Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Family Research Council is terrible, and its president Tony Perkins just got appointed to an international commission 

FRC and its president Tony Perkins have long fought LGBTQ equality abroad, including supporting Uganda's “Kill the Gays” bill

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council (FRC), was appointed commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a federal government commission dedicated to the “right to freedom of religion or belief abroad” that “makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.” Over the years, FRC has worked to push its anti-LGBTQ extremism in other countries, including Perkins personally defending an anti-gay bill in Uganda that could have punished sodomy by death. FRC has also spoken out against the LGBTQ-inclusive actions by the State Department under the Obama administration and has a long-established relationship with newly-confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who similarly has a record of anti-LGBTQ advocacy. 

  • FRC President Tony Perkins is the USCIRF’s Newest Commissioner

    FRC President Tony Perkins was appointed as commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. On May 15, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appointed anti-LGBTQ extremist and Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins as a commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). According to its government website, USCIRF is “an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission ... dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad” and “makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.” On his appointment, Perkins said, “I look forward to doing all that I can to ensure that our government is the single biggest defender of religious freedom internationally.” Perkins regularly uses his concept of “religious freedom” to justify discrimination against marginalized communities, the LGBTQ community in particular. Former FRC President Gary Bauer, who also has a history of anti-LGBTQ extremism, was also nominated to the commission. [FRC, 5/15/18; United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, accessed 5/16/18; The Advocate, 5/15/18; White House, 5/15/18; GLAAD, accessed 5/16/18]

    FRC is an anti-LGBTQ hate group that has worked closely with newly-confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo 

    FRC is an influential anti-LGBTQ hate group with close ties to the Trump administration. FRC is an anti-LGBTQ hate group with a budget of tens of millions of dollars whose official position is that “homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large” and “is by definition unnatural.” The organization promotes the idea “that people can and should try to change their sexual orientation” or “just not act on it.” In the past, FRC and its representatives have spread misinformation about transgender-inclusive restrooms, promoted the dangerous practice of conversion therapy, claimed that LGBTQ youth suicide rates would drop if the teenagers were “discourage[d] from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual,” and suggested that being transgender is a “cultural phenomenon.” FRC also wields significant influence in the current administration. FRC senior fellow Ken Blackwell was officially appointed to President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, and Perkins embraced and endorsed Trump as a presidential candidate. FRC also played a significant role in Trump’s transgender military ban, with Slate reporting in March that Perkins helped craft the report announcing the discriminatory policy. [Media Matters, 9/28/17, 3/25/18]

    FRC has close ties with Secretary of State Pompeo, including consulting with him when he was CIA director and endorsing him for Congress. Recently confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has had a years-long relationship with FRC and Perkins. The Washington Post reported that Pompeo consulted with Perkins during his time as CIA director “as part of an effort to expand chaplain services to CIA employees.” In 2011, Pompeo was one of 30 congresspeople to sign FRC’s amicus brief opposing the Affordable Care Act, and he also spoke on a panel at the group’s annual Values Voter Summit opposing the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy preventing openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from serving in the military. FRC Action endorsed Pompeo during his 2010 and 2014 congressional campaigns, citing his “support for marriage” and “traditional family values” for the group’s support in 2014. Between 2013 and 2016, he appeared on FRC’s radio show at least nine times. [The Washington Post, 8/24/17; GLAAD, 4/6/18; NBC News, 3/15/18; FRC, 10/19/10, 10/12/13, 5/5/14, 8/12/14, 9/29/14, 7/22/15, 9/3/15, 3/22/16, 7/26/16, 10/6/16]

    FRC has worked to oppose LGBTQ equality around the world

    Perkins supported a law in Uganda that could have punished sodomy by death. In 2010, Perkins defended a draconian anti-LGBTQ bill in Uganda, which was widely known as the “kill the gays” bill because of its inclusion of the death penalty for “repeat offenders” of gay sexual activity. An altered version of the bill that did not include the death penalty but did include life imprisonment for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” eventually passed but was annulled in 2014. Perkins acknowledged the bill’s inclusion of the death penalty but said that it would “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.” According to The Washington Post, FRC also lobbied against a U.S. resolution to condemn the bill, calling it an example of “pro-homosexual promotion.” [Family Research Council, 2010; Reuters, 5/13/11; BBC, 8/1/14; Right Wing Watch, 8/17/12; The Washington Post, 6/4/10]

    FRC is partnered with anti-LGBTQ hate group World Congress of Families, which worked to pass Russia’s “gay propaganda” law. FRC is a dues-paying partner of the World Congress of Families (WCF), an anti-LGBTQ hate group that worked closely with Russian lawmakers, activists, and officials as the country shaped its “gay propaganda” law. After the ban passed, the group issued a press release supporting the law. The law was closely tied to a “ratcheting up of homophobic rhetoric in state media and an increase in homophobic violence around the country,” according to Human Rights Watch, and has been used to detain LGBTQ rights activists. WCF promotes the idea of a “demographic winter,” which suggests that European populations “are in decline because of homosexuality, abortion, feminism, women in the workplace, and a variety of other things that deviate from the ‘natural family.’” [Political Research Associates, 1/21/15; Mother Jones, 2/21/14, 2/21/14; Right Wing Watch, 9/3/13; Human Rights Watch, 12/15/14; Reuters, 11/21/17; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed 5/16/18]

