Right Hook

As Sullivan celebrates, Free Republic bloggers savage Massachusetts' "gay judges" and abnormal "homos"; Lowry finally agrees to fight Franken!

Published November 20, 2003 12:51AM (EST)

Tuesday's Massachusetts Supreme Court decision permitting same-sex couples marriage rights under the state constitution unleashed the expected onslaught of fierce criticism from the right. Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, echoes Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's comments, after the court's landmark Lawrence vs. Texas ruling earlier this year, that the decision is evidence of a bench tainted by a "pro-homosexual agenda." Perkins, like many conservatives alarmed by Tuesday's ruling, calls for nothing less than a U.S. Constitutional amendment to preserve the nation's "bedrock" institution of heterosexual marriage.

"While we are certainly relieved that the court stopped short of granting marriage licenses to the homosexual couples demanding them, it is inexcusable for this court to force the state legislature to 'fix' its state constitution to make it comport with the pro-homosexual agenda of 4 court justices.

"This is THE wake-up call for both the American public and our elected officials. If we do not amend the Massachusetts State Constitution so that it explicitly protects marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and if we do not amend the U.S. Constitution with a federal marriage amendment that will protect marriage on the federal level, we will lose marriage in this nation.

"Marriage is about more than tax credits and other financial benefits. It is about preserving the best environment for raising children and the safest, healthiest living situation for adults. Without strong marriages as our bedrock, our nation will suffer a devastating blow.

"We must amend the Constitution if we are to stop a tyrannical judiciary from redefining marriage to the point of extinction."

Not all conservatives are decrying the Massachusetts ruling. Openly gay pundit Andrew Sullivan waxes triumphant on his Web site, the Daily Dish: "THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE ARE FREE AT LAST." The typically prolix Sullivan chooses to let the court opinion speak largely for itself:

"In one state, gay people have become equal citizens under the law:

"'Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations. The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens. In reaching our conclusion we have given full deference to the arguments made by the Commonwealth. But it has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.'

"Freedom in America takes another exhilarating step."

James Taranto, editor of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal, whacks the court's ruling that Massachusetts' marriage law was unconstitutional by invoking his own parents' wedding:

"In June, when the U.S. Supreme Court held in Lawrence v. Texas that laws banning consensual sodomy were unconstitutional, Justice Antonin Scalia warned in his dissent that the decision "leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples." And indeed, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, cites Lawrence right off the bat, in the second paragraph of a 41-page majority opinion.

"We just hope this ruling has a grandfather clause. It was in Massachusetts that our parents -- a man and a woman, each a different sex from the other -- got married some 40 years ago. If Massachusetts marriage law was unconstitutional, it stands to reason that our parents' marriage is a nullity, and all those readers who've sent us e-mails calling us a bastard are actually on to something."

In the National Review Online's "Corner" forum, contributing editor John Derbyshire used the Massachusetts ruling to unburden himself of the following burning questions:

"If 'gay marriage' is legalized, will prisoners be able to marry their cell mates? If not, why not?
In many jurisdictions, a marriage can be annulled if it has not been consummated. What, exactly, constitutes 'consummation' of a gay marriage?"

Meanwhile, over at the self-proclaimed "Conservative News Forum" of Free Republic.com, a right-wing echo chamber that gained notoriety in the late '90s for its vicious attacks on the Clintons, wails of outrage and fears that the ruling opened the barnyard door to Santorum-style depravity filled the air. The debate began with the battle cry, "Save Marriage ... NOW!" posted by "Always Right," who predicted public outrage and saw in the issue a golden opportunity to expose the "radical" Democrats:

"Now that the Mass. Supreme Court has acted to force the legislature to adopt gay marriage, the time is now for Republicans to act to save this most basic institution of this country. We need a US Constitutional Amendment to save us from activist courts who assault religion and basic family values. The public will be outraged over this and the GOP must capitalize on it. The GOP must put the Democrats in a bind. Oppose the Amendment and lose their base, or support it and expose themselves as the radicals they are. Now is the time to act. Put this issue at the forefront for the next election."

Discussion participant "RobertM", in a novel twist, argued that it was gay immorality, not Bush administration policies, that was responsible for U.S.-bashing around the world:

"This [ruling] is one of the reasons we are hated throughout the world. The world looks at us and says [we] have no morals."

And "MJR DAD" wants it on the national agenda, too.

"I agree. Now is the time to make this a political [issue]. Now is the time to stop it dead in it's tracks. God did not create Adam and Steve ... or Andria and Eve ... Constitutional amendment or bust ... Sign me up."

In addition to the prospect of a new amendment, "Always right" sees the GOP attack dogs salivating:

"Rove will be happy with this. This offers a great opportunity for next election."

And "concerned about politics" agrees:

"Yep. That's why politicians (both left and right) are overwhelmingly supporting heterosexual marriage. Otherwise, they wouldn't admit it in front of the cameras. It's a safe move. We CAN use this one."

But "Jim Noble" tells "Always Right" why a Constitutional amendment may not make a difference.

