The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Religious Right Group Slurs Home Depot in Anti-Gay Attack

By Robert Steinback on July 28, 2010 - 9:23 am, Posted in Anti-LGBT

The American Family Association (AFA), one of the nation’s most obsessed anti-gay crusaders, launched a boycott of The Home Depot a week ago today because the home improvement and construction retailer “promotes the homosexual agenda.” Rather than “remain neutral in the culture war,” AFA wrote, “The Home Depot has chosen to sponsor and participate in numerous gay pride parades and festivals.”

That alone wouldn’t be an earth-shaking accusation; plenty of major corporations, including Home Depot, sponsor gay pride events. But AFA’s announcement strongly implies – with clever wording and misleading “evidence” – that the home-improvement retailer is helping gay sexual predators stalk children.

A letter posted on AFA’s website and signed by its president, Tim Wildmon, declares that a photograph “taken during recent homosexual events sponsored by The Home Depot show[s] children being encouraged to visit gay sex websites.” In the photo, children presumably attending the Southern Maine Pride Festival and parade in June, are seen holding orange Home Depot cups with small red-and-white flags stuck in them. The AFA caption reads, “The flags in these Home Depot cups promote a gay website which proclaims itself as ‘the men’s social group for men who have sex with men.’” The caption goes on, “The cups were given to children by The Home Depot gay parade marchers, while homosexual activists followed up by introducing them to gay sex websites.”

Read carefully, AFA’s post never accuses Home Depot of having anything to do with the flags. But AFA nevertheless concludes, “The Home Depot has no problem aligning itself with gay activist groups who target children with a pro-homosexual message.” The impression is inescapable: Home Depot pals around with lustful gay activists as they recklessly invite kids to visit a gay porn site.

But what about those mysterious flags? The writing on the flags can’t be read in the photo, and AFA conveniently never identifies the offending website — and for good reason, as it turns out.

The flags, Hatewatch has learned, were distributed by an Augusta, Maine, group called Just Guys, which provides safe sex counseling, HIV testing, social support and other resources for gay men. Its meetings are on the calendar of MaineGeneral Health, Maine’s third-largest health care system. And just for good measure, the front page of justguys.info prominently displays a warning:

“This website contains HIV/STD prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Since HIV infection and Sexually Transmitted Diseases are spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics. If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, this website may contain pages which you may not wish to visit. Thank you.”

Not exactly the hallmarks of drooling pederasts.

Just Guys director Lew Alessio acknowledged that his organization distributed the flags at the southern Maine festival. The message on the flags said simply, “Gay Pride, Safe Pride,” and then the web address – the promotional phrase AFA cited wasn’t on them. The obvious conclusion: AFA representatives went to the website to find the promotional phrase — and thus knew perfectly well that justguys.info is not a “gay sex website,” and that it doesn’t target children in any way.

“All of our written material must be approved by the review board of the Maine Center for Disease Control,” Alessio told Intelligence Report. “While we gave out thousands of trinkets with various safer sex/gay pride messages on them, every single message was approved by the MCDC in advance of the event.”

Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes told Hatewatch that AFA representatives approached the company in early July, demanding that it end all sponsorships of gay-pride events. It was an easy call for the company. “To forbid our associates to have any involvement in pride festivals would run counter to the company’s culture of inclusion,” Holmes said. “We’re not going to discriminate against anyone because of race, religion or sexual orientation.”

This isn’t the first time AFA has tried to pin the “preys-on-children” tag on Home Depot. Last summer, the AFA-affiliated One Million Moms group complained about the company’s $5,000 sponsorship donation to the Nashville Gay Pride Festival, then added: “Home Depot also signed on as a vendor, conducting kids craft workshops for children via a special booth set up just for them. To this end, Home Depot is basically encouraging the attendance of children at events which openly expose them to transvestites, cross-dressers, and homosexual activities. … Obviously, Home Depot is OK with the idea of exposing children to an unhealthy and risky environment.” In other words, it’s Home Depot’s fault for accommodating kids who attend a public parade on public streets approved by local government.

A representative of the American Family Association, contacted by Hatewatch, said no spokespersons were available to comment

Bryan Fischer, AFA’s director of issue analysis for government and public policy, posted a letter regarding the latest boycott including an admonition that Home Depot “might want to check with the Ford Motor Company about what happens when ordinary American families decide to vote with their wallets against companies that peddle perversion.” Fischer was referring to AFA’s 2005 call to boycott Ford for similar pro-gay offenses. “Ford Motor Company eventually surrendered, and re-focused its energy on making automobiles instead of retooling American culture.”

Oh? Portfolio.com, the web portal for the Bizjournals network, didn’t see it that way, concluding that AFA chairman Donald E. Wildmon (Tim’s father) in March 2008 “unilaterally declared victory.” Ford didn’t see it that way either: “I can tell you there was not a negotiated settlement to this boycott,” Ford spokesman Jim Cain said in the portfolio.com article. Cain pointedly noted that during and after the AFA boycott, Ford maintained relationships with groups including Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the Human Rights Campaign, both supporters of gay marriage.

Fischer, it should be noted, has recently argued that homosexuality should be prohibited by law, that Muslims should be banned from the U.S. military, and that executing couples engaged in “sexual immorality” might help the nation renew its “commitment to follow God.” He has argued that Adolf Hitler was gay and that World War II Nazi stormtroopers were actually a sinister, elite gay fighting force.

Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck Combs Communications, which specializes in marketing to gay consumers, said most anti-gay organizations have abandoned consumer boycotts as a strategy for a simple reason: They haven’t worked. Few other religious-right or anti-gay organizations have joined AFA’s call.

“To the best of my knowledge, no corporation has evidenced any drop or loss of revenue from boycotts of this sort,” Witeck told Hatewatch. To the extent they are still used, the primary goal seems to be assuring the boycotting organization’s base that their contributions are making a difference, he said. “You take a cause, you do it, then you declare victory and then everyone believes their money was well-invested.”

The real net effect of anti-gay boycotts, says Witeck, is like listening to “one hand clapping. They really don’t change corporate behaviors.”

  • Mac

    I don’t know of ANY boy sexaully molested by anyone other than a homosexual. As for the likes of the SPL Center, and the ACLU – BOTH anti-American to their core, it’s hardly surprising that either would back perverse conduct. It has nothing to do with religion (in my view); it’s so grossly, and obviously violation of NATURE that it’s incredible that anyone can endorse it as “normal.” Oh, DOGS do it? Other ANIMALS do it? They don’t have the ability to reason EITHER.

  • Roger K.

    Thank you Chuck Arnold for your courage to speak out. Home center retailing in a very competive industry. Any disruption in sales is noted. Compounding H.D. woes is the fact that every dolar (taken from them) that goes to a competitor is strike against Home Depot’s market share. No one should kid themselves…They notice.

  • marie

    Nathan, the article was not slanted. I just received a postcard in the mail from the AFA asking for a boycott of Home Depot because “the Home Depot encourages children’s participation at homosexual events exposing them to loud and boisterous homosexual activities, including adult nudity.”
    The AFA should be deeply ashamed of itself.

  • Chuck Arnold

    One year ago I was fired by HD after having celebrated 12 yrs. as an employee a few days earlier. I had seen many changes in that time w/ insurance coverage towards same sex partners to which I did not object. I “DO OBJECT” to them going to this extreme especially when it involves the taunting of society with their costumes and other outrageous imaginery that should be saved for their private participation of their lifestyle. The childrens workshops are another “Desensitizing” tactic to win approval by these groups and get them to spend their dollars at their store. Bottom Line is $$$$$$$$.
    After having found this out, I must say I am very glad I no longer work for them! Congradulations Lowe’s. Another customer who respects a businesses decision to keep there sexual orientation views private.
    This decision by HD has got to make Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus sad to see what their company has come to in the age of political correctness and a profit at any cost to it’s “Original Core Values”. Shame on you Home Depot!!! You are creating your own loss of of profits.

  • Harry

    Phil, it’s obvious that this site is created for those who don’t believe in the same Bible that the AFA uses. The statement, that the bible isn’t against homosexuality is entirely false. John Stone, the only “conservative Christian” to write in this site is just as false as the guy who made up the store name “Pervert Store”. Most of you claim that the above article is a fact because “HATEWATCH” says it is. I pray that God is indeed greater than us humans when it comes to forgiving us of our sins. Like it or not, the Bible does call homosexuality a sin. Read it!!

  • Phil

    This is an example of the twisted thinking of the libs.

    AFA DID NOT say or infer that Home Depot promoted child preditors but it is inferring and correctly so, that it aligns itself with those intent on teaching our children that the gay agenda is ok, normal and morally acceptable.

  • Leslie Robertson

    I did stop shopping at Home Depot for sponsoring homosexual agenda.

