Author and advice columnist Dan Savage appeared Tuesday afternoon on CNN Newsroom to discuss two reports out this week by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC): The first updating its list of anti-gay hate groups and the second finding that LGBT Americans "are far more likely to be victims of a violent hate crime than any other minority group in the United States."
Savage -- the founder of the "It Gets Better Project" which aims to stem the recent tide of LGBT youth suicides -- took the interview with CNN's Kyra Phillips as an opportunity to jab CNN and other networks for providing a platform to anti-gay hate group leaders like the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins. As Savage noted in a blog post following the interview, Perkins' Family Research Council is on the SPLC's list of anti-gay hate groups. From the interview:
PHILLIPS: You know, it's difficult to say what would be a solution [to anti-gay hate crimes]. But, could we start with more hate crimes legislation where bullies are prosecuted more severely?
SAVAGE: We can start with that, we can also start with… really, we need a cultural reckoning around gay and lesbian issues. There was once two sides to the race debate. There was once a side, you could go on television and argue for segregation, you could argue against interracial marriage, against the Civil Rights Act, against extending voting rights to African Americans and that used to be treated as one side, you know, one legitimate side of a pressing national debate and it isn't anymore. And we really need to reach that point with gay and lesbian issues. There are no 'two sides' to the issues about gay and lesbian rights.
And right now one side is really using dehumanizing rhetoric. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups, people like Tony Perkins, are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on networks like CNN and then that really -- we really have to start there. We have to start with that type of cultural reckoning.
Yesterday, we noted that the Washington Post celebrated "National Coming Out Day" by posting an anti-gay screed written by notorious bigot Tony Perkins on its On Faith microsite. Today, we learned that the Post thought the publication of Perkins' bile was justified by the fact that it hosted a live Q&A chat with Dan Savage about his efforts to prevent suicide among gay youths. Because, as everyone knows, if you're going to feature an opponent of gay suicide, you need … um … balance. Savage was understandably displeased to see the Post use him as justification for publishing Perkins.
But it's important to understand that Tony Perkins' anti-gay rant was not an anomaly. On Faith has posted several anti-gay missives just this week.
Jordan Sekulow, described by the Post as a "human rights attorney," insists "the United States is a Christian nation" and quotes biblical references to homosexuality as an "abomination" and "unnatural" and "indecent" and "perversion." Again: The Washington Post describes Sekulow as a "human rights attorney." Though, to be fair, they didn't say he's an attorney working on behalf of human rights.
Frank Pavone, president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council and a Catholic priest, writes that his church teaches that sex can only be had "in a marriage between a man and a woman, and when open to life," adding that "Sex is an extremely powerful force, and never a neutral one. Either it serves life, or it serves death."
John Mark Reynolds, who previously* used the platform granted him by the Post to call advocates of gay rights "ideologues" and compare them to "racists," wrote a rambling post yesterday that refers to gay rights advocates as "the hateful" ("When the unchaste, the libertine, or the hateful demand we call their wrongs 'good,' this too is not new") and refers to support for gay rights as "prejudice." Oh, and he compares the oppression Christians face at the hands of these hateful, prejudiced gay rights advocates to the murder of Christians by pagan cultures: