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Watch: GOP Congressman Compares Same-Sex Marriage to Incest, Polygamy in DOMA Hearing


While asking Attorney General Eric Holder about levels of scrutiny with regard to same-sex marriage in a DOMA hearing yesterday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) brought up polygamy and incest, asking whether they deserved heightened levels of scrutiny as well.

Writes Igor Volsky at the Wonk Room:

Unlike laws preventing people from marrying their brother, laws which discriminate against gay people meet the Supreme Court’s legal standard for heightened scrutiny because gay men and lesbians have historically been “subjected to such a history of purposeful unequal treatment, or relegated to such a position of political powerlessness as to command extraordinary protection from the majoritarian political process.”

Gowdy went on to note that two court of appeals have ruled that a rational basis test should be applied to sexual orientation laws, while just one agreed with the administration’s view that a higher level of review is applicable and asked why Obama chose to side with the one decision.


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  1. Yet another Republican obsessed with gays.

    It says so much about their priorities and their constituents.

    Posted by: AllBeefPatty | May 4, 2011 10:46:48 AM

  2. I hope someone is keeping a list of politicians who use the incest and polygamy (not to mention bestiality) as analogies in arguments against gay rights. They will be proven some day to be so behind the times and so medieval in their thinking. And we should use said list to shame them till their last breaths and after.

    The stupidity of the argument, of course, is that it focuses solely upon the sexual act perfomed, thereby reducing a law-abiding group who have organized into a social and cultural class over at least the past 150 years to just the sex acts they (we) perform. The social and cultural class would not have emerged necessarily, and certainly not in the ways that it has, without having been marginalized by the majority from the start. In a sense, the gay community -- as something much greater than the sex acts we perform -- is in large part the creation of homophobia such as this congressman is now spouting.

    The more he spouts, the more we organize, the more we become a legitimate social and cultural class, the more his arguments carry no weight.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | May 4, 2011 10:59:35 AM

  3. Sounds like this guy's just not happy with the fact that two loving adults can marry, but he cannot marry his sister to be one of his nine wives..

    Posted by: Jay T | May 4, 2011 11:00:36 AM

  4. How much long are American gay people, and INDEED american gay REPUBLICANS going to sit on their asses and allow themselves to be compared to criminals!?

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | May 4, 2011 11:02:54 AM

  5. countdown to Trey Gowdy's gay prostitute and/or marriage infidelity scandal in 5.... 4... 3... 2....

    Posted by: EO | May 4, 2011 11:12:47 AM

  6. It's global. Around the world people like TG bring polygramy, incest and animals up when they like try to explain why they are against gay marriage.

    Posted by: Matt26 | May 4, 2011 11:20:16 AM

  7. So why isn't he comparing heterosexuality to incest and polygamy? It's also a sexual orientation. Eric Holder should have smacked this moron down right at the beginning. He should have gotten this guy on record saying that sexual orientation is a choice. Then he could have asked him when he 'chose' to be straight.

    Posted by: David in Houston | May 4, 2011 11:21:23 AM

  8. If there was a law banning marriages among left-handed people would that be in the same class as outlawing polygamy or incest?

    No. Case closed.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | May 4, 2011 11:35:25 AM

  9. Allbeefpatty, 100% agree. The fact these people have made GAY their biggest issue, not just in the US but worldwide, with all of the issues the world faces, speaks wonders. It really says it all. However, it's not surprising. People like Mr. Gowdy truly do think that "gay" is akin to incest, pedophilia, bestiality and any other sexual perversions. They think homosexuality is a perversion and they think it's culturally, societally and globally destructive. They're insane, of course, but that's why they're so paranoid. In their eyes, the fact "gay" is gaining acceptance, is something that will lead to complete chaos.

    We have to educate the masses and speak out loudly that, no, these people are wrong, their attacks against us are based on faulty reasoning, and that we all require equality under the law as legal citizens.

    P.S. This guy has gay face.

    Posted by: Francis | May 4, 2011 11:37:57 AM

  10. Should be courts of appeal.

    Posted by: Patrick | May 4, 2011 11:40:57 AM

  11. Another conservative wants to strip gays of their rights by comparing them to incest, polygamy, etc. etc. . .

    In other breaking news, the sky is blue. The sun is hot. Oh, and discrimination is wrong.

    Posted by: Austin | May 4, 2011 11:55:13 AM

  12. OMG! Just Google this guy and take a look at some of his head-shots.

    GAY-FACE, big time! I'm so sick of these closet case repugs fighting against equality just to divert attention away from what they're trying to hide, not so convincingly I might add.

