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.


  • alencon13@hotmail.com' Alencon says:

    “…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.”

    A Constitutional Amendment to the US Constitution would trump any decision by the Supreme Court. However I find it extremely unlikely they could get the 2/3 of the Congress required never mind the 3/4 of the states.

  • danhead714@gmail.com' Dan714 says:

    Our leaders need to start leading and stop pandering to the insanity of evangelical leaders. The constitution is clear, government should not be in the business of endorsing one religion over an other. We need to work together to insure equality for all.

  • rcaldw@gmail.com' rcaldw says:

    The only insanity in this discussion is on the part of those who can’t even make sense of natural laws. It is called moral insanity.

  • dzerres@gmail.com' dzerres says:

    Funny how “natural” law is always the one with which you agree. Not one “man of God” EVER came back and said, “God spoke to me last night and told me I was totally wrong about everything and I need to change – and I need to refund your donations”. Never happened and you don’t wonder why? I guess religion is never about wondering but always about following orders including someone’s interpretation of what a “natural” law is.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    “…those who can’t even make sense of natural laws.” – rcaldw

    You mean those “natural laws” that “created” this earth six-thousand years ago?

    (I have no idea if you are, in fact, a young-earth creationist, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…)

    But if you are, then you don’t get to use the words “natural law.” You have already decided that god popped it all into existence…no “natural law” used or required. Ergo, when you use the term you are being disingenuous, because you don’t believe in natural law.

    If not, then why are you trying to use “natural law” about marriages? There is no “natural law” regarding a legally binding contract.

  • openheavens@gmail.com' carl thomas says:

    I think it is a pretty far stretch to call Tony Campolo a moderate or centrist.

  • Dennis.Lurvey@live.com' GeniusPhx says:

    72% of Americans now claim to be christian, half of those have never seen the inside of a church. We have a very loud minority of the majority making noise about marriage. The populations of Arkansas and Indiana rejected the christian view of marriage and the business community followed with threats of leaving those states. The legislature in La. wouldn’t pass an anti gay law later and they are the second most religious state.
    The age of the religious right ruling america is ending quickly, not soon enough for me.

  • wsws054@yahoo.com' MadScientist1023 says:

    I doubt someone like Walker even realizes what an ugly mess his “fix” would make. Gay marriages are recognized in 37 states plus DC. In over half these states, recognition came because of a federal ruling. If Walker’s constitutional amendment somehow passed, thousands upon thousands of legal marriages would disappear overnight. I shudder to imagine the backlash that would cause.

  • bragle@gmail.com' Brian Ragle says:

    “Natural laws”? Which “natural laws” govern who is allowed to love and be with the one they love? Were “natural laws” in play back when marriage was defined as being only between two people of the same race?

  • jcusker4031@gmail.com' Geoff, God of Biscuits says:

    Oh totally. Like those people who think that men come back from the dead. What are they called again? Oh yeah: Christians.

  • judithmax@comcast.net' Judith Maxfield says:

    With the conservatives being wittled down on human rights, sounds like the only puddle left to pee in will be the women. We’ll be the last to be equal and legal human beings in the U.S. They’re not going to leave us alone. Because its about sex and power, a lot of even “nice” (many?) men have will a hard time dealing with that one. That really is the last battle.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    While I don’t necessarily disagree with you, I think that conservative Christianity in the US will lose its sense of white, heterosexual religious entitlement last, mainly because they are either unaware of it or they don’t care. That entitlement is what makes them believe it’s OK for bakers to discriminate against gays and to reject social justice solutions because the ‘poor deserve it’.

  • carole645@rocketmail.com' seashell says:

    I’ll bite. What would you call him?

  • cybergrace@gmail.com' cyberstreets says:

    And conservatives embrace Black people because they:
    • support reparations?
    • work to empty our jails from victims of racist laws?
    • routinely jump in between killer cops and their overwhelmingly Black victims?
    There are huge amounts of discrimination remaining in Amerikkka, no need to prioritize victims.

  • judithmax@comcast.net' Judith Maxfield says:

    Yep. I can agree. There are many many great men, my adult sons among them, who do care mightily and act on it. (and they still act like “real” men as well, masculine, sexy and also heros to family). It is ironic to me that we women will be last in line for fair and respectful attitudes about our part in life. I worked for the ERA and lobbied for our rights. Women do have more power than they realize only don’t know how to use it for the most part.
    I found out by accident just how much power I had over my sons – they do not want my disapproving look thrown their way. One is now a parent of two girls and he is fierce on their future as women and the issues involved.

  • judithmax@comcast.net' Judith Maxfield says:

    Get over it. I did not prioritize. It was food for thought. However, the work will not be done until all of humanity will be onboard. The world waits. Thats all.

  • christinamirabilis@live.com' ChrisM says:

    rcaldw is indulging in a bit of naturalistic fallacy, imagining that the way he thinks things should be is the way things naturally are.

  • rloesser@gmail.com' Rick L. says:

    You don’t write as if you understand the term Natural Law. It isn’t about ‘natural laws’ (whatever those are).

  • rcaldw@gmail.com' rcaldw says:

    Natural laws = the laws of nature. As I say, you are among those who choose not to recognize them, though you are certainly aware of them – Romans 1

  • johninbellevue@yahoo.com' not_guilty says:

    Not to mention that POTUS does not participate in the constitutional amendment process (except as a bystander). Governor Walker is dodging blame for an anticipated failure.

  • johninbellevue@yahoo.com' not_guilty says:

    Don’t forget what Thomas Hobbes said about life in a state of nature: “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

    Come to think of it, that describes a lot of fundamentalist “Christian believers.”

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