Meet Ken Hutcherson, Spokesman For Anti-Equality Groups In Washington
January 26, 2012 4:18 pm ET by Carlos Maza
Last week, pastor Ken Hutcherson was named official spokesperson for Stand for Marriage Coalition – a coalition of groups fighting against marriage equality in Washington state. Hutcherson, a former NFL player-turned-mega church leader, has been active in lobbying against a proposed bill to legalize same-sex marriage. He testified in front of the state’s Senate Government Operations Committee, chiding lawmakers for thinking “you know better than God.” During a televised debate Wednesday, he asserted that legalizing same-sex marriage would eventually lead to humans marrying horses. He’s also come under criticism for comparing Washington’s pro-equality Gov. Christine Gregoire to John Wilkes Booth and writing that “the only way to make your enemy a friend is to defeat them or kill them.”
Long before he became the face of Stand for Marriage Coalition, though, Hutcherson was notorious for spreading anti-gay misinformation, working with anti-gay hate groups, and championing efforts to deny LGBT people even the most basic forms of legal protection.
For nearly a decade, Hutcherson has been a prominent anti-gay activist, involving himself in both state and national battles against LGBT equality. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):
In Hutcherson's mind, doing God's work means excommunicating gay members of his church, rather than ministering to or counseling them, and leading high-profile campaigns against equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. In 2004, Hutcherson organized a "Mayday for Marriage" rally in Seattle that drew 20,000 supporters and a second rally in Washington, D.C. that attracted 140,000.
Hutcherson's anti-gay notoriety was amplified in 2005 when he launched a successful campaign to get Microsoft to quietly withdraw its support for a proposed gay non-discrimination bill in Washington. Two years later, Hutcherson targeted the company again, threatening to take over the company by “packing it with shareholders who will vote against their policy of advocating gay rights”:
I told them that you need to work with me or we will put a fire-storm on you like you have never seen in you life because I am your worst nightmare. I am a black man with a righteous cause with a whole host of powerful white people behind me.
Hutcherson’s threat against Microsoft never materialized, but the pastor has continued to act as a vocal critic of non-discrimination efforts.
In March of 2007, he participated in a visit to Latvia with a number of other anti-gay activists working to persuade the Latvian parliament to oppose the “homosexual movement.” At the time, Hutcherson falsely claimed that he had been appointed by the Bush administration to be a “special envoy” for “family values.” According to SPLC:
"I came to you representing the White House. In my country, people will know how Latvia responded to anti-Christian statements," Hutcherson told the Latvian parliament. "We need to stand for righteousness not only morally, but also physically and financially. It's a great battle for righteousness and no one can stop it. I promise to stand with you."
Hutcherson later said that he was designated a White House envoy during a February 2007 meeting between himself, Ledyaev and Jay Hein, the head of the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Hutcherson claims he has a videotape of this meeting, but so far has refused to release it.
In a written statement, White House spokesperson Alyssa J. McLenning refuted Hutcherson's claim: "The White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives did not give Hutcherson the title, 'Special Envoy for Adoptions, Family Values, Religious Freedom, and Medical Relief.' The White House did not give Hutcherson any other titles and did not coordinate with Hutcherson on his recent trip to Latvia."
In the United States, Hutcherson has opposed a number of efforts to protect LGBT people. He’s lobbied against legislation to extend federal hate crime laws to include sexual orientation, encouraged his followers to protest the anti-bullying Day of Silence, and even criticized eHarmony for offering its dating services to gays and lesbians. Last March, Hutcherson recorded a video in which he compared same-sex marriage to a deadly cobra and spouted a number of blatant falsehoods about the consequences of repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):
HUTCHERSON: What repealing DOMA would do: President Obama says he will no longer defend it. Immediately redefines marriage as we know it. Enable gays to officially marry. It opens the doors to more definitions of marriage. It outlaws the church from speaking openly against gay marriage, thus, number one, removing religious liberties. That’s right. Never being able to say no to gay ceremonies, business deals, etc. Already happening in states that recognize same-sex marriages. Pastors can be jailed. As your pastor, as one that’s talking with you, I will be jailed because I'm going to stand on the biblical right of what God says a marriage is, between one man and one woman. You’re going to lose your parental rights in public schools. You’re not going to be able to opt out if DOMA is repealed. Complete breakdown of the family as we know it today. [emphasis added]
Hutcherson's campaign against the LGBT community goes beyond merely fighting against LGBT legal protections. In 2010, the pastor wrote a column condemning homosexuality as a dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle while promoting the myth that being gay is a choice:
Where is the public outcry when this dangerous lifestyle choice is promoted by schools, cities, states, courts and the federal government?
The illusion that the homosexual lifestyle is a normal way of living has been successfully propagated by promoting a “victim” image for homosexual persons and by the pseudo-science alleging a “gay” gene. Evidence does show that homosexual persons are indeed victims – but overwhelmingly of their own behavior, not that of others.
We know of many homosexuals, and I am friends with many, who have gotten out of the homosexual lifestyle by one decision – to stop.
Hutcherson has developed relationships with a number of anti-gay hate groups, including Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) and the Family Research Council (FRC). Hutcherson also has ties to Scott Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries and author of the book The Pink Swastika, which posits that the Nazy Party “is best understood as a neo-pagan, homosexual cult.”
The Stand for Marriage Coalition has already pledged to launch a referendum to repeal the marriage equality law this fall if the legislature votes to legalize same-sex marriage. Considering Washington’s broad public support for basic LGBT equality, the coalition is likely to spend the next several months portraying itself as a group that supports traditional marriage but opposes demonizing and attacking gays and lesbians. If and when that happens, voters and legislators should remember who exactly the group chose to be its lead spokesman.