2015 Isn’t 2012, and Bush Isn’t Romney

The conservative Washington Times reports Jeb Bush misfires with evangelicals over gay marriage supporters in inner circle:

Rich Bott, whose religious radio network of 100 stations stretches from California to Tennessee … said it’s “hard to imagine evangelicals being excited about a Bush candidacy if he has well-known advocates of homosexual marriage leading his campaign.”

Mr. Bush is on record as opposing same-sex marriage but hired David Kochel to run his campaign organization when it becomes official. He also hired Tim Miller [who is openly gay] to be the communications director of the campaign when it gets underway, presumably later this spring.

Mr. Kochel and Mr. Miller publicly advocate same-sex marriage, arguing that it should be guaranteed under the Constitution.

Evangelical social conservatives successfully pressed Mitt Romney to drop his openly gay foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell in 2012, and that made Romney look weak. I think Bush will stand up to them, and be the stronger for it.

More. Sage words from Barry Goldwater.

Furthermore. Bush strives for balance in his May 9th commencement address at Liberty University:

Jeb Bush delivered a forceful defense of religious freedom from a secular government during a speech at an evangelical university on Saturday, deploring the rise of “coercive federal power” under President Obama that he said was seeking to impose progressive dogma on the country’s faithful.

But in an intriguing omission at a school known for its long-time opposition to same-sex unions, Mr. Bush did not mention the raging debate over the legalization of gay marriage, or express his opposition to it, even as he touched on the environment, sex trafficking and abortion.


Sure to drive LGBT progressives to new heights of frenzy, A Fox News Contributor on Being Gay, the GOP, and Religious Liberty (via BuzzFeed). Media Matters, save us!

Guy Benson’s new book, co-authored with fellow Fox contributor Mary Katharine Ham, is End of Discussion: How the Left’s Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun). As BuzzFeed puts it:

The book will be published as the debate over religious liberty protections continues to dominate the presidential conversation around gay issues, something that Benson and Ham are aware of and tackle in the book. (The chapter of the book in which Benson comes out is titled, “Bake Me a Cake, Bigots.”)

Many conservatives have argued there must be a legal process for exemption from laws on the basis of religious belief. For his part, Benson argued that exact space between existence and participation is what has helped accelerate acceptance for marriages. The idea that same-sex couples’ marriages wouldn’t affect straight couples’ marriages was “a very effective argument that won over a lot of people,” he said.

“I’m for civil marriage, I’m for nondiscrimination laws — but I think there should be broad carve-outs for religious organizations, in particular, and narrow carve-outs for closely held businesses that serve the wedding industry,” he said.

Defending freedom of conscience and the right not to be compelled to act in ways that violate religious faith, once liberal values, now signal that you’re a reactionary.

More. Benson is interviewed by Megyn Kelly, here, and says:

I just want to acknowledge quickly that I recognize that I am so fortunate to live in a country and an era where we can be having this exact conversation on national television, and I recognize that a lot of that is due to the fact that I’m standing on the shoulders of people who worked very hard for a very long time, who probably don’t share my political persuasions. …

But I think when that crosses some threshold into punishing and purging dissenters and trying to exact punishments on people for not agreeing, that is not what we should be about in this country. I think we’re better than that in this country.

As to the charge that he’s just a Fox News lackey, during the 2012 Romney campaign Benson took social conservatives to task for opposing Romney’s appointment of an openly gay man, Richard Grenell, to be his spokesman on national security and foreign policy issues (Grenell, alas, resigned shortly afterward when Romney failed to stand up for him.).

Santorum and Jenner

Rick Santorum seems to be getting in touch with his inner Christian.

If he says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman. . . My responsibility as a human being is to love and accept everybody. Not to criticize people for who they are.

That is a generous and loving statement.

But as is regrettably usual with Santorum, he then goes on…

I can criticize, and I do, for what people do, for their behavior. But as far as for who they are, you have to respect everybody, and these are obviously complex issues for businesses, for society, and I think we have to look at it in a way that is compassionate and respectful of everybody.

So here is a hard question for him.  Who, if anyone, should Jenner be allowed to marry, based on his (one has to assume sexual) “behavior?”  And why?  If he is a woman, must he marry a man?  Jenner says he is only attracted to women.  But if he’s a woman, Santorum’s religious beliefs, as expressed repeatedly about those of us who are homosexual, take that off the table, right?

So what is Santorum’s “compassionate and respectful” answer?

And again, why?

