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Posts tagged "Laurie Higgins"

The vice president of a notorious right-wing legal organization has spent much of 2014 developing one of the most extreme anti-LGBT “news” sites on the internet. Now he’s using the site to hawk a treasure trove of right-wing merchandise and souvenirs.

In January of 2014, Liberty Counsel vice president Matt Barber launched BarbWire.com, a website that claims to offer news and opinion “from a decidedly biblical worldview.”

Though BarbWire isn’t exclusively an anti-LGBT website – the site spares some vitriol for immigrantsMuslimsreproductive choice, and President Barack Obama – LGBT topics have dominated its content since its inception. BarbWire’s first post championed Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for his comments comparing gay people to murderers and equating homosexuality with bestiality. 

In its short existence, the site has featured commentary some of America’s most notorious homophobes; Scott Lively, an American pastor closely linked to anti-LGBT persecution in Uganda and Russia; the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who blames gay men for the HolocaustLaurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, another anti-LGBT hate group; and Robert Oscar Lopez, an anti-gay activist who has made a second career of publishing bizarre gay erotica novels.

Unsurprisingly, BarbWire has become a hub for the kind of anti-LGBT propaganda that even many conservative news sites shy away from:

Hucksterism

But BarbWire is more than just a platform for publishing the Right’s more unsavory anti-LGBT sentiments – it’s also a money-making scheme for Liberty Counsel’s Barber.

In July, subscribers to BarbWire’s mailing list began receiving emails peddling products from Patriot Depot, a website that offers “supplies for the conservative revolution.”

There’s the “’Say Hello To My Little Friend’ Garden Gnome,” available for $18.95:

A tin “Don’t Tread On Me” sign could be yours for $14.95:

You could purchase an “Obama’s Last Day Countdown Clock” for $12.95:

And nothing will stick it to liberals quite like Rise, Kill, & Eat, a paean to “edible wildlife” from “Genesis to Revelation” featuring a foreword by Ted Nugent:

Both BarbWire.com and Patriot Depot are part of Liberty Alliance, a network of conservative web sites and web stores. 

BarbWire And Liberty Counsel

BarbWire’s anti-LGBT extremism closely mirrors the work Barber is known for at Liberty Counsel.

Led by Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel is the legal arm of the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University. Billed as a nonprofit “litigation, education, and policy organization,” Liberty Counsel is notorious for championing even the most extreme anti-gay causes in the name of religious freedom. The organization defended Scott Lively against a federal human rights lawsuit stemming from his role in a 2009 bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda. While Liberty Counsel fancies itself as a serious conservative legal organization, it also churns out bombastic statements denouncing LGBT-inclusive education as “sexual assault” on the nation’s children.

Despite his fondness for fringe causes, Staver’s connections in conservative media and politics have helped elevate Liberty Counsel to a prominent position on the Religious Right. A close associate of Fox News host and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Staver is a repeat guest on Fox and has testified before Congress in support of “ex-gay” therapy. In recent weeks, Liberty Counsel garnered headlines for defending Florida’s same-sex marriage ban in court.

And though Liberty Counsel is not formally affiliated with BarbWire.com, Staver hasn’t hesitated to be a frequent contributor to his deputy’s website. (Sample headlines: “Obama Puts Homosexual Rights Over Children’s Innocence,” “Sharia Law Is A Growing Threat To American Culture,” and “36,000 New Reasons To Impeach Obama.”)

For years, conservative outlets like Fox have reliably offered Liberty Counsel favorable, accountability-free treatment, allowing figures like Staver to depict Liberty Counsel’s work as part of a noble effort to defend religious liberty and obscuring the group’s true extremism. Now, in order to disseminate that extremism unfiltered, the group’s vice president felt compelled to create his own “news” site – offering an ugly look at the animus that motivates his organization’s work.

See Also: Right Wing Watch’s archives about BarbWire.com

h/t: Luke Brinker at Equality Matters

Dear Laurie Higgins, stop your fucking whining please!

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute – the state affiliate of the American Family Association – is very unhappy about Dan Savage’s appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher last summer.

