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 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 continueturning 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.
Judge Posner is the sole Republican on the panel — he’s served on the Court since President Reagan appointed him in 1981 — but he is a highly idiosyncratic judge who has grown increasingly critical of his fellow partisans in recent years. In a 2012 interview, for example, Posner complained that “there’s been a real deterioration in conservative thinking. And that has to lead people to re-examine and modify their thinking.” He added that he has personally “become less conservative since the Republican Party started becoming goofy.”
On the specific issue of gay rights, Posner’s views are a bit nuanced, but he is openly sympathetic to the case for equality. In a 2013 essay entitled “How Gay Marriage Became Legitimate,” Posner questioned the view that the courts have played much of a role in advancing LGBT equality. Using antiquated language, Posner’s bottom line was that “the growing acceptance of homosexual marriage seems a natural consequence of the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s rather than an effect, even to a small degree, of litigation.” Yet he was also dismissive of arguments against gay equality. “[I]t is hard to make a case for discriminating against [gay people],” Posner wrote, “apart from a religious case based largely on Roman Catholic doctrine.”
Judge Williams is less outspoken than Posner — few, if any judges, share Posner’s affection for expressing his views in public — but she is a Clinton-appointee to the Seventh Circuit who is widely viewed as left-of-center. Given the overwhelming consensus among federal judges that marriage equality is required by the Constitution, it is unlikely that Williams will break with this consensus.
All of this, of course, is said with a standard caveat. It ain’t over until the court issues its mandate, and there is no way to be certain about how any of these judges will rule. Nevertheless, marriage equality supporters should be very pleased with this panel.
In the latest installment of the right-wing victimhood saga, the Illinois-based World Congress of Families has released an open letter accusing “sexual radicals” of launching a “smear campaign” against them in advance of a planned conference in Melbourne later this week.
“Sexual radicals have launched a smear campaign to discredit the Melbourne conference, which misrepresents the international pro-family movement and the positions of the World Congress of Families,” the letter says. “Specifically, it is alleged that advocacy of the natural (or normative) family is somehow unfair to other families and that we ‘shame’ single-parent families, homosexual ‘couples’ and the divorced.” (Scare quotes in the original.)
"The goal of sexual radicals is to deconstruct marriage and marginalize the family, and thus to transform society into something unrecognizable to generations past," the letter continues. "Like all social experiments that attempt to create a ‘new man,’ these are doomed to failure."
Also joining the defense of the World Congress of Families are the Family Research Council’s Patrick Fagan, the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, former House majority leader Tom Delay, the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Benjamin Bull, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, along with a number of international allies of WCF.
Members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church have announced that it plans to protest the funeral of Michael Brown on August 25, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, the New Civil Rights Movement reports.
According to a flyer posted on the Topeka-based church’s official Twitter account, the reason for their protest has nothing to do with the tragic death of Michael Brown, because “[r]egardless of the details [of the shooting], the cause was from the Lord!”
“Missouri has made itself known worldwide for three things,” the flyer states, “Fags (e.g. Michael Sam); bestiality; and shredding the constitution in order to remove the Word of God from their streets.”
Now you reap what you have so diligently sown, Missouri!” the flyer continues. “Your streets resemble a Middle Eastern warzone! Those same lawless citizens that you turned loose on WBC now riot and loot; those same oath-breaking cops gun down unarmed citizens in the streets, and then cower behind weapons of war…All evidence points to Michael [Brown] now being in Hell. It’s your fault, Missouri! His blood is on your hands!”
Last week, the church announced plans to picket the funeral of the late comedian Robin Williams, telling its followers “to remember, Robin Williams hung himself. That is cause for shame and mourning.”
This is par for the course for Miller, who recently posted an unintentionally hilarious column on BarbWire that warns that homosexuality is a demonic “cancer” that will ban Christianity.
Back in March and then in May, I told you about a new, brazen campaign by homofascist activists to target three southern states, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, with their aggressive push for the destruction of marriage and the creation of other special “rights” for sexual deviants. With the hellish support of homosexuality-lover Barack Obama (or whatever his name is) the militant homosexual movement is now on steroids, which makes them bolder than ever, bold enough to target conservative states with larger Christian populations.
Their deranged, multi-million-dollar program in the South continues, and this week here in Mississippi, homosexual activists descended on county courthouses in order to put into public record their “marriage” licenses from other states, since Mississippi still retains a bit of sanity and only recognizes marriage, not the counterfeiting of it.
