Eight companies—including General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, and Gap—did not answer the reporter’s repeated emails, phone calls, and social-media queries over the course of several weeks. Nine other companies—including Chrysler, McKinsey & Co., and Citigroup—responded only to say they would not comment. Eleven companies—including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Ford—claimed that they do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but they don’t provide health insurance to same-sex partners, either. Along the way, the reporter unearthed the Russian version of Coca- Cola’s statement issued last summer in response to Queer Nation’s protests against its sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics—it omitted all references to LGBT people and issues. (And yes, that means it made virtually no sense in Russian.) Only six of the 34 companies contacted said they provide health insurance to same-sex partners; these were Nike, Deutsche Bank, Dell, Boston Consulting Group, Disney, and Google.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who in the past has called tolerance for gay rights “unnatural” and “filth,” has yet again made his views known surrounding recent political and social gains made by LGBT individuals.
Speaking on Tuesday at a rally at the Aerodrome Grounds in Mutare, Mugabe described LGBT people as “worse than pigs, goats and birds” and threatened to behead them, according to NewsDay.
“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads. This thing (homosexuality) seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed… Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice… We will never do that.”
Mugabe also accused other African countries of becoming more tolerant of homosexuality because they have become reliant on European countries for aid and support.
“We see cases like this all the time, all over the city and all over the state,” said Rick Garcia, policy director at The Civil Rights Agenda. “It shows that animosity toward lesbian and gay people is just below the surface. We think we’ve made such big gains, but right below the surface we see this animosity and violence.”
The women were beaten Saturday, clutching each other as they were pinned against a car by about 10 men who taunted them for being gay and took turns punching and kicking them on the dark street, one of the victims said.
“It was punches, kicks, everything being thrown at us,” said the woman, who is 23. “We just held each other until somebody said, ‘Here come the police.’”
Police have labeled the attack a hate crime, and one man has been charged. Other suspects in the attack are being sought.
A study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found 2,016 reports of violence in 2012 against LGBT people and people affected by HIV. The report also found that LGBT people of minority races are nearly twice as likely to be victims of violence as their white counterparts.
The irony of asking a hate group leader if he’s bothered by the alleged “intolerance” of his critics seems to be lost on Kelly.
Perkins isn’t just an opponent of same-sex marriage - he’s made a career of peddling false and degrading smears about LGBT people, including:
Falsely claiming that gay men are more likely to molest children
Comparing gay activists to terrorists and labeling them pawns of the devil
Applauding Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, calling it an effort “to uphold moral conduct”
Perkinshas repeatedly used discussions about LGBT suicide to score cheap political points, claiming that LGBT teens kill themselves because they know being gay is “abnormal” and that they are “in rebellion to God’s design.” In a letter to supporters, Perkins called the anti-suicide “It Gets Better” project an attempt to “recruit” kids into a “lifestyle” of “perversion.” He’s even blamed high suicide rates in the military on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Kelly’s softball segment is the second time five days that she’s attempted to whitewash Perkins’ well-documented history of extreme anti-gay commentary.
Since November, when virtually every anti-equality measure against LGBT people failed at the ballot box, the group has suffered through a series of missteps as it grapples with a U.S. population growing more favorable toward LGBT people and the idea of same-sex marriage. NOM’s tactics appear to have become more strident, veering into the kind of demonizing rhetoric that the group has typically tried to avoid in the past. It doesn’t seem that this approach, perhaps born of desperation, is working out too well.
In January, NOM-Rhode Island posted two videos that contained numerous anti-LGBT claims, including that gays are “lethal” and are not going to heaven. In the videos, a lawyer from the notoriously anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel says there’s a radical gay agenda out to destroy America, while Matt Barber, also of the Liberty Counsel, calls homosexuality “unnatural.” One of the videos includes clips of Brian Camenker of MassResistance making false claims about what Massachusetts schools are teaching. Kara Young, the creator of the videos, calls homosexuality a “disorder,” while her husband, Chris Young, claims that the push for LGBT rights is actually an attempt to force “atheistic Communism” onto the nation. The video includes quotes from Joseph Stalin. After bloggers noticed the nature of the videos and started circulating them, the videos were removed from the NOM-RI website that same day. But one blogger captured them and you can see them at the link above.
In February, Jennifer Morse, head of NOM’s Ruth Institute and one of the group’s more acerbic and vocal anti-LGBT officials, caused a furor when her remarks at a lecture she gave at Iowa State University became public. Morse brought up Tyler Clementi as an example of why it is not the best thing for LGBT people to be friends with each other (they may be persuaded to have sex, apparently). Clementi was the Rutgers University student who committed suicide in 2010 when he found out his roommate had secretly videotaped him kissing another man. Morse claimed that there was “more to the story,” and that “a much older man was involved.” Her remarks brought immediate condemnation and a demand from the Clementi family for an apology. Morse issued a statement (but no apology) and offered to meet with the family, but claimed her remarks “were taken out of context.”
Earlier this month, NOM Chairman John Eastman was quoted in an AP article that noted that both Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas have adopted children. Eastman contended that adoption by heterosexual couples is “by far the second-best option” (a family with married biological parents is, in NOM’s view, the best option). Amid an outcry over his statement, Eastman claimed that the AP article “grossly misrepresented” his thoughts on adoption.
Today’s March for Marriage has also run into a few problems. The Lee Boys, one of the musical groups NOM had lined up, canceled its appearance after learning more about NOM. Then, the pro-equality musician Katie Herzig was alerted to the fact that one of her songs was being used in a NOM ad promoting the March for Marriage. She had the ad pulled from YouTube, citing copyright violation. In yet another musical snafu, two members of the Celtic rock group Scythian refused to support NOM’s event, so the remaining three members are performing as Ultramontane. The decision has created a rift within the band. Fiddler and Scythian co-founder Josef Crosby said that he has “spent many hours researching this group and I’m saddened that now Scythian will be associated with an ideology I so strongly oppose.”
Proud heterosexuals — a small and nameless handful of them, anyway - are on the march. And they’re not being very nice about it.
Back in June 2012, the Facebook page “Heterosexual Awareness Month” (HAM) was created to “celebrate heterosexuality.” According to the page’s administrators, who are anonymous (though one goes by “Dr. HAM”), July is “Heterosexual Awareness Month.” The page’s mission is to “educate the world, commemorate our heritage, celebrate our culture, and liberate our people.” The site goes on to say that Heterosexual Awareness Month is meant to highlight straight people’s “growing struggle of the rights and related civil rights put in jeopardy.”
The page includes status updates, images and comment threads that range from mild to genuinely offensive. And though Dr. HAM told the Huffington Post in December that “I would like to say we are not about hate in any way,” the facts seem to pretty plainly belie him. HAM moderators have posted comments about “the gay agenda” and baselessly linked homosexuality to pedophilia. They have posted Photoshopped images like the one of a gay pride marcher whose sign has been altered to read, “My Butt Hurts.” One post compares the “fertile garden” of heterosexuality to the “toxic waste zone” of homosexuality. Another urges gay people to stop “acting like animals” and “evolve already.” HAM allows most anyone who agrees with it to post comments. But you will be banned, it says, if you post “accusations of racism” or if you call women derogatory names. Comments supportive of LGBT people do appear on the threads, but are typically followed by anti-gay responses.
Now the site has gone one further. On Tuesday, its administrators posted an image ostensibly meant to educate readers in “Recognizing Hate Symbols” so they can know “what to look for when confronted by anti-democratic forces which continue to threaten our civil society.” The first symbol is a Nazi swastika. The next symbol is a rainbow flag, a representation of gay pride. And the symbol after the flag is a white power logo. The next day, it posted a mocked-up image portraying a Nazi soldier flying a rainbow flag, along with the following tagline: “They have ways of keeping you silent. Know the dangers of the rainbow.” A HAM administrator exhorted readers to print out the picture out and hang it in public locations.
UC Riverside professor Jennifer Scheper Hughes, who has studied Benedict’s reaction to liberation theology in Latin America both before and during his papacy, suggests that he leaves a painful legacy for Roman Catholics in the region. Says Hughes,
“Both as Cardinal Ratzinger and as Pope, Benedict devoted himself to a process of undermining, silencing, and marginalizing the theologians, priests, and religious who committed themselves to the liberation of the poor. His legacy in Latin America is precisely this: the systematic dismantling of the infrastructure of liberation theology. Some in Latin America may hope that this period of antagonism has now come to a close. Others are, by now, far more cynical.”
DignityUSA, the advocacy group for LGBT Catholics, has called on supporters “for a period of prayer and reflection as we prepare for the conclave” to elect a new pope who may put an “end to statements that inflict harm on already marginalized people, depict us as less than fully human, and lend credence to those seeking to justify discrimination.”
“It’s hard to identify a figure who has been more oppressive to LGBT people in the religious world than Pope Benedict,” says DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke.
From the labeling of homosexuality as “objectively disordered” and “intrinsically evil” in magisterial documents he developed as a cardinal, to condemnations of transgendered people as mentally ill, to more recent attacks on marriage equality as a deterrent to world peace, says Duddy-Burke, the current pope has actively worked to undermine the full equality of LGBT people and denigrated their human dignity. Duddy-Burke notes that the announcement of Benedict’s retirement on the eve of the Christian Lenten season provides an opportunity for deep reflection on the harm such words and actions do within and beyond the Church. She hopes such reflection will fuel action among the faithful in the pews.
Boston Spirit magazine has dug a bit deeper into Mitt Romney’s past interactions with LGBT people, particularly during his time as governor. Many of these stories are known: his firing of two state employees ostensibly for marrying their same-sex partners, his dissolution of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, his blocking of an anti-bullying guide because it contained the words “bisexual” and “transgender,” and his testimony against marriage equality to the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled the state’s ban was unconstitutional. But this new profile illustrates a more profound level of insensitivity to the experience of LGBT people than his past position statements suggest.
David Wilson and Julie Goodridge, two of the plaintiffs whose case led to the legalization of marriage equality in Massachusetts, described meeting with Romney to discuss their experiences. According to Wilson, “it was like talking to a robot. No expression, no feeling.” At one point, Romney remarked, “I didn’t know you had families.” Goodridge recalls her final exchange with the governor, which proved to her that he had “no capacity for empathy”:
GOODRIDGE: Governor Romney, tell me — what would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?
ROMNEY: I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.
I agree with Mark Potok, the FRC clearly is a hate group - there’s little difference between their hate diatribes against gays and muslims and those of Terry Jones or Fred Phelps. They cannot use the bible to shield them from justifiable criticism for the bile, fear, and libelous hate they propagate.
Editor’s Note: The ongoing religious right attack on the SPLC, originally framed last month to suggest that the SPLC bore responsibility for a shooting at the Family Research Council because it had earlier named the FRC a “hate group,” has continued to expand to the point of absurdity. That was shown again last Friday, when Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel said on a radio show that any media that cited the SPLC’s hate group listings “will also have blood on its hands.” What follows is a response to the original criticism launched by the FRC.
Do words have consequences?
For years, we at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) have argued that they do. When conspiracy-minded Islamophobes claim that Muslims have a secret plan to force America into a medieval-style caliphate, Muslims in the streets get hurt. When angry nativists assert that Mexicans are plotting to “reconquer” the Southwest, some Americans respond by attacking Latinos.
And when the religious right spreads false and defamatory propaganda like the completely baseless notion that gay men molest children at rates far higher than their heterosexual counterparts, LGBT people end up, much more frequently than most people realize, at the wrong end of a baseball bat.
For the last three weeks, the SPLC has been under attack by a number of groups that fit into that last category. After an apparently politically motivated man wounded a guard at the Family Resource Council (FRC) in Washington, these groups launched a coordinated assault on the SPLC, accusing it of responsibility in the attack because it had earlier named the FRC a “hate group.”
At a well-attended press conference the day after the Aug. 15 shooting, FRC President Tony Perkins said that the alleged attacker, Floyd Corkins, “was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center.” He added, “I believe the Southern Poverty Law should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology.”
A day later, Islam-basher and Obama-hater Jerry Boykin, Perkin’s recently hired deputy at FRC, took his boss’ rhetoric a few steps further. The SPLC, Boykin said, is an “anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, Marxist organization” staffed by “an evil group of people” who are “dangerous.”
The idea seemed to be that the SPLC was hypocritical — that after years of suggesting that organizations that demonize minority groups are ultimately contributing to violence against those groups, the SPLC had been caught doing exactly what it criticized in others. We had “recklessly” labeled the FRC as a hate group merely, as Perkins told Fox News, “because we defend the family and stand for traditional, orthodox Christianity.”
Did Perkins have a point? Was the SPLC’s criticism morally or functionally equivalent to the conduct we criticized, admittedly in harsh terms, coming from the FRC and like groups?
Dana doesn’t realize that hate groups typically have layers of seemingly normal fronts, think tanks, publications, and political organizations in the 21st century world. He’s caught in a naive last-century worldview where the bad guys were easily recognized from their sheet hoods and swastika armbands. He hasn’t figured out that David Duke most often wears a suit when speaking in public.
I think there should be a list of people who use unacceptable language.
Seriously Dana? Poddy mouth groups? If you propagate hate against a minority using lies, untruths, and propaganda then you are undeniably a hate group. It doesn’t matter that Tony Perkins has more polish and puts on a better front and has better funding than Fred Phelps and his family. At the end of the day when you boil their message down to essentials, they are saying the same thing.
Milbank was invited on my SiriusXM show to discuss the column he wrote last week which has generated much controversy on social media. In the comments section on the Washington Post’s web site and on Twitter and Facebook, many criticized Milbank’s defense of the FRC as a “Washington think tank” which thus shouldn’t be called a hate group, and his calling the Human Rights Campaign and the SPLC “reckless” for terming the FRC a hate group. The controversy reached a point where Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Jonathan Diehl sent a tweet out defending Milbank, but that only inflamed the controversy as Dielhl referred to “idiotic’ emails he had received on the topic.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, which has propagated false and reckless charges for years against LGBT people, claiming, among other things, that they are trying to recruit children and are more likely to be pedophiles, had lashed out at the “hate group” label last week. He stated, without providing evidence, that it inspired the shooter who went to the FRC last week and was subdued after wounding a security guard.
“The hate group category, is with the exception of the Family Research Council, a bunch of neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan-like groups, and while they may say all kinds of wacky things at the FRC, they’re a Washington think tank, not a group that puts on sheets and organizes lynch mobs,” Milbank said.
Milbank seemed not to know, nor would he address it when pointed out, that the SPLC lists many groups on its website that are not violent, or even claim to oppose violence, but which propagate hate as well. The hate group list includes the Nation of Islam and the Conservative Citizens Council.
“I’m not going to defend [FRC], I’m not going to do it,” he said, repeatedly, affirming that he didn’t come on to defend FRC and does agree that the group’s repeated claim that gays are pedophiles is “hateful,” though believes it should be called by another term other than hate group. “I think there should be a list of people who use unacceptable language.”
Milbank’s reasoning is that because FRC is a “Washington think tank” with respectability it simply can’t be accused of being a hate group.
“This is a group that was founded by James Dobson and was run for many years by Gary Bauer, who was a presidential candidate, a widely respected commentator around town,” he explained. “Why would would you say that’s the same sort of thing as Stormfront?”
When it was explained to him again that the SPLC doesn’t list only groups that are violent as hate groups, and when asked what he sees as the distinction between groups like FRC and the other groups he mentioned, he said: “Some of them put on white sheets and go around and lynch people and some of them don’t. It’s not the same as the KKK and Stormfront. There is a fundamental distinction. I think people who say hateful things are in one category and people who commit violent acts are in another category.”