Fox News' Megyn Kelly whitewashed the extremism of one of America's most notorious anti-gay hate group leaders, suggesting that pro-gay activists are actually the intolerant ones.
During the April 8 edition of America Live, Kelly invited Tony Perkins - president of the anti-gay Family Research Council (FRC) - to discuss the reaction to the suicide of right-wing Pastor Rick Warren's son. Kelly condemned "haters" on the Internet who were using the tragedy as an excuse to attack Warren over his anti-gay views.
Near the end of the segment, Kelly asked Perkins how he felt about being "the subject of attacks" over his opposition to marriage equality, suggesting the pro-gay activists are the ones being intolerant:
KELLY: A lot of people thought, think, that Pastor Warren is on the wrong side of the gay marriage issue. You can relate to him in this way - not the being on the wrong side, I'm not passing a judgment on that - but you also oppose gay marriage and have been the subject of attacks, and it seems like some, not all, but some of those who want tolerance and acceptance, in their effort to get it, are very willing to pass judgment, alienate, attack, and go about it in a way that may be undermining the very thing they seek.
PERKINS: Absolutely, I think you're absolutely correct. I mean, just to show a little bit of human compassion to a parent who has lost a child would go a long way in showing that they just want to be accepted and enjoy tolerance. [emphasis added]
The irony of asking a hate group leader if he's bothered by the alleged "intolerance" of his critics seems to be lost on Kelly.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson hyped the claim that legalizing same-sex marriage would pave the way for same-sex incestuous marriages, claiming that "many, many, many" marriage equality supporters will support incest and polygamy once "they can shift public opinion further."
In an April 5 blog post on RedState, Erickson echoed controversial comments made by actor Jeremy Irons, who criticized marriage equality by suggesting fathers would marry their sons in order to avoid paying estate taxes. Erickson agreed, arguing that "there is little moral difference" between loving, committed gay couples and incestuous relationships:
Seriously. Why not incest.
If love and commitment are the justification for marriage, why exempt this?
So why not fathers marrying sons and moms marrying daughters? Is it because of the "ick" factor? Why should that preclude it?
If life comes down to who you love and who loves you back, if a father and son love each other so much they want to get married, there is little moral difference between two people of the same sex getting married who are not related and want to be and two people of the same sex who already are related becoming closer.
The truth is, many, many, many of the same people who are now in support of gay marriage, but would oppose this or polygamy will, once the next step is advanced, support these things too. They just have to lie about it for now until they can shift public opinion further.
Erickson's argument is riddled with the same flaws that have always plagued the conservative slippery slope argument against marriage equality.
1. It's Empirically False - In the states and countries that have legalized same-sex marriage, there's been no evidence of a rush to legalize or destigmatize incest. In fact, most of the states that allow for marriages between first cousins are conservative-leaning states with explicit bans on same-sex marriage.
2. Incest Causes Real Harm To Children - Unlike in the case of same-sex marriage, there are persuasive reasons for banning incestuous marriages. Romantic relationships between parents and their children are typically exploitative and psychologically damaging. As Slate's Dahlia Lithwick wrote:
The problem with the slippery slope argument is that it depends on inexact, and sometimes hysterical, comparisons. Most of us can agree, for instance, that all the shriekings about gay marriage opening the door to incest with children and pedophilia are inapposite. These things are illegal because they cause irreversible harms.
There are plenty of compelling arguments for opposing marriages between parents and their children. "Gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry, either!" isn't one of them.
Just moments after claiming to "understand the torture" experienced by transgender people, Fox News' Megyn Kelly mocked a transgender inmate's attempt to acquire medically necessary gender reassignment treatment while in prison.
During the April 4 edition of America Live, Kelly hosted Fox News legal analyst Mercedes Colwin and former prosecutor Tom Kenniff to discuss a Massachusetts transgender inmate who has successfully sued the state in order to acquire gender reassignment surgery while in prison.
Throughout the segment, Kelly and Kenniff repeatedly and inaccurately referred to the inmate, Michelle Kosilek, as a male, suggesting that taxpayers shouldn't be required to cover the costs of her "elective" surgery:
KELLY: I understand the torture of gender identity disorder, the torture that that is for somebody. But a convicted murderer who strangled his wife so badly she was almost decapitated, should they really be getting that operation the taxpayer's dime?
When Colwin suggested that Kosilek should be housed with other female inmates, Kelly mocked the idea of giving Kosilek a "get out of male prison free card":
COLWIN: He's been in prison with men. Now he's anatomically female, he should be able to put in the women's detention centers, and you don't need the -
KELLY: Really? Now you get a get out of male prison free card, Tom, if you can get a sex change operation funded by the taxpayers?
Fox News host Megyn Kelly attempted to whitewash the record of one of the country's most prominent anti-gay hate group leaders, ignoring his history of extreme bigotry towards the LGBT community.
During the April 3 edition of America Live, Kelly hosted Tony Perkins - president of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) - to discuss the faux controversy surrounding comments made by Reverend Luis Leon during this Easter service attended by President Obama. During his homily, Leon highlighted examples of discrimination that he felt were promoted by the religious right:
It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back ... for blacks to be back in the back of the bus ... for women to be back in the kitchen ... for immigrants to be back on their side of the border.
Kelly rejected the idea that Perkins and other "captains" of the religious right held bigoted and extreme views about the gay community:
KELLY: Tony Perkins, who is president of the Family Research Council. He is on as a captain of the religious right, who we believe is one of the ones being attacked by the reverend in that sermon.
KELLY: Tony, how alienating is that for you? As somebody who's been openly religious and a Christian conservative, to hear folks who believe as you do, that what you really want is you want blacks on the back of the bus, you want women back in the kitchen, you want gays in the closet, and you want immigrants back on their side of the border?
KELLY: It seems like some have given a pass to those who would criticize Christians, conservative Christians and their views on gay marriage, for example, because they just say, 'look, you are just bigots. That's just all there is to it. You're bigots if you're not behind gay rights and that's the civil rights issue of our time and therefore if you're on the wrong side of it you deserve to be condemned.'
PERKINS: Well, as was stated, he rolled into this statement he made on Sunday some very, very loaded language to portray those who would be against the redefinition of marriage as if they were bigots that wanted to see African-Americans at the back of the bus and women back in the kitchen. As Cal [Thomas] said, I don't know what time capsule he came out of, but clearly he is not able to discern the difference between those issues.
But if Leon's comments apply to anyone on the religious right, it's Tony Perkins.
Dr. Ben Carson, who recently attempted to walk back his controversial comments about marriage equality, is scheduled to give the keynote address at a banquet hosted by a notorious anti-gay hate group this fall.
Carson has spent the last several days doing damage control after he compared same-sex relationships to bestiality and pedophilia on Fox News' Hannity, saying "marriage is between a man and a woman ... No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."
In October, however, Carson is slated to deliver the keynote address at the notoriously anti-gay Illinois Family Institute's (IFI) Fall Banquet. According to IFI's Facebook page:
IFI is one of the few state anti-gay groups labeled as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for its extreme views on LGBT people. According to SPLC:
In 2006, then-Executive Director Peter LaBarbera ... told a religious-right gathering hosted by Vision America that homosexuality was "disgusting" and demanded the closing down of all "homosexual establishments." He called for the repeal of all "sexual orientation laws" -- laws that ban discrimination against gays -- and spoke of the "need to find ways to bring back shame to those practicing homosexual behavior."
In 2009, [Laurie Higgins, IFI's director of school advocacy] compared homosexuality to Nazism, likening the German Evangelical Church's weak response to fascism to the "American church's failure to respond appropriately to the spread of radical, heretical, destructive views of homosexuality." Elsewhere, Higgins has pined for the days when gays were in the closet. "There was something profoundly good for society about the prior stigmatization of homosexual practice... . [W]hen homosexuals were 'in the closet,' (along with fornicators, polyamorists, cross-dressers, and 'transexuals'), they weren't acquiring and raising children."
