- - Monday, October 6, 2014

With the 35-year marriage between Christians and the Republican Party already on the rocks, a U.S. Supreme Court with a majority of Republican appointees just put the religious liberty of every believer in the GOP base in unprecedented peril.

The GOP was already struggling to maintain the loyalty of its conservative base, and one of its last, best talking points was the importance of judicial appointments. Now that talking point has also been blown to smithereens. The John Roberts court gave us Obamacare, the narrowest wording possible when siding in favor of Hobby Lobby, got rid of the Defense of Marriage Act, and, on Monday, opened the floodgates for an onslaught against the First Amendment.

By deciding not to intervene in the fight it started last year, (in a divisive 5-4 ruling that Justice Antonin Scalia chastised for its “jaw-dropping assertion of judicial supremacy”) the Supremes gave the green-light to a full-blown constitutional crisis, the likes of which threatens to tear the GOP apart at the seams.

There are two reasons — one constitutional and the other political — why this has the potential to be far more explosive than even Roe v. Wade:

Constitutionally speaking, redefining marriage and morality has already proven it will also include redefining free speech, religious liberty, and private property rights as we’ve known them since the dawn of the republic. Already this year, we’re seeing an unprecedented assault on these cherished traditions by the same people who promised us the new “tolerance” wouldn’t cost anybody else their rights. The examples are legion and would require a whole separate column to chronicle. They even include a military court martial for those who believe in marriage as we’ve always known it.

One of the worst examples is what’s happening now to Robert and Cynthia Gifford, a Catholic couple in New York who are facing a $13,000 fine for refusing to rent their own home to lesbians for their “wedding.”

With few exceptions, disagreement on the sanctity of life hasn’t cost someone their livelihood or their home the way disagreement on marriage and morality has already shown it will. That’s because what’s behind this movement isn’t really tolerance, but intolerantly using the coercive force of government to make you abandon your own moral conscience. Just ask the Giffords in New York.

Understand that what’s driving this movement isn’t equality, but validation. The kind of ultimate validation the “new tolerance” cannot get from the God from whom they are sadly estranged. So the “new tolerance” wants validation from the second-most powerful force on earth instead — government.

And if you will not validate them, then you will be made to care.

Politically, this issue could be the final undoing of the Reagan Coalition that transformed electoral landscape a generation ago. Prior to Roe v. Wade, Catholics rarely voted Republican, and evangelicals rarely voted at all. Catholics were mostly Democrats, and evangelicals were waiting to be raptured away. But once baby-killing was sanctioned by the judicial branch, and the other two branches of government rolled over and played dead as well, that mobilized long-at-odds Catholics and evangelicals to come together to form the Moral Majority. That’s what allowed Reagan and the Republicans to have their governing majority.

However, while that culture war resurrected the Republican Party, this one threatens to crucify it. Reagan welcomed the flock into his herd, but the elites in charge of today’s GOP have let it be known they want no part of this battle (or any other, for that matter).

To wit:

One of the key legal advisers to the anti-marriage crowd is President George W. Bush’s former solicitor general. John McCain’s 2008 national campaign manager is working with the ACLU to squash state marriage laws. The last two GOP presidential nominees, Mr. McCain and Mitt Romney, both urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto legislation that would’ve reaffirmed the First Amendment in her state earlier this year.

Of course, right on cue, a GOP establishment best known for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory jumps on a bandwagon just as it’s losing steam.

As Michael Medved recently noted, the latest figures from Pew Research show the so-called “gay marriage tidal wave” we’ve been told was forthcoming is barely a trickle-down-zeitgeist. Support for redefining marriage has dropped five points this year, and a majority of Americans — including 77 percent of black Protestants and 82 percent of white evangelicals — agreed with the statement “homosexual behavior is a sin.”

White evangelicals, by the way, remain the largest demographic of the GOP base. It’s quite possible John Kerry would’ve been elected president in 2004, without the marriage amendment on the ballot in the key battleground state of Ohio driving up their turnout. In that same election, the Michigan Marriage Amendment got almost 300,000 more votes than George W. Bush did. Proposition 8 defending marriage in California got more statewide votes there in 2008, a huge Democrat year, than any Republican has ever received statewide. Marriage did better than Mitt Romney in all four states they shared the same ballot in 2012. In North Carolina, 61 percent voted for marriage, just four months before the Democrats showed up in Charlotte for their national convention.

Yet here we are, the base that rescued the GOP from its post-Watergate funk, remembering all the times post-Reagan we plugged our noses, ignored the GOP establishment’s foul stench, and pulled the “R” lever on Election Day nonetheless. In our time of great need, how are we repaid?

With scorn, contempt, and abandonment. Just look at this Monday headline from The Daily Caller: “The GOP’s Plan B: Throw Social Conservatives Under the Bus.”

Who knows? Maybe all those illegal aliens the GOP establishment wants to grant amnesty to will happily take our place. And maybe I’d look good in a thong.

Ironically, the issue most Republicans would love to run away from will be a front-and-center vetting tool in the looming 2016 GOP presidential primary, which is slated to start on Nov. 5. The old talking points aren’t going to cut it, either.

We can’t “let the states decide” the issue when the courts won’t allow the states to decide the issue. And we can’t wait to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment while our religious liberty is being threatened right now. Not to mention the courts have already shown a blatant disregard for the Second Amendment and most of the Bill of Rights as it is. So I fail to see why they’d suddenly submit to this new amendment.

Most of the states that are traditionally pivotal in the early GOP primary calendar have passed marriage amendments — South Carolina, Nevada, Michigan, and Florida. My home state of Iowa historically fired three state supreme court justices who thought they could redefine marriage. Thus, everyone is going to be forced to go on the record on this issue, once and for all. And when it comes to protecting our God-given rights, that’s a pass-fail exercise.

The Christian family business owner doesn’t care that the Republican will cut their taxes when they’re too busy paying hefty fines and legal fees just for being a Christian.

(Steve Deace is a nationally-syndicated talk show host and the author of “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can like him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)

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