One year after San Antonio expanded its non-discrimination ordinance to protect LGBT people, opponents' predictions that the measure would curtail religious liberty and free speech haven't come true.
On September 5, 2013, San Antonio's city council voted to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBT residents in housing, employment, public accommodations, city contracts, and board appointments. The ordinance was approved despite a right-wing misinformation campaign propagated by local anti-LGBT activists and national conservative media, including Fox News, Glenn Beck, and The Washington Times.
Opponents of the ordinance asserted that the ordinance could ban Christians from holding public office or winning city contracts, imperil the free speech rights of conservative opponents of LGBT equality, or even impose "criminal penalties" on anti-LGBT business owners. Those claims persisted even though the ordinance explicitly protected against religious discrimination and despite the striking of language that had raised free speech concerns.
At the time, Councilman Diego Bernal, the sponsor of the expanded ordinance expressed dismay at the "ludicrous" misinformation spread about the ordinance, telling Equality Matters, "I've been taken aback by the amount of purposeful misinformation and I find that to be very harmful."
But a year after the expansion of San Antonio's non-discrimination ordinance, even an opponent of the measure admits that horror stories about threats to religious liberty haven't come true.
Throughout the debate over the ordinance, opponents insisted that prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people would result in anti-Christian persecution and harassment. One of those critics was Allan Parker, president of the San Antonio-based Christian legal group The Justice Foundation. Last September, Parker warned that the ordinance would be used to target Christians:
[Parker] said the ordinance is vague and unclear but he believes it can and will be used against Christians, especially those in the business world who disagree with unbiblical sexuality.
"The leverage of the city to pressure any business to caving in is enormous under this," he explained.
But one year later, even Parker admits the ordinance hasn't ushered in a wave of anti-Christian legal action. Only two complaints have even been filed under the ordinance - one from a transgender man who alleged he had been fired because of his gender identity and another from a lesbian couple who said they were asked to leave an ice house after sharing a kiss.
In a statement to Equality Matters, Parker suggested that the small number of complaints was due to the city allegedly refraining from enforcing the ordinance:
I believe because of the outcry against the ordinance, the City and the LGBT community have refrained from actively enforcing it. Their major goal of "stigma removal" and the "soft tyranny" of the threat of criminal prosecution has been achieved.
But as Bernal told Equality Matters, the existing ordinance included safeguards against religious discrimination even before LGBT protections were added.
"It's not intended to persecute any group," Bernal said. "It's crafted in such a way that protects everybody."
Deputy city attorney Veronica Zertuche told Equality Matters that her office hadn't fielded any complaints of discrimination against conservative Christians in the past year.
"The issue [of religious discrimination] has not arisen," Zertuche said.
San Antonio's experience isn't unusual. A 2012 study of local non-discrimination ordinances by UCLA's Williams Institute found "almost uniform compliance" with the ordinances, with no localities reporting spikes in frivolous litigation.
The Daily Caller defended a commentator who used the words "fag" and "trannies" in a post assailing the transgender community, blaming "politically correct" mobs for allegedly getting the post censored.
On August 12, Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes published a profanity-laden post on Thought Catalog titled "Transphobia Is Perfectly Natural." In the post, McInnes argued that transgender people are just "mentally ill gays," calling them "nuts trapped in a crazy person's body":
We're all transphobic. We aren't blind. We see there are no old trannies. They die of drug overdoses and suicide way before they're 40 and nobody notices because nobody knows them. They are mentally ill gays who need help, and that help doesn't include being maimed by physicians. These aren't women trapped in a man's body. They are nuts trapped in a crazy person's body. I see them on the streets of New York. They are guys with tits and a sweatshirt. They wear jeans and New Balance. "What's the matter with simply being a fag who wears makeup?" I think when I see them. You're not a woman. You're a tomboy at best.
By pretending this is all perfectly sane, you are enabling these poor bastards to mutilate themselves.
The post generated a significant backlash, with scores of writers demanding that their work be removed from Thought Catalog. Within a week of the post's publication, McInnes was placed on "indefinite leave" from his position as chief creative officer of the ad agency Rooster.
In a September 2 article, Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley called the criticism of McInnes' post evidence of a "politically correct hysteria" engulfing the country. Howley also interviewed McInnes, offering him a platform to denounce the "culture of psychotic harassment" that he alleged was persecuting him:
Writer, commentator and Vice magazine co-founder Gavin McInnes said that politically correct hysteria like the kind that recently cost him his job is similar to the mafia.
"It's a real quandary people who write have to face right now," McInnes told The Daily Caller. "Am I going to speak freely or am I going to hide?"
McInnes, who was in Georgia shooting a movie at the time of the scandal, is not too concerned about his livelihood. But he bemoaned the plight of young writers starting out in an industry that you'd think would appreciate candor, and instead punishes it in storms of faux-moralistic activism.
McInnes is one of the few writers in America today willing to expose the mechanics of our P.C. outrage culture, and to deflate the idea that pro-censorship Internet hordes are doing anything righteous. Will mine be the first generation in history to gauge intellectual success as a measure not of challenging taboos, but rather of maniacally defending them? [emphasis added]
An opinion column for The Daily Caller blamed gay and bisexual men for much of the military's sexual assault problem, arguing that the 2010 repeal of the armed forces' Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy had worsened the problem of rape in the military.
In an August 27 column, writer Dave Benkof asserted that the repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service members was responsible for an "uptick in same-sex rape." According to Benkof, "[o]nly a fierce ideologue" would deny that allowing LGBT soldiers to serve openly would lead to an increase in sexual assault:
Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is on the rise for both men and women, according to a Pentagon report earlier this year that was widely covered in news outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, and CNN.
But virtually none of that coverage addressed an obvious aspect of the problem: the 2011 introduction of open service by gays and bisexuals undoubtedly has increased the incidence of sexual assault against men in uniform. Despite repeated LGBT assurances that integrating gays into the military would not affect morale, an uptick in same-sex rape - especially involving straight victims - most assuredly affects morale. In fact, just the fear of increased sexual violence could affect morale.
Only a fierce ideologue would suggest that introducing many thousands of same-sex-attracted men into a mostly male service would decrease or maintain the previous extent of male-male MST.
The LGBT community, which regarding marriage has shown a willingness to use deception to achieve its policy goals, must be held to a high standard of proof. Media, legislators, and voters should do their own research before trusting gay community slogans that often turn out to be misleading, incomplete, or downright false, including:
"Studies prove that gay parenting is as good as straight parenting";
"Gays are born that way";
"Gay marriage won't harm anyone"; and
"Gay marriage is inevitable."
The next time gay activists assure you their agenda has no downside, don't trust them. Investigate it for yourself. [emphasis added]
Benkof's claim that DADT repeal is responsible for a rise in military rapes is patently false. A study by Palm Center, a research institute focused on sexuality and the military, has found no evidence that open service has led to increased sexual assault. Nor, the center reported, did repeal lead to a decline in military cohesion or morale, as Benkof asserts.
Fox News host Mike Huckabee joined 79 other conservatives in signing a letter blasting "sexual radicals" for their efforts to scuttle a planned conference of the World Congress of Families (WCF), a group notorious for stoking homophobia and promoting harsh anti-gay laws internationally.
On August 30, the Rockford, IL-based WCF plans to hold a "Life, Family, and Freedom Conference" in Melbourne, Australia. Protests have led to three changes of venue for the conference, which prominent members of Australia's governing party are slated to attend. The WCF has responded to those protests with a letter signed by 80 social conservatives, including Huckabee. Accusing "sexual radicals" of waging a "smear campaign," the letter charges that opponents of the conference aim to "transform society into something unrecognizable to generations past":
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.
Attacks on the Melbourne conference and the international pro-family movement generally are an attempt at intimidation - a weapon used to stigmatize family advocates, stifle dissent and foreclose a debate.
