After assuring a GLAAD official that she would challenge an anti-gay hate group leader on his history of extreme rhetoric, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly welcomed Family Research Council president Tony Perkins to defend a Duck Dynasty star, never mentioning his nor FRC's anti-gay extremism and hate group designation.
Phil Robertson of A&E's popular Duck Dynasty show, made national headlines this week after calling homosexuality illogical and comparing it to bestiality during an interview with GQ magazine. Citing his remarks, on December 18 A&E announced it would be placing Robertson on indefinite hiatus.
During the following evening's edition of The Kelly File, Kelly invited on GLAAD's Jeremy Hooper followed by Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins to discuss Robertson's anti-gay comments.
Hooper challenged Kelly to hold Perkins accountable for his anti-gay record and vile rhetoric, to which Kelly promised, "What specifically? Because I'll ask him."
But Kelly never asked Perkins to explain his extreme stances against the gay community, nor did she acknowledge that the FRC is a designated hate group. Instead she merely identified FRC as "a group whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian world view"--a description that continues Fox's trend of referring to anti-gay extremism as Christianity. Perkins went on to defend Robertson as upholding "biblical morality" and attack homosexuality as "sexual immorality."
Fox News host Sean Hannity relied on a discredited right-wing organization that fabricated a story about a transgender student harassing her peers in a school restroom, attacking proper facilities access for transgender students as a "violation of privacy."
The rabidly anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) gained notoriety earlier this year after it was caught manufacturing a story about a transgender student in Colorado who PJI claimed was harassing other students in her school's bathrooms. That story ended up being entirely fabricated - the school district's Superintendent stated that no instances of actual harassment had been reported. PJI scrambled to save face, claiming that the "harassment" it referenced actually amounted to nothing more than a few parents and students feeling uncomfortable by the mere presence of a transgender student.
PJI's history of lying about the case didn't stop Hannity from promoting the group's work during the December 18 edition of his show, including airing a PJI-produced video featuring testimony from parents and students from the Colorado school who were bothered by the transgender student's existence. Hannity called the video "pretty powerful" and asked if letting transgender students use the bathroom of their choice was a "violation of privacy":
Many schools have already implemented policies similar to the one in Colorado, and California passed a law this summer granting transgender students proper facility access. Schools that have instituted such policies haven't reported any instances of misconduct and state that they've experienced "nothing but positive results." Experts state that allowing transgender individuals access to facilities that match their gender identity is essential to affirming their identities and removing the stigma all too often attached to trans people.
This isn't the first time Hannity's program has featured fear-stoking arguments against transgender rights. In August, he blasted California's new law, asking, "What do we do with the seven-year-old girl that goes into the locker room and there's the 14-year-old boy naked in the girls' locker room because that's where he chooses to be?" Fox itself has assailed the law repeatedly, with host Bill O'Reilly calling it "the biggest con in the world," further contributing to the network's transphobia problem. The network's willingness to tout a group that has lied in order to smear transgender students marks a new low.
Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes defended homophobic remarks made by a star of the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty, blasting "intolerant, anti-Christian," and "Anti-Straight" "haters" for deigning to criticize the comments.
In an interview with GQ, Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson called homosexuality a sin, comparing it to bestiality and equating gay people with "drunks" and "terrorists." "It seems like, to me, a vagina - as a man - would be more desirable than a man's anus," Robertson told the magazine. The LGBT advocacy group GLAAD condemned Robertson's remarks as "vile." Starnes expressed outrage at criticism of Robertson's remarks, writing on Twitter:
Starnes is one of Fox News' most rabid purveyors of homophobia. He has urged fans to donate to anti-gay hate groups, endorsed anti-LGBT business discrimination, promoted the conspiracy theory that President Obama is secretly gay, and blamed "heterophobic bigots" for the withdrawal of an anti-gay pastor from Obama's inaugural ceremony. While Starnes is keen to malign supporters of LGBT equality as "intolerant" "bigots," his history of hateful commentary exposes his virulent bigotry.
Janet Mefferd, among right-wing talk radio's most rabid promoters of homophobia, endorsed Jamaica's anti-sodomy law, falsely suggesting that it was essential to combatting the spread of HIV.
On the December 17 edition of The Janet Mefferd Show, Mefferd invited extreme anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) to discuss his recent trip to Jamaica, where he advised supporters of Jamaica's gay sex ban in light of calls for its repeal. LaBarbera praised the "moral clarity" of the ban's supporters, and Mefferd left no doubt that she also supported the criminalization of homosexuality. LaBarbera asserted that such laws help fight HIV, lamenting that in the U.S., people "talk all about rights of homosexuals and never about, you know, stopping this dangerous behavior." Mefferd agreed, calling it "really unfortunate":
HIV/AIDS experts, however, condemn anti-sodomy laws as a hindrance to efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. According to AIDS Free World, such laws "drive underground people who are in need of health and other services related to HIV and AIDS." In Jamaica itself, the organization states, the government "uses the anti-sodomy law as an excuse for not creating adequate HIV-related health programs ... that target MSM [men who have sex with men]."
Mefferd's support for a policy that's both an affront to fundamental liberties and damaging to public health further demonstrates her extremism - her syndicator's assertion that she's "mainstream" notwithstanding. Her vicious anti-LGBT smears, however, haven't stopped conservative celebrities and media figures like Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Brian Brown, and Stephen Jimenez from appearing on her program.
Conservative media outlets have repeatedly asserted that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) - federal legislation that would ban employment discrimination against LGBT workers - discriminates against Christian businesses, but a new report from PolitiFact has rated that claim "False."
On December 16, PolitiFact evaluated a fundraising email from the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) which claimed that ENDA would unfairly punish Christian businesses. PolitiFact rated TVC's claim "false," noting that ENDA includes religious exemptions that are actually more generous than those contained in other federal non-discrimination laws.
PolitiFact also noted that non-religious businesses operated by religious individuals have to comply with the law regardless of the business owner's faith (emphasis added):
Under Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964], and therefore under ENDA, religious organizations, which need not be church-run, would be exempt. Additionally, all businesses with fewer than 15 employees are exempt, whether they're religious or not.
Nelson Tebbe, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who specializes in religious liberty, said ENDA's religious exemption exceeds Title VII's.
"It's broader because the religious exemption in Title VII only allows religious organizations to discriminate [against LGBT individuals] on the basis of religion," he said. But it doesn't allow religious groups to discriminate based on factors like an employee's gender or race.
So by permitting religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, ENDA allows them more flexibility than Title VII.
The bill's religious exemption indicates that churches, church-run initiatives and other religious businesses need not comply by employing people of all sexualities and gender identities. And there's no special negative treatment for Christians.
Businesses of any religion could qualify for the exemption. Individuals of any faith who oppose sexuality would have to abide by the law, so no religion is singled out.
We rate this claim False.
The myth that ENDA would discriminate against Christian businesses has been widely debunked, but that hasn't stopped the lie from gaining prominence among right-wing media outlets.
The Daily Caller derided a New Jersey bill that would allow transgender people to change their birth certificates to accurately reflect their gender identity, running the story with an image of drag queens and dubbing the bill a "choose-your-own birth certificate law."
On December 17, Daily Caller education editor Eric Owens reported that the New Jersey legislature is set to send the bill to Republican Gov. Chris Christie's desk, although it isn't clear yet whether Christie will sign it into law. Owens wrote that the law would allow people to change their birth certificates to include "a gender they totally didn't have when they were actually born" (emphasis added):
Pat Buchanan praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his defense of "traditional values," citing his opposition to such "evil" developments as marriage equality to position Putin as the global leader of the fight "against the militant secularism of a multicultural and transnational elite."
In his December 17 syndicated column, Buchanan pondered whether Putin is a fellow "paleoconservative" before checking off a list of Putin's culturally conservative stances, which seemed to suggest a clear answer to Buchanan (emphasis added):
Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?
In the culture war for mankind's future, is he one of us?
While such a question may be blasphemous in Western circles, consider the content of the Russian president's state of the nation address.
With America clearly in mind, Putin declared, "In many countries today, moral and ethical norms are being reconsidered."