Two weeks ago, Higgins urged her group’s members to watch a video of Savage’s “repugnant” appearance on the show. Today, in response to criticism from a reader who was offended by the Savage/Maher video, Higgins offered a long essay titled “ Random Thoughts on the Rapacious Rainbow Revolution.”

Higgins explains in detail why she felt obligated to share the “loathsome” video because “many conservatives do not fully realize the evil nature of the enemy we fight” and “merely describing it does not adequately convey how profoundly wicked it is.” She compares her sharing of the Dan Savage video to the showing photos of Nazi concentration camps and lynchings.

“I am not equating the enormity of the evil of the Holocaust and the American genocide of pre-born babies to that of the homosexuality-affirming movement,” she clarifies. “I am, rather, illuminating the necessity of occasionally viewing the evil in our midst about which humans have a remarkable capacity to delude themselves.”

She adds that she feels she must expose the horrors that LGBT people await in the afterlife: “As Christians, however, we should remain conscious of the fact that a life of unrepentant homoerotic activity will result in eternal separation from God,” she writes. “How do we measure the magnitude of temporal suffering relative to that of eternal suffering?”

“Christians should consider whether appearing to affirm that which God abhors is pleasing to God,” she adds.

I received an email last week from a Christian who was upset that I published the loathsome video of Dan Savage even though I provided ample warning that the content was offensive. It seems appropriate, therefore, to revisit the reasons we occasionally publish either obscene hateful emails we receive, excerpts from offensive novels taught in our public schools, or video reminders of infamous homosexual “anti-bullying” bully, Dan Savage.

We do not expose the dark realities of this pernicious movement in order to be sensationalistic or titillating. We do it because Americans are inundated daily with images and words about homoeroticism intended to desensitize, sooth, and confuse. These words and images are built on a foundation of unarticulated and/or unexamined false assumptions and lies that are persuading even Christians that wrong is right.

Unfortunately, many conservatives do not fully realize the evil nature of the enemy we fight. And merely describing it does not adequately convey how profoundly wicked it is. Without a fuller apprehension of the nature and extent of the evil, many Christians are complacent and silent. Often it is only an encounter with such evil that generates a proper response from Christians.

Why view photos from Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen? Why view photos of lynchings? Why view photos of aborted babies? Why view the photo of the young napalmed Vietnamese girl? Why view photos of animals caught in steel leg traps or baby seals bludgeoned to death? Aren’t these images shocking and obscene?

I am not equating the enormity of the evil of the Holocaust and the American genocide of pre-born babies to that of the homosexuality-affirming movement. I am, rather, illuminating the necessity of occasionally viewing the evil in our midst about which humans have a remarkable capacity to delude themselves.

As Christians, however, we should remain conscious of the fact that a life of unrepentant homoerotic activity will result in eternal separation from God. How do we measure the magnitude of temporal suffering relative to that of eternal suffering?

Well, here are some other ideas on which Christians should spend some time ruminating:

· Christians should consider whether appearing to affirm that which God abhors is pleasing to God.

· Christians should consider whether affirming or appearing to affirm homoerotic activity, which the Bible teaches will prevent entrance into Heaven, is a loving act.

What dupes and cowards Christians are. What poor servants of the one who was willing to die for us. While Christ died a humiliating and horrifying death for us, we’re unwilling to endure any degree of discomfort for him. As we welcome each sophistical lie with a secret sigh of relief for being offered a rationalization to justify either our silence or capitulation, we facilitate evil. Those who experience unchosen same-sex attraction are not evil. They are sinners just like every other human-save one-who has ever existed. We all experience myriad powerful, persistent, unchosen feelings. Our task as moral beings is to figure out upon which of these feelings it is morally legitimate to act. Christians do no service to God, women, children, men, or their country when they refuse to speak the truth about homosexuality. Instead, we help push America into the historical abyss.

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

Laurie Higgins of the American Family Association-affiliated Illinois Family Institute is a big fan of Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, and she writes today that the United States should impose a similar law here in order to restrict the work of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

She claims that GLSEN is behind the “censorship” of anti-gay views, because apparently bigotry is needed in schools for the sake of balance, and urges the US to adopt a Russia-style propaganda law in order to curb GLSEN’s “totalitarian” grip over schools.

