This morning, I got email from Robert Broadus at Protect Marriage Maryland, an organization formed to oppose gay marriage in Maryland (and also the repeal of DADT, DOMA, and generally stand in the way of social progress), about the Maryland bill to legalize gay marriage (which recently passed both houses, but hasn’t been signed by the governor yet):

It is important to understand that re-defining marriage is not about “equality,” “civil rights,” or even the word, “marriage,” as homosexuals in Maryland already have domestic partnership benefits, and have intentionally rejected civil unions at every opportunity.  Instead, re-defining marriage represents the hope of “acceptance” for their godless lifestyles, imposed on the rest of society via the government and the force of law.

(emphasis added)

Could Broadus make it any more plain that he’s a bigot, and that that’s his main reason for opposing marriage rights for gays? (And, not incidentally, that he thinks this approach is a good way to raise money for his cause.)

One reason why this matters is that animus played an important part in the Proposition 8 trial: basically, the Supreme Court decided that you can’t just pass laws against people because you don’t like them; that legislation has to provide an actual benefit or solve a real problem.

Indeed, in the Prop 8 ruling, judge Walker wrote:

In the absence of a rational basis, what remains of proponents’ case is an inference, amply supported by evidence in the record, that Proposition 8 was premised on the belief that same-sex couples simply are not as good as opposite-sex couples.FF 78-80. Whether that belief is based on moral disapproval of homosexuality, animus towards gays and lesbians or simply a belief that a relationship between a man and a woman is inherently better than a relationship between two men or two women, this belief is not a proper basis on which to legislate.

Proponents’ purported rationales are nothing more than post-hoc justifications. […] What is left is evidence that Proposition 8 enacts a moral view that there is something “wrong” with same-sex couples.

Yes, I realize that Maryland is not California. But to the extent that they’re similar, if there’s an anti-gay-marriage referendum in Maryland, and it passes, and it gets challenged in court, then Broadus is laying the foundation for an animus charge.

I would have thought he’d be more subtle about it, though.

Floristgate: How Petty Can You Get?

Cranston High School prayer mural
Quick recap for those who don’t visit the atheosphere much, or who have been living under a rock: Cranston High School West in Cranston, Rhode Island used to have a mural with a “School Prayer”. Jessica Ahlquist, a student at the school, tried to have it removed on the grounds of it being blatantly unconstitutional, and eventually had to sue. And she won.

Naturally, the good Christians of Rhode Island realized that religion is a private matter that shouldn’t be pushed in public schools, and accepted the ruling graciously. Ha ha! Just kidding! Actually, they inundated her with insults and threats of bodily violence.

To date, I’ve only seen two responses from Christians condemning their coreligionists’ behavior:

(Sorry, the Washington Post’s comment system doesn’t allow linking to individual comments.)

If there are more, I’d like to hear about them. But so far, the moderate Christian community is endorsing these bullies by its silence.

And then it gets pettier: Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation wanted to send Ahlquist a dozen roses to thank her for her courage. She with her local florist, who then forwarded the order to a local florist in Rhode Island. Three florists in Cranston, RI, turned the order down. One included a
note saying “I will not deliver to this person”. (They eventually got a shop from Putnam, CT, to deliver the flowers from out of state.)

At first glance, this looks like plain old bigotry, no different from hanging a sign in a store window saying “whites only”. But NBC 10 in Providence reports

Raymond Santilli of Flowers by Santilli in Cranston said someone from the foundation told him the delivery person might need police protection and show identification to gain access to the home.

“We refused the order because we really don’t want to cross lines,” he said.

Santilli said he had personal feelings about the issue and because it’s his shop, he can choose to deliver or not to deliver flowers to whomever he wants.

If I send flowers there, somebody may get upset with us and retaliate against us,” he said.

(emphasis added.)

So either this florist is a bigot or a liar, which doesn’t speak well him and, to the extent that he represents the people of Rhode Island, doesn’t speak well for Rhode Islanders in general; or else he has justified concerns for his safety if he is seen to do business with (hushed tones) atheists, which doesn’t speak well for Rhode Islanders either.

And then there’s the Facebook page I Stand With The Cranston Florists (which I thought was publicly-visible this morning, but now appears to have reverted to the default Facebook visibility setting of “fuck you if you’re not in the Collective”), which appears to be the work of radio personality John DePetro, who has, from what I’ve seen, consistently taken the anti-constitution side of the argument.

But the thing is, this sort of thing isn’t rare. I wish I had a genuine moment of “Whoa! What the hell just happened?” surprise at the Christian reaction. But I didn’t. The most surprising thing here is that this happened in Rhode Island rather than a Bible belt state like Alabama. I wish I could believe the usual excuses that “these are just a few bad apples” or “they’re not True Scotsmen Christians™“. But we’ve seen this happen all too often whenever the majority is reminded that they’ve overstepped their bounds.

Update, Jan. 24: The Rhode Island Council of Churches has announced a press conference to call for tolerance and civility, to support Ahlquist’s right to challenge the banner, and condemn the insults and bullying aimed her way (via Hemant Mehta).