While the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling represented a major victory for gay rights advocates, Gayle Ruzicka of the Utah Eagle Forum warned at the Eagle Forum’s national conference last weekend that conservatives “better fight like tigers” because the gay rights movement’s “next target is the schools; it’s the children.”
“Are we going to let them take these schools?” she asked the activists who came in mid-September to the Eagle Council, the annual event hosted by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, which also featured several GOP presidential candidates.
As Ruzicka put it, she knows that Equality Utah is an effective organization because its leader, Troy Williams, is her former protégé. She told the audience at an anti-gay-marriage panel that Williams is now using what he learned at Eagle Forum to fight conservatives:
In our state we have Equality Utah, who is, by the way, I guess you call him as my nemesis now, I trained him, he used to be Eagle Forum, he was at my side all the time, he loved everything about us and everything we did, he now is the head of Equality Utah and they’ve got plans, his name is Troy, the first words out of his mouth, how excited he was over marriage and then his next words were, “and we have just begun.”
“We have God on our side but we don’t have God if we don’t do anything,” she said. Later, she claimed that the fight over LGBT rights may eclipse the one over abortion rights since abortion rights supporters “kind of went away into their abortion mills and we didn’t have to look at the awful things they were doing there.”
“But with this, they are coming after us,” she said of LGBT rights groups. “For them, this is the beginning, this is not the end, and they are coming after us, daily, and daily they are threatening us.”
Many members in the audience agreed with this assessment. One wondered if gay rights advocates would “take our lives over” marriage and another bravely pledged to go to jail due to marriage equality. One activist with Utah Eagle Forum explained that same-sex marriage is comparable to abortion because “in abortion, we kill the baby once it’s born. But with homosexuality, the baby is never born.”
Andy Schlafly, Phyllis’ son and the co-host of the panel, agreed that abortion-rights opponents must speak up against LGBT equality “because the homosexuals and the liberals have taken over the Supreme Court and pro-lifers need to understand that they are going to lose everything on the pro-life issue because of this homosexual rights issue.”
“They are going to lose everything because liberals have come through on this other issue and they’ve got control of Kennedy and Kennedy is the swing vote,” he said.
Schlafly said that activists can do two things to fight gay marriage: One is to follow Mike Huckabee’s lead in urging their elected officials to simply defy the Supreme Court ruling; the other is to find a congressman who would file articles of impeachment against Judge David Bunning, the Bush-nominated federal judge who placed Kentucky clerk Kim Davis in the custody of U.S. Marshals after finding her in contempt of court for blocking marriage licenses in her county.
If Congress were to even consider impeaching Bunning, Schlafly said, it would “send shockwaves to the other side” and put judges on notice. She warned that there is little time left before out-of-control judges go after pastors and Christian schools.
“I’m telling you, the homosexual movement is taking over the court system,” he said. “The courts are gone, the courts have been taken over by the homosexuals, so they are going to sue and bankrupt all of our churches and all of our schools.”
Religious liberty is on its last legs, he said, claiming that Tim Tebow is “excluded from the entire NFL simply because he quotes from the Bible.” He added that religious counselors practicing “ex-gay” therapy are also under attack because gays know that they need to “recruit” people while they are young.
“The battle over this is really with teenagers,” he explained, “there is not as much of a market for it for adults. The focus is on those teen years, when people are forming their sexuality. That’s why there is so much attention to teenagers. The other side is recruiting heavily for teenagers. We have no idea in this room how much recruitment is going on against teenagers right now.”
As expected, members of the audience agreed that gay marriage will effect everybody, and not just by supposedly destroying religious freedom and allowing abortion rights to continue. As one woman in the audience said, Eagle Forum must explain to Americans that they may all die if gay marriage continues:
People who have had any exposure to the Bible at all, people are familiar with Sodom and Gomorrah and this is what’s happened with this homosexual movement and the gay marriage. I mean, we are saying, ok, we are giving them a legal right to go in and commit sodomy, night after night, day after day after day, I mean, if people get that message, we’re making God mad, do we want to make him so mad that he comes down and destroys the whole country? Think of Sodom and Gomorrah. Maybe something like that can be a visual, do you know what I’m saying?
Ruzicka responded to the audience member’s plea by saying that “we have to be sure to remind them who these people are and what it is that they do.”
One audience member similarly lamented that while “there are just not that many people who care about what God did to the people in Sodom,” someone should stand up for the rights of believers: “We have to get the young people who do care, we have to get the laws on the books to protect those of us who care. It is scary out there for what young people are being force-fed.”
Announcing that she worked alongside Phyllis Schlafly in the successful campaign to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment, one woman in the audience said that activists need to realize that they are in a spiritual battle.
“We have demons that work against us,” she said. “If you ever a find a time where there was a hope, it was during the ERA days. We had everything against us, all the momentum, all the money, all the politicians, all the media, everything was against us.”
As it turns out, at least one man in the audience said he was expecting an even greater fight, asking if the U.S. military “is on our side or Obama’s side,” while another attendee speculated that U.S. service members are being conditioned to put on United Nations uniforms during a potential civil conflict.
Ruzicka seemed exasperated by the descent of the panel, which stretched until 11:30 at night, into manic paranoia about civil war and spiritual warfare. Of course, warning about the gay recruitment of children and the closure of Christian churches and schools may have had something to do with it.
Religious Right activists have spent decades warning about gay rights leading to divine wrath, judicial tyranny and the corruption of children, with little to show for it as support for marriage equality has only increased among voters.
Polls consistently show that barely one-third of Americans think that Kim Davis, the new, “persecuted” face of the gay-rights opponents, was in the right for barring her county office from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
With the collapse of its public image, the anti-gay Right desperately needs new spokesmen and ideas, but if this conference showed anything, old paranoias are hard to shake.