The founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition — whose annual conference has become a rite of passage for likely Republican presidential contenders — compared the conservative opposition to same-sex marriage to slavery on Friday. The comments were first reported by Yahoo News’ Chris Moody.
In a speech during a breakout session at the group’s “Road to Majority” conference in Washington, D.C., Ralph Reed explained that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dred Scott, which resolved that slaves were the property of their owners even if they traveled to free states, was instructive for advocates fighting against marriage equality. Following the ruling, Reed argued, many believed the cause of abolition was doomed, but the decision actually energized anti-slavery advocates and they eventually triumphed.
“The battle looked like it was lost, but it really wasn’t,” Reed said. “And that’s kind of like where we are right now. Anybody heard lately that we’re losing the marriage issue? Anybody heard that argument? You notice some similarities? I’m not comparing slavery to same-sex marriage, OK? I’m just pointing out that when you have these fights, what’s interesting is that if you look at same-sex marriage, it’s now legal in 17 states.”
Reed went on to say: “Only six of them, six out of those 17, six out of 50 states, had done it by referendum or by state legislature. In every other case, it was imposed by courts. Just like the courts had to impose Dred Scott. Because they couldn’t do it on the country because the country didn’t agree with it. The country, by the way, doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage.”
Polls show that more than 50 percent of Americans now support marriage equality, including 73 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans. In fact, just this week, the nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination voted to allow its pastors to officiate same-sex weddings in states where it is legal, and passed another overture that could change official church documents to include a more inclusive definition of marriage. Sixty-nine percent of white evangelical Protestants, however, still oppose same-sex marriage, according to a Reuters poll.
Opponents of marriage equality regularly compare their cause to resisting slavery or carrying on the torch of the Civil Rights movement. The effort is part of a strategy to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” by encouraging African Americans to take umbrage when different forms of discrimination are compared.
Likely 2016 presidential contenders Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, and Rand Paul all addressed the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference this weekend.