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Anti-Gay Pundits Recycle Doomsday DADT Rhetoric To Defend Military's Transgender Service Ban

September 24, 2014 9:46 am ET by Brian Powell

The third anniversary of the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) found the U.S. military intact and stronger than ever. Despite the utter failure of their previous doomsday predictions to materialize, the same voices of opposition to DADT are now making similar prophecies about potential moves to lift the military's discriminatory ban on transgender people.

Challenges remain for lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members. Three years removed from the repeal of DADT, they still face harassment, discrimination and difficulties obtaining veterans' benefits. One obstacle to equality looms particularly heavy post-DADT: the prohibition on transgender service.

The Pentagon currently prohibits transgender people from serving in the armed forces, a ban that forces over 15,000 men and women currently serving to lie about their identities and deters countless others from enlisting. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has indicated the military may review this policy, which, according to the Palm Center, a research institute focused on sexuality and the military, is without sound medical reasoning and could be lifted without harming readiness.

Unsurprisingly, conservative pundits have railed against proposals to lift the transgender ban.

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Center (FRC) and one of Fox News' favorite social commentators, wrote in a March FRC newsletter that lifting the ban on transgender service members would be a "fatal blow to unit cohesion and readiness" that "could compromise our troops' safety." Perkins tied the issue to military sexual assault rates.

Elaine Donnelly, the president of the anti-gay Center for Military Readiness (who once said that human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were a result of allowing women in the military) echoed Perkins, callingthe idea of transgender military service an experiment that puts "an extra burden on men and women in the military that they certainly don't need or they don't deserve" and suggesting it would lead to an increase in sexual assaults.

Conservative commentator Erick Erickson ranted against the mere disclosure of the estimate that 15,000 transgender people are currently serving, and said that President Obama has "turned our military into some sort of weird social experiment." Meanwhile, right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh mocks the idea that transgender people should be allowed in the military with repeated uses of the term "tranny" and his token phrase "add-a-dick-to-me babe."

If the rhetoric sounds familiar, it should. Conservative media used the same attacks in their attempts to preserve DADT or replace it with a discriminatory policy even more extreme.

Three years ago, Perkins argued that repealing DADT would increase military sexual assault rates, undermine morale, and damage recruitment. Donnelly warned that after repealing DADT, "lesbians would take pictures of people in the shower" and gay service members might spread HIV through the ranks.

Erickson predicted the military bureaucracy would "go to war with Obama on the battlefield of public opinion" after DADT, while Limbaugh called the repeal "special treatment" for the gay community and intimated that it would lead to problems with "predation" and sexual harassment:

LIMBAUGH: Now, here's a question. It's an open-ended question. Will straight soldiers, heterosexuals, be able to claim sexual harassment by gays in the military? Or will such claims now be considered hate crimes? How is this gonna play out? Well, you know, because in our culture there are certain templates. It's like women never lie about rape, yet we got this ABC weather babe, you know, women never lie. Children never lie, yet we know that they do. This notion that there is predation in the homosexual community, oh, that never happens. Well, yeah, just like it never happens in the heterosexual. Of course it does. There are predators everywhere out there. Hate crimes are, if you're thinking about it, well, it's even worse than the crime that you commit. So anyway, it's a lot of stuff to shake out, so to speak.

These fears, predictably, proved unfounded. According to a Palm Center report published a year after the repeal of DADT:

Based on the substantial evidence we gathered in our research, we conclude that, during the one-year period following implementation of the policy change, DADT repeal has had no negative impact on overall military readiness or its component parts: unit cohesion, recruitment, retention, assaults, harassment or morale. While repeal produced a few downsides for some military members--mostly those who personally opposed the policy change--we identified important upsides as well, and in no case did negative consequences outweigh advantages. On balance, DADT repeal appears to have slightly enhanced the military's ability to do its job by clearing away unnecessary obstacles to the development of trust and bonding.

Such hateful attacks on transgender service members should disqualify these discredited pundits from commenting on the issue, but with the debate over lifting the transgender service ban heating up, it remains to be seen if media will finally stop offering them opportunities to comment.

Previously:

Daily Caller Column Blames Gay Service Members For Rise In Military Rape

Bryan Fischer: Post-DADT Military "Emasculated, Neutered, Feminized, And Weakened Beyond Repair"

One Year Later: FRC’s Top Five DADT Horror Stories Never Came True

The Top Five Myths About LGBT Non-Discrimination Laws Debunked

September 23, 2014 1:08 pm ET by Coleman Lowndes & Carlos Maza

Conservatives routinely attack LGBT non-discrimination laws as unnecessary, burdensome and threatening to religious liberty. But in state after state and city after city, their horror stories haven’t come true.

Federal law still doesn’t prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in private employment, housing, or public accommodations, despite widespread public support for such protections.

As a result, many city and state governments have taken to adopting their own non-discrimination measures. In March, Maryland banned discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Since then, cities like HoustonFayetteville, and Roland Park have similarly extended existing non-discrimination protections to their LGBT residents.

Debates about local non-discrimination laws are routinely hijacked by conservative activists and media outlets that warn that protecting LGBT people is unnecessary, burdensome, and threatening to religious liberty.

Here are the five most common right-wing talking points about LGBT non-discrimination laws, debunked:

Read the full entry ...

Listen To A Fox News Hero Lash Out At Gay People On A Conference Call

September 18, 2014 1:45 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Fox News hero and prominent Texas conservative Dr. Steven Hotze warned supporters during a conference call that gay activists want to overturn laws prohibiting pedophilia, calling gay people “perverted and deviant.”

