What’s in a Word: Wal-Mart and the New Jersey Supreme Court

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By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.


Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party used the Bible and their perversion of Christianity to promote bigotry, discrimination and hatred of Jews, gypsies, the physically and mentally impaired and, of course, homosexuals. The Klu Klux Klan still uses the Bible and their perversion of Christianity to promote bigotry, discrimination and hatred of Blacks, Jews and, of course, homosexuals.


The American Family Association constantly uses the Bible and their perversion of Christianity to promote bigotry, discrimination and hatred, but they have a more focused target: homosexuals and any group or company that supports the social recognition or legal equality of gay and lesbian Americans, such as the dastardly “pro-homosexual” Wal-Mart chain.


Don Wildmon’s American Family Association – which is dedicated to demeaning, denigrating and, if possible, destroying gay and lesbian Americans and their families – has 

called on Christian consumers to spend their dollars elsewhere as a sign of their displeasure with Wal-Mart’s pro-homosexual leanings, says the nation’s largest retailer is not just working with the homosexual agenda of the NGLCC [National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce], it is promoting it. As proof, AFA offers up examples of books available for purchase through Wal-Mart’s online bookstore – books the pro-family group contends support or defend homosexuality.

In an “Action Alert” to its supporters on Monday (October 23), AFA identifies several book titles available through Walmart.com that it says relate to the promotion of homosexual marriage – among them are: What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage; Legalizing Gay Marriage; Gay Marriage and Democracy: Equality for All; Defending Same-Sex Marriage; and Gay Marriage, Real Life: Ten Stories of Love and Family.

In addition, AFA states it found (via a search function at Walmart.com) more than 1,100 items for sale when the term “gay” was entered, almost 500 in response to the term “lesbian” …

How very appropriate AFA offered up “examples of books.” Hitler’s NSGWP also found books threatening, so threatening that they had to burn them.

And then there are the words. NSGWP used the word “Jew” the same way the KKK uses the word “nigger,” which is the same way the AFA views the words “gay” and “lesbian.”

Randy Sharp, AFA’s “director of special projects” and point-man in their Wal-Mart campaign, claimed “There’s no question that Wal-Mart is supporting homosexuality … They’re supporting the homosexual agenda, whose number-one directive is to bring same-sex marriage to America.”

Wrong, Mr. Sharp. But what can one expect from a scared bigot trying to frighten “the flock”?

Same-sex marriage is the hot-button issue the AFA and kindred Christian Right groups – along with their Republican sycophants – like to use as a scare tactic. Before playing the homophobic card yet again, perhaps Mr. Sharp should have reviewed the prioritizing in Rep. Barney Frank’s rendering of the so-called “homosexual agenda” at the 2004 Democratic National Convention:

Specifically, we want all people in the United States to enjoy the same legal rights as everyone else, unless they have forfeited them by violating the rights of others. We believe this should include some things that are, apparently, very controversial.

They include the right to serve, fight, and even die on behalf of our country in the military; the right to earn a living by working hard and being judged wholly on the quality of our work; the right for teenagers to attend high school without being shoved, punched, or otherwise attacked; and, yes, the right to express not only love for another person but a willingness to be legally as well as morally responsible for his or her well-being.

Even if he had, it probably wouldn’t have made any difference. The AFA’s goal is to damn and disenfranchise gay and lesbian Americans and their families in any way possible.

Sharp and the AFA would certainly not agree with Anglican priest Jo Mdhlela that “Jesus supports gay rights.” That would really screw-up their “faith-based” campaign of hate and expose their perversion of Christianity for political and economic gain. After all, they have to keep the flock obedient and their donations flowing in. That’s exactly how the Christian Right and the GOP are using the unanimous decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court that the state constitution requires equality for all citizens and couples:

There is no rational basis for, on the one hand, giving gays and lesbians full civil rights in their status as individuals, and, on the other, giving them an incomplete set of rights when they follow the inclination of their sexual orientation and enter into committed same-sex relationships. …

Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state constitution. …

Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.

