Daines and Zinke Join Reactionary GOP Caucus to Oppose Same Sex Marriage

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In other news that seems to have escaped the notice of the Montana press, Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Ryan Zinke recently signed on to an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, affirming their position that the Court should enshrine bigotry in the law and not permit same-sex marriage across the country.

While couched in language that suggests the issue of same-sex marriage is somehow different from the issue of inter-racial marriage until the 1960s, the arguments are the same. In between appeals to let the states decide fundamental questions of human decency and civil rights, the document argues that the Court just needs to slow down and let democracy do its work—at the state level. Kneeling before the god of federalism, the authors of the brief argue that “federalism and the separation of powers exist to preserve liberty,” despite explicitly using their conception of federalism to deny the freedom to marry to a class of people they don’t approve it.

In a telling section defending the rights of states not to recognize marriages from other jurisdictions, the brief hints at the old conservative argument that permitting same-sex marriage will require permitting other relationships, euphemistically referring to “other persons in personal relationships—including those whose cultures or religions may favor committed relationships long disfavored in American law.” Not sure this dog whistle reference will be sufficient for conservative culture warriors, the document spells out what it fears: cousins marrying cousins, polygamy, and marriages of those under the legal age of consent. Rick Santorum would have been proud of that reasoning.

It even approvingly cites decisions from the 1880s-1950s that allowed states to restrict marriage after a divorce (pg.29-30).

Barton Hinkle, writing for Reason, argues that the arguments made against same-sex marriage today echo those from the 1960s:

During debate over Virginia’s amendment, Republican Del. Bob Marshall decried “attempts to radically alter an institution that must antedate history. And this has come about by social engineering judges in Massachusetts, Vermont, and elsewhere.”

Arguments like that ring with historical echoes. “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents,” decreed Leon Bazile, the judge who convicted Mildred and Richard Loving. “And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages.” God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

And that’s exactly what the amicus brief Zinke and Daines argues, too: because the public opposes same-sex marriage in many states, because marriage is an enduring institution defined by one religion, and because states’ rights trump civil rights, the Court should not follow the Loving precedent and permit anyone who wants to marry the person he/she loves to do so.

Aside from the spurious reasoning in the brief, what’s truly telling is just how few members of the Congress signed on: only six Senators and 51 members of the House wanted to support this argument, among them some of the most odious bigots in the body. I don’t know how some Montana editorial boards convinced themselves to write that Senator Daines or Congressman Zinke were moderates back in October and November, but this brief, and this company—shred the idea that either man is even close to moderate.

In the end, it’s always worth reading what Mildred Loving had to say in 2007, on the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia:

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others, especially if it denies people’s civil rights.”

Same sex marriage isn’t the end of the fight, and I know there are thoughtful members of the LGBT community who argue that the focus on marriage obscures the real fight for equality and authentic identity in this country, but it’s an important start. That two of Montana’s members of Congress are still relying on the language of 1960s segregationists to deny equal marriage rights is an important sign that they are opponents of equality and opponents of a good number of people they should represent.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

26 Comments

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  • We just need to government out of the marriage business. Churches then can decide whom to marry. Now the equal protection clause should kick in to allow same sex marriage.

  • Like Senator Strom Thurmond, who was heavily opposed to the civil rights movement and pro-segregation, Senator Daines and Representative Zinke will one day admit they were on the wrong side of history.

  • Now this is truly sad news indeed. One of my favorite authors and one of my favorite Montanans has passed. He will be greatly missed.
    http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2015/04/09/acclaimed-author-ivan-doig-dies/25525591/
    Timmy babcock was a venal shytbag. Ivan Doig was a giant!
    RIP, Ivan, in that big house of sky up yonder! Let’em know about the two lazy too pee brand, and what a pig fucker is! OOPS! That should read, and then I fucked the pig!
    Montana is a lesser place without you to round out and portray us as we are!

    • Ivan understood full well what Stegner was saying, for he lived it. In it.

      The Quiet Revolutionary

      THE WILDERNESS LETTER From “Coda: Wilderness Letter,” copyright by Wallace Stegner, 1960.

      Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste. And so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, brother to the animals, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it. Without any remaining wilderness we are committed wholly, without chance for even momentary reflection and rest, to a headlong drive into our technological termite-life, the Brave New World of a completely man-controlled environment. We need wilderness preserved– as much of it as is still left, and as many kinds– because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in it. It is good for us when we are young, because of the incomparable sanity it can bring briefly, as vacation and rest, into our insane lives. It is important to us when we are old simple because it is there–important, that is, simply as idea.

  • I have been warning about the inbred fundiwackmentalists coming to Montana for a long time now. Now, maybe people will start to heed and believe what I have been saying. They are scary, scary un-American folks. I know them well. They ARE a force to be reckoned with. But it still surprises me that they were able to gain such a foothold in our beloved Montana. Montana people should be smarter than this. But unfortunately, a good portion of these inbreds, like Giantefart himself, are from outta state. And they view Montana as a ripe place to create their bizarre notion of a kristyeean theocracy! Wake UP, people. Fight back if you love your state! Evil wrapped in krityeeinsanity is still evil!
    !