On September 10, Conservative Republicans of Texas leader Steven Hotze held a “Marriage Battle Plan” conference call with supporters, aimed at laying out a “battle plan” for combating “pro-homosexual rhetoric and propaganda” in federal courts. The call, which also featured Texas GOP chairman candidate Jared Woodfill, was pitched as “a meeting that liberals will be talking about for years.”

During the call, Hotze warned that “perverted and deviant” homosexuals were attempting to overturn laws against pedophilia in order to recruit young boys into homosexuality -- a sentiment Woodfill didn’t contest:

Hotze repeated the myth that gay people have lifespans “20 to 30 years shorter than the average person,” calling homosexuality “an unhealthy lifestyle” that “needs to be stopped”: 

Hotze warned that, if same-sex marriage were  recognized in Texas, children would be taught how to be gay:

He asked listeners to “stand up and fight” against homosexuality, comparing it to cancer:

Woodfill added that the gay “political agenda” included pushing for “universal acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle”:

In addition to Woodfill, Hotze’s conference call also featured Brian Camenker, president of the fringe anti-gay hate group MassResistance. 

Hotze, who dabbles in questionable medical practices, has been touted as a hero on Fox News for filing a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. Fox’s Neil Cavuto described him as “the doctor fighting to let you keep your doctor.”  

Hotze -- who has a long history of extreme anti-gay rhetoric --  is also a significant player in Texas GOP politics. In June, he hosted an anti-gay marriage rally featuring Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Hotze was also a vocal opponent of Houston’s recently-adopted equal rights ordinance, which he called the “Sexual Predator Protection Act.” 

Previously:

How Houston Media Can Fix Its Coverage Of The City's Non-Discrimination Fight

Houston Media Helped Spread Lies About The City’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance

REPORT: Houston Media Outlets Fail To Debunk Misinformation About Equal Rights Ordinance

Breitbart Asks: Have They Cut Chelsea Manning's Penis Off Yet?

September 17, 2014 2:00 pm ET by Carlos Maza

A Breitbart.com columnist launched a transphobic attack on transgender former Army Private Chelsea Manning, calling her a "traitorous transsexual" and asking if the government had "cut it off yet."

In a September 16 column for Breitbart London, columnist Milo Yiannopoulos attacked Manning - who was convicted in 2013 of leaking classified documents to Wikileaks - for publishing an op-ed in The Guardian about the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). Yiannopoulos repeatedly misgendered Manning, asking if the government had "cut it off yet" - referring to Manning's genitalia:

Have they cut it off yet? The penis attached to traitorous transsexual Chelsea Manning, I mean. How else to explain the level of feverish disturbance necessary for the former Private Bradley to pen an op-ed saying we should "let ISIS succeed" in its mission to destroy half the Middle East, murdering, raping and torturing anyone in its way.

[...]

Manning, is of course, suffering from a lamentable psychiatric disorder. Normally, we help people like that by giving them access to doctors and drugs.

[...]

I don't believe everything the government tells me, and I know it snoops on me more than it should, but do I trust the NSA more than I trust a loopy alleged rapist, Putin's bitch or a psychologically fragile, gender-bending convicted traitor? You bet I do. [emphasis added]

Yiannopoulos also linked to a personal blog post in which he called "transgenderism" a "disease" and suggested that some transgender women are just "marginalised, lonely" gay men crying for help.

It goes without saying that Yiannopoulos' transphobic screed contradicts expert consensus, which has acknowledged transgender identities as "part of the human condition." He relies on the discredited work of former Johns Hopkins Hospital psychiatrist Paul McHugh, ignoring current professional medical recommendations about the transgender community.

Pseudoscience aside, though, Yiannopoulos' column is a stark example of the kind of gratuitous hate speech Breitbart.com is willing to publish. Manning's Guardian op-ed had nothing to do with being transgender, but Breitbart couldn't pass up another opportunity to depict transgender people as unstable or deviant.

Previously:

Breitbart Attacks "Lesbian Bridezillas" For Opposing Anti-Gay Discrimination

Breitbart Texas Smears Teacher Suspended For Being Transgender

Is There Such Thing As Being Too Extreme For Breitbart?

Why Is A State Historical Society Honoring A Discredited Book About Matthew Shepard?

September 09, 2014 3:08 pm ET by Luke Brinker

The Wyoming State Historical Society honored a book that asserts college student Matthew Shepard wasn’t murdered because he was gay, but was instead killed in a drug-related incident – even though the book relies on wild extrapolation and questionable or anonymous sources and has been denounced as “fictional” by lawyers and investigators involved in the case.

On Saturday 6, the society gave Stephen Jimenez’s The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard an honorable mention in the nonfiction book category at a Gillette, WY luncheon.

Jimenez’s book contends that Shepard’s 1998 murder in Laramie was actually the result of Shepard’s involvement in the methamphetamine trade – and that, through the meth trade, Shepard knew his attackers, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson, prior to their encounter at a bar the night they brutally bludgeoned Shepard. What’s more, Jimenez claims that Shepard and McKinney were actually secret lovers – a claim McKinney has steadfastly denied and for which there’s no evidence besides the word of a few shady Laramie characters. The Book of Matt dismisses strong evidence of McKinney’s homophobia – including his use of the epithet “fag” to describe Shepard , his statement that he had “hatred for homosexuals” the night of the attack, and his reference to himself as a “drunk homofobick [sic]" – by blaming such language on McKinney’s fondness for rap music.

People familiar with the case – including Henderson’s appellate attorneyAlbany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley, and Albany County Undersheriff Robert Debree  -- condemned Jimenez’s book as factually challenged, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation noted that The Book of Matt relied on “rumors and innuendo.” Its biggest fans so far have appeared to be right-wing media personalities, who seized on the book to assail the LGBT community.

So why is the Wyoming State Historical Society honoring the book?

Rick Ewig, the society’s president, told the Billings Gazette that the award “doesn’t mean we accept the interpretation” of the book, suggesting that the society was honoring the book simply because it attempted to investigate part of Wyoming’s history:

Read the full entry ...

One Year Later, Horror Stories About This City’s LGBT Non-Discrimination Law Haven’t Come True

September 04, 2014 9:57 am ET by Luke Brinker

One year after San Antonio expanded its non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT people, opponents’ predictions that the measure would curtail religious liberty and free speech haven’t come true.

On September 5, 2013, San Antonio’s city council voted to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBT residents in housing, employment, public accommodations, city contracts, and board appointments. The ordinance was approved despite a right-wing misinformation campaign propagated by local anti-LGBT activists and national conservative media, including Fox NewsGlenn Beck, and The Washington Times.

Opponents of the ordinance asserted that the ordinance could ban Christians from holding public office or winning city contracts, imperil the free speech rights of conservative opponents of LGBT equality, or even impose “criminal penalties” on anti-LGBT business owners. Those claims persisted even though the ordinance explicitly protected against religious discrimination and despite the striking of language that had raised free speech concerns. 

At the time, Councilman Diego Bernal, the sponsor of the expanded ordinance expressed dismay at the “ludicrous” misinformation spread about the ordinance, telling Equality Matters, “I’ve been taken aback by the amount of purposeful misinformation  and I find that to be very harmful.”

But a year after the expansion of San Antonio’s non-discrimination ordinance, even an opponent of the measure admits that horror stories about threats to religious liberty haven’t come true.

Religious Liberty And Free Speech

Throughout the debate over the ordinance, opponents insisted that prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people would result in anti-Christian persecution and harassment. One of those critics was Allan Parker, president of the San Antonio-based Christian legal group The Justice Foundation. Last September, Parker warned that the ordinance would be used to target Christians:

[Parker] said the ordinance is vague and unclear but he believes it can and will be used against Christians, especially those in the business world who disagree with unbiblical sexuality.

"The leverage of the city to pressure any business to caving in is enormous under this," he explained.

But one year later, even Parker admits the ordinance hasn’t ushered in a wave of anti-Christian legal action. Only two complaints have even been filed under the ordinance – one from a transgender man who alleged he had been fired because of his gender identity and another from a lesbian couple who said they were asked to leave an ice house after sharing a kiss. 

In a statement to Equality Matters, Parker suggested that the small number of complaints was due to the city allegedly refraining from enforcing the ordinance:

I believe because of the outcry against the ordinance, the City and the LGBT community have refrained from actively enforcing it.  Their major goal of “stigma removal” and the “soft tyranny” of the threat of criminal prosecution has been achieved. 

But as Bernal told Equality Matters, the existing ordinance included safeguards against religious discrimination even before LGBT protections were added.

“It’s not intended to persecute any group,” Bernal said. “It’s crafted in such a way that protects everybody.”

Deputy city attorney Veronica Zertuche told Equality Matters that her office hadn’t fielded any complaints of discrimination against conservative Christians in the past year.

“The issue [of religious discrimination] has not arisen,” Zertuche said.

San Antonio’s experience isn’t unusual. A 2012 study of local non-discrimination ordinances by UCLA’s Williams Institute found “almost uniform compliance” with the ordinances, with no localities reporting spikes in frivolous litigation.

Read the full entry ...

Daily Caller Defends Racist, Transphobic Writer Against “Politically Correct Hysteria”

September 03, 2014 11:52 am ET by Luke Brinker

The Daily Caller defended a commentator who used the words “fag” and “trannies” in a post assailing the transgender community, blaming “politically correct” mobs for allegedly getting the post censored.

On August 12, Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes published a profanity-laden post on Thought Catalog titled “Transphobia Is Perfectly Natural.” In the post, McInnes argued that transgender people are just “mentally ill gays,” calling them “nuts trapped in a crazy person’s body”:

We’re all transphobic. We aren’t blind. We see there are no old trannies. They die of drug overdoses and suicide way before they’re 40 and nobody notices because nobody knows them. They are mentally ill gays who need help, and that help doesn’t include being maimed by physicians. These aren’t women trapped in a man’s body. They are nuts trapped in a crazy person’s body. I see them on the streets of New York. They are guys with tits and a sweatshirt. They wear jeans and New Balance. “What’s the matter with simply being a fag who wears makeup?” I think when I see them. You’re not a woman. You’re a tomboy at best.

[…]

By pretending this is all perfectly sane, you are enabling these poor bastards to mutilate themselves. 

The post generated a significant backlash, with scores of writers demanding that their work be removed from Thought Catalog. Within a week of the post’s publication, McInnes was placed on “indefinite leave” from his position as chief creative officer of the ad agency Rooster.

In a September 2 article, Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley called the criticism of McInnes’ post evidence of a “politically correct hysteria” engulfing the country. Howley also interviewed McInnes, offering him a platform to denounce the “culture of psychotic harassment” that he alleged was persecuting him:

Writer, commentator and Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes said that politically correct hysteria like the kind that recently cost him his job is similar to the mafia.

“It’s a real quandary people who write have to face right now,” McInnes told The Daily Caller. “Am I going to speak freely or am I going to hide?”

[…]

McInnes, who was in Georgia shooting a movie at the time of the scandal, is not too concerned about his livelihood. But he bemoaned the plight of young writers starting out in an industry that you’d think would appreciate candor, and instead punishes it in storms of faux-moralistic activism.

