The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Tony Perkins, director of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council (FRC), will be attending an interreligious conference on “traditional marriage” (Nov. 17-19) hosted by the Vatican, about a month after a Synod of Bishops on the family issued an initial draft report that included calls for greater openness to LGBT people and divorced Roman Catholics who had remarried. The paragraphs were removed after conservative backlash.
This latest event is being co-hosted by the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
The gathering, titled “On the Complementarity of Man and Woman,” will feature more than 30 speakers who represent 23 countries and 14 religious faith traditions and hammers home the notion that marriage is a strictly heterosexual affair and thus, by extension, only families that have one man and one woman are valid.
Anti-LGBT groups have been pushing this idea for years for years, whether through claims they only want to uphold “traditional marriage” or by demonizing LGBT people, as the FRC has done for years, referring to them as promiscuous and prone to disease and falsely claiming that LGBT people are sexual predators interested in children.
Tony Perkins is also well-known for his anti-LGBT statements, including falsely linking homosexuality to pedophilia, claiming that gay parents are bad for children, and calling homosexuality “destructive” and promoting discredited reparative therapy to make gay people heterosexual.
Others attending the colloquium include Nicholas Okoh, the Anglican archbishop of Nigeria, who has called homosexuality a manifestation of the devil and Pastor Rick Warren, who said in 2008 that homosexuality is not a natural way of life and thus not a human right. Warren has since backpedaled, and claimed that he can be “tolerant” and “accepting” without being “approving” of homosexuality, though in 2012 he likened homosexuality to arsenic.
Since Pope Francis I was elected to the high office, he has been at least moderate on some hardline doctrines and has replaced conservative church officials (see here, here) with moderates as well as demoted some.
The Pope also has been seemingly conciliatory about so-called “nontraditional” relationships. Last year, he famously said, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? You can’t marginalize these people.” But when asked about civil unions in March, he stated that, “We have to look at the different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”
Perhaps to clarify confusion about Catholic doctrine that came out of the recent Synod, the Pope’s comments this morning to the conference certainly appear to ensure that LGBT people are, indeed, marginalized from marriage.
“It is fitting,” he said, “that you have gathered here in this international colloquium to explore the complementarity of man and woman. This complementarity is a root of marriage and family.”
The Pope added his hopes that the “colloquium will be an inspiration to all who seek to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities, and whole societies.”
A letter to the editor of the local newspaper in Mountain Home, Ark., appears to have inspired a crudely written threat to the church’s leaders, according to local blog reports and the church’s Facebook page, and may have inspired an attack on the church itself.
Windows of the church were shot out, according to the WWJTD blog at Patheos, which was the first to report on the incident on Wednesday. (It did not specify how many windows were shot.) Someone also left a threatening note, written in all capital letters, and with multiple misspellings, including “socialist,” which somehow came out “scholiast”:
Mr. Billy Bob
Hello from your neighbors
You filthy white trash scum-billy!
Why don’t you move to Ferguson, MO.
Or Chi-Congo, IL. Since you like niggers and queers so well.
And you idolize the nigger commie, Muslin, scholiast destroying the USA
He’s the worst garbage to ever occupy the White House bar none.
See how long your white trash ass would last among them.
You brain dead bastard.
Just remember, we true Southerners know where you live asshole!
According to both that blog and the Arkansas Blog, the letter and the vandalism appear to have been a response to a letter to the editor published in the local newspaper, the Baxter Bulletin, in June, announcing that the congregation welcomed people of all backgrounds, including their LGBT neighbors:
From Alice Hurley, Minister,
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mountain Home:
While the Arkansas Supreme Court considers their position on same-sex marriage, let’s take a moment to reflect on the importance of the separation of state and church. Arkansas state, as a representation of all people contained within its boundaries, cannot dictate the conduct of a church or fellowship of any religion or philosophy. It has a responsibility to ensure all citizens are treated equally under the law. Conversely, individuals and private organizations, religious or otherwise, do have the right of discrimination.
Once the state ensures everyone is represented equally, then individuals are free to choose, within the bounds of law, whom they befriend and what organizations hold their loyalty or membership. Individuals can be open to learning about different people and cultures, choosing to be inclusive and tolerant of their neighbors in a community, or they can choose to be insular and discriminatory.
