Supreme Court’s ruling looms, as Republicans misrepresent the facts.
The right wing has begun their assault on reason and intellect with the standard dire warnings, threats, and fear-mongering in the form of corporate boycotts and revolt. As usual, their claims include flagrant misinterpretations of their favorite documents, the Constitution and the Bible, as well as an assumption that no one will either read up on or bother to revisit history.
Earlier this week, Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, in an unfortunate choice of words, suggested that homosexuality is being “crammed down [the] throats” of Christians, noting that Tiffany’s & Co is “advertising wedding rings for gay couples.” Graham is calling for a boycott of the jeweler and Wells Fargo, both of which apparently use same-sex couples in their ads. Ironically, he posted his outrage on Facebook, whose CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, marched alongside his employees in 2013 in San Francisco Pride.
And then there’s Tom DeLay. Remember him, the former House Majority Leader from Texas who was convicted of money laundering, was accused of taking contributions from Russian oil executives to influence his vote on an IMF bailout of the Russian economy, was involved in the K Street Project, misused federal investigative agencies, and was involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal, which, like any really good scandal, included sex shops, hookers, and sweat shops that forced workers to have abortions? That Tom DeLay?
Yes, he’s the same Tom DeLay who danced on Dancing With the Stars to the tune of “Wild Thing,” in a solid rookie performance, scoring 16 out of 30.
He’s back, on camera, stoking homophobic fears and warning of a massive revolt if the Supreme Court rules to strike down gay marriage bans. “If this Supreme Court rules against marriage, all hell is going to break loose,” DeLay said Thursday on “The Steve Malzberg Show.
DeLay went on to say that he had pledges signed by politicians, including – who else? – Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, who have vowed to defy a ruling by SCOTUS. Of course, neither of them holds any political office, but why should that matter? They’re the dynamic anti-gay duo.
“We’re going to stand for marriage even if it takes civil disobedience,” DeLay said.
It would appear that Scott Walker and Ted Cruz are treading the same homophobic path, both recently announcing the prospect of a constitutional amendment either defining marriage in the GOP’s terms, as one man and one woman, or leaving it up to individual states to define marriage or allow it.
“The decision on defining marriage should be left up to the states,” Walker said.
Cruz has gone so far as to introduce legislation to establish a constitutional amendment protecting states that want to bar same-sex marriage.
DeLay, along with many in the GOP, was also seen flapping his gums during the religious liberty and gay marriage cake-baking fiasco a couple of months ago, claiming that “religious liberty” laws are “not about discrimination”:
We love people who have chosen to be homosexuals. The problem is, we abhor the sin. So yes, when I have a business and some gay person walks in – unidentified by the way, there’s no way you can tell it unless he tells you – then I’m going to serve him. But if he comes in and asks me to undermine my values, what I believe in, undermine my religious liberty, then I have the right to stand up for what I believe in and not serve him. It’s not discrimination.
To clarify: If a dude who “chooses” to be gay walks into a business looking all normal and stuff, then it’s OK to serve him. But if that same dude swishes in and asks you for sex or a wedding cake, then it undermines your apparently fragile religious liberties. Got it.
During the interview on The Steve Malzberg Show, while DeLay was ranting about “all hell breaking loose” if gays marry, he pulls out an idea we’ll be hearing a lot about, attempting to explain that anyone who “understands the Constitution” knows that the legislative and executive branches do not need to enforce a Supreme Court ruling, “and not only that, if the states would just invoke the 10th Amendment and assert their sovereignty, they could defy a ruling by the Supreme Court.” And that’s relevant to anyone who doesn’t care to look deeper than “Gays can’t marry, because it’s gross” or “Being gay is a choice.”
DeLay is suggesting that what the Supreme Court rules and what essentially would be the law of the land is subject to refusal (civil disobedience) on a state-by-state basis, under the umbrella of the 10th Amendment. To a degree that’s true, as the 10th Amendment provides that our government is limited, and there’s nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government power over marriage. In fact marriage has always been the preserve of the state and left, in some cases, to popular vote.
However, the Constitution enumerates certain rights and liberties as so important that they are above politics and the whims of politicians. Freedom of speech and religion, for example, are never put to a popular vote, nor should they be. DeLay may very well believe that being gay is something someone chooses to be one morning while brushing their teeth, but the Constitution stands for the proposition that some rights cannot be left to the whims of politics and politicians. Equality before the law is one of those rights, and that can’t be decided state by state and changed based on who controls the political climate.
There’s a historic precedent as well. In the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, SCOTUS applied the Constitution’s guarantees of equality and liberty to strike down Virginia’s discriminatory interracial marriage law as unconstitutional, a ruling that took down 15 similar state laws along with it. Until then, 16 states had laws on the books that banned interracial couples from marrying under those state laws.
The other glaring ideological barrier in this argument is that, according to DeLay, “God created this nation, that he wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on biblical principles.” So show me in the Bible where it talks about gay marriage. There’s a lot of stuff in that book, and it covers a lot of other things that we don’t seem to be discussing.
A great scene from The West Wing illustrates that point.