Family Research Council

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  • How a discredited anti-abortion group used the anti-choice media ecosystem to do its dirty work

    CMP seemingly tried to avoid an injunction by circulating video footage to anti-choice and right-wing media outlets, rather than publishing it

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN & JULIE TULBERT

    On May 25, the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) circulated an unlisted YouTube link to a new smear video against the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and Planned Parenthood. This footage was removed that evening because a district judge had “barred it from release.” Given this injunction, it seems notable that CMP didn’t publicly release or promote the video, and instead relied on anti-choice and right-wing media outlets to spread its claim.

  • How The Media Covered Hate Groups Last Week, 5/1/17- 5/7/17

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    In reporting on President Donald Trump's "religious liberty" executive order last week, some outlets highlighted important anti-LGBTQ details while others failed to acknowledge activists' extremism. The Washington Post fact-checked a Trump speech, exposing that it included a lie peddled by the hate group Family Research Council. Local papers The Orange County Register and Portland Business Journal exposed anti-LGBTQ hate groups Alliance Defending Freedom and Traditional Values Coalition in their coverage. National outlets -- including CNN, CBS, and USA Today -- spoke with anti-LGBTQ hate groups about the order but failed to identify the groups’ extremism, merely describing them as “conservative,” “evangelical,” and “faith” groups. Separately, NPR continued its streak of hosting hate group leaders without context.

  • Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups Have Clamored For Trump's "Religious Freedom" Order

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    President Donald Trump just signed an executive order purporting to protect so-called religious freedom, in part by weakening tax code restrictions on churches and religious groups, allowing them to actively engage in political activity without losing their nonprofit status. While the order falls short of directly targeting LGBTQ people -- as many expected it would do -- it’s still a victory for anti-LGBTQ hate groups, which have been lobbying for such a shift for years.

    On May 4, Trump signed an executive order allegedly protecting religious freedom. The order directs the IRS to use “maximum enforcement discretion” to “alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment.” The Johnson Amendment is a 1954 law stating that churches and other tax-exempt organizations are "are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office." Despite the claims by anti-LGBTQ hate groups that the amendment stifles “free speech” by pastors and churches, it is rarely enforced. As NPR noted earlier this year, opposition to the amendment isn’t really about “free speech” -- it’s about “money and politics.” Last August, The Atlantic explained the effects of overturning the Johnson Amendment:

    Pastors would be able to endorse candidates from the pulpit, which they’re currently not allowed to do by law. But it’s also true that a lot more money could possibly flow into politics via donations to churches and other religious organizations. That could mean religious groups would become much more powerful political forces in American politics—and it would almost certainly tee up future court battles.

    The group leading the national push for repealing the Johnson Amendment -- the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) -- has been designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for working to criminalize LGBTQ people, both domestically and abroad, as well as disseminating “disparaging propaganda and falsehoods” to advance its extremist agenda.

    ADF, which has previously explained that it “seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries,” has led an annual “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” in opposition to the Johnson Amendment since 2008. The Washington Post reported that ADF’s “Pulpit Freedom” initiative has encouraged over 2,000 clergy members -- mainly evangelical Christians -- to “deliberately” violate the law since 2008 -- and none of the 2,000 were punished by the IRS. Yet the hate group’s efforts are sweepingly out of step with public opinion, as 90 percent of evangelical leaders do not think pastors should endorse politicians, and nearly 80 percent of Americans think it is inappropriate for pastors to endorse a candidate in church.

    Despite little public support to repeal the Johnson Amendment, ADF and other anti-LGBTQ hate groups have redoubled their efforts against it since Trump won the election. Some of those actions included:

    • ADF senior counsel Erik Stanley wrote an op-ed in The Hill outlining “three reasons to support changing the Johnson Amendment”;
    • the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Reseach Council openly boasted in a March action alert that it worked with Republican House representatives to introduce the “Free Speech Fairness Act” to repeal the Johnson Amendment;
    • ADF’s Erik Stanley and FRC President Tony Perkins lauded Trump’s vow to “totally destroy” the amendment in statements to The New York Times; and
    • Liberty Counsel, another anti-LGBTQ hate group, listed repealing the Johnson Amendment as one of its goals for 2017 in a fundraising alert.

    Today, ADF senior counsel Gregory Baylor released a statement saying that Trump’s order does not go far enough to "protect" religious freedom. Baylor advocated for a full repeal of the Johnson Amendment through legislative action, as did FRC general counsel for government affairs Mandi Ancalle and ADF legal counsel Christiana Holcomb at a congressional hearing today titled “Examining A Church’s Right To Free Speech.” Baylor also lamented that the order didn’t include “specific relief” for business owners who hold “a religious point of view on marriage that differed from that of the federal government,” i.e. no license to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

    Anti-LGBTQ hate groups have so far been successful in furthering their desired policies under Trump, thanks to having representatives and alumni deeply embedded in his administration. FRC senior fellow Ken Blackwell served as the domestic policy chair on the Trump transition team, along with former FRC staffer Ken Klukowski, who was the team’s “constitutional rights” leader and claimed to have helped draft today’s order. FRC's Perkins -- who was at the Rose Garden signing today -- came to embrace Trump as a “teachable” candidate whom Perkins could “shape.”

