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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

H/T: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

thepoliticalfreakshow:

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.”

View the entire flyer via Twitter below.

Embedded image permalink

Victory in Fayetteville, Arkansas tonight!! 

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Jeremy Hooper at GLAAD

H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

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.



h/t: David Edwards at The Raw Story

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW

h/t: Tobin Grant at Religion News Service

STFU, Richard Land! 

See Also: RWW: Washington Watch guest Mills says that “shelters should turn away transgender domestic abuse survivors”

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW