Tag Archives: family research council
Trump/Pence considering anti-LGBT extremists for transition team
Leaked documents indicate Donald Trump is considering for his transition team candidates with histories of anti-LGBTQ animus, including Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council, a hate group.
“Ken Blackwell is a man who has spent his entire career going after LGBTQ Americans. Blackwell’s leadership role in President-elect Trump’s transition team should be a major wake up call for anybody who ever had any doubt that LGBTQ people are at risk,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. HRC is the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group.
Winterhof continued, “Ed Meese and Kay Cole James, who are also reported to have key roles, have been vocal opponents of equality and other issues we care deeply about. The people President-elect Trump picks to serve in his administration will have a huge impact on the policies he pursues. We should all be alarmed at who he’s appointing to key posts on his transition team.”
Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, which was named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He also serves on the board of directors of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
In addition to supporting measures to ban marriage equality, Blackwell believes being LGBTQ is a choice, saying, “The reality is, again…that I think we make choices all the time. And I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one’s genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist or might make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that they can be changed? Yes.”
Meese, a former attorney general, is a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, an organization that asserts that laws protecting LGBTQ people are not “necessary” and “weaken the marriage culture and the freedom of citizens and their associations to affirm their religious or moral convictions…”
According to NBC, the conservative Heritage Foundation is helping vet candidates for Trump’s cabinet.
Meese supported Indiana’s religious refusal law enacted under Vice President-elect Mike Pence, saying it “has nothing to do with refusing to serve gay people.” Meese has also said that marriage equality “shows how the culture has deteriorated over two centuries.”
Kay Cole James, president and founder of the Gloucester Institute, is a former senior vice president of the Family Research Council and a former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
She worked in the administrations of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.
The Advocate reported that in her book Transforming America from the Inside Out, James compared LGBTQ people to drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers or “anything else sinful.”
Gay couples get licenses, Kentucky clerk seeks martyrdom
A gay couple emerged from a county clerk’s office in Morehead, Kentucky, with a marriage license in hand early on Sept. 4, embracing and crying, as the defiant clerk who runs the office remained jailed for repeatedly refusing to allow the licenses to be issued.
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis has insisted that forcing her to affirm same-sex marriage violates her religious convictions as a born-again, fundamentalist Christian. To date, she’s lost her fight at every level of federal court, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
After being denied a marriage license four times prior, William Smith Jr. and James Yates, a couple for nearly a decade, were the first to receive one in Rowan County. Deputy clerk Brian Mason issued the license, congratulating the couple and shaking their hands as he smiled.
“This means at least for this area that civil rights are civil rights and they are not subject to belief,” Yates said.
A crowd of supporters cheered outside as the couple left, while a street preacher rained down words of condemnation. Yates and Smith said they are trying to choose between two wedding dates and plan a small ceremony at the home of Yates’ parents.
The licenses were issued after five of Davis’ deputy clerks agreed to provide them. The lone holdout in the office was Davis’ son, Nathan Davis. And Kim Davis’ office was dark as the first license was issued.
That’s because Kim Davis, at the time, was in jail for contempt of court.
During a hearing the day before, U.S. District Judge David Bunning ordered Davis to be taken to jail unless she promised not to interfere with her employees issuing licenses. She refused, citing her Christian beliefs.
Speaking to reporters, Davis’ fourth husband, Joe Davis, held a sign saying, “Welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah.” He said his wife was in good spirits after her first night in jail.
Kim Davis would spend four more nights in jail before Bunning released her on Sept. 8.
During that time, Davis, through her legal representation at the ultra-right-wing Liberty Counsel, sought legislative relief from abiding by federal law and the federal order. But Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear refused to call a special session of the Legislature, which will not convene until January 2016.
‘A good person’
Davis, an Apostolic Christian, wept during her testimony in court on Sept. 3, telling the judge she was “always a good person” and that she gave her heart to the Lord in 2011 and “promised to love Him with all my heart, mind and soul because I wanted to make heaven my home.”
“God’s moral law conflicts with my job duties,” Davis told the judge before she was taken away by a U.S. marshal. “You can’t be separated from something that’s in your heart and in your soul.”
