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The fight against LGBT equality in Florida is being spearheaded by John Stemberger, a man who claims homosexuality is a “pathology” and believes marriage equality will indoctrinate “schoolchildren into a gay lifestyle.”

Stemberger, who is president of the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), made national headlines this month after he asserted that “inner city” residents “have almost a barbarian society” due to the decline of marriage. During a July 30 interview on 100.7 WFLA, Stemberger suggested that allowing gay people to marry would ultimately destroy the institution of marriage, saying:

STEMBERGER: Marriage is a unique institution that does many, many things that are productive, so you want to encourage marriage. In the inner city right now we see what happens when marriage is gone. You have almost a barbarian society. It’s a very simple society. When marriage is gone, bad things happen in society.

His remarks were condemned as racist, but they’re just the latest in a long line of inflammatory comments from Stemberger. Through his work at the FFPC, frequent media appearances, and his founding of an anti-gay alternative to the Boy Scouts, Stemberger has emerged as one of the most virulently anti-gay social conservatives in the country.

The Florida Family Policy Council

Established in 2004, the FFPC is a state chapter of Focus on the Family, with a self-proclaimed mission ”to strengthen Florida’s families through public policy education, issue research, and grassroots advocacy.” While not formally affiliated with the organization, the FFPC is also closely tied to the Family Research Council (FRC), which has been branded an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

As one of the best-funded social conservative organizations in the state - the FFPC was among the anti-gay groups to receive funding from Chick-fil-A’s charitable division - the FFPC boasts ties to prominent Florida conservatives, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who keynoted the group’s Policy Awards Dinner in 2013. The FFPC focuses its efforts on advocating the teaching of creationism in public schools, abstinence-only sex education, and school vouchers, in addition to its crusades against reproductive rights, stem cell research, and LGBT equality.

The group is also a vehicle for a distinctly theocratic brand of conservatism. Stemberger has said that “no religion can save [America] except for Christians” and declared that public policy should be guided by “scripture.”

Most recently, the FFPC featured prominently in the debate over Florida’s anti-gay marriage amendment, which a federal judge struck down on August 21. Despite having slammed Republican state attorney general Pam Bondi in 2010 for being childless and “liv[ing] with her 60-year-old doctor boyfriend,” the FFPC lauded her defense of the state’s marriage equality ban in court, hailing Bondi as “an example of courage and responsible stewardship of her authority as the highest law enforcement officer in the state.”

The FFPC’s anti-gay agenda extends far beyond opposing marriage equality. The organization opposes gay 
adoption, calling same-sex parents “objectively inferior" to married heterosexual parents, despite study after study demonstrating that children of same-sex parents fare as well or better than those raised by opposite-sex parents. Moreover, the FFPC supports discredited ”ex-gay” therapy programs, with a page on its website listing resources for “leaving [the] gay lifestyle.”

Meanwhile, the FFPC’s “gay rights" page provides links to rabidly anti-gay commentary, featuring articles like "What Homosexuals Want" (courtesy of the anti-LGBT hate group the American Family Association) and “The Gay Agenda and Manipulation.” The page also links to an FRC pamphlet which asserts that homosexuality is linked to higher rates of pedophilia - a claim with no empirical basis.

Stemberger’s Anti-Gay Bigotry

After a decade at the helm of the FFPC, Stemberger has produced a lengthy track record of anti-gay rhetoric, including referring to homosexuality a “pathology.”

Among Stemberger’s most persistent fixations is how gay men express their sexuality. He finds “in-your-face” gay men particularly irksome. Denouncing “the social construct called ‘gay,’” Stemberger once defined that “construct” as “in your face, it’s shoving down your throat, and it’s intimidation.” During the run-up to the Boy Scouts’ 2013 vote on allowing openly gay members, Stemberger, in a Washington Times column, deemed those “who have same-sex attractions” acceptable members of the Scouts, but only if they were “discreet” and not “loud and proud.”

That fear of proud gay men may stem from Stemberger’s fondness for the anti-gay trope that gay men want to “recruit” young boys - an assertion he made during a July 2013 interview with hate group leader Peter LaBarbera:

Similarly, as Florida prepared to vote on its anti-gay marriage amendment in 2008, Stemberger justified the ban by stating that allowing gay marriages in the state “could result in the indoctrination of schoolchildren into a gay lifestyle.” Stemberger also sees a plot against young innocents in Walt Disney World’s Gay Days, which he has assailed as an opportunity for gay men to “flaunt” themselves in front of children while they enjoy “unbridled debauchery.”

Trail Life USA

Perhaps the seminal moment in Stemberger’s career of anti-gay extremism came during the debate over the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) policy banning gay scouts. Stemberger became one of the most prominent supporters of the BSA’s gay ban, appearing on CNN and Fox News to defend the policy.

Stemberger’s argued that accepting gay scouts would sexualize the organization and cause churches to pull their support for the organization. Speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon, he predicted that allowing for gay scouts would “literally destroy the program.”

Speaking with LaBarbera, Stemberger also predicted that allowing openly gay Scouts would ”increase sexual abuse” between boys:

When the BSA decided to end its ban on gay scouts, Stemberger lamented that it had been “one of the sadest [sic] days of my life”:

Stemberger responded to the vote by founding Trail Life USA, an anti-gay alternative to the BSA. In a September 2013 interview with right-wing radio host Janet Mefferd, Stemberger said that Trail life would not “tolerate activists. We’re not going to tolerate somebody who’s, you know, here and queer, loud and proud, all of that nonsense”:

Trail Life launched to much fanfare, with Fox News host Mike Huckabee delivering the keynote address at the group’s inaugural convention. The group’s membership policy appears to bar not only gay participants, but also gay rights supporters, stating that “[w]e grant membership to adults and youth who do not engage in or promote sexual immorality of any kind.” Although chapters had been established in 40 states by March, an assessment by the Associated Press deemed Trail Life a “tiny movement" overall.

Local media has rightly lambasted Stemberger for his “barbarian” comment, but his record of extreme and offensive rhetoric is far more extensive than is being reported. As the legal battle over Florida’s marriage ban intensifies, outlets are likely to continue turning to Stemberger for a “conservative” voice on LGBT issues. If and when they do, they should be prepared to shine a light on the animus and extremism that motivate his work. 

Previously:

Orlando Sentinel Whitewashes Boy Scout Alternative’s Anti-Gay Bigotry

Trail Life USA’s John Stemberger: Affirming Gay Youth Is “Tantamount To Abuse … Absolutely Nonsense”

Fox’s Huckabee To Keynote Event For Anti-Gay Boy Scouts Alternative

h/t: Luke Brinker and Coleman Lowndes at Equality Matters

Dear Laurie Higgins, stop your fucking whining please!

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Human Rights Campaign

thepoliticalfreakshow:

DALLAS (AP) — Robert Gates, the new president of the Boy Scouts of America, said Friday that he would have moved last year to allow openly gay adults in the organization but said he opposes any further attempts to address the policy now.

Gates took over an organization this week that serves about 2.5 million youth but faces continued membership declines and fights over its inclusion of openly gay boys, but not adults. Gates, the former secretary of defense who oversaw the end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, addressed those issues Friday, a day after Scouting’s national leadership elected him president.

"I was prepared to go further than the decision that was made," Gates told The Associated Press in an interview in advance of a speech before the group’s national leaders at its annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. “I would have supported having gay Scoutmasters, but at the same time, I fully accept the decision that was democratically arrived at by 1,500 volunteers from across the entire country.”

The BSA’s National Council voted at last year’s annual meeting to accept openly gay youth, after a monthslong process with protests on both sides. Gates planned to tell Scouting’s leaders Friday that a continued fight over the issue threatens BSA’s future.

"Given the strong feelings — the passion — involved on both sides of this matter, I believe strongly that to re-open the membership issue or try to take last year’s decision to the next step would irreparably fracture and perhaps even provoke a formal, permanent split in this movement — with the high likelihood neither side would subsequently survive on its own," Gates said in prepared remarks.

Gates, 70, who also served as director of the CIA, is a visible advocate for Scouting as it faces a storm of bad publicity.

The Scouts reached out to Gates as he was retiring from the Defense Department and asked him to join their leadership, said Wayne Perry, the departing BSA president. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who was expected to become president this year, agreed to wait another two years to allow Gates to serve now, Perry said.

"We need America to know what the Boy Scouts can do for the youth of America," Perry said, adding that Gates "immediately can reach an audience that we wouldn’t otherwise reach."

Gates earned his Eagle Scout award as a 15-year-old growing up in Wichita, Kansas. He has long credited that achievement for giving him the confidence to excel in nearly five decades of public service, and he stayed involved in Scouting during his career. He has recalled skeet-shooting with young Scouts while he was director of the CIA.

Along the way, Gates became known as someone willing to speak frankly about problems in the institutions he led, often at the risk of offending others. Gates warned BSA’s leaders Friday that “maybe it’s time for blunt talk.”

Over the last decade, the Scouts have faced small, but consistent declines in membership. Also, high-profile sponsors and corporate donors, including Disney and Lockheed Martin, have cut funding over the exclusion of openly gay adults. Meanwhile, a handful of conservatives who opposed the inclusion of openly gay boys started their own organization, Trail Life USA.

Gates told the AP that he wanted to move the Scouts past that debate and focus on what unites the membership. He said he would push for a heavier focus on local marketing and sharing positive stories about Scouting efforts that are sometimes drowned out by debates over gay rights or child abuse lawsuits filed against the Scouts in several states.

He said he would emphasize to sponsors that “welcoming gay youth is an important step forward.”

Gates led the Defense Department when it phased out the ban on openly gay soldiers known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” something gay-rights groups have cited as a hopeful sign for them. But Gates said Friday that the Scouts were different from the CIA or the military, where “I could give an order and people would follow it, at least most of the time.” In an organization driven almost entirely by volunteers, officials have to respect differences in opinion, he said.

"The key at this point is to keep focus, again, on the top priority, which is, how do we develop the best possible program for kids, and how do we keep their interests at the forefront?" Gates said.

Another reason for the Boy Scouts to lift its ban on openly gay adults serving in their organization. 

h/t: Josh Israel at Think Progress LGBT

Starting January 1 of 2014, the Boy Scouts of America will put into practice the inclusive policy that welcomes openly gay youth interested in joining the organization.

After much lobbying from grassroots advocates and Scouting families across the country, BSA approved the policy in May 2013 with support from 60% of the voting committee members. While openly LGBT parents and adults are still banned from being Scout leaders, 2014 will start off with a giant victory towards equality in Scouting.

Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member, said he anticipates the implementation to a be a non-issue within the troops, according to the Associated Press. “My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare.” He continued, “it’s business as usual, nothing happens, and we move forward.”

The AP further reported that the Roman Catholic and Mormon Churches, major donors to BSA, plan to continue supporting the organization. On its website, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting spoke on the issue, and stated, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that individuals who disclose a same-sex attraction are to be treated with the same dignity due all human beings.”

While some individual parishes and community members may be cautious of what the lifted ban will bring, GLAAD is confident that equal treatment for all kids and teens, ultimately, can only enhance the Boy Scouts’ values of service and participating citizenship.

H/T: GLAAD

Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz and the Texas Senator’s number one surrogate, is a favorite among Tea Party and Religious Right activists with his birther, Christian Nationalist and End Times-focused speeches. 

Back in June, he spoke to a Texas men’s prayer breakfast where he denounced the theory of evolution as a lie that, along with gay rights, will bring about communism. “There is nothing scientific about evolution,” Cruz said. “Evolution is one of the strongest tools of Marxism because if they can convince you that you came from a monkey, it’s much easier to convince you that God does not exist.” 

