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.

Verdict: FALSE.

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.

Verdict: FALSE.

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.

Verdict: FALSE.

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.

Verdict: FALSE.

[rebelmouse-image 19397674 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="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." expand=1]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.

Verdict: FALSE.

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."

Verdict: FALSE.

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.

Verdict: FALSE.

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.

Verdict: FALSE.

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.

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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