Raiders of a Lost Ark.
Arkansas may be "the Natural State" -- but not on marriage, if one judge gets his way. Late Friday, the South's most reliably pro-marriage state was rocked by the news that a local judge wadded up the will of 75% of voters and threw it on the progressive trash heap, where liberals hope to bury natural marriage. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza joined the marriage circus with a ridiculous ruling that struck down Arkansas's Amendment 83, officially expanding this country's lawlessness to one of the most socially conservative states in the union.
"Although marriage is not expressly identified as a fundamental right in the Constitution, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized it as such. This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality. The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent." Like judges in Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and others, Piazza couldn't resist elevating his own political agenda above the democratic process -- thumbing his nose at local officials in the process.
Taking a page out of the Obama administration's playbook, Piazza waited to unleash his decision until the close of business on Friday evening, after the county clerks' offices had closed. He understood that by not issuing a stay or giving the state direction he was creating massive confusion and conflict in local jurisdictions. "Judge Piazza did a tremendous disservice to the people of Arkansas by leaving this in limbo," said Arkansas Family Council President Jerry Cox.
Left to decide for themselves how to respond, the state's clerks threw together an urgent conference call on Saturday to stake out their positions on licenses. The result was absolute bedlam. While some went back and forth on the legality of same-sex "marriage" certificates, Carroll and Pulaski Counties broke with the majority and opened their offices to offer licenses. Others, like Benton County, are determined to wait for the court's guidance. "This determination is not being made based on animus toward same-sex couples. If the law requires it, the County Clerk will issue the licenses... [but for now], Amendment 83 remains binding in Benton County and will be respected." This morning, after a weekend of questions, clerks' offices were busy with people demanding answers -- or licenses.
While Arkansas tries to sort out months of legal headaches, elected leaders are lining up to blast the ruling and Piazza's judicial arrogance. As April's New York Times polling showed, Arkansas voters aren't exactly tripping over themselves to climb aboard the same-sex "marriage" bandwagon. Only 35% of the state -- the lowest of the South -- supports Judge Piazza's position.
For now, Arkansas voters will have to hold their breath and wait. Although Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, says he supports same-sex "marriage," he's promised to do his sworn duty to defend the ban in court. Democratic Governor Mike Beebe has said before that he supports natural marriage -- but in the coming months, voters will see just how strongly.
Nevada Rolls the Dice on Big Tent GOP
The GOP has enough to worry about before the midterm elections -- it doesn't need to add infighting to the list. Unfortunately, that memo hasn't gotten to the Nevada chapter of the RNC, where members decided to strip pro-life and pro-marriage language from its state platform. The move ignited a party-wide firestorm, as it should have, with delegates in other states furious by Nevada's betrayal and anxious to fix the schism it represents.
Oklahoma RNC member Carolyn McLarty didn't pull any punches in an email to the Nevada delegation, rightly fuming, "[Nevada's RNC members] are symptoms of the infiltration of the Republican Party by those who really want to destroy it." The Silver State fired back, accusing the party's social conservatives of pushing Republicans down a "path of exclusion" and lost elections. "Excluding an entire group of American citizens based solely on their sexual preference toward the same gender is not only divisive, but in the 21st century, it is unacceptable," they wrote.
First, the GOP's stance in support of natural marriage only excludes those who want to redefine marriage. But isn't that the effect of any position? If Nevada's RNC thinks excluding same-sex "marriage" proponents is outrageous, why isn't it angry that the GOP rejects Big Government, pro-entitlement, pro-gun control voters? Aren't we "excluding" them too? It's an absurd argument. The suggestion that pro-life and pro-marriage planks aren't acceptable because they alienate opponents is a selective application of that logic. Not to mention that it's offensive to the majority of Americans who believe in man-woman marriage to suggest that supporting it is somehow taking a position against homosexual people. It isn't.
If you want to know why the GOP continues to flounder, it's because voices like Nevada's continue to insist: "Any resources that we spend continuing to push divisive issues will reduce the resources we need for the real fight of electing Republicans that will advocate for our core principles." Life and marriage are core principles. You'd think after two failed presidential cycles, the GOP would recognize that jettisoning the planks of marriage and life is the path to a permanent minority, which is what FRC's latest polling revealed.
Regardless of what Nevada believes, a whopping 82% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe marriage "should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman." And three-quarters of them want their elected leaders to go to bat for its protection. What Nevada is suggesting is surrender -- and that never wins elections.
NFL Kisses Neutrality Goodbye
The NFL's first "openly gay" draft pick says he doesn't want to be a distraction -- and then proceeded to create the biggest one of all by openly kissing his boyfriend on ESPN. The display, which the network aired without warning -- or hesitation, is being called the kiss seen 'round the world. Producer Seth Markham says he was stunned by the amount of fallout the footage received. "When I got home last night and saw the attention (it was receiving), it kind of threw me," he said. Markman insists ESPN wasn't trying to make a political statement -- but you could have fooled us. Almost 250 picks in, no network devotes this much attention to seventh-round selections.
From current players to former ones, the NFL's athletes voiced their displeasure that ESPN would expose audiences to such a graphic political agenda. Former Super Bowl Champ Derek Ward, like others, took to Twitter to shame the network for their irresponsible coverage. "For him to do that on national television is disgusting," Ward said, "Gay or not. Man U got little kids lookin at the draft. I can't believe ESPN even allowed that to happen." Since then, Ward's been inundated with responses -- some hateful, many supportive.
For the Miami Dolphins's Don Jones, the punishment for supporting natural sexuality was more than social media backlash. The safety responded to the clip with "OMG" and "Horrible," only to be hauled into the team's offices and punished. Dolphins's coach Joe Philbin explained, "We met with Don today about respect, discrimination, and judgment. Those comments are not consistent with the values and standards of our program." Jones has since apologized, but even that won't get him out of the fine, suspension, and "reeducation" training levied by the NFL.
For players, who are losing the right to free speech -- at least when it conflicts with the League's agenda -- this is a brave new world. As FRC's Craig James, a former NFL running back himself, pointed out, the world of professional sports is only teeing it up for conservatives to be ousted and marginalized. When the League's biggest interest is advertising, they'll follow the dollar anywhere: including the end of free speech as we know it. Tune into Fox News's "Kelly File" tonight at 9:15 p.m. (ET) where I'll discuss the latest on this controversy.
** How big was last week's public prayer ruling? FRC's Travis Weber explains in a new column, "How the Supreme Court Helped Religious Liberty."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.