Almost exactly three years ago, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins appeared on a far-right radio program and predicted that the country was on the verge of revolution.
If the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality, Perkins opined, the United States might split in two.
“If you get government out of whack with where the people are and it goes too far, you create revolution,” Perkins told Janet Mefferd on March 25, 2013. “I think you could see a social and cultural revolution if the court goes too far on this…[It] could literally split this nation in two and create such political and cultural turmoil that I’m not sure we could recover….”
The high court handed down a ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges nine months ago. How are we doing?
Well, certainly there has been a backlash to the decision in some quarters. A few government clerks like Kim Davis in Kentucky are trying to argue in court that they have a religious freedom right to refuse to serve LGBT couples. That isn’t going so well for them.
Some people who own businesses connected to the wedding industry (florists, bakers, caterers, etc.) are insisting that they also have the right to deny services to same-sex couples. That argument is problematic because some of these people live in places where state and local laws protect the LGBT community. These issues are working their way through the courts.
We’ve also seen attempts in some states to pass reckless laws that purport to protect “religious liberty” but that really are intended to give people a right to discriminate against others. (These bills in turn are sparking a strong backlash. This freshly vetoed one in Georgia is a good example.)
So, yes, there has been fallout from the high court’s ruling. That’s often the case. A Supreme Court decision is rarely the last word on any matter. People react to decisions. They may try to temper them or call for legislation that somehow responds to these rulings.
But Perkins didn’t say there would be fallout. He said there would be revolution. He said the country might actually split in two.
Now, Perkins might argue that he didn’t mean that literally – even though he used the term “literally” in his comments. We’ve come to a point in this country where people have used the term “literally” incorrectly for so long that in some contexts it can now mean its exact opposite.
The editor in me shudders at that, but fair enough. But let’s face it, we haven’t even seen a metaphorical revolution over the marriage-equality ruling. What we’re seeing is a band of malcontents trying to inflict damage on the decision through 10,000 paper cuts. And they aren’t going to get away with it.
Opinion polls show where this issue is heading, and the outcome is not favorable for Perkins and people like him. You know you’re losing when even Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has thrown in the towel.
Yes, we have some recalcitrant clerks to sue, some bills to lobby against and some mop-up operations in court. Make no mistake, a lot of work remains. Some of the bills pending in state legislatures are very serious, and we must defeat them.
But so far, no one has taken to the streets. Sure, some people are angry over the decision, but they’ve not fomented revolution, and the country remains intact.
One more thing: Remember all of those pastors whom we were told would be put in jail because they refused to officiate at same-sex weddings? That hasn’t happened either, despite fake “news” stories to the contrary.
It’s almost as if Perkins doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Follow Rob Boston online at @RobBoston1