A group of anti-LGBTQ activists gathered on the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to denounce the Court’s marriage equality ruling in Obergefell, which was handed down four years ago to the day. It was announced that some of the speakers would have to leave the gathering early in order to attend a meeting at the White House.
The two-hour anti-equality “rally”—really a handful of people talking mostly to themselves—was organized by longtime anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera. Speakers portrayed the LGBTQ movement, the Obergefell decision, and the Equality Act recently passed by the House as threats to children and to religious freedom.
LaBarbera has visions of turning this annual protest on the anniversary of the marriage equality decision into something akin to the massive annual March for Life that anti-choice protesters organize on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. LaBarbera has a long way to go in winning public support for his anti-equality agenda, but he and his pals clearly have influential friends in the Trump White House and on the increasingly Trumpified federal courts.
LaBarbera’s Americans For Truth About Homosexuality joined forces last year with MassResistance, whose leader has said that, according to God’s “very brutal” rules, LGBT activists—described as wanting to destroy society’s morality should be “destroyed.” And earlier this year, LaBarbera teamed up with a wildly anti-LGBTQ bunch to launch the “Gone Too Far” movement, whose premise seems to be that the bulk of the Religious Right movement is just too darn nice to homosexuals.
A few speakers from the Gone Too Far event joined LaBarbera in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, including Scott Lively, the notorious author of “The Pink Swastika,” as well as pastor Stephen Broden and “ex-gay” activist Stephen Black, who portrayed efforts to restrict harmful conversion therapy as an attempt to recruit children into homosexuality. Broden denounced “sodomites” and read from conservative justices’ dissents from the marriage equality ruling, and he called for state officials to “nullify”—refuse to abide by—what he called the “illegal” Obergefell ruling.
Lively provided a discourse of the five stages of “homofascism” and gave a long rant against former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of several landmark decisions advancing legal equality for LGBTQ people. Lively complained about the decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned sodomy laws that made gay people de facto criminals. But he said he hasn’t even read the Obergefell decision because he doesn’t believe it was legitimate because Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan had performed marriages for same-sex couples and therefore had a conflict of interest.
Two of the speakers were introduced with the announcement that would have to be leaving the gathering to attend a meeting at the White House: Tennessee Pastors Network President Dale Walker and Warriors for Christ’s Rich Penkoski.
Before heading to the White House, Walker screamed about what he said was the spread of hate crimes against Christians. He went on to brag about his recent victories in getting LGBT-themed displays removed from public libraries and in mobilizing protests against “Drag Queen Story Hour” library programs. Penkoski compared the LGBT movement to German Nazis. Last year, the Christian Broadcasting Network ran a sympathetic story about Penkoski when Facebook suspend the Warriors for Christ Facebook page over posts it classified as “hate speech.” Penkoski and others sued to stop state officials from recognizing gay marriage or respecting any statute treating sexual orientation as a civil rights matter. The case was appropriately titled, Penkoski v. Justice.
Also speaking was Jonathan Alexandre of Liberty Counsel Action, who called the Obergefell decision an attempt to “tear down” what is decent in society. The only good thing about the decision, he said, is that it “sounded an alarm to freedom-loving Americans.”
Michael Heath, former head of the Christian Civic League of Maine, and an advocate for criminalizing homosexuality, quoted St. John Chrysostum, a fourth- and fifth-century church father, as saying homosexuals are “worse than murderers.” Heath added, “And homosexuals destroy not only their own souls, they also destroy the soul of a nation.” He characterized the Obergefell decision as “diabolical” and “tyrannical.”
Diane Gramley, who heads the Pennsylvania affiliate of the American Family Association, said that America’s future depends on Obergefell being overturned. Gramley doesn’t have a very good handle on America’s past, as evidence by her recently telling of a preposterous lie about the police who harassed LGBTQ patrons of the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago: In her telling, absent of any evidence, the New York City police officers who raided the bar that night were really trying to rescue a transgender child who was being sexually abused.
Father Paul Sullins, a Catholic priest associated with the Ruth Institute—a spin-off from the National Organization for Marriage—proclaimed his love for homosexual people while praising Pope Francis for calling marriage equality and gender ideology “demonic.”
Rounding out the “rally” was a friend of LaBarbera’s who said the court’s marriage equality decision was “tantamount to what happened on 9/11,” and a few speakers who identified themselves as “ex-gay” and/or “ex-transgender,” arguing that their ability to “change” undermines the legal basis for protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. LaBarbera complained that the media—not even Fox News—will tell their stories.