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Tony Perkins is a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-gay bigot working for the SPLC-designated anti-gay hate group Family Research Council, and I happened to stumble across an interview he gave about the SCOTUS ruling which demonstrates exactly why non-fundagelicals despise and distrust fundagelicalism more and more every passing day.

The ostracism of Themistocles in 482BCE. Boy, sometimes... (Credit: Sharon Mollerus, CC license.)
Voting shards from the ostracism of Themistocles in 482BCE. Boy, sometimes… (Credit: Sharon Mollerus, CC license.)

I already knew Tony Perkins was a terrible human being, but I had no idea this guy was as incredibly dense and intellectually dishonest as he is. Here are a few highlights of his rather dizzying thoughts from this excruciating interview:

* If an opposite-sex couple walks into a courthouse and gets a marriage license, that’s great, that’s just what Jesus wanted all along. But if a same-sex couple does it, they’re forcing their bedroom life onto everyone else and that’s terri-bad. Double standards much? Also the courts have “thrust this” (meaning equality) onto the nation and that’s bad, but straight marriage can be thrust anywhere and that’s totally fine with him; he is under the very mistaken impression that nobody in America wanted equal marriage to happen and are all being grudgingly “forced” to go along with it. (He’s very fond of appropriating rape terminology to describe his feelings about having to put up with LGBTQ people having rights and getting to live like regular folks out in the open, I’m noticing; this language choice of his is quite offensive and he does it all through the interview.)

* If same-sex couples really wanted equality, they wouldn’t be agitating for marriage rights because equality would be them melting into the darkness of night so bigots like him wouldn’t ever have to deal with them existing. Because that’s totally equality: letting bigots like Tony Perkins go through his days acting like he won his culture war anyway when he actually totally lost. He loves the idea of a world where gay people don’t enter his vision at all. Equality is not “same-sex couples having the exact same legal rights and protections that opposite-sex couples get.” No, that’s totally wrong to him. He prefers his gay people terrified and scuttling away from straight people because that is the purest expression of equality, which means that if we stripped Christians of their right to worship Jesus in the name of giving them equal rights as non-Christians and told Christians they no longer had the unquestioned right to do business anywhere they want, that would absolutely be the same thing to him and he’d be fine with that. Oh wait.

* Surprise! Jesus totally talked about straights-only marriage. Didn’t you know? It’s in Ephesians 5:31… which, oh wait, Jesus didn’t actually write, and that quote isn’t actually even from Jesus’ supposed mouth. That book was written by what Christians believe was Paul, but which most scholars now think was someone else entirely. (And they’re not even sure who!) Oops. I guess if Tony Perkins thinks that every word of Scripture came straight from Jesus’ mouth he might have a chance with this argument in a weird kind of fundamentalist way, but it’s hard even to put myself in a mindset where that level of intellectual dishonesty can happen. You’d think he’d be more aware of Biblical criticism in his line of work, especially if he’s aware of the common rebuttal to anti-gay Christian bigots that Jesus never talked about LGBTQ people or equal marriage. But Tony Perkins drills down hard on this point about Ephesians. Maybe he knows his audience doesn’t know shit about the Bible and won’t question him.

* Proper Bible-thumpers won’t ever accept the SCOTUS decision (someone better go tell the evangelicals who support equal marriage). There is only one way to Christian and it is his way. He subtly implies that any Christian who doesn’t agree with him is simply not a TRUE CHRISTIAN™, a term defined by toxic Christians as anybody who believes more or less like they do, doesn’t ever deconvert, and doesn’t ever get caught doing anything really reprehensible (but the more popular or celebrated the toxic Christian, the more reprehensible the deed must be–see Josh Duggar and his parents for illustration purposes; sexually attacking little girls and covering up the same are horrifyingly reprehensible, but because it’s the Duggars, fundagelical Christians are rallying around them rather than condemning them). He seems aware that more and more Christians support equality for LGBTQ folks, and wow he really does not like that idea.