    Recently, Trump appointed Charmaine Yoest -- former vice president of FRC -- as assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In January, Trump appointed former ADF senior counsel Matt Bowman as an HHS special assistant.

    Anti-LGBTQ hate groups will, in all likelihood, continue to use their high-level connections to push for a broad legislative repeal of the Johnson Amendment, as well as another “religious freedom” executive order that would allow for government employees and contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ people and their families.

    Image by Dayanita Ramesh.

  • Top Media Outlets Have Failed To Accurately Label Designated Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

    Six Years of Various Media Matters Studies Show Ongoing Problem With Reporting On Hate Groups

    Blog ››› ››› ERIN FITZGERALD & RACHEL PERCELAY

    For more than half a decade, Media Matters has monitored broadcast, cable, print, and local media coverage of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, designated as such by Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Reporters frequently fail to disclose this designation and provide no context about anti-LGBTQ hate groups and their extremism, instead simply labeling them as “Christian” or “conservative” organizations. Those same outlets, however, often refer to SPLC as an expert in tracking hate and extremism, and often use SPLC’s “hate group” designation when reporting on other extremist ideologies, like white nationalist groups.

    SPLC has long been regarded as an expert in monitoring domestic hate and extremism. Since 1990, SPLC has been releasing an “annual census” of U.S. hate groups. SPLC defines hate groups as organizations that “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” But inaccurate or incomplete media coverage has allowed anti-LGBTQ hate groups to peddle the myth that they’re labeled as hate groups only for their conservative or religious beliefs about sexuality and marriage. Yet SPLC has clearly stated multiple times that it designates organizations as “hate groups” when they knowingly spread “demonizing lies,” engage in “baseless, incendiary name-calling,” or actively work to criminalize LGBTQ people -- not because of biblical or conservative beliefs.

    Media Matters' research shows that while major publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post often rely on SPLC’s “hate group” designation to provide meaningful context about white nationalist groups, those same outlets often label designated anti-LGBTQ hate groups only as “Christian” or “conservative.” Similarly, cable news networks have frequently invited anti-LGBTQ hate group representatives to comment on LGBTQ equality without providing context about their respective group’s extremism. Since being designated as a hate group in February 2017, the mammoth anti-LGBTQ legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom has been featured prominently in the media with no reference to its extremism or efforts to criminalize LGBTQ people.

    While some reporters -- like CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation -- have provided audiences with meaningful context by accurately identifying anti-LGBTQ hate group leaders as such during interviews, over half a decade of research by Media Matters shows that journalists more often than not fail to identify anti-LGBTQ hate groups as such. Failing to properly contextualize extremism often allows hate group representative to peddle debunked anti-LGBTQ lies, which has led outlets like NPR to acknowledge that “we have to do a better job” in identifying extremists.

    Below are some of Media Matters’ largest studies documenting how journalists report on hate groups.

    NY Times and Wash. Post Failed To Properly Identify Or Contextualize SPLC’s Major Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

    A July 2016 Media Matters analysis revealed that between June 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016, The New York Times mentioned four anti-LGBTQ hate groups -- the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association, and Westboro Baptist Church --a total of 60 times and never clearly defined any of them as a current hate group. The paper most frequently labeled these hate groups as “conservative” (18 times or 30 percent of the total) or gave them no descriptor at all (14 times or 23 percent of the total). In Times coverage, anti-LGBTQ hate groups were most likely to be called “conservative” or given no designation at all.

    One New York Times article in our analysis used the hate group designation for anti-LGBTQ group the World Congress of Families, but it also included a quote from the group denouncing the label. The article also included criticism of SPLC’s authority and questioned its methodology. Finally, in a passing mention of the Family Research Council, the article falsely reported that SPLC designates hate groups based “on their stances on gay issues,” rather than on their propagation of known falsehoods about LGBTQ people. No other article in our analysis attempted to question the authority of SPLC’s classification or gave a platform to a hate group to defend itself. In fact, when reporting on white nationalist groups in the same period, the Times cited SPLC as an expert on tracking hate groups and frequently used the organization’s hate group designation. Note: Not all percentages add up to 100 due to rounding. 

    The Washington Post mentioned anti-LGBTQ hate groups 74 times during the study period. But it labeled them as hate groups only six times and failed to provide any context about their ideology 27 times. When it did label such groups, the paper was most likely (eight times) to call them “conservative” or contextualize them by mentioning their legal work such as with Liberty Counsel -- which represented the Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court released its marriage equality ruling.

    In 2015, Major News Outlets Failed To Identify The Hate Group Representing Kim Davis

    A September 2015 Media Matters report found that major news outlets almost entirely failed to identify Liberty Counsel -- the group defending Rowan County clerk Kim Davis -- as an anti-LGBTQ "hate group," often referring to the group only as a "Christian" or "conservative" legal organization. The Washington Post was the only paper to identify Liberty Counsel as a hate group. An analysis of coverage from August 8 through September 11, 2015, revealed the following:

    • The Associated Press called Liberty Counsel a “Christian law firm” in four different articles.
    • Reuters characterized Liberty Counsel as a “religious” or “legal” “advocacy” group in five different articles.
    • The Washington Post identified Liberty Counsel as a “hate group” in one article -- but in three other articles, it described the group only as “Christian.”
    • The New York Times twice referred to Liberty Counsel as a “conservative” group -- once mentioning that Liberty “has been on the front lines of the same-sex marriage fight for roughly two decades,” and once calling it a nonprofit that works in “religious exemptions cases.”

