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Alex Paterson

Author ››› Alex Paterson
  • Fox "news"-side anchor Martha MacCallum flat-out lied about Trump’s horrible record on LGBTQ rights

    MacCallum claimed that she has never “heard anything in President Trump's dialogue that says that he wants to turn the clock back to a time when Americans were prosecuted for being gay”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX PATERSON


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Martha MacCallum, a Fox News anchor and part of the network’s purported “news”-side team, misinformed viewers of President Donald Trump’s record of rolling back and outright attacking the rights of the LGBTQ community.

    During the July 7 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom, MacCallum reacted to U.S. women’s national soccer team co-captain Megan Rapinoe’s ongoing protest of the Trump-Pence administration, claiming, “I've never seen or read or heard anything in President Trump's dialogue that says that he wants to turn the clock back to a time when Americans were prosecuted for being gay.” While making these comments, MacCallum conveniently ignored the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on LGBTQ people.

    Trump’s attacks on the LGBTQ community began in the very first week of his presidency and continue today. He has aligned his administration with extreme anti-LGBTQ groups and, according to GLAAD, has launched over 100 attacks against LGBTQ people, including reversing numerous protections for the community. And just in May, media reported that the administration is considering three potential rules that would permit discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, health care, adoption, and foster care.

    Here are just some of the extreme anti-LGBTQ actions the Trump-Pence administration has taken since coming into power:

    • January 2017: The Trump administration removed LGBTQ-related content from numerous federal websites.
    • February 2017: The departments of Justice and Education rescinded Obama-era nondiscrimination protections for transgender students.
    • March 2017: The Department of Health and Human Services removed LGBTQ questions from an annual survey of elderly Americans.
    • July 2017: Trump announced on Twitter that the military would ban transgender service members.
    • September 2017: The Justice Department intervened in an anti-LGBTQ discrimination case by submitting a friend of the court brief in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who refused services to a same-sex couple.
    • January 2018: The HHS Office of Civil Rights proposed a new rule that would allow health care workers to deny treatment to LGBTQ patients under the guise of “religous freedom.”
    • January 2019: The Trump administration granted South Carolina adoption agencies a waiver to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ parents.
    • May 2019: The Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a rule that would permit federally funded homeless shelters to deny services to transgender people.

    MacCallum’s false portayal of Trump’s anti-LGBTQ record is right at home on Fox, where the so-called “straight news” anchors regularly denigrate, smear, and vilify LGBTQ people. From the July 10 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:

    MARTHA MACCALLUM: I think it’s sad this whole issue about the trip to the White House and how politicized this whole thing has become. I also think it’s unfortunate that it’s become about one player, about Megan Rapinoe. 

     

    ...

     

    MACCALLUM: I don't know what she's actually talking about, really. You know, when you look at the movements in this country since the Stonewall uprising and you see you know the years of progress in terms of the way that -- that LBGT people are treated in this country, there has been a lot of advances. And I don't think that it’s -- I've never seen or read or heard anything in President Trump's dialogue that says that he wants to turn the clock back to a time when Americans were prosecuted for being gay. I mean, does she really believe that? I don't think that that’s the case. So I just am curious.

  • Fox News anchor Shannon Bream serially misgenders trans folks

    Misgendering is a form of harassment that stigmatizes trans people and goes against widely-held journalistic standards

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX PATERSON


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Shannon Bream, a Fox News anchor and part of the network’s purported “news”-side team, has a relentless record of misgendering trans people -- most recently when she reported on trans athlete JayCee Cooper, calling her a “biological male, now identifying as female.”

    Bream has made a habit of misgendering transgender people on-air while reporting on LGBTQ issues. Since November, this includes NCAA track champion CeCe Telfer; Aimee Stephens, a Supreme Court plaintiff who was fired for being transgender; and a trans middle school student in Florida. 

    On June 21, Bream misgendered and unnecessarily demeaned Cooper, a powerlifting athlete, by referring to her as a "biological male, now identifying as female." Cooper filed a complaint under the Minnesota Human Rights Act against the sport’s largest governing federation, USA Powerlifting, “after being barred from competing as a transgender woman.” According to reporting by Kate Sosin, Cooper said, “Competing in sports has been one of the only consistencies in my life, and it’s such an important piece of my identity.” 

    According to GLSEN, an LGBTQ-inclusive education advocacy organization, “misgendering refers to the experience of being labeled by others as a gender other than one that a person identifies with.” Refusing to refer to a trans person by their chosen name delegitimizes their identity and shows a resistance to acknowledging that their existence is real. Misgendering is a form of harassment that stigmatizes trans folks and also goes against journalistic standards, including The Associated Press Stylebook and The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.

    Bream’s disregard for trans identities is in stark contrast with most news personalities at other networks. It also mirrors the anti-trans coverage from Fox’s toxic opinion hosts. Here are a few more notable examples of Bream misgendering trans people:

    • June 15: Reporting on Telfer, who recently “won the NCAA Division II women's 400-meter hurdles championship,” Bream called her “a biological male who now identifies as a woman.”
    • April 24: While hosting a member of extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom, Bream said, “I know that ADF, your group, is involved specifically with at least one of these cases that has to do with a funeral home that had an employee they had hired in 2007, I believe. He came to them in 2013 and said that he wanted to begin dressing as a woman in the workplace. They told him no. This is already gone through the process.”
    • March 1: “A high school track takes center stage this weekend in New England, sparking nationwide controversy because male athletes transitioning to female are setting records and leaving athletes born female in the dust.”
    • February 15: “Now, just so people know that part of the problem here or what sparked part of this is that Megan was referring to a case in which a person who was born biologically male and still apparently has some of the anatomy was scheduling Brazilian bikini waxes and then showing up as a woman and then suing people, or protesting when people realized there was still some male anatomy and didn't want to perform the procedure.”
    • November 20: “A Florida school district allegedly told a male P.E. teacher that he had to supervise a female trans student who wanted to use the boy's locker room. … There is a student who was born biologically female, now identifying as male, wants to use the boys locker rooms and restrooms in the school.”
    • December 2016: “Born a biological female, the high school senior now identifies as male and wants the ability to use male-designated restrooms at Gloucester High School, which would violate school board policy.”

    Bream has also posted about news stories on Twitter in which she misgendered trans folks:

  • After two trans migrant women died in ICE detention, Tucker Carlson says trans detainees are treated better than American citizens

    Carlson promoted ICE propaganda and said detention facilities for trans migrants are “worth it for the amenities alone” even though LGBTQ people are being abused and dying in ICE custody

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX PATERSON


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Fox News’ Tucker Carlson lied to his viewers about the conditions facing transgender migrants detained at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities, asserting: “Life for transgender illegal aliens is actually much better than it is for many American citizens.” In fact, LGBTQ migrants, including asylum seekers, face alarming rates of abuse, solitary confinement, and sexual assault in ICE facilities, and two trans migrants -- Johana Medina Leon and Roxana Hernandez -- have died while in ICE custody in just over a year.

    During the June 14 segment, Carlson discussed living conditions in ICE’s single dedicated housing unit for trans women at Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico. The agency recently touted the facility on social media, but many advocates have called ICE’s posts “propaganda” and noted dismal conditions for LGBTQ migrants detained by the agency. A May 2018 analysis by the Center for American Progress found that LGBTQ immigrants are “97 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees,” and “1 in 8 transgender people detained in FY 2017 were placed in solitary confinement,” which “is considered a form of torture by the United Nations.”

    Carlson's use of ICE propaganda to complain that some trans detainees have access to their basic needs was a blatant attempt to whitewash ICE’s violation of human and civil rights. Carlson painted a false picture of life for queer and trans migrants detaineed in ICE facilities to stoke resentment against them, continuing his efforts to scapegoat immigrants for supposed national crises.