We at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Mountain Home choose not to discriminate. Our Fellowship Hall is open to all truth-seekers, regardless of race or sexual orientation. Please feel free to visit our fellowship and consider becoming part of our family. We respect the right of people to choose their marriage partners for themselves, and are happy to perform, for members or non-members, commitment ceremonies and same-sex marriages, as soon as the state of Arkansas realizes it cannot discriminate and must ensure that all of its citizens are equal under the law.
The Arkansas Blog reports that some of the church’s windows appear to have been shot with a pellet gun, and the church leaders – including Hurley, the author of the letter, and Bill Rhodes, the president of the congregation and the person to whom the letter was sent two weeks ago – were uncertain whether the vandalism was connected to the letter, since the church is located near a busy intersection.
“I think it was just somebody blowing off steam,” Hurley told the blog, adding that she’d like to get in touch with the writer of the anonymous note. “I’d arrange for him to have five to ten minutes of time to speak at our service Sunday. We’d be happy to listen to him. I won’t say we’d agree with him, but we’ll listen.”
Mountain Home is noted for having once been a “sundown town,” a city that once had a sign warning blacks – often with racist slurs — that they were not permitted to be within the town limits after sundown.
According to James Loewen’s survey of such towns, Mountain Home had a such a sign near the town entrance well into the 1940s, and the reputation has remained intact; indeed, today, the racial makeup of both Mountain Home and Baxter County is over 97 percent white.
Attorneys for the City of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, are asking a federal court to put a lawsuit on hold that was brought by the owners of a “Hitching Post” marriage “corporation” that refuses to marry same-sex couples.
The motion for a stay of the proceedings was filed Monday after city officials and their attorneys concluded they may be on shaky legal grounds if they attempted to use public accommodation provisions of an anti-discrimination ordinance to force two ordained ministers operating a “religious corporation” to conduct gay marriages.
The motion for the stay says the “parties are working towards a potential mutual resolution short
of litigation,” suggesting the city attorneys likely are drafting an agreement saying they won’t attempt
to prosecute the Hitching Post if it’s now a “religious corporation” as its owners contend.
“Accordingly, the parties hereby request a stay of the current proceedings until any
such resolution discussions are concluded. After which, the parties will inform the Court of any
result and to determine further proceedings, if necessary,” the newly filed motion says.
Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who own the Hitching Post in Coeur d’Alene, are represented in the suit by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an Arizona-based religious-right organization involved in a number of suits brought by conservative Christians who say they have a right to discriminate against gays and lesbians. ADF is also working to criminalize gay sex in other countries.
The ADF and the American Family Association – one of the biggest anti-LGBT organizations in the country – recently ran to the aid of the Knapps after they were told they might be subject to prosecution under a year-old Coeur d’Alene city law banning discrimination if they refused to conduct same-sex marriages.
On Sept. 12, the Knapps filed new documents with the Idaho Secretary of State, becoming a “limited liability corporation” known as “Hitching Post Weddings LLC,” public records show. On Oct. 6, another company the couple owned, DLK Enterprises Inc., was merged with Hitching Post Weddings LLC, also according to public records.
But those legal maneuvers — apparently designed to limited the couple’s business liability — didn’t stop ADF from filing a 63-page lawsuit on Oct. 17 in U.S. District Court against the City of Coeur d’Alene. The residents of Coeur d’Alene and the city’s insurance company will pay the costs of defending the suit.
The American Family Association, meanwhile, also weighed in, claiming the Knapps and their privately owned wedding business were being threatened by “homosexual bullies.” AFA used its web site and mailing lists to encourage hundreds of its supporters to flood the Coeur d’Alene mayor’s office with phone calls and e-mails.
The suit was filed even though the city had not initiated any legal action against the Hitching Post or its owners.
“This case is about the City of Coeur D’Alene unconstitutionally coercing two Christian ministers, Donald and Evelyn Knapp, to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies at The Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in violation of their religious beliefs, their ordination vows, and their consciences,” the ADF suit alleged.
It contended the city was “imposing a Hobson’s choice on the Knapps through” its city ordinance that bars sexual-orientation discrimination in public accommodations.
“The Knapps can either violate their religious convictions and ministerial vows by performing same-sex wedding ceremonies or follow their religious convictions and vows by declining to perform same-sex ceremonies and face up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines,” the suit said.
