Roundup of anti-LGBT events and activities 9/12/2018

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.

Family Research Council*

Family Research Council* (FRC) president Tony Perkins continues to claim leftists are violent and linked to anti-fascists (“antifa”), saying in a September 4 edition of the “Washington Watch” update on the FRC website:

The Left will stop at nothing. Just look at the violence of Antifa. The unhinged conduct of liberals should make it crystal clear what is not only at stake in the balance of the court — but the future of our country.

Perkins made these latest claims in response to a contentious and raucous first day in the confirmation hearings over the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Kavanaugh will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement in June.

The hearings began with questions from Democratic senators about why the White House refused to release 100,000 pages of documents with regard to Kavanaugh’s record and suggested that the committee should not move forward until his full record is produced. Moments later, according to the Daily Beast, demonstrators inside the room began shouting and protesting.

Those who protest Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Court are concerned that he will help overturn Roe v. Wade and same-sex marriage in future rulings, but concerns have also been raised about his statement in a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article in which he asserted that sitting presidents should be “excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship,” including responding to civil and criminal lawsuits, according to the New York Times.

Perkins has been linking leftists to violence in the wake of remarks President Trump made at a closed-door gathering of conservative evangelicals at the White House August 27, in which he was reported to have warned about “violence” from the left if Democrats retake control of Congress in November. “They will overturn everything that we’ve done,” Trump is reported to have said, “and they’ll do it quickly and violently. … There’s violence. When you look at antifa, and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”

On August 29, Perkins attempted to link leftists to anti-fascists while talking with host Erica Hill on CNN, saying that the President “did make reference to antifa, which in many ways has become the face of the left.” Hill responded, “I’m going to stop you for a second there. It’s a bit of a reach to say that antifa is now the face of the left. I think that would be a bit of a stretch.”

Perkins claimed, “When you talk about violence, the violence is on the left. You see antifa — you don’t see evangelicals out there rioting.” Hill retorted: “But let’s talk about the far right. And what we have seen in Charlottesville and other places. There’s a lot of violence there, she said.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins hosts a weekday radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests from August 21-September 5 included:

  • Attorney General Josh Hawley (Missouri)
  • Attorney General Jeff Landry (Louisiana)
  • Tim Winter (president, Parents Television Council)
  • Elizabeth Johnston (“The Activist Mommy”)
  • Gene Mills (president, Louisiana Family Forum)
  • Michele Bachmann (former congresswoman, R-Minnesota)
  • Daniel Mark (former chairman of U.S. Committee on International Religious Freedom)
  • Ismail Royer (research and program associate, Religious Freedom Institute)
  • Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Virginia)
  • Art Del Cueto (vice president, National Border Patrol Council)
  • Massey Campos (president, The Self-Evident Truth)
  • Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Indiana)
  • Terry Jeffrey (columnist and editor-in-chief, Christian News Service)
  • Mike Berry (deputy general counsel and director of military affairs, First Liberty Institute)
  • Carrie Severino (chief counsel, Judicial Crisis Network)
  • Kelly Shackelford (president and CEO, First Liberty Institute)
  • Ken Klukowski (senior counsel and director of strategic affairs, First Liberty Institute)
  • Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (Arkansas)
  • Dana Loesch (NRA spokesperson)
  • Dan Gainor (vice president for business and culture, Media Research Center)
  • Mark Krikorian (executive director, Center for Immigration Studies *)
  • Jonathan Keller (president, California Family Council)
  • Kristen Hanson (Patients Rights Action Fund’s community relations advocate)
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado)

Liberty Counsel*

A federal judge denied a request from the Liberty Counsel* (LC) for an injunction that would have allowed a Boston organization to fly the Christian flag at Boston’s city hall building. The building has three flagpoles outside: one flies the U.S. flag, one flies the Massachusetts flag and the third sometimes flies the Boston flag and other times, flies flags associated with a city event, including Juneteenth and LGBT Pride.

Liberty Counsel sued the city of Boston in July on behalf of Boston-based Camp Constitution (CC), which bills its mission as enhancing understanding

of our Judeo-Christian moral heritage, our American heritage of courage and ingenuity, including the genius of our United States Constitution, and the application of free enterprise, which together gave our nation an unprecedented history of growth and prosperity, making us the envy of the world.

LC noted in its lawsuit that the LGBT rainbow pride flag, transgender rights flag and the Juneteenth flag had flown on the flagpole outside City Hall, but U.S. District Judge Denise Casper’s August 29 ruling states, “None of these flags are religious on their face.” The ruling also stated that the plaintiffs are unlikely to “suffer irreparable harm” without an injunction should the Christian flag not fly on the City Hall flagpole, since they can hold events and display the Christian flag on their own at City Hall Plaza as well as request to raise a non-secular flag at the building.

CC is directed (when in session) by the conspiracy-pushing former John Birch Society (JBS) field director Hal Shurtleff, a promulgator of the Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, which claims that sustainable development initiatives that originated in a 1992 UN conference on environment and development are a plot by a cabal of world leaders to impose a totalitarian world government. Shurtleff left JBS in 2016 to focus on Camp Constitution.

The CC speakers’ bureau includes Shurtleff, longtime Agenda 21 pusher and John Bircher Tom DeWeese, anti-Common Core activist and Bircher Duke Pesta and anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Michael Carl, who lectures on what he claims are the dangers of Sharia law. Official sponsors of CC include Spunky the Clown, the Bible Museum, a gentleman who purchases antique saxophones, the New Capital Region chapter of JBS and Lori Hopkins-Cavanaugh, “the most listened to woman on Connecticut radio.”

Camp Constitution had applied for and received a permit to hold a rally in September 2017 at Boston City Hall and also requested to raise the Christian flag on one of the city hall flagpoles. The city denied the request to fly the Christian flag, with Property Management Commissioner Gregory Rooney telling the rally’s organizer via email (posted as an attachment on the LC website):

The City of Boston maintains a policy and practice of respectfully refraining from flying non-secular flags on the City Hall flagpoles. This policy and practice is consistent with well-established First Amendment jurisprudence prohibiting a local government from “respecting an establishment of religion.”

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper stated in her ruling, “The City’s policy of excluding non-secular flags is viewpoint neutral because it excludes religion as a subject matter of speech on the flagpole, rather than prohibiting religious viewpoints on otherwise permissible subjects.” She went on to say that the City’s policy is also reasonable based on the interest “in avoiding the appearance of endorsing a particular religion and a consequential violation of the Establishment Clause.”

According to Courthousenews.com, Liberty Counsel vowed in an unsigned statement to appeal.

MassResistance*

Massachusetts-based MassResistance* (MR) is claiming involvement in Costa Rica and Chile. In a blog post dated August 24, MR claims activists in Costa Rica are helping fight same-sex marriage, which MR says “is being forced” by the country’s Supreme Court.

The Costa Rican Supreme Court ruled August 10 against the country’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the ruling gives the country’s legislators a time limit of 18 months to change the current law, but the ban will automatically cease to exist legally after that time, even if the legislature does not take action. Costa Rican president Carlos Alvarado Quesada hailed the ruling and was quoted at bbc.com that he wants to guarantee “no person will face discrimination for their sexual orientation.”

Despite the fact that the ban will expire regardless of what the legislature does, MR claims that “MR activists there [in Costa Rica] are fighting back — by educating people and lobbying the National Assembly!” According to the MR blog, the activists are distributing a Spanish-language version of MR’s short booklet, “What same-sex ‘marriage’ has done to Massachusetts” to citizens and lawmakers. The booklet, originally released in 2008, was updated in 2012 and is available in Spanish and Chinese. In it, MR decries the increased visibility and participation of LGBT people in the public square, and implies that LGBT people are recruiting in schools and “forcing” homosexuality on the general population.

MR claims that since the ruling in Costa Rica, “pro-family politicians across the country have been vocal that they will fight this” and that “Pro-family activists are seeking big action, possibly a constitutional amendment.”

On August 29, MR blogged about their “newest chapter in Chile” fighting the Chilean parliament over a bill that would allow transgender people, including those under the age of 14, to legally change their name and gender without surgery. (MR disingenuously claimed that the proposed bill would allow 14-year-olds to have “sex-change procedures” without the consent of their parents.)

The bill passed the Chilean senate September 4, but without the provision that would have included trans people under the age of 14.

MR claims that they worked with Chilean activists “on strategies and tactics” and that they “built them an Internet-based system” so that people could communicate with lawmakers. MR also claimed they stressed the importance of “direct, personal pressure on politicians.” The Chile MassResistance chapter “is an outstanding group,” the blog says, “and we’re excited to be working with them.”

Meanwhile, in an August 31 blog post, MR claimed victory in CA when a bill that would have banned the pseudoscientific and dangerous practice of conversion (“ex-gay”) therapy was shelved by its sponsor (see below).

MR claimed that the director of MR-California, longtime nativist extremist Arthur Schaper, who has been disavowed by the local Republican party for his actions, “worked night and day” against the bill and organized visits to lawmakers’ district offices, phone calls, and emails. According to MR, Schaper — whose chapter includes white nationalist Kenny Strawn — worked with churches in key districts. MR appears to think it is solely responsible for the bill’s shelving, saying, “This is one of the greatest MassResistance victories in our 25-year history,” though numerous anti-LGBT groups and churches have been working against this bill for months.

MR included a paragraph at the blog’s conclusion, in which it criticizes other groups:

NOTE: We usually wouldn’t mention this, but this time we’re going to. Since the news about AB 2943 became public, several national pro-family groups have already made great fanfare about it, taking credit for it, and of course raising money on it. Par for the course. We didn’t see them actually on the battlefield during the last two critical weeks. It’s a bit aggravating.

Judicial, legislative, federal

California conversion therapy bill shelved

The sponsor of a bill that would have outlawed all conversion therapy in California decided to shelve it August 31, in hopes of finding consensus with religious communities that opposed the measure.

