I have been here before. The last weekend of June, 2015 was for pro-family advocates across the nation what Columbus Day Weekend, 2008 was for me. That was the weekend our State Supreme Court imposed same-sex marriage on Connecticut, despite Family Institute of Connecticut (FIC) having defeated it every year at the state Capitol and even passing a law explicitly defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Having lived through the judiciary’s imposition of same-sex marriage twice now, and watching social media this weekend, here are my seven reactions to it:
1) The Republican candidates for President who said they disagree with the ruling but that we should respect the law…and said nothing more. If they want conservative support, the last thing they should do is remind us of former Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell.
2) The betrayal of the Right. When the U.S Supreme Court struck down DOMA two years ago, the former campaign manager of one of Connecticut’s most celebrated pro-family candidates for Congress posted her admiration for the ruling. This weekend, one of the best Tea Party leaders from my state tweeted that the Obergefell ruling means “common sense wins.” I get that other elements of the Right support same-sex marriage. But supporting a Roe v. Wade for same-sex marriage? The Tea Party’s much-balleyhooed love for the U.S. Constitution was a farce, or at least, it was a farce for those who applaud Obergefell.
3) The media. Sure, there was a typically inane Susan Campbell column in Sunday’s Hartford Courant. (Every state’s got one, but if you’re not familiar with ours, see my 2013 review of her autobiography) What amazed me, though, was that The Courant also ran the Washington Post op-ed by Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore. That would have been unheard of in its pages seven years ago. And while local conservative radio host Brad Davis’ voice has grown quieter on it, his audience is as opposed to same-sex unions today as they were ten years ago. He polled them this morning and got the same overwhelmingly negative response to same-sex marriage that he got in 2005.
4) Manchester, CT. It is my old hometown, where I was born and raised, and even for liberal New England it is an outlier: In 2011 it had the fourth largest number of same-sex married couples of any town in Connecticut, both proportionately and in raw numbers. And yet of the 151 current and former town residents on my Facebook, only 11 made their profile pics rainbow-y. That doesn’t mean the others favor the traditional definition of marriage (far from it!). But, given past Facebook fisticuffs between the old gang and me, their passion for redefining marriage seems to have ebbed a bit.
5) Social Conservatives in “the Next America.” Two of the most-shared articles on my feed this weekend was Politico’s “It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy” and Time Magazine’s “Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions.” I hope sharing those articles wakes up gay marriage supporters to the road they’ve put us on. But my guess is the rainbow-y 11 in #4, above, and other old friends, will not object if the court’s ruling does lead to polygamy and the stripping of tax-exempt status from churches. Indeed, they will likely cheer.
6) Catholicism in “the Next America.” When Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled for same-sex marriage in 2008, our priest refused to tell our parish of the action items the Archbishop of Hartford was urging Catholics to take to reverse the ruling. That priest later left the priesthood, is now in a same-sex marriage and posts photos of himself and his “husband” on the Human Rights Campaign’s Facebook. Contrast that with yesterday, when our current pastor at our new parish gave a rousing, even visceral, response against the U.S. Supreme Court gay marriage ruling from the pulpit. Longtime commentator Russell Shaw says “Conventional wisdom has it that the future of Catholicism in America can be summed up as smaller but better.” I see it happening.
7) Finally, recall what Jesus said in yesterday’s readings: “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He was disregarding an official who just told Jairus that his daughter was dead and that Jairus should not trouble Jesus further. Then Jesus brought her back to life. Right now, the form of government bequeathed to us by our nation’s founders is dead, a death celebrated even by our friends and family. But keep fighting and keep praying. Like Jairus’ daughter, it can be brought back to life.
Peter Wolfgang is executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut.