Roundup of anti-LGBT events and activities 11/6/2018

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.

News Roundup

The Guardian reported Oct. 7 that Romania’s anti-LGBT marriage vote was voided because of low voter turnout. Just 20 percent of registered voters cast ballots in a referendum that would have altered the constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. The constitution currently defines marriage as between two “spouses.”

SPLC reported Sept. 27 on the U.S.-based groups working heavily in support of the change to the Romanian constitution, including Alliance Defending Freedom* (ADF), Liberty Counsel*, World Congress of Families* (WCF) and the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ), the European offshoot of the American Center for Law and Justice. ADF, Liberty Counsel and ECLJ all submitted briefs at the Constitutional Court of Romania in support of the referendum, while WCF submitted a petition in support.

Same-sex marriage is already banned in Romanian civil code, and same-sex couples have no rights in the country as civil partnership is also illegal. Still, a coalition of anti-LGBT groups and the powerful Orthodox Church supported the referendum, which, had it passed, would have put yet another steep obstacle in the way of legal marriage equality. The Orthodox Church, according to Romania-Insider, believes that homosexuality is sinful and “unnatural.”

Three coordinated anti-LGBT lawsuits were filed in Texas in early October. The Austin American-Statesman reported Oct. 8 that the Houston-based U.S. Pastor Council sued the city of Austin in federal court, hoping to overturn the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance that offers employment protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The U.S. Pastor Council filed another lawsuit, also in Texas, in conjunction with Christian-owned businesses, including one owned by longtime anti-LGBT activist and Republican funder Steven Hotze (named in the lawsuit), who heads up Republicans for Conservative Values. That lawsuit is against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that the EEOC makes no accommodations or exemptions for churches or corporations that “oppose homosexual or transgender behavior” on religious grounds.

A third lawsuit — this one also against the city of Austin — was filed by anti-LGBT group Texas Values Oct. 8. The lawsuit claims that Austin’s nondiscrimination ordinance violates the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Texas Constitution, “because they fail to sufficiently protect the conscientious beliefs of those who hold sincere religious objections to homosexual and transgender behavior.”

MetroWeekly.com reported that Texas Values is demanding exemptions for landlords who refuse to rent to tenants “engaged in non-marital sex of any sort,” particularly same-sex relations. The group further argues that individuals — particularly small business owners — have a right to refuse to support or participate in same-sex marriages, and that they can demand that trans people use bathrooms in accordance with their assigned sex at birth.

The U.S. Pastor Council has argued that preventing business owners, church leaders and individuals from discriminating against LGBT people in employment decisions forces them to condone actions contrary to their shared belief that homosexuality is immoral.

The New York Times reported Oct. 21 that the Trump administration may be attempting to define “transgender” out of existence by narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth — the most drastic move yet, the Times notes, “in a governmentwide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under civil rights law.”

The Times obtained a memo circulated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that suggested the agency is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government funding.

The memo argued that key government agencies need to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.” The HHS’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by genitalia with which a person is born. Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.

The Times further notes that this decision would “essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into.”

For the last year, HHS has privately argued that the term “sex” was never supposed to include gender identity or homosexuality and that lack of clarity allowed the Obama administration to, as the Times puts it, “wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them.”

Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS who is reputedly overseeing this directive, has a long history of anti-LGBT sentiment. He has argued vigorously against legalizing same-sex marriage and against accommodations for trans people in school locker rooms or public bathrooms, according to a profile in The Atlantic. While at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, Severino argued in a paper co-written with fellow anti-LGBT activist Ryan Anderson that “gender identity and sexual orientation … are changeable, self-reported, and entirely self-defined characteristics” that do not deserve the protected-class status of sex, race, and several other categories that fall under federal civil rights statutes.

The Guardian reported Oct. 25 that the Trump administration is seeking to remove the word “gender” from United Nations human rights documents. The article reports U.S. officials at the U.N. are seeking to eliminate the word, replacing it most often with the word “woman,” apparently as part of the administration’s campaign to define transgender people out of existence, The Guardian said.

At recent meetings of the U.N.’s Third Committee, which is concerned with “social, humanitarian and cultural” rights, U.S. officials have been pushing to rewrite general assembly policy statements to remove what the administration claims is “vague and politically correct language,” reflecting what it sees as an “ideology” of treating gender as an individual choice rather than an unchangeable biological fact.

The Guardian noted as an example a draft paper on trafficking in women and girls that was introduced earlier in October by Germany and the Philippines that the U.S. wants to remove phrases like “gender-based violence” and replace them with “violence against women.” The U.S. officials involved in these changes are, The Guardian said, understood to have been sent from Washington and are not full-time diplomats with the U.S. mission.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said, “In no way is the United States attempting to exclude the protection of transgendered [sic] persons, or protection of any person, in any U.N. resolution.” The spokesperson went on to claim that when certain parts of resolutions explicitly refer to issues affecting “women and girls,” “our negotiators have suggested in several instances to change ‘gender’ to ‘women’ and/or ‘women and girls’ to make the resolutions clearer, more specific, more accurate, and in our view, stronger in the Administration’s efforts to empower women and girls.”

Rolling Stone reported Sept. 13 that the U.S. State Department “abruptly” changed language on its website and quietly removed a page called “Gender Designation Change,” which had been up since 2010. The page was replaced with a new page called “Change of Sex Marker.”

According to the article, the requirements for changing sex/gender markers on U.S. passports are the same, but the language was changed throughout the page from “gender” to “sex,” and new FAQs were added, including one stating that non-binary gender identity may not be designated on a U.S. passport. The addition reads, “The sex marker may not match the gender in which you identify.”

The State Department sent a statement to Rolling Stone that said, “We want to state unequivocally that there has been no change in policy or in the way we adjudicate passports for transgender applicants. … With regard to the web update, we added language to make our use of terms consistent and accurate and to eliminate any confusion customers may have related to passport application process.”

Sam Ames, executive director of Trans Lifeline, told Rolling Stone, “As an attorney I will tell you that a lot of people at the State Department are also attorneys and they know the significance of small changes in language. We can argue over the intent as much as we want but at the end of the day this is endangering people’s lives.”

Bloomberg Law reported Oct. 24 that the Department of Justice (DOJ) told the Supreme Court in a brief that businesses can discriminate against workers based on their gender identity without violating federal law. The DOJ’s Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, told the court that a civil rights law that bans sex discrimination on the job does not cover bias against transgender people.

The brief was filed as SCOTUS is determining whether to take up the case of a trans woman who was fired from her job at a Michigan funeral home after she told the owner she was transitioning to female. In the case, the Sixth Circuit became the first federal appeals court in the country to conclude that bias against trans people is sex discrimination under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The case is being appealed to the Supreme Court; Alliance Defending Freedom* is representing the funeral home.

This is not the first time DOJ has supported anti-LGBT lawsuits at the Supreme Court. The DOJ backed a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding reception in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which received a narrow ruling in June.

The AP reported Oct. 27 that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was scheduled to speak at an event in Boston sponsored by a local chapter of the Federalist Society. The event, which occurred at the Omni Parker House in downtown Boston, was billed as “The Future of Religious Liberty.”

Others scheduled for the event were U.S. attorney Andrew Lelling of the District of Massachusetts and ADF* senior counsel Jordan Lorence.

The speech occurred Oct. 29, and a transcript was posted at the DOJ website.

Headline roundup:

Intomore.com: “The ‘Father of Conversion Therapy’ Tried to Change my Sexual Orientation”

MetroWeekly: “Anti-gay lawyer confirmed as head of Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division”

NYMag.com: “Trump’s Alliance with Evangelicals is at the Heart of the White House’s Anti-Transgender Push”

RollingStone.com: “The Health Department’s Christian Crusade”

TIME.com: “An Oregon Bakery Fined for Turning Away a Lesbian Couple is Appealing to the Supreme Court”

From the Groups

Family Research Council* (FRC) announced in an Oct. 10 email that it had released “new policy publications,” including one claiming that “Planned Parenthood is Not Pro-Woman” and another called “Are Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) Effective? Are They Harmful? What the Evidence Shows.”

The email provides a link to the FRC website to a post of the same name, written by Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies. Sprigg does many of FRC’s anti-LGBT position papers.

In this latest attempt to validate ex-gay or conversion therapy (FRC uses “SOCE” — Sexual Orientation Change Efforts) as something legitimate, Sprigg promotes six studies that allegedly “prove” ex-gay therapy works and doesn’t harm people. Five of them include authors who are ex-gay promoters and practitioners, while another — a staple in the anti-LGBT right — is by a psychiatrist who refuted his own study and apologized to the LGBT community before his 2015 death. The psychiatrist, Dr. Robert Spitzer, said homosexuality can’t change and efforts to do so may be disappointing and dangerous.

Sprigg dismisses Spitzer’s apology (putting the term apology in scare quotes) and claims his study “continues to provide evidence” that some people can change their orientation. Sprigg also refers to the late Spitzer in the present tense.

In other FRC news, president Tony Perkins was in the United Arab Emirates, according to an Oct. 30 news release on the FRC website. This week, according to the news release, Perkins was a member of a delegation of U.S. evangelical leaders that went to Abu Dhabi for meetings with the UAE’s leadership, including Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan; the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; the Minister of State for Tolerance; and officials from the Sawab Center, a joint initiative between the UAE and U.S. governments in support of the Global Coalition against ISIS.

According to the Jerusalem Post the meeting was the first of its kind for the Crown Prince, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the UAE’s armed forces. The Post noted that Bin Zayed’s interest in meeting the leader of the delegation — Joel Rosenberg — is “a trend among Arab leaders who are seeking for ways to grow close to U.S. President Donald Trump and believe the key might be through Evangelical Christians.”

