What Happens When There’s Nothing Left to Say About Marriage

Tony Campolo has an epiphany. Franklin Graham has a meltdown. And Scott Walker decides to time-travel.

It might be the start of a joke: three white evangelical men walk into a bar (or a Chick-Fil-A). . .

But it’s not. This is what happens when there’s nothing left to say about marriage equality.

Campolo, a moderate evangelical, issued a statement today “urging the church to be more welcoming.” The statement isn’t headlined, “I now support gay marriage.” Instead, Campolo buries the lede, first admitting that his position on marriage equality has long been “ambiguous,” but now he has landed at a “place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.”

With a Supreme Court decision expected within weeks, Campolo follows a sequence of fellow centrist and moderate evangelicals, including, last year, David Gushee, who have come out for marriage equality, culminating in an official coming out for Sojourners magazine. Campolo doesn’t wrestle with the theology; his statement is more of a wrestling with his conscience. Even though only 27% of white evangelicals support marriage equality, according to the most recent data from Pew, it’s becoming less and less surprising to hear a well-known middle-of-the-road evangelical come out in support of same-sex marriage.

Campolo’s change of heart, though, is nonetheless refreshing, unlike the other side’s civilizational war in perpetuity. Franklin Graham is calling for a boycott (yawn) of Wells Fargo and Tiffany’s because they featured gay and lesbian couples in advertisements (giggle). The boycott is the only thing he can think of to “fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media, and the gay & lesbian community.” The horrors! Franklin Graham has nothing more to fulminate about than happy couples getting mortgages and engagement rings? He’s not disturbed by predatory lending practices? I realize that Graham has a following—his Facebook post has more than 90,000 likes as of this writing—but something tells me Tiffany’s isn’t quaking in its diamond-studded boots.

Scott Walker, running for president and hoping to win over Graham’s constituency—conservative white evangelical Republican voters—wonders what to do if the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality. The best he can think of (on national television, no less) is to propose a strategy that failed in the early 2000s, when a majority of Americans opposed same-sex marriage, compared to today’s 57 percent who support it. On ABC’s This Week, Walker proposed passing a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and leaving it to the states to decide whether it would be legal.

That’s how much Walker doesn’t have anything new to say about same-sex marriage: he’s not only re-proposing a policy that failed to garner sufficient support ten years ago, but he doesn’t even realize that the “fix” he’s proposing in response to a Supreme Court decision invalidating same-sex marriage bans is in fact the very thing the Court would be invalidating. So it’s not only an old idea, it’s a stupid idea.

The reality is that there will be nothing to be done, legally speaking, if the Court rules in favor of marriage equality. Same-sex couples will buy jewelry, open checking accounts, go to church, and get married, and no one, not Franklin Graham and not Scott Walker, can think of a single thing to stop it. Which is, of course, as it should be.

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