Anti-LGBT roundup 10.13.17

The following is a list of activities and events of anti-LGBT organizations and individuals. Organizations listed as anti-LGBT hate groups are designated with an asterisk.

Florida Family Policy Council

The FFPC is holding its 12th annual Policy Awards Dinner, which it bills as “the conservative dinner event of the year.” The event is scheduled for October 28 in Orlando.

The keynote speaker is Michael Farris, president of Alliance Defending Freedom* (a position he took early this year). The other guest is flower shop owner Barronelle Stutzman, one of ADF’s clients. Stutzman refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding in defiance of Washington State non-discrimination laws. ADF took her case, claiming her religious liberty is infringed upon because of non-discrimination laws.

Michael Farris, ADF president, CEO and general counsel
Michael Farris, ADF president, CEO and general counsel.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Stutzman in February of this year, but ADF appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in July.

In addition to ADF, Farris is also the founder of Patrick Henry College and the former director and founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (he is still on the board), which works to scuttle state legislation that would better regulate home schooling and help protect such children from abuse and neglect.

ADF works nationally and internationally to curtail the rights of LGBT people through lawsuits and policy under the guise of so-called “religious liberty.” ADF has also supported the criminalization of homosexual sex and sided with European states that required the sterilization of transgender people to change their government-issued documentation.

The organization also drafted the draconian religious liberty bill in Mississippi (H.B. 1523 went into effect Oct. 10 following a legal battle) that allows businesses to refuse service to LGBT people and others on the basis of religious beliefs or “moral convictions.” The law singles out three “sincerely held” religious beliefs as cause for protection: marriage is between a man and a woman; people should not have sex outside such marriages; and a person’s gender should be set at birth.

Family Research Council*

The Family Research Council* is holding an event Oct. 24 with Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) called “Keeping Our Military Ready: Why Radical Social Experimentation In Our Armed Forces Must End.” FRC has expressed approval of President Trump’s ban on transgender people from serving in the military, saying in the description for this event, “Thankfully, the Trump administration intervened to stop this radical social experimentation and political correctness from negatively affecting the military’s true purpose: to fight and win wars.”

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, speaking July 13, 2017 on barring Defense Dept. spending for medical treatment for transgender troops during floor debate, C-SPAN.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, speaking July 13, 2017 on barring Defense Dept. spending for medical treatment for transgender troops during floor debate, C-SPAN.

Hartzler, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, has been a staunch opponent of trans people serving in the military and submitted an anti-trans amendment in July of this year to a spending bill. The amendment, which would have banned the military from treating anything that had to do with “the transgender agenda” was defeated. Soon after, Trump declared a sweeping ban on trans troops.

FRC materials have claimed that transgender people have an “underlying pathology” and that the “state of being transgendered [sic] is extremely unstable.” There is no reason, FRC claims, “to affirm a distorted psychological self-concept that one’s ‘gender identity’ is different from one’s biological sex.”

FRC’s annual Values Voter Summit kicked off Oct. 13 in Washington D.C. The Summit, a nexus of conservative political networking, will feature such speakers as former Trump advisor Steve Bannon; Frank Gaffney (of the anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy*); former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka; Brigitte Gabriel (of the anti-Muslim ACT for America*); Alabama Republican senate candidate Roy Moore and anti-Muslim activists Kamal Saleem and Walid Phares.

This year President Trump becomes the first sitting president to address the Summit since its inception in 2006.

In more FRC news, the organization has launched a “hotline” for people to call if they are employees “who believe that they have suffered discrimination in the workplace based on their religious beliefs or practices.” The “hotline” is actually a website on which people can enter information and then “two highly regarded non-profit legal groups” will “review the cases submitted.” FRC did not specify which two organizations those are.

FRC has long been a proponent and purveyor of the “Christian persecution complex,” in which the anti-LGBT right often peddles stories about alleged persecution of Christians in the U.S., and they serve to bolster the false narrative that a majority religious group in this country is being driven underground as a persecuted minority, and to reframe political losses as religious oppression.

FRC Radio Roundup:

FRC president Tony Perkins does a daily radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests from Sept. 21 through October 13 have included Jerry Johnson (president, National Religious Broadcasters); Frank Gaffney (of the anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy*); Casey Mattox (attorney with the anti-LGBT Alliance Defending Freedom*); Sam Sorbo (actress); Phil Kerpen (president of American Commitment); Michael Brown (FIRE School of Ministry); Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); State Rep. Kenny Havard (R-LA); Rev. Franklin Graham; author and conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza; Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA); Nikita Vladamirov (Campus Reform); George Barna (Barna Research Group); Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH); Ramesh Ponnuru (Bloomberg View and visiting fellow, American Enterprise Institute); Alveda King (Civil Rights for the Unborn); David Bradshaw (Awaken the Dawn); Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX); David Smith (executive director, Illinois Family Institute*); Hannah Scherlacher (Campus Reform); John Torres (former DHS official); Carrie Severino (Judicial Crisis Network); Gov. Mike Huckabee; Randall Wenger (chief counsel, Pennsylvania Family Institute); Tim Graham (exec. editor, NewsBusters); Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ); Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ); Mississippi governor Phil Bryant; Jack Monday (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association international director of the Rapid Response Team); Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA and House Majority Whip); Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA); Ken Klukowski (First Liberty Institute); former congresswoman Michele Bachmann; Rep., Mike Johnson (R-LA); Jonathan Keller (California Family Council); Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC); Ken Cucinelli (president, Senate Conservatives Fund); Laura Ingraham (talk radio host and author); Brian Blase (special assistant to Trump); Lt. Col. Oliver North; James O’Keefe (Project Veritas)

Liberty Counsel*

The Liberty Counsel* is involving itself in Romanian affairs. Harry Mihet, LC’s vice president of legal affairs and chief litigation counsel, is on the ground in that country with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who became the LC’s poster child for so-called “religious liberty” when she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples following the Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equality nationwide.

Poster advertising Kim Davis and the Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, appearing at an October 6 conference in Romania.
Poster advertising Kim Davis and the Liberty Counsel’s Harry Mihet, appearing at an October 6 conference in Romania.

According to a Liberty Counsel press release dated Oct. 10, over “three million Romanian citizens” signed a petition “asking for a nationwide referendum to define marriage as a one-man and one-woman union in the nation’s constitution,” which, LC claims, “is believed to be a world record.” The press release states that Davis and Mihet are “holding conferences in Romania’s largest cities” and that their message is simple and based on lessons from the U.S., that same-sex marriage and freedom of conscience are mutally exclusive, “because those who promote the former have zero tolerance for the latter.” Davis and Mihet have allegedly met two archbishops of the powerful Orthodox Church and are scheduled to meet other leaders of Romania’s largest denomination.

Liberty Counsel, long a purveyor of anti-LGBT rhetoric including the demonization of LGBT people, linking homosexuality to pedophilia, and propagating known falsehoods about LGBT people, has been active in Romania for at least a year. In July 2016, the group submitted an amicus brief (PDF) to the Constitutional Court of Romania to encourage the adoption of a constitution in that country that defines marriage as one man and one woman (presumably heterosexual and cisgender).

The brief, in which Liberty Counsel referred to itself as a “civil liberties organization,” is a litany of anti-LGBT pseudoscience as well as right-wing conspiracy theories around sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (who died in 1956), with one section of the brief titled “Kinsey Used Child Molesters to Convince the World that All Sexual Activity Is Normal and Acceptable.”

On the first page of the brief, Liberty Counsel links homosexuality to pedophilia, stating “Same-sex ‘marriage’ is grounded in fraudulent ‘research’ based on skewed demographics and the sexual abuse of hundreds of infants and children” (emphasis in original).

The brief also cites the discredited Regnerus Study as evidence that gay parents are dangerous to children’s well-being and then devotes pages to claiming that homosexuality is dangerous to public health, stating on one page that “the nature of the sexual acts in which same-sex couples engage carry health risks that are not as prevalent, or in some cases, not present at all, in heterosexual individuals.”

Engaging in homosexual conduct is dangerous, and endorsing and subsidizing  same-sex union and treating them as marriages is an endorsement of conduct that does not benefit society, but rather harms it by creating irresponsible and unhealthy people.

MassResistance*

The Texas chapter of the anti-LGBT hate group Mass Resistance, which launched earlier this year, is holding a conference called Teens4Truth: Countering the LGBT Agenda Nov. 17-18 at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Longtime anti-LGBT activist Robert Oscar López, the president of the Texas chapter, teaches at the Seminary. López resigned a teaching position in June 2016 from Cal State Northridge amidst allegations of retaliation against students who accused him of creating a hostile learning environment.

Slated speakers at the Teens4Truth Conference include Texas state senator Donna Campbell (who is also an emergency room physician); Texas state representative Ron Simmons; Pastor Dave Welch of the U.S. Pastor Council; Jonathan Saenz, president of the anti-LGBT group Texas Values and David Pickup.

Welch has referred to homosexuality as “sexual deviancy” and referred to former Houston mayor Annise Parker as a “sodomite.” He has also opposed Muslims holding leadership positions in government and labeled a federal judge a “domestic enemy” for ruling against the military’s anti-LGBT “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Saenz has claimed that an LGBT graduation ceremony promotes “dangerous and risky sexual activity that can fiercely jeopardize a person’s well-being,” has defended the harmful and discredited practice of ex-gay therapy and claimed that marriage equality will lead to people marrying their stepchildren.

David Pickup claims to be “ex-gay” and currently works as a therapist who also advertises harmful ex-gay therapy on his website. Pickup is based in Dallas, Texas and was a plaintiff in a lawsuit that challenged California’s 2012 ban on ex-gay therapy for minors.

Campbell pushed an anti-LGBT “religious liberty” bill in Texas in 2013 and 2014 and defended Texas’s notorious “bathroom bill” earlier in 2017 (the bill was eventually killed in August a special legislative session). Simmons sponsored another anti-LGBT bill in April (HB 2899; the Texas Protection Act) of this year that would ban local municipalities from adopting nondiscrimination ordinances, which will effectively ensure the legalization of discrimination against LGBT people as well as other groups. The bill would also nullify such ordinances already in place. HB 2899 died in committee in June.

NARTH Institute (Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity)

The ex-gay therapy organization NARTH Institute (formerly just NARTH; National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) will be holding its 2017 training institute in Salt Lake City Oct. 20-21. The Institute operates under the umbrella of the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity.

The keynote speaker is pediatrician Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians*, named a hate group because of its propagation of damaging falsehoods about LGBT people, including linking homosexuality to pedophilia and claiming they’re a danger to children. ACPeds broke away from the 60,000-member American Academy of Pediatrics when it issued a statement in 2002 in support of same-sex couples as adoptive and foster parents.

Cretella, a staunch proponent of harmful ex-gay therapy, has also said that “transgender ideology” has infiltrated her field “and produced large-scale child abuse.” She serves on the NARTH board.

Also speaking at the event is Sharon Slater, head of Family Watch International*. Mostly active in international circles via the United Nations, Slater is also a proponent of ex-gay therapy, and has disseminated numerous materials about it, including a “documentary.” Slater has also supported the criminalization of homosexual sex.

Sessions at the institute include “How to Treat Homosexuality Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with Mindfulness Meditation and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in the Context of Reparative Therapy”; “Client history and underlying emotional ‘roadblocks’ that prevent changes in a client’s sexuality”; and another bashing the SPLC, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Judicial and Legislative updates

Mississippi

Mississippi’s so-called “religious liberty” law went into effect Oct. 10. The bill gives individuals, private associations, and religiously affiliated organizations a license to legally discriminate against LGBT people and others under the guise of three now-codified “sincerely held religious beliefs.” These include the belief that marriage is reserved for one man and one woman, that sexual relations are reserved for that type of marriage, and sex and gender are immutable from birth.

The law is considered the “broadest religious-objections state law enacted since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.” The text of the law states that the government cannot act against individuals who refuse to treat, counsel, perform gender affirmation surgery, provide psychological services, or provide fertility services to people based on the now-codified religious beliefs.

The law lists other situations in which the state cannot take action, including against an employer for terminating someone’s employment on the basis of the codified beliefs or for refusing housing on that basis and the law explicitly allows employers and schools to establish sex-specific standards and policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming.

Alliance Defending Freedom* was heavily involved in drafting, promoting, and fighting for the legality of the law in court.

Texas

President Trump has put forth Jeff Mateer as a nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas. Mateer is with the right-wing First Liberty Institute (formerly Liberty Institute), a Christian legal organization based in Plano, Texas that battles LGBT rights and abortion under the guise of “religious liberty.”

Mateer, currently serving as first assistant attorney general who has no judicial experience, came under greater scrutiny when it was revealed that he made anti-LGBT comments in two 2015 speeches, claiming that transgender children are proof that “Satan’s plan is working” and that same-sex marriage is a harbinger for polygamy and bestiality. Mateer also attended a 2015 conference sponsored by Colorado pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson, who has preached  the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. At that conference, Mateer lamented that states were banning ex-gay therapy.

Mateer has also battled a local Texas ordinance extending local protections to LGBT people and claimed that the separation of church and state does not exist in the Constitution.

Trump also nominated Matthew Kacsmaryk, also of FLI, for a federal judgeship in Texas.

FLI is led by attorney Kelly Shackelford, who has a long history in Texas battling LGBT rights and abortion and pushing the myth of Christian persecution in order to push religious liberty exemptions that allow discrimination against LGBT people.