Brian Brown (L), Bryan Fischer (C), and Tony Perkins (R)
Some right-wing groups are denouncing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to weigh in on marriage equality as "dereliction of duty," letting marriage "burn to ashes," and enacting the "Roe v. Wade of sodomy-based marriage," while others are relieved that the court at least did not establish a right to same-sex marriage nationwide -- although today's action brings it to many more states.
Conservative legal group Liberty Counsel is in the first camp, lambasting the court's decision not to review rulings that struck down same-sex marriage bans in five states -- thus letting those rulings stand and bringing marriage equality to those states and, soon, others in their federal circuits.
"After years of state legislation, people's referenda, constitutional amendments, and court rulings, the Supreme Court silently approved same-sex marriage today," said a press release issued by Liberty Counsel. It then offered a quote from founder and president Mat Staver, saying, "This is a total dereliction of duty. The Supreme Court abandoned its duty to take up or at least hold these marriage cases. The responsibility for the undermining of marriage rests solely at the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year's decision in the Defense of Marriage Act case that started this fire, and today's decision to watch marriage burn to ashes is the responsibility of the Supreme Court."
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, on his Focal Point radio show today, called the court's decision the "de facto Roe v. Wade of sodomy-based marriage." It will be impossible, he said, to stop the push for "nationalizing, imposing on every state in the union, marriage that is based on the infamous crime against nature." (Watch video of Fischer below, courtesy of Right Wing Watch).
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said the rulings that the high court let stand "undermine natural marriage and the rule of law." The decision "will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage," he continued on the group's website. "Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves. This judicially led effort to force same sex 'marriage' on people will have negative consequences for our Republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law."
Perkins, who also claimed that legalization of same-sex marriage interferes with religious freedom and parents' right to impart morals to their children, called for Congress to move ahead with the State Marriage Defense Act, introduced by ultraconservative Republicans Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in the Senate and Randy Weber in the House, which would allow each state to say which marriages should be recognized by the federal government.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, issued a statement saying the court's decision "is wrong on so many levels." "The entire idea that marriage can be redefined from the bench is illegitimate. Marriage is the union of one man and one woman; it has been this throughout the history of civilization and will remain this no matter what unelected judges say," Brown said.
He expressed hope that if the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in the Deep South, rules against same-sex marriage, that will lead the Supreme Court to take up the issue, as it would mean that federal appeals courts have disagreed on the matter, motivating the high court to settle it. In the meantime, he called for revival of an effort that has previously gone nowhere -- amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, another right-wing legal group, also pointed out that other federal circuits have cases working their way to the Supreme Court, including the Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and 11th circuits. Today's decision involved the Fourth, Seventh, and 10th circuits.
"The court's decision not to take up this issue now means that the marriage battle will continue," said Alliance senior counsel Byron Babione in a post on the group's website. He added that his organization "will continue to remain a leader in the critical effort for the freedom of the people. The people should decide this issue, not the courts."
Concerned Women for America saw a silver lining for the religious right in today's decision. "It is important to note that the Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of same-sex 'marriage,'" said a statement issued by president and CEO Penny Nance. "They have merely declined to address the issue at this point in time, and that is actually better than imposing their view of marriage on the whole country. Americans are having a robust debate on this important issue, and for the Supreme Court to interrupt that debate and decide the issue for the country would be disastrous. This is exactly what they did in the case of abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision, and we have seen the damage that their judiciary overreach has had on the country."
Still, Nance denounced the lower court decisions, saying these judges "have overstepped their bounds." She vowed to continue "the battle to protect God's model for marriage" and called on conservatives to turn out to vote in large numbers in the midterm election and the next presidential race to counter the "historic damage to marriage" done by President Obama and other Democratic leaders.
What right-wing activists say publicly and what they say privately appear to be two different things, though. Some are privately conceding at least a partial defeat, reports CNN: "Many supporters of 'traditional' marriage privately say preserving an inflexible one-man/one-woman definition of wedlock nationwide would not be realistic moving forward, and that a divided bloc of states upholding the status quo may be the best possible scenario. But all that hinges on what the Supreme Court does."