  • Robert

    I think Jesus said, “go and sin no more”. And un-natural sexual perversion(s) I think is at the top of HIS list. Want chapter and verse? Hmmm. No hate – just weariness that after 2000 years the human condition has NOT improved.

  • John Stone

    I am probably the only conservative Christian that will post in this thread. The real crime committed by AFA is not just there own hate, but the hate they cause in others, as many of these posts show.

    The gospels indicate that Jesus never spoke against the political forces of his day even though they were far from his teachings. Instead, he asked people to come to him. The bible says clearly that sex outside of marriage is just one of many many types of sin that we all need help with. Gay and straight are just words and have no meaning. We are all just people who either find Jesus and deal with our sins, or we are the people that don’t.

    The folks in the AFA are not doing what the bible says. Christians are always to point to Jesus as the way. The bible says that without Jesus, all our good works are just filthy rags. I believe the AFA needs to tend to there wash.

    For the rest of us, Jesus is only there for us no matter what we call ourselves and not matter what we’ve done.

  • John Dingus

    Jerry: “(just as I, an unmarried heterosexual male, have no right to have sex with a woman)”

    Too bad for you that you insist on being limited in your life by a worthless old dusty book.

    Then again, that just means there are more willing, able and experienced women for the rest of us. Very willing women, indeed :-)

    How can anyone hate homosexual people as much as you poor misguided religious types do? What have they ever done to hurt you, really? All they’ve done is made the world more aware of their existence, they are human beings just like you and me, with all the rights that entails.

  • http://www.smiletrain.org/goto/gigimm Ric Brown

    It’s amazing that an orginazation that PRETENDS to be about family (or any OTHER kind of) values would engage in such sleazy tactics. The American “Family” Association is nothing more than another right-wing hate group on about the same moral level as the Westboro Baptist “Church”.

  • Invisible_Jester25

    I cannot fathom hatred in any way, shape, or form, and what the AFA is at its core is hatred.

    I am not Christian, but I can easily put this argument into terms any Christian of any denomination could agree with.

    Jesus did not preach hatred. Satan preaches hatred.

    God created all people. If this is so, He also created homosexuals. If this is so, it is unlikely God made a mistake in creating these people.

    Homosexuality itself is not discussed in the Bible. Close reading of the Story of the Sodomites shows that the city was destroyed not because of homosexuality, but because the angels God sent to that city were treated terribly, because women captured by that city were raped, etc. NOT the same as homosexuality.

    I don’t understand. I don’t understand why anyone could preach hatred and still claim to be a good Christian at heart. I don’t understand how someone could so horribly violate their own faith and then claim that as the one truth. For those who do believe in God and Satan, Heaven and Hell, and Jesus Christ the Savior, behold – these people, who lie, slander, and hate, are those who already belong to Satan, and those who love indiscriminately as Jesus did and does belong to God.

  • Illinois Joe

    For Paul F., Google couldn’t find the “Pervert Store”, so maybe you wishfully imagined the place. If it does truly exist, you understandably don’t want to mention your town for fear of being accused of living in a perverted town. Or a perverted state. Or country. If it did exist, you could probably still shop there for any perverted acts toys or accessories that you may want to have with your mate, whether you are hetero- or homosexual. A feathered boa might look nice.

  • Paul Fausnight

    I have spent one hundred thousand dollars at Home Depot stores over the past 25 years on multiple properties. H.D.’s participation in such “homosexual pride” marches appalls me. Lowe’s, here I come! Here where I live, the homosexuals have a business they proudly call The Pervert Store–so even they acknowledge that they are perverts! They insist on flaunting their corrupt perversion and ramming it up our a$$e$. Such people are disgusting!

  • Walter

    Amy said: “Do it in the privacy of your own home like heterosexual couples do. We don’t go out and brag that we are straight.” Actually, you advertize your straightness every day–anytime you walk down the street with your boyfriend/husband; anytime you hold hands, hug or kiss in public; anytime you take your children with you in public. Whenever someone sees you (or me), they automatically assume the person they are seeing is straight. You don’t need parades to make you visible. Advertizing, movies, political speeches, etc. all assume their audiences are straight. LGBT people are often erased from society’s consiouness; the daily harrassment, inequality and fear they expeirence are unknown to the straight majority.

  • Andreas

    As a German (and a straight guy) I found this bit particularly funny: “He has argued that Adolf Hitler was gay and that World War II Nazi stormtroopers were actually a sinister, elite gay fighting force.”
    Of course – and because Hitler loved gay people so much, he gave them a free trip to gas chambers.
    AFA is one more hilarious example of some US citizens displaying the same extent of extremism that they publicly despise. Their extremism is into a different direction, but it is nonetheless dangerous. Raising children in an environment that so openly promotes intolerance and a blatant dismissal of any religious beliefs is dangerous. Any religion, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam, promotes tolerance and benevolence as a principle. Obviously, AFA does not.

  • Jerry

    @William LaBarge – “Those who preach discrimination against homosexuals, Muslims, Jews, or any other God’s people are not true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    The problem with this statement is the ambiguity of the term “discrimination”.

    Christ taught to love the sinner but hate the sin. Christ would no more tolerate attempts to condone immoral behavior (homosexual acts or marriage) than He would tolerate attacks against the homosexuals themselves. Homosexuals have the same rights to food, shelter, clothing, employment, medical care, etc. They do NOT have a right to have sex with or marry someone of the same gender (just as I, an unmarried heterosexual male, have no right to have sex with a woman).

  • Nathan

    This article is misguided. The AFA never claimed that Home Depot was setting kids up to be preyed upon by pedophiles. The argument of the AFA is that home depot is setting up workshops for children at adult-oriented events that promote a value some still find taboo and clash with their religious beliefs. It’s not hate speech to disagree with someone. Misinterpretation is not hate speech either. If both sides weren’t so eager to vilify one another then maybe a meaningful dialogue could occur. As it is, people just have too much emotion invested in the debate to hear both viewpoints. I’m truly disappointed in some of the commentators here as well as the person who wrote such a slanted article.

  • Scott R.

    The bottom line is look at Greece when they started openly allowing homosexuality? The roman empire?
    The Bible says love you neighbor as yourself and your enemy as well. Love the person, hate the lifestyle. Don’t parade it around for children to think its a natural way of life. The Bible calls it like it is. God says its detestable.

  • Erik

    If you look carefully at the bottom left corner of the picture of the children with the Home Depot cups that the AFA is using, there are the letters “E” and “Y”. This is all that remains of the original photo credit (Brittany Rae Photography). Not exactly taking the moral high ground there, cropping out the credit.

  • MM

    @Jim King: You support this boycott even though the AFA is lying? Wow.

    @Amy: You’re not really likely to get beaten up because you’re straight. You’re also not likely to be told you’re going to hell because you have children. When people stop beating people up for being gay, and stop telling gays they’re going to hell, then I might not be so loud about being gay.

    Oh, and how is doing the same thing that heterosexuals do bragging about being gay?

  • jerilyn kay miller

    I have to agree with Phillip from Roswell NM and
    William LaBarge. Haters are such time, energy and
    resource wasters. j

  • Steve Osborn

    This is what I expect from AFA and other groups like them. They want everyone to follow what they believe, I am so glad my parents did not teach me to hate anyone for who they are.

  • William LaBarge

    Amy: Did you ever publicly displayed affection with your date or your husband? Did you go to the prom? Did you go to a ball? If so, did you keep your heterosexuality private or did you flaunt it the same way that others flaunted it at the prom, wedding, etc?

    The point is what is good for heterosexuals is also good for homosexuals when it comes to public display or public announcement of your affection, etc.

  • William LaBarge

    Those who preach discrimination against homosexuals, Muslims, Jews, or any other God’s people are not true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ preached God’s Love for all. The AFA, Fischer, and others listed in the SPLCenter’s hate list are the kind of people that the Lord Jesus Christ has warned us of.

  • Amy

    Well Said Jim King! You took the words right out of my mouth. I do not agree with the gay lifestyle, but do not hate gay people. Do it in the privacy of your own home like heterosexual couples do. We don’t go out and brag that we are straight. We don’t have parades to say “look at me I’m heterosexual. Just do what you are going to do, but keep it to your self.

  • Phillip fro Roswell, NM

    Often, it is found, sadly, that those who scream the loudest are the most guilty. This is true even down to our own government. Those that spread hate towards any group or individual usually see similiar traits which lie within themeselves. Hate mongers do not like seeing their own reflection of negativity and self. It’s not that they hate others, it’s they deeply hate themselves and have never found the true joy of living. Those who are well adjusted and happy are fulfilled by their own lives and have no time to hate.

  • Barb from Pittsburgh

    Wonderful, clear, focused commentary, but for one. Jim King – I’m LOL.

  • american wetback

    these are the same folks who gave us a bush, two wars, divided the country into the haves and have nots, wrecked the economy, etc. and have the gall to still want to call the shots for the rest of us who are a little more enlightened than to judge everyone negatively who doesnt fit a certain stereotype that pleases our senses. i believe in God but i wont go shoving God down anyones throat because i think that this what God wants. these people would be laughable if they didnt screw up this world in a serious way. love thy neighbor as one would love thyself. these people hold a lot of self hatred and have latent homosexual tendencies. i am straight but not narrow, a little shallow and just a tad bent. my sexual orientation does not come into play in my world and therefore my circle of friends is not limited ,nor do the places i can go shrink becuase of boogiemen.

  • Ed Weston

    MSNBC has some folks who can get this info to a wider audience. Progressive radio stations, as few as there are, another outlet.
    There a number of written descriptions about what happenned to our national news media.
    David Brock’s, “The Republican Noise Machine” is good.

  • Sam Molloy

    Getting this on the media can only help Home Depot. No company has ever suffered financially from advertising to gays and supporting gay rights.

  • JIM KING

    I support this boycott. Whatever people do in the privacy of their bedrooms is their own business even if it is imoral and destructive. To ask society to give this destructive lifestyle special uplifted recognition and even suggest children be educated abiut a alternative imoral lifestyle like theirs is going way to far.
    The Judeo Christian values passed on to us through over 2000 years of Christianity and stretch back thousands of years before that teach us otherwise. The best way to handle this is to love the sinners but despise the sins and boycott any company that promotes homosexual behavior as a moral alternative lifestyle model for society to value.

  • EarleyDaysYet

    The AFA are up there with Westboro on the “complete nutters” list. I’m particularly angered and appalled by the claims that schools etc are “promoting the homosexual lifestyle”. What does that even mean? 50 years ago, being the child of divorced parents meant ostracism – but it kept happening, & now every child knows someone whose father doesn’t live with them, or who has step- and half-siblings etc. So it’s new and scary for a kid to have two mums – one day we’ll wonder why anyone cared. As to “explaining gay families will make other kids gay” – well, how ludicrous.

  • Dave Hilsheimer

    Makes me want to make even MORE PURCHASES from Home Dept. Am headed there tomorrow!

  • DocDiggs

    This sort of lie filled attack by a self-proclaimed “Christian” group actually puts the lie to their claim of service to Christ. Why would anyone seeking some sort of religious belief choose the AFA example of what Christianity is to save their eternal souls when the hate and lies flow so glibly and vilely from their mouths.

  • RockyMissouri

    Thank you, guys- As a gay advocate, I truly appreciate the
    network of kindhearted and informed individuals–you are angels on earth…!

  • Eileene

    Thank you for alerting your readers to this. Now, how do we get this kind of responsible reporting into the hands of the general public, without being accused of being left or radical, or liberal. What has happened to our country???

  • Pamala

    The religious-right are at the core of every problem we have in this country, and they along with all of their “grassroot” off-shoots need to be flatly rejected. I don’t know just how STUPID someone has to be to believe the right-wingers in their greedy quest for hate and division…damn stupid.

  • Marisa

    ANYONE who supports or gives the “religious right” or groups which espouse or promote homophobia, racism, or anti-civil-rights attitudes any credibility whatsoever is an idiot. Idiots who do that are the ones who have ruined this country. Thinking people (those who have avoided being brainwashed) should avoid them and/or counteract their vieiws at all times and defend their victims. This is, after all, the United States of America.

  • Lew Alessio

    Our only tools to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS are prevention and education.
    On behalf of the men of just guys whose efforts and web site, http://www.justguys.info, promotes safer and responsible choices among the population mostly greatly affected by HIV/AIDS, men who have sex with men, I want to thank the Southern Poverty Center for its scrutiny of the discriminatory propaganda which puts all of us, men women, and children at risk for disease.

  • Snorlax

    Even if you point out that it was a safe sex website, that doesn’t faze these bigots one bit.

    Because there’s an overlapping membership and ideology between these reich wingnut groups and the reich wingnut anti-abortion groups, who are against all forms of contraception and prophylaxis. They’re abstinence-only morons.

    I bet they’re even against the rhythm method.

    Oh well, reich wingnuts never had rhythm anyway. Don’t get too close to their arms and legs when they go dancing.

  • Paen

    The claim that the GLBT community is preying on children is the most digusting piece of hate propaganda since the same
    kind of folks claimed that Jews used the blood of Christian babies to make their Passover bread.