McInnes is one of the few writers in America today willing to expose the mechanics of our P.C. outrage culture, and to deflate the idea that pro-censorship Internet hordes are doing anything righteous. Will mine be the first generation in history to gauge intellectual success as a measure not of challenging taboos, but rather of maniacally defending them? [emphasis added]

Read the full entry ...

Daily Caller Column Blames Gay Service Members For Rise In Military Rape

August 28, 2014 11:03 am ET by Luke Brinker

An opinion column for The Daily Caller blamed gay and bisexual men for much of the military's sexual assault problem, arguing that the 2010 repeal of the armed forces' Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy had worsened the problem of rape in the military.

In an August 27 column, writer Dave Benkof asserted that the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members was responsible for an "uptick in same-sex rape." According to Benkof, "[o]nly a fierce ideologue" would deny that allowing LGB soldiers to serve openly would lead to an increase in sexual assault:

Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is on the rise for both men and women, according to a Pentagon report earlier this year that was widely covered in news outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, and CNN.

But virtually none of that coverage addressed an obvious aspect of the problem: the 2011 introduction of open service by gays and bisexuals undoubtedly has increased the incidence of sexual assault against men in uniform. Despite repeated LGBT assurances that integrating gays into the military would not affect morale, an uptick in same-sex rape - especially involving straight victims - most assuredly affects morale. In fact, just the fear of increased sexual violence could affect morale.

Only a fierce ideologue would suggest that introducing many thousands of same-sex-attracted men into a mostly male service would decrease or maintain the previous extent of male-male MST. 

[...]

The LGBT community, which regarding marriage has shown a willingness to use deception to achieve its policy goals, must be held to a high standard of proof. Media, legislators, and voters should do their own research before trusting gay community slogans that often turn out to be misleading, incomplete, or downright false, including:

"Studies prove that gay parenting is as good as straight parenting";

"Gays are born that way";

"Gay marriage won't harm anyone"; and

"Gay marriage is inevitable."

The next time gay activists assure you their agenda has no downside, don't trust them. Investigate it for yourself. [emphasis added]

Benkof's claim that DADT repeal is responsible for a rise in military rapes is patently false. A study by Palm Center, a research institute focused on sexuality and the military, has found no evidence that open service has led to increased sexual assault. Nor, the center reported, did repeal lead to a decline in military cohesion or morale, as Benkof asserts.

Read the full entry ...

Fox’s Huckabee Defends Group Linked To Anti-Gay Human Rights Violations

August 27, 2014 1:01 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Fox News host Mike Huckabee joined 79 other conservatives in signing a letter blasting “sexual radicals” for their efforts to scuttle a planned conference of the World Congress of Families (WCF), a group notorious for stoking homophobia and promoting harsh anti-gay laws internationally.

On August 30, the Rockford, IL-based WCF plans to hold a “Life, Family, and Freedom Conference” in Melbourne, Australia. Protests have led to three changes of venue for the conference, which prominent members of Australia’s governing party are slated to attend. The WCF has responded to those protests with a letter signed by 80 social conservatives, including Huckabee. Accusing “sexual radicals” of waging a “smear campaign,” the letter charges that opponents of the conference aim to “transform society into something unrecognizable to generations past”:

Sexual radicals have launched a smear campaign to discredit the Melbourne conference, which misrepresents the international pro-family movement and the positions of the World Congress of Families.

[…]

Attacks on the Melbourne conference and the international pro-family movement generally are an attempt at intimidation – a weapon used to stigmatize family advocates, stifle dissent and foreclose a debate.

The goal of sexual radicals is to deconstruct marriage and marginalize the family, and thus to transform society into something unrecognizable to generations past. Like all social experiments that attempt to create a “new man,” these are doomed to failure.

But a new Human Rights Campaign (HRC) report documents how the WCF has been involved in helping promote the enactment of harsh anti-gay laws internationally.

Founded after a 1995 meeting between Illinois anti-gay activist Allan Carlson and two Russian sociologists, the WCF is a self-proclaimed “alliance of orthodox believers, based on their commitment to Judeo-Christian values and the natural family.” Partnering with 29 social conservative organizations – with a combined annual budget estimated at $216 million – the WCF convenes “pro-family” activists for regional and international conferences aimed at combatting reproductive freedom and LGBT equality. WCF partner organizations include a number of groups that have been labeled anti-gay “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, including the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

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Meet John Stemberger, Florida's Leading Anti-LGBT Activist

August 26, 2014 12:08 pm ET by Luke Brinker & Coleman Lowndes

The fight against LGBT equality in Florida is being spearheaded by John Stemberger, a man who claims homosexuality is a "pathology" and believes marriage equality will indoctrinate "schoolchildren into a gay lifestyle."

Stemberger, who is president of the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), made national headlines this month after he asserted that "inner city" residents "have almost a barbarian society" due to the decline of marriage. During a July 30 interview on 100.7 WFLA, Stemberger suggested that allowing gay people to marry would ultimately destroy the institution of marriage, saying:

STEMBERGER: Marriage is a unique institution that does many, many things that are productive, so you want to encourage marriage. In the inner city right now we see what happens when marriage is gone. You have almost a barbarian society. It's a very simple society. When marriage is gone, bad things happen in society.

His remarks were condemned as racist, but they're just the latest in a long line of inflammatory comments from Stemberger. Through his work at the FFPC, frequent media appearances, and his founding of an anti-gay alternative to the Boy Scouts, Stemberger has emerged as one of the most virulently anti-gay social conservatives in the country.

The Florida Family Policy Council

Established in 2004, the FFPC is a state chapter of Focus on the Family, with a self-proclaimed mission "to strengthen Florida's families through public policy education, issue research, and grassroots advocacy." While not formally affiliated with the organization, the FFPC is also closely tied to the Family Research Council (FRC), which has been branded an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

As one of the best-funded social conservative organizations in the state - the FFPC was among the anti-gay groups to receive funding from Chick-fil-A's charitable division - the FFPC boasts ties to prominent Florida conservatives, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who keynoted the group's Policy Awards Dinner in 2013. The FFPC focuses its efforts on advocating the teaching of creationism in public schools, abstinence-only sex education, and school vouchers, in addition to its crusades against reproductive rights, stem cell research, and LGBT equality.

The group is also a vehicle for a distinctly theocratic brand of conservatism. Stemberger has said that "no religion can save [America] except for Christians" and declared that public policy should be guided by "scripture."

Most recently, the FFPC featured prominently in the debate over Florida's anti-gay marriage amendment, which a federal judge struck down on August 21. Despite having slammedRepublican state attorney general Pam Bondi in 2010 for being childless and "liv[ing] with her 60-year-old doctor boyfriend," the FFPC lauded her defense of the state's marriage equality ban in court, hailing Bondi as "an example of courage and responsible stewardship of her authority as the highest law enforcement officer in the state."

The FFPC's anti-gay agenda extends far beyond opposing marriage equality. The organization opposes gay
adoption, calling same-sex parents "objectively inferior" to married heterosexual parents, despite study after study demonstrating that children of same-sex parents fare as well or better than those raised by opposite-sex parents. Moreover, the FFPC supports discredited "ex-gay" therapy programs, with a page on its website listing resources for "leaving [the] gay lifestyle."

Read the full entry ...

Wash. Times Baselessly Claims That GA Gubernatorial Candidate Is Keeping His Pro-Equality Views A “Secret”

August 20, 2014 11:26 am ET by Luke Brinker

The Washington Times editorial board accused Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter of concealing his support for LGBT equality in order to win over the state’s voters, ignoring Carter’s own words offering his full-throated support for marriage equality and mounting evidence that gay rights are decreasingly a wedge issue with voters, even in traditionally conservative states like Georgia.

In an August 19 editorial, the Times alleged that when it comes to his opinion on “homosexual demands,” Carter “dodges, weaves, and deflects, eager not to offend religiously conservative Georgia.” Writing that Carter can’t win his closely contested race against Republican Gov. Nathan Deal if he embraces “the full rainbow agenda,” the Times asserted that Carter is hiding behind statements from his spokesman and supporters in the gay rights community:

Jason Carter wants to follow in his famous grandfather’s footsteps. Mr. Carter, a Democrat, is running for governor of Georgia, a position Jimmy Carter held for a term before moving on to the White House. Jason Carter is willing to say pretty much whatever it takes to win. When someone asks his opinions on homosexual demands, he dodges, weaves and deflects, eager not to offend religiously conservative Georgia. But his gay supporters are saying it for him.

Georgia remains committed to traditional marriage. The left-leaning Public Policy Polling discovered last year that 6 of 10 Georgia voters want to keep the thousands-of-years-old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. If Jason Carter yearns to come out in support of the full rainbow agenda, he knows better than to do it before the election.

[…]

The pro-homosexual website Project Q Atlanta doesn’t like the sneaky approach, either. “Jason Carter collects gay cash, but stays mum on LGBT issues,” the site noted earlier this month about a fundraiser held for Mr. Carter. The event, organized and hosted by homosexual activists, raised nearly $90,000 for the Carter campaign. Reporters were barred from the fundraiser, lest the secret leak.

[…]

One man’s pragmatism is another man’s dishonesty. Voters deserve to know, loud and clear, what they’ll get if they put another Carter in the governor’s mansion on Nov. 4. Gov. Nathan Deal, the Republican incumbent running for re-election, should pressure Mr. Carter to say unequivocally whether he would be prepared as governor to fully defend Georgia’s state constitutional amendment, enacted by the people, that defines traditional marriage.

It’s true, as the Times noted, that some gay rights activists in Georgia expressed unease with Carter’s previous relative silence on LGBT issues during the campaign. But the Times conveniently omitted the fact that this month Carter addressed those concerns head-on, affirming his longstanding support for marriage equality. This, by the Times’ standards, apparently constitutes “dodg[ing], weav[ing], and deflect[ing]” on marriage equality:

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Family Research Council Uses Robin Williams’ Suicide To Push “Ex-Gay” Therapy

August 18, 2014 3:56 pm ET by Luke Brinker

The Family Research Council (FRC) used actor and comedian Robin Williams’ suicide to champion discredited “ex-gay” therapy, comparing treatment for mental illness to treatment for homosexuality.

In an August 18 post for the FRC’s blog, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg compared the late actor’s struggles with addiction and depression to people struggling with “unwanted same-sex attractions.” Noting that states like California and New Jersey have banned so-called “sexual reorientation therapy” – which is opposed by the American Psychological Association and has been associated with psychological damage in patients – Sprigg asked why social liberals aren’t also trying to “outlaw rehab”:

In the wake of Williams’ suicide, many TV commentators and friends of the late star talked about the challenges of mental illness (Williams suffered from depression), addictions — and rehab. I saw comedian Andy Dick say, “I’ve been to rehab seventeen times.”

In light of this history, I have only one question for socially liberal political activists — why aren’t you trying to outlaw rehab?

I ask the question because such activists are trying to ban a form of mental health treatment — not drug and alcohol rehabilitation, but “sexual orientation change efforts” (“SOCE”), also known as “sexual reorientation therapy.” Such therapy involves assisting people with unwanted same-sex attractions to overcome them.

Why would someone want to change their sexual orientation? Some such individuals are simply disillusioned by their experiences in homosexual relationships. Some have legitimate concern about the well-documented health problems associated with homosexual conduct (especially among men), such as high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, of which HIV/AIDS is only one example. Others may seek help in conforming their behavior and lifestyle to the teaching of the religious faith to which they are committed. Some may aspire to a traditional family life, raising children in a home with both their mother and father present.