    From the June 14 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight:

    TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): In real life, there’s nothing right wing about this administration's social policy -- maybe unfortunately. For example, did you know that ICE, right now, maintains a special housing unit for transgender illegal aliens? Hard to believe, but it's true. We know it's true because ICE has been bragging about it recently. The agency even sponsors classes to help transgender migrants appear more feminine. 

    Giving fashion tips to men who dress like women who snuck into our country illegally is a priority for the federal bureaucracy. They are happy to spend your money -- a lot of your money -- doing it. Meanwhile, for American citizens, things get steadily worse: Life expectancy declines, half a million people sleep on the streets every night, heroin addicts line the sidewalks of our once-great cities. But at least the federal government can pay for a specialized detention center for transgender migrants in New Mexico. And that's not all. Thirty million Americans don't have health insurance, and millions more pay way more than they can afford for health insurance. But transgender migrants don't have to worry about that at all. According to ICE’s latest press release, they get all the free health care they want. That includes mental health services and dental. Can you afford dental insurance? If not, you might want to seek asylum. It could be worth it for the amenities alone. Transgender migrants in New Mexico have televisions and microwaves. There’s an indoor basketball court and a library. In their free time, they sing opera. For real.

    Life for transgender illegal aliens is actually much better than it is for many American citizens. It’s not really surprising. You can you tell who our government really cares about, and it's not you.

    Carlson failed to note any of the potentially lethal abuse, harassment, and denial of health care that LGBTQ migrants -- particularly trans women -- face while detained in ICE facilities, or the deaths of two trans women in ICE custody.

    Roxana Hernandez died in May 2018 after reportedly spending five days of detention in an “ice box” -- “facilities notorious for their freezing temperatures,” according to The Guardian. Other detainees said that Hernandez received “no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill” despite having a preexisting medical condition. The Transgender Law Center has filed a wrongful death claim against the Cibola County Correctional center -- the same facility which Carlson decried -- maintaining that she “did not receive necessary medical care and medication” while being held there.

    On June 1, after falling ill at New Mexico’s Otero County Processing Center, Johana Medina Leon also died in ICE custody. According to The Washington Post, another trans woman at the same facility reported being sick and not receiving “adequate medical attention,” and an advocate “said he learned that Leon was not feeling well and that others had requested that she be given intravenous fluids but that staff said they couldn’t administer that kind of treatment.” Medina Leon was one of three migrants to die while in ICE detention in the span of three days. In March, the ACLU called for an investigation into Otero County Processing Center’s detention conditions after 12 gay and transgender detainees reported “sexual harassment, withheld medications and dehumanizing treatment by guards.”

    Moreover, the alarming rates of abuse and death LGBTQ migrants face while in ICE custody reflect the anti-LGBTQ agenda of newly appointed acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli has campaigned for the criminalization of sodomy and said that the “homosexual agenda … brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.”

  • Family Research Council celebrates Pride Month by spreading vile misinformation and hate about the LGBTQ community

    FRC’s Peter Sprigg suggested that mental illness among some LGBTQ people is evidence that they are not “natural,” said HIV is "a direct result" of gay sex, and promoted the debunked practice of conversion therapy

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX PATERSON


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Extreme anti-LBGTQ group Family Research Council regularly traffics in extreme language, but it recently published a post by Peter Sprigg about LGBTQ Pride Month, which was particularly vile even by its own standards. In the blog, Sprigg said gay men should not be proud because HIV is "a direct result of that sexual behavior" and that mental illness in the LGBTQ community is evidence its members are not "natural."

    Sprigg, a senior fellow at FRC, has called for homosexuality to be criminalized and has said, “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society.” Sprigg has pushed his anti-LGBTQ views internationally at the global summit of World Congress of Families (WCF), where he “argued that transgender identity is unscientific,” according to Right Wing Watch. The WCF is an international coalition of anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ groups led by former National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown, and it promotes extreme right-wing policies around the world under the guise of protecting the “natural family.”

    Domestically, Sprigg has given public comment at a committee meeting urging the Food and Drug Administration’s to uphold its policy banning men who have sex with men from donating blood, advocated to the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee against nondiscrimination protections for transgender people, and testified before state legislatures in Vermont, Hawaii, and New Hampshire against protections for LBGTQ youth from conversion therapy. Moreover, Sprigg’s boss, FRC President Tony Perkins, was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to be a commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

    Sprigg also writes articles spreading anti-LGBTQ misinformation across several right-wing platforms, including The Daily Signal, Washington Examiner, and The Christian Post. Right-wing and evangelical media, in turn, quote Sprigg as an expert on conversion therapy and the health needs of transgender people even though he is not a medical professional.

    In an article posted on June 11, Sprigg railed against the LGBTQ community under the deceitfully reasoned headline “Should Christians Recognize ‘LGBT Pride?’” Anti-LGBTQ organizations often try to pit religious rights against LGBTQ equality in a fallacious “God vs. Gay” dichotomy, though the majority of religious groups think homosexuality “should be accepted,” according to Pew Research. Here are some of the worst anti-LGBTQ comments that Sprigg pushed in the FRC blog post:

    • "The high rates of mental illness that accompany such feelings is strong evidence against the idea that homosexual and transgender feelings are ‘natural.’”

    • "Men who have sex with men, in particular, have high rates of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases as a direct result of that sexual behavior—so is it something to be ‘proud’ of?”

    • "To accept ‘LGBT Pride’ is to accept the assertion that these feelings are a normal and natural variant of human sexuality.”

    • "Some individuals who identify as transgender ask surgeons to mutilate or remove otherwise healthy body parts—often with serious long-term consequences—in order to make their bodies resemble more closely their desired sex. Is this something to be proud of?”

    • "To endorse ‘LGBT Pride’ is to endorse all three—to affirm that LGBT feelings are normal and natural (which is untrue), that LGBT behaviors are harmless or even admirable (also untrue), and that their LGBT ‘identity’ is innate (untrue as well).”

    • "Homosexual activists and their allies in the states have even been invading the privacy of the relationship between mental health providers and their clients, by passing laws to prohibit sexual orientation change efforts, or SOCE (which critics refer to as ‘conversion therapy’) with minors.”

    • "The former tennis star and self-identified lesbian Martina Navratilova said, ‘Catholic clergy has been a lot more dangerous to kids than LGBT’ (apparently without irony, since there is reason to believe that most of the Catholic priests who have molested children are themselves homosexual).”

  • Nearly all TV news networks failed to cover the Trump-Pence administration’s recent attacks on the LGBTQ community

    Recently proposed and finalized rules would codify discrimination against LGBTQ people in health care, housing, and adoption and foster care

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX PATERSON


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In the span of three days, new reports revealed several proposed or potential rules coming from the Trump-Pence administration that would allow discrimination against LGBTQ people -- particularly trans folks -- in housing, health care, and adoption and foster care. But in the week that followed, from May 22 to May 31, nearly all cable and broadcast TV news channels failed to cover these attacks on the LGBTQ community. Broadcast networks ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, as well as cable network MSNBC, did not mention the discriminatory rules at all, while CNN and Fox News covered them for a total of less than 11 minutes across 8 segments.

    The Trump-Pence administration is releasing discriminatory anti-LGBTQ proposals in housing, health care, and adoption and foster care

    Between May 22 and 24, news outlets reported on several rules coming out of the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) that would harm LGBTQ people, with a disproportionate impact on the trans community:

    • On May 22, HUD proposed a new rule that would allow “federally funded [homeless] shelters to deny people admission on religious grounds or force transgender women to share bathrooms and sleeping quarters with men,” according to The Washington Post.
    • On May 24, HHS proposed a rule that would allow health care workers citing religious beliefs to discriminate against and deny care to LGBTQ patients.
    • Later on May 24, Axios reported that the Trump-Pence administration’s HHS plans to propose a new rule that would make it easier for federally funded adoption and foster care agencies to refuse to work with LGBTQ prospective parents, among others, fulfilling a promise President Donald Trump made during this year’s National Prayer Breakfast.

    Broadcast and cable news discussed the proposed rules for less than 11 minutes across 8 segments

    Between May 22 and May 31, broadcast TV news networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX and cable news network MSNBC did not mention the proposed anti-LGBTQ rules at all. CNN spent 7.5 minutes covering the topics, and Fox News reported on them for roughly 3.5 minutes.

    CNN discussed the topics over the span of six segments, including during an interview with trans actor D’Lo about an advertisement featuring a father showing his transgender son how to shave. That segment was the only relevant coverage during the time period to feature an LGBTQ guest. Fox News covered the topics over two segments. One was an interview with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, in which he misleadingly framed the discriminatory rule as “being fair to everybody.”

    Print and digital media reported on all the three rules and contextualized the administration’s anti-LGBTQ agenda

    The failure of several broadcast and cable TV networks to report on the discriminatory rules was not reflected in print and digital media.

    Trans writer Katelyn Burns wrote two op-eds contextualizing the recent anti-LGBTQ attacks as part of Trump’s all-out assault on the transgender community. In Teen Vogue, she outlined how these policies could trigger suicidal ideation in trans youth, encourage unsupportive parents, and prevent young people from accessing medically necessary care. In The Washington Post, Burns called HHS’ proposed rule “the cruelest thing the Trump administration has done to trans people,” writing:

    For me, as a transgender person, this administration’s constant targeting of us is terrifying. It seems that there’s little they won’t do to making transitioning and living a dignified life as a transgender person impossible. Trump and his administration are clearly prioritizing the desires of religious conservatives who would like to see my existence rubbed out of society, and they’ve come this far so quickly with barely a blip of resistance.

    Digital outlets such as BuzzFeed, The Daily Beast, and HuffPost also covered the rules, citing LGBTQ advocates and contextualizing the administration’s moves as part of a wider strategy to undermine LGBTQ equality across the country.

    These attacks have been championed by extreme anti-LGBTQ groups and will further marginalize already vulnerable people

    The Trump-Pence administration’s anti-LGBTQ policies have been fueled by influential right-wing organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), both of which have allies and alumni serving in positions across the federal government. For example, the right-wing HHS Office for Civil Rights, which is led by Roger Severino, is responsible for both the anti-LGBTQ health care rule and the reported upcoming adoption and foster care rule. Severino formerly served as the director of Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. Heritage has a long history of anti-LGBTQ advocacy and has increasingly targeted transgender people. Severino has made a career out of advocating against LGBTQ rights and was behind several other anti-LGBTQ actions from HHS. Severino’s newly announced principal advisor, Matt Bowman, is an anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ advocate who has worked in HHS positions since 2017. He formerly worked with ADF for more than a decade.

    Ultimately, these latest attacks affect transgender people in areas in which they are already more likely to experience discrimination and hardships. HUD’s proposed rule to give federally funded homeless shelters a license to discriminate against transgender people will only further marginalize an already vulnerable community that faces alarming rates of homelessness. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), “one in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness,” and up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.

    The reported HHS rule to allow agencies to deny children adoption and foster care placements with same-sex couples will only limit opportunities for the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care. Despite the planned HHS rule, there is a robust body of evidence that shows children of same-sex couples fare no worse than other children.

    Further, the HHS rule to gut nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is one of the administration’s most damaging attacks on the transgender community. Transgender patients already face denial of health care and discrimination in health care settings, and National Geographic has reported that transgender “people have disproportionately high rates of illness and death—in part due to widespread reluctance to seek out emergency treatment and even routine checkups over concerns about the quality of care.” Additionally, NCTE’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey reported that among respondents, “one-third (33%) of those who saw a health care provider had at least one negative experience related to being transgender” in the previous year.

    Media has a responsibility to report on these devastating attacks against the LGBTQ community

    The insufficient reporting on cable and broadcast TV news about the recent attacks on the LGBTQ community plays into the Trump-Pence administration’s strategy of minimizing press coverage of extreme policies coming from federal agencies. The administration released one of the rules ahead of a holiday weekend, which decreased public awareness of the issues -- an approach it has also taken to bury climate change research.

    Moreover, media’s obsession with Trump’s tweets allow extreme anti-LGBTQ figures to push discriminatory policies with little notice. Reporting on the new HHS rule, Reuters’ Yasmeen Abutaleb and Joseph Tanfani wrote:

    One of the benefits of Trump’s Twitter approach is it creates headlines, and that’s what it’s intended to do, and underneath those headlines, everyone else in the administration can go about peacefully doing their job,” said David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth and a longtime Pence friend. HHS has “released several very important, significant regulations that changed the nature of Obamacare, of healthcare, with very little coverage in the press.

    Though cable and broadcast TV news spent little time covering the administration’s latest anti-LGBTQ rules, there is no mistaking that these decisions will have sweeping impacts on queer and trans people. Media outlets have a responsibility to properly cover the administration’s attacks on LGBTQ rights and to educate their audiences on the detrimental impacts these proposed rules will have on an already vulnerable community. Unfortunately, TV news failed both the queer community and their audience by barely reporting on the Trump-Pence administration’s latest anti-LGBTQ attacks.

    Methodology

    From May 24 to May 31, the week following the announcement of the proposed anti-LGBTQ rules, Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts of broadcast and cable TV newscasts on ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and NBC News -- as well as the 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. programming on Fox News and MSNBC -- for mentions of the words or variations of the words “LGBT,” “gay,” “transgender,” “gender identity,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” or “sexual orientation.” We also searched SnapStream for the same words appearing with the terms "child welfare," “reassignment,” “abortion,” “housing,” “shelter,” “adoption,” “foster care,” “Health and Human Services,” “Housing and Urban Development,” “HHS,” or “HUD” appearing on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for the same timeframe, as daytime coverage for MSNBC and Fox News is not available on Nexis.

    Additional research by Brianna January.

  • Extreme anti-LGBTQ group American Family Association says it met with “senior” Walmart executives to discuss ad with gay couple

    AFA runs a right-wing evangelical media apparatus that includes a website and radio network and has endorsed dangerous anti-LGBTQ positions

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX PATERSON


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Extreme anti-LGBTQ group the American Family Association claimed to have met with “senior executives” at Walmart to discuss its objections to the company’s Valentine’s Day advertisement that featured two men going on a blind first date at a Walmart.

    On May 9, AFA announced that “senior executives with AFA met with senior executives at Walmart where our objections to the video ad were strongly and respectfully articulated.” AFA wrote that it “shared our plea that Walmart remain neutral on the promotion of homosexuality,” asserting that it had a “forthright and engaging discussion about the matter.” 

    AFA launched a petition urging Walmart to remove the advertisement in February, complaining that it “normalizes homosexual relationships.” AFA dubiously claimed that the petition garnered “over 190,000 signers.” However, reporter Nico Lang noted that the petition was “likely bogus,” as it contained no security or verification measures. Lang wrote that users were able to sign the petition an unlimited amount of times using “transparently counterfeit” emails and “from the same IP address while using the same web browser.” Despite the questionable authenticity of its petition, Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt reported on April 3 that AFA had secured the meeting with a representative for Walmart CEO Doug McMillon.