    In October 2015, The Associated Press did note that Liberty Counsel has been labeled an anti-gay hate group. In response, Liberty Counsel President Mat Staver delivered a letter to the AP's assistant general counsel, Brian Barrett, that accused the AP of putting Davis and Liberty Counsel at risk of "death threats" and demanded that the article be permanently deleted.

    One Hate Group Leader's Appearances Plummeted On CNN And MSNBC In 2013, But Held Steady On Fox News

    A July 2014 Media Matters study found that Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins appeared significantly less frequently on CNN and MSNBC in the wake of petitions calling on the networks to stop hosting him. Perkins, whose organization has been labeled an anti-LGBTQ hate group, continued to appear frequently on Fox News. Media Matters examined coverage between August 1, 2012, and July 28, 2014. Graph includes data from a prior 2012 study on Perkin’s appearances.

    Cable News Networks Relied On Hate Group Leader For 2012 Primary Election Coverage

    A November 2012 Media Matters analysis of cable news networks’ coverage of the 2012 GOP primary between May 5, 2011, and August 28, 2012, found that the media outlets regularly called upon Perkins to provide commentary on behalf of social conservatives. Perkins made 56 appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC over the course of the primary, but never once was identified as the leader of an anti-LGBTQ hate group.

    More Hate Group Coverage From Media Matters:

    March 2017: Reporting On Trans Rights Supreme Court Case, Major Outlets Failed To Call Alliance Defending Freedom A Hate Group

    February 2017: Major Publications Fail To Identify Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups In Transgender Policy Coverage

    December 2016: 19 Times Breitbart Cited A Discredited Hate Group To Spread Harmful Lies About Pediatric Medical Care

    September 2016: Trump Just Finished Speaking At A Hate Group Conference; Why Didn’t Top Papers Take Heed?

    August 2016: FL Newspapers Largely Give Rubio A Pass On Scheduled Appearance With Anti-LGBT Extremists

    April 2016: Major News Outlets Largely Fail To Identify The Hate Group Boycotting Target

    December 2015: This Hate Group Leader Has Hosted Most Of The Republican Presidential Candidates On His Radio Show

    August 2014: Megyn Kelly's Cozy Relationship With An Anti-Gay Hate Group Leader

    December 2013: Only 10 Percent Of Louisiana Newspaper Articles About This Hate Group Leader Exposed His Extremism

    April 2012: Meet Todd Starnes, Fox's Mouthpiece For Anti-Gay Hate Groups

    December 2011: Cable News Networks Regularly Promote Anti-Gay Family Research Council On Air

    Graphics by Sarah Wasko.

  • A Fox News Radio Anchor Is Headlining A Hate Group's Anti-LGBTQ Briefing

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Fox News radio host Todd Starnes is headlining a special “pastors’ briefing” at the Texas Capitol on March 6 and 7 whose sponsors include the anti-LGBTQ hate group the Family Research Council (FRC). Other speakers at the event include FRC’s president and vice president of church ministries and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are also listed as unconfirmed speakers at the event, whose attendees will also go to a March 7 public hearing on the anti-transgender Senate Bill 6 (SB 6).

  • Anti-LGBTQ Junk Science And Fake News Are Poised To Harm the Future of LGBTQ Equality

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Pseudoscience and lies have long been the favorite tactics of anti-LGBTQ extremists, but now that the incoming U.S. president is highly influenced by hate groups, fake news purveyors, and far-right publications that peddle such misinformation, these smoke and mirror tactics are well-positioned to harm LGBTQ equality.

    Right-Wing Sites Regularly Peddle Anti-LGBTQ Junk Science

    For decades, junk science has been used to attack LGBTQ people as unhealthy and dangerous. Longtime LGBTQ advocate and journalist Claude Summers recently defined the purpose of anti-LGBTQ junk science as “not to persuade the scholarly community, which will immediately note its sloppy methodology,” but to “provide naïve readers some quasi-respectable justifications for their prejudices and to fuel social conservative political chatter.”

    After scientific consensus rejected the “sickness theories” of homosexuality in the 1970s, “anti-LGBT professionals retreated from mainstream scientific organizations and formed their own groups,” Summers explained. These fringe splinter groups, like the deceptively named American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) -- an anti-LGBTQ hate group with about 500 members whose name is meant to be confused with the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) -- funnel debunked “research” to anti-LGBTQ extremist organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC), also a designated hate group. FRC and its allies peddle this misinformation as widely as possible to be used as ammunition in the fight against equality.

    Right-wing outlets like Breitbart and The Daily Caller are the go-to platforms for anti-LGBTQ activists looking to push hateful lies and myths. Breitbart in particular regularly pushes pseudoscientific attacks on transgender people. Since March 2016, Breitbart authors have cited ACPeds to falsely claim that affirming transgender youths’ gender identity is a “form of child abuse” in at least 19 different articles. The talking point originated from an American College of Pediatricians “report,” which was quickly touted in other right-wing outlets like The Blaze and The Daily Caller. As The Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen highlighted, right-wing journalists published ACPed’s “child abuse” claim “without contrasting their primary source with the AAP.”