"They're now requiring not only the proper acknowledgment of freedom of conscience, political views and private life, but also the mandatory acknowledgment of the equality of good and evil."
Translation: While privacy and freedom of thought, religion and speech are cherished rights, to equate traditional marriage and same-sex marriage is to equate good with evil.
And same-sex marriage is indeed an "abstract" idea unrooted in the history or tradition of the West. Where did it come from?
Peoples all over the world, claims Putin, are supporting Russia's "defense of traditional values" against a "so-called tolerance" that is "genderless and infertile."
Suggesting that with its increased acceptance of LGBT equality "Barack Obama's America" has taken the place of the Soviet Union as "the focus of evil in the modern world," Buchanan argued that Putin's Russia is a better example to the international community. He applauded a recent India Supreme Court ruling reinstating that country's ban on gay sex, seeing it as a sign that Putin's vision may yet prevail (emphasis added):
President Reagan once called the old Soviet Empire "the focus of evil in the modern world." President Putin is implying that Barack Obama's America may deserve the title in the 21st century.
While his stance as a defender of traditional values has drawn the mockery of Western media and cultural elites, Putin is not wrong in saying that he can speak for much of mankind.
Same-sex marriage is supported by America's young, but most states still resist it, with black pastors visible in the vanguard of the counterrevolution. In France, a million people took to the streets of Paris to denounce the Socialists' imposition of homosexual marriage.
Only 15 nations out of more than 190 have recognized it.
In India, the world's largest democracy, the Supreme Court has struck down a lower court ruling that made same-sex marriage a right. And the parliament in this socially conservative nation of more than a billion people is unlikely soon to reverse the high court.
In the four dozen nations that are predominantly Muslim, which make up a fourth of the U.N. General Assembly and a fifth of mankind, same-sex marriage is not even on the table. And Pope Francis has reaffirmed Catholic doctrine on the issue for over a billion Catholics.
It's true, as Buchanan notes, that Pope Francis hasn't changed Roman Catholic doctrine against same-sex marriage. Still, Buchanan's apparent praise for the pope is odd, given that just one month ago he denounced the pontiff for saying he wouldn't "judge" gay people.
Buchanan's warm words for Putin echo a column he wrote in August shortly after Putin signed laws banning so-called "gay 'propaganda'" and prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by parents from pro-equality countries. At the time, Buchanan commended Putin's efforts to "re-establish" his nation's "moral compass." Now, as Putin further hardens his anti-gay stance, Buchanan has promoted Putin to the role of cultural conservatism's savior.
The right-wing media is pouncing on a federal judge's ruling striking down parts of Utah's anti-polygamy law, using the decision to assert that legalized polygamy is an inevitable consequence of the slippery slope created by marriage equality for same-sex couples.
On December 13, Judge Clark Waddoups, a U.S. District Court judge in Utah appointed by President George W. Bush, issued a decision finding that Utah's ban on "cohabitation" violated constitutionally protected rights of free exercise of religion and due process. The case, Brown v. Buhman, was brought by Kody Brown, a star of the reality television show "Sister Wives."
Conservative media outlets immediately linked the decision to the push for same-sex marriage rights. FrontPageMag proclaimed that "[t]urning gay marriage into a thing paves the way for legalizing polygamy. As everyone with a brain predicted." "Judge Cites Same-Sex Marriage in Declaring Polygamy Ban Unconstitutional," Breitbart.com reported. And even as he acknowledged that the decision didn't vindicate opponents of marriage rights for gay couples, Commentary's Jonathan Tobin declared that "[t]he floodgates have been opened."
In reality, here's what media outlets need to know about Judge Waddoups' ruling:
With Brown likely headed toward an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, it's far from clear whether Waddoups' ruling will stand. What should be obvious, though, is that contrary to the right wing's willful distortion of the decision, it's neither the inevitable consequence of same-sex marriage nor the first step toward legalized polygamy.
Major newspapers in Louisiana have been largely silent about the burgeoning state political career of Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins, mostly ignoring the hate group leader's history of extreme anti-LGBT politics.
