So you don’t have a uterus, and you don’t care about the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Roe v. Wade? Better hope you aren’t a member of the LGBTQ community, either–because gay folks are now in the line of fire, per Talking Points Memo.
After passing the House with the support of 47 Republicans, the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect marriage rights for same-sex couples if the Supreme Court were to overturn its 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, faces much dimmer prospects in the Senate. There is one reason why: the Christian right still controls the Republican Party. Movement leaders know it took 50 years to reverse Roe, and are committed to a similar strategy to undermine and eventually overturn Obergefell. With abundant clues in the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe that LGBTQ rights could be next on the chopping block, it is unimaginable that movement leaders would sink that goal by allowing this bill to become law.
Republican senators are keenly aware of this. That is why South Dakota’s John Thune and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy accused Democrats of introducing the bill to distract from inflation. It is why Florida’s Marco Rubio called it “a stupid waste of time,” and claimed gay Floridians are “pissed off” about something else — high gas prices. And it is why Maine’s Susan Collins, who was one of the bill’s four original Republican supporters, came up with the laughing-crying emoji argument that, because Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) had struck a surprise deal on Democratic legislative priorities late last month, she would struggle to win fellow Republicans’ support for the marriage bill. “[I]t was a very unfortunate move that destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are under way,” she told HuffPost.
The article went on to document the “avalanche of opposition” to the bill from the Christian Right that effectively controls today’s GOP.
The Family Research Council Action began calling the bill the “(Dis)Respect for Marriage Act” before it even reached the House floor, and pointed to the provision in the party’s platform (back when the GOP still bothered with such things) that states, “[t]raditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.”
FRC Action also ginned up fear among its members by alleging that the bill would be used to persecute them and take away their religious freedom. (I remind readers that–in Christian Nationalist language, “religious freedom” is defined as freedom to impose their fundamentalist Christianity on everyone else.)
It reminded them that in the 1970s, the IRS revoked the tax exemption of the segregationist, fundamentalist Christian Bob Jones University over its racist policies, suggesting, despite the fact that it hasn’t happened in the seven years since Obergefell, that universities and nonprofits that oppose marriage equality could face a similar fate. The American Family Association called the bill “an Orwellian attempt to pretend that the Court’s very recent discovery of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage is not controversial and offensive to many people around the country.” The Heritage Foundation called it a “publicity stunt” aimed at “tak[ing] the spotlight off progressives’ radical policies and paint conservatives as bigots — and all this conveniently before the midterm elections.”
Ever since Justice Alito’s dishonest framing in Dobbs, I have warned that his attack on the doctrine of substantive due process–the doctrine that certain matters are none of government’s business–threatens numerous rights beyond abortion. If a woman no longer has the right to choose abortion, what about choosing to use birth control? What prevents government from decreeing that same-sex marriage erodes “the foundation for a free society?”
As Talking Points Memo concluded,
It’s crucial not only to understand what Christian nationalism is as an ideology, but to understand how right-wing operatives have attained the power to subvert democratic structures and democratic values in order to make it the core of anti-majoritarian rule. The opposition to the Respect for Marriage Act is an object lesson in how that power works. Christian right operatives and lawyers argue that America is a Christian nation, that Christians’ right to practice their religion must be protected from secular, progressive incursions like constitutional rights for LGBTQ people, and that it is the duty of judges and government officials to ensure that these “biblical” values are secured. With a sympathetic majority on the Supreme Court and a razor-thin Democratic majority in the Senate with filibuster rules favorable to conservatives, the Christian right has every incentive to deploy this power. And because Republicans no longer have an alternative base upon which to build a coalition, they will continue to relent.
Voting Blue has never been more important.