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03/28/2013

They're desperate to turn marriage cases into modern-day 'Roe'; it's 95% political and 100% ridiculous

by Jeremy Hooper

Frank Schubert, political director for the National Organization For Marriage and the man who has managed just about every marriage campaign in the past five years (including the four that led to pro-equality votes in the 2012 election), makes it perfectly clear where he stands on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that respected a woman's right to make reproductive choices. Schubert began a recent NOM commentary like so:

It was an otherwise crisp winter day in 1973 when the United States Supreme Court issued their horrific decision in Roe v Wade. I was a junior in high school in California at the time, but I remember the decision coming down. That fateful, awful ruling has haunted society every day since then — for forty years and counting. Not only have over 50 million innocent babies been killed in their own mother's womb, but the decision did incalculable damage to the conscience of our culture.

By devaluing life among the pre-born, the Supreme Court gave tremendous momentum to those who (in the name of "choice" and "dignity" mind you) would "assist" in taking the inconvenient life of the disabled and the infirm, would sanction the killing of a baby because she had the misfortune to be the "wrong" gender, and would advocate medical "progress" through the destruction of human embryos. [
SOURCE]

To be clear: Frank's not a fan. In fact, it's safe to say that Schubert, having described the Roe decision as "horrific," considers it to be more than a mere Supreme Court case. To Schubert, it's a moral cause in which people must be engaged.

As you surely know, conservatives have proceeded to turn Roe into a forty year debate. In these four decades (now in its fifth), a number of groups have sustained themselves off of this one conversation; many conservative voices have remained employed off of fighting nothing more than this one decision; and an entire movement continues to bring in votes, political connections, and the aforementioned organizational dollars by positioning this settled conversation as something that we might someday rollback. And of course the rhetoric becomes exceedingly charged, moving well beyond the policy concerns and into a deeply personal battle of hearts, minds, and beliefs.

What I have just described to you is exactly what groups like NOM are hoping will happen with the upcoming cases and rulings involving Proposition 8 and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. If not expecting to lose, NOM and allies are certainly gearing up for the possibility, laying groundwork that the "pro-family" movement surely hopes will sustain it beyond a Supreme Court that goes against their wishes. We are seeing growing evidence of this attempt to turn these cases into "the new Roe"; Frank Schubert is just one voice—but a prominent, highly representative, and thought-shaping one.

Schubert goes on to write:

That's where we are right now — it's 1973 for marriage. Only now, we know what the consequences will be if we redefine marriage. We've already seen glimpses of the liberty that will be lost, the attacks against churches, the convicting of pastors, the lawsuits against small businesses and the sanctions against individuals of faith. We know that once marriage is redefined, there is no room in the public square for anyone with a biblical, scriptural view of marriage as God defined it to act on that belief. And we know that once marriage is decreed to be genderless, school children will be taught that male/male and female/female "marriages" are perfectly appropriate, no matter what the children are taught at home or in church. In fact, they'll be informed that to think otherwise is bigotry and discrimination.
...
The case that could be the Roe v Wade of marriage is the Proposition 8 case, Perry v Hollingsworth. The same-sex plaintiffs in the Perry case are arguing that Proposition 8 defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is unconstitutional. Moreover, they say that same-sex couples have an absolute right under the federal constitution to marry — in California and, by extension, throughout the US.
….
Think again about the dreadful consequences of the Roe v Wade case. The similarities are eerie when you compare the situation with Roe to what's happening with marriage and the Perry case today. Back when I was in high school and Roe was pending before the court, a few states had legalized abortion, but many remained solidly pro-life. There was a rousing national debate going on in the democratic process about when life began, whether the baby (fetus) had any legal rights, and whether voters and lawmakers in states should be trusted to make their own decisions on this life and death issue.

The U. S. Supreme Court effectively ended the democratic process and substituted their horribly flawed judgment for the views of the American people. They thought they'd settle the question of abortion once and for all. Instead, they set the country onto a course of political turmoil and division that rages as fiercely today as it did back in 1973.
[SOURCE]

Okay, let's stop here. First off, Schubert comes right out and says what he wants you to believe: that we are now on the cusp of a Supreme Court opinion that will pretty much mirror one that he admits he sees as one of (if not the) worst decision in American history. That alone is enough to make one take pause. Regardless of what you think of reproductive freedom (and this is not the forum for that debate), there is no one who can rightly say that the question of whether same-gender couples should have the same legal rights and benefits as their different-sex counterparts. There is no proper parallel. The primary reason these conversations get looped together at all is because so many of the same social conservatives who engage in the abortion debate also foster the contrived "culture war" surrounding marriage equality. In a less politicized America with less rigid divisions, these two matters would never be placed in the same ballpark of discussion.