[…]

He also discussed the Supreme Court marriage cases, which at the time of this speech had not been decided, and the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to include openly gay members under the age of eighteen.

Cruz lamented that the Boy Scouts ended the organization’s ban on gay youth, which his PowerPoint presentation said would lead to “Increased risk that our children would be exposed to sexual predators,” and lamented that some churches may continue their ties with the Boy Scouts.

holygoddamnshitballs:

Bigoted Antigay ‘Christian’ Version of Boy Scouts, “Trail Life USA’ Launches

The right-wing, christian extremist, anti-gay version of the Boy Scouts of America called The Hitlerjugend Trail Life USA launched yesterday to much “indifference” with special guest speaker Mike “Go Fuck Yourself”Huckabee!

The Washington Times reports:

At the opening session, John Stemberger, chairman of the board of Trail Life USA, teased the crowd saying he would not be surprised if there were “spies” from Grapevine, Texas — BSA’s home base — in the audience. That would make sense, since everyone from supporters to the curious want to know what’s being planned, he said, adding that Trail Life USA will not be “anti-BSA.” The conference’s theme is “Honoring the Legacy, Raising the Standard.” Trail Life USA’s name, drawn from more than 300 options, was carefully vetted and is intended not to be political or controversial, organizers said. “Trail” refers to a pathway and being outdoors, but also symbolizes the passage of life, where there are moral choices, and right and wrong paths, said Mr. Stemberger.

Trail Life USA’s Membership Standards include that members do not engage in or promote sexual immorality of any kind, or engage in behavior that would become a distraction.  Also  that “scouts” for lack of a better word, must be biologically male children under the age of 18.

Trail Life USA states that the basis for the program’s ethical and moral standards are found in the Bible. and that that any sexual activity outside the context of the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman is sinful before God and therefore inconsistent with the values and principles of the program.

Gee. I wonder if self-flagellation is a merit-badge?

You can check out their indoctrination video here and be sure to visit Trail Life USA’s Facebook page HERE  and leave a message..

Boy Scouts and adult volunteers wore their uniforms Sunday as they marched in Utah’s gay pride parade — defying a leader of the youth organization who had said they couldn’t do so under the organization’s guidelines prohibiting advocating political or social positions.

The Utah Pride Festival Parade came a little more than a week after national delegates of the Boy Scouts of America approved allowing gay youth to join, ending controversial membership guidelines that had in recent years dogged one of the nation’s most popular organizations for children and teens.

"It just feels like the right thing to do," Kenji Mikesell, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout and high school senior still active with his troop, said before leaving for the parade in Salt Lake City in his uniform.

"It’s kind of a way of saying we want you here,” added Mikesell, who marched with Mormons Building Bridges and whose troop is chartered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Scouting has been a very positive influence in my life, and I’d like to see more people take advantage of it now that the ban has been lifted.”

Peter Brownstein, a Scoutmaster in Salt Lake City who helped organize the Boy Scouts participation in the march, said a few adults and youth marched at the front of the parade in uniform, including a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout and his stepdad, an Eagle Scout, who borrowed a uniform to wear, and an Asst. Scoutmaster.

But a local leader of the Boy Scouts had said Friday that they were prohibited from doing so

"We as a Scouting movement do not advocate any social or political position, so I reminded Mr. Brownstein that we do not wear uniforms at an event like this," said Rick Barnes, chief scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, which consists of more than 75,000 youth. "We do not, as Boy Scouts, show support for any social or political position. We’re neutral. If he wants to attend the parade and others do that are Scouts or Scouters, they’re welcome to do so as private citizens wearing whatever they want except their uniform.

“That’s our official position. It always has been, there’s nothing new here,” he added. “We just don’t want people to use the Boy Scouts to advocate their positions.”

It wasn’t clear what the consequences of wearing their uniforms would be. 

