Friday, October 18, 2013

FRC's Peter Sprigg weighs in on New Jersey

Peter Sprigg
Family Research Council's go-to guy on gay is Peter Sprigg. Sprigg, who is a Baptist minister, is confused, misleading or (my theory) both.
The alleged harm to same-sex couples from waiting for a final determination of the constitutionality of New Jersey's marriage laws is virtually non-existent, given that they already have access to 100 percent of the rights and benefits of marriage under state law through civil unions. Surely creating the possibility that same-sex 'marriage' would be extended and then once again withdrawn constitutes a greater possible harm.
"Virtually non-existent" if federal recognition is irrelevant. The whole point of this is that civil unions are de facto unequal because the US government does not recognize them. Furthermore, the court has concluded that the state is unlikely to prevail on the merits.
The court claims that its position is based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor. Yet the treatment of same-sex couples by the federal government is not in any way within the jurisdiction of the New Jersey courts. To take a decision mandating respect for state choices on marriage, and interpret it as overturning that state choice instead, turns logic and the law on its head.
Sprigg is just repeating talking points crafted by others. Matthew Franck did pretty much the same thing three days ago. Windsor does not mandate anything of the kind. Windsor simply says that if one is legally married then the federal government has an obligation to recognize that marriage. On the record, in New Jersey, is the notion that civil unions provided "everything but the word marriage." That is no longer the case given that civil unioned couples cannot file joint returns. Nor can one spouse inherit assets from the other spouse without a tax burden (the underlying issue in Windsor). Furthermore, if one civil unioned spouse has a defined benefit pension plan, the pension dies with the pensioner instead of being passed onto the other civil unioned spouse. The inequalities are resolved by allowing these couples to marry.

Post Windsor gay couples are denied all of the benefits of marriage now available to them if they were married. People who are similarly situated are being treated differently under the law. It's really quite simple. Gay couples in civil unions are denied Equal Protection and Due Process.

Logo of the Family Research Council.

Sprigg's problem is really not the court. Sprigg works for a hate group. They oppose gay marriage because they uniformly oppose gays. Sprigg has been one of those responsible for spreading the misinformation about gay people that caused Family Research Council to be designated a hate group by SPLC.
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