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This weekend, Tony Perkins and his gay-bashing Family Research Council (FRC) are hosting the annual Values Voter Summit, a Washington, D.C., gathering of right-wing religious activists that typically attracts a number of high-ranking, conservative public officials.
Among those scheduled to speak this year are House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
They and other public officials will be rubbing shoulders with a host of virulently anti-LGBT activists. The SPLC and a coalition of human rights groups has urged these public officials not to speak at the summit because their appearance legitimizes the lies and demonizing propaganda spread by groups like the FRC and the American Family Association, a co-sponsor.
Here’s a quick rundown of the anti-LGBT activists scheduled to speak at the summit, which begins Friday.
Gary Bauer, former official in the Reagan administration and former president of the FRC, is currently president of American Values. Last May, he claimed that allowing men to marry other men would only exacerbate the problems faced by African-American families and would remove more men from black households. He has also claimed that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy, that it’s a danger to religious freedom, and that it’s “an incredible risk to our country and faith.”
Michael Farris, founder of the ultra-conservative Home School Legal Defense Initiative and Patrick Henry College, is based in Loudoun County, Va. He claimed in 2011 that Democrats in his home county are trying to use hate crimes laws to “stifle religious freedom.” Elsewhere, he said that same-sex marriage “undermines the integrity of a nation” and is a behavior that God calls “an abomination.”
John Helmberger is CEO of the Minnesota Family Council. On the organization’s website is “8 Reasons for Opposing Domestic Partners Benefits,” which claims that “Homosexual unions include inherently unhealthy behaviors, e.g. oral and anal sex” and that “Homosexual unions can’t replicate the benefits provided to society” by heterosexual marriage.
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, wrote a March 2012, blog post in which she worried that anti-bullying policies were just a way for groups like the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network to “gain access to our public schools” and that anti-bullying educational materials are “agenda-driven propaganda” designed to “redefine marriage and to force cultural acceptance and affirmation of homosexual lifestyles.” According to media reports, Herrod was instrumental in lobbying the Arizona legislature to kill an anti-bullying law that would have strengthened existing laws.
Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Maryland, has a history of anti-gay statements and has been active most recently in his home state’s battle over marriage equality. Popular with groups like the FRC and the National Organization for Marriage, Jackson has claimed that LGBT people are trying to “recruit children” because they can’t reproduce and that “demonic forces” are behind the gay rights movement. In 2011, he said, “I’m African American, and I especially believe that what we’re dealing with [gay marriage] is a satanic plot to destroy our seed.”
Rick Scarborough is the founder of Vision America, an organization that seeks to inform and mobilize pastors to “restore Judeo-Christian values.” Scarborough has said that AIDS is God’s judgment for an immoral act and claimed that “Sexual anarchy led by Sodomites who will not stop demanding more until they have destroyed every semblance of public morality” is one of the evils the country faces. He has also demanded to know what LGBT people have to be proud of, since they’re “defined exclusively by their aberrant sexual behavior” and have more than a thousand sexual partners in their lifetimes.
Mathew Staver, president of the Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University Law School, claimed at last year’s summit that the homosexual agenda undermines family and is a direct assault on religious freedom and freedom of speech. Earlier this year, Staver said that the goal of the Day of Silence (a day in which students don’t speak in an effort to call attention to anti-gay bullying) is “to disrupt the classroom learning environment in order to send a message in favor of the radical homosexual agenda” and that it’s part of “a concerted effort to force society to accept the practice of homosexuality and other deviant lifestyles.” Staver went on to warn that homosexual behavior raises “serious public health concerns.”