Equality Matters

NOM Reprints Column Blasting Hate Crime Laws, Legalization Of Gay Sex

September 18, 2013 1:16 pm ET - by Luke Brinker

No longer even pretending that it's only focused on preserving "traditional" marriage, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) touted a far-right author's column asserting that hate crime laws and the Supreme Court decision striking down anti-sodomy laws were built on "lies" in a "mythology of grievance and sexual oppression."

In a September 17 blog post, NOM's Ruth Institute reprinted much of a column from right-wing website MercatorNet, written by fringe author Michael Cook. Cook, who asserted in July that pedophiles would use same-sex marriage as a "cover" to acquire and molest children, promoted the dubious claims of a new book arguing that gay teen Matthew Shepard's murder was prompted by drugs, not homophobia. Cook cited this theory as further evidence "that America's sexual revolution has been built on lies":

This week it became obvious that America's sexual revolution has been built on lies. Three of the cases which transformed the legal system and altered the moral ecosystem are based on fiction: Roe v Wade, which became the foundation stone for abortion rights; Lawrence v Texas, which decriminalised sodomy and led inexorably to same-sex marriage; and the murder of Matthew Shepard, which transformed disapproval of homosexual acts into hateful homophobia.


In 2009 President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal law against gay hate crimes which was named after Matthew Shepard. Elton John and Lady Gaga have sung about him. Three films have been made about his death.


But the hallowing of Matthew Shepard is just the latest chapter in a mythology of grievance and sexual oppression.

In 2003 the US Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute which criminalised sodomy. This effectively made homosexuality legal throughout the US. And as Justice Scalia noted in his dissent in Lawrence v Texas, it opened the door to redefining marriage: "Today's opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned."

But the case was built on the lies of activists. In 1998, police received a report that "a black male [was] going crazy with a gun" in a suburb on the outskirts of Houston. Four officers burst into an apartment and found 55-year-old John Lawrence, a white man, and a 31-year-old black man, Tyron Garner. The evening ended with the men, both openly homosexual, being charged with "deviate sex" and held overnight in jail before being released.


But the two men were not having sex. Originally they pleaded "not guilty". Only when activists pointed out that theirs was an ideal case did they plead "no contest". "From the beginning," their lawyer said, "we did not want to complicate the case by dealing with the facts. We said, 'Whatever the police said, we will not challenge it.'" [Law professor Dale] Carpenter observes, "Lawrence advanced as a case because nobody wanted to know what the underlying facts were."

NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher once asserted that the organization's "battle is not with an orientation," simply with the notion of marriage equality. To ward off accusations of homophobia, NOM President Brian Brown has even trotted out the "I have gay people who are friends and family" defense. But NOM continues to embrace anti-gay rhetoric that goes far beyond the fight to maintain traditional marriage. To suggest that the reality of anti-LGBT violence and discrimination is actually a "mythology of grievance" is to undermine the rationale for a whole host of important protections for LGBT people. 


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