Roundup of anti-LGBT events and activities 7/20/2018

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.

Alliance Defending Freedom*

The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected a petition from a bed and breakfast that sought review of a lower court’s ruling that the business had violated the state’s anti-discrimination statute when it refused a room to a lesbian couple.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) represents Aloha Bed & Breakfast, whose owner says that same-sex relationships “defile our land.”

ADF also appealed a June 7 ruling in Arizona in which a Christian business sued in an attempt to ensure a right to discriminate against LGBT customers before any complaints alleging discrimination are lodged against it.

ADF International’s Kelsey Zorzi began serving June 28 as president of the NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief (CFRB) which was founded in 1991 to “promote and defend international agreements protecting freedom of religion or belief from within the United Nations headquarters in New York City,” according to the CFRB website.

The committee consists of civil society leaders and “advances freedom of religion or belief” by coordinating NGO (non-governmental organization) activities in New York City and communicating with the Office of the UN High Commissioner and other UN offices and member states, as well as working with NGOs in Geneva. Zorzi also serves as UN counsel with ADF International.

American Family Association*

The American Family Association (AFA)* announced its refusal to support President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy in June. Trump announced his pick the evening of July 9.

According to an AFA press release quoted at the blog joemygod.com, AFA had the following to say regarding the president’s announcement of his pick:

Judge Kavanaugh is simply the wrong nominee—even a bad nominee. Based on his written opinions, Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated a deficiency in a constitutional judicial philosophy of a limited judiciary. …Judge Kavanaugh’s reasoning on religious liberty, Obamacare and issues concerning life have proven to be of major concern. For these reasons and more, urge your senators to firmly oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as a Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

AFA was the lone right-wing evangelical Christian voice speaking out against Kavanaugh’s nomination, and apparently received backlash for the statement and its proposed campaign to “#StopKavanaugh.” Within five hours, the group reversed course, issued an endorsement of the judge and removed its earlier materials (including an anti-Kavanaugh petition) from its website.

According to a statement posted July 10,

AFA has opposed the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court for some very valid reasons. We are deeply concerned about how he might ultimately rule on issues related to abortion and religious liberty. For these reasons, we consider this nomination to represent a four-star appointment when it could have been five-star. However, after hearing the concerns of some of our supporters, and after hearing the passionate defense of Judge Kavanaugh by many we consider to be friends in the pro-life movement, we are willing to let this process play out.

C-Fam (Center for Family and Human Rights)*

On June 9, Austin Ruse, president of C-Fam, tweeted “Nice business you have there…it would be too bad if anything happened to it,” in response to a Tweet by the LGBT organization Human Rights Campaign (HRC) regarding an initiative for businesses that support LGBT people. The HRC initiative encourages businesses to hang signs in their windows that say they’re “open to all” and to share social media posts.

Ruse's statement is a play on alleged mafia intimidation techniques.

HRC may have taken the statement by Ruse to be a threat against businesses that hang signs in support of LGBT people because, according to an article posted July 3 by hard-right news outlet LifeSite, HRC filed a civil rights complaint with the FBI. According to the article, an FBI agent contacted Ruse, apparently about the Tweet and the statement he made in it.

Ruse told LifeSite, “I told [the FBI contact] it was a reference to the mafia shaking down businesses for protection.” Ruse claimed that “of course he knew that” and that “he chuckled. You could tell he was rather embarrassed at having to ask. He could not have been nicer.”

Ruse went on to say that the American Family Association* designated HRC a “hate group…for their attacks on Christians who stand up for traditional sexual morality,” a reference to a long-gone so-called “bigotry map” that AFA attempted to launch in 2015 in response to SPLC’s hate map. Ruse referenced the map earlier this year, as well, even though the map no longer exists because AFA quietly removed it from its website in early 2016.

In an op-ed Ruse did at stream.org about the incident, Ruse attempts to clarify the point of his tweet, which appears to have been made as an accusation against HRC—that is, HRC will “shake down businesses” that don’t hang its signs, claiming that the HRC initiative for “open to all” signs in business windows was akin to “soviet tactics.” Referencing these tactics with regard to Soviet-era Czechoslovakia, Ruse wrote,

Businesses were asked to put up pro-Soviet posters in the windows of their shops. Most of them knew the punishment that would come if they didn’t. So most of them put up the posters simply to avoid trouble. That’s what this anti-Christian hate group is doing. Intimidating businesses into accepting their propaganda and employing federal agents to harass their critics. As is often said these days, this will not end well.

This isn’t the first time a comment Ruse has made with potentially violent undertones has garnered attention. In 2014 on AFA radio, he called for left-wing professors to be “taken out and shot.” Though he apologized for the statement following an outcry, AFA severed ties with him and one of C-Fam’s board members resigned after Faithful America petitioned him to do so.

James Dobson Family Institute

The James Dobson Family Institute (JFDI), which launched in 2017 as an extension of Dobson’s Family Talk ministry, has opened a new public policy center, which it announced July 6 on the JFDI website.

According to a November 2017 JFDI newsletter, the center will “inform, educate, and lead families to address the impact that local, state, and federal legislation or policies will have on couples and families.” The center will do this through articles, seminars and larger ministry events, according to the newsletter.

JFDI also announced July 6 that Jenna Ellis, a constitutional law attorney, will be the policy center’s director. Ellis is listed as an assistant professor of legal studies and the forensics coach at Colorado Christian University (CCU). Her biography at CCU states that “she has served as a deputy district attorney, private counsel, and counsel for the U.S. Department of State and Department of the Navy.”

According to JFDI, Ellis has also published opinion and legal analysis pieces in such venues as the Washington Examiner, The Daily Wire and National Review. In addition, JFDI notes, Ellis “recently secured an exclusive interview with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions” for JFDI.

Ellis also contributes to CCU’s Centennial Institute as a fellow, according to a bio posted at Colorado Springs-based Summit Ministries. The Centennial Institute sponsors the hard-right Western Conservative Summit, which was held in Denver in June. Speakers included the anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy’s* president Frank Gaffney; Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk (TPUSA members have been linked to the white nationalist alt-right); Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has a history of racist and inflammatory statements and who retweeted a Nazi sympathizer in June.

Ellis has also made reference to an “LGBT agenda,” as in 2016 when she claimed at the blog stridentconservative, “I’m disappointed conservatives are acquiescing to the LGBT agenda” in the aftermath of the mass shooting and subsequent deaths of 49 people at Pulse, an Orlando LGBT bar. “The response to this tragedy,” Ellis continues, “should not be embracing and advocating for gay rights” and that

just because we are all heartbroken (and indeed we are) that 50 [sic; the shooter was the 50th death] Americans lost their lives does not mean that America, conservatives, or Christians should become activists for homosexuality or any other immorality. …We cannot conflate the issue here. The deaths were an absolute tragedy, but LGBT activism is NOT the appropriate response. …If something is wrong, it is wrong. Homosexuality is wrong. Mass murder is wrong. But two wrongs do not made a constitutional gay right.”

Family Research Council*

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins hosts a daily radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests from June 28 through July 16 included Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO); Rep. Ron Estes (R-KS); Chris Wilson (CEO, WPA Intelligence); Horace Cooper (senior fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research); Mona Oshana (“Mona K Show”); Carrie Severino (chief counsel, Judicial Crisis Network); Terry Jeffrey (CNS Editor-in-Chief); Richard Mast ( Liberty Counsel*); Steve Cortes (CNN and President Trump’s Hispanic Advisory Council); David Ward (director, National Association of Former Border Patrol); Rena Lindevaldsen (prof. of law, Liberty University); Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX); Amb. Sam Brownback; Gordon Chang (author); Adam Andrzejewski (CEO, Open the Books); Tina Marie Griffin (“Counter Culture Mom” and former actress); Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA); Carroll Conley (exec. dir., Christian Civil League of Maine); Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ); Sen. James Lankford (R-OK); Brent Bozell (pres., Media Research Center); William Koenig (World Watch Daily); Pastor Konnor McKay (Waldron Pentecostal Church of God, AR); Mike Berry (First Liberty); Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) Kristina Arriaga (vice chair, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Eben Fowler (director of broadcast operations, Bott Radio Network); Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK); Todd McNutt (author)

Judicial, Legislative, federal

Texas GOP platform includes anti-LGBT planks

Last month, the Texas GOP passed a platform that includes several anti-LGBT planks, including support for an anti-trans “bathroom bill,” support for harmful ex-gay therapy and language that says:

We affirm God’s biblical design for marriage and sexual behavior between one biological man and one biological woman, which has proven to be the foundation for all great nations in Western Civilization. We oppose homosexual marriage, regardless of state of origin. We urge the Texas legislature to pass religious liberty protections for individuals, businesses, and government officials who believe marriage is between one man and one woman. We oppose the granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

Other planks call for the cessation of teaching sex-ed in public schools; the prohibition of reproductive healthcare services for students in schools; for students to pledge allegiance to both the U.S. and the Texas flags to “instill patriotism”; that the official position of Texas schools, “with respect to transgenderism [sic] is that there are only two genders: male and female”; opposes “all efforts to validate transgender identity”; opposes service of trans people in the military; opposes “sexuality indoctrination” in schools; wants no-fault divorce laws rescinded and the legislature to “support covenant marriage”; claims the Council on American-Islamic Relations has ties to terrorism and supports withdrawal from the United Nations.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee passes an anti-LGBT adoption amendment

The House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment to a federal spending bill July 11 that would allow adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.

The amendment was introduced by Republican representative Robert Aderholt, who told CNN.com the amendment would allow child welfare providers to decline to “provide a service that conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” The reason for this, he continued, “is simply because these organizations, based on religious conviction, choose not to place children with same-sex couples.”

The amendment could have consequences for states that don’t discriminate, because it would require that the Department of Health and Human Services withhold 15 percent of federal funds for child welfare services from states and localities that don’t grant these exemptions for religious adoption groups.

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to HWeditor@splcenter.org and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.