Marriage Amendment Is Wrong, Defending Religious Freedom Isn’t

In the wake of the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on same-sex marriage, Gov. Scott Walker, who seemed for a while to have accepted marriage equality in Wisconsin as the law so let’s move on, shifted ground and joined Ted Cruz in endorsing a constitutional amendment that would stop federal judges from finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

“My hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court will [not rule in favor of same-sex marriage],” Walker said. “If they don’t, the only other viable option out there is to support a constitutional amendment which I would [support] believing not just in marriage being defined as one man, one woman, but I also believe in states rights. I believe that is an issue that appropriately belongs in the states.”

Endorsing amending the U.S. Constitution to stop marriage equality will put Walker beyond the political pale for center-right, libertarian-leaning Republicans and independents, without whom no Republican can win the general election. It’s not just morally wrong, it’s bad politics.

Progressives, however, are also expressing opprobrium toward Jeb Bush for noting concern that same-sex marriage might lead to forcing conservative clergy to perform same-sex marriages. Bush’s fear, dismissed flippantly by his critics, would have less credence if they hadn’t already been justified by a highly publicized instance of liberal officials trying to do this in the name of anti-discrimination (arguing that if ordained clergy run a wedding chapel instead of a church, they are subordinate to the state). That case fell apart, but not for want of trying.

And there was also this exchange during last week’s Supreme Court oral arguments, in which U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli suggested that a private, religiously affiliated college could lose it’s tax-exempt status for not supporting same-sex marriage:

JUSTICE ALITO: Well,in the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax¬exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?

GENERALVERRILLI: You know, I — I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue. I — I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.

As the Washington Blade reported, Bush also alluded to the cases of religiously conservative florists, caterers, and bakers being prosecuted for declining to provide services to same-sex weddings:

for Bush, finding “common ground” between opponents of same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian people seeking to marry is key. I think a country as open and big and tolerant and as this country ought to be able to find common ground on both of those fronts,” Bush said.

But the zealots of left and right won’t have any part of that.

More. From our comments, “Mary” writes, pertinently:

In all fairness, if 10 years ago someone had said that equal rights for gays would lead to a photographer being sued for not wanting to photograph a lesbian commitment ceremony wouldn’t you have called this a scare tactic? And when people argued that bakers, florists, and reception hall owners would have to cater to gay weddings or be sued for discrimination because “equal means equal” wasn’t it said that no one would be forced to have anything to do with gay weddings if they didn’t want to?

So why should we assume that tax exemption would never be removed from churches that don’t marry gay couples? Although I support SSM now, I do believe we need specific laws to protect religious freedom.

Indeed. And Hubert Humphrey famously said “I’ll eat my hat if this [the Civil Rights Act] leads to racial quotas.” One can today argue the merits of affirmative action race-based preferences and quotas, but they certainly did come about (with hard quotas, at least, subsequently scaled back by Supreme Court rulings).

Out with the Old Intolerance, In with the New

Some want equality before the law and social inclusion. Others, who feign wanting the same, actually have darker aims and see an opportunity to pursue these by confusing their authoritarian agenda with the cresting fight for liberty.

As Mark Lee writes in the Washington Blade:

The news on the gay civil rights and marriage equality fronts has been nothing short of stupendous of late. Except for the attitudes and behavior of some LGBT people, including many community activists.

Inclination toward ideological hegemony and political retribution of the sort that would make Chairman Mao proud is substitute for an appropriate sense of communal celebration and circumspect congeniality. It seems we’ve become so accustomed to anxiety and alienation that gays don’t know how to be happy. …

Two instances in the past week are clear illustrations.

When generation-spanning Olympian and reality show star Bruce Jenner indicated he’s a conservative Republican, when discussing being transgender in a national television interview, the denunciations and condemnations were swift. Taunts that he’s “self-loathing” or a “traitor” and “despicable” for his political beliefs were emblematic of a lack of tolerance for divergence of thought.

The news that two prominent gay hoteliers, owners of multiple businesses and most of the gay venues on Fire Island, had invited Ted Cruz to a small meet-and-greet to primarily discuss non-gay issues sparked rapid-fire pillory. Lost in the outcry was the fundraising event they had recently hosted for 900 contributors to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Calls for a boycott of their enterprises ensued and they were reduced to issuing an “apology” to avoid continued harassment….

Why do we remain tolerant of an abhorrent petty mob mentality demanding “groupthink” and pouncing on nonconformists? For all the chatter about a need for “safe spaces” it’s time we create such for one another.

More. Via Reason, this cartoon nicely captures the Jenner controversy.

