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h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism, condemned Family Research Council (FRC) president and regular Fox News and CNN guest Tony Perkins for his “deeply offensive” comments comparing LGBT non-discrimination protections with the Holocaust.

On June 6, Perkins blasted a Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling finding that a baker had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple,  asking on his radio program Washington Watch,  ”I’m beginning to think, are re-education camps next? When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?” Perkins’ remarks echoed his statement in April that the LGBT movement “reminds me of Nazi Germany.”

In a June 10 statement, ADL President Abraham Foxman denounced Perkins’ comments, calling them “offensive and inappropriate”:

Tony Perkins’ invocation of the Holocaust in his statement referring to a judge’s finding that a baker unlawfully discriminated against gay customers is offensive and inappropriate.

There is no comparison between contemporary American political issues and the actions of Hitler’s regime during the Holocaust. Such inappropriate analogies only serve to trivialize the Holocaust and are deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors, as well as those Americans who fought valiantly against the Nazis in World War II.

We urge Perkins to apologize and to refrain from using Holocaust imagery to make his point.

Extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric has defined Perkins’ career, and the FRC’s defamatory attacks on the LGBT community led the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to designate it an anti-gay hate group in 2010.

Despite that record, Perkins and FRC are frequent fixtures on CNN and Fox News. Fox’s Megyn Kelly in particular has given Perkins the star treatment, inviting him onto The Kelly File to attack basic non-discrimination policies and to champion anti-LGBT business discrimination.

Given his reputation, Perkins isn’t likely to take the ADL’s advice to heart. But media outlets might want to reconsider whether it’s wise to provide him a forum to continue peddling his apoplectic attacks on LGBT equality. 

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

H/T: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch Phil Robertson is like John the Baptist, son tells conservative group (via Raw Story )

The son of “Duck Commander” Phil Robertson compared his father to John the Baptist at the Family Research Council’s “Watchmen on the Wall 2014″ event earlier this week. “My dad has the heart and mindset of a prophet and is most compared…



 

H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

Megyn Kelly was supposed to be a harbinger of Fox News’ “gay rights revolution,” but she’s used her primetime spot to enable some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT activists.

At the height of the controversy over Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s homophobic remarks in a December 2013 interview with GQ magazine, Kelly invited GLAAD consultant Jeremy Hooper to appear on The Kelly File and weigh in on the firestorm.

She also invited Tony Perkins, president of the notorious anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC), to appear immediately afterward.

During his segment,Hooper urged Kelly to hold Perkins accountable for his extensive history of bigoted rhetoric. “What specifically? Because I’ll ask him,” Kelly promised. Hooper pointed to Perkins’ endorsement of a Ugandan bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality, his claim that gay people face “eternal damnation,” and his comparisons of gay people with terrorists.

In the segment that followed, however, Kelly didn’t ask Perkins to explain his virulent anti-gay rhetoric. Instead, she introduced him as the leader of “a group whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian worldview”:

Kelly’s failure to hold Perkins accountable is a case study in her broader habit of mainstreaming anti-gay hate.

In the seven months since The Kelly File launched in October of 2013, Fox’s 9 p.m. hour has been a friendly forum for some of the country’s most odious anti-gay extremists, including Perkins, the far-right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and, most recently, the Benham brothers, the home renovators whose rabidly anti-gay activism led HGTV to cancel their planned reality show.

Since Kelly’s promotion to Fox’s prime-time lineup, she has hosted Perkins six times. (Filling in for Kelly on the December 27 edition of the program, Shannon Bream hosted Perkins an additional time.) Perkins has used his appearances to condemn Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R-AZ) veto of her state’s license-to-discriminate bill, champion anti-LGBT discrimination, opine on openly gay NFL draftee Michael Sam, and lambaste HGTV for cancelling the Benham brothers’ planned show.

Kelly’s willingness to grant Perkins a platform isn’t a recent development. As a daytime host on Fox’s America Live, she provided Perkins the opportunity to peddle anti-gay talking points with impunity - and often parroted the same talking points herself, asking Perkins why gay rights activists are so intolerant and defending him and other “openly religious” leaders against charges of bigotry.

Meanwhile, Kelly has invited ADF to defend anti-gay business discrimination on her program. While other cable news anchors have exposed ADF’s anti-gay extremism - including its international work to criminalize homosexuality - Kelly gave the group the same treatment she afforded Perkins, failing to hold ADF to account for its disturbing work.