The goal of sexual radicals is to deconstruct marriage and marginalize the family, and thus to transform society into something unrecognizable to generations past. Like all social experiments that attempt to create a "new man," these are doomed to failure.
But a new Human Rights Campaign (HRC) report documents how the WCF has been involved in helping promote the enactment of harsh anti-gay laws internationally.
Founded after a 1995 meeting between Illinois anti-gay activist Allan Carlson and two Russian sociologists, the WCF is a self-proclaimed "alliance of orthodox believers, based on their commitment to Judeo-Christian values and the natural family." Partnering with 29 social conservative organizations - with a combined annual budget estimated at $216 million - the WCF convenes "pro-family" activists for regional and international conferences aimed at combatting reproductive freedom and LGBT equality. WCF partner organizations include a number of groups that have been labeled anti-gay "hate groups" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, including the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.
The Washington Times editorial board accused Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter of concealing his support for LGBT equality in order to win over the state's voters, ignoring Carter's own words offering his full-throated support for marriage equality and mounting evidence that gay rights are decreasingly a wedge issue with voters, even in traditionally conservative states like Georgia.
In an August 19 editorial, the Times alleged that when it comes to his opinion on "homosexual demands," Carter "dodges, weaves, and deflects, eager not to offend religiously conservative Georgia." Writing that Carter can't win his closely contested race against Republican Gov. Nathan Deal if he embraces "the full rainbow agenda," the Times asserted that Carter is hiding behind statements from his spokesman and supporters in the gay rights community:
Jason Carter wants to follow in his famous grandfather's footsteps. Mr. Carter, a Democrat, is running for governor of Georgia, a position Jimmy Carter held for a term before moving on to the White House. Jason Carter is willing to say pretty much whatever it takes to win. When someone asks his opinions on homosexual demands, he dodges, weaves and deflects, eager not to offend religiously conservative Georgia. But his gay supporters are saying it for him.
Georgia remains committed to traditional marriage. The left-leaning Public Policy Polling discovered last year that 6 of 10 Georgia voters want to keep the thousands-of-years-old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. If Jason Carter yearns to come out in support of the full rainbow agenda, he knows better than to do it before the election.
The pro-homosexual website Project Q Atlanta doesn't like the sneaky approach, either. "Jason Carter collects gay cash, but stays mum on LGBT issues," the site noted earlier this month about a fundraiser held for Mr. Carter. The event, organized and hosted by homosexual activists, raised nearly $90,000 for the Carter campaign. Reporters were barred from the fundraiser, lest the secret leak.
One man's pragmatism is another man's dishonesty. Voters deserve to know, loud and clear, what they'll get if they put another Carter in the governor's mansion on Nov. 4. Gov. Nathan Deal, the Republican incumbent running for re-election, should pressure Mr. Carter to say unequivocally whether he would be prepared as governor to fully defend Georgia's state constitutional amendment, enacted by the people, that defines traditional marriage.
It's true, as the Times noted, that some gay rights activists in Georgia expressed unease with Carter's previous relative silence on LGBT issues during the campaign. But the Times conveniently omitted the fact that this month Carter addressed those concerns head-on, affirming his longstanding support for marriage equality. This, by the Times' standards, apparently constitutes "dodg[ing], weav[ing], and deflect[ing]" on marriage equality:
ABC News contributor and nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham has established herself as one of the most stridently transphobic conservative media figures, repeatedly assailing parents who offer support and affirmation for their transgender children. But medical and child health experts condemn Ingraham's transphobic smears as "dangerous" and "ignorant."
During the August 6 edition of her radio show, Ingraham delivered a screed against parents who affirm and accommodate their transgender children, calling it "child abuse" to provide transgender youth with hormone therapy:
Her comments were roundly condemned, but they were just the latest in Ingraham's campaign against trans-supportive families. Ingraham has asserted that putting trans youth on hormone blockers could have "long term effects" that children will come to "regret." She's also claimed that medical caring supporting trans youth "push[es] kids into a box" and prevents them from potentially realizing that they aren't transgender.
But a number of experts in transgender and child health care deride Ingraham's comments as "dangerous," "ignorant," and wholly divorced from reality.
"When one speaks from ignorance, there is a good chance that they will say ignorant things. This could be no more true than for Laura Ingraham," said Diane Ehrensaft, a clinical psychologist and head of the University of California-San Francisco's Child and Adolescent Gender Center, in a statement to Equality Matters:
If we do nothing for these children, just let them be children, as Ingraham suggests, we are actually doing something, and that something is not good: we put them at risk for anxiety, depression, poor school performance, and later--drug abuse, self-harm, sexual acting out, suicidal thoughts, attempts, or completions... Ingraham repeats what so many in my own field, mental health, have done to significantly harm gender-nonconforming youth: dismiss what they are trying to tell us, blame the parents who are trying to support them, and deny them adequate care in one fell swoop... We might even consider the denial of the service a form of child abuse--there's a life jacket right there, we're watching, and we're letting the child drown.
Psychiatrist Jack Drescher, a member of the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-5 Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, echoed Ehrensaft's concern, stating that Ingraham is "staking out an opinion, but she's not talking about the actual situations that exist. The way she speaks is appealing to prejudice."
A conservative columnist for the Tampa Tribune criticized the Walt Disney Co. for allegedly pushing a "pro-gay agenda," asserting that the company is using its programming to "indoctrinate" children about "gay lifestyles and gay marriage."
In his August 12 column, Douglas MacKinnon - a former aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush - charged that Disney was peddling the "gay agenda" to "impressionable children" by exposing them to "openly gay characters and couples":
Beginning with the takeover of the company by Michael Eisner in 1984 and continuing under the leadership of Robert Iger since 2005, it can be argued that Disney has been working overtime to redefine "family values."
Back in the late 1990s when I worked with former Sen. Bob Dole, I had the pleasure to interact with Iger. He was professional, respectful and could not have been more kind or considerate. Since taking over, he has only made the company more profitable. But beyond his fiscal responsibility to shareholders, does Iger have an even greater responsibility to impressionable children?
Disney has made no secret that it pushes a pro-gay agenda. That is most certainly its right. But where does the company draw the line? A former Disney executive I spoke with told me the company has taken direct aim at children to indoctrinate them about gay lifestyles and gay marriage through shows it airs on The Disney Channel and Disney XD.
The former executive said one of the more subtle techniques is to incorporate the colors of the gay-pride flag in as many shots as possible. The colors are woven in as a wink and nod to the gay community and show up on shirts, hats, posters, stacked cups and rings. The practice has been picked up by other children's networks and national advertisers.
Disney also pushes the gay agenda by introducing openly gay characters and couples on its children's programing. Again, that is their right, but should they be in the business of entertaining children or indoctrinating them? [emphasis added]
MacKinnon never explains what harm might be caused by featuring gay-inclusive programming - suggesting that he sees an inherent harm in simply letting children know that gay people exist and have families.
MacKinnon's attack on Disney's alleged "pro-gay agenda is just the latest in the columnist's history of rabid right-wing rhetoric.
From the August 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Breitbart.com criticized a Pennsylvania couple that was refused wedding gowns by a bridal shop owner on religious grounds, assailing the "lesbian bridezillas" for writing about their experience on Facebook.
On August 7, The Press Enterprise reported that an unidentified lesbian couple in Bloomsburg, PA had been refused service by W. W. Bridal Boutique owner Victoria Miller. "We feel to answer to God for what we do," Miller told The Press Enterprise. "And providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God's law." The couple subsequently posted about Miller's refusal to serve them on Facebook, prompting criticisms of W. W. Bridal's discriminatory policy.
In an August 12 article titled "Lesbian Bridezillas Bully Bridal Shop Owner Over Religious Beliefs," Breitbart attacked "the lesbians" for "bull[ying]" Miller, citing the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC) to condemn their fight for equal treatment as "forced acceptance":
A Pennsylvania Christian bridal shop owner who refused to provide wedding gowns to a lesbian couple because of her religious beliefs was bullied by the lesbians on Facebook, where their post about the shop owner's refusal to serve them went viral.
