You’ve probably heard of David Barton, even if you don’t recognize the name. He’s Glenn Beck’s favorite “historian.” Mr. Barton has been responsible for a number of outlandish claims over the years.
Most recently, he is leading the charge for an American right that is outright denying reality when it comes to the nation’s move toward approving gay marriage.
Barton recently said on his radio program that the Minnesota vote to create a state amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman “it almost went down, it was like a 50-50 prop.”
Except, of course, that the amendment did lose, and according to the Minnesota secretary of state it lost by a five-point spread. The final count was approximately 47.5% to 52.5%.
This episode should be surprising. But it isn’t.
Some elements of the American right have so far removed themselves from the mainstream—from reality—that even after the electoral dust has settled, they've been so effectively convinced that the end is nigh they are outright denying the laws of the land. This is the inevitable problem with doomsday rhetoric so popular on the right: if and when you finally lose, a loss is unacceptable. It is catastrophic to the point of impossibility.
But wait, there’s more. Barton went on to claim that same-sex marriage won, “with about 50.5% support, you know, barely.”
In fact, if you add up the four states (and let’s make it five, actually, because Iowa’s judicial retention vote was a proxy-vote on same-sex marriage) and take the median, the tally was actually closer to 53% support, or a six-point spread. Hardly the “50-50” margin that Barton claimed.
Denial of LGBTQ issues specifically is hardly something new. You’ll still find folks who try to claim that homosexuality is a choice. (I find this remarkable. I don’t know anyone—male or female, gay or straight—who can control to whom he or she is attracted.) You also find those who try to claim that homosexuality causes HIV/AIDS—despite the fact that homosexual women have the lowest HIV/AIDS contraction rate in America.
And this is just one issue among many.
Over the coming months and the next two years, the more sober members of the GOP must be willing to stand up and confront the radicals in their party. They’re going to have to call it—not as they see it—but as it actually is. Hopefully the next time around, a GOP presidential candidate won't be mocked for trusting scientists and acknowledging climate change—but I’m not holding my breath.