    In addition to its anti-LGBTQ advocacy work, AFA also runs a substantial right-wing evangelical media apparatus. It uses its American Family Radio network (AFR) and news website OneNewsNow to push extreme anti-LGBTQ narratives and misinformation to various types of audiences. Posts on its news website have claimed that Texas legislation would “ban Christianity” and pushed the debunked “bathroom predator” myth, which have received significant engagement from their audience.

    On AFR’s Janet Mefferd Live, host Janet Mefferd has linked homosexuality to child sexual abuse, suggested that LGBTQ-inclusive Christianity will destroy churches, and advocated for the harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy. On AFR’s Focal Point, former AFA spokesperson and host Bryan Fischer has condemned gay men to hell, claimed that gays were responsible for the Nazi Party, and said that “any practitioners of any other religion other than Christianity,” such as Muslim and Jewish people, “do not have First Amendment rights.”

    In 2013, AFA endorsed Russia’s anti-LGBTQ “gay propaganda” law, which “effectively legalizes discrimination based on sexual orientation” and led to an increase in homophobic rhetoric and violence in the country. The group has also said that “gay sex is a form of domestic terrorism.”

  • Right-wing evangelicals are using Pete Buttigieg to attack progressive Christians

    Extreme anti-LGBTQ groups and media are even calling for Buttigieg to stop being gay and undergo conversion therapy

    Blog ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN & ALEX PATERSON


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Anti-LGBTQ groups and media are attacking progressive Christians as not "serious Christians" after openly gay and Christian Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg called out Vice President Mike Pence for his anti-LGBTQ policies.

    On April 7, remarking on his sexuality, Buttigieg said “that if Pence has ‘a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me -- your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.’" Pence has a long history of opposing LGBTQ rights, and he responded to the comments by accusing Buttigieg of attacking his Christian faith.

    Buttigieg is very open about his Christian faith. The New York Times described Buttigieg as “a devoted Episcopalian who fluidly quotes Scripture” and quoted him saying that his relationship with his husband Chasten “has moved me closer to God.” He has also cited his Christian faith as part of the reason he supports progressive policies.

    Despite his faith, right-wing evangelicals are attacking Buttigieg as anti-Christian and calling progressive Christianity -- particularly Christians who support LGBTQ equality and reproductive choice -- a “hypocritical farce” and “politicized sham.” Several outlets even said Buttigieg should stop being gay, suggesting that he undergo and support the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

    Right-wing media and anti-LGBTQ groups say progressive stances on sexuality and abortion go against Christian teachings

    In response to Buttigieg’s comments, right-wing media and anti-LGBTQ groups attacked not only Buttigieg’s beliefs but also the entirety of progressive Christianity.

    Right-wing anti-LGBTQ commentator Erick Erickson penned a post titled “On Meet the Press, Pete Buttigieg Shows Why Progressive Christianity is a Hypocritical Farce” that suggested that Erickson’s hardline anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion beliefs are the only acceptable form of Christianity. In the piece, Erickson claimed that “Buttigieg keeps trying to play a Christian on television” and cited Buttigieg’s beliefs as a reason why “progressive Christianity is so corrupt and flawed.” He also said that Buttigieg “wants to reject the inconvenient parts of faith he does not like,” pointing to his sexuality and stance on reproductive choice. In an earlier post, Erickson claimed that Buttigieg “is not really Christian so much as he is Episcopalian,” a point that he has repeatedly doubled down on.

    In a post on anti-LGBTQ outlet LifeSiteNews, writer Michael Brown said that Buttigieg's comments on President Donald Trump are “the height of hypocrisy” after Buttigieg criticized Trump for being “at odds with at least my understanding of the teachings of the Christian faith.” Brown referred to Buttigieg as “a professing Christian and practicing homosexual” and claimed that it is “utterly absurd” for a “serious Christian” to be “pro-abortion and ‘married’ to his same-sex partner.” Additionally, Brown implied that a “true follower of Jesus” cannot be gay and quoted a Bible verse suggesting that LGBTQ people will go to hell. He concluded by saying that “there is nothing Christian about” a “pro-abortion, practicing homosexual who claims to be a Christian calling out Trump’s alleged ‘hypocrisy.’”

    Peter LaBarbera, president of the extreme anti-LGBTQ group Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, released a statement titled “Pete Buttigieg's Fake Christianity: Democrat Mocks God by Using Him to Justify His Homosexuality.” LaBarbera called Buttigieg “a living, walking and breathing example of the politicized sham that is religious-left ‘Christianity’ today.” He continued, “Buttigieg quotes Scripture even as he defies it with his very public, and very fake, ‘marriage’ to another man,” adding, “No faithful Christian proudly identifies by his or her besetting sins, nor seeks to justify them before a holy God.”

    In an appearance on anti-LGBTQ media figure Todd Starnes’ Fox Nation show, extreme anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said that Buttigieg “has an issue with the words of Scripture.” Perkins also compared him to “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” claiming that Buttigieg’s progressive agenda is “not in line with the Scripture,” including his support for reproductive choice and same-sex marriage.

    Several outlets suggested Buttigieg denounce his sexuality and stop being gay

    Right-wing media and anti-LGBTQ groups doubled down on their attacks of Buttigieg’s identity by going so far as to say that he should stop being gay.

    In LaBarbera’s post, he asserted that “it is Buttigieg himself who is defiantly living out his own quarrel with God every time he proudly celebrates his sexual sin and, worse, uses God to justify it.” LaBarbera further called for Buttigieg to stop being gay, saying, “Christians should pray that Pete Buttigieg repents of his proud homosexuality and dedicates himself to serving Christ in Truth—rather than mocking Him for political gain.” He also subtly advocated for conversion therapy, saying that “homosexual behaviors … can be overcome through the grace and power of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6), as testified by countless ex-‘gays’ and former ‘transgenders.’"

    In his LifeSiteNews post, Brown claimed that Buttigieg should come out and say he does “not affirm [his same-sex] desires, act on them, or celebrate them.”

    And in a blog titled “The Problem with Pete Buttigieg: His Sexual Conduct,” Bryan Fischer of the extreme anti-LGBTQ group American Family Association called for Buttigieg to “exit from the addictive and self-destructive behavior that is endemic in the homosexual community and set his feet on a higher path.” Fischer also suggested Buttigieg undergo conversion therapy, saying, “It’s unfortunate that Buttigieg never developed a relationship with Jesus Christ because Christ came in order to give ordinary human beings victory over exactly the kind of sexual temptation to which Buttigieg surrendered.” Fischer concluded that “the first question Pete Buttigieg needs to be asked: ‘Do you oppose reparative therapy for teens struggling with same-sex attraction, and would you make it a crime? Yes or No?’”

    These suggestions, both implicit and explicit, for Buttigieg to undergo conversion therapy and renounce his sexuality are part of the broader trend of extreme anti-LGBTQ groups and figures supporting a discredited practice that causes harm and even death.

    These opinions are extreme and not representative of most Christian viewpoints

    Attempts to discredit Buttigieg’s Christian faith reflect right-wing evangelicals’ broader efforts to create a false “God vs. Gay” dichotomy to pit religious people, particularly Christians, against LGBTQ people. However, anti-LGBTQ bigotry is not reflected in mainstream Christian beliefs, and the majority of members in most religious groups in the United States believe that homosexuality should be accepted. In May 2018, research from the Public Religion Research Institute found that “most religious groups now support the legalization of same-sex marriage” and although a majority of white evangelicals and Mormons still do not express majority support, “there is evidence that even these groups are trending toward majority support.”

    Right-wing media’s claims that Buttigieg’s marriage and progressive platform go directly against Christian beliefs further contribute to a misleading and destructive narrative that has been ongoing for decades. These assertions are untrue and do not reflect the strengthening support for LGBTQ rights in Christian communities in the U.S.