But prior to finding Jesus and imposing what she believes to be his teachings on others, Davis led a life that critics have derided as ungodly. Internet commenters have lambasted Davis as a hypocrite for her multiple marriages and adulterous affairs. Her marital history reads like a soap opera plot: She became pregnant with twins by her third husband while married to her first husband. She then convinced her second husband to adopt them, before leaving him and marrying the twins’ father — only to leave him, too, for her fourth husband.
Davis is trying to raise money to cover her legal bills with the anti-gay Liberty Counsel. Gofundme.com refused to post an appeal on her behalf, citing its policy of not providing a platform for people who have broken the law.
The notorious anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church has joined the chorus of voices speaking out against Davis. Westboro members tweeted that Davis is going to hell along with the gay couples she refused to marry.
But around the country, other evangelical supporters reached for Biblical heroes, comparing Davis to Silas and Daniel, imprisoned for their faith and rescued by God.
It’s precisely the narrative gay rights advocates had hoped to avoid. But as Davis’ mug shot rocketed around the Internet, it became clear that the gay rights movement must battle the argument that Christianity is under siege, said Kenneth Upton, senior counsel for Lambda Legal, a civil liberties group focused on LGBT rights.
“This is what the other side wants,” Upton said, pointing to the image of Davis in handcuffs. “This is a Biblical story, to go to jail for your faith. We don’t want to make her a martyr to the people who are like her, who want to paint themselves as victims.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing couples Kim Davis turned away, had asked that she be fined rather than imprisoned, in part to avoid “a false persecution story,” said attorney Dan Canon.
But Bunning ordered her to jail anyway, reasoning that she would be unmoved by monetary penalties.
“I think he was trying to make an example of Kim Davis and he may well do so,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which has been designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Courage breeds courage, especially when it comes from unlikely places. She may be the example that sparks a firestorm of resistance across this country.”
Chris Hartman, director of Louisville’s Fairness Campaign, dismissed the small number of holdout clerks as a “blip on the radar of civil rights.”
Since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide in June, only about 17 clerks and judges, many of them advised by the Liberty Counsel, have refused to comply. They stopped issuing marriage licenses to any couple, gay or straight. Davis was the first to be challenged in court.
Rosa Parks or George Wallace?
Yet Davis is suddenly famous around the globe as the face of Christian resistance to gay marriage.
After meeting with Davis in jail, Liberty Counsel attorney Mat Staver said “she is a prisoner of her conscience.” He quoted the letter Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from his Birmingham jail cell in 1963, rallying civil rights activists to challenge unjust laws and pay the consequences if necessary to force peaceful change.
He described Davis as the first American imprisoned for a religious objection to gay marriage.
The lawyers suing her dismissed that notion. “This is the billionth time a person has been jailed for violating a court order,” Canon said.
Historically, backlash has proven inevitable in the face of sweeping social change. When the Supreme Court ordered the integration of public schools in the 1960s, many local officials refused to comply with the ruling. The National Guard had to be sent to Southern cities and towns to escort African-American students into what were previously all-white schools. Racists cited biblical passages to justify their actions.
“It’s ironic when you think about it, when the basis of being oppressed is that people won’t let you discriminate anymore,” said Lambda Legal’s Upton. “It’s like an Alice in Wonderland world.”
Columbia Law School professor Katherine Franke, who has studied the intersection of public service and personal faith, said Davis has “elected to make herself a martyr.
And some in the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates are backing her. Candidate Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, visited Kentucky to meet with Davis and join demonstrators at a rally the day she was released from jail. Huckabee said, “We must end the criminalization of Christianity.”
Meanwhile, GOP candidates Carly Fiorina and Lindsey Graham said Davis should follow the law or resign.
And even some conservative veterans of “religious freedom” fights worried that Davis makes a bad case for martyrdom.
Her insistence on keeping her elected position while ignoring federal court orders was sharply criticized in the National Review and The American Conservative, and Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker, who serve on the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote that “religious liberty itself will be imperiled” if people “cannot differentiate between the freedom to exercise one’s religion and the responsibility of agents of the state to carry out the law.”
Still, Perkins and others on the religious right promised that dozens of Kim Davises are ready to go to jail in defense of their religious freedoms.
Returning to office
Davis walked out of the Carter County Detention Center’s front door on Sept. 8, arm-in-arm with Staver and Huckabee as thousands of supporters cheered and waved white crosses backed by a 150-voice church choir. Some in the crowd sang “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America.”
Bunning lifted the contempt ruling saying he was satisfied that her deputies were fulfilling their obligation to grant licenses to same-sex couples in her absence. But Bunning’s order was clear: If Davis interferes with the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples upon her return, she could go right back to jail.
As WiG went to press on Sept. 9, it was unclear whether Davis would follow Bunning’s order or continue to ignore the court and the law, as she repeatedly did before her jailing.
“I just want to give God the glory. His people have rallied, and you are a strong people,” Davis said after her release, her arms raised and with “Eye of the Tiger” playing.
Staver told the press that Davis “will not violate her conscience” and that she will not resign from her elected job, which pays $80,000 a year and which she inherited from her mother.
Staver also said the marriage licenses issued while Davis was jailed were not valid because they were not given under the authority of the county clerk, a claim the Kentucky attorney general’s office disputes.
‘Oaths mean things’
In jailing Kim Davis, a judge noted the Kentucky county clerk had sworn an oath to perform her job.
Here is the oath of office taken by Davis: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of … according to law; and I do further solemnly swear … that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.”
Boo! Fox’s anti-LGBT bias frightens viewers
Blue light streamed across the living room, casting eerie shadows.
The light flickered and jumped.
A figure shifted on the couch, reached for the remote.
And then an explosion of noise came from the TV. “Shut up! Shut up!”
Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly was red-faced furious, again, and moving in for the strike.
Fox News, launched in 1996 to compete with CNN, reaches more than 90 million homes and, according to its press releases, dominates the cable news lineup, especially in prime time. At the top of the heap is O’Reilly, with the most-watched program on cable news — “The O’Reilly Factor.”
When critics challenge Fox’s claim that the network presents “fair and balanced” news, network executives sometimes bristle and O’Reilly shouts, “Shut up!”
But Media Matters says there is far more than political bias on the Fox News Channel: There are fabricated stories and rumors reported as fact, as well as consistent manipulation of photographs and video that distorts reports. Wisconsin residents might recall the video accompanying a Fox News broadcast reporting on the pro-union protests in Madison in February 2011. The snarling protesters were dressed in T-shirts and shirts, shaking their fists menacingly as they stood against a background of palm trees. Meanwhile, Madison lay buried in snow with temperatures hovering in the teens.
Media Matters also noted vitriol and venom in Fox commentary when the issues involve race, immigration, health care, women’s rights, LGBT equality and also the president.
As for Fox’s coverage of LGBT issues, media watchdog Carlos Maza said the network is “the primary promoter of LGBT disinformation.”
Maza is a researcher with Equality Matters, an initiative launched by Media Matters, the web-based nonprofit founded in 2004 to monitor for “news or commentary that is not accurate, reliable or credible and that forwards the conservative agenda.”
EM keeps tabs on right-wing groups such as the Family Research Council and Liberty Counsel and watches over the media for LGBT misinformation. Monitors watch the news from the early a.m. to the early a.m. to flag problematic coverage. “We have eyes on Fox basically all day long,” Maza said.
And a lot of flags go up.
At the Oct. 11–13 Values Voter Summit hosted in D.C. by the Family Research Council, a right-wing hate group, Fox personalities at the podium included Allen West, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Cal Thomas and Sandy Rios, who said ex-gays are everywhere but closeted because they are “maligned.” Homosexuality, she added, puts the lives of young men at risk and it is a “dangerous time to be a Christian conservative” because in the country today “good is called evil and evil is called good.”
Overall, with polls showing greater acceptance for gay people and majority support for marriage equality, Maza said he’s noticed shifts in how Fox’s broadcasts address LGBT issues.
On marriage, Fox often frames the issue as an attack on religious freedom, with Christians “as the victims of intolerance and the gay activists who have become the bullies. Those stories, they get a lot of traction.”
A recent example is how Fox covered the conflict over amending a non-discrimination ordinance in San Antonio, Texas, to include gender identity and sexual orientation.
“Fox ran segment after segment describing it as a war against Christians,” Maza said.
The researcher also has tracked an uptick on Fox in coverage that demonizes and ridicules transgender people. “On Fox, it’s still very much OK to make rape jokes about transgender people,” he said.
Last January, in a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor,” Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly joked about a transgender prison inmate.
“Couldn’t they do a better job for a million bucks than this guy? Look, there he is. For a million you figure he might look like Annette Funicello or somebody. I don’t know?” O’Reilly said.
Kelly said, “He’s in a male prison.”
O’Reilly added, “All right, but I don’t think he’s in any danger.”
That month, Oregon LGBT civil rights activists protested the use of a still of Robin Williams as “Mrs. Doubtfire” to illustrate a story about regulations requiring that insurers in California and Oregon provide equal coverage to transgender customers.
In late August, Fox personalities complained about using feminine pronouns for Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the transgender soldier convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks. They mocked Manning’s appearance.
That month, Fox characterized as a “bathroom bill” landmark legislation signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown that guarantees transgender public school students access to facilities and programs that correspond to their gender identity.
On “The O’Reilly Factor,” Greg Gutfield said if he was a devious teenager he’d “tell girls that I’m a girl trapped in a boy’s body, just so I could sneak into the girl’s bathroom. In fact, I do that now at Fox News. Gretchen Carlson threw me out of the bathroom just last week.”
Carlson, commenting on the legislation, said, “Can you imagine now, the boys want to go into the girls bathroom and the girls want to go into the boys bathroom, and they can just say, ‘Oh, well, I was transgender for the moment.’ I just can’t get my head around this.”
O’Reilly called the legislation “the biggest con in the world.”
Hannity said government was forsaking the 99 percent to accommodate the .00001 percent.”
“It’s like red meat for their viewers,” Maza said. “They are very comfortable turning those kinds of stories into horror stories.”
For the creepiest commentary on transgender issues, Fox relies on Dr. Keith Ablow, who has said a transgender person on “Dancing with the Stars” could kindle “gender dysphoria” in others and that Chaz Bono suffers from a “psychotic delusion” because “there is nothing substantially different from a woman believing she is a man than there is about a woman believing she is a CIA agent being followed by the KGB” when she is really a salesperson at J.Crew.
Maza said, “Very flawed and medically inaccurate” information is pervasive on Fox.
About 41 percent of American voters trust the information they get on the channe and 46 percent do not, according to a survey by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling firm. PPP president Dean Debnam said the survey also found that Democrats trust most TV news sources other than Fox, while Republicans don’t trust anything except Fox.
Maza said, “I think that for some Fox News employees, they know there is a segment of the audience that this really resonates with. So they really get on board with the transphobic stuff and that is good for their national profile.”
But there are those at Fox, Ablow for example, who seem to Maza to “harbor real resentment or animosity” toward LGBT people.
The consequences of that animosity?
A Pew Research Center report released on Oct. 11 found that dedicated cable viewers average 72 minutes of home viewing per day. CNN reaches slightly more adult viewers than Fox, but the study found Fox narrowly has the largest singularly dedicated audience — 24 percent of U.S. adults watch only Fox News.
That’s a lot of people getting information from a source that Masen Davis, who heads up the Transgender Law Center, has described as “dangerously uninformed.”
At the National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling has said Fox’s coverage contributes to violence and harassment.
Maza and others said Fox’s disinformation and animosity also can embolden campaigns against equality and “really impact the same-sex couple raising a family in San Antonio or the transgender student in California.”
Call to action: Urge Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan to skip right-wing summit
Civil rights activists are encouraging people to ask lawmakers – including a familiar name in Wisconsin – to skip a far right-wing summit set to take place Oct. 11-13.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Human Rights Campaign, are encouraging people to ask U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and others to not attend the Values Voter Summit held by the far-right Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.
The FRC has been characterized as a hate group in the progressive community for the organization’s demonizing of gay people and campaign against basic civil liberties for LGBT people. The FRC repeatedly has portrayed gays and lesbians as sick, evil, incestuous, violent and perverted threats to the nation.
And the Values Voter Summit, year after year, has featured politicians, pundits and Christian right leaders who go beyond opposing LGBT equal rights legislation to advocate criminalizing same-sex sex and treating homosexuality as a disease.
Organizers expect Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage to attend and speak at the event.
Brown will join FRC president Tony Perkins on a panel called “The Future of Marriage.”
In addition to the SPLC and HRC, the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, GLAAD, People for the American Way Foundation and Faithful America have called on lawmakers to skip the summit.
“Elected officials shouldn’t lend the prestige of their office to hate groups that have a long history of telling incendiary lies about the LGBT community and spreading other forms of bigotry,” said an announcement from the SPLC.
The SPLC provided links to contact lawmakers set to speak at the summit:
Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Tim Scott
Rep. Paul Ryan
Rep. Randy Forbes
Rep. Michele Bachmann
Rep. Jim Bridenstine
Rep. Louie Gohmert
Rep. Jim Jordan
Rep. Steve King
Rep. Steve Scalise
Rep. Scott Turner
Virginia man sentenced to 25 years for shooting at Family Research Council office
The 25-year-old Virginia man convicted of shooting an unarmed security guard at the offices of the right-wing Family Research Council headquarters in Washington, D.C., was sentenced on Sept. 19 to 25 years in prison.
Floyd Lee Corkins II has said he wanted to kill as many as possible at conservative organizations such as the FRC, which promote discrimination against LGBT people.
Corkins, according to federal authorities, had once volunteered at an LGBT community center in the D.C. area.
He was arrested at the FRC office building in August 2012 after he was tackled to the ground by the security guard he shot and wounded.
Corkins was in possession of a gun and also 15 day-old of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, which he apparently planned to smash in victims’ faces.
The judge on the case, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts, called Corkins’ crime horrific, according to the Washington Post.
The Post quoted the judge as saying, “The carnage you wanted did not happen only because an ordinary man showing extraordinary courage stopped you. Killing human beings is not political activism. It is criminal behavior.”
Corkins had pleaded guilty in February to three felony charges: transporting a firearm or ammunition across state lines, assault with intent to kill and committing an act of terrorism while armed. The first was a federal charge and the second and third were D.C. charges.
Six months before the shooting, Corkins was committed to a mental hospital because he was hallucinating and thinking about killing his parents and right-wing Christians, according to the Post report.
He purchased the 9mm SIG Sauer pistol he used in the shooting from a Virginia gun shop six days before the incident.
Christian right critiques ‘Noah’s Gay Wedding Cruise’ painting
Artist Paul Richmond painted “Noah’s Gay Wedding Cruise” several years ago to celebrate and promote the national drive for marriage equality.
Richmond, not with rave reviews from the Christian right, has revised the painting to celebrate this year’s success and the upcoming decisions on marriage equality from the U.S. Supreme Court.
The artist said on his blog that in the original, “I painted a grand ark/cruise ship filled with happy gay and lesbian animal couples and a few human guests too (like Ellen DeGeneres/Portia de Rossi, and Elton John/David Furnish). There are even some drowning sinners (such as Ann Coulter, Larry Craig, Sally Kern, and Fred Phelps)!”
He’s now added to the painting partners Joshua and Steve Snyder-Hill, the two founders of MarriageEvolved. Steve Snyder-Hill was the servicemember who was booed at a Republican presidential debate.
This month Richmond and his partner are joining the MarriageEvolved campaign, which is chartering a bus bound for Washington, D.C., to commemorate the Supreme Court opinions – which may be released June 17 or June 24.
Twenty-four other couples who can’t marry in their home states are taking the bus ride.
Frank Schubert, political director of the National Organization for Marriage, told The Christian Post that he thinks it is ironic Richmond would choose the ark to promote same-sex marriage “since those couples are inherently unable to accomplish the very thing that God intended for those who inhabited the ark – the procreation of the earth following His wrath for failing to follow His commandments.”
Peter Sprigg of the ultra-right Family Research Council told the website, “It’s particularly bizarre to use Noah’s Ark.”
Feds seek 45-year sentence for attack on right-wing group’s HQ
Prosecutors say a Virginia man who planned a mass killing at the Washington headquarters of a conservative Christian lobbying group should spend 45 years in prison for his plot.
Prosecutors filed a court document late last week that recommends the 45-year sentence for Floyd Corkins II.
A security guard subdued Corkins in the lobby of the anti-gay Family Research Council in August after he pointed a pistol at the man. Corkins fired three shots, and the guard was the only one wounded. Corkins, who was carrying nearly 100 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches, later told authorities that he had planned to kill as many people as possible and then to smear the sandwiches on their faces as a political statement.
Chick-fil-A was making headlines at the time because of its president’s stated opposition to gay marriage and the companies devout support – verbally and financially – for anti-gay efforts. The Family Research Council also opposes equal rights for gays, and police officers who responded to the shooting scene reported Corkins said he didn’t like the group or what it stands for.
The government said in making its recommendation that if not for the security guard’s actions, Corkins “would have almost certainly succeeded in committing a massacre of epic portions.”