Whatever the motivation, there are those who have simply made a choice to walk away from the homosexual lifestyle, without clinical help — much like how Robin Williams simply stopped using drugs and alcohol in the 1980’s. Others have sought professional help, perhaps at the urging of family members, in the form of “sexual reorientation therapy” — much like when Williams entered a formal alcohol rehab program in 2006. Whether simply through personal development, religious counseling, or with the help of a licensed or unlicensed counselor, thousands (if not millions) of people have experienced significant changes in one or more of the elements of their sexual orientation (attractions, behavior, or self-identification). [emphasis added]

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Tampa Tribune Pulls "Repugnant" Anti-Gay Column

August 14, 2014 3:26 pm ET by Joe Strupp

The Tampa Tribune has pulled a controversial column that alleged Disney is indoctrinating children with its "pro-gay agenda." The column, which was highlighted by Media Matters, had also drawn criticism from gay rights activists and Florida journalists.

On August 11, Douglas MacKinnon, who is listed on the since-pulled column as "Tribune staff," argued that Disney has been engaged in an underhanded effort to wrongly "indoctrinate" children. He also contended the company is trying to subtly push an agenda through its children's programming.

The piece, titled, "Disney's pro-gay agenda is disturbing," quoted an anonymous "former Disney executive" saying, "the company has taken direct aim at children to indoctrinate them about gay lifestyles and gay marriage through shows it airs on The Disney Channel and Disney XD."

MacKinnon later added:

The former executive said one of the more subtle techniques is to incorporate the colors of the gay-pride flag in as many shots as possible. The colors are woven in as a wink and nod to the gay community and show up on shirts, hats, posters, stacked cups and rings. The practice has been picked up by other children's networks and national advertisers. Disney also pushes the gay agenda by introducing openly gay characters and couples on its children's programing. Again, that is their right, but should they be in the business of entertaining children or indoctrinating them?

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Medical Experts: Laura Ingraham's Transgender Youth Advice Is "Dangerous," "Child Abuse"

August 14, 2014 2:33 pm ET by Luke Brinker

ABC News contributor and nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham has established herself as one of the most stridently transphobic conservative media figures, repeatedly assailing parents who offer support and affirmation for their transgender children. But medical and child health experts condemn Ingraham's transphobic smears as "dangerous" and "ignorant."

During the August 6 edition of her radio show, Ingraham delivered a screed against parents who affirm and accommodate their transgender children, calling it "child abuse" to provide transgender youth with hormone therapy:

Her comments were roundly condemned, but they were just the latest in Ingraham's campaign against trans-supportive families. Ingraham has asserted that putting trans youth on hormone blockers could have "long term effects" that children will come to "regret." She's also claimed that medical caring supporting trans youth "push[es] kids into a box" and prevents them from potentially realizing that they aren't transgender.

 But a number of experts in transgender and child health care deride Ingraham's comments as "dangerous," "ignorant," and wholly divorced from reality.

"When one speaks from ignorance, there is a good chance that they will say ignorant things.  This could be no more true than for Laura Ingraham," said Diane Ehrensaft, a clinical psychologist and head of the University of California-San Francisco's Child and Adolescent Gender Center, in a statement to Equality Matters:

If we do nothing for these children, just let them be children, as Ingraham suggests, we are actually doing something, and that something is not good:  we put them at risk for anxiety, depression, poor school performance, and later—drug abuse, self-harm, sexual acting out, suicidal thoughts, attempts, or completions... Ingraham repeats what so many in my own field, mental health, have done to significantly harm gender-nonconforming youth:  dismiss what they are trying to tell us, blame the parents who are trying to support them, and deny them adequate care in one fell swoop... We might even consider the denial of the service a form of child abuse—there's a life jacket right there, we're watching, and we're letting the child drown.  

Psychiatrist Jack Drescher, a member of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5 Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, echoed Ehrensaft's concern, stating that Ingraham is "staking out an opinion, but she's not talking about the actual situations that exist. The way she speaks is appealing to prejudice."

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Tampa Tribune Columnist: Disney Is “Indoctrinating” Children With A “Pro-Gay Agenda”

August 13, 2014 10:15 am ET by Luke Brinker

A conservative columnist for the Tampa Tribune criticized the Walt Disney Co. for allegedly pushing a “pro-gay agenda,” asserting that the company is using its programming to “indoctrinate” children about “gay lifestyles and gay marriage.”

In his August 12 column, Douglas MacKinnon – a former aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush – charged that Disney was peddling the “gay agenda” to “impressionable children” by exposing them to “openly gay characters and couples”:

Beginning with the takeover of the company by Michael Eisner in 1984 and continuing under the leadership of Robert Iger since 2005, it can be argued that Disney has been working overtime to redefine “family values.”

[…]

Back in the late 1990s when I worked with former Sen. Bob Dole, I had the pleasure to interact with Iger. He was professional, respectful and could not have been more kind or considerate. Since taking over, he has only made the company more profitable. But beyond his fiscal responsibility to shareholders, does Iger have an even greater responsibility to impressionable children?

Disney has made no secret that it pushes a pro-gay agenda. That is most certainly its right. But where does the company draw the line? A former Disney executive I spoke with told me the company has taken direct aim at children to indoctrinate them about gay lifestyles and gay marriage through shows it airs on The Disney Channel and Disney XD.

The former executive said one of the more subtle techniques is to incorporate the colors of the gay-pride flag in as many shots as possible. The colors are woven in as a wink and nod to the gay community and show up on shirts, hats, posters, stacked cups and rings. The practice has been picked up by other children’s networks and national advertisers.

