The LGBT Pride parade in Chicago was electric. More than one million people celebrated the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. It felt like I was living history as I glided down the parade route on top of the WCPT-AM float. Throngs cheered, because this was a new day, where distant possibilities we had dreamed of were suddenly a reality.
As a teenager I harbored a deep secret. It felt as if I were the only gay person in the world. At the time, there was a pathological code of silence that deliberately isolated people like me. The perverse idea was that if our lives were made miserable enough, we would choose to cower in the closet and conform.
In 1977, Midge Costanza, an aide of President Jimmy Carter, organized the first meeting of LGBT advocates in the White House. She did so while the president was out of town and Congress was out of session – still it was a brave milestone. Given this history of life in the shadows, it was mesmerizing to see President Barack Obama’s White House lit up in rainbow colors. The world had changed before our eyes – transforming from a drab black-and-white existence into full color in high definition.
Unfortunately, the same cruel anti-gay troglodytes who had inflicted so much needless pain, suffering, and misery, are fighting to the bitter end. Following the Supreme Court ruling FOX News Channel’s Sean Hannity interviewed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz:
“Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history,” remarked Cruz.
Hannity replied, “I couldn’t say it more eloquently.”
Of course, there was nothing eloquent about the crybabies on the far right. Most of the whiners had a vested interest in throwing public tantrums, because they were running for the GOP presidential nomination. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee held his breath and stamped his feet to impress Iowa voters.
“I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch,” said Huckabee. “We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat. This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition.”
Apparently, Huckabee thinks he is above the law and judicial tyranny is when the curt rules against his wishes. Huckabee also said that if Obama could light the White House in rainbow colors, no one should complain when he puts a nativity scene on the White House lawn.
This is preposterous, because visitors aren’t allowed to put up displays – and a guided tour is the only way that Huckabee will ever step foot in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
I also must take issue with the absurd idea that marriage has been “redefined.” For a redefinition to occur, the institution has to change in some meaningful way for heterosexual couples. I’d love Huckabee to point to how his marriage is different since the Supreme Court decision.
Instead of a redefinition, what occurred is an expansion of the institution. While Huckabee doesn’t have to change his bad attitude, he will have to follow the law. That his backward church doesn’t like the ruling is of no interest to me. What matters is that he and his church are in America and subject to the same laws as the rest of us. There is no special right for Christian fundamentalists to follow only the rules that they enjoy.
A refrain from virtually all of the GOP presidential candidates is that this ruling is a potential threat to religious liberty. For example, Jeb Bush cynically said, “It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.”
Religious liberty is only threatened in the paranoid mind of religious zealots who falsely believe they have the right to open a business to the general public, then turn around and pick and choose who they can serve. In reality, if you are open to the public, you must serve everyone.
If I were a faith leader I’d be terrified of ambitious Republicans abusing the mantle of “religious freedom.” This disingenuous charade is going to eventually backfire. It will sully the church and make it look like real religious leaders are crying wolf when genuine persecution occurs. In short order, the term “religious liberty” is likely going to become loaded, in the same way saying “states rights” evokes eye rolling disgust.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, “The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies.” But the LGBT movement has never asked that ministers marry gay couples or force people to attend an exchange of vows. It is true that some businesses may have to provide flowers, but these are neutral vendors, not “participants.”
Opponents of LGBT equality were dishonest and fought dirty in victory – and it seems they are unable to change their filthy spots in defeat.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”