On Oct. 20, Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Mike Gridley wrote a letter to the Knapps, saying “if they are operating as a legitimate not-for-profit religious corporation, then they are exempt from the (discrimination) ordinance like any other church or religious association,” The Coeur d’Alene Press reported.
But the Hitching Post is a for-profit operation run by two ordained ministers who say it’s a “religious corporation.”
Three days later, the city attorney wrote the Knapps a “clarification” letter, saying it was now the city’s position that if the Hitching Post is a “religious corporation” as the Knapps now claim, their refusal to conduct same-sex marriages “would be exempt under the ordinance if a complaint was received by the city.”
The city’s new position aligns with that of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.
The task force issued a statement saying the ministers operating the Hitching Post “are solely providing a service limited to wedding ceremonies.”
“When they are performing a religious activity like marrying people, ministers have the right to choose which marriages they will solemnize. That’s why we don’t think the public accommodation law applies to ministers making choices about performing marriages,” the human rights task force statement said.
In a recent fundraising letter, the CSA warns about “death panels” and insists that the Affordable Care Act is the “single greatest threat to America’s seniors” (and, by extension, America). To make the case, the CSA drags out a quotation by Vladimir Lenin to further link the Affordable Care Act to the Soviet era. According to CSA, Lenin said, “Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state.”
Never mind that Lenin probably never said that, and that the quote appears to have originated in 1949, when the American Medical Association (AMA) launched a campaign against President Truman’s proposal to create a national health insurance system.
But playing loose with history hasn’t stymied the CSA, headed by James Lafferty, husband of current TVC president Andrea Lafferty. ( continue to full post… )
Despite claiming its success this election cycle came from expunging extremists from its ranks, the GOP managed to let a fair number of candidates with extremist views rooted in conspiracy theories and far-right fears slip through the cracks.
“Little was left to chance,” The New York Times reported earlier this week. “Republican operatives sent fake campaign trackers — interns and staff members brandishing video cameras to record every utterance and move — to trail their own candidates. In media training sessions, candidates were forced to sit through a reel of the most self-destructive moments.”
But when all the ballots were counted, not even that was enough to stop the GOP from embracing candidates with fringe views, extremist connections and embarrassing backgrounds.
Consider Michael Peroutka, the onetime Constitutional Party presidential candidate and a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS). Peroutka, running as a Republican, was elected to the Ann Arundel County Council in Maryland, garnering 15,531 votes against Democratic candidate Patrick Armstrong’s 13,638.
Peroutka is an avid Southern secessionist and radical Christian Reconstructionist, as he made clear during his presidential campaign for the Constitution Party in 2004. He has long been an active figure in the LOS, serving on its board until recently. However, as the Capital Gazette in Annapolis noted, Peroutka campaigned almost entirely on local issues, emphasizing his desire to repeal the county’s storm water fees, dubbed by local critics as “the rain tax.”
Peroutka eventually renounced his LOS membership, telling reporters he had discovered that the organization held racist views “contrary to my beliefs.” In spite of that mea culpa, Peroutka has continued to share his extremist views in far-right media outlets. In one media appearance, Peroutka warned that the “gay deathstyle” was intent on recruiting the nation’s children. In another interview, he made clear that his extremist politics will color how he conducts county policy, proclaiming nondiscrimination laws a plot to replace God with government “idolatry.”
While it might be easy to say that Peroutka is alone on the Republic roster with his extremist ideology, there were many other candidates elected Tuesday with similar baggage.
- Joni Ernst, U.S. Senate, Iowa: Ernst has supported state nullification of federal laws, claimed the president is a “dictator” who should be impeached, and given credence to Agenda 21, a right-wing conspiracy theory that claims the United Nations is building a blueprint for the “New World Order” intent on taking away U.S. citizen’s land and possessions.
- Jody Hice, U.S. House of Representatives, Georgia, 10th District: The anti-Islam Hice (who is also a radio talk show host) has said that Muslims shouldn’t get First Amendment protections, has claimed that a satirical piece written in the 1980s is “proof” of a “gay agenda” and said in 2004 that it was okay for a woman to run for office as long as she’s “within the authority of her husband.” He also said on his radio show that “blood moons” are a sign of world-changing. Strangely, Hice’s radio shows have been scrubbed from the Internet.
