Chief Justice John Roberts won the endorsement of Rush Limbaugh by comparing marriage equality to forced friendship, an analogy the radio host called "dead on right."
During oral arguments Tuesday over a constitutional amendment in California that bans same-sex marriages, Roberts asked Ted Olson, a lawyer arguing in support of marriage equality, why civil unions were an insufficient middle ground. As Olson explained the importance of the marriage label, Roberts interjected:
Sure. If you tell - if you tell a child that somebody has to be their friend, I suppose you can force the child to say, this is my friend, but it changes the definition of what it means to be a friend.
And that's it seems to me what the - what supporters of Proposition 8 are saying here. You're - all you're interested in is the label and you insist on changing the definition of the label.
Olson pointed out in response that it is the Supreme Court that "has said over and over again that marriage means something to the individual."
But Roberts' analogy spoke to Limbaugh.
Discussing the arguments, Limbaugh focused on that particular exchange and said: "At the root level that's what this is all about; it's about changing definitions to include people who don't automatically qualify. That's all this is about when you boil it all down, and every argument made to advance it is marketing and packaging." He added:
It isn't a civil rights issue, it isn't a love issue, it isn't any of that. If everybody is your friend, then there's no such thing as a friend. And if anybody can marry anybody, there really isn't anything called marriage anymore. Marriage is a word, it's in the dictionary, look it up, it has a meaning.