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12/07/2012

Reminder: DOMA is largely a Family Research Council production

by Jeremy Hooper

Considering the history-making announcement that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the Defense Of Marriage Act (and Prop 8) in the coming months, I think it's important to remind folks that one of the most openly hostile groups working today is the main group that we have to blame for DOMA's very birth. I'm talking about the Family Research Council, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center now deems a "hate group." Back in the mid-'90s, that very same FRC (then headed by Gary Bauer) led the super coalition of social conservatives that pushed this horrible idea into law.

Here's current FRC president talking about the roots:


"we took it back to our policy shop at FRC and formulated
the policy and actually gave it the name Defense of Marriage
Act
"

And "took it back to our policy shop" they sure did. FRC hosted a big DOMA rollout press conference back in July of 1996 Screen Shot 2012-12-07 At 4.30.38 Pm filled with names you now know. In addition to the aforementioned Bauer, there was Peter LaBarbera, Robert Knight, Jeffrey Satinover, late professional "ex-gay" activist Anthony Falzaranno, and others who are still fighting us today. The video from that presser is no longer embeddable for me to share with you in this post, but you can watch it on C-SPAN's own website. Because who doesn't want to watch a biased baby take its first harsh steps?

After taking it public, FRC proceeded to do all it could to see the bill become law. I have rounded up all kinds of vintage testimony that these mid-'90s FRC staffers offered to both Congress and the American public, all of it written by the same openly anti-LGBT individuals who I mentioned above:

THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT: WHAT THE EXPERTS HAVE TO SAY [FRC (via Wayback Machine)]
WHY WE NEED THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT [FRC(via Wayback Machine)]
THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT: EXPERT TESTIMONY [FRC (via Wayback Machine)]
THE IMPLICATIONS OF GAY 'MARRIAGE' [FRC (via Wayback Machine)]
THE POTENTIAL EFFECTS ON EDUCATION CURRICULA AND POLICY OF HOMOSEXUAL 'MARRIAGE' [FRC (via Wayback Machine)]
DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT: HOW ADOPTION POLICY IS AFFECTED [FRC (via Wayback Machine)]
THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT: A SOCIAL WORKER'S VIEW [FRC (via Wayback Machine)]

And as we know, these folks ultimately succeeded, bolstered by the reactionary Congress that existed in 1996. The lawmakers of that Gingrichian day sided with FRC's chicanery.


But now? Well, now is a very different day. We have marriage equality in nine states and D.C. A sizable number of the lawmakers, signatories, and even sponsors who put DOMA into our lives now repudiate their past actions. Multiple lower court rulings have called out this unconstitutional nonsense for what it is, and our President and his Justice department refuse to defend it. DOMA a horrible, no good law with demonstrable harms, and the reality that has unfurled in the subsequent sixteen years only proves how flawed the FRC-initiated process always was.

And of course we now know what FRC is really all about. Tony Perkins has one of the cruelest quote banks of any anti-equality activist. FRC Senior Policy Fellow Peter Sprigg has called for gays to be "exported" and/or criminalized. Religious outreach guy Kenyn Cureton has referred to gays as "simply pawns in the hands of their malevolent master" the Devil and claimed that FRC's is a fight against "the forces of evil directed by the prince of darkness himself." FRC has produced pamphlets that begin by comparing same-sex marriages to man-horse marriages (complete with horse graphic). And much more.

Yet despite our heightened awareness of this group and its obvious animus, FRC is still helping us connect the historical DOMA dots. In today's press release about the SCOTUS news, the press department reminds readers of the outsized role this lone special interest group played in bringing forth this horrible policy:

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 At 4.33.47 Pm

I, for one, am fully ready to let FRC take the credit and to ensure that the Supreme Court justices know this history. In fact—I insist!

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