Scouts for Equality, a group that campaigns for the LGBT community to be welcomed in Scouting, had said that members of the Boy Scouts have previously marched in pride parades elsewhere. But they called for youth and adults in the Utah Scouting program to abide by Barnes’ call and not wear their formal uniforms in the parade.

H/T: NBCnews.com

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality appeared on VCY America’s Crosstalk yesterday to discuss the recent decision by the Boy Scouts to include openly gay members under the age of 18 and the upcoming vote on marriage equality legislation in the Illinois State House. Understandably, LaBarbera was quite despondent and even resigned to increasing gay rights victories, warning that “God is giving us over to our sin.”

LaBarbera: I’ll tell you, I fear for our country, I believe God is giving us over to our sin. It seems that way to me, I don’t have a red phone to the Lord but it just seems that America is on such a precipitous decline, you know God seems to be saying: ‘You want homosexuality? You want abortion? Here, go ahead and have it.’ We’re a free society. The culture war on this issue alone is frightening, how much more resources and money the pro-sin side—which would be the homosexual side, that’s a sin—how much more resources they bring than to the side of righteousness and in a free society the people who bring the most organization, resources, money and people win and that’s what’s happening.

During the program, host Jim Schneider read Michael Swift’s obviously satirical “Gay Manifesto,” the 1987 essay which facetiously talks about gay “private armies” that will “conquer the world” and defeat the “hetero swine,” as if it was a serious political treatise, lamenting that “we are seeing item by item virtually everything that he has laid out here to be fulfilled today.”

LaBarbera called Swift’s piece “demonic” and “shockingly evil,” while even he admitted that it “may have been a satirical essay.”

Schneider later claimed that “same-sex assaults that are taking place in the military are just drastically on the increase” since the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was lifted.” As we have already pointed out, however, CNN has reported that the current sexual assault rate among active duty men has “remained unchanged” from 2010, the year before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed.

From the 05.28.2013 edition of VCY America’s Crosstalk:

h/t: RWW

Within minutes of a news that the Boy Scouts of America had voted to end the organization’s ban on gay scouts last week, John Stemberger, who had been leading the fight to retain the ban, announced that he was removing his sons from the program and ending his affiliation with it.

On Friday, Stemberger joined End Times radio host Rick Wiles to discuss the vote as the two lamented that the “God-hating socialists” are “ripping the heart out of the American people” and warning that this was just the latest battle in the revolution being waged by Communist-Marxists to destroy this nation: 

Wiles: This is what the God-hating socialists in this country is doing to the fabric of America; they’re ripping the heart out of the American people.

Stemberger: Yes.  That’s exactly right and it breaks my hear. It literally breaks my heart.

Wiles: You know John, what is really sad about this is that the Marxist-Communists that are in control of this country right now - I mean, I don’t know how you feel, but we really are under a Communist revolution.  And if anybody is around fifty to a hundred years from now and looks back, they’re going to go ‘wow, there was a Communist revolution taking place at the beginning of the 21st century.’ And whether we survive it or not, that remains to be determined.

But that sad thing is that the Marxist-Communists in America have won on this issue regardless of what happens.  Because if parents keep their boys in the Boy Scouts, the Communists have still won because the boys will be eventually lead towards accepting homosexuality. They’re going to destroy the moral culture of hundreds of thousands of boys all over America.

But if parents pull their children out, the Marxist-Communists have won also because they’ve destroyed a fine organization that for more than a hundred years has stood for honor and integrity and God and country.  So either way, the Marxist-Communists have won on this issue.

Stemberger: Yep. Yep. It’s very sad.

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/wiles-god-hating-socialists-are-ripping-heart-out-american-people-bsa-vote

imageBoy Scouts: Will anti-gay troops emerge? (via The Christian Science Monitor)

Copyright ImageClick to View Boy Scout Pascal Tessier is congratulated by Justin Buckford of Scouts for Equality, after hearing that the Boy Scouts of America had passed a resolution allowing openly gay scouts. Tessier is a Life scout who was unable to become an Eagle scout unless the resolution passed…