The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
The Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBT hate group, has entered the already intense debate over same-sex marriages in Alabama by saying it will represent probate judges who refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The news, which came late last week, is only the latest development in a series of tense events regarding same-sex marriage in the state that began on Jan. 23, when U.S. District Judge Callie Granade struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to extend the stay, and same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses today.
“At this time, no Alabama probate judge is bound by Judge Granade’s order. This sole federal judge does not have jurisdiction to order all state probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” the Liberty Counsel wrote in a news release on Feb. 6.
Granade’s ruling has cleared the way for all judges who issue marriage licenses to start performing same-sex marriages, and because they are agents of the state, they have been ordered to comply with the Constitution, according to Harvard law professor Noah Feldman in a piece he wrote for Bloomberg News.
“They’re state functionaries,” Feldman wrote on the role of probate judges. “Refusal to comply with the federal court judgment would be illegitimate resistance — akin to the resistance of governor Orval Faubus in Little Rock,” who famously refused to comply with school desegregation.
Founded in 1989 and based in Orlando, Fla., the Liberty Counsel is well known for its strident anti-LGBT rhetoric. Mat Staver, the group’s president, co-founder and former dean at the Liberty University School of Law, has claimed that with full marriage equality, everyone will decide to be gay and society will “cease to exist.” (He also has linked homosexuality to rampant increases in disease, falsely linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claimed that homosexuality is the result of childhood sexual abuse.)
Such claims, naturally, have made him a darling of the anti-LGBT movement, which sides with Staver.
Matt Barber, the editor of the virulently anti-LGBT Barbwire.com, is a frequent host of the Liberty Counsel’s Faith and Freedom Radio. Barber has Tweeted that “Fake ‘gay marriage’ is fake ‘consummated’ through squalid and feculent abuse of the reproductive and digestive systems.” He has called same-sex parenting a form of child abuse, and aid that HIV is a punishment from God for homosexuality, stating that “it is never good, healthy, normal or natural.” He also expressed support for Russia’s draconian anti-LGBT laws, saying that he would like to see laws that “stop homosexual activist propaganda from corrupting children in our nation and we need to see that right here in the United States.”
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, meanwhile, is in the middle of the fray. He sent out a letter last Wednesday to Alabama governor Robert Bentley, demanding that state probate judges refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore has falsely claimed that state law trumps federal law, a belief he has held for years and that has gotten him in trouble in the past. He was removed from the bench by Alabama’s judicial ethics panel in 2003 for defying a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments monument he’d erected in the state court building. On Sunday, Moore ordered probate judges to refuse to marry same-sex couples.
A day earlier, though, a group calling itself Sanctity of Marriage Alabama rallied on the capitol steps in Montgomery. Among the featured speakers were theocrat John Eidsmoe, a former law school professor and chief counsel for the Foundation for Moral Law, an Alabama group founded by Roy Moore and currently run by his wife, Kayla Moore. Eidsmoe addressed a conference of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens meeting in 2005, where he referred to Lester Maddox, the arch-segregationist former governor of Georgia as “Patriot of the Century.”
Already, Liberty Counsel is representing several probate judges, including Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams, who has released a “declaration in support of marriage.”
In his declaration, Williams said he would “only issue marriage licenses and solemnize ceremonies consistent with Alabama law and the U.S. Constitution; namely, between one man and one woman only, so help me God.”
Editors’ Note: This story has been updated to clarify that the rally was organized by a new group calling itself “Sanctity of Marriage Alabama.” John Eidsmoe of the Foundation for Moral Law was the rally’s featured speaker.
On the eve of Alabama courts recognizing same-sex marriage, supporters of a constitutional amendment restricting marriage gathered on the steps of the Capitol to rally support in a brewing legal battle reaching into the upper levels of the state’s legal institutions.
They prayed and sang hymns, and waved signs declaring marriage as an institution between one a man and a woman or, as many others read, “81%”—a reference to the percentage of voters who approved an amendment to the Alabama Constitution that defined marriage as a “sacred covenant” between a man and a woman.
“Someone asked me if this is a political rally or a Christian rally. Well, it’s a Christian rally. There are no political aspirations here. No one is running for office. No one trying to make money. Just Christian people gathering together, because our hearts are torn and broken,” said Tom Ford, a Montgomery chiropractor and father of eight.
But the rally was much more than that.
Just hours after the release of a surveillance photo, two men were arrested for the hate-crime assault of a transgender woman who, with the help of dozens of supporters, took her case this week to the Spokane City Council.
Adam R. Flippen, 45, faces charges of second-degree assault and malicious harassment. Marc A. Fessler, 42, is charge with one count of malicious harassment, a felony hate crime charge in Washington State. The suspects, arrested at their defense attorney’s office, were released by a judge on Wednesday after spending a night in jail. Prosecutors say formal charges are forthcoming.