Disney also pushes the gay agenda by introducing openly gay characters and couples on its children’s programing. Again, that is their right, but should they be in the business of entertaining children or indoctrinating them? [emphasis added]

MacKinnon never explains what harm might be caused by featuring gay-inclusive programming - suggesting that he sees an inherent harm in simply letting children know that gay people exist and have families. 

MacKinnon’s attack on Disney’s alleged “pro-gay agenda is just the latest in the columnist’s history of rabid right-wing rhetoric. 

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Breitbart Attacks "Lesbian Bridezillas" For Opposing Anti-Gay Discrimination

August 12, 2014 1:37 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Breitbart.com criticized a Pennsylvania couple that was refused wedding gowns by a bridal shop owner on religious grounds, assailing the "lesbian bridezillas" for writing about their experience on Facebook. 

On August 7, The Press Enterprise reported that an unidentified lesbian couple in Bloomsburg, PA had been refused service by W. W. Bridal Boutique owner Victoria Miller. "We feel to answer to God for what we do," Miller told The Press Enterprise. "And providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God's law." The couple subsequently posted about Miller's refusal to serve them on Facebook, prompting criticisms of W. W. Bridal's discriminatory policy.

In an August 12 article titled "Lesbian Bridezillas Bully Bridal Shop Owner Over Religious Beliefs," Breitbart attacked "the lesbians" for "bull[ying]" Miller, citing the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) to condemn their fight for equal treatment as "forced acceptance":

A Pennsylvania Christian bridal shop owner who refused to provide wedding gowns to a lesbian couple because of her religious beliefs was bullied by the lesbians on Facebook, where their post about the shop owner's refusal to serve them went viral.

[...]

According to the News, the Bloomsburg Town Council is meeting Monday night to discuss the incident and whether to propose legislation that will ban businesses from refusing to serve LGBT customers, potentially providing the couple the means with which to sue Miller.

[...]

"Instead of showing the tolerance their movement claims to practice, the women turned to social media to bully the shop - trashing its online reviews and sparking a city-wide firestorm," said Family Research Council (FRC). "Obviously W.W. Bridal Boutique isn't the only wedding dress shop in town. These women could have easily taken their business elsewhere - but chose to retaliate instead."

Referring to the leftist gay activist agenda as "forced acceptance," FRC said, "When religious liberty clashes with homosexuality - as it has from bakeries to flower shops - the storylines are all the same: conform or be punished."

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Mike Huckabee Warns Anti-Gay Gathering That America Is Becoming Like Communist China

August 11, 2014 4:08 pm ET by Eric Hananoki

Mike Huckabee told a gathering of anti-gay activists that the United States is becoming like communist China and defended his recent claim that President Obama deserves to be impeached.

Huckabee was speaking at the third annual Family Leadership Summit, hosted by The Family Leader and sponsored by anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage and FRC Action. The event was held in Ames, Iowa, and was attended by potential 2016 Republican candidates including Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Rick Perry, and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Speaking on August 9 about his recent China trip, Huckabee noted the country's policies regarding trade, human rights, one child and forced abortions, and observed: "After we came back, I assessed that what was most disturbing was that China was becoming a lot more like the United States used to be, and America was becoming a whole lot more like China used to be." Huckabee added that America, like China whitewashing the Tiananmen Square massacre, has "completely rewritten our history" to remove God from textbooks. The Fox News host has made similar pronouncements on his show and elsewhere in the right-wing media.

During a media availability, Huckabee defended his recent declaration that President Obama has committed impeachable offenses. Huckabee began by claiming "I don't think we're going to have an impeachment, don't think we even should because there's no point and it's not gonna go through." However, Huckabee still argued President Obama is worthy of impeachment because of his alleged abuse of "the basic constitutional powers," citing Obamacare and the DREAM Act.  

The Family Leader is an anti-gay group headed by the virulently homophobic activist Bob Vander Plaats. The Iowa group gained notoriety during the 2012 presidential election when it asked candidates to sign a homophobic "marriage vow." The pledge attacked same-sex relationships as a choice and threat to "individual and public health." The vow also suggested African-American children were better when they were slaves (the group later retracted that language). 

Vander Plaats has said gays are a "public health risk" similar to smoking, and claimed of marriage quality: "[W]hat we know is it goes against the law of nature, and the law of nature's God, which means, again, it's against the Constitution." He warned against attending an anti-bullying conference, claiming that doing so "is exchanging truth for acceptance and tolerance of harmful behavior."

Huckabee is a longtime ally of Vander Plaats, who served as Iowa chair for the former Arkansas governor's presidential campaign in 2008. He endorsed and fundraised for Vander Plaats' unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Huckabee regularly speaks at gatherings of anti-gay groups. The pairing is natural, as Huckabee has said he opposes marriage equality because of "the ick factor," labeled same-sex relationships an "aberration" and once called for AIDS patients to be quarantined.

Previously:

Mike Huckabee's Dangerous Campaign To Smear Houston's Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Mike Huckabee Denies History Of Anti-LGBT Vitriol

Fox's Huckabee And Guest Peddle Myths About Transgender People, Gender Identity

Fox's Erick Erickson: Countries With Marriage Equality Are "Bent On Suicide"

August 08, 2014 10:27 am ET by Luke Brinker

Fox News contributor Erick Erickson continued his pattern of championing anti-LGBT discrimination, warning that gay rights and Christianity are incompatible and asserting that a society that affirms LGBT equality "is a society bent on suicide."

