Just before hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington to protest the court’s affirmation of President Trump’s Muslim ban, a handful of anti-LGBTQ Religious Right activists displayed their vitriolic bigotry on the three-year anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which made marriage equality the law of the land.
On Tuesday morning, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality hosted a press event on the steps of the Supreme Court to sneer at the decision striking down state bans on same-sex marriage in 2015. The group of anti-LGBTQ activists held signs reading, “Repeal Obergefell” and “Free the Cake Baker” in front of a vinyl banner reading “Homosexual ‘marriage’ will always be wrong.” The event was emceed by Peter LaBarbera, who serves as president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.
“If Justice [Anthony] Kennedy, and Justice [Ruth] Ginsberg, and Justice [Stephen] Breyer and Justices [Sonia] Sotomayor and [Elena] Kagan are correct and domesticated sodomy is merely a form of, quote, love, worthy of the sacred life-giving institution of marriage, then God himself is a liar. And that cannot be,” LaBarbera said.
First to speak was William Oslon from the Conservative Legal Defense & Education Fund, who told the small crowd that “there is an effort underway to destroy the livelihood of everyone who has traditional values, who’s a Christian, and who attempts to defend their biblical morality.”
“Coach” Dave Daubenmire, a Religious Right activist who we have covered extensively, spoke next and said he was in Washington “to declare war on secularization without representation” and complain that there was “not one” evangelical Christian on the Supreme Court.
“What we are dealing with today is a godless Supreme Court that has forced upon us secularization, the removal of God, without any representation at all for the Christian community. And we stand here to say that the Obergefell decision is legal fiction, it’s pretended legislation and courts do not make law,” Daubenmire said.
A few speakers at this morning’s rally actively encouraged members of the legislative and executive branches of government to side-step the Supreme Court and illegally enforce anti-LGBTQ laws.
Religious Right activist Matt Trewhella also spoke and said it was “the duty of all state officials, the president, and Congress, when it comes to the Obergefell opinion, their duty is to not obey but to interpose” and that “nothing less will do.”
“We gathered here today to hear what nine men had to say, thinking that they are the final voice in what is or is not constitutional,” Trewhella said, to the groan of a counter-protester aghast that he didn’t seem to know that there are female justices on the Supreme Court.
“It’s the duty of the governors, it’s the duty of county officials, because Congress is a weakling and is not going to defy SCOTUS. The county and state officials must defy them and not go along with their repugnant Supreme Court opinions,” Tewhella said.
Reverend Bill Cook rallied behind several other speakers who called the Obergefell ruling a “legal fiction,” unlawful and illegitimate. Cook called on all clergy to preach against same-sex marriage, preach political ideology and to disobey the Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches and other tax-exempt nonprofit organizations from donating to and supporting political candidates. The Johnson Amendment is considered to be an important bulwark of the separation of church and state.
“It is time for clergy to stand up and disobey that law. We are not bound by law,” Cook said to the crowd. “If a judge or a legislature hands down a ruling that is unconstitutional, we do not have to obey it. The only reason we might obey that is to save our skin, and that time is over. We need to be willing to pay the price for doing what is right or we lose the nation.”
Diane Gramley, the Executive Director of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, also argued that the Obergefell ruling was illegitimate. “The Supreme Court does not have the right to redefine marriage,” she said. “And to use the 14th Amendment to do so is laughable.”
Gramley continued to compare the Obergefell ruling to the 1857 Dred Scott ruling, beseeching the crowd to pray for its overturn.
Kathleen Crank, who sought election to the Maryland House of Delegates today, also spoke at LaBarbera’s rally, where she was questioned by one of the pro-LGBTQ protesters from the LGBTQ Taskforce and Human Rights Campaign, who were at the Supreme Court to protest the Court’s ruling on Trump’s Muslim Ban and had assembled around the anti-equality speakers.
“What the hell are you talking about?” a counter-protester yelled. “Fruit?”
“We were told that because when we insisted that an apple—marriage—was an apple and not an orange—a same-sex relationship—we were all bigots with animus toward those apples who wanted to be oranges,” she replied.
After Crank spoke, LaBarbera made the bizarre claim that LGBTQ activists are trying to ban people “from declaring themselves straight and heterosexual.”
The rally also hosted two “former transgender” speakers, Grace Harley and David Arthur, and LifeSiteNews writer Doug Mainwaring, who says he has “come out of the homosexual lifestyle.” Harley shared her personal story about how God had ushered her “out of the transgender gay lifestyle without a trace.”
“For those that don’t think you can pray the gay away, know that you’re looking at a woman who never wanted to be straight, I never wanted to be heterosexual,” Harley said. “I never asked God for this calling but somehow I guess He knew I would have the tenacity to stand here on this election day today to say, ‘If you believe you’re going to heaven, if you call yourself Christian, if you continue to vote for the party of death, you will answer to God.’”
An LGBTQ activist began yelling in protest, “Shame on you.”
Harley responded, “Hear me, lesbian. You have gone into the lesbian lifestyle because you were abused. You were used and you no longer want anything to do with men.”
Arthur also addressed the fact that at one point in his life that he had identified as a transgender woman, but has since come to identify as a man and has sacrificed himself to Christ. After stating that his sexuality had arisen from molestation, what he referred to as “LGBT recruitment,” Arthur addressed the crowd of protesters.
“The road that you’re on only has one destiny,” he said. “And that is death.”
While Arthur finished his speech, a bystander shouted over the crowd, “My God loves me.” Daubenmire, who was filming Arthur, retorted several times to the spectator, “Are you a gay?”
“Am I a gay? Are you asking me that right here in front of everyone? You want me to say it in front of everybody?” the bystander said in response with cheering support from the crowd. “I am a closeted trans woman. I’ll say it front of everybody.”
Malina Julia contributed writing and research to this report.