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.

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.

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.

True

Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less