Now Laurie Higgins has an extra place to spew her bigotry: Matt Barber-run BarbWire.com

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW 

Anti-gay activists including Rush Limbaugh, Fox News’ Todd Starnes, and the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer and Tim Wildmon have been having a field day this week attacking the Grammy Awards for hosting a performance involving a mass marriage that included same-sex couples. Today, the Illinois Family Association, the state affiliate of the AFA, joined the fray, sending out an email attacking the awards show for contributing to the “destruction of marriage.”

IFI’s “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins writes that the Grammys were “a tragic freak show” and “a gawdy[sic] spitball hurled in the all-seeing eye of a holy God.”

The wedding ceremony, Higgins writes, was “a sorry, sick, non-serious ceremony that looked like something from the garish dystopian world of the Hunger Games” and “a non-wedding festooned with all the indulgent gimcrackery [sic] of Satan’s most alluring playground: Hollywood.” She particularly attacks “homosexual faux-pastorette” Queen Latifah and “the Dorian Gray-esque” Madonna for taking part in the proceedings.

But Higgins disapproval goes beyond the same-sex marriage portion of the entertainment. She also criticizes Beyoncé — the object of a few recent tirades from the Right — for providing a “vulgar anti-woman, anti-marriage performance” that Higgins compares to “soft-core porn.”

“Beyoncé has abused her power as a beloved role model for young girls to teach them terrible lessons about sexuality and marriage,” Higgins writes. Her anger extends also to Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z, whom she claims “seems to revel in the lustings of strangers for his wife.”

Is it money that motivates his eager embrace of his wife’s immodesty, or pride that he has access to her body when all other leering men do not?” Higgins asks. “If it’s money, how is he different from a pimp?”

 

Another reason why the IFI are a bunch of fake “Christians” and advocate very dangerous values and a threat to the humanity of the State of Illinois.

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

The Illinois Family Institute, the state affiliate of the American Family Association that led the unsuccessful fight against marriage equality last year, is back to fighting smaller battles, this time attacking the University of Notre Dame for officially recognizing an LGBT group.

In an open letter to Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins posted on IFI’s website, the group’s “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins expresses her “disappointment” that Notre Dame has for the first time recognized a student LGBT group, or as she calls it, “those who affirm homosexual acts and acts related to gender confusion as normative and morally defensible.”

Higgins tells Jenkins that in recognizing its LGBT students, Notre Dame might as well affirm “other sin predispositions” like incest or pedophilia.

She then turns to the eternal consequences of LGBT organizing, warning that openly LGBT students will bring “nothing but temporal and eternal harm” to themselves and their colleagues.

I also want to express my disappointment that Notre Dame has chosen to recognize a “student organization” initiated and shaped by those who affirm homosexual acts and acts related to gender confusion as normative and morally defensible. In permitting an organization that affirms subjective moral propositions that defy Catholic (as well as orthodox Protestant) doctrine, Notre Dame’s distinct Catholic identity has been weakened. Would Notre Dame recognize other “student organizations” initiated by those who affirm other sin predispositions (e.g. polyamory, consensual adult incest, or the “sexual orientation” recently designated “minor-attracted persons”)?


If the Notre Dame-recognized “LGBT” organization had been initiated by those who were committed to helping “LGBT” students live lives that embody Catholic beliefs on sexuality and gender, such an organization would be a service to Notre Dame students. Unfortunately, the central goals of students who affirm a homosexual or “transgender” identity are contrary to Catholic doctrine and as such can bring nothing but temporal and eternal harm—intellectual, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual harm—to “LGBT”-identifying students and the larger Notre Dame community.

Higgins did, however, praise Jenkins for Notre Dame’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate.

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

The Illinois Family Institute, a state affiliate of the American Family Association, sent an email to its members today featuring an essay by IFI’s “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins defending Russia’s draconian “gay propaganda” law.

