As a guest on the July 13 broadcast of National Public Radio's The Tavis Smiley Show, fundamentalist Baptist pastor, Old Time Gospel Hour host, frequent cable news guest, and Moral Majority founder Reverend Jerry Falwell said that Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) position on same-sex marriage is "like saying 150 years ago, 'I'm opposed to slavery, but if my neighbor wants to own one, that's alright.'" Kerry opposes same-sex marriage but he also opposes the proposed constitutional amendment to ban it, which the U.S. Senate defeated in a procedural vote on July 14.
From the July 13 broadcast of The Tavis Smiley Show:
FALWELL: The issue is simply this. The family is one man married to one woman, period. And to say, as the two candidates are saying, one, Mr. Bush is saying I'm for the Federal Marriage Amendment, we say great. Mr. Kerry says I'm against same-sex marriage, but I'm against a federal marriage amendment, that's like saying 150 years ago, 'I'm opposed to slavery, but if my neighbor wants to own one, that's all right.' You're either going to take your stand to support the family, the 6,000-year historic family, one man married to one woman, or you're not going to take it, and I think the American people, come November, will be greatly impressed by how these two candidates move on that issue.
Anti-gay hate speech is nothing new to Falwell. On July 5, 1983, the Associated Press reported:
Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell says the government, in an effort to control the spread of AIDS, should close bathhouses frequented by homosexuals and force blood donors to reveal their sexual orientation. Falwell, head of the conservative lobbying group, was in Cincinnati on Monday to lead an "I love America" rally. He said he does not dislike homosexuals, just their "perverted lifestyle."
"Herpes, AIDS, venereal diseases ... are a definite form of the judgment of God upon a society," Falwell said. "If the Reagan administration does not put its full weight against this, what is now a gay plague in this country, I feel that a year from now, President Ronald Reagan personally will be blamed for allowing this awful disease to break out among the innocent American public."
More recently, Falwell apologized -- more or less -- for suggesting that "gays and lesbians," among others, "helped" cause the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. According to the September 14, 2001, edition of The New York Times, Falwell clarified his remarks, saying, "[H]e did not believe God 'had anything to do with the tragedy,' but that God had permitted it. 'He lifted the curtain of protection,' Mr. Falwell said, 'and I believe that if America does not repent and return to a genuine faith and dependence on him, we may expect more tragedies, unfortunately.'"
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