In the wake of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ call for the Supreme Court to review its “demonstrably erroneous” marriage equality ruling, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to enshrine marriage rights for same-sex and interracial couples in federal law. Anti-equality activists and leaders fumed that 47 Republicans joined House Democrats to support the Respect for Marriage Act.
In June, Gallup reported that support for marriage equality in the United States had reached a record high of 71 percent; support for interracial marriage reached a high of 94 percent last year. Nevertheless, about three-quarters of Republican House members, led by Rep. Jim Jordan, voted against the Respect for Marriage Act.
Anti-LGBTQ leaders have never recognized the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling as legitimate and have made it explicitly clear that they would work to overturn it. They are counting on former President Donald Trump’s judges to strip same-sex couples of the right to marry—and even overturn an earlier ruling that prevented states from making gay people de facto criminals.
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins complained on Tuesday that Republicans who Trump had turned into “hardened warriors” were falling under the sway of “that old enemy, political cowardice.” Claiming that FRC had led the Republican National Committee in strengthening anti-marriage equality language in the Republican platform, Perkins fumed that the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling had forced Americans to live under “judicial tyranny.”
Perkins praised Rep. Chip Roy’s opposition to the bill, quoting the Texas Republican’s complaint that Democrats “want to take [away] different policy choices—marriage based on race, marriage based on sex—that this body didn’t define, that state legislatures did define.”
Before the bill passed, Perkins and FRC colleague Quena Gonzales appeared on Perkins’ show to criticize the House for taking up the legislation, with Perkins complaining, “Certainly this is not going to help where the American people are on this issue.”
Former Colorado state legislator and religious-right activist Gordon Klingenschmitt also responded, urging his supporters to sign a petition calling for passage of a federal constitutional amendment to limit marriage to one man and one woman.
Right-wing pundit Todd Starnes complained that the Republican Party “is liberalizing itself” on some culture war issues. “They’ve made the calculated decision that Evangelicals will never abandon the Republican Party,” Starnes wrote, adding a warning: “But if the Establishment is wrong and the Evangelicals bolt, they will never win a national election.” Starnes was clearly not referring to Republicans in Texas, where a wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation was introduced this year, and where activists recently amended the party platform to define homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.”
Taking the cake so far seems to be Christian nationalist Lauren Witzke, whose rambling rant on Telegram blamed marriage equality for everything from child trafficking to “a proxy attempt at starting a World War all because the gay mafia was seething at Russia for not letting their degenerate values flourish in their neighborhood.” Witzke, the Delaware GOP nominee for U.S. Senate in 2020, called for Republicans at the state level “to wage a scorched-earth fight for the soul of our nation.”