Prop. 8 Upheld: Bad Religion’s Comeback in the Golden State

The California Supremes have now spoken and have backed completely away from the spirit of their decision of one year ago—the decision arguing persuasively that the principle of equal rights under law applies to gay people, too.

Now these same justices say that the people of California have a perfect right to decide core constitutional issues via plebiscite. In oral arguments earlier this year, Chief Justice Ronald George—the principal author of the first opinion affirming marriage equality—even said that Californians would have the presumptive right to abolish free speech rights, should that question be put before voters on a statewide ballot.

What happened to send the justices into full retreat from their sound constitutional reasoning of May 2008?

Bad religion reared its ugly head, that’s what. Religious groups, using tax-exempt “charitable” money, spend a small fortune on a successful scare campaign. They bore massive false witness through deceptive and misleading ads claiming that school kids would receive homo-friendly indoctrination in public schools and that California houses of worship would be forced to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies that violate the teachings of their religious traditions.

Expect them to be spend another small fortune, either next year or in 2012, to hold the line against a certain attempt to undo Prop 8 by means of yet another ballot measure.

These groups—the Mormons, the Catholic hierarchy, and especially the Evangelical road warriors—do what they do. What they do represents a kind of thuggery, but it’s not they I’m worried about.

I worry about their enablers. I worry about those who deem certain Evangelical leaders “good” on other justice issues (climate change, torture, workplace justice) and thus exempt these leaders from any criticism for taking retrograde positions on sexual and gender justice. I am speaking here of leaders who are well known for their deafening silence on equal rights for LGBT people and families or else (like Samuel Rodriguez) well known for their active participation in efforts to consign gay people to a separate and unequal ghetto.

That these leaders have been given a blanket welcome as social progressives is actually quite astonishing.

Enablers: you know who you are. Don’t you have even a tiny twinge of remorse at a time like this?