In some other alternate universe, Tony Perkins and Rick Santorum are madly in love, own a cute little B&B in rural Pennsyltucky, and have pet names for each other like “Perky” and “Santa.” We like to picture them in this happy context, rather than how they are in this universe: angry, spiteful, untrustworthy sneaks.
Exhibit A is their loathsome new campaign to convince churchgoers that gay couples want to destroy religion. They’ve teamed up for a new campaign “One Generation Away” that’s so bogged-down with lies and distortions that it might as well be a National Enquirer article. Fortunately, it’s an easy piece of propaganda to refute. Here are the top five claims in the ad, and why they’re wrong, wrong, wrong.
Lie number 1.: Most Americans oppose gay marriage.
Wrong. First of all, the term is “the freedom to marry.” We don’t say “gay marriage” because that suggests that marriage for gays and lesbians is somehow different from marriage for straights. While that may be true in a few ways, from a legal perspective, the differences are irrelevant. And since the fight for marriage is living primarily in courts these days, well, legal terminology matters.
But let’s get to the meat of Perkins’ half-baked claim. “Throughout the country the majority of American continue to believe that marriage should be between on man and one woman.” Nope, not even a little bit true. The polling shows that over half of the states have a majority supporting marriage; and nationally, support’s up around 60%. Even a majority of Republicans support it. Tony can claim that one study shows that a majority is on his side, but that’s simply not true: the “study” was done by a PR firm working for Tony Perkins.
Lie number 2: The government is punishing wedding businesses.
Not exactly. The government is punishing businesses that break the law. And not just any law, but nondiscrimination law. Those laws exist for a good reason: it used to be perfectly legal for a businesses to turn away black people from a business; for a bank to refuse to give a loan to immigrants; or for schools to ban Catholic students or Jewish ones. That was not super-awesome, and we’ve gotten better as a country since then. But there are some folks who would like to return to that time, and they happen to be florists and bakers for some reason. (Apparently, wing nuts like to be florists as much as the gays do!)
So let’s be clear: nobody is punished for being religious. They’re being punished for engaging in illegal discrimination, and they’re mad that their religion doesn’t give them a get-out-of-following-the-law card. Sorry, folks, but there are some laws that everyone has to follow, no matter how religious you are. In fact, religious minorities benefit as much as any group from these laws, and if they had any shred of decency, they would acknowledge that they are refusing others the liberty they enjoy.
Lie number 3: Restricting religious practices is a thought crime.
Good lord, no. The government doesn’t care what you think, it cares what you do. If you turn away certain customers but not others, and your justification is that you simply don’t like a particular protected class, that’s not a thought, it’s an action.
Besides, if a businesses really believe that they need to discriminate against gays, they have an option for doing so: they can become a private club. They’ll still be held to certain other laws — bakers can’t put bake dead rats into cakes, florists can’t break your kneecaps if you have an overdue bill — but at least you can choose who your customers are.
Lie number 4: Discriminating against gay people doesn’t mean you hate them.
“I love gay people, I’ve had gay friends, I don’t hate them, it’s not about that,” says a woman in the video.
Look, lady. It’s very nice that you think that’s the case. But exactly what kind of a “friend” were you to those “gay friends”? Did you look down on them, tell them they’re inferior, let them know that you think you’re better than they are? Did you celebrate the happiest day of their lives by saying “ugh gross”? Because that does not seem super friendly.
You have a choice to make, homophobes. Either treat your friends with respect, which implies equality or admit that you are terrible at friendship.
Lie number 5: Nondiscrimination laws will destroy religious freedom, so please send us $20.
Yup, the entire Perkins/Santorum video is an infomercial in disguise. But this might be the world’s weirdest sales pitch: first it tells you that you’re under attack, then it tells you that you need to send them $20 for a DVD that will tell you even more about how you’re under attack. Like, why do you even need the second DVD at this point?
Anyway, you obviously do not need to send Tony Perkins (who makes a quarter million a year just from the Family Research Council alone) any money. He has too much.
Santorum’s grinning goofy face appears briefly around this point, and if you ever wanted an example of someone who is not a friend to the gays, hoo boy, you couldn’t do much better than this guy. (He owns the company that’s selling the DVDs. So not only does he get to make a sales pitch for his company, he also gets to wink at likely voters right before announcing his presidential candidacy. What a sneaky son of a bitch.)
And more importantly, nondiscrimination laws will not, as they claim, destroy anyone’s ability to worship freely. Here’s the thing: The video throws in a little soundbite from Reagan at the very end, in which he says that freedom might be just one generation away from being destroyed. The problem is that he was talking about how freedom would be destroyed if the country enacted Medicare. And guess what? We’ve had Medicare for several generations and it seems to be going just fine. So this “one generation away” prediction of Reagan’s really isn’t any more accurate than a wild guess made by a phone psychic.
Medicare didn’t end democracy. Nondiscrimination won’t destroy the First Amendment. Everybody just calm down, and try to ignore Perkins and Santorum’s little tantrum.