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Roundup of anti-LGBT events and activities: 8/3/2018

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*

According to ThinkProgress, Renee Carlson, a private attorney affiliated with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), spoke to roughly 100 people July 18 in Hastings, Minnesota at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Parish (SEAS), where she told the audience that God wanted them to reject trans-inclusive policies – specifically those that protect trans youth.

The comments were part of an hour-long presentation that seems to have been publicized only through the July 1 edition of the SEAS news bulletin as “Responding with Truth and Compassion to the Transgender Trend” that included a “Legal Presentation, Prayer, and Parent Resources from Ask Me First MN.”

The event was organized by the anti-LGBT Minnesota Family Council (MFC), which had been advertising a similar anti-trans event in May called “God’s Good Design,” that was cancelled, according to the MFC website.

Carlson has served as “local counsel” on some of ADF’s past cases, including a 2016 lawsuit against a Minnesota school in which a trans student was demonized for using a locker room. The lawsuit was withdrawn after the Trump administration ended Obama-era guidelines for schools regarding the inclusion of trans students in public schools.

Carlson is currently serving as local counsel on an ADF lawsuit in which two Minnesota videographers are challenging the Minnesota Human Rights Act so that they can add weddings to their services and avoid having to serve same-sex couples in that regard. They have not yet refused a same-sex couple, but they would like to do so while expanding their business.

The ThinkProgress article reported that according to an attendee of the event who is the parent of a transgender child, Carlson repeatedly told the crowd that any policies that affirm transgender people pose a threat to their children’s privacy, safety and dignity, and also threaten parental rights. She also allegedly said that religious beliefs should supersede respect for transgender people.

The attendee told ThinkProgress that “Carlson was pretty intent on framing LGBTQ people in general, and trans kids specifically, as being incompatible with their form of Christianity” and that “their version of truth demands that they reject people who don’t fit within their unscientific and inaccurate views of the world.”

The attendee noted that Carlson repeatedly misgendered every trans person she spoke about, said that being transgender is “just a feeling” and claimed that being transgender is “an ideology” that is inconsistent with science.  And the attendee said that Carlson is “entirely uninformed about current best practice guidelines issued by the major organizations in the medical community.”

Carlson’s most prominent argument at the event, according to the attendee, was that transgender people inherently pose a threat simply by existing in spaces that correspond with their gender identity.

American Family Association*

The American Family Association’s radio division, American Family Radio (AFR), hosts a number of programs, one of which is Janet Mefferd Live, a nationally syndicated Christian talk show. Mefferd is a former news and religion reporter who is now a longtime radio host and who often brings anti-LGBT activists onto her programs.

On July 20, former Family Research Council* fellow Tim Dailey joined Mefferd to talk about the occult, and to warn listeners that urban legends surrounding such things as Bigfoot and UFOs are real and part of a secret plot that Satan is carrying out on Earth.

According to Right Wing Watch, Mefferd asked Dailey about the “Bigfoot Question,” and how Christians should interpret Bigfoot sightings and how those sightings tie into the “paranormal conspiracy” allegedly orchestrated by Satan.

Mefferd continued with a question about why nobody takes a photo of Bigfoot at noon (there are many daytime photos of the alleged Bigfoot, including these taken in 2017), and Dailey claimed that the devil designs Bigfoot sightings to happen when it’s too dark to take clear photographs because the powers of darkness love darkness over light.

According to Dailey, the devil “has always used this kind of phenomena” to:

destabilize, to engender fear, to open us up to the possibilities of other realities and other beings and then we begin getting involved with demonic spirits. So yeah, all through history there have been many, many different varieties of beings that are primarily spiritual beings that have terrorized civilizations and peoples and non-Christian cultures are very aware of this.

Family Research Council*

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), recognized the twenty-fifth anniversary of former President Bill Clinton’s announcement of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy as a “the turning point in a bigger war” and appeared to miss the days when sexual relationships between same-sex adults were illegal in the U.S.

According to the piece, posted at “Washington Watch” on the FRC website, Perkins claimed that former President Bill Clinton’s announcement of the DADT policy on July 19, 1993 (which prohibited military officials from discriminating against or harassing closeted LGBT service members) was “the first major crack in the foundation of marriage and human sexuality.”

Then Perkins stated that the “next biggest shoe would drop” with the 2003 Lawrence v Texas decision by the Supreme Court, which ended Texas’s anti-sodomy law and such laws in the rest of the country. Anti-sodomy laws effectively criminalized sex between same-sex adults.

Perkins claimed that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s objection in that case (in which Scalia claimed that striking down bans on sodomy would also put other laws in danger like those against bestiality, same-sex marriage, adult incest, fornication, prostitution, adultery, and masturbation) was “prophetic,” and “six justices had given the far-Left the only hammer they’d need to destroy thousands of years of human history.”