The fast-spreading cancer of the militant homosexualist movement has now hit our southern states with a fury. The hour is late. We’re far beyond the point at which we should give a rip what the radical communist Left says about us. We should not care a whit when they call us foolish, mindless names as we tell the truth about their evil agenda. As I have said many times before, there are two camps in this world, the Lord’s camp and Satan’s camp. Each of us is in one or the other. There is no neutral camp—NONE. Therefore, we see the forces of what we call “the Left” aligned against the people of God, whether they be Christians or Jews. All the demented “leftist” campaigns in our world, whether they are of radical homosexualists, tyrannical environmentalists, wicked communists or demonic Islamists, are of the devil (did you get that, Right Wing Watch?).
Here in the United States the homofascists are waging a powerful war against Christianity. It is being conducted in our media and entertainment industries, our federal, state and local governments, our schools, our corporations—everywhere. These people lie about their goals. They claim to simply want “marriage equality,” but there is no such thing. Marriage is one thing only, the union of a man and a woman, and that’s all it could ever be, regardless of how many rogue federal judges illegally write bad law from the bench. The “marriage equality” ruse is part of their campaign to destroy the rights of Christians and others opposed to their agenda, because it would force society to accept, recognize, accommodate and even celebrate homosexual duos parading as “marriages,” or else.
This tiny minority of the population is being used as pawns by a larger power hell-bent on imposing tyranny over the people of the United States. The homosexuals aren’t the only ones being used in this way. The environmentalists are also on board the tyranny train, just in a slightly different area, the area of property rights and freedom of mobility and consumption. The whole “diversity” program is yet another part of the devil’s tyranny. I could go on.
As I said, the hour is late. We are quickly moving toward the very last days, and our nation is fast becoming Sodom West of the modern era. No good can come from this, only dark tyranny, and ultimately, the outlawing of Christianity. Don’t doubt it for a minute. That is where this leads. We must speak out against this movement, resist it while we still can, and most importantly, we must pray for the Lord to have mercy on this wayward, sinful nation.
Michelle Duggar, star of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting,” is participating in a robocall campaign to stop a nondiscrimination ordinance in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
In the robocall, obtained by the Fayetteville Flyer, Duggar claims that the ordinance barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of commerce, housing and employment would endanger “the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children” and enable “child predators.”
Duggar’s husband Jim Bob Duggar and son Josh are also fervent Religious Right activists.
Hello, this is Michelle Duggar. I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men – yes I said men – to use womens and girls restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.
I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool’s private changing area? I still believe that we are a society that puts women and children first. Women, young ladies and little girls deserve to use the restroom or any other facility in peace and safety. Will you speak up for protecting women and children? Call 575-8330 and tell the Fayetteville City Council members and Mayor Jordan to vote ‘no’ on ordinance 119. The number again is 575-8330. For more information please go to www.freefayetteville.org. Paid for by freefayetteville.org.
Earlier this year, ridiculously hostile anti-LGBT activist Matt Barber, working in tandem with his employers at the Liberty Counsel, opened a conservative website called BarbWire.com. The site’s title is an obvious play on Matt’s surname, but it might as well refer to the insults and sneers (or “barbs”) for which the nascent site has become known, with the majority (and the worst) of those directed to the LGBT community. Day in and day out, Matt and his team fill the site with the most overheated attacks one can imagine.
There are articles that attempt to make a direct connection between LGBT rights and terrorism, like this one that ran just two days ago:
“The sin and failing of Sodom was always homosexuality and it is a sign in today’s world that Israel and any other nation that gives in to LGBT agenda has passed the mark and is due for God’s intervention.Homosexuals see injustice on every level of society because they are not fully accepted and their normal is seen by most as damaging perversity. They don’t realize that the more their plight becomes accepted as the norm, the closer the rest of the world is in danger of judgment.”
The site is not meant to simply push back against LGBT rights or win some sort of political “culture war.” Instead, the site represents a clear attempt to make LGBT people seem like a global threat that must be contained or even eradicated. The site loves to suggest that LGBT “tyranny” is going to lead to the ruin and “re-education” of all who oppose:
It is a site designed for dehumanization. And fear. That is a really frightening combo that can pose very dangerous consequences for the marginalized group in the proverbial crosshairs.
