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Religious-Right Homophobes Whine That They're Being Oppressed

It's important to remember that we are talking about people opposing core civil rights for American citizens.

Maggie Gallagher, who has devoted much of her professional life to maintaining separate but decidedly unequal accomodations for gays and lesbians, is very concerned about Americans' individual rights. Mostly, she's worried about the “right” of religious conservatives dwelling on the wrong side of history to express their bigotry openly, without having to face the scorn of more enlightened citizens.

Gallagher, a syndicated columnist, is the former president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and current head of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (a group that lobbies against marriage equality). She is best known for writing favorably of the Bush administration's “Healthy Marriage Initiative” without disclosing that she was receiving  tens of thousands of dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the policy at the time.

Her latest effort for NOM is the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance, launched recently with some fanfare on the right. Gallagher told the National Review that the new group would combat, “an emerging trend we are hearing about: people losing jobs or other economic opportunities because they have written, spoken, donated, or otherwise peacefully exercised their core civil rights on behalf of marriage as the union of husband and wife.”

Claiming the mantle of an oppressed minority carries real power – the power to shame, and ultimately the ability to shape public policy. For years, the Right, having lost the battle against African American civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s, has sought to turn the tables and portray themselves as the target of bigotry, and their vehicle of choice is the supposed religious perscution of conservative evangelicals. David Limbaugh, Rush's less heralded brother, even wrote an infamously bad book titled, Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christians.

It's the stuff of Fox News' annual holiday celebration of the supposed war on Christmas, which by and large centers on retailers having the temerity to wish their customers – who, one presumes, adhere to any number of faiths – a generic "happy holidays" rather than a good, all-American "Merry Christmas." It's the justification of choice for a rash of “conscience clauses” that allow health-care providers to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control if they believe contraception is sinful.

The narrative is built on anecdotes – some over-zealous councilman doesn't know the Supreme Court has ruled that religious elements in holiday displays are perfectly OK, orders the creche removed from a town square and a full-blown freak-out over “political correctness run amok” ensues.

When the National Review's Kathryn Lopez asked Gallagher, “Who is Frank Turek and why should every American care to know him?” she was happy to paint him as a martyr for the cause.

Frank’s day job is leadership seminars for Fortune 500 companies. He also runs a ministry and has written a book against same-sex marriage titled Correct, Not Politically Correct: How Same-sex Marriage Hurts Everyone.

For many years Frank Turek has done seminars for Cisco, among many other companies. A student who attended his class Googled his name, found out he opposed same-sex marriage and said “I’m going to get Frank fired because he doesn’t represent Cisco values.” And this student succeeded.

A few weeks later Frank Turek was told by a Bank of America executive that his book opposing gay marriage meant he would not be asked to do a seminar again at Bank of America.

Gallagher portrays this as a tale of civil rights being trampled – she simply wants “all sides of the gay marriage debate [to] feel free to participate peacefully in the democratic process without fear of threats, harassment, or retaliation.” But she gives the true game away later in the interview. When asked if she could see “a scenario where same-sex marriage is legal but religious liberty is firmly protected?” Gallagher responds, “In some alternate universe maybe, where 'marriage equality' was not the express goal of gay-marriage advocates.” So gays and lesbians pushing for equal treatment from the state is by definition an infringement on Christian conservatives' “religious liberty.”