The news: Rep. Steve King has been on something of a speaking tour lately. The Iowa Republican held a joint press conference with Donald Trump to rant about undocumented immigrants and also to threaten to trigger another government shutdown. But his latest remark takes the cake: King told the Jefferson Herald he thinks gay people are bound for hell.
Asked by the newspaper about a recent report issued by the Vatican proposing the Catholic Church take up a more open attitude toward gays and lesbians, King admitted he had only "picked up little pieces in the news" about it. However, he still was quite clear about people engaged in a particular "chosen lifestyle:"
"I'll just say that what was a sin 2,000 years ago is a sin today, and people that were condemned to hell 2,000 years ago, I don't expect to meet them should I make it to heaven. So let's stick with that principle.
"Let me say it isn't to me to pass that judgment, and those who choose a lifestyle that I'll say is not one that's anointed and favored by my faith — or their faith, for that matter — that's between them and God."
It's pretty clear who he's referring to.
The background: This shouldn't surprise anyone who knows King, who has previously suggested that gay people might try to trick Christians into refusing them service to build up grounds for a sham lawsuit, and that sexual orientation can be "willfully changed" (think gay conversion therapy). In 2009, he argued that government recognition of LGBT rights would lead to protecting those of pedophiles.
King is a steadfast opponent of gay marriage as well, comparing them to "friendships." However, he admitted in 2012 that "it doesn't look very optimistic for people who believe in traditional marriage as I do."
He's right about one thing though. People like him are on the way out, at least as far as homophobia is concerned. Polling has shown robust and growing support for legalized gay marriage in pretty much every part of the country, even the South, where a December 2013 poll recorded both support and opposition at 46%. Meanwhile, the Washington Post found earlier this year that 40% of Republicans support gay marriage, as well as 64% of independents. More broadly, the Evangelical voters who form the biggest base for arch-conservative congresspeople like King are beginning to dwindle, while the religiously unaffiliated are growing.
At some point, the anti-gay movement's time will run out, and the result will be opinions like King's will become increasingly unacceptable to voice in polite society and thus relegated to the margins of public discourse.
Lest you conclude that this is some form of religious oppression, the exact same thing happened with interracial marriage — which many evangelicals still believe is bad for society.