QUEER ALLIES: THE LITTLE-NOTICED ALLIANCE BETWEEN GAY MARRIAGE OPPONENTS AND ALLEGED TERRORIST SYMPATHIZERS is the rather improbable title of an article published Tuesday by Jewish World Review. I subscribe to their electronic newsletter, primarily because they have a lot of helpful links to several excellent conservative op-ed pieces published elsewhere, but seldom get around to reading it these days. I stumbled on this one today because, rather understandably, JWR has managed to outrage a sizable minority of their readership with the piece.

JewishWorldReview.com has discovered that prominent religious conservatives – Jews, Catholics and Evangelical Christians – are allied with a radical Islamic group to stop gay marriage. Pushing a constitutional amendment that would restrict marriage to heterosexuals, they work with the Islamic Society of North America. What is ISNA? According to terrorism expert Steve Emerson, ISNA:

has held fundraisers for terrorists (e.g., after Hamas leader Musa Marzuk was arrested, it raised money for his defense, claiming he was innocent and not connected to terrorism)

has condemned US seizure of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad assets in the United States after 9/11

has consistently sponsored speakers at their conferences that defend Islamic terrorists. Recently, a leader denied in an interview with an NBC affiliate that ISNA took any Saudi money but that was a brazen lie as evidenced by a recording of an ISNA conference in which it was revealed that money came from Saudi Arabia.

“ISNA,” says Emerson, “is a radical group hiding under a false veneer of moderation.”

What better way for ISNA to maintain its “false veneer of moderation” than by working side by side with prominent religious figures that also bring the prestige of their institutional associations? How can critics plausibly depict the organization as extremist if it boasts the company of so many prominent Jews and Christians? Even Martin Luther King couldn’t boast a working alliance with this many different members of the religious community.

Who are these religious conservatives? The Jews include a vice-president of the highly regarded Rabbinical Council of America, who is also known as “Lieberman’s rabbi” because the Connecticut senator and presidential candidate attends his synagogue; one of Reform Judaism’s most highly visible rabbis known for his frequent TV appearances as the Jewish half of the two man “God Squad,”; an Orthodox rabbi who is one of the heads of the most highly regarded kosher supervision agency in America; a former aide to President Ronald Reagan and official in the subsequent Bush administration; and an Orthodox rabbi who wants to unite Christians and Jews.

ISNA’s newfound Christian friends also boast sterling credentials. They include President Clinton’s ambassador to the Vatican; the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia: a Harvard law professor and former Clinton advisor; the president of a prestigious Evangelical school; and a neo-conservative author who edits a small, but influential magazine, that serves as the unofficial bible of many religious conservatives.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says that “people have to be careful with whom they associate, even with causes unrelated to the Middle East. Such associations give credence to groups that don’t deserve it.”

Radio talk show host Don Feder, himself a religious conservative, is a bit more blunt: “You have to be crazy to work with these people.”

JWR condemns this alliance noting,

You don’t win moral arguments by bean-counting. The reliance of “diversity” to argue for traditional marriage obscures if not contradicts the most powerful argument that it supporters can make: Namely, this is a corner-stone of the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Very interesting indeed.

I am ambivalent on the issue of gay marriage, but lean toward supporting it. And, frankly, I have little use for most of these organizations. But the idea that one can’t morally work toward a public policy goal by building a coalition that includes unsavory groups strikes me as absurd. To take one obvious example, the US and UK allied themselves with Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union, arguably the most despicable regime in human history, to take out a more immediate threat in German, Japanese, and Italian Fascism.

The nature of governance in a Republic such as ours, with power defused through 435 congressional districts, 50 states, thousands of local governments, and all manner of checks and balances is that people who vehemently disagree on a host of issues often are forced to work together on other issues. Both the Republicans and Democrats have some extremist elements that make up a small but necessary part of their base. Social scientists refer to these coalitions as cross-cutting cleavages, and they are a good thing: They make for a healthy political system.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.