A hail of Hosannas would be more in
keeping with what the coalition of religious groups that passed
California's gay marriage ban expected after their victory, not a
heated post-election debate. But a debate is what they got.
It was just last week that a full-page
ad appeared in the New York Times decrying grassroots
demonstrations against the passage of Proposition 8 – the
California constitutional amendment approved by a slim majority of
voters that restricts marriage to heterosexual partners – as mob
“intimidation.” Gay rights groups have countered with a
full-page ad in today's Salt Lake Tribune.
In Friday's ad, The Becket Fund for
Religious Liberty came to the defense of the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints (the LDS or Mormons) who became a target of
grassroots gay activists after their overwhelming support for
Proposition 8 most likely tipped the passage of the anti-gay measure.
“[W]e're united in this: The violence
and intimidation being directed against the LDS or 'Mormon' church,
and other religious organizations – and even against individual
believers – simply because they supported Proposition 8 is an
outrage that must stop,” the ad reads.
The advertisement, titled No Mob
Veto, calls the
demonstrations against Proposition 8 as “mobs, seeking not to
persuade but to intimidate.”
It calls for an end to anti-religious
propaganda: “It has no place in civilized society.”
And vows to work against demonstrators
by “exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to the
rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry – against any faith, on any side
of any cause, for any reason.”
It is signed by Becket Fund for
Religious Liberty founder Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson, Rich Cizik of
the National Association of Evangelicals, William A. Donohue of the
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Chuck Colson of the
Prison Fellowship and nine others.
“These anti-gay activists are crying
wolf on the Proposition 8 protests, but they actually are a wolf in
sheep's clothing that preaches religious tolerance while practicing
the most defamatory form of religious bigotry,” said Truth Wins Out
Executive Director Wayne Besen, whose group is backing the gay
response. “We refuse to permit this orchestrated campaign to
rewrite history, nor will we allow some of the most notorious Mormon
bashers in America to pose as friends of the Latter-day Saints.”
The pro-gay ad calls the No Mob Veto
ad a lie. “Those demonstrations across the country were remarkably
peaceful and were a vivid example of Americans exercising their free
speech rights, and we think it's inexcusable for anyone to
misrepresent these protests for political gain.”
The ad, titled Lying Is Wrong,
points out that the men behind the ad are no friends to the Mormons.
“[W]e should start this effort by
spotlighting the religious bigotry of the ad's very own signers,”
the ad says, giving several examples.
“Hollywood is controlled by secular
Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular,”
is attributed to William Donohue of the Catholic League.
“Mormonism either affirms historic
Christianity, or it doesn't. Since it doesn't, it can't call itself
Christianity, a fact that all the good will and public relations in
Utah can't change ... While Mormons share some beliefs with
Christians, they are not Christians,” is attributed to Chuck Colson
of the Prison Fellowship Ministries.
“Most evangelicals still regard
Mormonism as a cult,” is attributed to Rich Cizik of the National
Association of Evangelicals.
“Activists like Colson, Cizik and
Donohue must decide if they are 'people of faith' or 'people of fibs'
– they can't be both. Lying is wrong, especially when it's done in
the name of God,” the ad says.
Social conservatives have been forced
to respond to the actions of grassroots gay activists whose daily
protests have drawn enormous media attention to the role religious
leaders played in backing four anti-gay measures in California,
Arizona, Florida and Arkansas that passed on Election Day.
While touring his new book Do The
Right Thing, former
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has made the argument that gay
rights are not civil rights.
On Tuesday's broadcast of The
Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Huckabee said, “There's a big
difference between a person being black and a person practicing a
lifestyle and engaging in a marital relationship.”
But while such comments have drawn
praise by hosts on the conservative talk show circuit, Bill O'Reilly
included, Stewart challenged his guest.
“You know, you talk about the
pro-life movement being one of the great shames of our nation,”
Stewart said. “I think if you want number two, I think it's that:
It's a travesty that people have forced someone who is gay to have to
make their case that they deserve the same basic rights as someone
And on December 9, the radio talk show
The Morning Show
Fund for Religious Liberty Founder Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson, who
continued his push to marginalize gay activists protesting the
passage of Proposition 8 by likening them to terrorists.
“Well, whether it's an organized
movement like Al Qaeda or whether it's the Al Qaeda-like ...
inspired acts of terrorism elsewhere, people are right to be
concerned about ... radical Islamist violence,” he said before
Susan Russell, of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena,
California broke into the conversation.
“These are people who are determined
to paint American citizens, living out democracy in the streets, as
similar to terrorists and Al Qaeda,” she responded. “The title
of the ad is No Mob Veto. What they're [the Prop 8
proponents] trying to do is frame the debate, already, as the Supreme
Court begins to reconsider Proposition 8. ... You can see what
they're doing right now, they're framing the debate so when that
[Prop 8 being invalidated] happens, they can say it was mob rule
against democracy, they're going to continue to compare us to Al
Qaeda and I think the American people have got to stand up and say
stop. We're a nation of freedom of religion, we've got to be a
nation of freedom from religion.”
The gay marriage post-Prop 8 debate,
with or without the protesting, was most likely inevitable. Social
conservatives embolden by their anti-gay victories on Election Day
are quickly fastening themselves to an anti-gay platform in the hopes
they might remain relevant to a tattered Republican Party that partly
blames recent election losses – including the office of the
president – on divisive social issues.
Besen called claims made in the No
Mob Veto ad a “manipulative and cynical political ploy.”
On the Net: Truth Wins Out is at