Marriage equality is now the law of the land in the United States--a fact that is not sitting well with the Religious Right.
"From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is now our 9/11," tweeted Bryan Fischer, a host for the American Family Association's Family Talk Radio, on the day of the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage decision. "The rainbow jihadists of [the Supreme Court] blow up twin towers of truth and righteousness. Every advance of the gay agenda comes at the expense of religious liberty. As of today, free exercise is toast."
Fischer's hyperbolic analogy of the widespread legalization of marriage equality with the carnage inflicted by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, a day that saw the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, is indicative of fundamentalist fears of a coming anti-Christian age in the United States. In fact, Fischer thinks the federal government could one day treat Christians as Adolf Hitler did Jews.
"Just as Hitler bottled up the church of his day inside the four walls of their churches, so the Gay Gestapo will do today," he said in another tweet. "Hitler had the Jews to blame. The Gay Gestapo has Christians to blame."
Although Fischer's tirade was among the most extreme Religious Right responses to marriage equality, his sentiment is hardly unique. The far right is furious about the high court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in every state.
In the wake of that 5-4 ruling, religious zealots have made all sorts of threats, from mass resistance to civil war or anything else that will somehow absolve them from acknowledging that gay couples have rights. This has resulted in confusion and heartache for many couples in states that newly recognize same-sex marriages, as clerks, judges and other officials have attempted to resist the Supreme Court's ruling in the name of "religious freedom."
The ruling, written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, contained some eloquent passages. Writing of same-sex couples, Kennedy observed, "It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
But Kennedy's stirring language did nothing to sway the high court's conservative bloc of dissenters--Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel A. Alito and Clarence M. Thomas.
As is his wont, Scalia penned a sharp dissent in which he blasted the majority opinion as a threat to democracy.
"This is a naked judicial claim to legislative--indeed, super-legislative--power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government," Scalia wrote in his dissent. "Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices' 'reasoned judgment.' A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy."
Some of the first non-judicial high-profile responses to the marriage case came from governors and attorneys general who were eager to score points with their far-right bases. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, for example, claimed that the marriage decision was unconstitutional.
"[T]he United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist," Paxton wrote. "In so doing, the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live."
Paxton went on to imply--at least initially--that county clerks and other state employees charged with issuing marriage licenses may be free to disregard the Obergefell decision.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley took a...