Higgins calls the law – which is essentially a gag rule on gay rights advocacy – “reasonable and wise” and claims that gay rights advocates oppose it because  “nothing angers homosexual activists quite like being denied access to the hearts and minds of other people’s minor children.”

She goes on to claim that anti-gay conservatives in the U.S. face far more “draconian and insidious” penalties than gay rights advocates in Russia.

Higgins joins AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who not only praised the Russian law but said it didn’t go far enough.

To further put things in perspective, note that the consequences of violating this law are only fines of $120-150 for individuals, $1,200-1,500 for “officials,” and $12,000-15,000 for “legal entities.” Hardly sounds unreasonable to fine adults $150 for trying to inculcate other people’s children with their subjective beliefs about sexual morality, but nothing angers homosexual activists quite like being denied access to the hearts and minds of other people’s minor children.

Don’t be deceived, the outrage of homosexuality-affirming activists has nothing to do with concern for critical thinking, free speech, or intellectual diversity. Proof for that claim comes from a perusal of resources presented to American teens in their government schools on the topic of homosexuality. The suppression of conservative ideas on issues related to homosexuality is virtually absolute, and the consequences for violating the de facto bans on conservative resources are far more draconian and insidious than those imposed by the Russian law. Paying a $150 fine is small potatoes compared to the kind of personal and professional repercussions that would redound to any teacher in a public school who dared to present resources to minors that articulated conservative beliefs about homosexuality.

To assault people because of their beliefs or feelings is beyond the pale, as is making inflammatory statements that express a desire that others die, experience eternal damnation, or f**k themselves (things that are hurled at any public figure who dares to express moral propositions about homosexuality with which “progressives” disagree). Prohibiting the distribution of homosexuality-affirming resources to minors is both reasonable and wise.

Laurie Higgins, your defense of bigotry is neither reasonable nor wise. 

h/t: RWW

"It isn’t enough for homosexuals to have their own offensive annual parades every June in every major city dedicated to celebrating deviance. And it wasn’t enough to ruin Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade for families with a live performance from a play that celebrates cross-dressing. No, it seems their goal is to ruin every public event for families by publicly celebrating perversion: Inquiring minds want to know if Christian leaders would remain similarly (and oddly) silent if the sin being celebrated were consensual incest or the enslavement of other humans? What should Christian leaders do when a biblical truth is dragged into the public square and into the political scene? And what should Christian leaders do when their flocks are being deceived by the pervasive dissemination of lies, including even the dissemination of lies to our littlest ones—lies which are darkening their minds and molding their hearts. If the church does not participate in exposing these lies, which are confusing even adults, who, pray tell, will?" - Laurie Higgins, head of the Illinois Family Institute, posting to their Facebook page. (Via Good As You)

H/T: Joe.My.God

On Tuesday, the Illinois legislature voted to make their state the 15th to allow marriage equality.
The marriage law’s primary opponent, the Illinois Family Institute, did not take it well.

In a blog post emailed to the group’s supporters last night, IFI “cultural analyst” Laurie Higgins offers her “random thoughts” on the “tragic marriage vote,” which range from warning that “public schools will teach about sexual perversion in positive ways” to declaring that “plural unions” are now “inevitable” to lashing out at pro-equality Christians to comparing marriage equality to slavery, segregation, and “Hitler’s reign of terror.” 

We can only hope that Illinois will escape the fate of Maine, which IFI told us invoked the wrath of God when it legalized marriage equality.

 Laurie Higgins and the hate group Illinois Family Institute (IFI) are a bigoted disgrace to the state of Illinois and to Christianity by whining about the outcome of Tuesday’s SB10 vote in a malicious manner.

H/T: Miranda at RWW

Laurie Higgins uses extreme and deeply offensive rhetoric; that is not news to anyone who follows LGBT politics.