The victim, Jacina Scamahorn, who is homeless, told investigators she was on a public sidewalk outside Boots Bakery & Lounge and the Zola bar on Friday evening when two men began making negative, unsolicited comments about her gender identity.
The victim said the comments upset her and she spit in the face of one of the men before they followed her inside the bakery, screaming obscenities, as the assault took place before witnesses. Scamahorn said she was punched in the face and kicked, causing a blackened eye and broken facial bones.
One witness who attempted to intervene on the victim’s behalf said he, too, was threatened, but wasn’t assaulted by the two men.
As Scamahorn lay on the floor in her own blood and vomit after the attack, police wouldn’t let a bartender provide her aid and repeatedly referred to her as a man, the victim told media outlets.
A responding police officer said in a report that he thought Scamahorn appeared intoxicated because he was unable to get a statement from the victim. Scamahorn said she had not been drinking and witnesses told police she wasn’t intoxicated.
“I wasn’t able to talk,” Scamahorn said, because “fluid was at the back of my throat. I couldn’t breathe.”
The suspects made voluntary statements to detectives at the office of their attorney where they went shortly after surveillance photos were released by police on Tuesday. The suspects denied calling the victim “derogatory names” and accused her of “causing a scene,” The Spokesman-Review reported.
Flippen admitted punching the victim once, but both denied kicking her, according to court documents. “Flippen and Fessler both said they assumed Scamahorn was a poorly dressed man even though she was wearing a skirt,” the newspaper reported, citing court documents.
Police in Spokane have released a surveillance photo of two men wanted for questioning about an assault of a transgender woman following widespread calls from the LGBT community for police action.
Sporting a black eye, Jacina Carla Scamahorn described her attack Monday at a public meeting of the Spokane City Council before a near-capacity crowd of 150 supporters.
The attack has ignited fury and calls for prosecution across the LGBT community, with at least one witness telling a Spokane television station that the victim, who is homeless, “was targeted because she is a transgender woman,” KREM-TV in Spokane reported.
The Republican National Committee is heading to the Holy Land, compliments of a hate group that has denigrated Muslims, African Americans, the LGBT community and even Jews.
But the RNC isn’t answering any questions about its American Family Association-funded trip, scheduled to begin tomorrow. Email and telephone messages left Friday with Kirsten Kukowski, the RNC’s national press secretary, were not returned. Presumably the trip is still on despite a week of bad press for the AFA.
Last week, the SPLC wrote to all 168 members of the RNC urging them not to accompany the AFA on the trip because of the group’s long track record of bigotry and hate. The SPLC has named the AFA as a hate group due to its history of making false, demonizing statements about the LGBT community.
Longtime AFA Bryan Fischer, for example, has claimed that “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler … the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” He has also characterized African Americans as “people who rut like rabbits.”
The AFA responded by seeking to distance itself from Fischer and redefine its character by removing him from his duties as its chief spokesman and director of issues analysis. Fischer, however, will remain as a talk show host on the AFA’s radio network – a bullpen of bigoted pundits known for incendiary statements.
In a letter this week to the Southern Poverty Law Center, AFA general counsel Patrick J. Vaughn wrote, “AFA has concluded that it must renounce some statements made by American Family Radio talk-show host Bryan Fischer. In its 37-year history, AFA has never held these views and wishes to clarify that it still rejects such sentiments.”
SPLC President Richard Cohen responded in a letter, “[T]he AFA’s 11th-hour disavowal of Mr. Fischer appears to serve only one purpose: to give the AFA a degree of plausible deniability while it continues to spew hateful rhetoric. It’s a shell game and a transparent one at that.”
While the AFA has taken a job title away from Fischer, he isn’t the only mouthpiece spewing hate on its network. AFA officials, including its president, Tim Wildmon, and founder, Don Wildmon, also have made similarly bigoted statements. “Hollywood and the theater world is heavily influenced by Jewish people,” Don Wildmon once said.
The RNC has predictably chosen to remain nearly silent on these developments, and at least presumably, some of its members are still planning to make the trip to Israel. Kukowski told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that they were “glad AFA has severed ties with him.”
But just like the AFA trying to weather the storm by “rejecting” Fischer’s statements while keeping him on the payroll, the RNC not talking about the trip won’t make the questions about its relationship with a known hate group go away.
Texas-based white supremacist and activist Preston Wiginton, best known for bringing racists to college campuses, is at it again, this time sponsoring anti-LGBT pastor James Manning to speak at Texas A&M University next month.
The topic of Manning’s speech will be “The True State of Black America”—an interesting title considering Manning is African American speaking at the invitation of a man who once claimed, “beating down a mud [person of color] when they try to poisen [sic] one of our own or when they try to seduce one of our [white] girls may not be God inspired, but rather a righteous act of collective preservation.”
Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) faxed and sent letters to every member of the Republican National Committee (RNC) regarding an upcoming trip to Jerusalem being organized by RNC Chair Reince Priebus.
The letters expressed concern about the organization paying for the trip, the American Family Association (AFA), which the SPLC has listed as an anti-LGBT hate group since 2010.
In particular, the letters asked RNC members not to lend their good offices to an organization with a long track record of making anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim and other hateful statements. An email to Priebus’ director of communications about this matter was not responded to.
As a follow up to our letters, SPLC staff also called all of the RNC state offices for comment about the trip. In particular, we wanted to ask if members were aware of AFA’s extremism. Here are some notable examples:
- An AFA leader has said, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.”
- The same staffer said African Americans “rut like rabbits” and women have no place in politics or the military.
- Another has argued that Hispanics are “socialists by nature” and come to the United States to “plunder” our country.
- And the group has repeatedly made the point that non-Christians are second-class citizens—“we are a Christian nation, and not a Jewish or Muslim one.” (Find a comprehensive look at AFA’s extremist statements and positions here).
In early December, Time reported that 60 members, or about a third, of the RNC had decided to travel to Israel. But you wouldn’t know that from the calls we made. We left dozens of voicemails and sent many, many emails, none of which were replied to.
In Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma and Tennessee, communications directors were unaware of the trip and promised to speak with RNC members and get back to us. They did not. Other state communications directors, like those in Maryland and Louisiana, said they knew nothing of the trip and could not answer questions. In Idaho, a communications staffer told us she had no idea what we were talking about, but that she would have known about a trip if there was one.
The communications director in New Mexico had not heard of the trip, but was shocked at AFA’s views. And the communications director in Utah was quite surprised about AFA’s views, but knew nothing about the trip. A communications staffer in Mississippi verified that none of his members would be traveling with AFA. No one from Massachusetts will be attending, nor will the chair of the Connecticut RNC.
The bulk of the states simply ignored our requests for comment, but in some cases, our calls were met with hostility. That happened in Wyoming, where a woman who answered the office phone refused twice to identify herself. She did say that no one from Wyoming was going on the trip and that she had “no idea who that group [AFA] is,” nor did she seem to care. Then she said “your argument [about AFA’s extremism] is kind of moot since no one is going” and hung up on me.
Meanwhile, AFA staffers continue to put out a stream of extremist propaganda. Just in the last few weeks, AFA’s Director of Issues Analysis for Government and Public Policy Bryan Fischer has said you can’t support gay rights and call yourself a Christian, railed about a Muslim congressman being appointed to the House Intelligence Committee and claimed that Duke University is “inviting the Demons of the Abyss” onto its campus by planning a Muslim prayer rally. And those comments are only from the second half of January. Imagine what is to come in the rest of 2015.
Even as same-sex marriage expands (36 states, as of last week) and even in the wake of numerous former leaders in the so-called ex-gay movement admitting they didn’t change (including former Exodus vice president Randy Thomas, who came out as gay with “bisexual tendencies” yesterday) and even after the closing of Exodus, the largest ex-gay ministry in the country, a hardline fringe continues to push for reparative therapy, a pseudoscientific practice that claims to change homosexuals to heterosexuals.
Case in point.
The Christian Post reported last week that Voice of the Voiceless, an ex-gay group that claims to “defend your rights and the rights of all who desire to fulfill their heterosexual dreams,” is planning to sue the District of Columbia over its ban of so-called reparative (or conversion) therapy of minors.
Challenges to similar bans in California and New Jersey have also been mounted. The Supreme Court rejected the California challenge last summer while the ban in New Jersey was upheld by a federal appeals court in September.
But that hasn’t deterred Christopher Doyle, founder and president of Voice of the Voiceless (VoV), who told The Christian Post that the group is in the process of seeking a plaintiff to bring a lawsuit against the government of D.C. over the ban, which became law in December. Upon the passage of that ban, Doyle, who is married to a woman and claims to be “ex-gay,” lamented that it was a “victory for gay pedophiles everywhere.”
That’s at least according to Craig James, assistant to Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins, who last week said on the group’s radio show that “gender identity has become the flashpoint” in the culture wars, and that the enemy was clear.
“That might be the next thing that we have to combat in this war that we’re on with the LGBT community and those who are challenging sexuality,” James said on the FRC’s radio program, Washington Watch.
At the time, James was speaking about transgender equality with Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at FRC who once advocated for the deportation of homosexuals from the United States, backpedaled from that claim a week later with a lukewarm apology, then doubled down in 2010 when he told Chris Matthews that “there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”
No real surprise, then, that James would make such a statement, since FRC openly holds the idea that “homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed”—not to mention its a long history of demonizing LGBT people.
But what is surprising is the open admission of a war against a group of people that is maligned and subject to violence in many places around the world, including the United States, where transgender people, especially, experience high rates of discrimination and anti-LGBT violence.