According to the News, the Bloomsburg Town Council is meeting Monday night to discuss the incident and whether to propose legislation that will ban businesses from refusing to serve LGBT customers, potentially providing the couple the means with which to sue Miller.
"Instead of showing the tolerance their movement claims to practice, the women turned to social media to bully the shop - trashing its online reviews and sparking a city-wide firestorm," said Family Research Council (FRC). "Obviously W.W. Bridal Boutique isn't the only wedding dress shop in town. These women could have easily taken their business elsewhere - but chose to retaliate instead."
Referring to the leftist gay activist agenda as "forced acceptance," FRC said, "When religious liberty clashes with homosexuality - as it has from bakeries to flower shops - the storylines are all the same: conform or be punished."
Mike Huckabee told a gathering of anti-gay activists that the United States is becoming like communist China and defended his recent claim that President Obama deserves to be impeached.
Huckabee was speaking at the third annual Family Leadership Summit, hosted by The Family Leader and sponsored by anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage and FRC Action. The event was held in Ames, Iowa, and was attended by potential 2016 Republican candidates including Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Rick Perry, and Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Speaking on August 9 about his recent China trip, Huckabee noted the country's policies regarding trade, human rights, one child and forced abortions, and observed: "After we came back, I assessed that what was most disturbing was that China was becoming a lot more like the United States used to be, and America was becoming a whole lot more like China used to be." Huckabee added that America, like China whitewashing the Tiananmen Square massacre, has "completely rewritten our history" to remove God from textbooks. The Fox News host has made similar pronouncements on his show and elsewhere in the right-wing media.
During a media availability, Huckabee defended his recent declaration that President Obama has committed impeachable offenses. Huckabee began by claiming "I don't think we're going to have an impeachment, don't think we even should because there's no point and it's not gonna go through." However, Huckabee still argued President Obama is worthy of impeachment because of his alleged abuse of "the basic constitutional powers," citing Obamacare and the DREAM Act.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson continued his pattern of championing anti-LGBT discrimination, warning that gay rights and Christianity are incompatible and asserting that a society that affirms LGBT equality "is a society bent on suicide."
In an August 7 Townhall.com column titled "Tolerate or Be Stamped Out," Erickson lamented the growing marginalization of anti-LGBT attitudes, charging that pro-equality activists are determined to purge Christians from American society:
In fact, enormous energy is being expended by the left in America to make Christianity and Christians unacceptable. A New York Times writer wants to stamp out those views "ruthlessly." He describes those with orthodox Christian views on marriage as unworthy of civility. Anonymous groups expose the home addresses of mostly Christians and subject them to harassment. This is not happening to orthodox Jews or Muslims, but to Christians.
It raises a serious question Americans must confront -- are gay rights and Christianity compatible? The answer appears to be no. As gay rights activists use the tactics of Bull Connor to push for what they declare civil rights, they are targeting churches, religiously affiliated groups and Christian businesses for harassment and lawsuits.
Across the country, the left has decided our sexual preference is something we are born with, but our gender is something we get to decide. Anyone who thinks otherwise is threatened and harassed. Several thousand-year-old pillars of society are being shoved aside in the name of tolerance. Those who speak up for sanity, tradition and faith are treated scornfully.
This will not end well for any of us. Despite surveys designed to show the contrary, children tend to do best with mothers and fathers. A society that willfully undermines perpetuating itself is a society bent on suicide. One thing is for sure -- a faith that survived its followers being used as torches to light the streets of Rome will survive a modern age hell bent on ruthlessly stamping it out. [emphasis added]
Erickson's latest apoplectic screed is par for the course from the Fox News commentator. Last month, he endorsed a Georgia congressional candidate's view that "the homosexual movement ... is destroying America." Previously, Erickson has written that gay people are on the "road to hell" and warned businesses that serve gay couples that they are "aiding and abetting" sin. Moreover, Erickson is a prominent supporter of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a right-wing legal group working internationally to help criminalize homosexuality.
Anti-gay hate group leader Tony Perkins has appeared on Megyn Kelly's shows more than all other Fox News programs combined over the past two years.
Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council (FRC), an organization that was labeled an anti-gay "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2010. He has called pedophilia "a homosexual problem," claimed that gay men "recruit" children into homosexuality, and endorsed a Uganda law that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality. His organization regularly produces anti-gay propaganda depicting gay people as abnormal, unnatural, and destined for "eternal damnation."
He's also one of Megyn Kelly's most frequent guests on Fox News. Kelly - who was once hailed as a harbinger of a "gay rights revolution" at Fox - has hosted Perkins more than all other Fox News programs combined in the past two years, according to an Equality Matters analysis. Hailed by Kelly as "a captain of the Religious Right," Perkins has become a familiar face to viewers of Kelly's shows:
Between America Live - Kelly's former Fox program - and The Kelly File, Kelly's shows account for 17 of Perkins' 30 Fox News appearances since the conclusion of the 2012 GOP primary season, when his cable news influence peaked:
From the August 6 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins has all but ceased to appear as a guest on CNN and MSNBC. It's a dramatic change for the anti-gay hate group leader, whose constant appearances on cable news during the 2012 GOP primary cycle drew criticism from progressive faith groups.
Since becoming president of the Family Research Council in 2003, Perkins has used his position as a leader among social conservatives to command significant media attention. FRC hosts the annual Values Voters Summit, making Perkins an easy choice for networks looking for a prominent voice to comment on social conservatism and GOP politics.
Over time, networks also began turning to Perkins for commentary on LGBT issues like the fight over marriage equality and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Perkins was happy to oblige - he has a history of making incendiary comments about LGBT people, and FRC has turned the production of anti-gay propaganda into an art form.
In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled FRC an anti-gay "hate group," citing the organization's propagation of known falsehoods about LGBT people.
That label, unfortunately, didn't stop cable news networks from continuing to invite Perkins on national television on behalf of social conservatives. During the 2012 Republican presidential primary season, Perkins appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News a total of 56 times. MSNBC was particularly friendly to Perkins, with Hardball host Chris Matthews praising Perkins as an "honest conservative" who always tried "to find the truth" during a November 2011 interview:
Perkins' platform on cable news didn't sit well with audiences familiar with his long and sordid history of bigoted anti-LGBT rhetoric. Faithful America, a progressive Christian group dedicated to "reclaiming Christianity from the religious right," launched a petition in February 2012 asking the network to stop inviting Perkins on air. The petition garnered 20,000 signatures, which were delivered to MSNBC's headquarters.
Perkins' platform at MSNBC created an awkward situation for Hardball host Chris Matthews. At a March 2012 book event, Matthews was asked about his willingness to invite Perkins on his show and admitted that his critics "may be right." At a book signing a few weeks later, Matthews told Faithful America members that the group had "a good argument" for no longer hosting Perkins." Perkins did appear on Hardball once more, in a joint appearance with gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA. But rather than offer the warm welcome Perkins had come to expect, Matthews grilled Perkins on his anti-LGBT extremism.
In the summer of 2013, Faithful America launched a similar petition targeting CNN after the network hosted Perkins to discuss the Supreme Court's ruling on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The petition urged CNN not to let Perkins "speak on behalf of America's Christians" and quickly gathered more than 32,000 signatures.
A new Equality Matters analysis finds that both MSNBC and CNN have largely ended their practice of hosting Perkins in the months since the end of the 2012 GOP primary. Perkins hasn't appeared on MSNBC since March 2013, when the Supreme Court heard arguments in two marriage equality cases. Meanwhile, Perkins' appearances on CNN have steadily declined in the last year, and he hasn't been on the network since February: At Fox News, on the other hand, Perkins' appearances have held steady and actually increased in the past year: