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Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan showed Wednesday that in 1996, the House passed the Defense of Marriage Act not to gently respect tradition but "to express moral disapproval of homosexuality." Paul Clement, the law's defender in court, tried to claim that's not so, but the more you look at the origins of DOMA, the more you realize that there is no way a law conceived so directly out of hatred can represent anything but hatred. DOMA didn't originate in the House, GLAAD reminds us. Rather, it came out of a coalition of hard-right groups like the Family Research Council, and from there to Congress. Current FRC head Tony Perkins explains:
Back in 1995, a group of individuals, including Don Wildmon, met in Memphis, Tennessee, because of what had happened in Hawaii where the court imposed same-sex marriage. Of course the folks there pushed back in the state of Hawaii. But then there was a concern that this could happen across the country. And so a group of leaders met in Memphis, Tennessee, and talked about the need to solidify marriage and by preventing states from imposing definition of marriage on the states. So the concept of the Defense of Marriage Act—wasn't called that at the time—originated, and actually we took it back to our policy shop at FRC and formulated the policy and actually gave it the name Defense of Marriage Act.
The rollout of DOMA included Peter LaBarbera, who likes to talk about "homo-fascism" and has said "We need to stop conceding the moral high ground in a fearful bid to appear 'tolerant,'" and Robert Knight, who just this week wrote that "the left’s drive for 'gay rights' poses the greatest domestic threat to the freedoms of religion, speech and assembly." It included a C-SPAN-televised FRC briefing for Capitol Hill staff at which Knight claimed that:
If you are a devout Christian, Jew or Muslim, or just believe that homosexuality is wrong, and the law gives homosexuality protected status, then your personal beliefs are now outside civil law. The entire civil rights apparatus can be brought against you. Businessmen will have to subsidize homosexuality or face legal sanction; schoolchildren will have to be taught that homosexuality is equivalent to marital love.
At the same briefing, another "expert" argued that "Every argument for gay marriage is an argument that would support polygamy." That same person argued, on another occasion, that the Supreme Court's Romer v. Evans decision that states can't ban anti-discrimination laws was a terrible, terrible thing because making it illegal to discriminate against gay people is in effect discriminating against bigots (or, as he put it, religious people).
This was the origination and the push for DOMA. There is no way to disguise it as anything but hate. And there is no way to seriously claim that in the not quite 17 years since the law's passage it has miraculously transmuted from hate to ... whatever Paul Clement is now claiming with his repeated invocations of the law as "rational."
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 08:08 AM PDT.