The Benham brothers could also count on Kelly to downplay their history of strident anti-gay and Islamophobic activism, including condemning homosexuality as “demonic" and "destructive.” On the May 19 edition of her show, she called the backlash to their activism “incredible,” asking them to enlighten viewers on their “more traditional views”:

One group that hasn’t had the chance to convey its message on The Kelly File is the American Family Association (AFA), an anti-gay hate group whose spokesman believes gay men were responsible for the Holocaust and has assailed Kelly herself as “resentful,” “angry,” “hostile,” and “bitter.” But the AFA was actually slated to be featured on the October 16 edition of the show, an appearance bumped by breaking news coverage of Congress’ 11th-hour resolution to its debt ceiling standoff.

At a network that all too often conflates homophobia and Christianity, whitewashing of anti-gay extremism hardly stands out. But Kelly is supposed to be a different kind of Fox anchor. Breaking with many of her colleagues, Kelly has staked out pro-LGBT positions, prompting BuzzFeed to herald Kelly in 2012 as a sign of how “the gay rights revolution” had arrived at Fox News (a premise that continues to prove flawed).

What makes Kelly arguably the best friend an anti-gay extremist could have on Fox isn’t that she agrees with people like Perkins on every issue. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s precisely because Kelly isn’t seen as an anti-LGBT hack that her willingness to elevate groups like the FRC and ADF to positions of respectability  makes her so dangerous.

The more that groups like the FRC can convince people like Kelly to take them seriously, the easier time they’ll have billing themselves as credible organizations, their records notwithstanding. As a self-professed straight shooter, Kelly shouldn’t fall for such ploys. It’s one thing to treat viewers to spirited debates on issues of current affairs and public policy. It’s quite another to treat toxic homophobic activists as legitimate participants in those debates. Megyn Kelly may have earned accolades for her occasional pro-LGBT commentary, but her willingness to cozy up to some of the country’s most fanatical anti-LGBT bigots will leave a much bigger stain on her legacy at Fox News.

METHODOLOGY

Equality Matters searched news transcripts provided by LexisNexis for “Tony Perkins” between October 13, 2013 - the launch of The Kelly File - and May 21, 2014.

H/T: Luke Brinker at MMFA

mediamattersforamerica

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

Todd Starnes, Fox News’ resident culture warrior, wants to reclaim God for an America of gay pride paraders, hipsters, twerkers, and vegetarians. That, at least, is what he sets out to do in his latest tome, God Less America: Real Stories from the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.

It’s a book that’s been generously promoted on the Fox News commentator’s network. Starnes’ publicity tour has taken him to such programs as Fox & Friends, HannityThe Kelly File, Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, and the radio show of Fox contributor Laura Ingraham.

During his publicity tour for God Less America, Starnes has homed in on a consistent message: religious, specifically Christian, values are under attack, largely thanks to an all-out assault allegedly led by the Obama administration, aided and abetted by LGBT activists and advocates for secularists and adherents to minority faiths. Obama, Starnes asserts, is at the forefront of a conspiracy “to eradicate the Christian faith” from the public square.

But Starnes’ book isn’t really about the state of Christianity in the age of Obama. It’s primarily about Starnes himself, and the cultural resentments that define his worldview. Portraying himself as a down-home Southerner who loves sweet tea (a fact he reminds readers of no fewer than nine times), Duck Dynasty, guns, and his hardline Southern Baptist faith, beneath Starnes’ folksy veneer is a far more venomous culture warrior.

What Starnes repeatedly - if unwittingly - reveals is that he isn’t so much afraid of the impending loss of religious liberty as he is fearful that his exclusionary vision of America no longer holds the sway it once did.

Cultural Chauvinism and Muslim-Baiting

What particularly rouses Starnes’ ire about the state of contemporary America is that it’s led by, as he pointedly notes, “Barack Hussein Obama.” Starnes laments throughout the book that Obama’s America is no longer the one in which in grew up - a country he depicts as more wholesome and unapologetically Christian, when women knew their place and gay people weren’t being as obnoxious with all that equal rights stuff:

I grew up in a much simpler time - when blackberry was a pie and dirty dancing meant somebody forgot to clean out the barn for the square dance. It was a time when father still knew best - when the girls were girls and the men were men. I grew up in a time when a rainbow was a sign of God’s promise, not gay rights.

To Starnes, Obama perfectly symbolizes the fading of that America. For one thing, Starnes not-so-subtly hints that the president has an affinity for Islam - referring to Obama as someone who “professes” to be a Christian, twice assailing him for calling the Muslim call to prayer “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset,” and suggesting that Obama hasn’t secured the release on American pastor detained in Iran because the pastor had left the Islamic faith.