* Tony Perkins doesn’t restrict himself to hating gay people. He also really hates no-fault divorce. I can see why; fundagelicals like him often think that if people (and I rather suspect he means women here, given that he links this “problem” that he thinks exists with abortion) can easily escape a shitty marriage then the problem is in the ease of escape, not the shitty marriage itself–so the solution is to close the escape route. He hates abortion too, of course; he’s upset that Roe v. Wade didn’t “solve” the abortion question–while ignoring that it was solved decades ago by, uh, Roe v. Wade itself but that forced-birthers have refused to let it go ever since the decision was made. It’s really easy to criticize a social problem that he himself is helping cause and perpetuate. What unbelievable dishonesty! Remember, the two battles around women’s rights and LGBTQ rights are very much entwined in fundagelicals’ minds and might seem like two different culture wars but are really the same war; both causes deal with self-ownership, the right to live free of fundagelical meddling, judgment, ownership, control, and hindrance, and a total rejection of fundagelical demands about gender roles, gender identity, and relationships. It’s hard to say what bothers Tony Perkins more: a gay couple kissing in public, or a straight woman having unapproved sex and then refusing to gestate against her will. It’s really no wonder he brings these points up now, even though the doing betrays his real motivations for opposing equal marriage–and damns his entire cause in a lot of ways.

* Religious freedom blah blah blah means that he can oppress and discriminate against LGBTQ people and they can’t stop him because religious freedom blah blah blah. In other words, he wants to live his life as if his side won the trial and he sees no reason why that would be a problem. I wonder if he’ll ever realize that nobody but his bigoted buddies was ever really fooled by this disgustingly self-serving bit of dishonesty. It’s like that smokescreen around “states’ rights” and slavery in the Civil War; he wants the religious freedom, yes, but he wants that freedom primarily so he can discriminate against, judge, control, humiliate, and harass other people in the name of his religion, just as the rights states wanted was the right to own and hold human beings as property. One of his favorite avenues of discriminating against, judging, controlling, humiliating, and harassing other people has been closed to him, and he sees that as some kind of attack on his religious liberty rather than the redressing of a great sin that (I’d like to remind y’all) he still aches to commit.

* Tony Perkins thinks that courts have “redefined” marriage, which means he has apparently never read any of the legal smackdowns written by courts saying that actually it is not a redefinition of marriage but a confirmation of our laws to allow same-sex couples to access that right. Judges have debunked that talking point ten ways from Sunday, but nobody will ever accuse Christians like Tony Perkins of accepting correction or living in reality.

* He shouts out to libertarians, saying that equal marriage will cause government to grow to account for all the babies born out of wedlock. So the government must restrict marriage rights to keep government nice and small. More on this in a moment. So basically he wants people who care a lot about individual rights to see restricting individual rights as the way to keep government out of people’s lives. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton; let’s see if it works for him–oh wait, actually, it’s blithering nonsense spewed by a guy desperate for a Hail Mary pass. This whole interview is like a Gish Gallop of bigotry apologetics.

* When asked what measurable, observable signs society will see confirming that equal marriage is a bad idea, Tony Perkins thinks his gang of bigots won’t ever have to “make those arguments because they going to become evident.” He couldn’t actually name any of the massive “collateral damage” he claims will totally for sure result. The reporter (who had the patience of a saint) pressed him on that point but for real, Tony Perkins couldn’t actually name anything past “the deconstruction of the family” and other absolutely hysterical-sounding falling-sky predictions that don’t mean anything concrete. But he was very sure there was a danger.


Tony Perkins thinks that all families everywhere will be weakened somehow and America will fall apart because same-sex couples gaining access to their right to marry. Someone better tell all the countries that have allowed same-sex marriage for years; I’m sure the news of their imminent collapse will be a real shock to places like Canada, Belgium, and Norway.

It’s just breathtaking to listen to someone spout this level of dishonesty with so much apparent conviction.

