On Oct. 27, the Family Research Council (FRC) unintentionally raised the white flag of surrender. It came in the form of a breathless direct mail letter that desperately declared: “The battle for marriage is NOT FINISHED.” Which, of course, is a tacit acknowledgement that we are at the beginning of the end of this fight.
If FRC’s outlook was dour in August, today the organization’s leaders must be downright depressed. This week, New Jersey became the 14th state to allow same-sex couples to wed, after Republican Gov. Chris Christie dropped an appeal to the state Supreme Court. Newly elected Sen. Corey Booker (D) presided over the first same-sex wedding. There was a three-tiered wedding cake and champagne, presumably to help the grooms forget they were spending their special day in Newark.
On Wednesday, the New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether to legalize marriage equality for the entire state. Eight counties currently permit same-sex couples to wed and more than 1,000 marriage licenses have so far been issued. New Mexico would bring the grand total of marriage equality states to 15 – and provide more geographical diversity to the issue.
Yesterday, in Illinois, more than three-dozen elected officials from state and local government marched in Springfield to demand marriage equality. During the rally, the Gay Liberation Network unfurled a large pink banner in the state house urging lawmakers to “pass the damn bill.” They were referring to Senate Bill 10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which may be up for a vote during the fall session.
As it stands, gay couples can marry in the entire Northeast, from Washington, DC to Presque Isle, Maine (minus the sad exception of Pennsylvania.) On the West Coast, two of the three states have marriage equality (California and Washington) – and we all know that Oregon, anchored by hipsterish Portland, won’t be too far behind.
Lest FRC claim this is a liberal East Coast/Left Coast conspiracy – same-sex marriages are also taking place in Minnesota and Iowa.
While FRC is technically correct when they say that the fight is “not finished,” each year they have less turf to defend. In the not too distant future, they will be a parody of themselves – with rabid supporters bitterly standing in front of southern capitals waving confederate flags, while screaming that they aren’t bigots.
Of course, the Family Research Council won’t see the writing on the wall as long as they can keep scaring little old ladies into writing checks. But the arguments coming from groups like FRC are increasingly ridiculous. In their August newsletter, the group actually made the absurd claim that if same-sex marriage were approved federally, it would be an “economic level disaster.” The hyperbole reached hyperventilation when FRC boldly asserted in its letter that, “this is a fight for our economic life.”
Listening to FRC whine, one would think that it was only a matter of time before America was forced to move Wall Street to Selma in order to rescue the nation from bankruptcy.
Another foolish claim from FRC is that we are somehow “redefining” marriage by widening the circle of those eligible to be wed. Yet, FRC President Tony Perkins has failed to show a single alteration to the institution that would affect heterosexual couples. So, by definition, this can’t be a redefinition given that nothing has changed.
In the absence of evidence, Perkins is making the spurious claim that his flock’s religious liberties are under attack. “Christian business owners are suffering the consequences as provisions of this law are imposed upon them,” states the August letter.
What FRC is doing is conveniently conflating marriage laws with non-discrimination laws, which mandate that if a business is open to the public, it must serve everyone. Without such laws, we would return to the days when people freely posted signs that read “No Dogs or Jews” or “Whites Only.”
Fortunately, our society has rejected this ugly vision for our country. We have collectively decided that exclusionary business practices are un-American, and religious beliefs can’t be used to justify discrimination. So, all of the bellyaching over losing “religious liberty” is a lie that has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, and everything to do with a group of narrow-minded people who believe their religion gives them the “freedom” to deny people services.
As the marriage victories pile up – FRC will increasingly portray themselves as victims, when in reality they are the ones spewing the venom. I can’t wait to get that final FRC letter in a few years — when 49 states have approved same-sex marriage – and there is a picture of Perkins standing in the Alamo with Texas Gov. Rick Perry screaming, “We’re not done! This fight is just beginning!”