And three years after the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S., Perkins claimed in the “Washington Watch” piece that “the Left is still bulldozing their way through every possible social norm.” The goal of the Left, he said, “Isn’t same-sex marriage, but any kind of marriage” and then he went on to link pedophilia to these goals, using a controversial TEDx talk (since removed) in which the speaker argued for compassion for pedophiles, who, the speaker said, can’t help their urges, as proof that the left is pushing for any kind of marriage or relationship.  The TEDx talk, Perkins argued, is “using the same born-that-way playbook as LGBT activists,” and is “trying to legitimize child abuse as the latest acceptable expression of sexuality.”

Same-sex marriage, Perkins argues, is about “obliterating every moral and cultural boundary humans have ever known.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins also hosts a weekday radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests from July 17-30 included: 

  • House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA)
  • Jeanine Pirro (Fox News)
  • Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA)
  • Kristina Arriaga (U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom vice chair)
  • Robert Gagnon (Bible scholar) 
  • Terry Jeffrey (editor-in-chief, CNS News) 
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • Randall Wenger (chief counsel, Independence Law Center)
  • Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)
  • Paris Dennard (CNN commentator)
  • Greg Morse (author)
  • Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE)
  • Cynthia Dunbar (RNC Virginia committeewoman)
  • Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK)
  • Conor Maguire (WPAi senior strategist)
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
  • Tim Graham (director of media analysis, Media Research Center)
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
  • Mick Mulvaney (acting director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
  • Rep. French Hill (R-AR)
  • Dan Gainor (vice president of business and culture, Media Research Center)
  • Nicolee Ambrose (RNC Maryland national committeewoman)
  • Nicole Neily (president, Speech First)
  • Hogan Gidley (White House deputy press secretary)
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Family Policy Alliance

The Family Policy Alliance (FPA), an arm of anti-LGBT Focus on the Family, sent out an email July 20 promoting a “study” thatclaims sexual offenses in Target stores have increased because of Target’s inclusive policies regarding trans people.

The “study” comes out of a Canadian-based anti-trans campaign called WOMAN Means Something, launched by anti-trans pastor Paul Dirks, who was spearheading efforts in Vancouver, British Columbia to oppose Bill C-16, which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code in June, 2017 by adding gender expression and gender identity to Canada’s list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Dirks is also the author of the “study.” For it, he used Google searches of news reports regarding sexual assaults and voyeurism incidents at Target stores to imply that Target’s inclusive policy regarding trans people has caused increases in both. Dirks is thus implying that transgender people – trans women in particular – are a danger to women and children in store bathrooms and changing rooms or that cisgender men will pretend to be transgender to gain access to women and children.

Both are falsehoods promulgated by anti-trans groups to marginalize transgender people from using public facilities in conjunction with their gender identities.

The “study” is not peer-reviewed and does not appear in a professional scientific or social scientific journal or similar publication and is instead posted at the website WOMAN Means Something.

CNN noted in 2017 that gender identity protections have been around for years and that there is no evidence that they lead to attacks in public facilities.

Anti-trans groups have been campaigning against Target for two years because of its inclusive policies. Target announced in 2016 that it remained committed to the tenets of the Federal Equality Act, and that trans employees and customers could use the store’s restrooms and changing areas in accordance with their gender identities. The announcement was made after North Carolina passed its anti-trans bathroom bill the same year.

The Federal Equality Act, introduced in 2016, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and forbid discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations and education.

With Target’s announcement came a storm of protest from anti-trans groups, including a boycott launched by the American Family Association. The boycott is ongoing.

Dirks, who refers to himself as an “independent researcher,” provides no information as to his background or expertise in gender and sexuality studies. The WOMAN Means Something site links to virulently anti-trans site GenderTrender and other anti-trans sites like The Federalist, Transgender Trend, and 4thWaveNow.

National Organization for Marriage

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has launched another campaign that correlates with its June 26 email announcement of its “&” campaign, according to an email that NOM president Brian Brown sent out July 24. The ampersand is supposed to denote its “1ManAnd1Woman” campaign, which touts marriage as reserved only for one cisgender man and one cisgender woman.

The July 24 email also celebrates President Trump’s nomination of judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, and claims that, “For the first time since the Court illegitimately redefined marriage in the Obergefell decision of 2015, NOM and all marriage supporters will have a clear path forward to restore marriage to our nation’s laws.” The Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision made same-sex marriage legal in the U.S.

NOM has dubbed its latest initiative the “Marriage Heroes” campaign, in which they seek to “recruit individuals who will commit to take specific actions to support the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh so that we have a pro-marriage majority on the Supreme Court.”

NOM’s Marriage Heroes campaign list of things to do as a supporter
NOM’s Marriage Heroes campaign list of things to do as a supporter

Brown claims that:

Already, hundreds of NOM supporters have stepped up pledging to devote themselves to this cause. They realize we are embarking on the most important period of time in all of NOM's history. With this new Supreme Court nomination, we are poised to have a legitimate opportunity to undo the Obergefell decision in the near future. This is an incredible blessing, something we thank God for.

