3 years after the marriage equality ruling, a look back at 8 anti-equality predictions.
In the run up to the Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality ruling in 2015, some opponents of marriage equality voiced big concerns.
These concerns, they'd be the first to tell you, weren't rooted in hatred or bigotry. Of course not. Opponents were simply worried about what marriage equality could lead to in the future. If this were allowed, what would come next? Now that it's been 1,096 days (but who's counting, really?) since the court ruled, we're checking in on some of the doubters to see how many of their predictions came true.
Here are eight anti-equality arguments, fact-checked.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.
1. "Marriage equality will lead to legal bestiality."
This was a really common argument made by anti-equality pundits, politicians, and religious leaders leading up to and after the Supreme Court's decision.
"Watch what happens," warned Pat Robertson during a July 2015 episode of "The 700 Club." "Love affairs between men and animals are going to be absolutely permitted."
Appearing on "The Glenn Beck Show," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) mused over a similar question. "If we have no laws on this, people take it to one extension further — does it have to be humans? You know?" Oh, we know, senator.
2. "Marriage equality will lead to legal polygamy."
Another common argument against the court's ruling was the fear that it would result in people having five or six spouses and eroding the institution beyond recognition.
In 2006, Charles Krauthammer argued that because gay people believe the definition of marriage being one man and one woman is discriminatory, that it'd only be fair to consider "the number restriction ... similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible."
Just months after the Supreme Court's ruling, Ben Carson, a major opponent of marriage equality, said that now that the court has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, polygamy was "the natural next question."
Spoiler: It's not.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
3. "Marriage equality will lead to child marriages."
The talking point has its roots in anti-gay fear-mongering centered on the idea that gay men will try to "recruit" children or that they have a predisposition towards pedophilia. Obviously, none of that is true; it's just a way to scare people into seeing LGBTQ people as sexual deviants.
CNN unearthed a video of Sam Clovis, President Trump's former nominee for the role of chief scientist (despite no actual history working in science) at the USDA, offering what he believes are "logical" things to worry about if and when same-sex marriage were to become legal: "If we protect LGBT behavior, what other behaviors are we going to protect? Are we going to protect pedophilia? We're not thinking the consequences of these decisions through."
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage posed similar concerns, just as unfounded. "Will pedophiles become 'minor-attracted persons' in our culture?" he asked in a 2011 blog post. "Will courts which endorse orientation as a protected class decide down the road that therefore laws which discriminate against 'minor-attracted persons' must be narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest?"
Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh claimed in 2013 that the push for marriage equality was part of the LGBTQ community's secret plot to make pedophilia OK. "They want us to all think that pedophilia is just another sexual orientation," he said, baselessly. "You know who's gonna fall right in line is college kids, just like they have on gay marriage, just like they do on all other revolutionary social issues."
While no, there hasn't been some LGBTQ community push for the legalization of pedophilia, it is worth nothing that in dozens of U.S. states it is legal for someone under the age of 18 to marry an adult — and has been for a long time. Opponents of measures to raise the minimum marriage age are not members of the LGBTQ community, but often, social conservatives.
4. "Marriage equality will lead to the outright criminalization of Christianity."
"Christian convictions are under attack as never before," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said in 2015. "Not just in our lifetime, but ever before in the history of this great republic. We are moving rapidly toward the criminalization of Christianity."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) lamented the fact that people might judge others who think gay people shouldn't be allowed to get married.
"We've reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage you are labeled a homophobe and a hater," he said in a 2015 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. "So what's the next step after that? After they are done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church is hate speech, and there's a real and present danger."
Both men will be relieved to find out that no one has been jailed for believing in the Christian God or for praying the rosary.
Anti-equality protestors have not been thrown in jail for their religious beliefs, for reading the Bible, or for calling gay people "an abomination." All of that remains perfectly legal. Photo by Ty Wright/Getty Images.
5. "Marriage equality will lead to more abortion."
This was a bizarre notion put out into the world by Gene Schaerr at the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal blog. Presumably meant to target people who don't see the harm in marriage equality but oppose abortion, Schaerr cobbled together a few stats and made some ... shall we say ... creative connections.
