Has anyone so decisively lost a debate, and so stubbornly insisted on continuing it? In a move that will guarantee their historical disgrace, Thom Tillis and Phil Berger intervened, at the last minute, to keep same-sex couples from marrying. Our challenge is not to judge their conduct; we all know it is reprehensible. Rather, it is to understand why they’d do such an obviously futile thing.

Start with how they responded to the original court order. Berger and Tillis vowed to “vigorously defend the values of our state” until “traditional marriage” reaches its bitter, Supreme Court-mandated end. A decade after Tom Weikle wed Joe Rogers, the term “traditional marriage” is itself a desperate misnomer. It’s amazing they think they can prevent this new American tradition from setting down roots.

Perhaps conservatives believe they can create their own reality. After all, state Republicans effectively forged a new North Carolina government. In their alternative universe, it may seem federal policy is ripe for the bending, too. Of course, they are wrong. Just like their segregationist forebears, they cannot defeat the U.S. Constitution.

You could say Tillis, at least, is just trying to secure his base, but that proves the point. To get right with the Right, he must adopt an utterly wild mindset. The extremist mind inhabits a world in which any fantasy can blossom.

But their fantasies damage other people’s realities. Every moment Thom Tillis spends indulging his base’s dreams of a godly world is a minute Chad Biggs and Chris Creech can’t consummate their love, a minute their daughter doesn’t get to see her parents married, a minute countless others see their dreams temporarily deferred. I hope the holy-rollers are pleased, Mr. Speaker, because the verdict of history will be considerably harsher.


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