Perkins' political ascendance in Louisiana began nearly two decades ago, with his election to the state House of Representatives. He served in that body from 1996 to 2004, making an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2002. During his time in the legislature, Perkins founded the right-wing Louisiana Family Forum out of a reported "concern about the influence of the homosexual movement." He cemented his role as a social conservative leader when he assumed the presidency of the FRC in 2003.
While the FRC is based in Washington, Perkins has always kept one foot in Louisiana, commuting to Washington from the state every week, Perkins considered launching a primary challenge to Republican Sen. David Vitter in 2010, ultimately opting to sit that race out. Perkins has cultivated a close relationship with Gov. Bobby Jindal, who appointed Perkins to the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family in 2008. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), however, notes that Perkins skipped all of the commission's meetings.
Perkins' dismal attendance record notwithstanding, Jindal announced this September that he was naming Perkins to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement, which is responsible for awarding grants, officer training, and law enforcement regulation. Slate noted that in a state where anti-sodomy laws remain on the books and gay men have recently been arrested for having sex, the virulently anti-gay Perkins now has a role overseeing law enforcement.
Within weeks of his appointment to the law enforcement commission, Perkins expressed interest in seeking the open U.S. House seat from Louisiana's sixth congressional district in 2014. Perkins would join what's likely to be a jam-packed field of Republicans vying for the seat, but he says he finds it "an attractive prospect to be closer to home."
If past is indeed prologue, social issues will be at the forefront of a Perkins congressional campaign. During his decade at the helm of the FRC, Perkins has amassed a record as one of the country's most rabid opponents of LGBT equality. The FRC's malicious, baseless smears against LGBT people led the SPLC to designate the organization an anti-gay hate group in 2010, and Perkins' own history of anti-LGBT commentary helps illuminate why.
A senior attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a far-right legal organization beloved by Fox News personalities, cheered India's Supreme Court for reinstating that country's ban on gay sex, calling the decision a model for the United States. ADF's support for the decision came a week after Fox host Bill O'Reilly praised the group on-air.
On December 11, India's Supreme Court restored a colonial-era law banning "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." The ruling overturned a 2009 ruling by the Delhi High Court finding the law unconstitutional. Under the 1861 statute, gay sex is punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in prison.
Benjamin Bull, executive director of ADF Global, gave a December 12 interview with the news service of the anti-gay hate group the American Family Association and applauded the decision. Bull contrasted the Indian ruling with the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling overturning anti-sodomy laws:
"When given the same choice the Supreme Court of the United States had in Lawrence vs. Texas, the Indian Court did the right thing," says Bull, which was choose to "protect society at large rather than give in to a vocal minority of homosexual advocates."
The net effect is to protect the integrity of the family and by extension to protect traditional marriage.
In the Texas case, the state's high court struck down sodomy laws in a 6-3 decision that affected similar laws in other states.
The Texas case "laid the groundwork for the invalidation of traditional marriage by a number of courts subsequent to that," the attorney explains.
The Indian Supreme Court saw what had happened there "and was wise enough not to want to go down that road."
"America needs to take note that a country of 1.2 billion people has rejected the road towards same-sex marriage, and understood that these kinds of bad decisions in the long run will harm society," he adds.
The language of the Indian statute is identical to that found in many other current and former colonies of the British Empire, including Belize. In that country, ADF has supplied lawyers to defend the criminalization of gay sex.
Undisturbed by the group's rabidly anti-LGBT positions, Fox News has long maintained a cozy relationship with ADF. In an interview on his December 2 show, Bill O'Reilly effusively thanked ADF senior vice president Doug Napier for his group's efforts to combat the manufactured "War on Christmas." "God bless you, each and every one," O'Reilly gushed. Before O'Reilly's sycophantic interview, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson solicited donations for the group. Meanwhile, Fox reporters Shannon Bream, Megyn Kelly, and Elisabeth Hasselbeck have hosted ADF lawyers for one-sided interviews on the imagined dangers of anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people.
With the ADF giving its full-throated backing to the Indian court ruling and urging the U.S. to "take note" of the development, the organization has again demonstrated that its claims of "defending freedom" are little more than an Orwellian fraud. The question is whether Fox will continue to play along; and based on its track record, it seems the answer is yes.