Our right-wing fellow citizens are in a panic. This goes beyond the crackpot fear that U.S. military maneuvers this summer are a cover for a coup by Obama. They are also scared that the Supreme Court may rule to legalize marriage equality: Texas is seriously preparing to defy the court.
Nobody has ever been able to show how gay marriage hurts the marriages of heterosexuals; what's fueling the anxiety?
Seems crazy, but the reporting of Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches helps make it explicable. She recounts this discussion during oral arguments on the case now before the court:
This exchange was enough to incite panic among conservative evangelicals.
They've been down this road before. As I learned (and discussed) from Randall Balmer's history of Jimmy Carter's brief ascendancy, the glue that brought together ring-wing activists with conservative Christians in the late 1970s was that the I.R.S. yanked the tax-exempt status from Bob Jones University. The school had refused to end racially discriminatory practices such as its ban on interracial dating.
Today's conservatives fear that if gay people are recognized as having full civil rights, we'll expect and receive similar protections. The fact that they are protected under the First Amendment from being forced to perform religious marriages for us does nothing to reassure them. They want a "right" to discriminate in all aspects of life without fear that doing so will have any cost to them.
Posner found a legal expert who pointed out that the Bob Jones case had not led to widespread I.R.S. efforts to ensure that groups enjoying the privilege of non-profit status did not practice racial (or gender) discrimination.
Still, conservatives are seriously worried. They want an unconstrained freedom to call us perverts and to discriminate against us -- and they are losing that.