Gary Glenn, who announced earlier this week that he is seeking the Republican nomination for the 98th district of the Michigan House of Representatives, says nothing whatsoever about LGBT people on his campaign website. But the reality is that he is the state leader of one of the nation’s most vicious anti-gay hate groups.
Glenn’s platform, as described on his campaign site, is conservative but not radical. He wants to defend Michigan’s right-to-work law, prevent the implementation of “Obamacare,” and reform the educational system. Glenn neglects to mention his decade-plus history of hardline anti-gay work, and he makes no reference at all to his position as president of the American Family Association of Michigan.
The American Family Association (AFA), headquartered in Tupelo, Miss., is not some ordinary conservative Christian group that is critical of homosexuality or same-sex marriage. After it was started in 1977, it was widely criticized after its founder suggested that obscene media content is largely due to Jewish control of the press and Hollywood. In recent years, it has become even more openly vicious. The AFA’s spokesmen have argued that “homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler … the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews”; that gay men molest children at vastly higher rates that others; that President Obama “nurtures a hatred for the white man”; that welfare incentivizes black people who “rut like rabbits”; and that Muslims in America “have no First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.”
Each of these claims is entirely false, which is why the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed AFA as an anti-gay hate group since 2010.
For his part, Glenn seems perfectly at home as a state AFA leader. In 2001, he compared homosexuality to smoking, saying, “As with smoking, homosexual behavior’s ‘second hand’ effects threat public health. … Thus, individuals who choose to engage in homosexual behavior threaten not only their own lives, but the lives of the general population.” He made a similar claim in a 2013 film released by Janet Folger-Porter, an anti-gay activist with Faith 2 Action, where he said gay sex will “make them [gay people] die earlier.” And he has supported the criminalization of homosexuality, saying in 2010 that states should be able to ban behavior “that’s a violation of community standards and a proven threat to public health and safety.”
In a 2011 interview with Linda Harvey of Mission:America (SPLC also lists Mission:America as an anti-gay hate group), Glenn seemed to suggest that employers shouldn’t hire LGBT people: “What ridiculous folly to suggest that only those individuals who engage in homosexual behavior given all of its severe medical consequences constitute the best and the brightest.” He later backpedaled, claiming he wasn’t saying gay people shouldn’t be hired, just that they aren’t the “best and brightest” employees because they engage in homosexual behavior.
Glenn also was an instrumental leader in the fight for Michigan’s Marriage Protection Amendment, which was approved by voters in 2004. The initiative defined marriage as “the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.” In 2010, Glenn was among the plaintiffs in the Thomas More Law Center’s lawsuit against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, suggesting against all the evidence that including protections for LGBT people would “criminalize the Bible.” And he fought against school anti-bullying programs last year, saying that they were really only meant to further the “homosexual agenda.”
The 98th district statehouse seat in Michigan is currently held by Rep. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), who cannot run again due to term limits. A victory in the Republican primary would give Glenn a strong chance at going on to win the general election in 2014, given the district’s heavy Republican tilt. But Glenn may now be downplaying his anti-gay activism because of his experience last year, when he unsuccessfully campaigned for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. He lost in the primary to Pete Hoekstra, who was in turn defeated by Democrat Debbie Stabenow.
Even as his new political campaign gets rolling, Glenn has been fighting an anti-discrimination ordinance in Greenville, Mich., that protects LGBT people from employment and housing discrimination. But this and any reference to the rest of Glenn’s anti-gay advocacy is entirely absent from his campaign website. There is, however, a clue. Featured prominently on the site is an endorsement from Dave Agema, a Republican National Committeeman who made headlines this April after calling homosexuality a “filthy lifestyle” akin to alcoholism.