TheocracyWatch Logo


The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

What's New?  
SEARCH TheocracyWatch


In this section:
A Constitutional Amendment
Chronology of Legislation and Events
"Who and what is next?"
Alliance Defense Fund
Polls on Public Attitudes about Gay Marriage
Marriage Protection Act
An Explicit Political Agenda
Statements from the theocratic right

The late Dr. James Luther Adams, ethics professor at the Harvard Divinity school, made a powerful impression on his young student, Christopher Hedges, who went on to become a New York Times journalist and author:

Adams told us to watch closely the Christian Right's persecution of homosexuals and lesbians. Hitler, he reminded us, promised to restore moral values not long after he took power in 1933, then imposed a ban on all homosexual and lesbian organizations and publications. Then came raids on the places where homosexuals gathered, culminating on May 6, 1933, with the ransacking of the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. (Soldier's of Christ II, Harper's, May, 2005)

A Constitutional Amendment

Last spring the Reverend Don Wildomon, founder of the American Family Association, held a meeting with 14 leaders of the Religious Right in Arlington, Virginia. Mr. Wildmon's meeting gave birth to a concerted campaign for a constitutional amendment blocking gay marriage.

"I have never seen anything that has energized and provoked our grass roots like this issue, including Roe v. Wade," said Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has 16 million members. (NY Times, Feb. 8, 2004)

Cities and state legislatures have been scrambling to define their laws in respect to gay marriage. Cities from Portland and Corvallis Oregon, and San Francisco, California to New Palz, New York have been performing gay marriages.

For an interactive map of Anti-Gay Marriage Initiatives across the U.S. go to NPR

In What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part):

Their [the anti-gay marrige movement's] passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself. (New York Times, June 19, 2005)

Adam Liptak of the New York Times suggests we go back 50 years to a time when a majority of states banned interracial marriages:

Legal scholars say that an examination of the last wrenching national debate over the definition of marriage - when, only 50 years ago, a majority of states banned interracial marriages - demonstrates that the president misunderstood the legal terrain.

"No state has ever been required by the full faith and credit clause to recognize any marriage they didn't want to," said Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University and the author of "The Gay Rights Question in Contemporary American Law."

Indeed, until the Supreme Court struck down all laws banning interracial marriage in 1967, the nation lived with a patchwork of laws on the question. Those states that found interracial marriages offensive to their public policies were not required to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere, though sometimes they did, but as a matter of choice rather than constitutional compulsion. That experience is instructive, legal scholars say, about what is likely to happen when Massachusetts starts performing gay marriages in May.

Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer of New York has provided an example of what the analogous patchwork in the gay marriage context might look like. Mr. Spitzer, in an informal advisory opinion issued on March 3, said he expected New York to recognize gay marriages from other states because they are not "abhorrent to New York's public policy." Thirty-eight other states, on the other hand, in enacting Defense of Marriage Acts, have expressed the view that such marriages do offend their public policies.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX): "We are pushing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage."

"In a bid to attract new recruits, raise gobs of money and polarize American politics, Religious Right leaders from an array of groups have launched a major crusade to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting marriage to one man and one woman." more

Just before the Senate adjourned for Thanksgiving, three senators introduced what would be the first constitutional amendment in the nation's history to require discrimination and to restrict the civil rights of a targeted group of people. The Federal Marriage Amendment would prevent any state from extending equal marriage rights to same-sex couples and would possibly invalidate domestic partner and civil union laws that provide some legal protections to same-sex couples and their families. more

To read a Chronology of anti-gay legislation and events, click here.

"Who and what is next?"

Roberta Sklar, spokeswoman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force responded to the President's support of a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage:

"If he endorses amendments such as this, which blatantly discriminates against a class of people, you would then have to wonder who and what is next."

Ms. Sklar's statement brings to mind another time in history. One of Hitler's first acts after taking office on January 30, 1933 was to ban homosexual organizations. From the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

" Soon after taking office on January 30, 1933, Hitler banned all homosexual and lesbian organizations. Brownshirted storm troopers raided the institutions and gathering places of homosexuals."

"On May 6,1933, Nazis ransacked the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin; four days later as part of large public burnings of books viewed as "un-German," thousands of books plundered from the Institute's library were thrown into a huge bonfire." more

The photo below shows the burning of homosexual books in Berlin.

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings." Heinrich Heine, nineteenth century German author.

"On Sunday evening, members of the Harvest Assembly of God Church in Penn Township sing songs as they burn books, videos and CDs that they have judged offensive to their God."

Published in the Butler Eagle, March 26, 2001. Courtesy of the Butler Eagle

From "Playing with Fire" by James Carroll of the Boston Globe (3/9/04):

Politicians who spark a culture war for the sake of their own power are playing with fire, and journalists who exploit a culture war for the sake of its unleashed furies are throwing gasoline on the flames. At the beginning of the presidential election contest, that is history's warning to America.

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF)

The Alliance Defense Fund (Church and State, June, 2004) is the largest national organization leading the fight against same-sex marriage.

ADF has raised millions of dollars for Religious Right legal cases and been active in federal and state lawsuits that seek to blast holes in the wall of separation between church and state.

For years, the ADF had been opposing "domestic partner" laws in various cities, fighting ordinances protecting gays from discrimination and even working to deny gay parents custody of their own children. When battles over same-sex marriage erupted in California, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Mexico and New York earlier this year, the ADF spearheaded the opposition.

At least one ADF project, the Blackstone Fellowship for law students, has ties to the Christian Reconstructionist movement. Christian Reconstructionists advocate a society anchored in "biblical law" and would literally base U.S. law on the legal code of the Old Testament.

Polls on Public Attitudes about Gay Marriage

Gay marriage and civil unions will be among the most divisive issues of the 2004 presidential election, according to the latest NPR poll. NPR's Mara Liasson interviews Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg. more

Marriage Protection Act

On July 23, 2004, with strong backing from the Bush administration, the Marriage Protection Act was adopted in the U.S. House of Representatives 233 to 194. The bill would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law passed in 1996 that purports to leave the recognition of same-sex marriage entirely to each state.

To read comments on the Marriage Protection Act, Click here.

The Gospel On Gay Marriage, Alternet, June 16, 2005

An Explicit Political Agenda

People for the American Way acknowledges "an explicit political agenda that seeks to criminalize gay relationships and deny basic rights to gays and lesbians in a range of critical areas: employment, housing, and families. Anti-gay politics have long been at the core of Religious Right fundraising and organizing efforts." more

Statements about homosexuals is not new for the Religious Right.

From, May 18, 2004:

Gay-marriage licenses are "death certificates"
With a new wave of same-sex couples marrying in Massachusetts this week, conservatives once again launched the expected attack. Monday's 50th anniversary of the landmark civil rights case Brown vs. Board of Education provided a poignant backdrop, with some of the rhetoric in heartland states like Colorado and Pennsylvania -- the latter considered key in this year's election -- turning rather ugly:

"I think this is going to awaken people," said Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, according to an AP report published in the Denver Post. "It [gay marriage] is not a civil right. It is a behavior. [Gay-marriage advocates] never had to drink at different water fountains or ride in the back of the bus."

James Dobson, chairman of the Colorado Springs-based Christian group Focus on the Family, offered a grave assessment of the jubilant same-sex couples flocking to court houses in New England.

"We will look back 20, 30, 50 years from now and recall this as the day marriage ceased to have any real meaning in our country. The documents being issued all across Massachusetts may say 'marriage license' at the top but they are really death certificates for the institution of marriage as it has served society for thousands of years."

Lancaster Newspapers reported that The Pennsylvania Family Institute, a conservative organization based in Harrisburg, dubbed Monday "Destruction of Marriage Day.''

Jerry Falwell:

"[T]hese perverted homosexuals.absolutely hate everything that you and I and most decent, God-fearing citizens stand for.Make no mistake. These deviants seek no less than total control and influence in society, politics, our schools and in our exercise of free speech and religious freedom..If we do not act now, homosexuals will own America!" 1999 fund-raising letter (reported in Church & State, October 1999, p. 9)

Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition:

Our little children are being targeted by the homosexuals and liberals who are pushing for this legislation," wrote Sheldon. "They want our preschool children.. They want our kindergarten children..They want our grade school children..They want our middle school and high school children..To be brainwashed to think that homosexuality is the moral equivalent of heterosexuality. We can't let that happen." more

Dr. James Kennedy, Senior Minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale and the president of Coral Ridge Ministries, calls for a constitutional "Firewall" to protect the nation from counterfeit marriage. more

From the Baptist Press:

