After years of denigrating LGBT people and mocking marriage equality, Fox Nation is suddenly expressing concern that new gun control legislation might discriminate against same-sex couples.
In an April 12 Daily Caller article, Mike Piccione criticized new gun control legislation that would prohibit the transfer of firearms between unwed partners without a background check, arguing that the measure "sharply limits rights of gay gun owners":
Gay couples living in states that do not recognize their marriage will now be unable to transfer firearm ownership to their partners without undergoing a background check, should federal gun legislation recently proposed by Democratic Sen. Harry Reid become law.
According to the "Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013," which was introduced in the Senate this week, only couples in a government-sanctioned relationships will be allowed to privately transfer ownership of their firearms without first having to pass the federal background check.
Gay gun owners who want to transfer a gun to a partner, however, must first physically turn their guns in to an entity holding a federal firearms license so that a background check can be performed on the partner. The checks are conducted by the FBI's National Instant Background Check System.
Fox Nation promoted the article, asking "Does Democrats' Gun Bill Discriminate Against Gays?":
While it appears to be true that, under the proposed legislation, same-sex couples would not be allowed to transfer gun ownership between spouses without a background check, it's hard to take Fox Nation's concern about LGBT equality seriously.
Fox Nation has a history of demonizing LGBT equality, including attacking President Obama for calling on the U.N. to protect victims of LGBT violence. It previously criticized an immigration judge for halting the deportation of a gay man who is married to an American citizen, and when Obama announced his support for marriage equality last May, Fox Nation warned, "OBAMA FLIP FLOPS, DECLARES WAR ON MARRIAGE."
The Daily Caller's sudden support for LGBT equality seems no more sincere. The publication typically concerns itself with LGBT issues only when they can be used as an excuse to advocate for anti-gay causes and politicians. Earlier this month, the Daily Caller's Jim Treacher suggested that marriage equality might lead to fathers marrying their sons for tax purposes.
The Los Angeles Times editorial board misleadingly suggested a proposed California anti-discrimination bill that would affect the Boy Scouts of America because of its anti-LGBT policy was not only unfair, but unconstitutional.
On April 10, the Los Angeles Times announced it was opposed to a new California bill that would deny a state sales and use tax exemption to any public charity youth organization that discriminates on the basis of "gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion, or religious affiliation," thereby aligning the conditions of this exemption with other state anti-discrimination law and policy. Because the government subsidy at issue is used by the Boy Scouts of America, the LAT correctly observed that its policy of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation would run afoul of the proposed Youth Equality Act. The editorial board questioned whether the Boy Scouts "should be singled out from other nonprofits" and suggested this was inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent that allows the Boy Scouts to ban LGBT members because of the group's "expressive message." From the editorial:
Under [The Youth Equality Act (SB 323)], carried by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), the Boy Scouts of America (though unnamed in the bill) would have to pay state sales taxes as well as taxes on any money it raised in California -- such as the proceeds from hawking caramel corn, Christmas trees or anything else -- unless it admitted boys who are gay or transgender.
The aims of the bill are understandable and even laudable. But the Scouts' membership policy has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2000 ruled 5 to 4 that the ban on gay members is protected under the Constitution because the group's opposition to homosexuality is part of its "expressive message."
We yearn for the day when the closed-minded leaders of the Boy Scouts join the 21st century, but we also worry about the implications of SB 323. If legislators can go after the Scouts for engaging in legal (though offensive) behavior, what group will they go after next?
Right-wing media outlets are criticizing the Washington attorney general for enforcing non-discrimination laws against a florist who refused to offer her services for a same-sex wedding.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit on April 9 against Arlene's Flowers and Gifts, a florist that refused to supply flowers for the wedding of a same-sex couple due to her religious beliefs. According to the lawsuit, the florist violated the state's Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers on the basis of sexual orientation.
Right-wing media outlets have jumped on the story, touting it as evidence of the gay community's hostility towards religious freedom.
American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer cited the incident as an example of "homofascism":
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes criticized an email from a U.S. Army officer condemning anti-gay hate speech, suggesting that the email was a sign of "the end of days" and warning his audience that "your military is being turned against you."
In an April 9 article for Fox News Radio, Starnes reported that an email from Lt. Col. Jack Rich instructed subordinates to be on the lookout for behaviors that are "inconsistent with Army Values," including showing support for a number of "hate groups" operating in the U.S.
The email included a list of anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council (FRC) and American Family Association (AFA), stating:
The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident gay rights movement. One of those has been defamation. Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBT people as "perverts" with "filthy habits" who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and "convert" them to gay sex. They have disseminated disparaging "facts" about gays that are simply untrue assertions that are remarkably reminiscent of the way white intellectuals and scientists once wrote about the "bestial" black man and his supposedly threatening sexuality.
Rich's depiction of the hate speech stemming from the anti-gay movement is entirely accurate. Both FRC and AFA have been listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to their long histories of defaming LGBT people, including peddling the myth allowing for openly gay soldiers would cause a spike in sexual assaults and HIV infections in the military.
Starnes - who acts as Fox News' resident mouthpiece for anti-gay hate groups - chose to depict the email as an assault on Christianity, interviewing several employees of FRC who, not surprisingly, condemned the email:
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Fox News he was disturbed by the contents of the email.
"It's very disturbing to see where the Obama Administration is taking the military and using it as a laboratory for social experimentation -- and also as an instrument to fundamentally change the culture," he said. "The message is very clear - if you are a Christian who believes in the Bible, who believes in transcendent truth, there is no place for you in the military."
Dr. Ben Carson, a rising star in conservative media, announced today that he would step down as commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His decision followed a widespread backlash in the media and on campus after he compared the LGBT community to "NAMBLA" and "people who believe in bestiality."
From the Baltimore Sun:
Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson stepped down Wednesday as commencement speaker at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine after complaints from students about controversial comments concerning same-sex marriage.
"Given all the national media surrounding my statements as to my belief in traditional marriage, I believe it would be in the best interest of the students for me to voluntarily withdraw as your commencement speaker this year," he wrote in the letter to [Dean Paul] Rothman, which the dean shared with the Hopkins community.
Media Matters previously documented Ben Carson's promotion by right wing media figures after he trumpeted conservative policy ideas during a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Carson was ultimately burned by that media exposure.
The controversial remarks cited by the Baltimore Sun came during Carson's March 26 appearance on Fox News' Hannity. In reference to efforts to overturn bans on same-sex marriage, Carson said, "No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are -- they don't get to change the definition."
Those comments led Johns Hopskins students to launch a petition for his removal as commencement speaker, which petitioners said more than half of the graduating class had signed. Carson was also criticized by colleagues at Johns Hopkins who called his comments "hurtful" and "extremely discouraging." In a statement to Media Matters, the co-director of Johns Hopkins University's Program for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Professor Todd Shepard, said Carson's statements made him look, "nasty, petty, and ill-informed." Carson eventually apologized for his comments, before calling his critics "racists," and then apologizing again.
Carson once wrote that marriage equality could lead to the fall of America like the "fall of the Roman Empire." As of April 2, Carson was scheduled to give the keynote address at a banquet hosted by the Illinois Family Institute, an anti-gay hate group.
According to the Baltimore Sun, "Carson also stepped down as speaker for the Johns Hopkins University School of Education diploma ceremony. New speakers have not been chosen for either commencement address."
Hate group leader Tony Perkins jumped at the opportunity to attack same-sex parents while peddling distortions about a new MSNBC ad on Fox News.
During the April 10 edition of Fox & Friends, host Gretchen Carlson invited Perkins on to criticize a new MSNBC ad in which Melissa Harris-Perry calls on America to think about child-rearing as a community effort. Perkins suggested that Perry's comments are part of the left's desire to move away from family structures headed by "a mom and a dad":
PERKINS: Kids are still born to moms and dads, to women and men. Still takes a man and a woman to create a child. Children aren't born to the neighborhood watch; they are born to a man and woman. There is a reason for that. God gives them to man and woman. And the reality is now we have decades worth of social science that show children do best with a mom and dad who love them, who are married, and care for them. Moving away from that notion, which the left would love to do, will be devastating for society. [emphasis added]
Fox News' Megyn Kelly whitewashed the extremism of one of America's most notorious anti-gay hate group leaders, suggesting that pro-gay activists are actually the intolerant ones.
During the April 8 edition of America Live, Kelly invited Tony Perkins - president of the anti-gay Family Research Council (FRC) - to discuss the reaction to the suicide of right-wing Pastor Rick Warren's son. Kelly condemned "haters" on the Internet who were using the tragedy as an excuse to attack Warren over his anti-gay views.
Near the end of the segment, Kelly asked Perkins how he felt about being "the subject of attacks" over his opposition to marriage equality, suggesting the pro-gay activists are the ones being intolerant:
KELLY: A lot of people thought, think, that Pastor Warren is on the wrong side of the gay marriage issue. You can relate to him in this way - not the being on the wrong side, I'm not passing a judgment on that - but you also oppose gay marriage and have been the subject of attacks, and it seems like some, not all, but some of those who want tolerance and acceptance, in their effort to get it, are very willing to pass judgment, alienate, attack, and go about it in a way that may be undermining the very thing they seek.
PERKINS: Absolutely, I think you're absolutely correct. I mean, just to show a little bit of human compassion to a parent who has lost a child would go a long way in showing that they just want to be accepted and enjoy tolerance. [emphasis added]
The irony of asking a hate group leader if he's bothered by the alleged "intolerance" of his critics seems to be lost on Kelly.
Dr. Ben Carson, after comparing marriage equality advocates to supporters of pedophilia and bestiality, and then apologizing "if anybody was offended" by those remarks, and then attacking his critics as "racist[s]" who were trying to portray him as a bigot, is back to apologizing for his "offensive" comments.
According to New York magazine, Carson, a professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Medical School and nascent right-wing media star, sent an email to "the Hopkins Community" saying that he is "sorry for any embarrassment" his anti-gay comments may have caused them.
But what really saddens me is that my poorly chosen words caused pain for some members of our community and for that I offer a most sincere and heartfelt apology. Hurting others is diametrically opposed to who I am and what I believe. There are many lessons to be learned when venturing into the political world and this is one I will not forget. Although I do believe marriage is between a man and a woman, there are much less offensive ways to make that point. I hope all will look at a lifetime of service over some poorly chosen words.
Carson's apologetic email was sent just "a few minutes" after Paul Rothman, Johns Hopkins' dean of medical faculty, sent his own email calling Carson's remarks "hurtful, offensive," and "inconsistent with the culture of our institution."
Carson has been taking heat from almost all directions since making those remarks. The co-director of Johns Hopkins' sexuality studies program denounced his attacks on gays as "nasty, petty, and ill-informed," and apparently more than half of the Johns Hopkins Medical School graduating class signed a petition objecting to Carson's selection as commencement speaker.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson hyped the claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would pave the way for same-sex incestuous marriages, claiming that "many, many, many" marriage equality supporters will support incest and polygamy once "they can shift public opinion further."
In an April 5 blog post on RedState, Erickson echoed controversial comments made by actor Jeremy Irons, who criticized marriage equality by suggesting fathers would marry their sons in order to avoid paying estate taxes. Erickson agreed, arguing that "there is little moral difference" between loving, committed gay couples and incestuous relationships:
Seriously. Why not incest.
If love and commitment are the justification for marriage, why exempt this?
So why not fathers marrying sons and moms marrying daughters? Is it because of the "ick" factor? Why should that preclude it?
If life comes down to who you love and who loves you back, if a father and son love each other so much they want to get married, there is little moral difference between two people of the same sex getting married who are not related and want to be and two people of the same sex who already are related becoming closer.
The truth is, many, many, many of the same people who are now in support of gay marriage, but would oppose this or polygamy will, once the next step is advanced, support these things too. They just have to lie about it for now until they can shift public opinion further.
Erickson's argument is riddled with the same flaws that have always plagued the conservative slippery slope argument against marriage equality.
1. It's Empirically False - In the states and countries that have legalized same-sex marriage, there's been no evidence of a rush to legalize or destigmatize incest. In fact, most of the states that allow for marriages between first cousins are conservative-leaning states with explicit bans on same-sex marriage.
2. Incest Causes Real Harm To Children - Unlike in the case of same-sex marriage, there are persuasive reasons for banning incestuous marriages. Romantic relationships between parents and their children are typically exploitative and psychologically damaging. As Slate's Dahlia Lithwick wrote:
The problem with the slippery slope argument is that it depends on inexact, and sometimes hysterical, comparisons. Most of us can agree, for instance, that all the shriekings about gay marriage opening the door to incest with children and pedophilia are inapposite. These things are illegal because they cause irreversible harms.
There are plenty of compelling arguments for opposing marriages between parents and their children. "Gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry, either!" isn't one of them.
Bill O'Reilly blasted the "demagogues on the right" who have criticized him for saying opponents of marriage equality haven't "been able to do anything but thump the Bible."
After Fox News host Megyn Kelly agreed with O'Reilly that the Supreme Court wouldn't give credence to religious arguments in the fight over same-sex marriage, O'Reilly asked, "so if you know that and I know that, and I would say 75 percent of The Factor viewers know that, the other 25 percent that were upset and wanted to be upset over this comment, and then the demagogues on the right primarily who threw it back at me, why do they do that?"
He went on to say that "the right - some people, they don't want a non-ideological guy assuming this kind of power," referring to himself.
For the last few days, O'Reilly has traded jabs with Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham over his March 26 comment that anti-marriage equality advocates haven't "been able to do anything but thump the Bible" as gay rights have advanced around the country.
For a recap of the brewing feud over O'Reilly's description of opponents to marriage equality as "Bible thumpers," click here.
Just moments after claiming to "understand the torture" experienced by transgender people, Fox News' Megyn Kelly mocked a transgender inmate's attempt to acquire medically necessary gender reassignment treatment while in prison.
During the April 4 edition of America Live, Kelly hosted Fox News legal analyst Mercedes Colwin and former prosecutor Tom Kenniff to discuss a Massachusetts transgender inmate who has successfully sued the state in order to acquire gender reassignment surgery while in prison.
