Values Voter Summit – or Anti-LGBT Hate Fest?

Starting today, a number of prominent public figures will be attending and speaking at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of socially conservative activists in Washington. But just what kind of values are they promoting?

The summit is hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC) and co-hosted by the American Family Association (AFA) –groups that regularly spew vicious lies about the LGBT community.

They both say for example, that gay men molest children at far higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts — a claim that has been debunked by virtually all the recognized scientific authorities in the field, including the American Psychological Association.

The FRC has said that gay activists “work to normalize sex with boys,” seek to “abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order,” and support anti-bullying programs in order to promote homosexuality.

The AFA has declared that “homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler … the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews,” suggested that gay sex be punished like heroin use, and said that the “homosexual agenda” endangers “every fundamental right” in the Constitution, including religious freedom.

Both groups have enthusiastically promoted “reparative therapy,” the widely discredited idea that gay men and lesbians can be “cured” of their sexual orientation.

To call attention to the bigotry of these groups, we held a press conference today at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, the site of the conference, and also placed an ad in The Washington Post.

The FRC and the AFA, with a combined budget of more than $30 million, have a loud megaphone and are among the most politically powerful groups on the religious right. The AFA, in fact, has a network of 200 radio stations.

In addition to regularly defaming LGBT people, AFA spokesman and radio host Bryan Fischer has said that President Obama “nurtures a hatred for the white man,” said that non-Christian religions “have no First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion, claimed that the “sexual immorality of Native Americans” was part of what made them “morally disqualified from sovereign control of American soil,” and suggested that the best way to deal with promiscuity would be to kill the promiscuous. His bigotry apparently knows no bounds.

The damage these groups do with their anti-LGBT hate speech is incalculable. While the FRC and the AFA would certainly deny it, it seems obvious that their regular demonizing of members of the LGBT community as child molesters and the like creates an atmosphere where violence is all but inevitable.

And that violence is dramatic. A study by the Southern Poverty Law Center found, based on an analysis of 14 years of FBI hate crime data, that LGBT people were by far the American minority most victimized by such crimes. They were more than twice as likely to be attacked in a violent hate crime as Jews or black people and more than four times as likely as Muslims. And that doesn’t include the anti-gay bullying that has resulted in so many teen suicides.

Last year, the SPLC began listing the FRC and the AFA as hate groups. The listings, as was said at the time, were based on the groups’ use of known falsehoods to attack and demonize members of the LGBT community — not, as some have gratuitously claimed, because the groups are Christian, or because they oppose same-sex marriage, or because they believe the Bible describes homosexuality as a sin.

Many thoughtful Christian commentators have said as much. Warren Throckmorton, a respected professor and past president of the American Mental Health Counselors Association, wrote last year that “the newly labeled hate groups” were seeking to

“avoid addressing the issues the SPLC raised, instead preferring to attack the credibility of the SPLC.” After reviewing an SPLC list of myths propagated by anti-gay, religious-right groups, he said many are “provably false” and “rooted in ignorance.”

The SPLC’s criticisms, Throckmorton concluded, are “legitimate and have damaged the credibility of the groups on the list. Going forward, I hope Christians don’t rally around these groups but rather call them to accountability.”

We hope public figures will do the same.