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Conservative Backlash Follows US Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Decision

The 5-4 ruling in favor for same-sex marriage sparked an outcry from some members of the GOP and conservative leaders who claim that religious beliefs are under attack.
Photo by Shawn Thew/EPA

As landmarks and businesses across the country were emblazoned in rainbows celebrating the historic Supreme Court ruling last Friday that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, some conservatives began plotting their backlash.

The 5-4 ruling in favor for same-sex marriage sparked an outcry from some members of the GOP and conservative leaders who claim that religious beliefs are under attack.


Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas described the stretch from Thursday to Friday, which included a Supreme Court ruling favorable to President Obama's Affordable Care Act, as "some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation's history."

Cruz said that the rulings on Obamacare, as the ACA is popularly known, and against state bans on same-sex marriage constituted "naked and shameless judicial activism" that has "undermined the fundamental legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court."

Related: US Supreme Court Ruling Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage Nationwide

He also announced a plan to introduce a constitutional amendment that would subject "lawless" Supreme Court justices to intermittent re-election.

In order to provide the people themselves with a constitutional remedy to the problem of judicial activism and the means for throwing off judicial tyrants, I am proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would subject the justices of the Supreme Court to periodic judicial-retention elections," Cruz wrote in the National Review. "Every justice, beginning with the second national election after his or her appointment, will answer to the American people and the states in a retention election every eight years. Those justices deemed unfit for retention by both a majority of the American people as a whole and by majorities of the electorates in at least half of the 50 states will be removed from office and disqualified from future service on the Court."


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to soon declare his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, also slammed the ruling and called for the passage of a constitutional amendment that would allow states to define marriage.

Walker urged Obama and political leaders across the country "to join me in in reassuring millions of Americans that the government will not force them to participate in activities that violate their deeply held religious beliefs."

Related: Tears, Laughter, and Triumph for a Lesbian Couple in the Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Case

Following Friday's decision, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's campaign posted a video of his infant grandson that compares his soiled diapers to the recent rulings. Huckabee released a statement calling the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage "judicial tyranny."

"I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch," he said. "The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature's God on marriage than it can the law of gravity."

Huckabee also suggested that Christians will resist the court's decision with widespread civil disobedience, comparing the effort to Dr. Martin Luther King's fight against racial discrimination.

"They will go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay the letters from a Birmingham jail reminded us, based on what St. Augustine said, that an unjust law is no law at all," he said. "And I do think that we're going to see a lot of pastors who will have to make this tough decision."


This irrational, unconstitutional decision threatens religious liberty - the heart of 1st Amendt. Congress must act. — Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee)June 27, 2015

Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator of Pennsylvania who is running for the presidency, also struggled to come to terms with the ruling.

"What this court said is that anybody who does not toe the line is going to be viewed the same way as someone who doesn't support other civil rights, which is you will be a bigot," he told the Washington Examiner. "Every institution that stands by any type of biblical world view is going to have to deal with the reality that the government is going to tell you that you can no longer believe this and get any accommodation from the government."

"We're losing," he added, "because we're not trying to win."

RT if you believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman. — Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum)June 26, 2015

RT if you agree that 5 unelected judges cannot change the 5,000 year old foundation of society — Rick Santorum (@RickSantorum)June 27, 2015

Jeb Bush, former Republican governor of Florida, and the Sunshine State's junior Republican Sen. Marco Rubio both took more measured approaches, coming short of calling for constitutional amendments, but they upheld the value of "traditional marriage."

"I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision," Bush said. "In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate."


Rubio echoed this relatively moderate spirit.

"While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law," Rubio declared. "A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court's decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other."

Campaign watchdogs had earlier speculated that Bush might possibly emerge as the first serious pro-gay Republican candidate after he appointed a number of Republican advocates for gay rights to his inner advisory circle.

In some states, political leaders have suggested that Friday's historic ruling could be circumvented or obstructed, at least for a time.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement on Friday underscoring the government's "constitutional duty" to protect the religious liberty of Texans. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on Sunday that county clerks could deny same-sex couples marriage licenses. They will probably be sued for doing so, he said, but noted that "numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs."

Officials in Louisiana and Mississippi initially argued that the Supreme Court's decision would not be effective in their states until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on another gay marriage case, which it had deferred to wait for the Supreme Court's judgment. But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal indicated that his state would eventually comply with the ruling, and on Monday it was reported that his state had issued its first marriage license to a same-sex couple after local attorneys determined that there was no reason for a delay. In Mississippi, the state attorney general also issued a letter on Monday informing clerks that they could issue such licenses.

In Alabama, two counties have flatly refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone, and Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has made no secret of his resistance to gay marriage.

In Tennessee, two state legislators are working on a bill that would protect religious clergy who refuse to perform same-sex marriages, while a lawmaker in Utah is reportedly preparing legislation that would end the issuing of marriage licenses by the state,

Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said that the Supreme Court's decision heralds "a time of deep, spiritual darkness." Mississippi talk radio host Bryan Fischer posted an opinion piece on the American Family Association website with theheadline: "Rainbow Jihadists of SCOTUS Blow Up Twin Towers of Truth and Righteousness."

"From a moral standpoint, 6/26 has become our 9/11," he wrote.