Family Research Council President Tony Perkins finishes his speech denouncing gay marriage as a group of pastors gather on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 24, 2012, to show their support for the Defense of Marriage Act.
Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Tony Perkins: SCOTUS won’t have final say on gay marriage

Despite support for gay marriage being at a record high, Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, is arguing that the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on the issue will not be the final say.

“The court is not going to settle this issue. In fact, I think it does a disservice to both sides if the court weighs in on public policy like this,” said Perkins on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “The courts are designed to interpret the constitution and the constitutionality of the laws, not create public policy. When they do that, they create division and they erect barriers to reaching consensus on public policy like this.”

Gay marriage is currently legal in 37 states and the district of Columbia. The Supreme Court will hear legal arguments on Tuesday on the issue and the case could ultimately settle whether the right to marry someone of the same-sex is protected by the Constitution.

“Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer acknowledged that Perkins’ organization has been labeled as an anti-gay, hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and that the show was inundated with requests to not have Perkins on as a guest.

Perkins also argued that if the nation’s highest court rules in favor of gay marriage, it will be open season of people of faith, an eyebrow-raising argument that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made last week. The potential Republican presidential candidate and staunch social conservative suggested criminal charges could be brought against those who preach against same-sex marriage or those who refuse to marry gay couples. 

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry – a group lobbying for gay marriage – said on “Face the Nation” that Perkins is an “outlier” while the vast majority of Americans embrace gay couples being able to tie the knot.

Wolfson said the “overwhelming engine of change here has been conversation. It’s been gay people, talking about love, talking about commitment talking about why marriage matters, the reality of our lives, talking about how the exclusion and discrimination has really harmed us, in tangible and intangible ways. And it’s also non-gay people be willing to be part of those conversations and thinking about shared values.”

Meanwhile, David Boies and Ted Olsen, the lawyers who argued in favor of overturning California’s same-sex marriage ban two years ago in the Supreme Court, predicted on Sunday that the court will rule in favor of legalizing gay marriage across the country.

“This has to do with equal rights,” Boies said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Olsen pointed to a previous ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

“If you read what the Supreme Court said in that case, there’s really no other way for the Supreme Court to come out in the case that’s up for argument on Tuesday,” said Olsen. 

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins: SCOTUS won't have final say on gay marriage