(Photo: Screengrab/Paul Richmond)
Noah's Ark plays center stage in artist Paul Richmond's oil painting "Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise: MarriageEvolved Edition," which features Westboro Baptist Church members drowning in a deadly flood while the lives of gay animals and gay celebrities are spared on the ark.
Richmond, an LGBT activist whose works include paintings of men in various stages of undress and sexual poses, has updated his Noah's Ark inspired painting to celebrate the upcoming gay marriage ceremony that will be held on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 21 where 25 LGBT couples will be wed as part of MarriageEvolved's C-Bus of Love event in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
Frank Schubert, political director of the National Organization for Marriage, told The Christian Post on Monday that he finds it ironic that Richmond would choose to use the ark imagery to promote same-sex marriage "since those couples are inherently unable to accomplish the very thing that God intended for those who inhabited the ark – the procreation of the earth following His wrath for failing to follow His commandments."
"Marriage is intrinsically the union of one man and one woman," Schubert said. "Government didn't create marriage, it merely recognizes what nature and nature's God created. Marriage was designed to bring men and women together because only those unions have the capacity to create new life. We as a society have a profound interest in promoting traditional marriage because of all the good it does to foster an environment that is conductive to child-rearing – providing children the best opportunity to be raised by and experience the love of both a mother and a father."
The painting, Richmond said on his website and on YouTube, is his "attempt to express a sense of hope and optimism about our fight for marriage equality." "Twelve states now recognize gay marriage, but that's still not enough, we have so much more work to do."
Richmond and his partner, Dennis, will be among the 25 couples on the C-Bus of Love that will depart Columbus for their afternoon same-sex wedding ceremonies in the nation's capital.
"We're participating in a program by MarriageEvolved," he said. "We're going to take a bus with 24 other LGBT couples and go to Washington, D.C., to get married on the steps of the Supreme Court."
Joshua and Steve Snyder-Hill, the founders of MarriageEvolved, are hosting the marriage ceremony on the steps of the Supreme Court because the court is scheduled to announce their decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act sometime this month. Steve, an Army reservist, was married to his partner, Joshua, in Washington when he was home on leave from Iraq in 2011.
According to the MarriageEvolved website, the 25 couples on the C-Bus of Love hail from Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia, and are parents to more than 12 children, have been in a committed relationships with their partners for one to 31 years, and when combined, account for 42 years of military service.
This is the first year for the C-Bus of Love, but according to the MarriageEvolved website, this is expected to be an annual event until all 50 states recognize gay marriage.
Richmond's painting, "Noah's Gay Wedding Cruise: MarriageEvolved Edition," features Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Elton John and David Furnish, and Joshua and Steve Snyder-Hill, the founders of MarriageEvolved, as well as "drowning sinners" that include conservative commentator Ann Coulter, former U.S. Senator Larry Craig, Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern and Fred Phelps, the pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, an organization that supports traditional marriage, found the depiction of Noah's Ark ironic, and for the same reasons as Schubert, but he hopes the artwork will remind people that "the rainbow is God's symbol, not an LGBT symbol."
"It's particularly bizarre to use Noah's Ark," he said, noting that same-sex couples are incapable of natural reproduction, which is why same-sex is not included in the definition of marriage, and isn't recognized as marriage in most states.
Sprigg also mentioned that Christians have been "forbidden from praying on the steps of the Supreme Court because it's considered a protest," and he wonders if the LGBT couples will be allowed to get married on the same steps where people have been barred from praying. And he questions the timing of the staged event, and its attempt to sway the court's decision. "They're definitely trying to influence public opinion, and I hope people see through it."
Other celebrities Richmond has featured in his works include a painting titled "Growing Pains," in which he blasts actor Kirk Cameron for his Christian evangelical views, including the belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman. In his description of the painting, Richmond writes: "So now that he has grown into a self-righteous bigot, proclaiming that homosexuality is 'detrimental and ultimately destructive,' I feel betrayed. And if the Jesus he so frequently speaks on behalf of is perched on a cloud listening to the wayfaring former sitcom star's remarks, I can only imagine that he might want to put him over his knee and teach him a lesson."