazy-eyed Representative from Minnesota has made hatred of marriage equality a hallmark of her career. As a state senator, Bachmann introduced an anti-marriage amendment to the state constitution and used the most dire rhetoric to push (unsuccessfully) for its passage.

“Because our K-12 public school system, of which ninety per cent of all youth are in the public school system, they will be required to learn that homosexuality is normal, equal and perhaps you should try it,” Bachmann said in 2004, and she hasn’t gotten any better with time.

One cost of her rhetoric: an invitation to her lesbian step-sister’s marriage.

Frank Schubert

Frank Schubert has been the brains behind the anti-marriage ballot battles. He formulated the campaign for Proposition 8 in California, energizing the base, raising buckets of money and putting a happy face on the underlying homophobia. That Prop 8 won even as the state went overwhelmingly for Barack Obama underscores just how clever Schubert was at making the issue seem bipartisan.

That was probably the high point of his political career. Last year, Schubert was the mastermind for the anti-marriage forces in Maine, Minnesota, Maryland and Washington. This time, he met with failure across the board, a sign of how much his golden touch has faded.



Carrie Prejean

It takes a lot to get anyone to pay attention to a beauty pageant, but Prejean did, for all the wrong reasons. During the 2009 Miss USA contest, Prejean answered a question about marriage equality by stating that she believe marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman, “no offense to anybody out there.”

That Prejean was representing California, the land of Proposition 8, made the insult that much worse. Prejean placed second in the Miss USA contest and quickly became a prize celebrity for the right wing, featured in a commercial made by the National Organization for Marriage. However, she subsequently lost her title after the disclosure of nude photos and  a sex tape, cementing her belief that she is the real victim because she’s so virtuous.

The Mormon Church

Yes, we realize that the Church of the Latter Day Saints isn’t an individual, but if it wasn’t for its collective villainy, Proposition 8 might have died on the vine. In 2008, the Church actively encouraged its followers to contribute time and money to promote the anti-marriage measure, going so far as to run television ads in its Utah base market to encourage its followers to get involved. All told, Mormons contributed $20 million to the Prop. 8 campaign, or roughly half of all the money raised. The Church has since gone largely silent in marriage equality battles, but it has already done enough damage to last a lifetime.

Kirk Cameron

Kirk Cameron’s career peaked when Ronald Reagan was president, but the onetime Growing Pains star has staged a comeback of sorts as an airheaded spokesman for traditional marriage. “Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the Garden between Adam and Eve,” the born-again Cameron told CNN last year. “One man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage.”

Just to make it clear what side he was taking, Cameron described marriage equality as “destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.” Cameron got a raft of blowback for his comments, as well as the first measure of real publicity in about two decades.

Rick Santorum

The Republican party offers an embarrassment of riches, but no one is more embarrassing than Rick  Santorum. Santorum has long been a proponent of unbridled homophobia, and no where is that more true that his comments about marriage equality. When it comes to offensive ways to describe marriage equality, no one can beat Santorum. 

There was the time he compared marriage equality to a paper towel or the time he compared it to “man-on-dog” bestiality or the time he compared it to polygamy.  Santorum would largely be a footnote if he hadn’t managed to hang on in the GOP presidential primaries last year all out of proportion to his chances of winning. By doing so, he had a forum for his crackpot analogies and made sure that marriage equality remained a hot button issue for the party.

EXTRA: Read about the heroes of marriage equality

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