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Tony Perkins
Welcome guest on MSNBC, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
Since the horrible shooting at the Family Research Center's office on Wednesday, two leaders of the religious Right, Family Research Councii's President Tony Perkins and National Organization for Marriage's Brian Brown, have cynically and opportunistically embarked on a media tour dispensing blame to their political opponents.

On Thursday, Perkins held a press conference where he blamed the Southern Poverty Law Center, saying that in identifying his group as a hate group:

[The gunman] was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as 'hate groups' because they disagree them on public policy.''
Perkins since expanded the circular of culpability to President Obama.

Southern Poverty Law Center responded that Perkins' statement was "outrageous."

Perkins’ accusation is outrageous. The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people — not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage. The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.

As the SPLC made clear at the time and in hundreds of subsequent statements and press interviews, we criticize the FRC for claiming, in Perkins’ words, that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem” — an utter falsehood, as every relevant scientific authority has stated. An FRC official has said he wanted to “export homosexuals from the United States.” The same official advocated the criminalizing of homosexuality.

Perkins and his allies, seeing an opportunity to score points, are using the attack on their offices to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC’s criticisms of the FRC and the FRC’s criticisms of LGBT people. The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse — claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people.

Yet, Perkins himself has not been at all shy about using the word "hateful" to describe his political opponents. Just back in May 2011 he is on videotape saying:
“They are intolerant. They are hateful. They are vile. They are spiteful...pawns of the enemy.”
On what planet is Perkins modeling the behavior he's calling for? By what standard is that civil discourse?

(Continue reading below the fold.)

These would be the sorts of lies that Family Research Council spreads, that earned them their place on the hate groups listing.

“[T]he evidence indicates that disproportionate numbers of gay men seek adolescent males or boys as sexual partners.”— Timothy Dailey, senior research fellow, “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse,” 2002
No such evidence exists. This would be a lie. The American Psychological Association, among others, has concluded that “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.”
“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”— FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010
In all his media tour condemning the language that is cast in his direction, not once does Perkins show a moment of self-reflection about the language his own group uses, or the vile and hateful lies they spread.

Hypocrisy runs deep. While these anti-gay groups refuse to acknowledge any correlation between their own rhetoric and the huge number of assaults and murders that are visited on the LGBT community every year, 1,528 in 2010 according to the FBI—and those are just the ones that ping on the federal radar, still a very porous net.

Nowhere was the double standard more evident than in Brian Brown's appearance on CNN. Filled with righteous indignation that anyone could call Family Research Council hateful, Brown echoes Perkin's accusation that SPLC was to blame for the attack.  

But FRC and NOM might beware that the louder they scream that the word "hateful" is inapplicable, the more the media may be inclined to challenge them on it. And that actually happened on CNN.

The interviewer actually presents Brown with this quote from one of Family Research Council's brochures:

“One of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets' of a new sexual order.”
"Isn't that hateful?" she asks.

Brown's reply: "No."

Really, Brian? It's not "hateful" to say all gay people worship pedophiles as prophets?

It's at that moment that we see the call for civility is entirely one-sided. It's a disingenuous call for LGBT people, and increasingly their allies, to just pipe down. But for the opposition of LGBT equality, there are no bridges too far, no lies too egregious. It's all okay, because it's just a difference of opinion or it's an expression of religious liberty.

And yet, what about this? This sign was on display at an Indiana event organized by National Organization for Marriage. Is this license to kill?

Sign seen at National Organization for Marriage rally held in July 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
SIgn from a National Organization for Marriage Rally, Indianapolis, Indiana, July 2010.
The next year at an event in New York, while Brian Brown beamed on admiringly, an invited speaker proclaimed from the pulpit:
"[Gays] are worthy to death."
National Organization for Marriage never responded to calls for the organization to condemn the statement.

Is that a license to kill?

Though not (yet) on Southern Poverty Law Center's official hate groups list, National Organization for Marriage is on their watch list. They've taken an even more strident tone in the last year or two and have begun to more overtly push discredited ideas like gay conversion therapy ("pray the gay away").

Brown, Perkins and others chiming in want to apply a double standard. They are quick to assign blame for Wednesday's shooting to the words of their political opponents.

And yet when it comes to the thousands and thousands of LGBT people who are assaulted who are murdered, they will assume no culpability for their own words and actions.

Just in the last year, in Texas someone shot two teenage lesbians in the head. This woman was abducted and had anti-gay slurs carved into her skin. This gay man in Oklahoma City had his car fire bombed. This gay Mississippi couple had their house invaded and antigay profanity spray painted on their walls as did this Ohio couple in a similar incident.

These are just the stories that are horrifying and egregious enough to make the national news.

The gay community is well aware of violence, and was quick to condemn the outrageous incident on Wednesday. Within hours over 40 LGBT organizations signed the following statement:

We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers.

The motivation and circumstances behind today’s tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence.  We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident.

This despite the deafening silence that emanates from the Christian conservative community when LGBT people are murdered. Regardless who it is directed at, violence has no place in our society. But being a victim of violence does not wash away the many crimes that rightfully earned Family Research Council and the other groups the label of "hate group."  

Only true contrition and penance can do that.



Update: John Aravosis over at Americablog has a very comprehensive piece detailing the many, many lies Family Research Council spreads about LGBT people. If you're on the fence about whether they are a hate group or not, I suggest you read every word.

Originally posted to Milk Men And Women on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 09:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Angry Gays and LGBT Kos Community.

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