You wouldn’t know if from the media coverage of the meeting, which carefully trumpeted a premature and manufactured narrative—“Republican Committee Quietly Rejects Anti-Gay Marriage Resolution,” as Time magazine trumpeted on August 5—and has yet to report on the two strong resolutions the RNC members actually passed.
“I was in the room, the outrage about the Supreme Court’s decision and the deep concern about the rapidly multiplying negative consequences for traditional believers was strong and palpable,” Ellen Barrosse, Delaware’s National Committeewoman and Chairman of the RNC’s Conservative Steering Committee, told me. (Ellen is also a board member of American Principles in Action which publishes ThePulse2016.com.) “Rejection of the Supreme Court’s overreach is something that, contrary to the mainstream media narrative, really unites the GOP,” she added.
Citing both Obergefell and the Obamacare decision, the RNC resolution on judicial overreach calls on Congress “to pass appropriate laws to protect rights of conscience” and “insists” that “the next Republican President appoints judges at all Federal levels who are proven to faithfully apply the Constitution strictly. . .”
But most striking was the decision to advocate for a specific legislative proposal to protect religious liberty, the First Amendment Defense Act, which is rapidly becoming the consensus proposal among Republicans for responding to Obergefell.
The FADA resolution relies on the authority of Chief Justice Roberts to confidently point to “the serious religious liberty consequences” of Obergefell, quoting Roberts’ dissent in that case: “Today’s decision . . . creates serious doubts about religious liberty. . . Indeed the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious organizations would be in question if they opposed gay marriage.”
The RNC members’ resolutions cites the “intensifying hatred and intolerance for gay marriage dissenters, with several major Democratic senators considering stripping Christian schools of their tax-exempt status,” as The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack reported on July 8. (The second most powerful Democrat in the Senate, Illinois’ Dick Durbin, when asked if would let religious schools hire teachers who support their faith positions, said “I don’t have a quick answer to you. I’ll have to think about it long and hard.”)
But the resolution goes beyond that to name the “many Americans” including “Melissa Klein, Kelvin Cochran, Baronelle Stutzman, Angela McCaskill, Brendan Eich, Frank Turek, Scott McAdams, Tom Emmer, Jack Phillips, Elaine Huguenin, Betty and Richard Odgaard, Cynthia and Robert Gifford” who “are losing their livelihoods or are being disciplined for courageously dissenting from gay marriage orthodoxy.”
The RNC’s FADA also warns that religious schools, colleges and universities, and other charities may lose their right to “equal access to government benefits, including 501(c)(3) status, student aid, and government contracts,” if no action is taken.
Then the members unanimously resolved, “That the Republican National Committee urges Congress to pass and the President to sign The First Amendment Defense Act to protect the rights of believers to equal treatment by the government of The United States of America.”
Bottom line: If the RNC’s summer meeting is any sign, opposition to gay marriage and its consequences is uniting, not dividing, the core of the national GOP, and the FADA is becoming the first line of defense.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.