UPDATE: March 28, 2013
“Attorney General Bill Schuette today issued the following statement in response to an amicus brief filed by the Traditionalist Youth Network in the appeal of DeBoer v. Snyder currently pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit:
“There is no place in this discussion for derogatory language, and anything like it will be completely disregarded by the Department of Attorney General. The Sixth Circuit should use this brief to line a birdcage, because that’s all it’s good for.”
The Traditionalist Youth Network – a group listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group – has filed an amicus curiae brief with the 6th District Court of Appeals supporting Attorney General Bill Schuette’s appeal of a federal district court decision that found the state’s marriage ban unconstitutional.
“It is simply unfathomable to postulate that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents states from banning same-sex marriages when the totality of the history of the Western and American legal traditions demonstrates quite clearly that same-sex conduct can be penalized. Lawrence is radically wrong, but legalizing same-sex marriage through judicial opinion is offensively absurd,” the group’s attorneys write in the conclusion of their brief. “It is high time for the mockery of our ancient and traditional European institutions and customs to end.”
The 28-page friend of the court brief spends several pages highlighting laws from ancient European cultures that enacted severe punishments – most often execution – for homosexual conduct.
The brief was filed with the court March 25 by attorneys Kyle Bristow and Jason Van Dyke. Bristow, who lives in Michigan, and Van Dyke, who lives in Texas, were both involved in the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom in the mid-2000s. Under Bristow’s leadership, the organization was listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. It was the first university recognized hate group in the country. Van Dyke served as the organization’s legal advisor.
Southern Poverty Law Center has more on Bristow here. The Indiana Daily Student, the student newspaper at Indiana University, had a feature on the chapter of the Traditionalist Youth Network there.
In the brief, Bristow and Van Dyke argue allowing same-sex marriage will result in all kinds of other unions currently prohibited.
“Either the government can reasonably regulate marriage, or it cannot – there is no middle ground. If a state cannot be permitted to define marriage as simply as constituting one man and one woman, then our culture will be taken down a very slippery slope that will see pedophiles, polygamists, zoophiles those in incestuous relationships and every other sexual deviant with proclivities now know or to be invested to challenge laws that, likewise, prevent them from marrying whom – or what – they wish,” the two wrote.
“Let’s hope the court chooses not to pay any attention to the legal musings of Kyle Bristow, a man who describes gay people as deviants, degenerates and disgusting, when he’s not busy organizing ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant’ days or ‘Koran desecration contests,'” says Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “As a college student, Bristow invited to campus to speak Holocaust deniers like Nick Griffin of the United Kingdom and U.S. white supremacists like American Renaissance editor Jared Taylor; in law school, he contributed racist articles to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens; and as an author of badly written novels, he has indulged in violently racist revenge scenarios.”
“I think it’s disgusting,” State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D-East Lansing) said in a phone interview when informed about the filing. “I think they should denounce this. The governor should show some leadership and tell the state’s lawyer to stand down.”
Equality Michigan, the statewide LGBT equality organization, also responded to the filing.
“There’s something to be said for noting the company you keep,” said Gregory Varnum, director of external relations for the organization. “Schuette and Snyder need to ask themselves now how comfortable they are sharing this position with known hate groups like Traditionalist Youth Network.”
Varnum stopped short of calling for the two elected leaders to denounce the filings.
“Despite the attorney general and governor not liking the company they are now keeping, it would be hypocritical of them to deny the group any opportunity to put their vile viewpoint on the court’s record,” Varnum said.
Curtis Lipscombe, executive director of KICK, the African American LGBT agency in Detroit, said the brief showed the organization “lacks an understanding” of the importance of legalized same-sex marriage to both the economy and the couples. And while he supports the rights of any group to express their views, he said the attorney general and governor should distance themselves from the brief.
“Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette and Governor Rick Snyder should reject the amicus and firmly ask the 6th Circuit to ignore it,” Lipscombe said in a written statement. “Marriage ‘traditionalists’ view of marriage as one man and one woman is a modern concept, not ancient, which same-sex marriage wouldn’t negatively impact. The ancient world, other civilizations and parts of the West currently recognize same-sex unions without harm to the traditionalist view. The Traditionalist Youth Network is on the wrong side of history – which Schuette and Snyder should avoid. In my view, they should concentrate on why couples should stay married as opposed to getting married.”
Officials from Snyder’s office did not respond to requests for comment by press time.