Anti-LGBT Roundup of events and activities 2/23/18

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

 

American Family Association*

The American Family Association (AFA)* launched yet another anti-trans campaign, this time against Walgreens pharmacy chain. On February 8, AFA posted a call to sign a petition, call Walgreens corporate headquarters and local Walgreens store managers to oppose the company’s trans-inclusive restroom policies, which went into effect in November, 2017.

The Walgreens policy, outlined in a company memo, reads, “All individuals have a right to use restroom facilities that correspond to the individual’s gender identity, regardless of the individual’s sex assigned at birth.”

AFA claimed in its February 8 post that “Walgreens has now directed its stores to allow men full and unrestricted access to women’s restrooms in all of its 8,100 stores.” This is a common anti-trans argument that attempts to paint trans woman as potentially predatory men, or as men invading women’s restrooms, whether predatory or not. The AFA also claims that allowing trans people to use public restrooms and facilities in accordance with their gender identities will allow non-trans predators the same access to those areas.

AFA is also boycotting Target for that corporation’s trans-inclusive bathroom policies. In April 2016, when AFA started calling for its boycott, it claimed, falsely, that “Target’s store policy endangers women and children by allowing men to frequent women’s facilities.” A man “can simply say he ‘feels like a woman today’ and enter the women’s restroom,” AFA stated, “even if young girls or women are already in there.” The “bathroom predator myth” has been debunked.

Concerned Christian Citizens

Concerned Christian Citizens (CCC) of Temple, Texas, continues its anti-LGBT crusade against the local public library, sparked by a display in June of 2017 for LGBT Pride. According to the Temple Daily Telegram, the library’s bulletin board was decorated with rainbows and included a flyer that read “Be inspired: Celebrate pride month.”

Other materials on the bulletin board noted that June is recognized by the American Library Association as LGBT book month. A second display involved a table near the children’s desk in the library and held informational sheets that contained books with LGBT themes. The books were divided by age groups, and some were displayed on the table.

The library held a meeting January 30, and according to the Temple Daily Telegraph (TDT), more than 100 people attended and over 40 spoke with regard to the library’s displays, which seemed to stem from CCC’s displeasure with LGBT Pride the previous summer.

According to a February 6 post on the website of Massachusetts-based MassResistance (MR)*,

over 50 local pro-family citizens stormed into the Temple Library Board of Directors meeting. They came to express their outrage over last summer’s LGBT public library display which targeted children with psychologically intrusive homosexual propaganda. But more importantly, they were there to make sure the Board’s upcoming ‘guidelines’ for future library displays are written properly.

MR reported that the “pro-family parents” were brought together by their local CCC chapter, which is working with MassResistance Texas*. According to MR, parents presented the board with a copy of MR’s book, The Health Hazards of Homosexuality, which links LGBT people to pedophilia, disease, and violence. The MR blog also ridiculed and misgendered a trans woman who spoke at the January30 meeting, and referred to her as a “cross-dressing man” and also as the anti-trans slur “tranny.”

According to TDT, the board did not take any action on the matter, but city manager Brynn Myers said earlier in January that the city is developing a policy for library displays, which is expected to be put in place earlier this year.

Family Research Council (FRC)*

FRC president Tony Perkins hosts a daily radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests from February 1 through February 21 include: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX); Terry Jeffrey (CNS news chief); Alex McFarland (writer and speaker); Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL); John Hayward (Breitbart); Rebecca Oas (C-Fam*); Rep. French Hill (R-AR); Alexandra DeSanctis (National Review Online Buckley Fellow); Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI); Beth Green (Cardus Education); Sam Brownback (Ambassador at Large for Religious Liberty); Todd Starnes (Fox News); Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH); Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis); Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL); Sara Carter (war correspondent); Stephanie Barclay (Becket Fund); Gordon Chang (columnist); state sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-CO); Jonathan Keller (California Family Council); Elizabeth Schultz (Fairfax County, Virginia public schools board member); Karen England (Capitol Resource Institute); Kristan Hawkins (Students for Life of America); Sam Sorbo (actor, director, author); Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX); Jeremy Schossau (pastor, Metro City Church, Detroit); Craig Autry (Cumberland, NC Protect Our Students); Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ); Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN); Zoltan Kovacs (Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Relations, Hungary); Ian Mason (Breitbart); Lisette Bassett-Brody (author); Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE); David Brody (CBN chief political correspondent); Aaron Baer (Citizens for Community Values); former congresswoman Michele Bachmann; Rep. Bill Schuster (R-PA); Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO); Erick Stakelbeck (host of Watchman on TBN)

Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family (FOTF) appears to have declared itself a church, which allows it to avoid a requirement that it file public tax documents. On February 20, Right Wing Watch (RWW) reported that documents available on the FOTF website and IRS records show FOTF filed as a non-church 501(c)(3) nonprofit as recently as the 2014 fiscal year.

On its website, a form 990 for 2015 reported a budget of $89 million and included the message “not required to file and not filed with the IRS. Not for public inspection.” Churches are legally shielded from audits.

FOTF indicated that it is a “church, convention of churches or association of churches” on the 990. Gail Harmon, a RWW attorney who has advised nonprofits on tax law for decades says she has never seen a nonprofit organization declare itself a church, and found it “shocking.” There’s nothing about FOTF that meets the traditional definition of a church, she said. FOTF doesn’t have a congregation, or the rites of various parts of a person’s life.

The IRS considers several factors when determining whether an organization is a church or not, including whether it has established places of worship, a distinct ecclesiastical government and regular religious services. It also notes that an organization doesn’t need to have all those characteristics to be considered a church.

FOTF has a long history of anti-LGBT sentiment beginning with its original founder James Dobson (who left in 2010). Under current president Jim Daley, FOTF includes a 501(c)(4) arm, Family Policy Alliance, and continues to promote harmful ex-gay therapy on its website as well as attempt to drum up fear of trans people in public restrooms.

Liberty Counsel*

The Florida-based Liberty Counsel (LC) has been quietly operating as a “church auxiliary” for a little over a decade, claiming affiliation with the Lynchburg, Virginia-based megachurch, Thomas Road Baptist Church (TRBC) founded by the late Jerry Falwell.

IRS documents obtained by blogger David Cary Hart at Slowly Boiled Frog from the IRS, Right Wing Watch reports, indicate that LC requested that the IRS recognize it as an “integrated auxiliary” of TRBC in 2006. LC has long ties to TRBC, and the group represented TRBC in a case that involved faith-based groups amassing land. That victory helped Liberty University acquire property and establish a law school.

The IRS granted LC’s request in April 2008, but backdated the decision to October, 2006. RWW noted that the “integrated auxiliary” category LC is claiming was added to the tax code to cover a few (now-defunct) organizations affiliated with the Mormon church. Integrated auxiliaries don’t have to file Form 990s, but they’re not protected from audits the same way churches are.

LC links LGBT people to pedophilia, claims that homosexuality and same-sex relationships are “destructive” to individuals and “our very social fabric,” and refers to LGBT activists as terrorists.

MassResistance (MR)*

On February 13, MassResistance posted on its website that its vendor table had been banned from the annual Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) gathering in Washington, D.C., which is meeting February 21 through 24.

According to MR, CPAC had originally approved a table for MR but the decision was reversed February 8 because, MR said in the post, “of our Biblical approach to fighting the ‘culture war’ (particularly the transgender agenda in public schools) as described in a 2015 speech” by Brian Camenker, MR president. 


Brian Camenker speaking at Stand4Truth conference, 2015

The speech referenced occurred October 26, 2015 in Salt Lake City at the virulently anti-LGBT “Stand4Truth” one-day conference that was held the day before the start of the anti-LGBT and anti-choice World Congress of Families (WCF)* gathering (the first and only time, thus far, that WCF has held a convening in the United States since its founding in 1997).

When Camenker spoke, he said he respectfully disagreed with those who called for always speaking the truth in love. Instead, he said, “I think there is a place for being insulting and degrading, and I think I can back that up by scripture. I think we have to look at this as a war, not as, you know, a church service.” 

Apparently, the executive director of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the CPAC gathering, “was uncomfortable” with Camenker’s language in that speech, according to the MR post.

The post went on to lambast CPAC as becoming “more libertarian-oriented and pro-LGBT” and to claim that “hardly any pro-family groups have had exhibits or been sponsors,” all of which seems to “mesh with the attendees,” of which half are 18 to 24 years old, and “clearly products of modern culture.”

MR criticized a conservative LGBT group, Log Cabin Republicans, as a “radical homosexual group” (which has been a sponsor and exhibitor at CPAC) and then accused them of pushing to “homosexualize the Republican Party and have LGBT officials and judges appointed.”

Brian Camenker routinely links homosexuality to pedophilia, violence, and disease, made most apparent in the book MR released last year called The Health Hazards of Homosexuality.

National Organization for Marriage (NOM)

Brian Brown, president of anti-LGBT group NOM and World Congress of Families*, is claiming that NOM played a “significant behind-the-scenes role” in Bermuda’s recent removal of same-sex marriage, as reported February 12 at Bernews.com. According to the piece and the NOMblog, Brown visited Bermuda twice “to meet with activists from Preserve Marriage Bermuda to discuss potential strategies.”

The Bermuda supreme court legalized same-sex marriage in 2017, but the government outlawed it less than nine months later. After the court’s ruling last May, the territory’s legislature began drafting a bill that banned same-sex marriage but would give all couples legal recognition as domestic partners. Parliament adopted the Domestic Partnership Act in December and it was signed into law by Bermuda governor John Rankin in early February.

Same-sex couples are no longer allowed to marry but can enter into domestic partnerships.

Several same-sex couples who married in Bermuda after the court legalized it last year will continue to have those marriages recognized, but no other same-sex couples can marry under the new law.

Over the past few years, Brown has been spending more time in international arenas working against LGBT equality. As president of WCF, he has praised right-wing, anti-democratic leaders like Russian president Vladimir Putin and Hungarian authoritarian prime minister Viktor Orbán. Last year’s WCF conference gathered in Budapest and this year’s will gather in Moldova in September.

Judicial, Legislative, and General

South Carolina lawmakers propose bill to call same-sex marriage “parody marriage”

A group of conservative lawmakers in South Carolina has filed a bill to recognize marriage as only between one man and one woman and to deem any other union “parody marriage.”

H.B. 4949 argues that the state is “prohibited from favoring or endorsing religion over non-religion” and that the state’s decision “to respect, endorse, and recognize parody marriages and sexual orientation policies has excessively entangled the government with the religion of Secular Humanism.”


Chris Sevier

The man behind the bill is attorney Mark “Chris” Sevier, currently based in Columbia, South Carolina. He has garnered media attention in the past for unsuccessfully suing states for the right to marry his laptop computer. The lawsuits were meant to show his opposition to judicial rulings on same-sex marriage. Sevier was also behind a bill filed in Wyoming on February 14 that was nearly identical to the South Carolina bill. It died a few days after proposal.

“We’re not saying homosexuality should be illegal,” Sevier told the Charleston Post and Courier, “we’re saying the state shouldn’t give them special benefits on them self-identifying as homosexuals.”

Sevier was also accused of stalking country star John Rich and sending him numerous emails despite a restraining order. He was also accused of stalking a 17-year-old girl in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Daily Beast reported in April, 2017 that Sevier had a warrant out for his arrest in Tennessee for failure to appear at a criminal contempt proceeding. He also allegedly failed to pay child support and violated a restraining order by communicating with his former wife. The restraining order stems from his Texas, 2011 arrest and conviction for assaulting his father-in-law during a fight over visitation rights of his son, who was seven months old at the time. The child was also injured in the altercation.

Sevier told the Daily Beast that he hadn’t heard of the warrant and he denied facing any penalty for the assault, further claiming that his legal problems were the result of a “fake prosecutorial campaign” in Tennessee and Texas, waged against him because of his Christian faith.

Trump nominates another anti-LGBT candidate for federal bench

In December, Wisconsin attorney Gordon Giampietro was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Buzzfeed discovered several statements Giampietro has made in the past disparaging LGBT people and calling diversity a “code for relaxed standards.”

In a July, 2015 radio interview done a month after the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell that made same-sex marriage legal in the U.S., Giampietro claimed that it’s “irrefutable” that children are best raised by a heterosexual couple and seemed to refer to same-sex relationships as “troubled.”

He further urged listeners to ignore Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling in Obergefell, because it’s not “legal reasoning” and he stated that Kennedy “went off the rails years ago” with the 2003 opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned sodomy laws in the U.S. that targeted and criminalized consensual sex between same-sex couples. Earlier, in 2002, Giampietro claimed that all criminals come from public schools.

Giampietro has also referred to the birth control pill as “an assault on nature.” His nomination hearing is pending.

GLSEN releases research brief detailing damage of “no promo homo” laws to students

The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a leading national organization that works to create safe schools for all students, released a brief in mid-February titled “Laws that Prohibit the ‘Promotion of Homosexuality’: Impacts and Implications.”

The brief examines the effects of so-called “no promo homo” laws on LGBTQ students in states that have them, and finds that LGBTQ students in such states face a more hostile climate than other LGBTQ students.

As of January 2018, seven states — Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas — have laws that explicitly prohibit the positive portrayal of homosexuality in schools through specific education laws (Utah repealed its law in July, 2017). The laws are often referred to as “no promo homo” laws because they mandate “no promotion of homosexuality.”

According to the brief, some laws stipulate restrictions on any representation of homosexuality while others put restrictions on positive representations, meaning that a teacher could teach about homosexuality, but only in a negative light. And though the laws don’t necessarily preclude educators from portraying transgender people and issues in schools, the brief notes that educators prohibited from presenting homosexuality in a positive light may believe the restrictions apply to transgender people, as well.

For example, Alabama’s law states that sexual health educators must emphasize that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle. South Carolina’s health education may not include discussions of non-heterosexual relationships, except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases. Arizona’s law states that AIDS education will not include instruction that “promotes a homosexual life-style [sic]” or portrays homosexuality as a “positive alternative life-style [sic].”

School staff, particularly those not educated on the parameters of the laws, the brief continues, might thus avoid including LGBTQ topics not only in sexual health education, but also in other courses and will also refrain from expressing public support of LGBTQ students. These laws may affect some 10 million public school students.

Department of Education to reject complaints of bathroom discrimination from trans students

On February 12, Buzzfeed wrote that the Department of Education (DOE) finally responded to its repeated calls and emails trying to pinpoint the agency’s stance regarding transgender students by saying that it won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity.

Liz Hill, DOE press secretary and spokeswoman, said that some types of complaints from trans students may be investigated, but not those related to bathrooms, apparently taking the position that these complaints are not covered by Title IX, the 1972 federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

When asked to clarify the DOE’s position, Hill said that “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity,” a position the Trump administration took early last year when it rescinded earlier Obama administration guidelines. The Obama administration had issued guidance regarding the treatment of trans students and access to sex-segregated spaces, including bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools, stating that Title IX also protects trans students.

Buzzfeed notes that several court rulings have found that Title IX does confer to transgender students the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity. Federal appeals court for the 6th and 7th Circuits have suspended anti-trans restroom policies, ruling that transgender students were likely to prevail at trial using claims under Title IX.

Hill did not answer further questions about how the DOE reconciles its position with conflicting court rulings, or why the DOE won’t accept complaints from students in those court circuits.

Pentagon deadline to issue guidance to administration on transgender troops was February 21

The Military Times reported that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had a Wednesday, February 21 deadline to provide guidance on transgender service members as news reports revealed that President Trump initiated the ban last summer without consulting Mattis, his top general.

When the president issued his official anti-trans memorandum in August 2017, he ordered Mattis to provide written guidelines on how to implement the play by February 21. Mattis was also directed to have the Pentagon study whether transgender personnel negatively impacted military readiness and then provide guidance to the White House on whether the ban should be reversed.

According to the Military Times, Mattis had not issued instructions by midday of the 21st, and that the guidance Mattis provides the White House is not expected to be made public. Nor is the White House obligated to follow Mattis’s recommendations.