Perhaps a better example to make the point, the Supreme Court arguments, as noted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, came just four days afer:

in Oregon, an administrative-law judge proposed a $135,000 fine against Aaron and Melissa Klein, proprietors of the Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, for the “emotional distress” suffered by a lesbian couple for whom the Kleins, citing their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, had declined to bake a wedding cake in 2013.

Some have come to think anything that purports to advance “LGBT rights” and that brands itself as “progressive” is by necessity of the light and is thus to be supported without question—especially when the target is religious conservatives and/or Republicans, who themselves can’t possibly have rights worth defending.

Liberal tolerance. Drive them out of business, subject them to penurious fines, and then block their attempts to raise money for their legal defense.

And while you’re at it, attack an unrelated bakery with the same-sounding name:

Though the Smiths are across the country from Sweet Cakes by Melissa, run by husband-and-wife team Melissa and Aaron Klein, their bakery’s strong presence on Twitter has caused it to be the target of “really awful, hateful tweets,” Emily Smith said Thursday.

“People are calling us bigots and say we should rot in hell and are tweeting Bible quotes to us [on Twitter],” said Emily Smith.

Supreme Arguments

On the morning of April 28, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, which will determine whether (1) same-sex couples have a right to wed in all 50 states, and (2) whether states must recognize same-sex marriage performed in other states.

There will be much analysis and predicting and guessing, until the decision is issued in June. Since no one knows, it’s at best informed speculation.

This was interesting, from attorney Kevin Russell, via Scotusblog:

There is some reason to wonder whether the Chief might be angling for a compromise in which the states win the first question (i.e., they do not have to permit same-sex marriages to be performed in their states) but lose the second (i.e., they would have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states). It’s very hard to read the Chief, but he did ask questions in the second argument expressing some skepticism over the fact that states don’t, in fact, deny recognition to any marriage that does not conform with state law, except same-sex marriages. And, as I mentioned, Justice Scalia asked questions suggesting he might think there was a reason based in the text of Article 4 that would justify ruling for the couples on recognition but not the right to marry. So one could imagine a potential compromise that would effectively allow same sex couples to get married in states that allow it, have their marriages recognized elsewhere, but not have the Court issue a decision that has broad implications for other kinds of sexual orientation discrimination.

But Russell, who has argued 11 merits cases and served as counsel or co-counsel in nearly 50 merits cases before the Supreme Court, also observed:

Kennedy’s relative silence in the second argument may be good evidence that he intends to rule in favor of the couples on the main question — that is, it suggests he will vote to require states to allow same-sex marriages in their own states, which will effectively moot the question of whether they are required to recognize the same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Sexual Orientation Animus or Gender Discrimination?

The Washington Post reported:

[Chief Justice John] Roberts asked a question that neither side had pressed. If a woman wants to marry a man, she can. If a man wants to marry a man, he can’t. Why isn’t that sex discrimination, he wondered.

So perhaps he’s angling for a ruling based on sex discrimination, which might avoid fears of inadvertently opening up marriage to multiple partners. But a question that neither side had pressed?

It hinges on Justice Kennedy, and many remain optimistic he’ll side with the liberals in finding that the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection and due-process guarantees leave no justification for denying marital status to same-sex couples. The fun speculation starts with what if Kennedy is hesitant to go against, in his words, “This definition [that] has been with us for millennia”?

James Taranto, in a column at the Wall Street Journal otherwise fairly unsympathetic to marriage equality, picks up on Chief Justice Roberts query about a ruling based on, in his words, “a straightforward question of sexual discrimination.” Taranto suggests this would, in fact, take care of Justice Sam Alioto’s speculation about opening up marriage, on equal protection grounds, to incestuous and polygamous/polyamorous relationships, noting:

From the premise that men and women are equal before the law, it does not follow that a pair of siblings are the equivalent of a married couple, or that 1+1=4.

If Roberts were to place himself in a position where history would not judge him unkindly, that’s the way he would go.
[Added: Lawyer friends tell me that that this has to do with the level of equal-protection scrutiny applied during judicial review. The Supreme Court has held gender discrimination to intermediate scrutiny, a notch below the strict scrutiny standard applied to race. Also, by framing a decision in terms of gender discrimination, the court could avoid a ruling with broader implications about sexual orientation discrimination in employment, housing or other contexts.

Put simply, a ruling that overturns state bans against same-sex marriage because government may not discriminate due to animus regarding a couple’s sexual orientation would have wider reach than a decision that overturns state bans because government can’t discriminate on the basis of gender against individuals who want to marry someone of the same sex. For that reason, it’s not what some activists would prefer, and explains why the gender-discrimination argument wasn’t put before the court—and why some conservatives who see a decision legalizing same-sex marriage as inevitable are pushing for using gender discrimination as the basis. But frankly, if it gives us the freedom to marry, I can live with that.

