Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James downplayed the organization’s long anti-LGBTQ history in an appearance with Fox “straight news" anchor Shannon Bream. Bream is a go-to source and safe space for anti-LGBTQ figures to advertise their groups’ work and whitewash their extremism.
Bream has repeatedly demonstrated her cozy relationship with anti-LGBTQ groups, in part by frequently bring them on her show. Since June 2018, Bream has hosted extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and its clients five times to discuss their court cases and push misinformation. Bream has even mirrored Heritage and ADF’s anti-LGBTQ language, including by misgendering trans folks (the harmful practice of referring to someone “as a gender other than one that a person identifies with”). ADF spokespeople regularly misgender trans people on Fox News, and the group has said that “to call a man a woman or vice versa would be to endorse an ideology that denies the truth.” Heritage panelists also regularly employ or encourage the practice.
On May 2, Bream interviewed James about Google’s recent decision to disband its Artificial Intelligence ethics board after Google employees and others protested her inclusion on the board in part because of her and Heritage’s positions against transgender rights. During the interview, James whitewashed her organization’s anti-LGBTQ history and responded to criticism of the organization’s stance on queer issues, saying, “None of which is true, by the way. None of it is true.” She also suggested she could not be a “homophobe” because she has a gay son.
But the conservative think tank has a history of opposing LGBTQ equality. The group has railed against LGBTQ equality for decades, including by supporting discrimination against LGBTQ people under religious exemptions, supporting the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on LGBTQ scoutmasters, and opposing marriage equality. Just this year, the group has hosted five anti-trans panels that pushed misinformation about trans people in an attempt to sway public discourse about trans-inclusive policies like the Equality Act. Furthermore, Heritage employs several extreme anti-LGBTQ figures, including Ryan T. Anderson.
James also personally has an anti-LGBTQ history. She served as the vice president of extreme anti-LGBTQ group Family Research Council, one of the most influential groups advocating against LGBTQ equality. While with Heritage, she has opposed the Equality Act and opposed gender identity protections at the United Nations.
From the May 2 edition of Fox News’ Fox News at Night With Shannon Bream:
SHANNON BREAM (HOST): I want to read something that came from one of the posts, the listervs of Google employees who were concerned and pushed back. They said of the Heritage Foundation, of you, “I would disagree that conservatives, their views are important to consider when those views include erasing trans people, targeting immigrants, and denying climate change.” I mean, they had these objections to you and to the Heritage Foundation.
KAY COLES JAMES (HERITAGE FOUNDATION PRESIDENT): None of which is true, by the way. None of it is true. You know, at the Heritage Foundation, and I personally, I know that this country is rich because of our tradition of welcoming immigrants into our country, just want them to do it the correct way and do it legally. And protect our borders so that we know who’s coming in. Not against immigration. Immigrants made our country who we are today, all in favor. Climate change, of course the climate is changing, but do we want to in fact adopt rules and regulations -- which I don't know what they do, but they certainly don't affect climate change. No one is being a climate denier as they suggested. Homophobe? I don't think so. You know, I, I, I've never talked about it publicly, but I have a gay son whom I love beyond all measure. And he and his community have welcomed me, have helped me grow, have helped me to understand. There’s no hatred there. That’s my child you are talking about.