The bill, put forth by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), would have designated paid conversion therapy services as fraudulent business practices under California’s consumer protection law.

The bill cleared prior legislative hurdles as a result of large Democratic majorities in both chambers of the legislature and a handful of Republican votes, but religious groups opposed it, calling it a threat to faith practices. According to the Los Angeles Times, Low went on a listening tour to meet with clergy around the state and ultimately decided to pull the bill before final approval, he said.

California banned conversion therapy for minors in 2012. Low’s measure would have expanded that ban by designating the sale of services to change someone’s sexual orientation a “deceptive business practice,” which would have opened counselors and others who engage in the practice open to lawsuits.

Opponents included some clergy and those who practice and adhere to the tenets of the pseudoscientific and harmful practice, claiming that Low’s bill would deprive adults of the choice to pursue it. Others claimed it infringed on religious beliefs and could be used to even ban the Bible or other printed materials. Low claimed that after he met with religious leaders, he was struck by how many pastors told him they did not personally support conversion therapy, but they feared the bill’s broader implications.

States ask Supreme Court to overturn federal appeals court’s ruling in transgender employee case

Sixteen states filed an amicus brief August 23 supporting the Alliance Defending Freedom’s* (ADF) attempt to get a case heard at the Supreme Court that may overturn a lower court’s ruling in a discrimination lawsuit brought by a trans woman.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this spring that Aimee Stephens, a trans woman, was illegally fired from her job in 2013 at a Michigan funeral home. Stephens filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued the funeral home for sex discrimination. ADF is representing the funeral home.

The Sixth Circuit ruled in her favor this past spring, concluding that Title VII’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex protect people on the basis of their gender identity as well. ADF requested July 20 that the Supreme Court hear the case, stating in a news release on its website that attorneys representing the funeral home filed a petition requesting that the court review the Sixth Circuit’s ruling.

R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes fired Stephens after she told them she would be transitioning and intended to follow the funeral home’s female dress code. A lower court ruled that the funeral home’s owner, a devout Baptist, could discriminate against her, using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but the Sixth Circuit overturned that ruling, declaring that the discrimination was illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The sixteen states contend that “sex” denotes biological status, and the Sixth Circuit’s ruling “erases all common, ordinary understandings of the term ‘sex’ in Title VII and expands it to include ‘gender identity’ and ‘transgender’ status” and that the lower courts are rewriting Title VII in a way “never intended or implemented by Congress.”

The states on the brief are Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

James Dobson supports a convention of states to amend U.S. Constitution

Christian Right leader and longtime anti-LGBT activist James Dobson has announced his support for the Convention of States project, which is a right-wing effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to, according to Convention of States leader Mark Meckler, “reverse 115 years of progressivism.”

Dobson made the statement via the James Dobson Institute (in conjunction with Tim Clinton of Dobson’s Family Talk Ministry and the Institute’s Jenna Ellis):

Unfortunately, an insidious power grab has been underway in our nation’s capital for many years and it has inflicted great damage upon our constitutional republic. Unelected bureaucrats, activist judges, and the ever-expanding scope, reach and invasion of the federal government into the lives of all Americans has far surpassed what our Founders ever intended.

The statement urged every American to visit the Convention of States website and add their names to a “growing list of citizens calling for a return of federal power back to the states.”

The Convention of States Project is one of several currently working to get state legislatures to formally call for an Article V convention of states, which, as Right Wing Watch notes, is a never-used mechanism by which a gathering of state legislatures would bypass Congress and propose constitutional amendments. The project Dobson is supporting seeks to reshape U.S. constitutional order into one dominated by states’ rights.

Around the World

India’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down a colonial-era law that made gay sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The much-anticipated ruling came September 6, in the wake of a ruling in August 2017 upholding a right to privacy that is seen as part of the impetus for the decriminalization ruling.

In the September 6 ruling, the court said that sexual orientation is a “biological phenomenon” and that discrimination on that basis violated fundamental rights.

The ruling struck down the 1861 law’s sections on consensual gay sex (Section 377), but let stand parts that deal with issues such as bestiality.

A New Delhi high court had ruled in 2009 that Section 377 was unconstitutional, but that decision was overturned in 2013 in a ruling by three Supreme Court justices on the grounds that amending or repealing the law should be left to Parliament. Lawmakers failed to take action, and this past July the Indian government told the Supreme court to issue a ruling.

The ruling cited a 2016 Belize Supreme Court decision that struck down the country’s anti-sodomy law (Section 53) in a lawsuit that was opposed by U.S.-based anti-LGBT groups, including Alliance Defending Freedom.

ADF has supported the criminalization of same-sex relationships in the U.S. and abroad, and provided advice to defenders of Belize’s anti-sodomy law, which prescribed a 10-year prison sentence for those found in violation.

ADF also expressed support for the 2013 ruling in India, when then-ADF International director Benjamin Bull (now with First Liberty Institute in Texas) claimed the Indian court “did the right thing” when it overturned the earlier ruling in favor of criminalizing consensual gay sex and chose to “protect society at large.”

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