If Carson wants his apology to the LGBT community to be taken seriously, agreeing to speak to one of the most anti-gay groups in the country isn't the best way to go about it.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson attempted to make the case that marriage equality poses a threat to religious freedom, but his only evidence was a list of examples irrelevant to same-sex marriage.
In a March 26 column for FoxNews.com, Erickson warned that "gay marriage and religious freedom are incompatible," adding that marriage equality supporters aim to "punish and silence" those who disagree with them.
To support his claim, Erickson listed a number of examples meant to highlight the conflict between marriage equality and religious liberty. But none of his examples are actually about same-sex marriage. In fact, most of them come from states where same-sex marriage is still illegal, and almost all of the examples pertain to non-discrimination laws, not marriage laws:
NBC News correspondent Luke Russert challenged Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins over his views on same-sex parenting, pointing out that research used to back Perkins' claims is deeply flawed.
During the March 27 edition of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, guest host Russert invited Perkins to explain his views on the federal Defense of Marriage Act's (DOMA) constitutionality and the supposed harms of legalizing same-sex marriage. Perkins incorrectly asserted that the part of DOMA being challenged in court actually protected states' rights before going on to claim that studies showed children did best when raised by a heterosexual couple:
PERKINS: When you look at the amount of social science research that we have amassed over the last several decades, it's clear that kids do best with a mom and a dad ... The evidence does not suggest that children do best just with two parents or three parents. The evidence says a mom and a dad. So, from a public policy standpoint, our preference is that children have a mom and a dad.
After Russert pushed back against Perkins' claim, the two scuffled over a notorious study on same-sex parenting conducted by University of Texas associate professor Mark Regnerus:
RUSSERT: Yes, but there are studies also, especially from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggest that having a two-person home, even if it is a same-sex couple, is actually beneficial for children. So there are questions about your facts on that question. I'd like to ask you, though -
PERKINS: It's interesting that they failed to acknowledge one of the most widespread, deep surveys on that that Mark Regnerus did out of Texas. They completely ignored that, and of course the American College of Pediatricians -
RUSSERT: Right, but on that survey there was real questions about A its funding, which was done by some conservative backers, as well as the questioning methods, and we can have a research methods debate at another time.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson weighed in on the debate over the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), stating "you're not really loving your neighbor when you're cool with him staying on the road to hell."
On March 27, Erickson tweeted:
The Supreme Court heard arguments over DOMA's constitutionality earlier today.
Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly challenged Maggie Gallagher, co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), over her claim that courts should avoid making controversial decisions about marriage, pointing out that the Supreme Court had previously struck down unjust laws against interracial marriage.
During the March 26 edition of Fox's America Live, Kelly invited Gallagher and former Equality Matters president Richard Socarides on to discuss the Supreme Court's consideration of the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8. When Gallagher asserted that the Court shouldn't override the democratic process when it comes to marriage, Kelly responded by citing that the Supreme Court similarly intervened to invalidate state laws against interracial marriage:
GALLAGHER: For the Supreme Court to brand this view as irrational bigotry akin to racial discrimination would not end the culture wars, it would entrench them, and it would take away something very precious, which is the right of seven million Californians to use the democratic process to make our case to the American people. And so, I certainly think trying that to persuade the American people that the Constitution drafted by our Founding Fathers in 1789 has always required gay marriage is a long stretch and I'm hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold Prop 8.
KELLY: But before I get back to Richard on that, there was a time in this country in which interracial marriage was not lawful. And the Supreme Court had to step in and say "that's wrong. Under the U.S. Constitution, under the Equal Protection clause, whites can marry blacks and states are not free to tell them otherwise." And those that advocate on behalf of this issue, Maggie, they say this is another, sort of, iteration of that.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has organized an anti-equality rally outside the Supreme Court this week as the Court mulls over the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Media outlets should be aware and report the extreme anti-LGBT animus that motivates many of the prominent speakers NOM has invited.