As The Philadelphia Inquirer noted in an October 27, 2006 editorial, “Moreover, the current unequal treatment disadvantages the children of same-sex couples. That’s wrong.”

Needless to say, in the days after the court’s decision the headlines on Christian Right “pro-family” websites sought to stampede the flock to the voting booths and have them send money before they go.

This from fanatic homophobe Lou Sheldon and his Traditional Values Coalition:


Underscores Urgency of a U.S. Constitutional Amendment

Help TVC Fight this Judicial Activism by Far Left Extremist Judges. Congress needs to enact an amendment which defines marriage and consequently bans homosexual “marriages” of every form.

Go Here and Pledge your Support!

Help us Stop Extremist Left Wing Judges from telling us what laws we need to create, and subverting the will of the voters.

And this from James Dobson’s anti-gay, out of Focus on the Family organization and its affiliates:

New Jersey Affirms Same-Sex Marriage by Steve Jordahl

The New Jersey High Court ruled “same sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite sex couples.” …

“The rest of the country is going to have to sit up and take notice that marriage is vulnerable, and until we get both state marriage amendments and a federal marriage amendment, marriage will remain vulnerable.”

That effort was defeated in congress this year. Perhaps the new ruling will serve as a clarion call for them as well.

Support this effort to promote the family in the public policy arena.

Obviously, the families they wish to promote “in the public policy arena” do not include the children in those American families headed by same-sex parents.

With his usual flare for ridiculous hyperbole and asinine assertions,

Dobson is also convinced that a specific objective is lurking behind Wednesday’s decision. “Nothing less than the future of the American family hangs in the balance if we allow one-man, one-woman marriage to be redefined out of existence,” he says in a press release. “And make no mistake – that is precisely the outcome the New Jersey Supreme Court is aiming for with this decision.” [italics added]

“The future of the American family hangs in the balance.” Does Dobson really believe that if gay and lesbian Americans are given equal rights heterosexuals will stop marrying and forming families? What he clearly does believe is that the children of gay and lesbian Americans don’t count and are not part of “American famil[ies].”

None of this vitriol was unexpected. After all, in his book Marriage Under Fire Dobson claimed that allowing gay and lesbian Americans to enter into the civil union called “marriage” would bring about the end of the world: “the world may soon become ‘as it was in the days of Noah.’”

Andrea Lafferty, the executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition and Lou Sheldon’s daughter, made complementary nonsensical claims and echoed the theo-political call-to-action:

Of course, the worst gamble is being made by those who plan to stay home this November and leave the fate of this and other important issues to others who cast their votes. Republicans, Democrats or Vegetarians, it doesn’t matter – religious conservatives should vote for people who support traditional marriage and vote against anybody who doesn’t.

A lot of these courts have become liberal lobbying machines which create laws and precedents where legislatures and voters have taken the opposite position. Find out how candidates come down on this issue and vote in November.

If pro-marriage people stay home, the liberals win. [italics and link added]

For Lafferty and the Christian Right, all things – political and otherwise – must be their way, as fellow demagogue Randall Terry so eloquently expressed:

I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.

“Pro-marriage people”? Bigotry and blindness go together. Perhaps that’s why Lafferty missed the fact that the New Jersey case was initiated by pro-marriage same-sex couples who wanted to affirm the institution of marriage by getting married.

The New Jersey decision came at an opportune time for Rovean GOP strategists in light of the recent disclosure that they were simply using the Christian Right (which willingly prostituted itself) and the fact that “Experts [say] Republican Party Losing Hold on Christian Conservative Base.” Not surprisingly, the uniter-turned-divider George W. Bush was among the first to use the New Jersey decision to sing the same old divisive song to the Christian Right’s “values voters” the GOP has been pimping.

As an October 28, 2006 editorial in The New York Times noted, “Having apparently lost all hope that he can use terrorism to scare voters into electing Republicans this November, the president has now begun raising the threat of gay marriage. The moment the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a ruling on the subject this week, Mr. Bush began using every possible excuse to bring up ‘activist’ judges and gay weddings on the campaign trail.” This Tony Auth cartoon says it all.