Three Phoenix-area rabbis were recently tricked into participating in the production of an anti-Semitic film by Steven Anderson, the Arizona pastor who has made headlines with his vitriolic rants about LGBT people and President Obama.
Anderson, whose Tempe-based Faith Temple Baptist Church is among the most hardcore anti-LGBT hate groups in the country, has attracted attention for his rants wishing death upon President Obama and gays and lesbians, as well as for declaring that birth control was turning American women into “whores.” At one point, Anderson was tasered at a checkpoint on the Mexico border while defying a patrolman’s orders. He recently made headlines by predicting that America could have an AIDS-free Christmas if all gays are killed, as the Bible demands.
But in recent months, Anderson’s ministry has also taken a decidedly anti-Semitic turn, as Stephen Lemons explored in a recent Phoenix New Times post.
Anderson has given sermons—preserved on YouTube—covering such subjects as “The Jews and Their Lies,” “Hebrew Roots Movement Exposed,” “The Jews Are Antichrists,” “Jews Worship a Different God Than Christians,” “The Jews Are the Racists,” and the ever-popular “The Jews Killed Jesus.”
Anderson and his cohort, Paul Wittenberger, are currently coproducing an anti-Semitic film titled Marching to Zion, described on YouTube as providing “Scriptural evidence that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people.” It also purports to reveal that rabbinical Judaism’s Messiah is the Antichrist; among the “topics covered” are “Blasphemous teachings of the Talmud and Kabbalah,” “Modern DNA evidence of the Jews’ ancestry,” and “Proof that Christian Zionism is a modern phenomenon.”
Four Phoenix-area rabbis are interviewed for the film, which has prompted outrage in the Jewish community.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement saying it was “deeply troubled by the upcoming release of a new ‘documentary’ geared toward Christian audiences that purportedly will focus on ‘the history of the Jews,’ but in fact will likely serve as a tool for denigrating Jews and Judaism.”
Anderson recently boasted during one of his Internet radio broadcasts how he came to include the four rabbis:
Well, here’s how I got the four rabbis to participate. I got a list of every rabbi in Arizona, and I think I got 41 rabbis. And I just figured, you know, if I contact enough rabbis, somebody’s going to agree to do it. And so I actually contacted all 41 of them, and I told them I was making a film about Judaism and the history of the nation of Israel, which is true, and I gave them a whole list of questions and those questions are the questions that I asked in the interview.
So they knew the questions they were being asked going in. I told them it was going to be about Judaism and the nation of Israel, but I didn’t tell them whether it was going to be positive or negative. Well, they just assume it’s going to be positive, because they assume that I’m going to be like the rest of evangelicals in Christianity and bow down to the chosen ones and worship them and say how great they are.
So basically, all four of them are going to hate this movie, of course, but it’s the truth, they’re false prophets and they deserve to be exposed and I didn’t lie to them, I mean, everything I told them was the truth.
According to the Jewish News, the rabbis who took part did not realize the nature of the production. Anderson allegedly described himself as “an interested layperson” making a documentary explaining elements of the Jewish faith.
Rabbi Irwin Wiener, one of the four Jewish interviewees, was outraged: “The subterfuge that he used to get these interviews from us is beyond belief.”
According to the report, Anderson had told the interviewees that he was making the documentary for the Public Broadcasting System. “When he used the words PBS to me, it sounded legitimate and I didn’t pursue it any further,” Wiener said.
Another interviewee, Orthodox Rabbi Reuven Mann, was blindsided by the discovery that he had been tricked, since he felt a responsibility to explain his faith to anyone interested. “I’m very open about this and I don’t suspect that anyone has any ulterior motives,” he said.
But Anderson was defensive in his Internet broadcast when his interlocutor about the rabbis—who in fact, was Stephen Lemons—pressed him on whether he had deceived his subjects, notably with the claim to be making a PBS documentary.
“Well, guess what, who is a liar but he that deny that Jesus is the Christ,” Anderson retorted. “He’s anti-Christ. So basically, if somebody is lying and saying that Jesus isn’t the messiah, it also does not surprise me that they would lie and say I was selling the film to PBS.”
Lemons then asked Anderson if he was being deceptive himself. “Ooh,” he said mockingly, “it’s possible that I could be lying too. It’s also possible that the Bible could be lying but guess what the Bible’s not lying and it’s the Jews that are lying.”
Anderson then hung up on Lemons, and continued with his anti-Semitic rant: “So obviously this is somebody who is calling in trying to defend the anti-Christ Jews and he’d rather listen to somebody who calls himself a rabbi and spits on the name of Jesus Christ and calls Jesus a bastard and his mother a whore, and he thinks I’m lying because I supposedly claimed I was selling the film to PBS? No I never said any such thing, and the lying Jewish rabbi that told you that made it up.”