The Associated Press granted anti-gay groups a platform to spread the unfounded claim that churches could soon be forced to perform same-sex weddings.
In an August 24 story, the AP reported that, in response to the Supreme Court's marriage equality rulings in June, many churches are updating their bylaws to clarify that they won't be blessing same-sex unions. Churches are well within their rights to change their bylaws, but the extension of civil marriage rights to same-sex couples has never posed a threat to churches' right not to perform same-sex weddings. Instead of noting the clear and definitive distinction between civil and religious marriage, however, the AP chose to follow a he said/she said model of journalism to promote a false narrative:
Worried they could be sued by gay couples, some churches are changing their bylaws to reflect their view that the Bible allows only marriage between one man and one woman.
Although there have been lawsuits against wedding industry businesses that refuse to serve gay couples, attorneys promoting the bylaw changes say they don't know of any lawsuits against churches.
Critics say the changes are unnecessary, but some churches fear that it's only a matter of time before one of them is sued.
"I thought marriage was always between one man and one woman, but the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision said no," said Gregory S. Erwin, an attorney for the Louisiana Baptist Convention, an association of Southern Baptist churches and one several groups advising churches to change their bylaws. "I think it's better to be prepared because the law is changing. America is changing."
As marriage equality took effect in Minnesota on August 1, the state's largest newspaper granted a platform to anti-equality individuals voicing their concerns about a "deteriorating society," failing to mention the extreme anti-gay animus that motivated many of the state's most influential anti-equality groups and activists.
In an article posted on July 31, the Star Tribune examined the "ordinary" Minnesotans who were "quietly mourning" their state's marriage equality law. The article offered a sympathetic portrayal of several residents - including a senior couple estranged from their gay son - who, the paper suggested, are the victims of being "caught in the undertow of a wave of social change":
In the midst of the celebration about same-sex marriage, some Minnesotans are quietly mourning.
They are ordinary parishioners, neighbors down the street, co-workers in the elevator who steadfastly believe that marriage is meant solely for a man and a woman.
"I can't say we're bitter," said Tom O'Neill of Eagan. "We're disappointed. It's people saying, 'If it's good for me, I don't care about anyone else.' There's nothing that's intrinsically evil anymore."
"To me, the moral compass is disintegrating," added his wife, Mary. "Not just changing -- disintegrating."
Many in the group said they are angry with legislators who voted same-sex marriage into law. But they feel utterly betrayed by those politicians who, during the run-up to the November election, downplayed the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as redundant because of the existing state law against such unions.
Breitbart.com promoted a series of falsehoods about the legality of Proposition 8 in order to champion the efforts of San Diego County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg, Jr., who unsuccessfully sought to have the California Supreme Court issue a stay on the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses in his county.
In a July 23 column, Breitbart.com legal affairs analyst Ken Klukowski lambasted the judicial overruling of California's Proposition 8 and argued that Dronenburg "is under no court order" to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Klukowski's analysis of the Prop 8 case and his assertion that Dronenburg has the authority to block same-sex marriages are fundamentally misguided.
First, Klukowski vehemently denounced Vaughn Walker, the U.S. District Court judge who found Prop 8 unconstitutional in 2010. According to Klukowski, Walker's legal reasoning was both flawed and deeply antagonistic toward religious Americans:
The first clear item is that his opinion is simply terrible. He made official judicial findings of fact that religious beliefs defining marriage as one man and one woman are irrational, and driven by either superstitious ignorance or hateful bigotry. It is emphatically not the province of the federal courts to make such pronouncements regarding the peaceful faith of over 200 million Americans.
Continuing the right-wing effort to depict equality for gay and lesbian couples as a threat to liberty, Glenn Beck's conservative website TheBlaze.com promoted the claim that marriage equality will lead to a spate of "hate speech" laws targeted at anti-gay speakers.
In a July 23 post, The Blaze warned that "pastors and Christians, alike" could find their First Amendment freedoms imperiled in an America with marriage equality, a claim advanced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):
Some pro-gay marriage advocates in the U.S., the senator believes, want the nation to end up with the same ramifications on the books -- and in a paradigm in which individuals can be punished or denigrated for refusing to substantiate or for speaking out against same-sex unions.
Some might scoff at these insinuations, dismissing them as over-the-top, but Cruz is not necessarily manufacturing a paradigm. Consider the widely publicized case in Sweden back in 2005 surrounding Aake Green, a Pentecostal pastor.
