He's not a lawyer or judge. He's not a marriage expert. From best we can tell, he has no firsthand experience with polygamy.
He is a man who has said some truly jaw-dropping things about LGBT people. He is the head of an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has included on its shortlist of hate groups. He is a person who collects six figures every year off of "culture war" politics, with an abundance of his time focused on trash talking LGBT people and our lives.
Apparently that makes Tony Perkins a suitable pundit to talk about a religious freedom ruling pertaining to heterosexual polygamy, which he of course links directly (and clumsily) to gay people's marriages.
Clip courtesy of Equality Matters:
First off, let's be clear that the case is, at its core, a religious liberty matter. This decision in no way legalizes polygamy or allows for recognition of multi-partner marriages.
As for what it does? Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman has a good rundown:
...[I]t strikes down one peculiar aspect of Utah law. Under that provision, it is a criminal act for an adult who is legally married to "cohabit" with any other person. In other words, if you decided to separate from your spouse in Utah and live with another person, you are by law a bigamist and could be criminally prosecuted. As the Utah Supreme Court ruled in 2006, "cohabitation alone would constitute bigamy pursuant to the statute."
However, that provision is never used in such cases of simple adultery. The only time the law has been invoked is against people who cohabit and claim to do so for religious purposes. In short, adultery is OK in the eyes of the state of Utah, but it is the claim of religious purpose that turns the living arrangement into a felony. And government cannot do that. As Waddoups concludes, the law "must be stricken as a facial violation of the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment."
So basically, it's a ruling protective of personal and religious freedom. The state is not required to legally recognize or allow polygamist marriages, but if adults wish to live that way as part of their religious belief, the state cannot prosecute them as criminals. It has to leave them be.
FULL PIECE:Utah ruling on polygamy is absolutely right [AJC]
Given the way the ruling was worded, Tony Perkins should be cheering. If there is any one area where Tony Perkins, a graduate of religious universities who serves as a guest preacher of his home church, does have expertise, it's in the area of religion (at least from his conservative perspective). He has claimed that employment protections are an assault on religious freedom. And yet today, in his role as a pundit, Tony is working against religious freedom—something he purports to defend! How hypocritical.
The family at the center of this lawsuit believes that living the way they do, in these cohabitive (and legally non-binding) arrangements, is at the heart of their path to heaven. It's one thing for Tony to oppose their right to enshrine that right into civil law, a fight where he'd be joined by people from all perspectives for a diversity of reasons. But for him, a supposed defender of personal freedom within a prayerful context, to self-determine that this particular way of faithful life is wrong and worthy of prosecution? It's downright untenable. If he were consistent, he'd be applauding the implications of this ruling, if not its direct application.
And finally, can we close by asking the big question: what is with this man's obsession with LGBT people? I mean, sure, I know that people like Tony, Rick Santorum, and the ilk have been itching for this kind of case so that they can yet again blame LGBT people for the biblically-rooted notion of polygamy, since that is their favorite part of the supposed slippery slope. We LGBT people spend significant time and energy assuring straight people will not become more slippery. But wow, this man takes it to a whole new level. It is near-impossible for him to make a case against anything without blaming LGBT people.
Rewatch the segment to see how he links from any comment into blaming LGBT people. Then, consider his history.
Straight people with multiple partners? It's the gays' fault.
Child abuse? Gays.
Who opens the door "to all manner of social and moral evil"? Why same-sex couples, of course.
I'm only half kidding when I say I spend a part of every summer wondering if he's going to blame me and my family for his melting ice cream cone. Nothing would surprise me with him.
Yet outlets like CNN continue to present Tony to American viewing audiences as little more than a mainstream conservative pundit with ready-for-prime-time commentary. To quote Laurie Allen the anti-polygamy activist in the above clip: It's 'salacious propaganda' and needs to end. Media folks, if this clip wasn't enough to prove it to you, check out his CAP profile, and take a look at what he's about.