Starnes also lambastes the president for stating that we’re “not just a Christian nation,” but also a nation of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and secularists. A less paranoid observer might view Obama’s remark as an affirmation of the country’s religious diversity, but Starnes can’t help seeing anti-Christian bias. (Starnes writes that it’s “puzzling” that any “follower of Christ” would make such a statement.”) Likewise, restrictions on proselytization in the military aren’t, say, a sensible response to the harassment of non-Christian believers, but part of a “Christian cleansing” executed by the Obama administration. And just as he did in an appearance on Fox’s Hannity to promote the book, Starnes compares officials enforcing the First Amendment’s establishment clause to Adolf Hitler. “Hitler was not a big fan of the Baby Jesus,” Starnes writes in a chapter titled “Nazis, Communists, and the USA.” “Neither were the Communists. And apparently some American employees and schoolteachers share an equal disdain for the little Lord Jesus.” Starnes is just saying.

Anti-LGBT Bigotry

But the bulk of God Less America is devoted to propping up the defining feature of Starnes’ worldview - his acute persecution complex when it comes to LGBT equality. The longest chapter in the book is bluntly titled “Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights,” but several others focus on LGBT topics like Chick-fil-A, Duck Dynasty, and the Kinky Boots performance at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. All are meant to reinforce the right-wing myth that any progress towards LGBT equality must come at the expense of liberty for Christians. We’re not far from a day, Starnes predicts, when pastors will be “brought up on charges of hate speech against homosexuals.”

Starnes has made his name on Fox News as the network’s mouthpiece for the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT organizations, including hate groups like the American Family Association (AFA) and the Family Research Council (FRC). His close relationship with those groups is evident in his writing: he cites FRC ten times in the book. The FRC even hosted a launch party for the book at its offices, featuring Starnes and Fox correspondent Shannon Bream:

Starnes also cites the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a group working internationally to criminalize homosexuality, another ten times. These groups are relied on to offer commentary on a number of overblown or outright fabricated horror stories Starnes offers about the movement for LGBT equality. 

When he’s not using scare tactics to warn about basic protections for the LGBT community, Starnes’ discussions of LGBT people are marked by stereotypes as stale as the Southern country boy trope with which he hits readers over the head.  Gay men are Dolce & Gabanna-obsessed, body hair-grooming, sissies who can’t appreciate manly men’s men like Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, who notoriously compared homosexuality with bestiality and equated gay people with “drunks” and “terrorists.” According to Starnes, GQ,  the magazine in which Robertson made his infamous remarks, is the kind of publication typically read by “men who prefer body waxing and manicures,” not the Robertsons’ down-home homophobia.

Like Phil, Starnes thinks that the gays could be putting us on a slippery slope to bestiality, writing an entire chapter that envisions a Supreme Court ruling legalizing bestiality by 2025.

Starnes’ transphobia is just as rabid as his homophobia. When discussing transgender people, he misgenders them and suggests - despite all evidence - that transgender people pose public safety dangers if they’re allowed to restrooms that match their gender identities. Such ugly, bigoted remarks make clear that when Starnes complains about how this is no longer the America he grew up in, what he’s really upset about is that it’s an America where long-oppressed groups are beginning to assert their basic rights.

All Grievance, Little Godliness

In his conclusion, Starnes gloomily predicts that “[t]hey” could soon “throw us in jail.” On what grounds? And who are they? It isn’t quite clear. Starnes’ mission is to awaken readers to the danger President Obama and the liberal elite pose to their cherished religious freedoms. All he has to offer, however, are apoplectic condemnations of LGBT equality, religious diversity, and Brooklynites who wear skinny jeans and eat tempeh and take their tea unsweetened. Yet Starnes and his ideological brethren have continued to thrive in Obama’s America - not despite, but because of, a president and a set of ideas they hysterically denounce as grave threats to the American way of life.

Instead of demonstrating how an America that embraces more of its citizens threatens conservatives’ liberties, all Starnes has done instead is illuminate the baseless fear and paranoia that motivate the right wing’s professional culture warriors.

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

Fox News host Megyn Kelly invited anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) to comment on HGTV’s decision to cancel a program that would have starred a rabid anti-gay extremist, pushing the FRC’s own talking points to baselessly frame HGTV’s decision as an attack on Christians.

On May 6, Right Wing Watch reported that David Benham, who along with his brother Jason was slated to star in a fixer-upper reality show called Flip It Forward, had an extensive record of anti-choice, anti-gay, and anti-Muslim activism. David Benham explained to far-right radio host Janet Mefferd in 2012 that he and his brother had participated in a protest of the Democratic National Convention to take a stand against “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation,” abortion, divorce, and “demonic ideologies” circulating in the education system. Benham has also compared the anti-gay marriage fight to the struggle against Nazi Germany and highlighted Leviticus’ prescription of death for gay sex.Benham’s views on Muslims are no kinder; he has declared that “Islam takes life and enslaves it” and protested in front of mosques while shouting “Jesus Hates Muslims.”

Faced with a public outcry, HGTV announced on May 7 that it had “decided not to move forward” with Flip It Forward.

