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Thursday, 29 November 2012 07:18

When Anti-Gay Hate Comes Home to Roost

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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

In spite of his repeated protestations, Tony Perkins' Family Research Council appears to be cementing its “hate group” status.

A recent edition of The Family Research Council’s “Tony Perkins’ Washington Update” pointed out that “During the 50th anniversary of his country's independence, President Yoweri Museveni stood before the world and publicly led Uganda in a prayer of personal and national repentance.” Perkins praised Musevani for his remarks condemning “everything from sexual immorality to pride, bitterness and rebellion,” and for “taking the very powerful step of dedicating Uganda to God.”

Musevani’s speech comes at a time when the Ugandan Parliament is on the cusp of passing what is commonly known as the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill.” According to news reports, the legislation would impose some of the harshest criminal penalties in the world for Ugandan gay people. (For a clause-by-clause review of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill see http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2012/11/26/51301.)

Perkins’ newsletter supportively noted that Rev. Scott Lively, the head of the virulently anti-gay Abiding Truth Ministries and who some credit with helping initiate the Ugandan legislation, called the Museveni prayer “a model for all Christian leaders in the world." Lively, whose organization is listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is also the author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party.

"Tony Perkins description of Uganda's president as a man leading 'a nation prospered by God' because of its attacks on gay people is despicable,” Mark Potok, the editor-in-chief of the SPLC's quarterly journal, the “Intelligence Report” told me in an email.

SPLC pins “hate group” label on FRC

In 2010, when the Family Research Council (FRC) was named a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a watchdog organization that monitors hate groups, Perkins, the president of the religious right’s premier Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, howled in protest, accusing the SPLC of “character assassination.”

In mid-December of that year, the FRC sponsored a full-page ad headlined "Start Debating / Stop Hating" that was placed in the print editions of Politico and the Washington Examiner, and signed onto by 150 or so conservative leaders, including 22 members of Congress. The ad condemned the SPLC for its “intolerance” and for trying to shut down informed discussion of policy issues that are being considered by Congress, legislatures, and the courts.”

The ad implored supporters to "Tell the radical Left it is time to stop spreading hateful rhetoric attacking individuals and organizations merely for expressing ideas with which they disagree. Our debates can and must remain civil - but they must never be suppressed through personal assaults that aim only to malign an opponent's character."

Watergate felon, the late  Charles Colson, jumped to the FRC’s defense, claiming that the watchdog group was itself “playing the hate card.”  

A piece for renewamerica.com, written by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association – also listed by the SPLC as a “hate group” – was titled "Southern Poverty Law Center belongs on its own 'hate group' list."

In August of this year, after Floyd Lee Corkins, a 28-year-old man who had volunteered for a center that serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, shot a security guard at the headquarters of the FRC, Perkins went on Fox and accused the SPLC of inciting Corkins’ action.

Perkins told Bill O’Reilly: "Now, Bill, let me say: the gunman, Floyd Corkins, pulled the trigger yesterday. He is responsible for shooting my colleague and my friend. But, let me say, I believe that the Southern Poverty Law Center is responsible for creating the environment that led to this."


Perkins added: "Because they disagree with our positions on marriage and certain religious issues, [they] have labeled us a ‘hate group’, and that gives license to lunatics like this to come in with a gun and shoot innocent people.”

As I noted earlier this year in a piece titled Right-Wing Hypocrisy on Parade in Wake of Shooting at FRC Headquarters: “To my knowledge, Perkins has never called for anyone on the right -- whether they be anti-abortion groups, or right wing radio or television talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy, or Pat Robertson -- to be held accountable for their hate-charged rhetoric after attacks on abortion clinics, hate crimes against gays, or right-wing acts of domestic terrorism.”

Perkins on Uganda’s anti-gay initiatives

Two years ago, on his “Washington Watch Daily Radio Commentary,” Perkins stated: “Does civility require the acceptance of all behavior? ….At the recent National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama took the podium calling for greater civility in Washington, which in my opinion is a laudable goal. However, his comments quickly turned to his preoccupation with defending homosexuality. The President criticized Ugandan leaders for considering enhance penalties for crimes related to homosexuality.

“The press has widely mischaracterized the law which calls for the death penalty, not for homosexual behavior which is already a crime, but for acts such as intentionally spreading HIV/AIDS, or preying upon vulnerable individuals such as children, which has been a problem in Uganda for years because the large number of orphans. The President said that "We may disagree about gay marriage, "but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are." Mr. President as long as you characterize efforts to uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable, as attacking people, civility will continue to evade us.”

Although it is unclear as to what Perkins’ level of support for Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill is currently, he recently tweeted: “American liberals are upset that Ugandan Pres is leading his nation in repentance--afraid of a modern example of a nation prospered by God?”

“The reality is that the man [Uganda’s president] Perkins so admires is working to pass a law that would harshly criminalize homosexual conduct and may well, before it is actually adopted, include a death penalty provision,” the SPLC’s Mark Potok pointed out. “Sadly, considering that Perkins is perfectly willing to traffic in falsehoods including his claim that pedophilia is 'a homosexual problem,' the latest ugly blast from the Family Research Council isn't all that much of a surprise."