Then there's the accepted belief that all NOM supporters share Schubert's opinion on choice, and all equality supporters are flatly opposed. Again, there is no actual logic behind this. Sure, there is religious overlap in terms of opposition to both choice and marriage equality, but there is also religious support for both. There are also secular arguments that run the gamut. To me, the fact that Schubert thinks he has 100% buy-in from the NOM supporters to whom he sent this message speaks to the contrived, decades-long game he hopes to play around it. He is not fostering any sort of deep discussion or leaving room for dissenting opinion. NOM's political director is essentially saying that you must be of his mind on both of these two matters and that shared mind must be prepared to reject the high court if it comes back with a pro-equality decision. That's not honest conversation—it's naked politicking.

And then there's the supposed parallel based around the fact that some states currently have marriage, just like some states had abortion rights in 1973. That is an absurd connection. Just about any case like this, by the time it reaches the Supreme Court, has a state-level patchwork behind it. That is typically what drives this kind of case up the ladder to the high court. But that parallel is not "eerie," nor has the court "ended the democratic process" when it does its third branch duty. This is actually what the court is supposed to do, particularly when speaking about the rights of a minority population and their unfair subjection to the tyranny of majority vote.

Moving on, Schubert says the following:

If you could go back to 1973, would you participate in a march to save society from the scourge of abortion? Would you go to Washington to show the Supreme Court that you are one of a multitude of people who are demanding that they not use our constitution to create a great moral and civic wrong? [SOURCE]

Another ridiculous parallel. The fact of the matter is that people did march. Many. From all sides. It's not like the Supreme Court cast its opinion because people did or did not show up to march, with Roe ultimately going the way it did because those who hold Schubert's belief failed to materialize. Schubert is just pretending like this is the case now, in 2013, because he is trying to motivate NOM's supporters into believing that they need to throw money, resources, and physical presence to NOM's activities surrounding these marriage cases so that they can "save the day" this time around. Schubert makes this thought perfectly clear in his closing:

Children are the ultimate casualty of the same-sex "marriage" regime. Moms and dads will be devalued, and their unique contributions to child rearing will be denied and tossed aside by a society bent on satisfying the demands of a powerful political constituency. No matter how much a woman loves her children, she cannot be their father, nor can a man be their mother. Children need the love of both a mom and a dad, yet same-sex marriage intentionally denies a child the love of either her mother or her father.

We have just a few short weeks left to do our best to prevent this outcome. NOM and its dedicated staff are working feverishly, doing everything in their power to make the March for Marriage a success. But we need your help, today, to rent more buses and deploy more tools to show the Supreme Court that the vast majority of Americans want to preserve marriage and to leave it to voters and lawmakers, not judges, to decide this critical issue.

It's 1973 for marriage. Will you stand up and be counted by helping us prevail? We'll never get this time back. Please act today.
[SOURCE]

Again, this is all about politicking and rallying NOM's troops. It's certainly not based on honest assessment. Frank Schubert is trying to connect his canards about children who are "harmed" by same-sex marriage to his stated condemnations of reproductive freedom, hoping he can solidify an emotional connection. Schubert knows there is a "pro-life" movement in America, and he (just like NOM Comm. Director Thomas Peters) is hoping to neatly transfer opinion from one fight to the next. I saw many signs of this at this week's so-called "march for marriage," where abortion (i.e. "life") signs were omnipresent.

At this attempt, Frank Schubert and his fellows will fail. It is not 1973—it is 2013. Besides just the clear differences in these two conversations, there are also obvious differences in terms of day-to-day life. Americans know, love, laud, embrace, befriend, tune in to, and coexist with LGBT people every single day. There is no debate about whether or not an LGBT person is a human person, nor should there be any debate about whether an American taxpayer is deserving of the full slate of freedoms guaranteed to us by this nation's governing documents. With time's passage comes more understanding, not less. There is no politicking or propaganda that can outwit the everyday person's interactions with actual LGBT people, our lives, our loves, our families, and our senses of community. People do not need someone like Frank Schubert to tell them that this is a political fight in which they will be engaging for the next forty years; with every passing day, a growing number of Americans realize that letting John & David live together peacefully and respectfully (i.e. with the full recognition they deserve) for forty more years is the no-brainer option.

We do not have to roll back the clock simply because the National Organization For Marriage tells us to. We do not have to help a high-ranking NOM employee who has literally made millions off of this fight to finance his lifestyle off of another forty year "culture war."  We do not have to dignify this obvious game and the even more obvious motivators behind it.

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