    FRC is on the organizing committee of a coalition organized to advocate against LGBTQ-inclusive human rights policies at the UN. FRC is on the organizing committee of Civil Society for the Family, which has a platform that says that same-sex relationships “are not entitled to the protections singularly reserved for the family in international law and policy” and that rejects any acts and declarations by the United Nations that acknowledge the human rights of people in same-sex relationships. According to Right Wing Watch, anti-LGBTQ hate group C-Fam’s Austin Ruse organized the group in 2016 “to advocate for resistance to the recognition of LGBT human rights at the UN.” That same year, C-Fam “sponsored a high-level event at the UN in May that brought Religious Right leaders together with representatives of countries who are part of the Group of Friends of the Family, a coalition of many of the world’s most repressive regimes who are united by their desire to see traditional ideologies on gender and marriage enforced by international law.” FRC’s Peter Sprigg was a speaker at the event. [Civil Society for the Family, accessed 5/16/18, 10/5/17, accessed 5/16/18; Right Wing Watch, 12/28/16, 5/18/16]

    FRC provided training to Errol Naidoo before he founded the anti-LGBTQ Family Policy Institute in South Africa. According to Right Wing Watch, Errol Naidoo, president and founder of the anti-LGBTQ Family Policy Institute (FPI) in South Africa, completed a six month “training mission” with FRC in 2007, after which he started his organization. Naidoo said that his attendance at FRC events in 2006 inspired him to “spend six months in America studying the Family Research Council,” where he said he developed “the strategy and organizational structure for FPI.” According to Naidoo, FPI has worked with other organizations “at the UN to protect the natural family and prevent destructive anti-family resolutions” and is a member of WCF. Naidoo has worked to ban Pride festivals and marches by making wild claims of child exploitation and “public sex-acts,” according to the National Secular Society. And in a 2012 news release, FPI wrote that abortion and “the homosexual agenda” are “at the heart of the culture of death,” which he connected to a massacre that killed 34 mine workers. According to LGBTQ South African website Mamba, Naidoo has also said, “I hate gays. It runs against God’s wishes.” [Right Wing Watch, 12/13/16; Joy! Digital, October 2007, accessed 5/16/18, National Secular Society, accessed 5/16/18; Family Policy Institute, 8/22/12; Mamba Online, 8/22/12]

    FRC’s Teresa Manning edited essays criticizing the UN’s policies advancing LGBTQ rights. In 2001, former FRC legislative analyst Teresa Manning, who was then Teresa Wagner, edited a collection of essays calling U.N. policies advancing LGBTQ rights “destructive.” (Manning was appointed to a position in the Health and Human Services Department in 2017 but left the department in 2018.) According to C-Fam’s news release on the book, Wagner said that the U.N.’s work on LGBTQ issues and abortion “invariably victimize some human beings for the benefit of others.” An essay in the collection also argued that “homosexual activity, by its very nature, is destructive physically, psychologically and socially.” [C-Fam, 3/23/01; Los Angeles Times, 5/15/17; Politico, 1/12/18Fifty Years After the Declaration: The United Nations’ Record on Human Rights, 2000]

    FRC's Sprigg indicated opposition to letting LGBTQ immigrants into America, saying he would “much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States.” In 2008, FRC’s Sprigg opposed the Uniting American Families Act, a bill that would have allowed “U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration.” Commenting on the bill, Sprigg said, “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.” [ThinkProgress, 3/20/08; Family Equality Council, accessed 5/16/18]

    FRC has attacked the US State Department for including LGBTQ rights as part of its human rights work

    FRC called for the State Department to stop supporting LGBTQ rights after Trump’s election. After Trump was elected, Perkins’ daily Washington Update, which bears Perkins' name and is written with the help of FRC senior writers, questioned the Obama-era State Department’s focus on social issues, including so-called “sexual behavior-based policies,” and lamented its promotion of LGBTQ rights. The post called for the next secretary of state to “resist and remove this embedded agenda” and for State employees supportive of LGBTQ rights to be “ferreted out and … replaced by conservatives.” In May 2017, Perkins’ published another Washington Update making a similar argument and called “for President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to put a stop to the use of taxpayer dollars for this kind of left-wing activism, and focus on more urgent needs in our foreign policy.” [FRC, 12/15/16; 5/18/17]

    FRC criticized the State Department under the Obama administration for its support of LGBTQ-inclusive policies. FRC consistently attacked the State Department for supporting LGBTQ rights under the Obama administration. FRC criticized former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton for “turn[ing] the State Department into a satellite office of the Human Rights Campaign, where the only goal seems to be exporting homosexual extremism to a world preoccupied by far more important issues.” It also accused the State Department of “spending its energy bullying African nations on LGBT issues instead of working with those countries to advance American interests.” In March 2011, FRC criticized the State Department for issuing a joint statement with 84 countries at the U.N. Human Rights Council opposing the criminalization of homosexuality abroad. FRC claimed that the resolution would “force acceptance of the world’s gays and lesbians” and that countries “have the freedom to legislate against any behavior they think is harmful to society.” Another Perkins’ Washington Update included complaints that the “State Department will be spending time on homosexuality while people are literally dying for the right to practice religious liberty.” That same post criticized the State Department for “zero[ing] in on 'the specific needs of transgender persons; how to best engage faith communities to support the human rights of LGBT persons; and the best ways to integrate these priorities into development programs.'” [FRC, 2/12/15; 11/28/16; 2014; Right Wing Watch, 3/23/11; U.S. Department of State, 3/22/11]

    Perkins has criticized having a State Department position devoted to LGBTQ rights. Perkins’ Washington Update has called State Department’s former LGBT envoy position part of a “radical agenda” and claimed it pushed “extreme policies at the expense … of international religious liberty.” Another Washington Update claimed that Obama’s State Department “seemed oblivious to any problem not preceded by the letters L-G-B-T” and wrote that LGBT special envoy Randy Berry’s “sole purpose was forcing the president's radical social agenda on reluctant countries.” The post called on the Trump administration “to do away with the position” and claimed that keeping Berry employed “signals to the world that the extreme agenda of the Obama years is still deeply entrenched in the State Department.” [FRC, 1/17/17, 2/14/17]