Bill Schuette, the Republican Attorney General for the state of Michigan, has publicly denounced a group called Traditionalist Youth Network for an amicus brief it filed against marriage equality. Schuette says of the anti-LGBT brief:
"There is no place in this discussion for derogatory language, and anything like it will be completely disregarded by the Department of Attorney General"... "The Sixth Circuit should use this brief to line a birdcage, because that's all it's good for."
(statement and full story via MLive.com)
Which is a good thing to say. I personally think most anti-LGBT briefs are better used as birdcage liner than as actual court documents. I'm glad to hear a GOP AG making this case about a group arguing for more discrimination. It's an accurate thing to say.
But what is really astounding to me, as someone who tracks the anti-LGBT movement, is just how run-of-the-mill this brief (which can be found at the end of this post) really is. It's not filled with completely out there language that would surprise anyone who pays attention to the other side. Instead, it's chock full of the usual arguments.
- Traditionalist Youth Network argues that the U.S. Supreme Court's Lawrence v. Texas decision overturning sodomy bans was wrongly decided and that sodomy should still be criminalized, which is precisely the argument that the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg made on MSNBC.
- They claim that LGBT people are just trying to "normalize homosexuality" through marriage, which is exactly what the American Family Association pushes in its guiding position statement on homosexuality and what modern conservatives constantly claim about us.
- They claim that homosexuality is against "health, safety, morals, and public welfare," which echoes claims one will find in briefs from popular mainstream conservative figures like Frank Turek ("Homosexual behavior is destructive to the public welfare") and writing from commentators like C-FAM's Austin Ruse ("the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals").
- And in the part that is getting the most attention, the group argues that same-sex marriage will lead to a "slippery slope" toward things like incest, pedophilia, and zoophilia. This is completely in line with the kinds of things that other anti-LGBT activists say about us all the time:
"Are all sexual orientations gifts from God? Zoophilia, or coprophilia, the sexual stimulation by faeces, or bestiality, I mean things that everyone would be repulsed by, or pedophilia. Are those gifts from God? … How do you distinguish which sexual orientation is a gift from God and which is not?"
Michael Brown [GLAAD CAP]
"Will pedophiles become 'minor-attracted persons' in our culture? Will courts which endorse orientation as a protected class decide down the road that therefore laws which discriminate against 'minor-attracted persons' must be narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest?”
NOM's Brian Brown, in a newsletter about same-sex marriage [GLAAD CAP]
"Incestuous relations between consenting adults is no more depraved and perverse than sexual relations between two men or two women, which we now celebrate in our streets and our public schools."
Illinois Family Institute's Laurie Higgins [GLAAD CAP]
"We should discriminate against unnatural and aberrant sexual behavior, whether pedophilia, bestiality, or homosexuality."
American Family Association's Bryan Fischer [GLAAD CAP]
"There isn't one single civilization that has survived that openly embraced homosexuality. So you say, 'what's going to happen to America?' Well if history is any guide, the same thing's going to happen to us. We're on a slippery slope and it's going to kick over in a hurry."700 Club's Pat Robertson [GLAAD CAP]
"[I]f we can redefine marriage as between two men or two women or any other way based on social pressures as opposed to between a man and a woman, we will continue to redefine it in any way that we wish, which is a slippery slope with a disastrous ending, as witnessed in the dramatic fall of the Roman Empire."
Popular conservative pundit Ben Carson [GLAAD CAP]
The "slippery slope" argument is in every anti-LGBT commentator's greatest hits collection! Why does it get special distinction now?
Throughout the Traditionalist Youth Network brief, the organization refers to popular conservative figures like Phyllis Schlafly, Robert Bork, and Roy Moore, as well as to an earlier brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court by the legal offshoot of the Concerned Women For America. Again, this is not a surprise that TYN is both able and willing to bring up these names. This brief (found below) is perfectly in line with the anti-LGBT conservative mainstream!
I truly believe that many government officials, like Schuette, don't have a clue what prominent people within the organized anti-LGBT movement say and do in order to keep the fight against marriage equality alive. Animus has been driving this conversation from day one, and animus is the reason why we are still fighting these battles. The "protect marriage" movement is filled with "derogatory language." Sometimes it's more code worded, but it most always involves certain ideas about LGBT people needing to be "saved or "changed," our equality supposedly sending America down a disastrous spiral, and the basic belief that personal condemnations against what they see as a "lifestyle" should form the basis of policy that limits our civil rights. This is exactly what the Traditionalist Youth Network is arguing in its brief.
It's good that the Attorney General called out this one. But this should set a precedent and start a conversation about the whole flock of anti-LGBT groups and arguments, not viewed as limited to this one particular birdcage.