During the May 8 edition of The Kelly File, Kelly asked Perkins to weigh in on the controversy. Kelly suggested that while HGTV would have been condemned for cancelling a show featuring gay stars, the Benhams were being punished because, unlike gay people, Christians’ rights aren’t as “protected and recognized in this country”:

KELLY:  If HGTV had a couple of hosts who are about to launch a TV show and it came out that they were gay and then they pulled the plug on them because they’re gay, the backlash would be enormous in this country, and that’s because gay rights are more and more protected and recognized in this country. Christian beliefs and Christian rights, not so much.

That kind of rhetoric wouldn’t be out of place at the FRC, branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its pattern of spreading malicious smears about LGBT people. In his own blog post on the controversy, Perkins wrote that the Benham brothers, former baseball players, “were used to a level playing field. In Hollywood, they’re finding out that for Christians, there’s no such thing.” Of course, it was the vehemence of Benham’s bigoted comments, not his Christian faith, that led HGTV to cancel the show.

From a legal standpoint, Kelly and Perkins’ argument is transparently ridiculous. Religion is a federally protected class — as former attorney Kelly certainly knows — but sexual orientation and gender identity lack federal protection. Not only do gay couples lack the right to marry in 33 states, but they can be fired because of who they are in 29 states. Transgender workers can be fired based on their gender identity in 33 states. LGBT people are also disproportionately targeted for hate crimes.

To her credit, Kelly noted the extreme tone of Benham’s anti-gay rhetoric, even as she completely ignored his attacks on the Muslim community. As she noted, invoking the Levitican prescription of death for gays would strike many people as “extremely alienating.” But after Perkins dodged that point by baselessly attacking Right Wing Watch as “about as reliable as the Obamacare website,” Kelly ended the interview without pushing back.

Despite his long history of anti-LGBT bigotry, Perkins has been a frequent guest on Kelly’s show in recent months. Perkins has smeared gay men as people who prey on children to “recruit” them into the gay “lifestyle,” condemned the LGBT movement as “evil,” and applauded a 2009 bill that would imposed the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda. Kelly, who has carefully cultivated the image of a hard-hitting news reporter beholden to no faction, has nevertheless failed to call out Perkins’ extremism; rather, she has continued to provide him a platform to spew misinformation and smears. That this ostensibly non-ideological anchor has helped legitimize Perkins is precisely why she’s arguably the most dangerous person on Fox News.

h/t: Luke Brinker at MMFA

From the 05.05.2014 edition of FRC’s Washington Watch:

Oh, please shut the fucking hell up, Tony Perkins!!

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

The Daily Caller provided a hate group spokesman a platform to smear marriage equality and same-sex families, part of the conservative website’s pattern of promoting the commentary of some of the most extreme anti-LGBT figures in the country.

In a May 5 column, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-gay hate group, touted Irreplaceable, a new Focus on the Family film celebrating straights-only marriage. Sprigg lauded the film for its support of “God’s design for marriage.” If society were to “devalue” marriage, he argued, it would “devalue being a parent,” and thereby “devalue children”:

If you devalue marriage, you devalue being a parent - or more specifically, being a mother or a father, since the importance of gender roles (“not deterministic, but dynamic”) is emphasized.

If you devalue parents, then you devalue children. Jonathan Last, author of What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, says that the sexual revolution dismembered the “iron triangle” of marriage, sex, and baby-making, and the resulting indifference in the West to creating the next generation constitutes a form of “civilizational sickness.”

His column is relatively tame in the context of his career of fear mongering about gay people, including baselessly peddling the claim that gay men are sexual predators who prey on children.

Meanwhile, Sprigg’s stances on other LGBT issues are no less offensive. He sits on the board PFOX, a group promoting discredited “ex-gay” therapy, and has asserted that the proper response to gay teen suicides is to encourage gay youth to change their sexual orientations. In remarks that he later walked back following fierce criticism, Sprigg said he “would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States.” Sprigg is no friend of the transgender community either, having declared contrary to expert consensus that trans people suffer from "delusions."

Sprigg isn’t the first hate group spokesman to be granted column space in the Daily Caller. FRC President Tony Perkins has also written for the website. In July 2013, the site published a column from Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) President Austin Ruse cheering Russia’s draconian anti-LGBT crackdown, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin for taking a stand against the sexual “immorality” that Ruse claimed pervades the United States.

The Daily Caller has also published numerous pieces from National Organization for Marriage (NOM) President Brian Brown, who condemns homosexuality as “deceitful, harmful, and degrading to the human soul, and American Values President Gary Bauer, who in addition to campaigning against marriage equality in the U.S. has used his Daily Caller column space to inveigh against critics of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

While Sprigg, Perkins, Ruse, Brown, and Bauer have only written for the Daily Caller’s opinion section, anti-gay talking points have also found their way into the website’s purportedly straight news reporting. 

H/T: Luke Brinker at MMFA

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW