Militarism is the belief that a group should maintain strong military capabilities and be prepared to use them aggressively to promote their interests, and it may imply the justification of conflict to administer a group’s policy on its enemies. Over the course of the past few years, conservatives have threatened various levels of conflict to impose their particular agenda on the government and American people whether it was opposition to healthcare reform when teabaggers attended protests claiming “we came unarmed this time,” or threats of race, civil, or revolutionary war over gun safety laws and the election of an African American president. Whatever various conservative groups’ causes, their reason for threatening conflict is always their opposition to the government’s right to enact laws within the tenets of the U.S. Constitution. During the Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Prop 8 that banned same-sex marriage, conservative Christians became the latest group to use combative language to express their outrage at the prospect the Constitution forbids them from imposing their religious morality on the entire nation.
A little reported exchange during arguments in favor of perpetuating inequality in America was Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s reading a line from the House Report justifying DOMA’s passage in 1996 that defined the law’s entire legal underpinning. It said, “Congress decided to reflect and honor a moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.” That one line is all the reason the High Court needs to strike down the law on two counts; it is rank, government-sanctioned discrimination, and it is straight out of the Christian bible making it a direct violation of the 1st Amendment’s prohibition on establishment of a state religion. Conservative Christians, meanwhile, fearing the prospect the Court may strike down the law, immediately took up a militaristic posture leading one influential conservative Iowa talk radio host to say, “It’s going to raise the issue to Orange Threat Level, it’ll be DEFCON 6,” and his warning was repeated across the country.
In Texas, about 250 opponents of same-sex marriage assembled at the Capitol to hear the state’s Republican leadership promise that Texas will remain a bastion of “freedom, family and faith,” and that “the hope of America is Texas” according to state Sen. Ken Paxton. The state’s lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst, kept up the battle-field rhetoric and inflamed rally-goers claiming that conservative values were under steady assault from President Barack Obama and his administration, and that “Over our dead bodies are we going to let this state turn blue.” Another Texas Republican, state Senator Donna Campbell said “Our core values are being attacked on a daily basis … by government fiat in our courts and in our schools. They want to redefine the Constitution and it’s just not going to stand with me” and promised that Christian values would be defended here “because there is no other Texas to move to.” Steve Deace, who warned the threat level was elevating to DEFCON6 said “these people have invested decades in this fight and they are not going to throw up their hands, they’re going to double down, it’s going to be even nastier.”
The freedom, faith, and values crowd, conservative Christians, did not limit their threats to President Obama and the Supreme Court, and set their sights squarely on the Republican Party. An anti-gay activist, Gary Bauer, threatened Republicans and promised mass defections if they dared stand on the side of Constitutional equality, and promised to “leave the party and take as many people with me as I possibly can.” Bauer’s speech was for a “March for Marriage” event organized by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) at the National Mall, and he told the American Values crowd “shame on the politicians and the judges that are trying to undermine the institution of marriage,” and then dismissed reports of increasing support for marriage equality by claiming “the polls are skewed.” Poll results aside, the simple fact is that no-one is undermining the institution of marriage, redefining the Constitution, or attacking Christian values, but that was never the point. The point is many conservative Christians are up in arms at the prospect of losing their government-sanctioned ability to force their religion’s “moral disapproval of homosexuality” on the nation and they are fully prepared to “double down” and “get even nastier.”
An evangelical anti-gay operative, Ralph Reed, leader of the Faith and Freedom Coalition predicted a protracted battle and said “If the court were to go to the most extreme case and strike down laws defining marriage, it will undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, and spark a movement that will spend decades trying to reverse the decision.” However, the mood among hardline bigots in the conservative Christian movement is at a heightened level of an existential threat and it is unlikely the people threatening to get nastier and defend their bastion of freedom, faith, and family values are going to stand by and lose their legal right to impose the bible’s morality on all Americans for very long. It is not necessarily that conservative Christians are going militaristic over marriage equality in the near future, but they are the same crowd that threatened civil war over gun safety proposals, election monitoring, President Obama’s re-election, implementation of the ACA, and various issues they deemed worthy of nullification and 2nd Amendment remedies. It is not even a stretch to imagine that a Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA and Prop 8 will be the final straw because it involves religion, and history is replete with violence precipitated by the belief that someone’s religion is under assault, and to millions of conservative Christians, marriage equality is an attack on their faith, freedom, and families.
If conservative Christians agree with Congress in 1996 that they “reflect and honor a moral judgment and express moral disapproval of homosexuality,” they have that right according to their faith and bigoted family values. They also have the right to stay in traditional marriages if that is their wont and no-one will force them to change their innate heterosexual tendencies, divorce their opposite-sex spouses, and find a same-sex partner to marry. However, they or their Republican facilitators, do not have the right to force their faith and values on any American whether they are same-sex couples or women seeking contraception, and the Supreme Court is duty-bound to strike down DOMA on the grounds it is government-sanctioned discrimination and state-established religion. One just hopes that after four years of threats of violence against the government with an African American man as President for all manner of imagined slights, conservative Christians restrain themselves from getting nastier and taking extreme measures to assert their will on Americans who do not adhere, or approve, of making moral judgments based on conservative Christian’s disapproval of homosexuality.