- Gordon Klingenschmitt, Colorado state legislature, District 15: Best-known for his claims of casting demons out of LGBT people, Klingenschmitt heads up the anti-LGBT hate group The Pray in Jesus [sic] Name Project. He was court martialed by the Air Force in 2006 for disobeying an order. He has claimed that gay people sexually abuse their own children and they should be discriminated against because they’re not going to heaven and only people who go to heaven are entitled to equal treatment.
- Gary Glenn, Michigan state legislature, District 98: Glenn, the author of Michigan’s amendment banning marriage equality, is a former director of AFA-Michigan, an affiliate of the American Family Association, an anti-LGBT hate group. Glenn has expressed desire to recriminalize homosexuality, which he claims is a “proven threat to health and human safety.” He has expressed reservations about businesses hiring LGBT people because of the “severe medical consequences” of homosexuality, which indicates they’re “not the best and the brightest.”
Ryan Lenz, David Neiwert and Evelyn Schlatter contributed to this article.
Former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who calls himself “Dr. Chaps” and claims he exorcises demons out of LGBT people, is now a state legislator in Colorado Springs, Colo.—part of a landslide of Republic wins during last Tuesday’s election.
Klingenschmitt captured nearly 70 percent of the vote in the heavily Republican District located in El Paso County, on the eastern side of Colorado Springs.
But Klingenschmitt isn’t your usual conservative.
He heads up the Pray in Jesus Name Project, which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBT hate group. Klingenschmitt himself is perhaps best-known for his attempts to exorcise demons out of various people (including President Obama), as well as his numerous false claims and bizarre statements about homosexuality.
The American Family Association – one of the biggest anti-LGBT organizations in the country with an estimated $20 million annual budget – says “homosexual bullies” are threatening to pressure the city of Coeur d’Alene to fine or arrest Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who operate the private wedding chapel. City officials say that’s nonsense.
But that’s not stopping AFA which is directing and encouraging its supporters to flood the Coeur d’Alene mayor’s office and the office of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter with phone calls and e-mails. Hundreds are pouring in.
The governor, in the middle of a contentious re-election campaign, announced on Tuesday that he will ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a full-court review of an earlier ruling that struck down as unconstitutional Idaho’s ban on same sex marriages. They became legal in Idaho last week and at least one same same-sex couple headed to the “Hitching Post” to be married, only to be turned away.
The City of Coeur d’Alene has a law, with penalty provisions, making it illegal for businesses to discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation. Coeur d’Alene City Attorney Mike Gridley said if the Hitching Post provides public services primarily or substantially for profit and discriminates in providing those services based on sexual orientation, it likely would be in violation of the ordinance, The Spokesman-Review reported in today’s edition.
The Hitching Post, which performs secular as well as religious ceremonies, filed a federal lawsuit last week, contending the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance violates the religious rights of the business owners. Meanwhile, the Knapps recently filed paperwork with the state to make their business a religious organization which would exempt it from the city ordinance, The Spokesman-Review reported in Tuesday’s editions. The city of C’oeur d’Alene has asked the Knapps to withdraw the lawsuit, since they filed for religious exemption two weeks ago and would thus not be required to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
All those developments haven’t stopped American Family from making the Hitching Post case its cause célèbre, with a new “action alert” posting on its web page. “Once again, homosexual bullies have targeted Christian-owned businesses in their attempt to silence all opposition to their sinful lifestyle,’ the AFA message says.
That has resulted in a deluge of 33,000 e-mails and an estimated 300 phone calls to the office of Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer, city spokesman Keith Erickson told Hatewatch today. The e-mail messages “all read the same,” and are cut-and-paste scripted from the AFA web site, Erickson said.
One of American Family’s senior officials, Bryan Fischer, is the former director of the Idaho Values Alliance, a former AFA state affiliate. He has said homosexuality gave the world Adolf Hitler and was responsible for the extermination of six million Jews. Fischer also has called for criminalizing gay sex which, he claims, would end “gay indoctrination” public schools. He has also advocated forcing gay people into therapy to “cure’’ homosexuality which he likens to intravenous drug use.
The ex-gay groups Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), Voice of the Voiceless, and Equality and Justice for All will hold their second annual gathering tomorrow to mark what they’ve dubbed “Ex-Gay Awareness Month,” which includes a day to lobby lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
Speakers include some of the most virulent anti-LGBT voices on the right, including: Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, who once called for the exportation of LGBT people; Matt Barber, founder of the extreme anti-LGBT site Barbwire.com who co-hosts the Liberty Counsel radio show “Faith and Freedom”; Sandy Rios, a radio host for American Family Radio (American Family Association); and Alan Keyes, who thinks marriage equality is a “crime against humanity.” Keyes disowned his daughter in 2005 because she is a lesbian.