Bush’s and the GOP’s retreat into homophobia began in Iowa:

President Bush criticized the New Jersey Supreme Court today [October 26, 2006] for ordering the state Legislature to grant homosexual couples the same rights as married couples – either by passing a law legalizing same-sex marriage or by creating civil unions.

“We believe in family values. We believe values are important,” Bush said during a speech in Des Moines, Iowa. "And we believe marriage is a fundamental institution of civilization.

“Yesterday in New Jersey, we had another activist court issue a ruling that raises doubts about the institution of marriage. I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, and I believe it's a sacred institution that is critical to the health of our society and the well-being of families, and it must be defended.”

Bush had not been asked about the court’s decision but, as The New York Times reported, “took pains to insert a reference into his stump speech” for Republican House candidate Jeff Lamberti. Obviously, Mr. Bush’s version of “family values” do not value or include those of gay and lesbian Americans and their children.

The venom was soon heard in a GOP candidate’s ad in Indiana:

An embattled Indiana congressman has launched a new campaign ad that warns a vote for his Democratic opponent could trigger a shift in House leadership and advance a “homosexual agenda.”

In the one-minute radio ad paid for by Friends of Rep. John Hostettler, an announcer impersonating Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” character says a vote for challenger Brad Ellsworth would be a vote for California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.

“Pelosi will then put in motion her radical plan to advance the homosexual agenda, led by Barney Frank, reprimanded by the House after paying for sex with a man who ran a gay brothel out of Congressman Frank’s home,” the narrator says.

While more rational voices made more rational assessments of the New Jersey decision –

Nathaniel Persily, who teaches law and political science at the University of Pennsylvania and was a co-author of a recent paper titled “Gay Marriage, Public Opinion and the Courts,” praised the justices for “an incredibly smart and politically astute opinion.”

“The court has placed itself exactly where a majority of the American people are,” Professor Persily said. “A majority of Americans are in favor of equal rights for gays tantamount to marriage, but a majority is also against calling that relationship marriage.”

At the same time, he added: “This must be seen as a win for gay rights. They did not get the name they want, but they are getting more rights than could have been imaginable just a few years ago. Who would have thought 50, 20, even 10 years ago that a unanimous state supreme court would have said that gay relationships are entitled to equal rights as heterosexual relationships?”

– there’s a familiar and dangerous aspect to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s “equality” decision, as John Cloud pointed out in his October 25, 2006 Time article:

A Separate But Equal Ruling for Gay Marriage

While the New Jersey court pats itself on the back for advancing the civil rights of gays and lesbians, let’s pause for a moment to note what gays and lesbians have not won: actual equality

The Supreme Court of New Jersey has ruled in favor of gay marriage, sort of. By a vote of 4 to 3, the court says the state must afford gay couples all the “rights and benefits” that straight couples have under the law. But the majority punted on the question of what to call gay marriages. If it doesn’t want to call them marriages, the legislature is free to come up with a term of its choosing for committed gay relationships.

In other words, the court is fine with a nomenclature under which some marriages would be separate – but equal. In a sentence that will seem silly – and unjust – in 20 years, the court says this explicitly: “We will not presume that a separate statutory scheme, which uses a title other than marriage, contravenes equal protection principles, so long as the rights and benefits of civil marriage are made equally available to same-sex couples.” The Plessy court couldn’t have said it better: separate railway cars for blacks are fine, as long as they are just as nice as the ones for whites. Don’t bother about that curtain between the black and white cars. “Marriages,” “civil unions,” “two guys shacking up with a lot of All-Clad cookware” – does the term really matter? [link added]

It does.

It does indeed, and especially in deeds.

“Separate but equal” didn’t work with racial segregation. It didn’t work with previous marital segregation –Loving v. Virginia – and it’s not going to work now. “Equal” must mean equal, or it means nothing at all.


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