“Although the defendant largely failed to bring about the violence he sought, he was still able to accomplish one of his objectives – that is, to use acts of violence to terrorize and intimidate those within the District of Columbia and the United States who did not share his political beliefs and views,” government attorneys wrote.
Corkins, 28, told authorities he initially wanted to make a bomb but did not have the patience. He bought a gun in Virginia the week before the shooting and received private firearms training the night before his attack.
When Corkins was arrested, he was carrying a list of four socially conservative organizations written on a piece of paper printed with the Bible verse, “With God all things are possible.” He told authorities that if he had not been caught at the Family Research Council he planned to go to the next organization on his list and shoot there as well. Prosecutors did not release the list of organizations. They said about 50 people were working inside the Family Research Council when Corkins arrived.
Corkins pleaded guilty to three charges in February: interstate transportation of a firearm, assault with intent to kill while armed and committing an act of terrorism while armed. The first charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and the two other charges carry a maximum 30 years in prison.
Sentencing is currently set for April 29, though Corkins’ defense attorneys asked on April 22 to delay it so they can have additional time to get and look at his mental health records.
Fox News pans military equality
I recently read an article by Shannon Bream that was posted on the Fox News website. I know that reading such a site is bound to give a progressive heartburn, but about once a week I do it anyhow. The article was about the recent decision of outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to extend certain benefits to same-sex military couples. While I applaud the secretary for his commitment to equality for those who choose to serve in our volunteer military, Bream should be embarrassed by her article.
The article uses pejorative language, which in no way serves to educate the broader community. Instead, it furthers dangerous stereotypes about the LGBT community and repeatedly cites as the “topic expert” Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. For those of you who are not familiar with Sprigg, he believes in deporting LGBT people and wants reinstatement of laws punishing homosexual behavior.
In Bream’s article, Sprigg is quoted saying, “I think this (extending some military benefits to same-sex couples) does qualify as discrimination against opposite sex couples who are essentially in the same position, unmarried but living together.” Sprigg’s comment is misguided and blatantly ignorant, as straight unmarried couples who are living together have the option of getting married. Meanwhile committed same-sex couples, at the federal level and in many states, do not. What Panetta wants is to extend equal benefits to all who volunteer to risk their lives for the nation’s protection, regardless of who they love.
Sprigg goes on to assert, “This administration is using the military for social engineering. I think it’s significant that they’re actually going beyond even what they said they’d do at the time that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was repealed.” He seems to believe that progress should be restricted to just the repeal of written discrimination in the Uniform Code of Justice.
However, even after repeal, we still have a long way to go. Transgender people still are prohibited from military service. That situation must be corrected – and I’m confident that will happen in time. No person should be disqualified from serving their nation because of their gender identity or expression.
In her article, Bream also cites a Department of Defense report from 2010, before the repeal of DADT, that said offering benefits to same-sex military couples would be in “stark contrast to the military’s ethic of fair and equal treatment.” If I could ask one question of Bream it would be: Where was this ethic of fair and equal treatment for the nearly 14,000 individuals discharged under DADT?
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act on March 27, and a favorable ruling later this year could nullify this debate.
Meanwhile, I’m sick and tired of Faux News skewing the facts, fostering fear and encouraging people to stand against the core American value of equality.
Man pleads guilty to Family Research Council shooting
A Virginia man pleaded guilty on Feb. 6 to shooting a security guard at the Washington headquarters of the far-right Family Research Council.
The man, Floyd Corkins II, 28, admitted in a plea deal that he went to the FRC in mid-August 2012 to shoot as many people as possible and that he also had plans to target other right-wing groups that oppose gay marriage.
Corkins, when he was arrested, was carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches in a backpack – at that time, the family-run restaurant chain was embroiled in controversy over support for anti-gay groups. Corkins, according to a prosecutor at the plea hearing, planned to rub the sandwiches in his victims’ faces.
But he never got beyond the lobby of the FRC headquarters, where he was stopped by security guard Leonardo Johnson. Corkins fired three sots in the lobby. One of them hit Johnson, but the guard still wrestled Corkins to the ground.
Corkins pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition because he had to travel from Virginia to D.C., assault with intent to kill while armed and act of terrorism while armed.
He could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison on April 29.
After the shooting, FRC placed blame for the incident on the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had characterized the FRC as a “hate group.”