In an August 7 Townhall.com column titled "Tolerate or Be Stamped Out," Erickson lamented the growing marginalization of anti-LGBT attitudes, charging that pro-equality activists are determined to purge Christians from American society:

In fact, enormous energy is being expended by the left in America to make Christianity and Christians unacceptable. A New York Times writer wants to stamp out those views "ruthlessly." He describes those with orthodox Christian views on marriage as unworthy of civility. Anonymous groups expose the home addresses of mostly Christians and subject them to harassment. This is not happening to orthodox Jews or Muslims, but to Christians.

It raises a serious question Americans must confront -- are gay rights and Christianity compatible? The answer appears to be no. As gay rights activists use the tactics of Bull Connor to push for what they declare civil rights, they are targeting churches, religiously affiliated groups and Christian businesses for harassment and lawsuits.

Across the country, the left has decided our sexual preference is something we are born with, but our gender is something we get to decide. Anyone who thinks otherwise is threatened and harassed. Several thousand-year-old pillars of society are being shoved aside in the name of tolerance. Those who speak up for sanity, tradition and faith are treated scornfully.

This will not end well for any of us. Despite surveys designed to show the contrary, children tend to do best with mothers and fathers. A society that willfully undermines perpetuating itself is a society bent on suicide. One thing is for sure -- a faith that survived its followers being used as torches to light the streets of Rome will survive a modern age hell bent on ruthlessly stamping it out. [emphasis added]

Erickson's latest apoplectic screed is par for the course from the Fox News commentator. Last month, he endorsed a Georgia congressional candidate's view that "the homosexual movement ... is destroying America." Previously, Erickson has written that gay people are on the "road to hell" and warned businesses that serve gay couples that they are "aiding and abetting" sin. Moreover, Erickson is a prominent supporter of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a right-wing legal group working internationally to help criminalize homosexuality.

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Megyn Kelly’s Cozy Relationship With An Anti-Gay Hate Group Leader

August 07, 2014 10:14 am ET by Luke Brinker

Anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins has appeared on Megyn Kelly’s shows more than all other Fox News programs combined over the past two years.

Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization that was labeled an anti-gay “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010. He has called pedophilia “a homosexual problem,” claimed that gay men “recruit” children into homosexuality, and endorsed a Uganda law that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality. His organization regularly produces anti-gay propaganda depicting gay people as abnormalunnatural, and destined for “eternal damnation.”

He’s also one of Megyn Kelly’s most frequent guests on Fox News. Kelly – who was once hailed as a harbinger of a “gay rights revolution” at Fox – has hosted Perkins more than all other Fox News programs combined in the past two years, according to an Equality Matters analysis. Hailed by Kelly as “a captain of the Religious Right,” Perkins has become a familiar face to viewers of Kelly’s shows:

Between America Live – Kelly’s former Fox program – and The Kelly File, Kelly’s shows account for 17 of Perkins’ 30 Fox News appearances since the conclusion of the 2012 GOP primary season, when his cable news influence peaked:

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How A Hate Group Lost Influence On (Most Of) Cable News

July 30, 2014 4:01 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins has all but ceased to appear as a guest on CNN and MSNBC. It’s a dramatic change for the anti-gay hate group leader, whose constant appearances on cable news during the 2012 GOP primary cycle drew criticism from progressive faith groups.

Since becoming president of the Family Research Council in 2003, Perkins has used his position as a leader among social conservatives to command significant media attention. FRC hosts the annual Values Voters Summit, making Perkins an easy choice for networks looking for a prominent voice to comment on social conservatism and GOP politics.

Over time, networks also began turning to Perkins for commentary on LGBT issues like the fight over marriage equality and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Perkins was happy to oblige – he has a history of making incendiary comments about LGBT people, and FRC has turned the production of anti-gay propaganda into an art form.   

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled FRC an anti-gay “hate group,” citing the organization’s propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people.

That label, unfortunately, didn’t stop cable news networks from continuing to invite Perkins on national television on behalf of social conservatives. During the 2012 Republican presidential primary season, Perkins appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News a total of 56 times. MSNBC was particularly friendly to Perkins, with Hardball host Chris Matthews praising Perkins as an “honest conservative” who always tried “to find the truth” during a November 2011 interview:

Perkins’ platform on cable news didn’t sit well with audiences familiar with his long and sordid history of bigoted anti-LGBT rhetoric.  Faithful America, a progressive Christian group dedicated to “reclaiming Christianity from the religious right,” launched a petition in February 2012 asking the network to stop inviting Perkins on air. The petition garnered 20,000 signatures, which were delivered to MSNBC’s headquarters.

Perkins’ platform at MSNBC created an awkward situation for Hardball host Chris Matthews. At a March 2012 book event, Matthews was asked about his willingness to invite Perkins on his show and admitted that his critics “may be right.” At a book signing a few weeks later, Matthews told Faithful America members that the group had “a good argument” for no longer hosting Perkins.” Perkins did appear on Hardball once more, in a joint appearance with gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA. But rather than offer the warm welcome Perkins had come to expect, Matthews grilled Perkins on his anti-LGBT extremism.

In the summer of 2013, Faithful America launched a similar petition targeting CNN after the network hosted Perkins to discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The petition urged CNN not to let Perkins “speak on behalf of America’s Christians” and quickly gathered more than 32,000 signatures.

A new Equality Matters analysis finds that both MSNBC and CNN have largely ended their practice of hosting Perkins in the months since the end of the 2012 GOP primary. Perkins hasn’t appeared on MSNBC since March 2013, when the Supreme Court heard arguments in two marriage equality cases. Meanwhile, Perkins’ appearances on CNN have steadily declined in the last year, and he hasn’t been on the network since February: At Fox News, on the other hand, Perkins’ appearances have held steady and actually increased in the past year:

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