With four victories at the ballot box, LGBT Americans had a lot to celebrate on Tuesday night. The religious right, however, seems to be acting like those gay marriage victories never happened.
Never before had marriage equality won at the ballot in this way and with three states, Maine, Washington and Maryland, affirm marriage rights for gay couples and Minnesota reject codifying a gay marriage ban, it was a blockbuster evening that stands as a landmark in American politics. However, you wouldn’t know it from the way most anti-gay groups are acting.
Early on Tuesday night Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, was quoted as brushing off the victory in Maryland as nothing more than a liberal state choosing a liberal agenda. In a press release issued since all three states legalized marriage equality, Brown sounds somewhat more apprehensive while, curiously, still managing to boast:
Obviously we are very disappointed in losing four tough election battles by narrow margins. We knew long ago that we faced a difficult political landscape with the four marriage battles occurring in four of the deepest-blue states in America.
Our opponents and some in the media will attempt to portray the election results as a changing point in how Americans view gay marriage, but that is not the case. Americans remain strongly in favor of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The election results reflect the political and funding advantages our opponents enjoyed in these very liberal states.
Though we are disappointed over these losses, we remain faithful to our mission and committed to the cause of preserving marriage as God designed it. Marriage is a true and just cause, and we will never abandon the field of battle just because we experienced a setback. There is much work to do, and we begin that process now.
This strange lack of a reality seems to be rife in the state level too.
A group opposing marriage equality in Maine has already floated the idea of a campaign to return to the ballot and attempt to have Mainers re-institute a ban on same-sex marriage. Pastor Bob Emrich of The Christian Civic League of Maine said on the group’s website:
Our God has called us to faithfulness and we will do our best to join you in fulfilling that calling. … The result of Tuesday’s voting shows how the influence of the Church of Jesus needs to be strengthened.
We are exploring the possibility of returning to the ballot again to overturn this egregious new definition of marriage. That may mean another campaign, including a signature drive to get it back on another ballot.
Similarly Washington’s anti-gay marriage groups have reacted with a measure of disappointment but a determination that Tuesday — despite being a landmark night — didn’t really change anything.
Said Joseph Backholm, chairman of Preserve Marriage Washington, in a statement:
“We are disappointed in losing a tough election battle on marriage by a narrow margin. But while we are disappointed, we are not defeated,”
But he said the outcome, in a liberal Western state, did not “represent a sea change” in the view that “children need both a mother and a father.”
“We are fighting for a cause that is true, and beautiful, and right — the sacred institution of marriage,” he said.
On the other-hand, the Maryland Marriage Alliance seems to have decided it can’t argue with the election result or put much of a positive spin on it, so they’ve just decided to go about being as discriminatory as they were before the whole battle took place:
“We respect the results that have come from a democratic process,” Maryland Marriage Alliance Chairman Derek McCoy said in a Wednesday statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with Maryland residents all across the state to promote strong and healthy marriages that will ensure that all children have the best chance of being raised by a dad and a mom.”
Over at Minnesota for Marriage, Chairman John Helmberger is, however, doing a good impression of Romnesia as he pretends the ballot defeat against a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage doesn’t mean anything:
Despite the disappointing outcome of this election, we rejoice tonight that marriage is still marriage. We know that God has defined marriage as between one man and one woman, regardless of the efforts of some to overthrow His design.
However, this election is not an end but a beginning. The groups that have come together to protect the definition of marriage look forward to getting on with the work of restoring a vibrant culture of marriage in our state.
Perhaps the most overblown reaction, however, comes from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council who seems to believe only the Supreme Court of the United States can restore hope by voting down gay marriage. But what if that didn’t happen? On Perkins’ radio show he even went so far to say that if the SCOTUS were to rule in favor of marriage equality there would be a “revolution” that would rip the country apart:
The Supreme Court is shortly expected to take up a number of DOMA related suits and, also, the Proposition 8 case. That three states have now affirmed marriage equality by popular vote would seem advantageous to this battle. It may even be that by the year’s close marriage equality could be on its way to returning to California, too.
One can only imagine how much denialism will be needed should that happen.
Image credit: Thinkstock.