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03/02/2011

T. Perkins, as unswayed by teen movie law as he is Equal Protection, thinks cocky is path to happy ending

by Jeremy Hooper

Family Research Council head Tony Perkins writes in USA Today:

"The biggest trophy that gay activists now seek is the redefinition of marriage. Currently, only five states allow same-sex marriages. How can a team leading 45-5 be losing? Where the people have decided, 31 out of 31 states have upheld marriage as a male-female union. A 31-game winning streak rarely signals a losing season."
...
"If family members saw that I engaged in behavior that put my physical health at risk, I would expect them to warn me. If my closest friends believed I was in a harmful relationship, I would want them to help me escape it. If I were falling into sin, I would want other Christians to call me to repentance."
Conservatives will speak out [USA Today]

Okay,

(a) Tony is disingenuous is the way he makes five states (plus the District of Columbia, btw) sound like a minor thing. We're talking about five states in only a handful of years. Fives states with FULL MARRIAGE EQUALITY under the civil laws of the state. That momentum is beyond huge, and social conservatives know it.

6A00D8341C503453Ef0133F60Fbe65970B(b) 45-5 is a flawed stating of the stakes. Yes, we only have five marriage states (and D.C.) But it's not like all of the other 45 have dashed all marital hope. We have very reasonable hopes for full marriage in states like Maryland and Rhode Island. We have civil unions or strong domestic partnerships in several other states. We have out-of-state marriage recognition in New York. Etc. etc. So acting like we have a black/white, 45/5, equal/hostile picture? That's completely flawed and reductive thinking.

(c) "31 out of 31" is also a deceptive portrait. Because in many early states, we weren't in contention in any real or viable way. The opposition movement came out with guns and bank accounts a'blazin', because they saw a real threat and saw a real way to rally via their vast church networks. In many states, there wasn't even a pro-marriage equality movement to speak of until the anti-movement began. So yes, we have lost at the polls in 31 states. But most of them were sucker punches, not fair fights (as if voting on minority rights is ever fair).

(d) Furthermore, Tony's choice to base momentum all around referenda is about as short-sighted as you can get. Because also in the past decade, we've seen Lawrence v. Texas, which was a game changer among game changers. We've had the federal Prop 8 ruling, where the opposition movement launched a truly abysmal defense (which even some in the conservative movement have admitted). We've seen a growing body of state courts turn our way. We have a growing number of elected officials calling for the repeal of DOMA (which even an AFA staff attorney sees as unconstitutional). And in terms of those referenda that Tony loves so much: Thanks in large part to mean-spirited votes like the Prop 8 one, we have the American public talking about the cruciality of not voting on a minority population's civil rights. These factors have changed the game far more than the bare majority electoral "victories" ever will.

(e) As for health: I will not even entertain the insane idea that ENCOURAGING. LEGALLY-RECOGNIZED. MONOGAMY. somehow endangers physical health. Sure, marriage does not guarantee/require one partner for life (heterosexuals have more than proven that). But if stewarding sexuality in a way that reduces the social conservatives' lists of horribles is truly the goal, then groups like FRC should be DEMANDING marriage equality, not banning the same.

But the truth is that (f) Social conservatives like Tony aren't really concerned about fostering healthy relationships for LGBT people. No, no -- the goal, as again evidenced by these quips, is to paint certain relationships as intrinsically "harmful" and "sinful," with "escape" and/or "repentance" as the only acceptable endgames.

Americans are starting to get what's really going on here.

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