With the Supreme Court set to hear marriage equality this week, Tony Perkins was back on TV claiming the end of society is upon us. But this time Freedom To Marry's Evan Wolfson was sitting next to him to counter.
As a guest on CBS's Face the Nation, Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, warned that if the court were to use its power to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, then religious people would lose their "rights." Catholic Charities would be forced to end all adoptions, parents would "no longer being able to determine what their children are taught" in schools, and small business men would end up "losing their right" to discriminate.
"You want to talk about rights, let's talk about rights," he said. "This ultimately is not about marriage. It's not about the marriage alter. It's about fundamentally altering society."
The FRC is listed as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its continual spread of misinformation about LGBT people. And Wolfson didn't accept the notion that marriage should be defined by one set of religious beliefs.
"You asked the question about religion, and the reality in the country is Government doesn't issue bar mitzvah licenses," he began. "It doesn't issue communion licenses, but it issues marriage licenses because marriage is not only a religious entity in which religions are free to decide for themselves who may marry." Wolfson used the phrase "civil marriage" repeatedly and argued that letting more people marry strengthens families. "It's not about telling any religion what it must do."
But then Wolfson moved in with a zinger to rebut the standard line that LGBT activists want to "redefine" marriage, and that it would lead to hurting the institution of marriage.
"Marriage is not defined by who is denied it," he said, according to a transcript. "When gay people share in the freedom to marry, it doesn't change your marriage. It doesn't change Tony Perkins' marriage. My marriage is my marriage, and it means I'm able to share in the same aspirations of commitment and love and support and dedication and connectedness, and that my parents are able to dance at our wedding and that our family and friends are able to support and celebrate and hold us accountable for the commitment we've made to one another. That takes nothing away from anyone else."
His final point: "The gay people are not going to use up all the marriage licenses."
Watch the debate, which also includes a defense of marriage equality by conservative David Frum, in the video below.