Wednesday morning, several progressives groups including the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and People for the American Way published an open letter in the Washington Post and The Hill which called out the Republican Party for its allegiance to anti-gay groups such as the Family Research Council and for the decision of several Republicans to attend that organization's upcoming Values Voter Summit.
Later that night, in a show of unbelievable stupidity, the Family Research Council took the bait by answering the letter via email with a bit of bravado and a lot of lies:
What annual event has the Left so worried that they are spending tens of thousands in advertising dollars to stop? You guessed it; the Values Voters Summit. In today's Washington Post, leftwing groups including GLAAD, (known for its failed campaign to fire Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson,) the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center, and the George Soros-funded "Faithful America," signed onto a three-quarters page ad demanding that speakers "not attend the Values Voter Summit."
The lies came about when FRC attacked the Southern Poverty Law Center, which it has a special dislike of ever since SPLC declared it an anti-gay hate group in 2010:
Last year, the FBI dumped the SPLC as a website resource and the U.S. Army distanced themselves from the SPLC. A federal court ruled against the SPLC in a harassment lawsuit it brought against a pro-family group. Even the SPLC's own supporters are growing increasingly uncomfortable with the SPLC's attacks on free speech. It is odd that some people feel the need to attack those who are merely defending religious liberty and affirming the importance of the type o f relationship which naturally provides children with a mother and a father. There will continue to be disagreement on how marriage should be defined, but reasonable people can approach this subject respectfully, thoughtfully and passionately. If you are in the D.C. area this weekend, please join us at the Values Voter Summit as we exercise our First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly.
Don't be fooled by FRC's various claims.
Allow me to break it down.
1. Did the FBI dump SPLC as a resource?
No. According to the site Equality Matters:
As Good As You’s Jeremy Hooper noted, the FBI continues to list SPLC as a partner in the fight against hate crimes on its website.
The right-wing narrative is also contradicted by an official statement from the FBI. In a statement to The Daily Caller, and FBI spokesperson said:
“Upon review, the Civil Rights program only provides links to resources within the federal government,” an FBI spokesman told The Daily Caller. “While we appreciate the tremendous support we receive from a variety of organizations, we have elected not to identify those groups on the civil rights page.”
2. Did the US Army distance themselves from the Southern Poverty Law Center?
No. FRC exaggerated on the incident. Last year, an SPLC briefing was held at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. In this briefing, certain SPLC-designated hate groups were listed, including the American Family Association. Conservatives and religious right spokespeople - such as Fox News personality Todd Starnes - falsely claimed that SPLC was attacking AFA for its religious values, when in actuality AFA was listed as a hate group because of the false and slanderous things it says about the lgbt community. These folks caused so much of a stink that future briefings were halted.
3. Are former supporters of SPLC turning their backs on the organization?
No. The link FRC provided as proof of this is a column from a conservative site, cnsnews.com, by an African-American woman named Catherine Davis. While she rails against SPLC, at no time did she ever indicate that she was ever a supporter of the organization. Nor was her column about SPLC's supposed attack on free speech. It was criticizing the lgbt community. Davis was allowing the predominantly white conservative establishment to use her in order to exploit the supposed gay vs. black divide.
4. What was the lawsuit SPLC "lost" against a pro-family group?
Even that claim by FRC isn't totally true. SPLC had sued an anti-gay group, Public Advocate (which is another SPLC-designated hate group), on the behalf of a gay couple whose personal photos the organization digitally altered and used for anti-gay campaign ads. The judge in the case only dismissed part of the lawsuit.
According to LGBTQNation:
U.S. District Court Judge Wiley Daniel agreed the photo’s use was noncommercial and a matter of legitimate public concern. However, he also ruled the couple and their photographer have a possible copyright infringement claim.
In June, the photographer, Kristina Hill, won a judgement of $2501 against Public Advocate for copyright infringement.
Let's be real about something - none of the organizations who signed that letter are so naive as to think they could stop the Values Voter Summit from taking place nor could they keep Republicans from attending.
And certainly the purpose of the letter wasn't to stifle speech.
The purpose of the letter was mainly strategic. Its goal was to educate the public and continue debate about the real face of the Family Research Council and other groups who claim to stand for morality and Christianity.
Remember this passage in the letter:
These groups engage in repeated, groundless demonization of LGBT people — portraying them as sick, vile, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation.
The Family Research Council, the summit’s host, is vigorously opposed to extending equal rights to the LGBT community. Its president, Tony Perkins, has repeatedly claimed that pedophilia is a “homosexual problem.” He has called the “It Gets Better” campaign — designed to give LGBT students hope for a better tomorrow — “disgusting” and a “concerted effort” to “recruit” children into the gay “lifestyle.”4 He has condemned the National Republican Congressional Committee for supporting three openly gay candidates.
Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, a summit sponsor, has said the U.S. needs to “be more like Russia,” which enacted a law criminalizing the distribution of LGBT “propaganda.” He also has said, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine, and six million dead Jews.”
Similarly, Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, another summit sponsor, has compared those who do not denounce same-sex marriage to those who remained silent during the Holocaust. Marriage equality, he has said, is the “beginning of the end of Western civilization.”
And thanks to FRC's absolutely stupid decision to answer the letter, particularly with lies about SPLC, the groups who signed the letter succeeded in their purpose.
FRC's behavior reminds me of the fable of the vicious dog who bit so many people that a bell was hung around its neck so as to warn folks when it was coming. The dog, totally ignorant, took the bell as sign of distinction and rang it constantly.
Imagine how stupid it felt when an older dog said, "what you mistake for a mark of fame and honor is actually a reminder of how much of a disgrace you are."
Feel free to ring your bell anytime you want by responding to the claims that you are a hate group, FRC. No matter how much you lie, we know the truth.
And what you really are - a bad dog without a leash nipping at the heels of every lgbt you can find.