But the fact that the Illinois Family Institute, the organization leading the fight against civil marriage equality, keeps using these extreme views in its official talking points is certainly noteworthy:

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 At 8.25.11 Am 
[IFI]

Okay, first off—stop with the idea that gays are not sexually complimentary. Unless Laurie Higgins has had more gay sex than I have, she knows not of what she speaks. Gay people are, in fact, sexually complimentary—physically, emotionally, and in every way that a heterosexual couple can be. What is both offensive and dangerous is telling gay people that our only choice is to force ourselves into a sexuality that does not match our lives—something that the IFI tells LGBT people all the time (see their close ally Linda Jernigan). I don’t think Ms. Higgins really wants her straight children to find themselves in marriages with closeted gays.

Then there’s the reproduction card. Unless and until these special interest groups propose a bill that mandates reproduction as a part of marriage, they have no leg to stand on here. None. Zero. Nil. Some married folks, same-sex or opposite-sex, start families while others do not (or cannot). The willingness and/or ability to have children is not an acceptable reason to deny a civil license that doesn’t require or even speak to the number of kids that the couple will parent. It’s a bit like judging a persons’ ability to obtain a driver’s license by focusing on the make or model of their car.

And then there are the biggies: Incest and polygamy. Laurie isn’t just mentioning those things as some sort of thought exercise; Laurie is dropping those loaded words into the conversation because she, a dedicated (and way too verbose) writer in a movement that is bleeding moderates, knows that these terms invoke fear within her committed audience’s minds. It’s all part of the radical anti-LGBT agenda. It’s been going on for years, and we all realize it for exactly what it is, even if these Falwells- and Schlaflys-come-lately think they are being novel.

h/t: Good As You

The Illinois Family Institute (IFI) is the group primarily fighting marriage equality in Illinois, and Thursday it joined other anti-gay groups in championing the “critically important” narrative of Robert Oscar Lopez. Lopez, who blames his lesbian moms for his lack of social skills and leads an ex-gay life, believes that same-sex parenting is “child abuse,” and any attempt by same-sex couples to have a child is a “crime against humanity.”

In a post celebrating Lopez’s anti-adoption “child abuse” rhetoric, IFI’s Laurie Higgins encourages Christians to overcome their fears and engage in “stone-casting” against the “tyrannical, oppressive, poisonous cultural force” that is LGBT equality:

Lopez describes what all conservative activists already know: The homosexual community and its ideological allies have become a tyrannical, oppressive, poisonous cultural force that compels conformity and compounds the suffering of children intentionally denied mothers or fathers. […]

And still most Christians — and shockingly their leaders — say relatively little. Ever anxious that the non-believing world in its relentless misuse of Scripture will excoriate them for judging (rightly), speck-looking, or stone-casting, Christians opt instead to become complicit in child abuse.

Studies of same-sex parenting have generally found no differences among the children in such families, including any claims of “suffering.” Higgins and the other groups that have shone a spotlight on Lopez magnify stigma against same-sex families, creating the very harm they claim to be protecting the children from.

Even if the marriage equality bill fails when it comes back before the state House this fall, same-sex adoption will still be legal in Illinois. It’s estimated that nearly 4,000 same-sex couples are already raising their own children in the state. IFI offers no solution for these children, but will campaign against their parents as “child abusers” and try to prevent them from enjoying the same legal rights as other families. 

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT

In many of the states that have waged marriage equality fights recently, opponents have often coalesced around a coalition consisting of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the state’s Catholic conference, and the state’s “family policy council” affiliate of the Family Research Council. In Illinois, however, these typical players have not united in the same way, seemingly in part because the state social conservative group is the Illinois Family Institute (IFI), a hate group in its own right associated with the American Family Association.

IFI’s rhetoric is quite a bit more brazen than what anti-gay groups have used in other states, which may have scared away its would-be allies. 

Today marks three months since the Illinois Senate passed the marriage equality bill, and with only three weeks left for the House to pass it, here’s a look at some of IFI’s rhetoric that is dominating the opposition:

  • Today, IFI posted numerous photos from its rally this weekend, including a sign that reads, “The crime against nature will never be equal.”
  • Speakers at the rally included ex-gay advocate Linda Jernigan and another hate group leader, Peter LaBarbera, who told the crowd that homosexuality is “unnatural and wrong,” citing HIV rates among men who have sex with men as evidence of “the dangers of homosexuality.”
  • In February, IFI’s Laurie Higgins wrote that gay people shouldn’t even be allowed to teach because they’ll put pictures of their partners on their desk that students will see.
  • In fact, IFI believes that parents should pull their children from any classroom that attempts to create a safe environment for LGBT students.
  • IFI has claimed gays and lesbians already have equality because they can marry the opposite sex like everyone else; same-sex marriage is thus a demand “to be treated specially.”

