Members of Congress urged to not legitimize extremism by speaking at Values Voter Summit

A coalition of human rights groups is calling on members of Congress and other public officials not to speak at the upcoming Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., because the event host and its key co-sponsor – the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA) – have long records of vilifying the LGBT community and spreading other forms of bigotry.

“Public officials need to know the real ‘values’ they’re endorsing when they attend the Values Voter Summit,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. “Offensive and bigoted lies are not magically transformed into the truth just because a group with the word ‘family’ in its name keeps repeating them.”

The coalition letter was signed by the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Faithful America, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, People For the American Way, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The letter describes how the FRC has repeatedly portrayed gay men and lesbians as sick, evil, incestuous, violent, perverted and a threat to the nation. It points out that FRC President Tony Perkins has gone so far as to describe the “It Gets Better” campaign – an effort to give LGBT students hope for a better tomorrow – as “disgusting” and part of a “concerted effort” to “recruit” children into the gay “lifestyle.”

The letter also points out that Bryan Fischer, AFA spokesman and director of issue analysis, has blamed gay men for the Holocaust and the Nazi Party. “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews,” Fischer has written.

Fischer and the AFA’s bigotry are not limited to the LGBT community. Fischer has said that African Americans “rut like rabbits” and argued that women should be kicked out of politics and the military. He’s also stated that Hispanics are “socialists by nature” and come here to “plunder” our country.

Standing in front of a Confederate flag, Perkins once addressed a group that had described black people as “a retrograde species of humanity.” His speech came two years after the Republican National Committee urged public officials to shun the group because of its bigotry.

The coalition letter urges public officials invited to speak at FRC/AFA event “to not lend the prestige of [their] office to the summit,” which begins Friday. The members of Congress invited to speak  include Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio Ted Cruz, and Tim Scott, and Reps. Paul Ryan, Randy Forbes, Michele Bachmann, Jim Bridenstine, Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, Steve King, Steve Scalise, and Scott Turner.