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Anti-Equality Activists Break Out Anti-Gay Talking Points At DOMA Hearing

July 20, 2011 3:44 pm ET by Matt Gertz

This morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) which would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages. At the hearing, witnesses Ron Wallen, Andrew Sorbo, and Susan Murray gave moving testimony on their personal experiences being denied marriage rights under DOMA.

In response, the right-wing activists selected to testify by the committee's Republicans offered a flurry of anti-gay talking points in an attempt to preserve the status quo.

Ed Whelan, president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center and a National Review Online contributor, went straight for the smear, claiming that "The principles invoked by advocates of same-sex marriage in their ongoing attack on traditional marriage threaten to pave the way for polygamous and other polyamorous unions," which he termed "one of the current projects of the left."

Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery invoked public opinion, claiming in his prepared testimony that repeal of DOMA undermines "the expressed will of the people." Minnery pointed to referenda in which voters endorsed "the traditional definition of marriage," but ignored the spate of recent polls that have found majority support for marriage equality - a fact that has led Minnery's boss, FoF president Jim Daly to admit that  anti-gay conservatives have "probably lost" the marriage fight.

Minnery's testimony also echoed a right-wing talking point by portraying anti-gay activists as being under a vicious assault from gays and lesbians trying to achieve equal rights: "While proponents of this bill attempt to portray this as a 'civil rights' struggle for gays and lesbians, the facts are that the civil rights of traditional Americans, including people of faith, are being trampled for taking an opposing point of view in this cultural conflict."

Minnery was later called out by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) for misrepresenting the results of a Department of Health and Human Services study.