Few leaders in the anti-marriage equality movement have engaged in more deception and obfuscation on the issue of same-sex marriage than Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. A stunning example of his dishonesty was on display in his recent op-ed for the Daily Caller, in which he predicted that “2014 may be the year of decision for marriage.” If his prediction is correct, however, it will likely not be a decision he likes.
In his op-ed, Brown crowed over A&E’s reversal of its suspension of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson over his antigay and anti-black remarks to GQ magazine, stating that the Robertson refused to be “bullied” by the gay lobby and that the American people “turned out in overwhelming support of Phil Robertson.” A few million Facebook “likes” for Mr. Robertson, of course, does not make a majority except in Brown’s imaginary world, but then, Brown has always had trouble with the facts.
In fact, Brown has made a career out of consistently lying about public opinion of homosexuality and support for marriage equality, including when he wrote in his Daily Caller op-ed that whenever the American people have been heard on the issue, they have “consistently demonstrated their support for true marriage, including voting for constitutional amendments to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman in over 30 states.” Brown forgot to mention, however, that most of those amendments were passed in 2004 and 2006, when public opinion was very different than it is today. As he well knows, a sea change in public opinion has followed, demonstrated by the results of public referendums in four states last November, when a majority of voters in Maryland, Washington, and Maine voted outright to legalize same-sex marriage, while the voters of Minnesota defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.
In fact, contrary to the misinformation campaign by the opponents of same-sex marriage, public opinion polls have, for several years now, consistently shown growing majority support for marriage equality. The most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll on this issue, from March of last year, showed 58 percent of voters in support of same-sex marriage, including 80 percent of voters under 30 and 52 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents under 50.
Other 2013 polls also showed majority support for same-sex marriage. A CNN poll from June showed 55 percent in support, with 44 percent opposed. An October poll from the Public Religion Research Institute showed 52 percent in support, again with 44 percent opposed. A March 2013 poll from that same organization and the Brookings Institution showed 58 percent of Republican millennials, 59 percent of Hispanic Catholics, 58 percent of white Catholics, and 55 percent of white mainline Protestants in favor of marriage equality. Even 51 percent of white evangelical Protestants under the age of 35 support same-sex marriage, according to this poll.
As for Brown’s call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman, there is zero chance it would ever pass Congress, let alone be ratified by three quarters of the states. According to a National Journal poll, even a majority of Republicans oppose such a measure.
For Brown and his allies to claim that most Americans continue to oppose legal equality for gay and lesbian couples, therefore, is either an extreme case of self-delusion or a deliberate lie designed to rally the dwindling number of opponents to keep them fighting (and contributing) until the bitter end.
The decision of the American people on this issue that Brown is waiting for has in fact already been made, despite Brown’s bravado. Public opinion polls and their trend lines clearly show a growing majority in favor of marriage equality, which is now the law in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The question is not if but when all states will come on board. Perhaps it’s time for Brown and his colleagues at NOM to accept reality and stop lying to the American people.
DAVID LAMPO is the author of A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights (Rowman & Littlefield) and serves on the national board of Log Cabin Republicans. He blogs at PurpleElephantRepublicans.org.