"Traditional marriage has 3 elements:
1) It is permanent (no divorce)
2) It is sexually exclusive (adultery is a felony)
3) It is between a man and at least one woman.
Which of these does your amendment restore?"

"Therapist" adroitly manages to skewer two venerable enemies of the right, gays and Ted Kennedy, with one thrust:

"This is great that Massachusett's gay judges did this. Let all the fudgepackers move there and be clients of the Dickem and Dunkem (Ted Kennedy) law firm."

"Concerned about politics" goes on to respond to another poster's question, "Can I marry my mule?"

"Sorry. Next step is to give them your boys. They want the age of consent lowered to around 10 years old. Your mule will have to wait in line."

And when "Elfman2" tries to interject that "gay marriage (right or wrong) is simple to differentiate from bestiality, pedophilia and polygamy," "concerned about politics" agrees that gays are in a category of their own:

"There is nothing 'normal' about homos. Even the wild animals know better (Except male goats. They're really filthy)."

Exit strategy: Whitewash the Iraqis
In an interview with Deborah Solomon of the New York Times Magazine, Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, hopes to bring a Jesus-loving vision to the new Iraq -- and keep certain weird old rockers off the Baghdad boob tube:

D.S.: What do you think American foreign policy should aim for in Iraq?

R.C.: In the new country, under the new democracy, why should the official religion be Muslim? I think as Iraq becomes a democracy, there are going to be a lot of churches springing up.

D.S.: Would you like to see American products like television shows flourish in Baghdad as well?

R.C.: Oh, no. I hope they don't show "The Osbournes" over there. The Osbournes are definitely not a typical American family. Their language is so offensive. Shows like that wouldn't exist if mothers stayed home with their kids and supervised what they watched.

Lowry vs. Franken
On Tuesday, Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, announced his decision to finally take Al Franken's challenge: Lowry has agreed to fight the comedian turned political pundit. Though it will be a battle of the books rather than a fist fight, Lowry comes out punching below the belt.

"Anecdotes and cartoons. Anecdotes and cartoons. Don't use those words with Al Franken to characterize his new book. It's like waving a no-bid Halliburton contract in front of Dennis Kucinich. Or shouting 'Fox News' in a crowded room of CNN executives. Franken's eyes bulge, his veins pop, his panties twist, and he calls you a prick.

"Actually, let me be strictly accurate. I don't know what happens to Franken's eyes, his veins, or his panties. But I have been on and off the phone with him for the last week, and I do know that he calls you a prick ..."

Lowry explains why he declined to fight Franken earlier:

"As I tried to explain to Franken, as an editor of a serious political magazine, I have a limited capacity to engage in childish stunts. To preempt similar offers, let me say for the record: No, Al, I can't mud-wrestle you. No, I can't participate in a lemon-meringue pie-eating contest. No, I can't face off in a monster-truck pull. No, I can't duel at 15 paces. No, I can't race you down Broadway wearing big floppy red clown shoes.

"I can, however, write. So, my counter-challenge to Franken was to have a battle of books ...

"I hope my sure-to-be devastating takedown of 'Lying Liars' will kill off the book's runaway sales ...

"In any case, stay tuned for more details about Lowry vs. Franken. There probably won't be bloodshed, but you never know. Anecdotes and cartoons. Anecdotes and cartoons ..."

Franken, whose "Lying Liars" has enjoyed mammoth sales, sees through Lowry's scheme to boost wimpy sales of his own book, "Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years."

"To show that I am a bigger man than Rich I accepted his challenge even though he continues to be a pantywaist. I still contend that you can't call Democrats 'sissified' and then refuse to fight.

"I knew that Rich would try to milk this to get publicity for his sorry Regnery book that has fallen off the bestseller list ...

"Now, a link to Rich's shamelessly dishonest column about my book, entitled, at least in the New York Post, 'Al Franken's Lying Lies.'

"You'll notice that in his column, Rich accuses me of a grand total of two lies. First, that I described him as 'terrified' during our initial phone call. Believe me, he was. Rich says that's impossible because we were being 'jocular.' Thing is, it's actually possible to joke while you're terrified. In fact, that was the entire basis for centuries of Jewish humor.

"The second lie is that I claimed that Rich had stopped talking about Democrats feminizing politics after our encounter on the phone. But, in fact, I wrote that I just thought he had, and even held out the possibility that Rich had indeed continued that nonsense. Still I could have assigned one of my research assistants to Nexis all of Rich's articles, and for that I apologize. We were busy trying to confirm that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger.

"(Note: If Rich does find any factual errors in my book, they are the fault of British Intelligence. For example, on page 253 of Lies I claim that Sean Hannity lived up Newt Gingrich's ass from 1994 to 1998. I got that from British Intelligence. It turns out that Sean didn't take residence up Newt's ass until early '95.)

"So, who's the lying liar, my friends? We'll find out soon. Rich hopes before Christmas, so he can be sucked into my tailwind and ride the holiday buying spree..."

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Read more of "Right Hook," Salon's weekly roundup of conservative commentary and analysis here.

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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2004 Elections Gay Marriage Iraq Lgbt Middle East