Also, via the New York Times, Gender Bias Issue Could Tip Chief Justice Roberts Into Ruling for Gay Marriage. There’s speculation that behind closed doors Roberts may be offering his support to Kennedy and the liberals if they are willing to go along with a decision on narrower gender-discrimination grounds, because a 6-3 decision would be viewed as more legitimate than a 5-4 ruling.]
The Wall Street Journal‘s page 1 story picks up on the point where I began this post, that if, again, Justice Kennedy doesn’t swing as far as many expect him to, the likely compromise is to find states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere:

[Roberts] said it may be “a big step” to find that the 14th Amendment requires all states to perform same sex marriages, but the idea of requiring states to recognize out-of-state marriages under “domestic relations law is pretty straightforward.”

I’m dubious it will come to this “fall back” compromise, but that’s sure looking like the worst case scenario.

And what’s more… Timothy Sandefur parses another Alito absurdity.

Winning in Iowa Means Losing America

The GOP presidential wannabes who pledged to fight to keep marriage between one man and one woman at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition forum may have boxed themselves in a corner, should the Supreme Court find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Campaigning for a constitutional amendment will seem extreme to those outside the hardcore religious right.

But Cruz, Huckabee, Santorum and Jindal seemed to promise to lead an ongoing fight against marriage equality, come hell or high water.

Gov. Scott Walker said: “I still hold out hope that the Supreme Court will rule, as has been the tradition in the past, that the states are the places that get to define what marriage is. If for some reason they don’t … I believe it’s reasonable for the people of America to consider a constitutional amendment that would affirm the ability of states to do just that.”

Marco Rubio reiterated his opposition to same sex marriage, saying: “Marriage as an institution existed before even government itself,” and that “The institution of marriage as between one man and one woman existed even before our laws existed.” But he stopped short of saying how he’d respond if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality.

And Rand Paul, who has previously tried to appeal to the pastors by stressing his personal opposition to same-sex marriage, didn’t mention the issue at all in his 15-minute presentation, during which he made a powerful appeal to protect constitutional liberties. His libertarian supporters—who are distinct from many (not all) of the tea party people and often at odds with the religious right—didn’t like his unlibertarian marriage comments, and this could be a welcomed recalibration. (Paul also was one of 10 GOP senators who last week supported an LGBT-inclusive measure to protect homeless youth.)

Jeb Bush chose not to attend. That might not play well in the Iowa GOP caucuses, but could serve him best in a general election, should he win the nomination.

Transgressors, Beware

Hotel-owning NYC gay business partners Mati Weiderpass and Ian Reisner face an LGBT boycott for meeting with Ted Cruz, primarily to discuss American relations with Israel.

Reisner and Weiderpass said that they disagreed with Cruz on gay marriage and that his appearance at a get-together they hosted “was a step in the right direction toward him having a better understanding” of what they believed.

But the inquisitors smell blood, and they will not be put off.

David Weigel writes, “The irony is that the gay backlash to Cruz’s hosts might engender sympathy with gay marriage opponents,” which has certainly been true of other recent LGBT boycotts (which, unlike the action against Weiderpass and Reisner, at least targeted actual gay marriage opponents, albeit small vendors who rightfully come across as the victims of a bullying mob).

More. And not the mob alone, but authoritarians with state power. Destroying their businesses wasn’t enough, apparently.

I think many have felt cowed into not criticizing progressive LGBT affronts to tolerance and liberty for fear of sowing disunity in the fight for marriage (libertarians, for the most part, are the ones speaking out for both the right to marriage and the right to religious dissent).

I fear that if anything might deter Justice Kennedy from joining with the liberals to find a constitutional right to wed, it’s the unveiling of the authoritarianism driving LGBT progressives as they strive to enforce their vision of ideological and behavioral conformity.

If the court rules the right way in June, I hope more will feel emboldened to speak out in favor of tolerance and mutual respect, even if it means standing up to the mob and its political allies.

Furthermore. Cruz has also taken heat from the religious right over the meeting, showing that zealots on both left and right see any kind of dialog with “the enemy” as anathema.

Final word Reisner offers self-criticism and pledges to toe the correct party line. Note: despite some sloppy misreporting (and malicious misblogging), this meeting was not a fundraiser for Cruz. Should gay people not be allowed to meet conservatives and talk about issues that might unite or divide them? Well, I think we’ve learned the answer.