  • Your entire line of reasoning is a red herring. Marriage is not about individuals, and their genetic make up or personal preferences, but it is a public relationship. Their is an obvious difference between same sex and opposite sex relationships. One is normally fertile, the other completely sterile. By equating the two relationships you not only are comparing apples to oranges, but disregarding the promulgation of the next generation and the future of the race.

    Doesn’t anyone even care about the effects on children whose parent suddenly decides to exclude their heterosexual relationship the other parent, and start a new relationship with someone of the same sex? Do they have any rights? If so what are they?

    • Tim, a few counterpoints: I’m having a hard time finding those herrings in Don’s post and a harder time comprehending your sentence: “Marriage is not about individuals, and their genetic make up or personal preferences, but it is a public relationship.” My marriage has nothing to do with “public relationship” and everything to do with us as individuals, but you are right: it should not be about “genetic make up.” And the whole purpose of marriage is to procreate? You’re worried we aren’t producing enough human beings (seven billion and counting)? Also, there is no evidence that kids growing up with same-sex parents have any more difficulties than those growing up with heterosexual parents. It’s all about love and nurturing, net gender.

  • To declare yourself married, and then seek to be treated as a married couple is a matter of law and public record. The public nature of marriage helps to keep couples faithful to each other, and protects the stability of the family.

    I am not claiming that the whole purpose of marriage is to procreate, but the natural joining of egg and sperm to produce life is an immensely important factor of what marriage means. Changing the definition of the word marriage in all the laws of the land will have consequences every marriage. I am particularly concerned over the consequences for the the lawful connection between children and their parents.

    As far as what is good for the children let’s let them have their say:

    http://thefederalist.com/2015/04/21/the-kids-are-not-alright-a-lesbians-daughter-speaks-out/

  • Sorry, Reverend, but the “law and public record” have absolutely nothing to do with me being faithful or protecting the stability of my family. It’s a moral compass thing with me and most everyone I know.

    A quick aside: I was fortunate enough to attend the wedding of two gay friends this past winter. They’ve been together for 36 years and now that they can legally marry, they did. I’m sure that their commitment to each other has very little to do with “the public nature of marriage.” I think the main reason they got married was to celebrate their life together with family and friends in attendance. (It was a great party, too.)

    The Federalist isn’t the most objective source to be quoting but, yes, this woman seems to have some issues with her lesbian parents. And I imagine that being raised by two women in an intolerant time and place was difficult on the child. Thank God, things are changing (no thanks to you). And of course, there are no children of heterosexual couples who have issues with their parents.

  • I think you keep sidelining my point, and looping back to the red herring. Please answer, yes or no. The procreative nature of marriage has bearing and significance in its definition.

  • Thanks for a forthright answer. I believe it is fundamentally significant, and to deny it is a very radical change in definition. It is after all part of our biology. It is the way things are. It needs to be part of our dialog for shaping our marriage laws, and definitions of marriage as the safe cradle of life.

    • Come out, come out where EVER you are, tiny tim! Time to come OUTTA that big ol’ xtian closet your hidin’ in, dude! Here’s a xtian feller that will pray away your gay! Us libs, we
      got your back, dude. Figuratively of course. But HEY, this dude
      got your back, front, and all thingies in between too! YOUZA! I see a corndog in your future! I’m sure you like that sorta thing when none of your flock of flockers is lookin’!’
      http://thecolu.mn/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/marcus-bachmann-corn-dog1.png

  • I suppose in an earlier era, procreation was a big part of marriage. Now that we don’t need large families to advance us economically or socially, and we have over seven billion of our species on the planet, it’s not that big a deal.

    • DOH! Yes, st. timothy. God gave us all special gifts. He gave you gaydar! (as your special gift) And you’re gonna use it to save the world from homos! What a saintly man you are! Let the beatification begin! You’re a funny little fella. Sumthin’ REAL wrong with a dude who sees himself as the great white homo hunter! Get a life!

      • Tiny tim, shouldn’t you be down in Palm Springs? The festivities are about to begin! Or are you hosting your own Lemon Party for the Lawyard down there in Helena? HEY, there’s more than one way to bring folks to Jeezus!
        http://www.circuitnoize.com/index.php/event/white_party_palm_springs
        God we lead sheltered lives here in Montana. A friend just inherited a large sum of money, so they bought a house in Palm Springs. My wife went down to visit and discovered that the annual “white party” is about to begin. If you have to ask what that is, you may be from Montana! But I’m quite sure that the good Revrearend Tiny Tim knows, for his gaydar is always out! Right, timmy?
        Likewise, I had never heard of a so called “lemon party” until some young folks explained it to me. It’s GOOD to be from Montana! It’s still country for old men. Modernity and “progress” have yet to catch up to us here.

    • An interesting read, HighPoint. CUT is a distant memory but was quite active in Montana in the ’90s. As a counterpoint to the Reverend’s comments, I’ll bet most gay parents wouldn’t force their kids to live in bomb shelters.

      There was another interesting fact near the bottom of the story. The Park County Attorney at that time sided with the church and not the kids. His name: Nels Swandel, a current Montana State Senator (R-Wilsall).

    • Giantefart’s people. His base. THESE are the folks who want’a be on your school board! Like that idiot babs going here in GF who’s running as a write in candidate! Strange, strange folks!

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