"I see this becoming probably the largest domestic issue that will be addressed in this election cycle -- if the economy continues to improve," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Baptist Press. Conservatives are pushing for a constitutional amendment protecting the traditional definition of marriage, and one such effort -- the Federal Marriage Amendment -- already has some 100 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. If passed, it would trump the Massachusetts ruling as well as any other such ruling by a court. To become law it would require passage by two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-quarters of the states. more

From Don Wildmon of the American Family Association:

The sacred institution of marriage is under attack. There are those who want to redefine marriage to include two men, or two women, or a group of any size or mix of sexes: One man and four women, one woman and two men, etc. If they fail to secure legal protection classifying these arrangements as 'marriage,' they want to include all these mixtures under the definition of 'civil union,' giving them identical standing with the marriage of one man and one woman.

They have gained the support of the national media and many politicians. Their efforts are intended to force, by law, 97% of Americans to bow down to the desires of the approximately 3% who are homosexuals. more

From the Concerned Women for America's Janet LaRue:

"These are the court jesters of the century. The Massachusetts Legislature should summon the moral courage to impeach the majority for their abuse of power and distortion of the state constitution." more

President of Family Research Council, Tony Perkins:

"This is THE wake-up call for both the American public and our elected officials. If we do not amend the Massachusetts State Constitution so that it explicitly protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and if we do not amend the U.S. Constitution with a federal marriage amendment that will protect marriage on the federal level, we will lose marriage in this nation."

People for the American Way provides regularly updated headlines from the Religious Right more

Much of the homophobic hyseria is focused on the schools.

"Homosexuality is a Satanic counterfeit to God's created design," according to a speaker whose group sponsors workshops in Winston/Salem, North Caroina. Don Martin, superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools encouraged his staff to attend a fundamentalist Christian presentation on homosexuality, that said conversion to Christianity can turn gays into heterosexuals. more

Radio show host James Dobson of Focus on the Family was so upset with "homosexual propaganda" in the schools that, for the first time in twenty-five years of radio programming he called for his followers to pull their children out of the public schools.

The "homosexual propaganda" that Dobson was referring to was legislation in California that adds sexual orientation to a list of forms of discrimination that are banned in public schools. The legislation was designed to give schools new tools to combat bullying and harassment of gay students.

"Amendment 2 is a ballot initiative that seeks to amend the Colorado Constitution. The amendment was passed by a majority of Colorado voters in November 1992, and was to take effect on January 15, 1993." Jean Hardisty, founder and Director of Political Research Associates, explains the history of homophobia in the Religious Right.


TRUTH WINS OUT is a new website "that will counter right wing misinformation campaigns and disseminate the facts about GLBT people."

Sex As A Weapon, Jeff Sharlet,, April 25, 2005

A High-Tech Lynching in Prime Time, New York Times, April 24, 2005

Episcopalians Affirm Pro-Gay View, Washington Post, February 26, 2005

A Child Learns a Harsh Lesson in Politics, New York Times, February 5, 2005

Judge's Ruling Opens Window for Gay Marriage in New York City, New York Times, February 5, 2005

Backers of Gay Marriage Ban Use Social Security As Cudgel, New York Times, January 25, 2005

By Matthew D. Staver, President and General Counsel, Liberty Counsel, Vice President of Law and Policy, Liberty University (Matthew Staver is a leading attorney who successfully represented the Good News Clubs at the Supreme Court)

The Price of Homophobia, New York Times, January 20, 2005

A New Target, SpongeBob SquarePant, New York Times, January 20, 2005

Maureen Dowd on Sponge Bob, New York Times, January 23, 2005

White House Again Backs Amendment on Gay Marriage, New York Times, January 17, 2005

Lutherans Recommend Tolerance on Gay Policy, New York Times, January 12, 2005


Same-Sex Couples Receive Legal Boost, Washington Post, January 2, 2005

Montana's Universities Must Offer Benefits to Gay Employees Partners, New York Times, December 31, 2004

United Methodists Move to Defrock Lesbian, New York Times, December 3, 2004

Love One Another? Not on ABC, NBC or CBS, The Nation on the refusal of the three big networks to air an ad by the United Church of Christ that welcomes inclusion of all people into the Church. December, 2004

"So when God made homosexuals who fall deeply, achingly in love with each other, did he goof?" asks NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF, a New York Times columnist. The column just gets better from there. (October 23, 2004)

From Michael Moore, "17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists," November 5, 2004:

Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now.


Next Page
Last updated: June-2005