    This type of anti-LGBTQ pseudoscience isn’t confined to right-wing web outlets. On Fox News, “Medical A Team” member Dr. Keith Ablow frequently pushes harmful anti-transgender misinformation. In April, Ablow speculated wildly about medical care for transgender youth, and proposed his own harmful “treatments,” akin to conversion therapy, that go against scientific evidence and professional standards from mainstream medical associations.

    Even mainstream outlets like The Associated Press and NPR have allowed well-known purveyors of junk science to attack LGBTQ people.

    Fake News Reinforces Myths Pushed By Anti-LGBTQ Hate Groups

    The potential real-life impact of fake news was starting to become apparent several months before it took center stage in the 2016 election. In May, BuzzFeed spotlighted a slew of anti-transgender fake news stories that had gone viral. These fake news stories spiked largely in response to increased media coverage of so-called “bathroom bills” and North Carolina’s anti-LGBTQ law (HB 2). The measure broadly bans transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity in publicly run facilities and schools.

    Many of the fake stories BuzzFeed profiled -- like an “article” about a transgender women getting caught taking pictures of underage girls at Target -- stem from the anti-LGBTQ “bathroom predator” myth, which purports that sexual predators will pretend to be transgender in order to exploit nondiscrimination laws and sneak into women’s restrooms. Fake news preys on long-standing misconceptions and stereotypes and exploits them to confirm unsubstantiated fears. BuzzFeed interviewed the owner of several fake news sites, who said the stories are a way to make “easy money” by capitalizing off of “the political polarization and anti-LGBT stance at the heart of HB 2.”

    In the past, anti-LGBTQ hate groups were the ones spreading fake “bathroom predator” stories -- and outlets like Fox News fell for it. But now, the sheer profitability of clickbait fake news means that even if hate groups aren’t peddling these stories themselves, fake news is helping to buttress anti-LGBTQ talking points by relying on misconceptions and controversy for their content. A recent BuzzFeed News survey found that fake news headlines “fool American adults about 75% of the time” --meaning that all of these fabricated stories and fact-free science could have a real-life impact on public opinion about LGBTQ people.

    Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, voiced her concern that these lies -- one of which ended with a vigilante shooting a transgender woman -- could fuel anti-transgender violence. Whether because of these fake news stories or not, 2016 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender people.

    The Trump Administration Is Stocked With Purveyors Of Right-Wing Media’s Anti-LGBTQ Myths And Pseudoscience

    While pseudoscience and lies have long been staple tools of anti-LGBTQ extremist organization, the two tactics are now more likely than ever to be employed to justify anti-LGBTQ policies, given the incoming Trump administration. FRC -- the hate group with years of experience peddling anti-LGBTQ junk science -- has a growing influence on Trump’s transition team.

    FRC president Tony Perkins played a pivotal role in Trump’s campaign and helped shape the Republican Party platform. During the Republican National Convention, he was successful in adding support for “ex-gay” conversion therapy, a discredited, harmful practice that falsely claims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and has been denounced by every major medical organization. Since the election, some of Perkins’ FRC affiliates have won spots in Trump’s transition team. Wired’s Emma Ellis spotlighted the hate group’s growing influence on the Trump administration, which includes the following members affiliated with FRC:

    In addition to FRC’s influence on the administration, Breitbart’s brand of anti-LGBTQ pseudoscience has a champion in Stephen Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon led Breitbart from 2012 through August of this year, when he became the chief executive of Trump’s campaign. In addition to peddling anti-gay junk science, under Bannon’s leadership the site made a “noticeable shift toward embracing ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. Racist ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant ideas -- all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right,’” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Trump’s nominees for cabinet positions also have a history of pushing harmful myths about LGBTQ people. Combined with FRC and Breitbart, individual anti-LGBTQ extremists are well-poised to gin up junk science attacks and use them to influence policy making throughout the Trump administration. LGBTQ advocates and journalists have already documented some of their fears about the potential consequences of the resurgence of anti-LGBTQ pseudoscience, including:

    • a comeback of “ex-gay” conversion therapy programs;
    • revocation of the Obama administration’s recommendation to treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity;
    • repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its health care protections for LGBTQ people; and
    • passage of the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act,” federal “religious freedom” legislation that would permit discrimination against LGBTQ people.

    Junk science can be easily debunked, as long as reporters are armed with the facts. Journalists should be prepared to counter the false narratives behind the coming attacks on LGBTQ equality.

  • Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group Targets North Carolina Journalist For Moderating Public Forum

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    The legislative arm of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC) encouraged its supporters to challenge a journalist for moderating a forum on North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (HB 2), the state’s controversial anti-LGBTQ law. After declining an invitation to participate in the forum, FRC attacked the event as a “political maneuver designed to promote misinformation.” 

    On November 2, The Charlotte Observer hosted a forum on HB 2 -- a controversial anti-LGBTQ law that has been widely condemned and has become a focal point of North Carolina’s gubernatorial race. The North Carolina Republican Party tried to thwart the forum by filing a formal elections board complaint against The Charlotte Observer for hosting the event. Following the lead of the North Carolina GOP, the legislative arm of FRC sent a last-minute email asking its supporters to contact the forum host, WBTV news anchor Molly Grantham, and urge her to “reconsider” her role as moderator. As reported in the Observer’s summary of the forum:

    On Wednesday afternoon, an arm of the conservative Family Research Council sent out a blast email describing the forum as a partisan “political stunt” and asking its supporters to target Grantham, a WBTV news anchor, and including her email and the station’s phone number.

    In an email to Media Matters, Observer reporter Michael Gordon confirmed that the paper had invited FRC to participate in the forum on HB 2 and that FRC declined the invitation. In its email blast to supporters, FRC accused the Observer of being “obsessed with ‘bathroom legislation’” and attacked the event as "more of a political stunt than an open forum" and a “political maneuver designed to promote misinformation.”

    FRC has been designated an anti-LGBTQ “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2010 due to the organization’s known propagation of extreme falsehoods about LGBTQ people. FRC’s leader, Tony Perkins, also has a history of making inflammatory comments, such as calling pedophilia a "homosexual problem," equating being gay with using drugs and committing adultery, accusing gay people of trying to "recruit" children, and comparing gay rights advocates to terrorists. 

  • Fox News Contributor To Headline Hate Group Conference On “The Politically Incorrect Truth About Sexuality”

    SPLC Senior Fellow: “Coven Of Haters” Will Advocate For Harmful And Discredited Ex-Gay Therapy

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Fox News contributor Robert Jeffress is headlining the “Stand4Truth” conference scheduled for October 28 and 29 in Houston, TX, which is advertised as telling the “politically incorrect truth about sexuality and gender” and is sponsored by at least three anti-LGBT hate groups. Jeffress -- who is also a member of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” -- will be joined by fringe anti-LGBT extremists and hate group leaders, and proponents of discredited "ex-gay" reparative therapy. 

  • How An Anti-LGBT Hate Group Leader Came To Embrace Donald Trump

    Trump Will Be The First Republican Presidential Nominee To Headline Values Voter Summit, Organized By Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Over the past year, Tony Perkins -- president of the anti-LGBT hate group the Family Research Council -- has gone from adamantly supporting Ted Cruz to openly endorsing Republican nominee Donald Trump for president. This week, Trump will be the first GOP presidential nominee to headline Perkins’ Values Voter Summit. Here’s how the hate group leader came to embrace and endorse Trump as a “teachable” candidate, giving Perkins an opportunity to “shape” Trump into a nominee who embodies Perkins’ anti-LGBT extremism.

    On September 9, Trump is slated to speak at the 11th Values Voter Summit (VVS) in Washington, D.C. Trump’s appearance marks the first time that a Republican presidential nominee has addressed the summit since it began in 2006. The VVS is hosted annually by the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBT “hate group” due to its known propagation of extreme falsehoods about LGBT people as well as Perkins' own history of making inflammatory comments. Perkins has called pedophilia a "homosexual problem," equated being gay with drug use and adultery, accused gay people of trying to "recruit" children, and compared gay rights advocates to terrorists.

    In past years, the summit has been little more than a who’s who of anti-LGBT and anti-choice extremists, regularly featuring hateful and extreme rhetoric from politicians and conservative media figures. Trump agreed to address attendees at the extremist event nearly a year after he initially declined the opportunity to speak at the 2015 VVS. He eventually reversed that decision and addressed the 2015 summit along with seven other Republican presidential candidates. Since then, FRC president and VVS host Tony Perkins has gone from being the driving force behind evangelical support for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid to questioning Trump’s candidacy as a possible “huge problem” for Republicans to endorsing Trump in a speech at the Republican National Convention in June.

    Over the last year, Perkins seems to have become convinced that Trump was “open” and “teachable” enough to make his candidacy a “pragmatic” opportunity for Perkins to “shape the outcome” of the election. And by all accounts, he has been successful. In his speech endorsing Trump at the Republican National Convention, Perkins highlighted the extremist, anti-LGBT positions cemented into Trump’s campaign: the slew of anti-LGBT potential Supreme Court nominees Trump has mentioned, VP pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, and the most anti-LGBT Republican Party platform to date.

    Here’s the timeline of how the far right’s most prominent anti-LGBT extremist came to support Donald Trump.

    Fall 2015: Perkins Rallies Behind Cruz, While Still Giving Trump “A Lot More Credit Than Some Do”

    In September 2015, Trump and Perkins appeared to have a spat when Trump initially declined to speak at FRC’s 2015 Values Voter Summit. Trump reversed his decision two days before the summit and delivered a speech met with boos from the evangelical audience, finishing in fifth place in VVS’s straw poll. In December, Perkins organized a secret meeting of influential evangelical leaders, where he successfully pushed for the group to endorse Ted Cruz for president. Later that month Perkins told The Washington Post that “it’s a mistake to write off Donald Trump.”

    September 10, 2015. The Christian Post reported that Trump had declined to speak at FRC’s September 25-27 Values Voter Summit. Perkins said of Trump’s decision:

    I think [Trump] is going to have to have conversations with evangelicals and talk about issues they care about. He hasn't really done that in a way that is convincing.

    [...]

    Could [Trump] make some progress with evangelicals? I think he could if he tried, but I don't really see that happening right now."

    September 23, 2015. The Family Research Council issued a press release announcing that Trump had reversed his original decision to skip the 2015 VVS, and would now speak at the summit along with seven other Republican presidential candidates.

     

     

    September 25-27, 2015. On September 25, Trump delivered a speech to the 2015 VVS, where he was greeted by boos for attacking Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and mocked by some conferencegoers for bringing his Bible as what appeared to be a prop to appeal to evangelicals. The following day, Cruz won the VVS straw poll for the third year in a row and Trump finished in a distant fifth place with 5 percent of the vote.

    December 7, 2015. In a "major boost" for Cruz's presidential campaign, he won the endorsement of a secretive group of influential evangelical Christian leaders. The top national socially conservative activists convened at a private meeting organized by Perkins, who reportedly “push[ed] hard to form a supermajority” behind Cruz.

    December 10, 2015. In an interview with The Washington Post, Perkins warned that “it’s a mistake to write off Donald Trump” and said that he gives Trump “more credit” than others do:

    I give Donald Trump a lot more credit than some do. I don’t think he misspeaks as much as people think. I think in this age of political correctness, in which people refuse to speak with clarity, he is seen as very attractive. I think it’s a mistake to write off Donald Trump. He has tapped something that’s very real across the spectrum, including [among] Evangelicals.

    December 21, 2015. Trump called in to Perkins’ radio show to discuss the importance of “religious freedom” and “saying ‘Merry Christmas.’” Perkins observed that Trump has “tapped into” the importance of celebrating Christmas, which is possibly why his poll numbers “continue to rise.”

    Winter 2016: Perkins Publicly Endorses Cruz While Denouncing The “Fear” Motivating Evangelicals To Vote For Trump  

    On January 26, a week after Trump blamed Perkins for his “two Corinthians” gaffe, Perkins publicly endorsed Cruz on Fox News. After endorsing Cruz, Perkins gave several interviews disparaging Trump. In February, he denounced the “fear” motivating evangelicals to vote for Trump.

    January 20, 2016. In an interview with CNN, Trump blamed Perkins for his “two Corinthians” gaffe during remarks at Liberty University, saying that Perkins had given him notes on what to say at Liberty (the Bible verse Trump referenced comes from the book known as Second Corinthians). Perkins said that the gaffe “shows that he’s not familiar with Bible,” adding that “Trump’s a very interesting guy.”   

     

    January 26, 2016. Perkins officially endorsed Ted Cruz during an interview on Fox News’ The Kelly File, calling Cruz the “best” candidate “prepared to lead this nation forward.”

    February 24, 2016. In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Perkins denounced the “fear” he believed was motivating evangelicals to vote for Trump, saying, “We cannot be driven by fear. … When we are driven by fear, we make mistakes.” 

    Spring 2016: Perkins Is “Very Concerned” About What Might Happen With Trump As The Nominee

    In March, Perkins called Trump’s conduct “antithetical to evangelical teaching” and said that, while Trump might have identified “the problems” in society, he did not have “the solution.” Perkins continued to publicly support Cruz until he dropped out of the race on May 3. After Cruz ended his presidential bid, Perkins joined a small group of evangelical leaders who planned a private meeting with Trump to “reconcile” his candidacy.

    March 11, 2016. In an interview with C-SPAN’s Newsmakers, Perkins said that although he “like[d] some of the things Donald Trump is saying,” Trump’s conduct was “antithetical to evangelical teaching.” Perkins declared that he would not “fall in line” to support a candidate just because the candidate was a Republican, and said that he was “very concerned” about what may happen in the general election with Trump as the Republican presidential nominee (emphasis added):

    I like some of the things that Donald Trump is saying. I agree with some of the things that he says. I don’t necessarily agree with his policy prescriptions. I think he has identified the problem. I don’t think that he has the solution.

    [...]

    I mean, if we came to that point, it would require sitting down with Donald Trump to see what his pathway forward was in terms of the Supreme Court, who would be vetting judicial nominees, who would be his running mates, who would be involved in his cabinet, what type of policies would he advocate? I am not a lackey for the Republican Party. Just because it’s a Republican candidate, I'm not going to fall in line. It has to be someone who is committed to the core values that we represent at the Family Research Council.

    [...]

    I think that becomes a real problem for Donald Trump if he is a nominee in a general election because I have no doubt that if he were to get the nomination that we would hear several months worth of explaining of his past positions, of his casinos, strip clubs, all these other things that would be used to really suppress evangelical turnout in the general elections. I think it is a huge problem for the Republicans.

    March 31, 2016. In a statement from the lobbying arm of FRC responding to Trump’s comments that there needed to be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions, Perkins called Trump “ill informed in this vital issue” and said that Trump’s statements “suggest he should spend more time with pro-life conservatives to gain a better appreciation of what their goals and objectives really are.”  

    May 3, 2016. Cruz dropped out of the Republican presidential race, making Trump the presumptive GOP nominee. 

    May 17, 2016. In an interview with CNN, Perkins said it was “incumbent upon Trump to reach out with tangible steps to quell anxiety in the movement if he is to ensure a strong GOP turnout in November,” though Trump “has not done anything that would make people change their minds.”

    May 20, 2016. Time magazine reported that Perkins was part of a small group of evangelical leaders planning a private meeting on June 21 with Trump to reconcile concerns about Trump’s candidacy.

    Summer 2016: Perkins Organizes Evangelical Support For Trump, Then Formally Endorses Trump At Republican National Convention

    After Trump met with evangelical leaders, Perkins said that they're “not quite there” in supporting Trump. But two days after that, Perkins announced that he will vote for Trump in November, adding “it is not something that I relish.” A month later at the Republican National Convention, Perkins delivered a speech formally endorsing Trump, citing Trump’s potential judicial nominees, VP pick, and the Republican Party platform as evidence that Trump was “committed to upholding and protecting the first freedom.” On August 11, Perkins announced that Trump was slated to be the first GOP presidential nominee to ever speak at the Values Voter Summit.

    June 21, 2016. After meeting with evangelical leaders, Trump announced the creation of “Evangelical Executive Advisory Board” for his campaign. Perkins, who largely organized the event, said that evangelicals were “not quite there” on supporting Trump. 

    June 23, 2016. On his Washington Watch radio show, Perkins said he would be voting for Trump because “it’s really the only one of the two options we have” and admitted he did not “relish” the vote. Perkins reasoned that the decision to vote for Trump was “pragmatic” because “we don’t know what Donald Trump will do, but we can shape the outcome”:

    I mean I’m not going to vote for Hillary Clinton, I’m going to vote for Donald Trump, because it’s really the only one of the two options we have. Now, will I actively support him and work for him? I don’t know. That’s yet to be decided. There’s several factors to look at. But I think we need to be very careful going into this election.

    [...]

    We don’t know what Donald Trump will do, but we can shape the outcome.

    [..]

    This is not something that I relish, that I am excited about. But from a pragmatic point I think there’s opportunity. Let me just say this, about Donald Trump and what I seem. He does seem to be open, teachable. Has he made past mistakes? Without question. And I’m not going to try to rationalize them. Has he made choices I disagree with? Absolutely, without question. But, how is he going to go forward? That’s the whole thing about evangelical Christianity.

    July 12, 2016. Perkins successfully pushed the Republican Party’s platform committee to add language supporting so-called "conversion" or "reparative therapy,” a harmful and discredited treatment that attempts to “cure” children of being LGBT, to the party platform.

     

    July 21, 2016. On the last night of the Republican National Convention, Perkins made a speech endorsing Trump (emphasis added):

    From his judicial nominees to his running mate, to the Party platform and the policies it promotes, Donald Trump has committed to upholding and protecting the first freedom and therefore our ability as citizens to unite our nation once again under God.

    August 11, 2016. Perkins released a statement announcing that Trump would be addressing the 11th Values Voter Summit on September 9, noting that this “is the first time a Republican nominee for president has addressed the Values Voter Summit since its inception in 2006” (emphasis added):

    We are therefore very encouraged that Donald Trump has accepted our invitation to address the Values Voter Summit and make his case directly to conservative activists from across the country. The fact that he is the first Republican nominee to attend since the Summit's inception in 2006, demonstrates his understanding of the importance of values voters in the general election and his desire to work with them in addressing the critical issues facing our nation.

    August 20, 2016. In the wake of devastating flooding in Louisiana, CNN Reporter Ashley Killough tweeted that Trump had donated $100,000 to the Greenwell Spring Baptist Church in Greenwell Springs, LA. Perkins, whose home was severely damaged by the flooding, is currently serving as interim minister of the church

  • After Media Spends Months Pretending Trump Is LGBT Friendly, He Hires Head Of Bigoted Website To Run His Campaign

    New Campaign Chief's Website Breitbart News Regularly Uses Anti-LGBT Slurs, Pedals Anti-Gay Conspiracy Theories, And Features Articles By Anti-LGBT Hate Group Leaders

    ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY & ERIN FITZGERALD

    The Trump presidential campaign’s newest hires, Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon and conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway, further prove Trump’s opposition to LGBT equality even as media whitewash Trump’s record on LGBT issues. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart News regularly used anti-LGBT slurs, peddled anti-gay conspiracy theories, and featured articles by anti-LGBT hate group leaders.

  • Why Doesn’t NY Times Label Anti-LGBT Extremists As “Hate Groups”?

    Blog ››› ››› RACHEL PERCELAY

    Over the past two years, The New York Times has relied on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) expertise in tracking extremist organizations to label white supremacist, anti-government, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim organization as “hate groups.” But in the same period, the Times only once clearly labeled an anti-LGBT organization as a current “hate group” -- and when it did, it questioned SPLC’s designation and quoted an organization representative explaining why the group shouldn’t be labeled a “hate group.”

    The SPLC describes itself as “the premier U.S. non-profit organization monitoring the activities of domestic hate groups and other extremists.” The SPLC defines a hate group as a group that has “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

    A Media Matters analysis found that over the past two years (June 1, 2014, through June 30, 2016), The New York Times mentioned “hate groups” a total of 35 times, mentioning SPLC’s expertise in tracking “hate groups” in 71 percent of the mentions spanning white nationalist, anti-government, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim organizations. For example, in a June 19, 2015, article reporting on controversy surrounding the Confederate flag, the Times included commentary from the president of the League of the South and noted that the SPLC has listed the organization as a hate group:

    Supporters of the Confederate battle flag display signaled Friday that their position had not changed. In a commentary on Friday, Michael Hill, the president of the League of the South, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as a hate group, said that the Confederate battle flag should remain at the State House but that the American flag should be removed.

    In a February 17, 2016, article “Law Center Finds Surge in Extremist Groups in U.S. Last Year,” the Times reported on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual report on the number of hate groups in the U.S., mentioning that the center tracks hate groups of differing ideologies, including those based on “sexual” characteristics.

    But in the past two years, the only instance in which the Times referenced SPLC’s “hate group” label when reporting on an anti-LGBT organization was in an article that questioned the validity of the designation. The article, “Bush Praises World Congress of Families, a Hate Group to Some,” noted that George W. Bush wrote a letter in support of the “conservative group” the World Congress of Families (WCF) that is “classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.” The Times went on to report:

    But the liberal-leaning [Southern Poverty Law C]enter has been criticized for including groups that fall within the conservative mainstream, like the Family Research Council, based on their stances on gay issues.

    The World Congress of Families has strongly disputed the hate-group designation and the implication that it supports violence against the L.G.B.T. community.

    “Nothing could be further from the truth, as W.C.F. strongly opposes violence and would never advocate violence or hatred toward any group of people, regardless of differences,” the group wrote in 2014.

    In the 34 other instances that the Times reported on hate groups, it never questioned the validity of the “hate group” designation, nor did it allow a hate group to explain why it shouldn’t be labeled as such. Additionally, in the WCF piece the Times falsely wrote that the SPLC designates anti-LGBT organizations as hate groups based on “their stances on gay issues.”

    When it first began tracking anti-LGBT hate groups in 2010, the SPLC specifically explained that it lists organizations as hate groups “based on their propagation of known falsehoods” -- things like “asserting that gays and lesbians are more disposed to molesting children than heterosexuals – which the overwhelming weight of credible scientific research has determined is patently untrue.” The SPLC has published extensive research on the extremism of WCF, documenting the organization’s role in exporting homophobia internationally, including passing and lauding laws criminalizing gay people, like Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” bill.

    In terms of providing context, the Times most frequently identified anti-LGBT extremists as “conservative” (30 percent of the time or 18 out of 60 mentions). The Washington Post, on the other hand -- which was also considered in Media Matters’ study -- often didn't provide any context when reporting on major anti-LGBT groups (37 percent of the time or 27 out of 74 mentions). The Post, however, did sometimes use the “hate group” label for anti-LGBT groups; in fact, out of all the paper’s “hate group” references, anti-LGBT groups were the second most common type of organization to earn the label (19 percent).

    Media outlets have a long history of failing to identify anti-LGBT extremists as hate groups, instead calling them merely “Christian” or “conservative” organizations. The few recent times when mainstream media like The Associated Press and CBS News’ Bob Schieffer have properly identified hate group leaders, anti-gay conservatives were outraged. But outrage is no reason an outlet that frequently relies on the SPLC’s expertise in tracking extremism should fail to provide meaningful context when reporting on anti-LGBT extremists.

  • Frequent Megyn Kelly Guest And Hate Group Leader Adds Anti-LGBT Conversion Therapy To The GOP Platform

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    The president of a designated anti-gay hate group and frequent guest of Fox anchor Megyn Kelly has successfully pushed the Republican Party’s platform committee to add language supporting so-called "conversion" or "reparative therapy,” a harmful and discredited treatment, to the party platform.

    On July 11, the Republican Party’s platform committee debated amendments to a proposed party platform ahead of the Republican National Convention. Among language approved by the committee -- which must be given a final stamp of approval by the full Republican National Committee next week -- is language endorsing “conversion therapy.”

    Tony Perkins, the president of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, proposed language to the GOP platform supporting “conversion” therapy, which Perkins said includes any "physical” or “emotional" therapy.

    Perkins has been a frequent guest on Fox News’ The Kelly File, where anchor Megyn Kelly has described his organization's mission as “advanc[ing] faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian worldview” and having “strong Christian values.” Kelly has also told Perkins he is "the subject of attacks" over his opposition to marriage equality and lamented that it must be “alienating” for him to be criticized for his anti-LGBT beliefs.

    According to The Dallas Morning News, the approved platform language “says parents should be allowed ‘to determine the proper treatment or therapy’ for their children”:

    And taking a page from the Texas Republican Party's platform, Louisiana delegate Tony Perkins proposed language endorsing so-called "conversion" or "reparative therapy."

    The practice, which has been widely criticized by doctors and therapists, seeks to "cure" homosexuals through analysis and, oftentimes, prayer. The new platform language, which the committee approved, does not actually explicitly mention the practice, but says parents should be allowed "to determine the proper treatment or therapy" for their children.

    After the meeting, Perkins said the language would extend to any "physical, emotional" therapy.

    “Conversion therapy” has been repeatedly denounced by the medical community and experts as physically and emotionally harmful to patients. As the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) notes, “A consensus of the vast majority of psychiatrists, psychologists and other counselors and their professional organizations agree that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. Likewise, they condemn reparative therapy and other attempts to change sexual orientation.”

    Perkins’ organization, the Family Research Council, has been labeled an anti-gay “hate group” by the SPLC since 2010, and Pekins himself has called pedophilia “a homosexual problem,” claimed that gay men “recruit” children into homosexuality, and endorsed a Ugandan law that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality.