Gay and lesbian couples may now be able to get married in all 50 states. But that doesn’t mean the nation’s leading opponents of marriage equality are quite ready to give up the fight.
Six days after the U.S. Supreme Court officially made marriage equality the law of the land, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) — a group with a primary goal of preserving bans on same-sex nuptials — is set to hold its second annual gala in Washington, D.C. Though one would expect the organization to be throwing a goodbye party or perhaps a wake, NOM is instead forging ahead with its plan to undo Friday’s Supreme Court ruling in the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges.
That decision, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, found that the U.S. Constitution grants same-sex couples the right to “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” Since then, hundreds of clerks throughout even the most conservative parts of the country — with some exceptions— have begun issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples for the first time.
“Make no mistake about it,” NOM president Brian S. Brown said in a statement last week following the decision. “The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and countless millions of Americans do not accept this ruling. Instead, we will work at every turn to reverse it.”
Brown compared the position so-called “traditional marriage” supporters now find themselves in to that of civil rights leaders fighting against Jim Crow in the 1960s.
“In his ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’ Dr. Martin Luther King discussed the moral importance of disobeying unjust laws, which we submit applies equally to unjust Supreme Court decisions,” Brown said. “Dr. King evoked the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that an unjust law or decision is one that is ‘a human law that is not rooted in eternal law or natural law.’ Today’s decision of the Supreme Court lacks both constitutional and moral authority. There is no eternal or natural law that allows for marriage to be redefined.”
Citing Supreme Court decisions that affirmed slavery, eugenics, and reproductive rights, Brown argued that Obergefell was not the first time the justices had “issued an immoral and unjust ruling.” Now, he said, “NOM is committed to reversing [Obergefell] over the long term and ameliorating it over the short term.” To do that, he laid out four specific goals:
- We call on Congress and state governments to move immediately to protect the rights of people who believe in the truth of marriage from being discriminated against by passing the First Amendment Defense Act through Congress, and similar legislation in the various states.
- We also call on Congress to advance to the states for consideration a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage in the law as it has existed in reality for the entirety of our nation’s existence – the union of one man and one woman.
- We call on the American people to make the definition of marriage a pivotal issue in the 2016 presidential contest and to elect a president who will be a true champion for marriage, one who is committed to taking specific steps to restoring true marriage in the law including appointing new justices to the Supreme Court who will have the opportunity to reverse this decision.
- NOM will work tirelessly along with allies to help change the culture so that Americans have a better understanding of the importance of marriage to children, families and society as a whole.
Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is headlining Thursday night’s gala. His spokesman declined to give msnbc any details about what to expect from the keynote address, but Santorum — whose support from evangelical voters carried him to second place in the 2012 presidential nominating contest — made clear last week how he felt about the Supreme Court’s decision:
As Santorum woos Christian conservatives once more, Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is taking advantage of the historic moment to court LGBT voters. On Thursday, she’ll meet donors in the gay-friendly resort town of Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she’ll be introduced by a live performance of “Chelsea’s Mom” from the band Well Strung. Clinton said on Twitter last week that she was “proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality.”
Despite the persistent grumblings of marriage equality opponents, the number of counties not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples is rapidly declining. As of Wednesday, a majority of clerks in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas were issuing the licenses to gay and lesbian couples. And most clerks still not granting such licenses said it was because they were waiting on updated forms or word from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals — which ended up directing lower courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas on Wednesday night to issue final orders ending enforcement of those states’ same-sex marriage bans. Fifty-seven percent of Americans said they wanted the high court to rule in favor of same-sex couples, according to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
“They are really a sideshow,” Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson said of groups, like NOM, that are still fighting to resist marriage equality.
“It’s not surprising to see some people who’ve made a living off of gay-bashing trying to hold onto their paycheck,” Wolfson told msnbc. “Hopefully the number of people willing to dig into their pockets to fund this kind of destructive — and at this point, futile — effort will continue to dwindle.”