Green's plight corroborates the worries that Cruz has surrounding America's current trajectory. In 2003, the preacher likened homosexuality to cancer during one of his sermons. As a result, he was brought up on charges over these claims -- statements that, in America, would currently be protected by the First Amendment.
Other incidents have unfolded, too, as the delicate balance between free speech and cutting down on hate speech has been sought.
Now, some might argue that Green's words were too harsh, but one wonders if even simpler, kinder words that stand opposed to homosexuality would be met with similar sentiment in his country.
While it's certainly permissible to disagree with Cruz's assessment, the basis on which he argues is not entirely unfounded.
Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes revived the right-wing canard that churches will face lawsuits and even criminal charges unless they begin performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.
In a July 15 column for FoxNews.com, Starnes continued his push to frame LGBT rights as a dire threat to religious liberty, quoting a pastor who warns that "it's just a matter of time" before it's a crime to preach that homosexuality is a sin and that marriage should only be between a man and a woman:
Joe Carr believes a day is fast approaching when pastors will be charged with hate crimes for preaching that homosexuality is a sin and churches will face lawsuits for refusing to host same-sex weddings.
"It's just a matter of time," said Carr, the pastor of Waynesville Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia. "What's happening in Europe - we're going to see happen here and we're going to see it happen sooner rather than later I'm afraid."
More than 32,000 people have signed a petition asking CNN to stop hosting anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins to speak on behalf of America's Christians following Perkins' appearance on the network to discuss the Supreme Court's recent marriage equality decisions.
Just minutes after the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26, CNN invited Perkins - president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council (FRC) - to peddle lies about the decision's impact on religious liberty. No other Christians were interviewed during the segment, despite the fact that a majority of Christians oppose DOMA:
It's not likely that many observers would compare the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling on Proposition 8 with the military coup that toppled Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi last week, but National Review Online's Dennis Prager insists they're basically the same.
In a July 9 NRO column, Prager likened the overthrow of Egypt's elected government to the Supreme Court's refusal to affirm popularly ratified anti-gay discrimination:
As much as I loathe the Muslim Brotherhood and the whole Islamist enterprise, it is difficult to imagine any other response among Islamists than this: Our votes don't count.
They were voted into office; many Egyptians and the army didn't like the results, so the vote was overthrown.
With some important differences -- and not all of them to the credit of the United States -- the Supreme Court of the United States, colluding judges, and the Democratic party of California did the same thing to the voters of California.
Forbes contributor Jerry Bowyer relied on shoddy logic and baseless assertions to attempt to debunk the well-supported claim that marriage equality has a variety of economic benefits.
In his July 4 blog post - touted by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) - Bowyer claimed that the Supreme Court's recent marriage equality decisions would hurt businesses by adding to "paperwork" for same-sex couples:
One of the most frequently cited arguments is that a pro-same sex marriage ruling would cut down on paperwork. But the problems with this are numerous. First of all, in a situation where some states have same sex marriages and some don't, it seems like a new marriage category adds to the paperwork. So, the argument only applies to a ruling which forces same sex marriage on all the states, which was not one of the real world scenarios which were addressed before the courts.
Dennis Prager is not happy about The New Yorker's latest cover.
The syndicated columnist and radio talk show host took to National Review Online on July 2 to blast The New Yorker for featuring "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie snuggling on a couch, watching a TV that shows the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. The New Yorker released its cover following the Court's decisions to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and dismiss California's Proposition 8 case.
According to Prager, the cover indicates that "the Left has an agenda to deprive children of their innocence":
But for the Left, Bert and Ernie (and whatever else the Left can get its ideological hands on) are transformed into vehicles for a left-wing cause. And no cause animates the Left these days more than the social advancement of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and the transgendered (LGBTs).
One consequence has been the robbing of children's innocence by prematurely sexualizing them. Rendering Bert and Ernie as gay is only the most recent example.
After inaccurately predicting that the Supreme Court would uphold California's Proposition 8, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly launched a series of flawed right-wing critiques of the Court's marriage equality decisions.
During the July 1 edition of his show, O'Reilly criticized the Supreme Court for its decisions on California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), suggesting that the Court relied on "loopholes" to override public opinion and defending the merits of both measures:
From the June 29 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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From the June 29 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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On March 26, Bill O'Reilly said that marriage equality opponents offer weak arguments, stating they have not been able "to do anything but thump the Bible." Rush Limbaugh took offense to this, saying the next day that O'Reilly "marginalized" Fox News viewers. O'Reilly responded on April 2 by defending his original comment.
Here's the feud in one minute: