The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
This past weekend, the annual Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colo., brought a number of the 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls to the battleground state, as well as a number of extremists and members of hate groups. Some of the major themes of the gathering included attacking the Supreme Court for its ruling on marriage equality and anti-immigrant sentiment.
Here is a rundown of some extremist highlights from the 2015 Western Conservative Summit:
- A number of the 2016 Presidential nominees decried Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court granting marriage equality for same-sex couples. Mike Huckabee called the decision “disgusting” and an act of “judicial supremacy.” Rick Santorum said the decision was “based on a lie” and that the family unit “has further been assaulted.”
- Tony Perkins, head of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council (FRC) also used his speech to attack the Supreme Court decision, saying that he “rejects the notion that we must get on the right side of these causes.” Perkins and FRC often make false claims about the LGBT community such as claiming that gay men are pedophiles.
- Later in his speech, Santorum referenced white nationalist Charles Murray, one of the most influential social scientists in America, who uses racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women and the poor.
- Santorum also called for a reduction to the number of immigrants entering the United States legally each year, a common argument voiced by the established anti-immigrant movement in the U.S.
- The most prominent anti-immigrant group in Colorado, the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (CAIRCO), had an exhibitor’s booth at the event. Among the materials CAIRCO distributed was a pamphlet produced by the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American immigration Reform (FAIR), founded by white nationalist John Tanton, the founder of the modern-day anti-immigrant movement.
- Joyce Mucci, FAIR’s Southern Field Representative, manned the CAIRCO booth. Mucci’s presence at the booth further indicates the close relationship between FAIR and state-based groups such as CAIRCO.
- Frank Gaffney, head of the anti-Muslim group Center for Security Policy (CSP) ran a workshop on day two of the conference. Gaffney’s speech was littered with anti-Muslim rhetoric, including an often repeated claim among Islamophobes that all Muslim Student Associations in the United States are a front for the Muslim Brotherhood.
- During the Q&A session, an attendee asked Gaffney to comment on “Somali colonies” working in meatpacking plants in Colorado. Gaffney responded to the question by stating, “I don’t know about you, but it kind of creeps me out that they are getting jobs in the food supply of the United States.”
This conference, similar to the CPAC gathering in Washington, D.C., in February, demonstrates that conservatives are doing little to appeal to minority and LGBT voters. With the 2016 election just around the corner, hardline stances on topics such as same-sex marriage and immigration could turn out to be very damaging for the GOP at the polls.
Reaction from anti-LGBT extremists to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling today that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage was fast and furious, defiant and hysterical.
They called the 5-to-4 decision an “illegitimate” ruling by a “Rogue Court” and, according to Westboro Baptist church, a “stamp of approval on an outrageously grotesque sin against God. #doomed.”
In a series of tweets minutes after the decision was announced this morning, Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (AFA) compared the ruling to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and said that he spotted Satan celebrating.
“I saw Satan dancing with delight, the day the music died in the United States of American,” Fischer tweeted.
“From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is now our 9/11,” Fischer whined in another tweet, adding that governors should defy the ruling and “refuse to issue sodomy-based licenses in their states.”
In the AFA’s official statement, President Tim Wildmon said the Supreme Court had chosen “to be a tool of tyranny” and that its ruling would “imperil religious liberty in America, as individuals of faith who uphold time-honored marriage and choose not to advocate for same-sex unions will now be viewed as extremists.”
In a long written statement under the headline, “SCOTUS Finds for Fiction and Iniquity 5-4,” Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute said the ruling was produced from the “imaginations” and “the gaseous emanations” of “five of our supremacist justices” who “discerned a heretofore nonexistent constitutional requirement that homoerotic unions be recognized as ‘marriages.’”
Higgins predicted the decision would give “birth to relentless cultural turmoil, division, and suffering,” adding “these five judges have watered the seeds of strife planted by sexual anarchists.”
She concluded, “This pernicious SCOTUS decision also provides evidence that the moral arc of America – at least with regard to marriage – bends not toward justice, wisdom, or morality but, rather, toward perversity and injustice. Liberals are once again on the shameful side of history and will once again foment cultural conflict and human suffering.”
In one of a series of tweets, Tony Perkins, who heads the Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC), called the ruling, a “shocking abuse of power” that “will never be accepted.”
In a longer statement on FRC’s website, Perkins said, “No court can overturn natural law.”
“It is folly for the Court to think that it has resolved a controversial issue public policy,” Perkins said in the statement. “By disenfranchising 50 million Americans, the Court has instead supercharged this issue.”
In a statement, Scott Lively, a veteran of the anti-LGBT movement, called the ruling “illegitimate.”
“In response to the ruling, Mr. Obama called it an example of ‘justice that arrives like a thunderbolt,’” Lively said. “That phrase turns logic and morality on its head as it relates to official government endorsement of sexual perversion.”
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, also called the ruling “illegitimate,” adding it “robs children of the right and joy of having both moms and dads.”
“The Court,” Staver said, “can no more redefine marriage than it can redefine gravity.”
Colorado congressman drops out of conservative gathering that includes anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim speakers
The anti-LGBT stance of some speakers lined up for next month’s Breaking the Silence conference in Colorado Springs may have proved too much for one Republican congressman.
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck was slated to speak at the conference but withdrew yesterday after he learned that one of the other speakers is Ugandan bishop Joshua Lwere, who oversees a network of Pentecostal churches in his home country. Lwere lobbied for the infamous anti-LGBT bill in Uganda that was signed into law in early 2014. The original 2009 bill called for the execution of LGBT people in some circumstances, but the 2014 version changed that to life in prison. In August of last year, a Ugandan court annulled it on a technicality.
Buck has claimed in the past that homosexuality is a choice but that birth might have something to do with it, the same way birth might have something to do with alcoholism. However, Lwere’s views are apparently too extreme for Buck, who told the Denver Post, “I can’t share the stage with someone like that.”
As the funerals are set to begin for the nine victims of last week’s terrorist attack on an historic African-American church in Charleston, another reign of terror continues to quietly spread across the country.
For at least the ninth time this year, a transgender woman has been murdered.
The most recent to die in the slow-moving slaughter is 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, an aspiring cosmetologist with long, dark hair and a beautiful smile from Theodore, Alabama. Her partially decomposed body was found on June 2 in a field in George County, Mississippi, about 40 miles west of her home. The authorities say she was killed a day or two earlier, her body left in the field, hidden under brush and debris.
“It’s shocking to me that I’m not hearing more about it from people in the community,” James Robinson, of the Huntsville, Alabama-based LGBTQ social service agency, Free2Be, told Hatewatch today. “I think it’s just getting lost and it shouldn’t. This was a 17-year-old girl in rural Alabama who was murdered.
An alleged street gang member, Josh Brandon Vallum, 27, has been charged with her slaying and is in jail. Bond for the ex-con has been set at $1 million.
A motive for the slaying has not been established. Agents with the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force have joined deputies from the George County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation, according to the Sun Herald newspaper of Gulfport, Mississippi.
“We are trying to determine whether (the killing) is drug-related, gang-related or a hate crime,” George County sheriff’s Capt. Ben Brown told the paper this week. “We will do a thorough investigation to bring justice to the victim’s family.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently published an in-depthreport on anti-transgender violence taking place across the country. The report quotes a study by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) that says since 2013 nearly 30 transgender women, most of them black and Latino, have been slain.
“We’ve had people burned in their homes,” Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a policy adviser for the Washington D.C.-based group, told the SPLC. “We’ve had people’s genitals mutilated after they’re dead. It’s absolutely rooted in transphobia and hatred and it’s absolutely a national crisis. And that’s just confirmed murders. It’s probably more.”
Just last year, for the first time, the FBI published statistics on the number of hate crimes based on gender identity, finding that 33 people were victimized in 2013, the latest numbers available. But the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released a similar report last year, finding that 344 trans people had been victimized in 2013, 13 of them killed.
There is no dispute that the life of young transwoman has been snuffed out.
Williamson lived in a rented, $50-a-week, one-bedroom camper in Theodore with Jeanie Miller, 41, according to the Sun Herald. Williamson slept on the sofa in the front of the camper. Miller took the back bedroom. They were more like mother and daughter than roommates, Miller told the paper.
“I was overprotective of her because she was closer to me than my own daughter,” Miller said.
Miller told the paper she last saw Williamson around 2 p.m. on May 30 when Williams left the camper, saying she was going to Gulf Shores. When Williamson did not return for a couple of days, Miller said she grew alarmed and called one of the teenager’s friends, who informed her that Williamson was dead.
On June 1, according to Sun Herald, Josh Vallum, the ex-con gang member charged with the murder, told his father that he had killed someone and left the body in the underbrush behind his father’s house. The father called the authorities and helped them search for and find the body.
Vallum later turned himself in.
Miller, the dead girl’s roommate, told the paper that she knew Vallum and that Vallum knew Williamson was transgender.
“It’s a horrible case, a sad situation,” Shonna Pierce, spokesperson for the George County sheriff, told Hatewatch today. “She was a beautiful person.”
New York Times: Media focus on Islamists, but law enforcement fears right-wing extremists as sources of domestic terror.
Think Progress: Watch Donald Trump go full-on nativist in his announcement of presidential bid.
Talking Points Memo: Texas state government to ‘repatriate’ gold to new facility, responding to paranoid fears of fiscal Armageddon.
Topeka Capital-Journal (KS): Topeka residents receive recruitment letters from Ku Klux Klan.
Media Matters: Ann Coulter’s new book, ‘Adios, America,’ is just a collection of recycled old nativist talking points.
Right Wing Watch: David Lane warns conservatives that ‘homosexual fascism’ will destroy America.
South Bend Tribune (IN): Three people arrested in Warsaw in connection with alleged white-supremacist plot to kill local man.
Raw Story: Father of Dallas man who attacked police station claims ‘liberal people’ made his son do it.
DiversityInc: The FBI vastly undercounts police-related killings.
AlterNet: Why Rachel Dolezal’s mimicry is a far cry from the solidarity needed to establish an anti-racist white identity.
Right Wing Watch: Tom DeLay urges Americans to defy the ‘ten’ justices of the Supreme Court.
Raw Story: White nationalists invite McKinney cop to help build a whites-only enclave in North Dakota.
Alaska Dispatch News: Weekend Alaska militia gathering aims to debunk the extremist stereotypes.
Atlanta Journal Constitution: Neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement followers distribute fliers near Florida synagogue.
Think Progress: What religious people actually think about using ‘religious liberty’ to justify anti-LGBT discrimination.
With a referendum that will decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage in Ireland scheduled later this week, anti-LGBT forces have been hard at work spreading all manner of conspiracy theories and junk science to sway public opinion.
Last week, anti-LGBT Dutch psychologist Gerard van den Aardweg, who has ties to the U.S.-based National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality (NARTH), addressed an event in Dublin, Ireland to encourage people to vote “no” on same-sex marriage.
The event was organized by the Irish anti-LGBT group, Catholic Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage (ADFAM), which garnered press in February for distributing leaflets that included numerous false claims about homosexuality, including that it causes cancer, that LGBT people are promiscuous and that same-sex couples “don’t even live together.”
Shaken by a year-long spike in LGBT-bashing crimes in their predominantly gay neighborhood, community leaders from Seattle’s Capitol Hill area organized a public forum this week that drew several hundred participants, as well as the city’s mayor.
Ranging from an attempt to kill hundreds of people packed into a bar on New Year’s Eve to a steady stream of assaults and robberies motivated by anti-LGBT animus, the spike in hate crimes on Capitol Hill appears to be a violent backlash against recent gains in LGBT rights in Washington state, including the approval given to same-sex marriage by the state’s voters in 2012.
“I used to live on Capitol Hill, but I don’t anymore,” said Debbie Carlsen of LGBTQ Allyship, a local rights organization, to the crowd on Tuesday, echoing a number of other speakers. “And when I go to the Hill, I don’t feel culturally safe. It’s not a place that I feel safe anymore.”
A number of residents described to the crowd the kinds of assaults that they have endured in the past year, including verbal harassment escalating to physical assaults as they walked through the neighborhood, as well as one alleged assault by a police officer. One man stood up and removed his hat, revealing a large healing wound on his forehead, saying he had been attacked only a week before and had been unable to identify his assailants, “but they were all calling me names.”
Most of those who testified agreed that the worst, most violent attacks seemed to be directed at transsexual people of color.
The meeting, organized by Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant, featured a number of speakers offering a range of solutions. Some proposed more citizen patrols, while others opposed that step as potentially dangerous. Some argued for greater police involvement, while others blamed the police as part of the problem. Sawant spoke at length about how economic disparities often fuel the conditions that make the crimes possible.
Seattle’s openly gay Mayor Ed Murray, who attended the gathering with his husband, said he will help take the lead on this issue. “I think if people don’t feel safe, if they perceive they’re not safe, then we have a problem,” he said. “And we as a city and we as a community have to respond.”
Murray told KING 5 News that he believes the problem is real and substantial. “I think there is an increase,” he said. “I mean, we’ve been here before, we’ve seen this right on this very street before, back in the late ’80s and early ‘90s, when I was a young person. And we’re seeing it again.”
Shaun Knittel, the founder of Social Outreach Seattle, and one of the people who helped douse the attempted arson at Neighbours Bar on New Year’s Eve 2014, an act that eventually brought a heavy 10-year sentence for the perpetrator, told the crowd that it needed to resolve some of its internal differences if the community is going to form an effective response to the challenge.
“We have a perfect storm here on the Hill,” said Knittel, noting the split between people who support the police and those who blame the police. “What kind of message does that send to people who want to do harm to us?”
“We also have a nightlife culture here where everyone that’s opening a business here seems to think they need to be either a bar or a nightclub. How many do you need in one neighborhood?”
Knittel urged victims of bias crimes to resist the temptation to not report the matter to police at all, noting that doing so just encourages repeat offenses and escalation.
“We need to understand better about reporting, and we need to talk about what that looks like,” he said. “If you fear going to the police to report, we understand that. But please, reach out and find and advocate and let people help you report what’s happened. Because I can guarantee you that you’re not their first victim.”
Most of all, he noted, the community needs to make it clear that “bashing queers” is not a free sport for haters anymore.
“We need to lean into this notion that you can come up here and mess with us and we won’t do anything back,” he said. “Those days are over.”
Sanctity of Marriage-Alabama held another rally against marriage equality this past Saturday on the steps of the Alabama Capitol in Montgomery. The rally featured several speakers who not only decried the January federal court ruling that struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, but also homosexuality in general. This is the second rally the group has held this month (the first was Feb. 7) and the second time that theocrat John Eidsmoe was a speaker. He was the keynote at the first.
Eidsmoe is listed as “senior counsel and resident scholar” at the Foundation for Moral Law (FML) a Montgomery-based organization founded in 2002. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was president of the FML until he stepped down in 2013 to run for the position he now holds. His wife, Kayla Moore, is currently the president.
Eidsmoe also has notable ties. In 2005, he addressed the national conference of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens. He is a favorite of the neo-Confederate League of the South, which calls for a society run by an “Anglo-Celtic” (white) elite that would establish a Christian theocratic state and politically dominate African Americans and other minorities.
Moore, who received myriad accolades at the second rally as well as the first, is at the center of a controversy that erupted after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional in January. Moore has stated publicly that Alabama judges need not honor the ruling and warned of a “confrontation” with the federal courts. The Southern Poverty Law Center has since filed an ethics complaint against Moore, arguing that he has committed ethical violations and encouraged lawlessness by attempting to assemble state officials and judges to oppose the federal judiciary.
In keeping with Moore’s theme, Eidsmoe claimed that state courts “are not bound by federal district and circuit court opinions.” But he also read, aloud, the beginning of the 1987 biting satirical essay “The Homosexual Manifesto,” which is used by anti-LGBT groups to “prove” the existence of a “gay agenda” and to link gay men to pedophilia. The manifesto was written under the name “Michael Swift,” possibly a pen name and an homage to Jonathan Swift, who also wrote satire. The first line, which anti-LGBT groups ignore, is, “This essay is an outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.”
After reading the short passage, Eidsmoe exhorted the crowd to Google the essay to read it for themselves.
Other speakers included Alabama Republican state representative Will Ainsworth, who linked same-sex marriage to polygamy when he said, “Allowing the whims of our pop culture to redefine marriage is a slippery slope that could lead to polygamy. Where does the definition stop? Think about that.” He then quoted Isaiah 5:20, which states, in part, “woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”
Pastor Aaron Motley of Montgomery’s Miracle Deliverance Temple of Christ had stronger words, linking homosexuality to perversion when he claimed that it’s an “insult” to compare LGBT rights to the civil rights movement because “one seeks to protect our rights as human beings under the U.S. Constitution and moral laws and the other seeks the acceptance of a perverted lifestyle.” He further claimed that the “gay agenda is designed to undermine all that the civil rights movement set out to do.”
The crowd, which appeared to be around 200 people (some estimates are higher), included members or supporters of the League of the South, some of whom carried flags that featured a red cross with white stars on a blue background, which looks a lot like the 3rd Kentucky Mounted Infantry Regiment flag, used also as a battle flag for Confederate general John Breckinridge’s division, though the cross also carries religious symbolism.
This isn’t the first time the League has expanded its traditional, secessionist mission to protest same-sex marriage. Last year, members gathered outside the SPLC offices and also in Richmond, Virginia.
Scott Lively, the longtime anti-LGBT activist currently being sued for human rights violations because of his involvement in Uganda’s so-called “kill the gays” bill, has announced that he is considering a run for Congress.
With an eye on the seat occupied by Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.,), Lively switched his political affiliation from Independent to Republican the day after the November 2014 election, Lively said in a post on the anti-LGBT site barbwire.com. But this isn’t the first time he’s thrown his hand into the political ring.
Last year, Lively ran for governor in Massachusetts and garnered less then 1% of the vote, an outcome he was quick to label a victory. His argument for why he might be a good candidate this time around is to correct the record on Russia, where he has been tirelessly working to lobby for a laws that are punitive to the gay and lesbian community.
American and Russian conservatives, Lively says, could be cooperating together to “roll back liberalism around the world.” But instead, the “cultural Marxists of both major US political parties are trying to drive a wedge between us with the absurd lie that Russia is trying to revive the Soviet Union.”
After all, Lively continues, Russia is standing up against the “homosexual agenda.”
Based in Springfield, Mass., where he runs the anti-LGBT hate group Abiding Truth Ministries, the project Redemption Gate Mission Society and the Holy Grounds Coffee House, Lively has traveled extensively for years in Africa and Europe in support of criminalizing homosexuality, often linking it to pedophilia and in one instance, even the Rwandan genocide.
In an interview with NBC news in 2013, he claimed that gay people are “dangerous predators, even killers” (The NBC interview is no longer available online, but quoted here). He is also the author The Pink Swastika, in which he posits that gay men in the Nazi Party were architects of the Holocaust. The book has been roundly debunked by historians.
None of that has stopped his influence abroad, however. With Lively’s self-proclaimed influence, Russia has passed a number of draconian laws since 2012, including adoption bans of Russian orphans by same-sex couples in other countries; the banning of foreign non-governmental organizations that support civil rights and the criminalization of free speech with a ban of so-called “homosexual propaganda.”
In May 2014, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed another law into effect, this one banning profanity in films, television broadcasts, theaters, and the media. In the wake of the passage of that law, violence against LGBT people in Russia increased dramatically and more LGBT Russians have been seeking asylum abroad. Lively has proudly claimed responsibility for the anti-propaganda law in Russia.
Lively may have a difficult time persuading fellow conservatives to work with Russia, however. The U.S. leveled sanctions against specific Russian individuals and entities for violating Ukrainian sovereignty in the wake of Russia’s actions toward Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Russia’s actions prompted the conservative Concerned Women for America to pull out of the massive gathering of the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families 2014. Penny Nance, president of CWA, said that she didn’t want to appear to be “giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin.”
WCF later announced that it had suspended its conference in the wake of Russia’s actions, but members in September showed up in Moscow anyway for a conference that seemed remarkably similar to the original gathering.
In spite of all this, Lively is still giving a run for Congress. And he’s already fundraising through his old “Lively for Governor” site until he can “raise funds” to create a new site.