When you first look at the site’s contributors list, it’s no surprise that the tone is so nasty. Bradlee Dean, Bryan Fischer, Janet Porter, Laurie Higgins, Scott Lively, Robert Oscar Lopez, Peter LaBarbera, and Michael Brown all join Matt in contributing to the site. When you couple those names with some of the lesser-known-but-equally-vitriolic activists that Matt has brought in, you have one very obsessive team that clearly has no intention of stopping at just same-sex marriage or inclusive nondiscrimination laws. This is a band of advocates that makes no bones about it: they do not believe LGBT people should even be L, G, B, or T, and they will try their damnedest to make that reality come to light. That’s not alarmist talk: that’s what they say, in so many words.
But here’s the thing: the site also includes contributors who are squarely connected to the very top of the conservative political and media chain. For instance, BarbWire runs Tony Perkins' daily column:
So while it’s easy to look at the rhetoric of all of these folks (Perkins and Liberty Counsel included) and write them off as fringe, it’s practically impossible to do so. Regardless of how fringe they sound, the sad truth is that there is very little daylight between policymakers who have very real and lasting effect on our lives and this team of anti-LGBT activists who attempt to connect us to pedophiles and Nazis. As LGBT rights victories come faster and become more sweeping, the line between the over-the-top voice and the mainstream pundit seems to be growing thinner and more indistinguishable.
BarbWire.com, while clearly designed to cut us, is actually helping us connect these dots.
After discussing the purported dangers that same-sex marriage presents to children, Harvey said that “we’re heading into the End Times, and it sure looks like we may be, or the end of America—or both.”
Harvey also called on cities to ban LGBT pride parades: “We need to go to our city councils and stop these parades. I think they are a blight on the community, they communicate exactly the wrong message: that homosexuality and gender change is totally fine, that it’s a big joke, because there are men dressed in feather boas, lipstick and heels in these parades, this is such a raw message to our children especially. My opinion is gay pride parades ought to be banned and we have every reason to do so, there is no redeeming social value, that’s my belief.”
She also criticized anti-gay leaders for not standing up more aggressively to LGBT-affirming Episcopalian and United Church of Christ pastors, arguing that they need to rebuff “vicious” LGBT rights advocates.
“Pastors are going to have to realize this has a huge impact on America, on our culture and on children,” she said.
“Everything we pass regarding acceptance and embrace of homosexuality or same-sex marriage, it’s not just some little population over there, it is being mandated in our schools and now in our courts and now in our workplaces that you have to embrace this and not just embrace this, you have to honor it or else we’re going to punish you.”
A prominent pro-life activist has called to ban all public nudity because he said that topless dancers who protested at his church had committed an “offense to God.”
At least six bare-breasted women and other supporters of the Foxhole North club marched in front of the New Beginnings Ministries church in Warsaw earlier this month after the church spent nine years coming to their club to protest nudity.
Dr. Patrick Johnson, who is director of the anti-abortion group Personhood Ohio, responded to the protests by asking Ohioans to call the legislature in support of banning “all public nudity in the state,” according to WSYX.
“I am sick that women can legally bare their breasts to children and to married men against their will in Ohio,” he wrote on his Facebook page following last week’s protest.
Johnson told WSYX that “what they did was an offense to God, was an offense to the public morality, and the legislature should act to criminalize what they did.”
He also argued that women with exposed breasts were the reason that Ohio’s Gay Pride parade was so popular.
“The gay pride parade in Columbus is 500,000 strong – why? Because the women go topless,” he insisted on Facebook. “This is the only one where I’ve seen this level of nudity. San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C. I have never seen the kind of public lewdness I have seen in Columbus, Ohio.”
On Sunday, the Aiken Area Progressive blog pointed out that a ban on all public nudity would also outlaw breastfeeding in public places.
“This is a no-exceptions ban that if enacted, will drop the number of states to 49 in which breastfeeding is legal, and, if enacted, this definitely will violate numerous Constitutional amendments, including the First, 13th and 14th amendments,” the blog observed. “We strongly urge Ohioans to contact their lawmakers and tell them to oppose any attempt to ban public nudity and instead demand that state legislators exempt nudity from Ohio indecent exposure laws.”
It is not currently against the law for women to be topless in public in Ohio.
Watch the video below from WSYX, broadcast Aug. 12, 2014.
Last month, President Obama signed an executive order banning anti-gay discrimination by companies that receive federal contracts and Jody Hice, the right-wing radio host who is the GOP nominee for an open House seat from Georgia, is none too pleased about it, saying on his radio program last month that Obama is thumbing his nose at the First Amendment and calling on Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the federal government from “discriminating” against Christians who want to discriminate against gays.