Judicial, legislative, federal

Maine governor vetoes bill that would have banned conversion therapy

Maine governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill July 6 that would have banned the harmful, pseudoscientific practice of conversion therapy, which claims it can turn LGBT people heterosexual and make transgender people cisgender.

Newsweek noted that LePage claimed the bill was “bad public policy” and was a “threat to an individual’s religious liberty.” LePage further claimed that there was no evidence presented that conversion therapy is currently being practiced in the state and that the bill would prevent therapists from having conversations with those who seek advice about their feelings, according to Newsweek.

Delaware bans conversion therapy

Delaware governor John Carney signed a bill into law July 23 that bans licensed mental health professionals from practicing conversion therapy on minors under the age of eighteen.

The state becomes the fifteenth to ban the practice, and the new law threatens disciplinary measures against licensed medical and mental health professionals who practice the therapy, now considered unprofessional conduct.

The new law also prevents Delaware’s Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families from recommending the therapy.

Michigan attorney general claims it’s legal to discriminate against LGBT people

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission decided in May that the state’s ban on discrimination on the basis of sex allowed it to investigate discrimination against LGBT people, but the state’s attorney general, Bill Shuette, claimed in an opinion released in July that the Commission had overstepped its authority.

The Commission is allowed to interpret state law, but its interpretation is invalid because it conflicts with the original intent of the legislature as expressed in “plain language” of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976.

A Shuette spokeswoman said the opinion is “binding on state government,” according to Detroit News.

The Commission’s interpretation of state law falls in line with several federal court decisions that interpret anti-LTBT discrimination as a form of sex discrimination.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces “religious liberty task force”

On July 30, the attorney general announced a Department of Justice (DOJ) task force that would enforce religious exemptions guidance that the DOJ previously released in October 2017—guidelines that Sessions had worked on with ADF (see above).

Sessions made the announcement at a so-called DOJ “Religious Liberty Summit,” and stated at the outset that:

Let us be frank. A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated.

It is uncertain what Sessions meant by “dangerous movement,” but at least one writer atDaily Beast opined that Sessions had basically “declared a holy war on LGBT people.”

ADF posted news of the summit July 27 on its website, noting that the event would feature a panel that included Jack Phillips, one of the group’s clients. Phillips is a Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and whose case ended up at the Supreme Court (which issued a narrow ruling in June). The panel’s moderator was DOJ media affairs specialist Kerri Kupec, who worked at ADF for four years prior to her joining DOJ earlier this year in January.

The task force will be co-chaired by Associate Attorney General Jesse Pannucio and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy Beth Williams.

Federal Appeals Court denies request in ADF lawsuit

A federal appeals court denied a request July 26 to rehear a challenge to a Boyertown, Pennsylvania school district’s policy that allows transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

A three-judge panel of the 3rdCircuit Court of Appeals ruled in May that the school district could continue to allow transgender students a choice of what facilities they wished to use. Students arguing against the policy claimed that allowing trans students into facilities with them violated their right to privacy, and ADF filed a lawsuit challenging the policy.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the 12 judges on the federal appeals court said that they supported the decision of the three-judge panel that the policy did not violate the students’ right to privacy. But several justices argued that the panel’s opinion should not have delved into whether Title IX would constitutionally require the district to maintain its current policy. The three-judge panel vacated its earlier decision and replaced it with an opinion that still discusses Title IX but tones down its reliance on it for the opinion.

The students who brought the lawsuit with help from ADF have until August 9 to request a full court rehearing on the revised panel opinion.

National LGBT Bar Association launches COMMIT to INCLUSION campaign

The national LGBT Bar Association announced July 24 that asks attorneys across the nation to COMMIT to INCLUSION by repudiating anti-LGBT legal organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel* and pledging not to support them through pro bono work.

LGBT Bar Association director D’Arcy Kemnitz said of the campaign:

For more than 25 years, groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and Liberty Counsel have overseen an army of litigators and waged a systematic, insidious, and well-funded crusade to strip protections from LGBT people. With the recent Supreme Court decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the announced retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, and more and more court victories for those seeking a license to discriminate, fair-minded attorneys committed to diversity must push back. If we don't take these threats seriously and act accordingly, we could face long term legal setbacks for LGBT people. 

The campaign includes a fact sheet that details the history of ADF and Liberty Counsel, their budgets, and a sample list of cases in which they have sought to harm LGBT people. The COMMIT to INCLUSION pledge reads, in part, “We commit to inclusion by ensuring that our personal pro bono and volunteer capacity and personal financial resources will not be used to support the work of ADF and Liberty Counsel.”

The campaign runs until September 27.

Media Matters releases interactive research book on ADF

To further reveal ADF’s anti-LGBT work and history, Media Matters released an “interactive research book” on the group July 26.

“The extremism of anti-LGBTQ powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom” outlines ADF’s anti-LGBTQ positions identified through “extensive review of public statements by ADF and its representatives, reports on the group’s legal and political activities, and publically available materials created by the group.”

The report is available at Scribd.

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