Last weekend, the anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel held its annual conference, The Awakening, to provide a platform for anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim voices.But the event was much more than that –– at times, it seemed a call to battle. “The war wages. We cannot stand idly by,” the Counsel said in promotional materials. And true to form, the panel of speakers formed an angry chorus.
The vitriol was perhaps best embodied by retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who employed violent rhetoric in lamenting the advances in LGBT equality, particularly in regards to trans people. Boykin is executive vice president at the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council. He is perhaps best known for his anti-Islam statements over the years.
At The Awakening, however, Boykin lambasted non-discrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation and gender identity protections, especially those designed to protect trans people from humiliation and discrimination by allowing them to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. He even threatened physical violence against anyone using a bathroom that didn’t align with their assigned sex at birth:
“Where is the Christian world today? Where are the Christians of America today? They should be flocking to people like Kim Davis. They should be flocking to the city council to say, ‘No you're not going to let a man go in my daughters bathroom, just because he feels like a man today.” Boykin said. “Where are the Christians that are standing up to these kind of evil.”
Boykin continued, “And I’ve already said and somebody will be recording this and this will be on YouTube before it’s all over with, but I’ll tell you what –– the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain’t gonna have to worry about a surgery. That’s not right. That is not right. It’s not right. It’s ungodly, but it’s also just unnatural.”
Attacks on trans people continued through the afternoon with panels such as “Gender Confusion: Setting the Record Straight,”– a trend of particular concern given that trans people are already a target of discrimination and violence, especially trans women of color, who are one of the most victimized populations in the country.
Several speakers also focused on so-called “ex-gay,” or reparative therapy, a discredited practice that claims to turn gay people heterosexual.
Greg Quinlan, former president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) and ministry leader at Living Free Ministries of New Jersey, insisted repeatedly that it is possible to change sexual orientation despite widespread consensus among medical and psychological authorities that it is not possible.
“Homosexuality is a developmental, gender identity disorder,” Quinlan harped, later adding, "I tell parents and friends who have loved ones in the lifestyle, to pray for relational failure –– that every relationship they have that is in that lifestyle will fail. And it does eventually because it’s a bankrupt relationship and it’s based on false premises.” Ironically, Quinlan, who claims to be a “former homosexual,” was married to a woman who also claimed to be “ex-gay.” The two made their marriage the focus of ex-gay activism and proof of change until 2008, when they divorced.
Matt Barber, the editor of the virulently anti-LGBT Barbwire.com and host of the Liberty Counsel’s Faith and Freedom Radio, characterized trans people as suffering from a mental health illness and insisted that trans people suffer from a “delusion.”
"We are asked, we are told, demanded under penalty of law … to embrace and play along in a delusion –– that a man can somehow become a woman and that a woman can somehow become a man,” Barber said.
But Barber suggested a more nefarious explanation for homosexuality and the LGBTQ rights movement: Satan.
The homosexual activist and transgender activist movement have done a masterful job of browbeating people into silence, of silencing dissent by accusing people who want, who have, who speak truth and love on these issues by calling them transphobic, homophobic. You’re a bigot, you’re a hater, and there are even within the church, people who are buying into this worldly deception, and that’s what it is. The enemy loves to, the enemy of the world, the father of lies, is all about deception. And he is going to attack the very nature of humanity, our sexuality, our genders, how God, in the beginning, God created them male and female.”
LGBT people weren’t the only group demonized at the conference.
Pamphlets accusing President Obama of being engaged in “A Romance with Islamism,” produced by David Horowitz, were also on display and distributed free of charge. Liberty Council pamphlets warned of “Sharia Law and Its Threat to America” on a pamphlet emblazoned with the Islamic crescent and star in fire and boasting Islamophobic titles such as “‘Holy War’ the Norm for Islam” and “License to Kill in the Name of Allah.”