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Top Five Moments From The House’s “Defending Marriage” Hearing

April 18, 2011 4:12 pm ET by Carlos Maza

House Republicans continued their ongoing effort to make LGBT discrimination a central part of their 2012 platform by holding a “Defending Marriage” hearing Friday, focusing primarily on the Obama administration’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.

The hearing, which featured National Organization for Marriage (NOM) chairwoman Maggie Gallagher, went on for over an hour and featured the greatest hits of the right wing’s recent anti-gay talking points: misrepresenting studies about same-sex parents, fear-mongering about the effects of same-sex marriage, and accusing the administration of politicizing the Justice Department.

Equality Matters has compiled a list of the top five greatest moments from Friday’s hearings, with a breakdown of what exactly made each moment so great:

Rep. Conyers Says “Personal Animosity” Motivates The Hearing, Questions DOJ’s Absence

During his introductory remarks, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) astutely pointed out that, at a hearing intended to investigate the Justice Department’s decision not to defend DOMA, Republicans had not invited a representative from the Justice Department itself. Instead, they chose to invite Gallagher, who has no legal background and admits to being unqualified to discuss legal issues later in the hearing: 

[House Judicicary Subcommittee on the Constitution, 4/15/11]

For the record, Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-AZ) claim that he holds “no animosity” in his heart is perhaps less than totally accurate. In March, Franks said he would “absolutely” support impeaching Obama over his decision not to defend DOMA, and he’s been spotted with Brian Camenker, head of the anti-gay hate group MassResistance.

Rep. Nadler Grills Gallagher On NOM’s Campaign To Boot Iowa’s Judges

In response to Gallagher’s concerns about the “politicization” of the Justice Department following the administration’s decision not to defend DOMA, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) brought up NOM’s involvement in the effort to have three of Iowa’s Supreme Court justices removed due to their decision to legalize marriage equality in the state:

[House Judicicary Subcommittee on the Constitution, 4/15/11]

Gallagher attempts to sidestep the question by simply stating that “there’s an argument” about whether the judges, who are tasked with the responsibility of, among other things, protecting the rights of minority groups from the will of the majority, should be subject to elections. She eventually admits that she does not “have an informed opinion” about whether judicial elections were a good idea. (As a reminder, her group conducted a $650,000 campaign in the judicial election in Iowa in 2010.) 

Rep. Conyers Asks Why NOM Needs So Much Money To Win Campaigns

Following up on Rep. Nadler’s questions about NOM’s Iowa campaign, Rep. Conyers asked why NOM needed to spend so much money to oppose marriage equality if the organization’s position represents the “will of the people”:

[House Judicicary Subcommittee on the Constitution, 4/15/11]

In fact, the reality is that NOM’s financial support comes from a relatively small “handful of donors,” not some groundswell of grassroots activists. In the future, NOM will have to continue raising more and more money in order to silence the growing majority of Americans who now support full marriage equality.

Rep. Scott Presses Gallagher On Loving, Interracial Marriage

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) pointed out the tension between Gallagher’s support for the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case which struck down state law’s banning interracial marriage, and her opposition to having courts oppose the “will of the people” by legalizing same-sex marriage:

[House Judicicary Subcommittee on the Constitution, 4/15/11]

In response to Rep. Scott’s point that churches were opposed to interracial marriage before Loving was decided, Gallagher says “certainly people made arguments from the Bible – the devil can quote scripture for his own purposes, there’s no question about that.” Apparently, religious freedom only matters when people like Gallagher agree with what the religion is teaching.

Rep. Quigley Debunks Myths About Gay And Lesbian Parents

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) concluded Friday’s hearing by arguing that a person’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with the kind of parent or family member a person becomes, pressing Gallagher on her view that marriage equality would undermine family stability:

[House Judicicary Subcommittee on the Constitution, 4/15/11]

Gallagher attempts to dodge Rep. Quigley’s point by lamenting the fact that some people have interpreted her statements as “a condemnation of gay people and their parenting skills.” This “interpretation” might have something to do with Gallagher having called homosexuality “an unfortunate thing” which represents “at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction.” Or perhaps it has to do with her decision to assert that gays and lesbians are “committing several different kinds of very serious sins.”

Unedited hearing footage provided by Wonk Room's Zack Ford.


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