Citing the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, Hice said that Obama’s decision to sign this executive order "is almost like a thumbing of the nose of the president at the U.S. Supreme Court, at our First Amendment, at our unalienable rights … How else do you look at this but a thumbing of those nose of our administration at our First Amendment and our Supreme Court at the same time."
Hice went on to call upon Congress to repeal Obama’s executive order by passing legislation that would “clearly prohibit our government from itself discriminating against any individual or any group or organization, whether nonprofit or for profit, it doesn’t matter, to prevent the government from discriminating based on the beliefs about marriage and sexuality.”
"Our government, our system, absolutely should be prohibited from discriminating against these types of groups," Hice declared. “Our government should not be allowed to use these things to penalize individuals and groups for not adjusting their philosophies to political correct ideas”:
Evangelicals are often seen as being monolithic on issues of sexuality and LGBT rights. A careful study of responses to homosexuality by evangelical elites, however, shows that this is not the case. Sociologists Jeremy Thomas (Idaho State) and Daniel Olson (Purdue) combed through Christianity Today, evangelicalism’s flagship magazine. They uncovered four approaches that evangelicals have taken since the 1960s.
1. Biblical intolerance: “The Bible says it’s a sin, that’s good enough for me.”
Since the 1960s, evangelicals have taken a simple response to homosexuality: it’s a sin. Why? Because the Bible says so. End of debate. Even in the 1960s, evangelicals acknowledged that being gay isn’t a choice (it was seen as a psychological disorder). Still, the Bible was seen as clear on homosexual behavior. Most evangelicals with this response have opposed gay rights.
2. Natural intolerance: “It’s against human nature.”
In the 1980s, some evangelicals began espousing a new argument that turned on issues of health and the natural order. This response emphasizes natural law, not the Bible, as the foundation of public morality and the law. This isn’t someone thumping the Bible over someone. Evangelicals may believe in their heart-of-hearts that it’s wrong because of what they find in the Bible, but they know that a Bible-based argument will fail. Why bother when you can use science (procreation) and medicine (AIDS and HIV) to make the case. A call to a broader source of morality that is consistent with the Bible but not tied to it allows evangelicals to make moral arguments in the public square.
3. Public accommodation: “It’s a personal sin, but we live in a pluralistic society.”
Today, the dominant argument that homosexual behavior as a personal sin, not a public concern. As such, evangelicals should stand firm on biblical morality while recognizing that they live in a pluralistic society in which the rights of everyone should be protected. This response is generally supportive of expanded LGBT rights, including job discrimination protections, adoption, and civil unions. Same-sex marriage, however, remains the proverbially line in the sand that must not be crossed.
4. Personal accommodation. “It’s about love and respect, not sex.”
The most recently developed argument among is one of personal accommodation. It remains a minority position, but one that is seeing increased attention. Indeed, many evangelical leaders are publicly warning that this response is a threat. Personal accommodation avoids the question of personal morality. Those with this response emphasize their personal experience with LGBT friends. It emphasizes the love (not sex) between same-sex couples, with no judgment of the morality of these relationships. The Bible is invoked, not to discuss sexuality, but to argue for equal rights for everyone.
Filling in for Tony Perkins on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” former Southern Baptist Convention official Richard Land discussed the defeat of an LGBT non-discrimination measure in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with Gene Mills of the right-wing Louisiana Family Forum.
Land and Mills both claimed that the ordinance barring employment and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity would actually, in Land’s words, “suppress the freedom of speech.”
“Homosexuality and the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community, that is the ultimate rebellion against God,” Land declared. “We don’t want them to take away from us the right to say that, to say that’s a rebellion against God.”
Mills replied: “And that’s exactly what they were doing, they were going to use a cause of action against us to silence — and that is what is happening in ‘everywhere USA’ — religious liberty is under assault…. Any expression, any thought, anything you just shared, could have been construed as a hate crime or an act of discrimination, and the reality is the shame and the guilt the homosexual feels is mistakenly reinterpreted as discrimination and what they attempt to do is to call it discrimination and prohibit it.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, approximately 200 cities have non-discrimination ordinances in place. If anything Mills or Land said in the interview was true, then pastors around the country would be facing prosecution… but they’re not because the two Religious Right activists are completely dishonest.