Rush Limbaugh attempted to downplay his comments linking acceptance of marriage equality to acceptance of pedophilia, claiming he was only quoting from an article on the subject in the U.K. newspaper The Guardian. But Limbaugh is misrepresenting his comments as he clearly suggested that early critics of marriage equality were vindicated when they warned same-sex marriage would be a slippery slope to acceptance of pedophilia.
On the January 8 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh read portions of a Guardian article which highlighted a debate over whether pedophilia should be classified as a sexual orientation. Limbaugh went on to discuss the article in the context of growing acceptance of marriage equality, saying "I guarantee you your reaction to that is probably much the same as your reaction when you first heard about gay marriage." Limbaugh was criticized for the comments, including a segment on CNN's Starting Point. Following the criticism, Limbaugh complained that he was being unfairly attacked:
All I did was quote from a liberal newspaper in the U.K., The Guardian. That's all I did. Well, I did one other thing. I said, "Remember where you were when you heard --" think of some outrageous social custom that's bitten the dust. "-- when you first heard that something might happen, like gay marriage, when you first heard gay marriage, what did you think? 'Ah, it'll never happen,' versus where are we now?" I said, "Here we go." The SUV. The Sierra Club back in 1997 said they wanted to ban the SUV to save the planet, I warned you SUV owners you're gonna become targeted. You pooh-poohed. What happened?
But Limbaugh is disingenuous in his attempt to downplay his comments. He didn't merely quote from the Guardian; he suggested that critics of marriage equality had been vindicated by this article when they predicted that same-sex marriage would lead to acceptance of other efforts "to redefine what a family is":
There is a movement on to normalize pedophilia, and I guarantee you your reaction to that is probably much the same as your reaction when you first heard about gay marriage. What has happened to gay marriage? It's become normal -- and in fact, with certain people in certain demographics it's the most important issue in terms of who they vote for. So don't pooh-pooh. There's a movement to normalize pedophilia. Don't pooh-pooh it. The people behind it are serious, and you know the left as well as I do. They glom onto something and they don't let go.
Now, there were people -- I just want to remind you -- back during the early days of the effort to redefine what a family is, and in the early days of the gay marriage activists. There were people who said, "Well, if this becomes mainstream, then someday marrying your dog is gonna be okay, and then having two husbands and two wives in one family is gonna be okay, 'cause who can say it isn't?" There were others who predicted that pedophilia would be mainstream, and there was an outcry of opposition to this.
Limbaugh continued to justify his comments by claiming he only used gay marriage as an example of a changing societal norm in order to predict the reaction to the story among his listeners. But his choice of marriage equality as a comparable issue plays into the persistent attempt to link homosexuality to pedophilia, especially among members of the right-wing media.