It’s not only about marriage, of course. You’d better uphold the whole progressive agenda, OR ELSE. From the Daily Beast:

“It’s not a coincidence that Cruz is anti-gay and also anti-social-safety net, anti-reproductive justice, and anti-affirmative action. What extremely fortunate white gay men like Reisner and Weiderpass don’t understand is that it’s all one big package: the classism, the religious conservatism, the social conservatism—these all go together.”

And after the freedom to marriage is secured (hopefully soon), expect that the ongoing morphing of the LGBT rights movement into a full-blown brigade of the progressive left to accelerate.

Real final word. James Kirchick writes, Ted Cruz’s Gay Hosts Shouldn’t Apologize:

So what if two rich gay hoteliers invited Ted Cruz to chat with them at their home? That’s the kind of bridge building we need more of, not less.

And this:

If Obama can meet with the likes of Raul Castro, who heads a regime that threw gay men into concentration camps where they were worked to death, why can’t a couple of gay businessmen have dinner with a politician who opposes same-sex marriage?


Final update, for real Apology revoked.

Post-Marriage Forecast

The New York Times looks at the likely aftermath of a June Supreme Court ruling that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage:

Still, once the Supreme Court speaks, in a decision widely expected to make same-sex marriage a national right, the opponents’ anger and energies are likely to focus on a more limited issue, what they call protections for conservative religious officials or vendors who want to avoid involvement in same-sex weddings.

Gerald N. Rosenberg, a political scientist and legal scholar at the University of Chicago, said his former predictions of a wider, lasting backlash to marriage rulings had been overtaken by the “sea change in public opinion.”

Such “opt out” proposals may produce political heat, as recently seen in Indiana and Arkansas, where the governors, under pressure from businesses, felt compelled to weaken so-called religious freedom bills. But they will not impede the ability of gay couples to marry, Mr. Rosenberg said.

And this:

Yet whatever resistance strategies are adopted, many legal and political experts who have studied the impact of divisive Supreme Court rulings in the past, and the trajectory of the same-sex marriage movement, say they do not expect a lasting, powerful backlash of the kind that followed decisions on school desegregation and abortion.

Instead, the experience in states where same-sex marriage has already been legalized suggests that public opposition is likely to wither over time.

“As more couples marry, more people will know people who are married,” said Michael J. Klarman, a legal historian at the Harvard Law School and author of a 2012 book on earlier same-sex marriage rulings. “And those who oppose it will find out that the sky doesn’t fall.”

Assuming that the Supreme Court rules the right way, I think that’s correct. Same-sex marriage is not abortion; it is not the taking of life. There will not be mass mobilizations to pass Ted Cruz’s constitutional amendment.

But the debate over whether independent vendors with religious views opposed to participating in same-sex weddings should be forced by the state to do so (at the behest of angry authoritarians) will continue, and it will be ugly. Think witch hunts.

Confusing the matter is a related but different issue: whether civil servants should be able to opt out, and here I think the answer has to be no. There is a key difference between private, self-employed citizens who don’t want to provide creative services to same-sex weddings, and servants of the state.

While some of my friends on the left seem to think everyone is essentially (or should be) treated as a servant of the state, that’s actually not the American way, and shouldn’t be.

But, on the other hand, if government officials can’t perform their duty to treat all citizens equally, citing their own religious convictions, then they should step aside. Separation of church and state is also the American way.

Just a Matter of Time

More evidence that conservative support for same-sex marriage is growing:

A 2014 Pew poll found that 61 percent of Republicans under 30 support gay marriage.

According to Data Science polling, 64 percent of self-identifying Evangelical Millennials support same-sex marriage.

And the most recent survey of incoming freshman at UCLA found that 44.3 percent of students who considered themselves “far right” believed same-sex couples should have the right to legally marry, while 56.6 percent of “conservatives” believed the same.

Which may be why anti-gay-marriage activist Maggie Gallagher, in her latest missive, sounds like an alienated and bitter self-outcast.

More. She’s not alone among social conservative activists, of course. The Heritage Foundation seems to be getting even more anti-gay. Their latest: My Father Was Gay. Why I Oppose Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage.. This sentence, in quotation marks, apparently can be found nowhere on the Internet except in articles by this author:

Statements like this are lies: “Permitting same-sex couples (now also throuples) access to the designation of marriage will not deprive anyone of any rights.”

Heritage, it seems, is on a roll. Now they’re claiming that same-sex marriage will cause 900,000 abortions. Desperation tactics.

Furthermore. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely GOP presidential contender, may not support same-sex marriage, but he attended the reception when his wife’s cousin was married to her partner. The Walker’ then-19-year-old son, Alex, served as a witness and signed his name to the marriage certificate. Generational change.