The World According to Grover

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Dan Gilgoff’s Q&A with Grover Norquist is worth reading all the way through, but I’d call particular attention to his somewhat tendentious reading of religious right history–and its implications for the present. Norquist alleges:

The religious right did not get started in 1962 with prayer in school. And it didn’t get started in ’73 with Roe v. Wade.
It started in ’77 or ’78 with the Carter administration’s attack on
Christian schools and Christian radio stations [pressing for allegedly
segregated Christian organizations to lose their tax-exempt status].
That’s where all of the organization flowed out of. It was complete

Now that’s the line Randolph Balmer takes in Thy Kingdom Come–at least as far as the Bob Jones case et al. are concerned–but it’s not quite right. Yes, abortion was a late arrival on the family values agenda. But the protest that Anita Bryant led (on which Jerry Falwell cut his political) against a Miami gay rights ordinance took place in 1977 too. It did not fit Norquist’s “self-defense” model for how the social conservatives should behave, but rather involved a refusal to grant others’ rights.

What’s altogether clear is that Norquist wants the fight against same-sex marriage to be abandoned. Ideologically, it’s on the liberatarian grounds that the government should get out of the marriage business and simply be in the contract enforcement business. But he doubtless sees SSM as a political loser for his side, though he can’t quite bring himself to say so. Asked by Dan whether he “personally” supports a ban on SSM, he says, incredibly, “I just haven’t focused on it. I’m in D.C. so I don’t even get to vote on that stuff.” Yah, right.

The new strategy of SSM opponents to obtain via legislation “conscience protections” not to participate in such nuptials is Norquistian self-defense pure and simple. The retreat on abortion, however, will be much harder to arrange.