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Antigay Group's Ad Tells Supreme Court: Marriage 'God's Alone to Decide'

Antigay Group's Ad Tells Supreme Court: Marriage 'God's Alone to Decide'


The American Family Association takes out a full-page ad in The Washington Post to oppose marriage equality -- and it's illustrated with a painting by gay artist Michelangelo.

The American Family Association wants to make something clear to the Supreme Court justices preparing to hear arguments next month on the validity of same-sex marriage bans: God created marriage, so choose wisely.

"Before you now is a great question" is the message in the full-page advertisement in Tuesday's Washington Post. "Will you bend what God designed merely to suit the desires of man, knowing that you do so at the expense of children, perhaps even civilization itself?"

The ad features a close-up image from Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam, which is on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, with ominous words in increasingly larger type: "A message to the United States Supreme Court: As you deliberate on marriage, remember whose idea it was in the first place."

At the end of the ad itself, the AFA warns the high court: "Before you now is a great challenge: If your decision to resolve this matter forces same-sex marriage on America, you will have settled nothing. We urge the Court to adjudicate rightly that which is God's alone to decide."

The AFA's president, Tim Wildmon -- who the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as continuing "the group's long tradition of anti-gay propagandizing and activism" -- elaborated on the ad on the AFA's website: "Our message is one of truth, yet very simple: God, in His great wisdom, profoundly established the institution of marriage as only between one man and one woman."

Not so, claims Hrafnkell Haraldsson on Politics USA."The only problem with all this is that it is not true. And if the Religious Right is free to believe that their god invented marriage, they are not free to legislate it on the basis of that belief. The First Amendment, not the Bible, is the law of the land, and it prohibits such lawmaking, regardless of how many Christians there might be who think this way (and there are fewer every day)."

Haraldsson, whose bio says he has degrees in history and philosophy and considers himself a "modern-day heathen," is a columnist for Jason Easley's website, which brags its mission is "real liberal politics." He goes on to write, "Factually, marriage was in existence as a social contract for many centuries before anyone heard of little Israel."

Haraldsson also takes issue with the AFA's claim that marriage "was God's plan and purpose for civilization from the beginning. He created man and woman as distinctly separate but inherently compatible; each unique yet sexually complementary -- providing both the means for and the ideal relationship within which to raise children from that union."

His counterargument is that "people had been getting married for many centuries and without regard for the god of the Bible. Ancient cultures, like the Romans, viewed child-bearing as a means of combating death by leaving a copy of yourself after you were gone."

Not everyone who supports the AFA is happy with the ad, specifically the choice of one of the world's most famous paintings for its centerpiece. "Col C" posted this comment on the AFA website: "Of all the photo choices you could have for the newspaper ad, and you choose something that looks like a homosexual did the painting, look at the naked men (angels) in the painting. It's just weird, why wouldn't you have a man and a woman couple, or a family with a mom and dad in the ad, why choose a painting that looks like it is supporting the very thing the ad is against?"

By the way, many scholars believe Michelangelo was gay.

The AFA's chief argument in the ad is contained in the portion warning what would happen if the justices decide to go against God: "You would say by such a decision that mothers and fathers together are no longer relevant in the lives of children, and that religious expression about the sanctity and purpose of marriage would now become illicit. You would be saying that God has no place in our public square and, in a nation founded to secure freedom for those being persecuted for their faith, such a decision would be a tragic irony. In so doing you would not only risk another Roe v. Wade tear in our cultural fabric, but also effectively delegitimize the very power of the court itself to rule justly."

An advertising executive at the Post told The Advocate she could not disclose how much the AFA paid, but it's estimated an ad such as this could cost as much as $100,000.

Oral arguments in the marriage case that the justices have agreed to review are set for April 28. It consolidates cases from four states. Cases from Kentucky and Michigan raise the question of the power of states to ban marriage of same-sex couples, while cases from Ohio and Tennessee focus on the power of states to refuse to recognize existing same-sex marriages -- which is also a separate issue for Kentucky. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld the states' anti-marriage equality laws, overturning lower court decisions and making it the only federal appeals court to uphold marriage bans since the Supreme Court's landmark pro-equality decision in the Windsor case in 2013.

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