On Monday, NPR highlighted the story of an Ohio gay couple whose marriage has been recognized, at least temporarily, because one of them will soon lose his fight with ALS. Unfortunately, the emotional story of Jim Obergefell and John Arthur’s legal efforts was tainted by the perspective of a hate group, the Family Research Council, as well as the National Organization for Marriage, which has already expressed its opposition to the Ohio ruling.
FRC’s Peter Sprigg chimed in that the couple’s suit is “a sort of bait and switch” to sneak marriage equality into other states, while NOM’s John Eastman suggested that the judge “replaced Ohio’s policy with his own,” implying state law should trump the U.S. Constitution:
SPRIGG: It may be a sort of bait and switch. I think the courts will have to twist themselves into knots, taking the argument that the federal government has to recognize the policy choices of the state and then turning that into precedent for saying that states are not permitted to make their own policy choices to begin with. I don’t see the logic in that. [...]
EASTMAN: The Supreme Court said that the states are supposed to be the primary place where marriage policy is set, and this judge has just replaced Ohio’s policy with his own.
Listen to the full NPR story:
It’s unclear why NPR felt it necessary to include Sprigg and Eastman in the story, and it’s particularly troubling that it neglected to offer any context about their organizations or their beliefs. Peter Sprigg, notably, believes that gay people should either be imprisoned or kicked out of the country and is an outspoken advocate for harmful ex-gay therapy. FRC has been classified as a hate group specifically for promoting such dangerous rhetoric.
A man is dying, but Sprigg and Eastman only care about maintaining anti-gay discrimination. If NPR is going to bother interviewing them, it should hold them accountable for the implications of their beliefs — for couples like Obergefell and Arthur and others — instead of giving them free reign to trivialize the situation. GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project provides helpful background about anti-LGBT pundits to help avoid allowing them to enjoy an unfiltered mainstream platform.
Today, the judge in the case extended the temporary restraining order blocking Ohio’s laws from applying to Arthur’s death certificate for an additional two weeks to ensure the couple is protected as negotiations continue.