He thinks that same-sex marriage, along with abortion and no-fault divorce, will cause out-of-wedlock births (does he realize that same-sex couples don’t normally have a problem with unexpected pregnancies? Or does he think opposite-sex couples will suddenly stop using contraception because of other couples gaining the right to marry? Because that’s not how contraception use works). He walks his pants-shitting prediction back a couple of times further and further, but he can’t actually say why out-of-wedlock births are so bad. They just obviously are, and every time marriage laws move further away from the fundagelical concept of misogyny-as-the-bonus-plan where women are chattel, which he quaintly calls “the historical norm” because he’s oh so very well-educated on historical concepts of marriage, in his ignorant opinion that causes a spike in divorces and out-of-wedlock births which are, again, automatically and reflexively bad even if he can’t actually speak to why or say when the spike will happen (it could be immediate or take years–sort of like the answers to prayer, I suppose). One also supposes he’s all for the laws preventing wives from owning property, laws authorizing the transfer of women from fathers to husbands like prize cows, arranged marriages, and of course laws allowing husbands to rape their wives and making it all but impossible for women to escape even the most abusive marriages, since he’s all for “the historical norm.” I don’t know what’d be worse: him knowing exactly what the “historical norm” would actually mean for women and being all for the idea, or him getting his history education from Leave It To Beaver.

See, when Tony Perkins talks about “the historical norm,” he’s talking more about the fundagelical dream-o-vision of 1950s marriages where men were manly clean-shaven men, women were sweetly docile and submissive, children were rambunctious and cute, families always operated without friction, nobody ever divorced ever (or was LGBTQ, or non-Christian, or anything but a staunch Republican), black people were totally happy with separate-but-equal, women didn’t even think about working outside the home or doing anything but serving their menfolk, and everyone had a nice tract home with a picket fence and a big yellow dog. Not a single bit of that was true even in the 1950s, but it’s seriously what fundagelicals think–and they bitterly resent every single reminder that reality works differently. I noticed this mindset back in the 1980s, and it’s only gotten worse since.

In other news, another FRC spokesperson apparently is whining about how LGBTQ people “are unwilling to be gracious winners.” Maybe he needs to start graciously losing first before he worries about policing how other people handle their own reactions to the SCOTUS ruling, since he’s on record as saying that his version of losing his side’s self-created culture war appears to be criminalizing homosexuality, re-legalizing reparative therapy to try to “cure” gay people of gayness (or at least make them content with lifelong celibacy), and making incredibly bigoted tweets whining about what he mistakenly thinks marriage is supposed to mean to everyone everywhere forever. One wonders just how much he’s doing that Jesus actually told him to do; Jesus never told him to be a culture warrior, but he did tell him to feed the hungry, comfort the grieving, clothe the naked, and turn the other cheek–you know, all that damned boring stuff Christians like him ignore in their rush to control everyone and harass people they don’t like.

But if the good godly Jesus-smile-wearing Christians of the FRC weren’t rampant hypocrites, they wouldn’t know what to do with their days.

Meanwhile, anti-gay bigots are escalating violent attacks on LGBTQ people and allies because that is totally what Jesus told his followers to do. He said, “You shall know them by their gay-bashing, smear campaigns, and violent attacks.” What loving wonderful Christian warriors this god has helping him out! It’s just so confusing to me that so many people are leaving its ranks. (/s)

Hang in there, friends. Hate groups like the FRC are spewing vomit like a 19-year-old who got into the liquor cabinet, but what I heard on that interview sounds a lot like the last gasp of a dying regime that is slowly becoming fully aware of just how close the end is looming. They’re getting desperate, and that’s why they’re making shrill shrieks now about how straight people must be afraid for their marriages and children–because they have no facts whatsoever to support their position, which means that of course they will rely on fear and bullying to get their way. Hang in there. This phase won’t last a lot longer. Next time we’ll talk more about why I think that history is repeating itself, but for now, have hope. And please, if you possibly can, speak up. We need bigots to know that their peers think that what they’re saying is pathetic and nasty; we need them to know they are a fast-shrinking minority in this country. And I hate to go here, but if you think one of your bigoted acquaintances is planning a criminal act based on that bigotry (or has done so), please call one of these phone numbers:

Hate Crime National Hotline 1-206-350-HATE
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE
Hate Crimes Hotline at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 1-800-552-6843

Most bigots will never get that far (as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, toxic Christians are not really big on follow-through), but these are the self-appointed paladins of the God of Love and Prince of Peace we’re talking about here. I’m done pretending they are totally harmless cranks and nutjobs. Tony Perkins might never do anything more than whine and complain, but his irresponsible rhetoric is very likely pushing a lot of buttons right now among people who might decide to do a lot worse. It is time we held people like him responsible for fanning the flames of bigotry and indirectly encouraging these acts of violence erupting in the wake of what should be the happiest news this country’s had in a long time.

ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...

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