This extreme rhetoric extends beyond the talking points conservatives have traditionally used in these fights, which tend to focus on supposed protections for children, gender norms, and the institution of marriage. By openly condemning homosexuality as unnatural and curable through therapy — as well as enabling the bullying of LGBT youth — IFI sets itself apart.

H/T: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT

As the Illinois Senate prepares to vote on marriage equality today, Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute, an anti-gay hate group, has published another screed against same-sex marriage. Her concern, as per usual, is that children will learn gay people exist and have families, but she also writes about how upset she is that gay people are even being hired as teachers:

Public schools will be hiring teachers who are in legal “homosexual marriages.” These teachers will put photos of their homosexual spouses on their desks and talk about their homosexual spouses to their students. Such images and ideas coming from teachers whom children love and admire will powerfully shape the feelings and beliefs of young boys and girls, particularly when such images and ideas are reinforced countless times in other cultural contexts. Such images and ideas will undermine what is being taught at home.

Some will argue that schools are already hiring teachers in homosexual relationships, so the legalization of same-sex marriage won’t change anything. They are only partly correct. Although schools are, unfortunately, already hiring teachers in homosexual relationships, once the government recognizes homosexual unions as marriages, administrators and school boards—particularly in elementary schools—will have the social stigma that makes them reluctant to hire teachers in homosexual unions knocked out from under them. And this, of course, is the chief motivation for homosexuals to pursue same-sex marriage when they already have all the benefits and privileges of marriage through Illinois’ civil union law.

As Jeremy Hooper points out, the question of gay teachers was settled decades ago and even Ronald Reagan opposed the Briggs Initiative to ban gay teachers in California. But given Higgins’ penchant for candid homophobia, her objection to gay teachers is perhaps not as surprising as her delusion that her argument has anything to do with same-sex marriage.

H/T: Zach Ford at Think Progress LGBT

The Illinois Family Institute (IFI), a designated anti-LGBT “hate group,” thought it was successful when it opposed East Aurora School District’s transgender-inclusive policy and the district then rescinded the measure. But now that the district has formed a new committee to readdress what would be best for trans students, IFI’s Laurie Higgins is livid. Higgins has posted an epic screed against the effort, blatantly attacking trans members of the committee as “two adult cross-dressing males who wish they were women” and encouraging bullying of transgender — what IFI calls “gender-confused” — students.

Before delving into IFI’s epic tirade of bigotry, let it be noted here that mental health professionals agree that the best therapy for young people questioning their gender identity is to affirm them, including with social recognition (pronouns, name choice, etc.) and a non-discrimination environment. Gender identity is a separate experience from biological sex, and like sexual orientation, it is not chosen, however biologically invisible it may (yet) be. To not respect an individual’s identity is to reject it, and to encourage such rejection is to promote bullying and discrimination. That is exactly IFI’s intention. 

Here, Higgins is directly encouraging bullying. There is no “kind, compassionate and inclusive” way of telling a person that their identity exists outside of “morality, objective reality, and public order.” Such messages promote quite the opposite sentiment.

The Aurora community should demand that only Aurora community members may serve on the committee, and at the next election, they should get rid of any school board member who supports any “transgender” policy.

It is unclear if Higgins is even concerned if IFI is advocating on behalf of anybody. Her claims that cisgender (non-trans) students might get uncomfortable in the bathroom around a trans student — a consequence of being similarly misinformed about trans identities — are weak. They are no more substantive than arguments that white customers might feel uncomfortable with black customers at a lunch counter. IFI has a vendetta that is both political and personal, and such perspectives have no role to play when the goal is a safe school with an efficient learning environment. 

h/t: Zack Ford at Think Progress LGBT