Throughout the segment, Kelly and Kenniff repeatedly and inaccurately referred to the inmate, Michelle Kosilek, as a male, suggesting that taxpayers shouldn't be required to cover the costs of her "elective" surgery:
KELLY: I understand the torture of gender identity disorder, the torture that that is for somebody. But a convicted murderer who strangled his wife so badly she was almost decapitated, should they really be getting that operation the taxpayer's dime?
When Colwin suggested that Kosilek should be housed with other female inmates, Kelly mocked the idea of giving Kosilek a "get out of male prison free card":
COLWIN: He's been in prison with men. Now he's anatomically female, he should be able to put in the women's detention centers, and you don't need the -
KELLY: Really? Now you get a get out of male prison free card, Tom, if you can get a sex change operation funded by the taxpayers?
Organizers protesting Dr. Ben Carson as an "inappropriate choice" of commencement speaker for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine say their petition has been signed by more than half of the graduating class.
Carson has been at the center of a firestorm in recent weeks following comments he made on Fox News comparing advocates of marriage equality to people advocating for bestiality and pedophilia.
In an April 1 appearance on Mark Levin's radio show, Carson sought to downplay the outcry among Hopkins students. Carson said that it is "still up in the air" whether he'll speak at the medical school's commencement and dismissed the concerns from students as merely "eight students who signed a petition."
LEVIN: Are you going to be giving that commencement speech or not at Johns Hopkins?
CARSON: To be determined. It's still up in the air. You know, there were eight students who signed a petition. And that was not from the graduating class, that was from all the classes. That was what they could come up with. There are others who feel very strongly in the other direction. But, you know, I'm going to wait and see. I think it's a wonderful opportunity, quite frankly, for a university to use a thermometer and to gauge its own feelings toward some of the liberties that are so much expressed in higher education.
In a release sent to Media Matters, the original petitioners dispute Carson's suggestion that it was only "eight students" who signed the petition. Rather, they state that a "majority of the graduating class" has signed on, as well as "close to 700 signatures" from across Johns Hopkins University.
Further, though Carson told Levin that the students behind the petition were "from all the classes" and "not from the graduating class," the original petitioners clarify in their release that "seven of the eight original drafters are graduating from the School of Medicine this year." Among the original petitioners are Carl Streed, a leader of a prominent LGBT group on campus, Jonathan Dudley, and several students who wish to keep their names private.
In a March 29 interview with MSNBC, Carson attempted to explain away his controversial comments and apologized if "anybody was offended." During that interview, he indicated that he might be open to withdrawing as commencement speaker.
The same day, the school issued a statement standing by the selection of Carson as commencement speaker.
On March 26, Bill O'Reilly said that marriage equality opponents offer weak arguments, stating they have not been able "to do anything but thump the Bible." Rush Limbaugh took offense to this, saying the next day that O'Reilly "marginalized" Fox News viewers. O'Reilly responded on April 2 by defending his original comment.
Here's the feud in one minute:
Fox News host Megyn Kelly attempted to whitewash the record of one of the country's most prominent anti-gay hate group leaders, ignoring his history of extreme bigotry towards the LGBT community.
During the April 3 edition of America Live, Kelly hosted Tony Perkins - president of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) - to discuss the faux controversy surrounding comments made by Reverend Luis Leon during this Easter service attended by President Obama. During his homily, Leon highlighted examples of discrimination that he felt were promoted by the religious right:
It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border.
Kelly rejected the idea that Perkins and other "captains" of the religious right held bigoted and extreme views about the gay community:
KELLY: Tony Perkins, who is president of the Family Research Council. He is on as a captain of the religious right, who we believe is one of the ones being attacked by the reverend in that sermon.
KELLY: Tony, how alienating is that for you? As somebody who's been openly religious and a Christian conservative, to hear folks who believe as you do, that what you really want is you want blacks on the back of the bus, you want women back in the kitchen, you want gays in the closet, and you want immigrants back on their side of the border?
KELLY: It seems like some have given a pass to those who would criticize Christians, conservative Christians and their views on gay marriage, for example, because they just say, 'look, you are just bigots. That's just all there is to it. You're bigots if you're not behind gay rights and that's the civil rights issue of our time and therefore if you're on the wrong side of it you deserve to be condemned.'
PERKINS: Well, as was stated, he rolled into this statement he made on Sunday some very, very loaded language to portray those who would be against the redefinition of marriage as if they were bigots that wanted to see African-Americans at the back of the bus and women back in the kitchen. As Cal [Thomas] said, I don't know what time capsule he came out of, but clearly he is not able to discern the difference between those issues.
But if Leon's comments apply to anyone on the religious right, it's Tony Perkins.
From the April 2 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
Loading the player ...