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GOP selling out on marriage, says Christian right leader

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Tony Perkins — Photo by J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Tony Perkins — Photo by J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Congressional Republicans are preparing to sell out their Christian right supporters on the issue of marriage equality, hate group leader Tony Perkins warned in a July 26 email.

Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, took fright after 47 House Republicans voted with their Democratic Party colleagues to legalize same-sex marriage by federal statute on July 19.

The bill, titled the Respect for Marriage Act, was intended to protect same-sex couples' right to marry from possible future US Supreme Court decisions. It passed the House easily, with 267 votes in favor, against 157 against.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi was clear that the legislation came to the floor in response to the high court's ruling reversing the established precedent of Roe v. Wade, and in response to Justice Thomas' concurring opinion challenging a number of prior court rulings, including Obergefell.

The future of the bill in a closely divided Senate remains in doubt, but MSNBC has reported that four or five Republican Senators are ready to support the measure: Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tom Tillis (R-NC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), and possibly Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is also reported to be open to passing the legislation, not because he favors LGBTQ rights, but because he wants the November election to be a referendum on the Biden administration and not on the GOP's medieval social agenda.

Faced with seemingly good odds of passing a federal guarantee of marriage equality, Perkins apparently felt the need to step in and warn Republicans of the political risks of parting ways with the Christian right.

"Heading into November with the elections on a silver platter, the men and women who rebranded themselves as the forces of anti-wokeness have suddenly gone soft on an issue that should be a political no-brainer: marriage," Perkins wrote.

"If the GOP's defectors are making a political calculus, it's a terrible one," he continued. "Conservatives who abandon marriage are only endearing themselves to two sets of people: radical Democrats who would never vote for them anyway, and moderates from both parties who wouldn't make marriage the deciding factor of any vote.

"Who they stand to lose, on the other hand, is far more significant this November. Not only do they risk suppressing their evangelical base, but also other Americans who: a) see same-sex marriage as the gateway drug to all of the transgender, LGBT, sex-ed chaos we're experiencing in society; b) don't believe an activist court should usurp the democratic process; and c) disgruntled Democrats who thought the Republican Party would be the counterweight to the Left's extremism."

Perkins may be overstating his case, however. Polling, even among mainstream Christians — including Roman Catholics — universally shows large majorities in support of marriage equality.