Schaerr argued in 2015 that some would see marriage equality as devaluing heterosexual marriages and some straight couples would opt against getting married at all. "A reduction in the opposite-sex marriage rate means an increase in the percentage of women who are unmarried and who, according to all available data, have much higher abortion rates than married women," he wrote. "And based on past experience, institutionalizing same-sex marriage poses an enormous risk of reduced opposite-sex marriage rates."
His conclusion: an additional 900,000 abortions over a 30-year span. As a number of news outlets pointed out at the time, this number seems to have been pulled from thin air.
The truth is that abortion rates have been decreasing over the past several decades, largely as the result of comprehensive sex education programs and increased access to contraception. If anything will spike the number of abortions, it's likely to be proposals to embrace so-called abstinence-only education and attempts to repeal the health care law.
6. "Marriage equality will lead to mass killings."
This is another head-scratcher from Ben Carson. During a 2016 speech, Carson warned that marriage equality would lead to "mass killings," adding that defining marriage as being between one man and one woman is all that "stands between peace and utter chaos."
For Carson, this seems to come down to a belief that without the Bible, there'd be no incentive not to murder every person you come in contact with. What starts with marriage turns into genocide, apparently.
"Why must they change [marriage]? I believe the reason is, if you can change the word of God in one area, then you can change it in every area," he said. "It's the camel's nose under the tent, and it will just be an avalanche of one thing after the other. We won't have anything that we can use as our reference point because we will have thrown out God's word. It'll be every man for himself, every man deciding for himself what is right and what is wrong, and that can't possibly lead to a good place."
7. "Marriage equality will lead to the downfall of democracy."
This example comes from former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges itself. In it, he lamented the fact that rather than putting the question of whether non-heterosexual people should be allowed to marry up to a public vote, the Supreme Court was stepping into a situation in which it had no business. "I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy," he wrote.
He later added that "this practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves."
There's a bit of irony in Scalia having argued that it's the marriage ruling that would undercut democracy when just two years earlier he joined a 5-4 majority in striking down a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act. As a result, countless voters have become disenfranchised, effectively blocked out of the democratic process altogether.
On the night of June 26, 2015, the White House was lit up in rainbow-colored lights to mark the historic occasion. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.
8. "Marriage equality will lead to the downfall of society."
By the mid-2000s, it had started to become clear that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) might not be as constitutionally sound as opponents of marriage equality would've liked. It was around then that they began trying to pass a bill called the "Marriage Protection Act," which would have amended the judiciary code to essentially say that federal courts weren't allowed to rule on DOMA at all.
In 2006, then-Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) laid out his argument in favor of the bill, warning of the dire consequences that could come with marriage equality.
"I believe that if someone chooses another lifestyle than I have chosen, that that is their right in a free society," he said, paying lip service to LGBTQ people's right to exist. "But tolerance does not require that we permit our courts to redefine an institution upon which our society depends. Marriage matters, according to the researchers. Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin found that throughout history, societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family."
The sociologist Pence mentioned, Pitirim Sorokin, published the opinion being referenced in his 1937 book, "Social and Cultural Dynamics." It was controversial, to say the least. Citing Sorokin — and later saying "marriage should be protected because it wasn't our idea," pointing to the institution's supposed creation by a higher power — was a clever way for Pence to argue that his views that some people should have more rights than others was based in concern for society as opposed to bigotry.
Pence will certainly be happy to learn that society still exists, and if there is some larger threat to it, the origin likely has its roots in the current occupant of the Oval Office, not a happily married lesbian couple.
Conclusion: Turns out that all the stuff equality advocates said was fear-mongering was, well, fear-mongering.
I could be wrong, but it doesn't appear that any of the people who offered up these concerns about the marriage equality ruling have walked back these statements. I mean, if you're going to put an entire group on the hook for the downfall of civilization or the coming wave of fashionable bestiality, it'd be nice if you could pop in to say "my bad" when it doesn't happen.
For those of you wondering what's next, stop by our marriage equality #UpChat on Twitter on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 1p.m. ET.