Former U.S. congressman William Dannemeyer and Religious Right icon Phyllis Schlafly are scheduled to testify in Congress June 24 in favor of a proposed Federal Marriage Amendment - a sure sign that the pro-amendment drive is a product of the political fringes, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Dannemeyer and Schlafly hold extreme right-wing views on gay rights and a host of other issues, says Americans United. AU charged that their views are out of touch with mainstream Americans.
"Dannemeyer and Schlafly are two would-be American ayatollahs who would like to remake this country according to their own exceedingly narrow versions of faith," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "If trotting these two out is the best the pro-amendment side has to offer, then they ought to just throw in the towel right now."
The two are scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. They will speak in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed constitutional alteration that will limit marriage to one man and one woman.
Schlafly's Eagle Forum, best known for its opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, has recently stepped up its criticism of same-sex marriage. In a newsletter issued in March, Schlafly attacked "out-of-control federal and state judges" for legalizing same-sex marriage and went so far as to call for the impeachment of judges who hand down rulings she dislikes. She also said Congress should withhold "taxpayers' money from the states" that tolerate same-sex marriage.
Dannemeyer in 1989 penned a stridently anti-gay book called Shadow in the Land: Homosexuality in America. In the tome, Dannemeyer calls for criminalizing gay sex among consenting adults and even asserts that Germany succumbed to the Nazis because its society had been undermined by "cabaret songs and ironic musical plays [that] depicted the cynical self-indulgence in a world in which homosexual intrigues take the place of normal sexuality for many of the jaded characters."
"I'm less worried about the cabaret in Germany than I am about the circus in the U.S. House," said Lynn. "It's sad that a House panel has nothing better to do than entertain testimony from the lunatic fringe of American politics. One can only hope that after this hearing, Dannemeyer and Schlafly will take their gay-bashing dog-and-pony show home, and our elected representatives can move on to more serious deliberations.
"When we have pressing national concerns such as the war in Iraq and the economy, it is inexplicable to see our lawmakers sitting around listening to Dannemeyer and Schlafly," Lynn concluded.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.