10 things you need to know about Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council
Tony Perkins, the president of anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council (FRC), has been appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He will remain with FRC while serving the two-year term, according to an FRC press release on May 15.
Here are 10 things you should know:
- While managing the 1996 U.S. Senate campaign of then-state Rep. Woody Jenkins in Louisiana, Perkins signed off on an $82,600 check to buy robocalls from a company run by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. In 1999 Perkins told The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, that Jenkins’ campaign complied with federal election law, but routed the money through another firm, to hide the Duke connection. Perkins used Courtney Communications, which is run by Bob Courtney, a one-time business partner, to disguise the payment. “We didn’t want any appearance that we had any connection to Duke,” Perkins told the newspaper. Jenkins’ Senate campaign later paid a $3,000 fine to the Federal Elections Commission for illegally concealing the purchase from Duke.
- In 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the hate group Council of Conservative Citizens. The group is an offshoot of the white supremacist White Citizens Councils that formed in the 1950s after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of public schools across the country. Perkins has denied knowing the white supremacist background of the group, but a photo of Perkins at the gathering shows him standing in front of a Confederate flag and appearing with outspoken Duke backer Hope Lubrano, a paralegal from Baton Rouge. Lubrano is a well-known supporter of Duke and the white supremacist movement in Louisiana. She worked closely with Duke lieutenant Kenny Knight in trying to preserve the Liberty Monument, which commemorates white supremacists who died in a shootout in New Orleans.
- Perkins lost his position as a reserve police officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1992. During an anti-abortion protest outside a clinic that summer, Perkins, who was working for Jenkins’ low-power television station, learned of plans for violent tactics by the protesters, who planned to break through police lines and charge onto clinic grounds. Perkins opted not to tell his superiors on the force. Instead, Perkins waited outside the clinic with a camera crew from the station, known as “Woody Vision,” poised to report on the action as it unfolded. Scores of anti-abortion protesters were arrested that day. The department suspended Perkins from duty for violating his oath. He resigned shortly thereafter.
- FRC was designated an anti-LGBT hate group in 2010 for decades of demonizing LGBT people and spreading harmful pseudoscience about them. Over the years, the organization has published books, reports and brochures that have linked homosexuality to pedophilia, claimed that LGBT people are dangerous to children and claimed that LGBT people are promiscuous and violent.
- FRC states on its website that: "Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects."
- In 2010, FRC senior fellow for policy studies Peter Sprigg appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews where he voiced support for the criminalization of homosexual conduct, stating that, “I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.” In a 2008 Hardball appearance, Sprigg stated, in reference to legislation that would allow same-sex partners of U.S. citizens to be united legally through the immigration process, that he preferred that homosexuals be exported from the United States rather than imported, “because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society.” Sprigg apologized a week later after an outcry.
- FRC has consistently supported a ban on transgender troops in the military, and posts anti-trans materials on its website, including a report that attempts to dismiss transgender people’s identities. The report claims that there are three forms of “transgender desires,” one of which links individuals dealing with Gender Identity Dysphoria to pedophilia while another references “secret transvestites,” which the report writer refers to as “autogynephilia,” a term coined by an anti-trans psychologist that means men who dress like women because of an erotic fixation. “The state of being transgendered [sic],” the report says, “is extremely unstable.”
- FRC is currently fighting a subpoena to release its “external communications between January 20, 2017, and September 1, 2017” between FRC and the Heritage Foundation and officials in the Trump administration “concerning military service by transgender people and/or any restriction of military service by transgender people.”
- FRC hired Lt. Gen. (ret.) William “Jerry” Boykin as its executive vice president in 2012. Boykin has a history of anti-Muslim statements, including referring to Islam as “evil” and that it should not be protected under the First Amendment. He is also one of the authors of an infamous anti-Muslim report called “Shariah: The Threat to America,” published by the anti-Muslim hate group Center for Security Policy. The report is a compendium of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and claims, including that most Muslim organizations in America are fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2003, President George W. Bush distanced himself from Boykin for remarks he made during speeches he gave at several churches while in uniform. The remarks referenced the U.S. as a “Christian nation” battling “Satan,” in which he couched Islam as Satan and cast the war on terror in religious terms, which detractors at the time noted could put the U.S. in danger. An inquiry noted that Boykin had violated internal regulations in which he failed to get clearance for the remarks, failed to clarify that his remarks were personal and failed to report reimbursement of travel expenses.
- Frank Gaffney, president of CSP, makes frequent appearances on Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch” radio show. Gaffney is known as the chief driver of the conspiracy theory that there is a Muslim infiltration of the United States to implement Sharia law. In 2015, Gaffney claimed on “Washington Watch” that then-President Obama “is a Sharia law proponent” who sounds like Osama bin Laden. That same year, CSP also worked to draw up model legislation on the county level that would ban Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their home country from the United States. Gaffney’s most recent appearance on the program was April 27, 2018, where he was tapped to comment on the state of Hawaii’s lawsuit against the Trump administration’s travel ban. Gaffney claimed the ban was not going to stop all Muslims from coming to America, but rather “Sharia supremacists."