We predicted it yesterday: Religious Right leaders would say in response to the Virginia marriage equality ruling that more rights somehow equals fewer rights, and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) did not disappoint. It was Valentine’s Day so Perkins sent his love to Judge Arena L. Wright Allen, calling her, among other things, “arrogant” and an “activist judge” (that’s what Jesus said to do to your enemies, right? Lay some hate on ’em?):
It appears that we have yet another example of an arrogant judge substituting her personal preferences for the judgment of the General Assembly and 57 percent of Virginia voters. Our nation’s judicial system has been infected by activist judges, which threaten the stability of our nation and the rule of law.
Actually, Judge Wright Allen substituted the Constitution for the judgment of 57 percent of Virginia voters. The Founding Fathers feared this – the tyranny of the majority – and wrote the Constitution to account for such “excesses of democracy” as they were called. As they knew – and as Judge Wright Allen knows, a majority doesn’t trump the law of the land, but they can trump right and wrong if the law does not protect the interests of the minority as well as the majority.
In the words of James Madison:
The lesson we are to draw from the whole is, that where a majority are united by a common sentiment, and have an opportunity, the rights of the minor party become insecure. In a republican government, the majority, if united, have always an opportunity. The only remedy is, to enlarge the sphere, and thereby divide the community into so great a number of interests and parties, that, in the first place, a majority will not be likely, at the same moment, to have a common interest separate from that of the whole, or of the minority; and in the second place, that in case they should have such an interest, they may not be so apt to unite in the pursuit of it. It was incumbent on us, then, to try this remedy, and, with that view, to frame a republican system on such a scale, and in such a form, as will control all the evils which have been experienced.
But let’s not interrupt Perkins’ whining with facts. According to Perkins, anything he disagrees with is lawlessness:
This ruling comes on the heels of Attorney General Mark Herring’s refusal to fulfill his constitutional duty to defend the state’s marriage law. His lawlessness is an insult to the voters of Virginia who rightfully expected elected officials to uphold the laws and constitution of the state, not attack them as Herring has done.
There is an old adage that a mistake yesterday does not obligate one to repeat the mistake today. Herring was once opposed to marriage equality. Like Obama, his position evolved and he realized that he had been wrong in his opposition. He also realized that opposing same-sex marriage was contrary to the intent of the Founders, who, when they said “all” they meant “all.” Tony Perkins wants to pretend that “all” means just white Evangelicals like himself. I would suggest he read the U.S. Constitution but he lacks the self-integrity to make that a meaningful suggestion.
So then comes the obligatory attacks on an arrogant judiciary and activist judges for actually interpreting the law according to legal and constitutional principles instead of the Bible:
An arrogant judiciary is only one of the major consequences of the drive to redefine marriage. Increasingly, Americans are being forced to finance and celebrate unions that not only step on free speech and religious liberty but also deny children a mom and a dad. Rather than live-and-let-live, this court by redefining marriage will create a level of inequality that has never been seen in our country as people are forced to suppress or violate the basic teachings of their faith.
Absurd as this histrionic virtual bloodletting might have been, Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel trumped it by suggesting that it was Judge Wright Allen is the one who has not read the U.S. Constitution. It is true that she misapplied words from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution but she got the spirit of the thing right.
Staver and his allies can whine all they want but they come nowhere near understanding the spirit or the exact words of the Constitution, which they continually confuse with the spirit and words of the Bible they also don’t understand.
He is pissy because “Judge Allen rejected Liberty Counsel’s request to file an amicus brief, rejected the evidence presented in the professors’ amicus brief, and instead cited amicus briefs filed in another case that has nothing to do with the Virginia marriage laws and which were not filed in this case.”
Gosh, isn’t that a bit like what Liberty Counsel does when it substitutes the Bible, which has nothing to do with the law of the land, with the Constitution, which does? Ooooh, you can hear him stomp his little feet from here.
This decision is outrageous and legally flawed. Judges would be well-served to read the U.S. Constitution and not invent or rewrite it. The Constitution cannot be changed by the stroke of a judge’s pen, nor does it bow to a judge’s personal ideology. The overwhelming majority of Virginia voters who make up ‘we the people’ voted to affirm natural marriage. Same-sex marriage, as a policy matter, sends the message that children do not need moms and dads. There is ample evidence that children fair best when raised with a mother and a father. Same-sex marriage is not the equivalent of natural marriage. Judges should be careful to render decisions grounded in the Constitution and the rule of law. Otherwise, judges and courts will render themselves impotent when the people lose confidence in the judicial system.
Even the corporate-sponsored Tea Party Nation got all worked up, Judson Phillips denouncing the “imperious federal judiciary” for doing its job by upholding the U.S. Constitution instead of the Bible, accusing it of trying “to advance a social experiment that changes America from the nation that we know into something totally unrecognizable” and force bigots like him to “support homosexual marriage.”
No, Mr. Phillips, we are simply asking you to tolerate marriage equality, in the same way we tolerate you.
Phillips complained that “this law is not simply a law. It is a constitutional amendment approved by the voters.” Yes, and it violates the United States Constitution, which trumps any state constitution. Like Perkins and Staver, Phillips pretends to be a defender of the Constitution but he hasn’t actually read it. Like Staver, he attacked Herring for realizing he had been wrong before.
You can almost hear the drool falling to the floor as Phillips says, “Guess who appointed Judge Allen [sic]? Obama.”
Once again, we see an imperious federal judiciary overruling the voters of a state to advance a social experiment that changes America from the nation that we know into something totally unrecognizable.
And with the striking down of this law, can the liberal state apparatus be far behind? That liberal state apparatus is the one that will force you to support homosexual marriage whether or not it conflicts with your religious beliefs.
Again, the only folks who have any rights at all according to the Religious Right are, you guessed it, the folks of the religious right. We have to tolerate a whole lotta things they say and do that conflict with our religious beliefs. That’s what the First Amendment is all about.
But these folks don’t think they should have to tolerate anything, and that their own religious beliefs give them the right to act on those beliefs while the rest of us lack any similar right. If there was ever a group that hated the idea of America more than the Religious Right, I can’t think of them, and that includes our al-Qaeda enemies.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.