Last year’s “Ex-Gay Awareness Month” was cancelled, but the movement soldiers on despite growing national acceptance of LGBT people and marriage equality, the overturning of parts of the Defense of Marriage Act by the Supreme Court and certainly despite the numerous people who have left movement.
One of those, Yvette Cantu Schneider, agreed to speak with Hatewatch about her involvement in the ex-gay and anti-LGBT movement, and her views on conversion therapy.
Schneider came out as a lesbian as a young woman, then converted to Christianity in the 1990s and spent more than a decade working with anti-LGBT groups and campaigns like the Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family. She also was active in the Proposition 8 campaign in California, which resulted in the outlawing of same-sex marriage in that state in 2008. (The ban has since been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.)
Schneider, who eventually married a man, was for years one of the key sources anti-LGBT activists cited as “proof” that people can change their sexual orientation. But in 2009, she began to question her beliefs.
In July 2014, she joined eight other founders, leaders and promoters of the “ex-gay” movement—a largely religious movement that claims therapy can “cure” people of their homosexuality—in joining the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ call for a campaign to end so-called “conversion” or “reparative” therapy within five years. Schneider has also donated some of the proceeds from her latest book, Never Not Broken: A Journey of Unbridled Transformation, to GLAAD, an LGBT rights group.
Schneider’s perspective on ex-gay therapy is important. Anti-LGBT groups have used the idea that homosexuality is curable as ammunition for decades in their war against LGBT equality, holding it up as “proof” that homosexuality is a choice. But over the years, numerous people—including prominent spokespeople and leaders—have left the movement and denounced it, admitting that ex-gay therapy doesn’t work. Others have been revealed to be engaging in same-sex affairs or relationships. Just last year, Exodus International closed its doors and its president, Alan Chambers, issued a formal apology for the pain many people had experienced through ex-gay therapy.
The first ex-gay ministry, Love in Action, opened in 1973, followed by several others, including Exodus International, which started in 1976 and grew to be the largest. Religion fused with pseudo-science in 1992 with the formation of the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality, which is made up of academics and therapists who tout falsehoods such as the claim that people become gay because of childhood sexual abuse or because they didn’t “bond” properly with a same-sex parent. A variety of conversion therapy practitioners have used techniques ranging from the bizarre (banging on pillows with tennis rackets) to the cruel (physical, sexual and emotional abuse) to basic talk therapy.
All of the nation’s leading professional medical and mental health associations have rejected conversion therapy as harmful and unnecessary. In spite of that, it is currently legally available for adults in every state. Two states—California and New Jersey—have banned it for minors. The New Jersey ban is being challenged in court.
Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of civil rights groups are calling on the Republican National Committee (RNC) to distance itself from this week’s Values Voter Summit because of the involvement of groups with a long history of relentlessly demonizing the LGBT community.
In an open letter published in The Washington Post and The Hill, the coalition is reminding RNC Chair Reince Priebus that 15 years ago his predecessor told GOP officials to shun the Council of Conservative Citizens because of the group’s racist views. This year’s campaign is asking the RNC to do it again.
“Will the GOP condemn anti-LGBT bigotry as vigorously as it opposed racism 15 years ago?” the letter asks.
The Value Voters Summit is an annual event hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC) and co-sponsored by the American Family Association (AFA) and Liberty Counsel – groups that engage in groundless demonization of LGBT people by portraying them as sick, vile, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation.
Additionally, as part of the campaign to bring awareness to the issue, the SPLC has created a website with information on this year’s summit participants and their views that are helping to shape the modern GOP. You can visit that website here.
Earlier this year, the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF) suspended its conference slated this month in Moscow in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Or did they?
Mother Jones has reported that on September 10-12, something called “Large Families: The Future of Humanity” (aka International Family Forum) congregated in Moscow, at the Kremlin. The WCF conference that was suspended in March had as its theme “Every Child a Gift: Large Families, the Future of Humanity,” and it was originally scheduled to take place the same week in the same locations. ( continue to full post… )