Gay marriage opponents gear up for Supreme Court rulings, possible constitutional challenge

Conservative groups are preparing for all possible outcomes in the two high court cases on marriage equality

By Katie McDonough

Published June 23, 2013 3:02PM (EDT)

                     (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
(AP/Carolyn Kaster)

With the Supreme Court expected to rule on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 within the next week, gay marriage opponents are planning their next steps in their campaign against equal marriage in the United States, including a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

“There’s a sense of anticipation,” Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council (FRC) told NBC News. “It’s likely the decisions will determine the landscape for where we go  from here, so I certainly don’t believe that the debate is going to be over, but the terms of the debate and sort of the lay of the field, will probably be very different at the end. "

National Organization for Marriage (NOM) chairman John Eastman met with FRC to discuss a political and public relations strategy if the court rules to strike down DOMA and Prop 8; though he wouldn't confirm details, he did say that "every possible scenario and outcome and gambit are being considered because this fight is critically important. If the Supreme Court … manufactures a right to same-sex marriage out of the Constitution, then the remedy would be a constitutional amendment."

But Eastman believes the court will rule on the side of gay marriage opponents and uphold the bans in both cases, saying he doesn't think the "Supreme Court’s foolish enough to go there,” because "they recognize what harm they've caused to our body politic when they did something similar to  that in 1973 (Roe v. Wade) and that issue still infects our politics. You can’t run for dogcatcher in this country without that issue being part of the campaign.”

In addition to concocting a political strategy in advance of the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8, NOM and FRC have been discussing how best to reframe their opposition to gay marriage at a time when popular opinion has turned against them and a growing majority of Americans favor extending marriage rights to same-sex couples, as Sprigg told NBC: "One of the points of frustration for me has been that the supporters of same-sex marriage want to portray the opponents of it as motivated  entirely by hostility towards gay and lesbian people as individuals and that’s completely untrue,” he said. “We are concerned about preserving  the institution of marriage and making sure it continues to perform the  important social functions that it has always performed.”

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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