Right-Wing Media Amplify Hate Group's Attack On Gay Government Official
Research ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY
Right-wing media outlets are parroting the attacks of an anti-LGBTQ hate group on Connecticut’s openly gay comptroller, Kevin Lembo. Lembo recently sent the American Family Association (AFA) a letter asking the group to submit written documentation certifying it complies with the nondiscrimination regulations governing the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving (CSEC), which allows Connecticut State employees to contribute to qualifying non-profit charities through payroll deductions. Lembo’s office has since been “flooded” with emails and phone calls from AFA supporters.
Connecticut Comptroller Asks Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group To Provide Evidence It Meets Regulations Governing Charitable Giving
Connecticut Comptroller Sends Letter To American Family Association Asking For The Group To Provide Nondiscrimination Statement. On November 30, Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo sent a letter to American Family Association (AFA) president Tim Wildmon asking for written documentation that AFA complies with the nondiscrimination regulations governing the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving (CSEC). Lembo’s letter referenced materials from AFA’s website, published reports, and social media that provide evidence the group discriminates against LGBTQ people and Muslims, which appear to violate anti-discrimination regulations governing the CSEC. Lembo provided notice that he was initiating “an investigation to determine whether AFA is in compliance with the requirements of the CSEC”:
All organizations must submit an anti-discrimination certification each year as a condition of participating in the CSEC. However, despite certifying your organization's compliance, there are several indications that the AFA may be violating these anti-discrimination prohibitions.
The AFA has also spoken out against gay and Muslim individuals serving in the U.S. military, and has equated homosexuality with pedophilia, disease and violence.
These actions and statements are extremely troubling to me — not only as an openly gay father and spouse — but as administrator of the CSEC. The AFA's statements and mission not only appear to discriminate against the LGBTQ communities, as well as Muslims who choose to serve and protect our country by enlisting in the U.S. military, but it remains unclear what actual charitable services the AFA provides that qualifies it to participate in the CSEC. I am, therefore, initiating an investigation to determine whether AFA is in compliance with the requirements of the CSEC. [AFA.net, 10/30/16]
AFA Has Been Designated An Anti-LGBTQ “Hate Group.” Since 2010, the AFA has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center due to its history of anti-gay extremism and propagation of known falsehoods about LGBTQ people, including blaming gay men for the Holocaust, trying to link the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to increased alcoholism in the military, and asserting that being gay is a “poor and dangerous choice.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 12/9/16, 11/4/10]
New Haven Register: Lembo “Newest Target” Of Hate Group Misinformation. After Lembo requested that AFA submit written documentation of its nondiscrimination statement, the group sent an action alert email to its supporters calling Lembo’s letter “an unconstitutional attack on the First Amendment rights of all religious organizations.” AFA also published a corresponding blog titled “Christophobia in Connecticut.” Lembo told the New Haven Register that his office had been flooded with emails and calls from AFA supporters, from which it was “obvious they have been given misinformation about the state’s efforts to obtain information from the group.”
After asking a Christian organization that’s against LGBTQ rights for more information about how it conforms with Connecticut’s nondiscrimination clause to qualify for state employee payroll deductions, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo became the group’s newest target.
The American Family Association, a Mississippi-based group that is known for its anti-gay and anti-transgender boycotts of businesses, is flooding Lembo’s office with calls and emails. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Lembo said his office had received 4,455 emails from people associated with AFA.
The emails say all sorts of things and the “vast majority are nice and measured,” Lembo said Tuesday in a phone interview. But about 10 percent are ‘nasty.’”
Lembo said it’s obvious they have been given misinformation about the state’s efforts to obtain information from the group.
Lembo said the group signed the anti-discrimination clause, but their website seems to offer a different story. [New Haven Register, 12/6/16]
Right-Wing Media Outlets Parrot AFA’s Attacks And Accuse Lembo Of Waging “War With Christian Ministry”
OneNewsNow: Lembo’s Letter Is Part Of The “Sexual Deviancy Agenda” Leading A “War” On People Of Faith. OneNewsNow -- a right-wing website operated by the AFA-owned American Family News Network -- parroted AFA’s action alert, writing that AFA is calling on its supporters to “contact Lembo and urge him to retract his letter.” The article included a quote from AFA’s general counsel and public policy analyst, Abraham Hamilton III, calling Lembo’s letter a part of the “seuxal deviancy agenda” supporting “a broader war on people of faith.” [OneNewsNow, 10/5/16]
Fox’s Todd Starnes: “Gay Bureaucrat Wages War With Christian Ministry.” Fox News radio host Todd Starnes published a December 6 column claiming “Connecticut’s openly gay comptroller is targeting American Family Association.” Starnes described the hate group as “one of the nation’s most prominent and respected Christian ministries,” and characterized Lembo’s letter asking for AFA’s nondiscrimination policy as part of the “war on religious liberty”:
Donald Trump may be the next president of the United States but the war on religious liberty rages on.
The other day I received word that Connecticut’s openly gay comptroller is targeting American Family Association, one of the nation’s most prominent and respected Christian ministries.
If Comptroller Kevin Lembo has his way, AFA could be kicked out of the Connecticut State Employees’ Campaign for Charitable Giving (CSEC) — even though they are qualified as a charity under the rules.
Lembo sent AFA a letter accusing them possibly being in “violation of the regulations governing the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving that broadly prohibit discrimination.” [Fox News, 12/6/16]
Breitbart: “Gay Connecticut Official Launches Investigation into Pro-Family Group that Ran Target Boycott.” An article posted on Breitbart claimed Lembo had “attacked” AFA and reprinted part of AFA’s statement on letter. The story also smeared transgender women as “men who claim to be women”:
As state comptroller, Kevin Lembo, who identifies himself in a press release as “Connecticut’s first openly gay statewide elected official,” administers the Connecticut State Employee Campaign for Charitable Giving (CSEC). His office says all organizations that receive donations from state employees are required to submit an “anti-discrimination certification” each year. Lembo states he is questioning whether AFA is actually delivering any charitable services at all and also suggests AFA is breaking CSEC’s anti-discrimination rules.
AFA is leading a successful campaign to boycott Target after the retailer jumped into the transgender bathroom debate by allowing men who claim to be women to use the women’s restrooms in its stores. [Breitbart.com, 12/7/16]