    Posted by: Bob | May 4, 2011 12:08:34 PM

  13. I jsut love thier names.....always Sooo Different...and Im sorry, but thier Southern Accent just makes thier Bigotry wORSE..FOR MY EARS ANYWAY!

    Posted by: Disgusted Gay American | May 4, 2011 12:15:26 PM

  14. Just a question, what is wrong with polygamy if all of the adults are consenting and over the legal age?

    I wouldn't do it, but...

    Posted by: Rin | May 4, 2011 12:26:23 PM

  15. another repuk worried about things that are not his business meanwhile the economy, the budget and two wars rage on. wasn't it them thatt said jobs should be priority one. goproud one more member of your party showing what they really think about you. keep giving your money and your votes they won't respect you any more than they do now.

    Posted by: walter | May 4, 2011 1:23:42 PM

  16. I have no problem with Polygamy as long as it’s equated with Polyandry AND is between 3 or more CONSENTING ADULTS. I don’t think that most gay marriage activists would even want to touch this one, and I don’t blame them. But why should marriage be only between one man and one woman. If you could balance two loving, committed relationships at one time, why is that so awful.

    Posted by: NE Rich | May 4, 2011 1:39:59 PM

  17. "Just a question, what is wrong with polygamy if all of the adults are consenting and over the legal age?"

    The problem isn't with polygamy itself but with the slippery-slope argument bigots typically use to defend their opposition to gay couples being allowed to marry. Polygamy bears no more relationship to "same-sex marriage" than it does to "opposite-sex marriage"--less, in fact, since polygamy has a heterosexual history. Yet bigots attempt to make this bogus association.

    My response to the polygamy argument is always this: those who are interested in marriage rights for polygamists need to take it to the courts and the legislatures if their interest is sincere. As a gay person with no interest in or connection to polygamy, it's not my battle. The marriage of 2 or more people is an entirely different issue than the marriage of 2 people.

    And arguments for or against polygamy should not be confused with bigots using polygamy as a homophobic red herring.

    Posted by: Ernie | May 4, 2011 4:54:02 PM

  18. "Why should we allow gays to marry? What's next? Polygamy?"

    Of course 92% of the general public is so stupid that it's way over their head to see the flaw in the above argument. The problem with this argument is that it can be applied retroactively to straight people: Why should we allow straight people to marry? What's next? Gays?

    Posted by: Mark | May 4, 2011 5:51:53 PM

  19. I was raised in polygamy and find this kind of ignorance appalling. Gay couples are American citizens, too, and deserve equal treatment. Polygamists want special treatment, the right to marry multiple wives, which is absurd when male to female birthrates are 50-50, globally. China is an exception, of course, because they opted to abort their females.

    Trey Gowdy is still living in the Bronze Age and needs a serious education.

    Posted by: Banking On Heaven .com | May 4, 2011 10:32:15 PM

  20. I have to say that every time I read a title like "so and so comparing gays to this and that," I roll my eyes a bit. Let's be honest. There's a difference between comparing one thing to another and bringing up a semi-extreme case to make your point clear. For example, bringing up al-Qaeda to illustrate the potential danger of blind faith does not mean I'm comparing your average church-going Christians to terrorists. So can we do away with sensationalist titles like this?

    With that said, pertaining to this particular video, I found that Rep. Trey Gowdy came in with sound legal arguments and legit comparisons that were not easy to dispute, and I honestly found Attorney General Eric Holder as under-prepared that he couldn't even answer to the simple historical marriage cases. I know the pure legal aspects of same-sex marriage can be tangled up and confusing and emotions can get lost in these arguments, but like the prop 8 cases in court, we really need our arguments to be strong and our side to be well-prepared. Engaging in sensationalist arguments like this title really does not help educating the readers.

    Before anybody yell at me, I should say that I'm as liberal as they come, and I've been a fan of Andy's for years.

    Posted by: Sam | May 5, 2011 2:14:17 AM

  21. Marriage is a unique contract that brings to a legal relationship perfectly equal power and responsibilities to the arrangement and all subsequent legal situations. That cannot be applied to an arrangement of more than 2 people.

    For example, in the case of death without a will, power of attorney in healthcare situations, etc. should one member of the union be incapacitiated, then all of the power (rights/responsibilities) fall to the remaining member. As such, if there were two or more remaining members, then there would be a legal morass that might not be surmountable, in decisions and execution. If the 2 husbands or wives did not agree on caring the children, handling of the estate, or execution of healthcare decisions.

    The entire basis of marriage is based on two's an equal partnership, not a limited liability corporation.

    Posted by: Robert in SF | May 6, 2011 12:09:04 AM

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