Rosenberg is a novelist, evangelical activist and commenter on the Middle East based in Israel. He was also on the delegation Perkins was with in November 2017 when they met with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has been criticized as a dictator responsible for harsh political repression in the country.

The National reported that Rosenberg described the meeting as the first-ever mission of Christian evangelicals to the UAE. The meeting with the Crown Prince was originally scheduled for 30 minutes, but lasted two hours. Rosenberg also presented the Crown Prince with a copy of his latest novel, “in which Iran acquires nuclear weapons and the US, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israeli intelligence services unite against the threat.”

Perkins stated in the FRC release, “The UAE is aggressively working to combat extremism in the Middle East and beyond.”

They have an appreciation for religious freedom that is rare in this region. Under the Crown Prince’s leadership, the UAE is a more tolerant nation, where Christians are allowed to worship freely. …And we must not forget that as Christians here in America we must not only pray for and act on behalf of our brothers and sister [sic] in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith, we must exercise and defend our religious freedom at home as well.

FRC president Tony Perkins also hosts a weekday radio show, “Washington Watch.” Guests from Oct. 1- 29 included:

  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
  • Pete Yachmetz (FBI, ret.)
  • Scott Rasmussen (Ballotpedia editor-at-large)
  • Joseph diGenova (former U.S. attorney)
  • Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
  • Carter Conlon (senior pastor, Times Square Church, New York City)
  • Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.)
  • Carrie Severino (chief counsel and policy director, Judicial Crisis Network)
  • Gordon Robertson (CEO, Christian Broadcasting Network)
  • David Fowler (president, Family Action Council of Tennessee)
  • Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.)
  • Daniel Oliver (chair, Board of Education and Research Institute)
  • Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.)
  • Gordon Chang (author)
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
  • Louisiana state solicitor general Liz Murrill
  • Michele Bachmann (former congresswoman, Minn.)
  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)
  • Rich Penkoski (Warriors for Christ)
  • Joe Champion (pastor, Celebration Church, Austin, Texas)
  • Lea Patterson (attorney, First Liberty Institute)
  • Kelly Shackelford (president and CEO, First Liberty Institute)
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
  • Patrice Lee Onwuka (senior policy analyst, Independent Women’s Forum)
  • Gary LeBlanc (founder and president, Mercy Chefs)
  • Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)
  • Tim Haas (manager, U.S. Disaster Response, Samaritan’s Purse)
  • Rep. Tep Poe (R-Texas)
  • Michael Knowles (columnist, Daily Wire)
  • Steve Southerland (former congressman, Fla.)
  • Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
  • James O’Keefe (president, Project Veritas)
  • Ann McElhinney (producer, “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer”)
  • Chris Wilson (CEO, WPA Intelligence)
  • George Barna (president, Metaformation)
  • Frank Gaffney (president, Center for Security Policy *)
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.A)
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
  • Mark Stermer (pastor, The Church International, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
  • Pastor Andrew Brunson
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.)
  • Ned Ryun (founder and CEO, American Majority)
  • Alex McFarland (writer, speaker)
  • Eben Fowler (director of operations, Bott Radio Network)
  • Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kan.)
  • John Graves (president, Vision America)
  • Gregg Jarrett (Fox News analyst)
  • Rachel Alexander (senior editor, The Stream)
  • Richard Mast (attorney, Liberty Counsel *)

MassResistance* (MR) reported on its website Oct. 13 that its Texas chapter was partnering with anti-LGBT group Concerned Christian Citizens for their second annual conference in Killeen, called “If Not Now, Then When?”

According to the MR main blog, “This is not your average soft-pedaling pro-family conference.” The speakers “will address how the LGBTQ agenda is targeting all areas of society — and what the family and church must do about it.” The MR site states the conference will:

answer the burning questions so many parents and citizens have: Will the LBGTQ [sic] agenda to normalize perversion and indoctrinate our children succeed? Will Christians move from the sidelines to the frontlines to fight this?”

MassResistance flyer
A flyer for the MassResistance and Concerned Christian Citizens Conference

Speakers at the event included MR-TX’s director, longtime anti-LGBT activist Robert Oscar López; Rusty Thomas of Waco, Texas, hardline anti-choice group Operation Save America; ex-gay therapist David Pickup and Texas-based Steven Hotze, virulently anti-LGBT president of Conservative Republicans of Texas*.

Concerned Christian Citizens is active in Temple, Texas, and first came to attention in 2017 when group leader Joe Goodson started leading a campaign against the local library’s materials commemorating LGBT Pride month in June. Goodson claimed the library was advocating a harmful lifestyle to children.

Events

Freedom March will be gathering Nov. 4 in Pershing Square in Los Angeles from 1-5 p.m. Freedom March bills itself on its website as “A diverse group of former homosexuals and transgenders [sic] sharing our testimonies and celebrating our freedom.” On the “Our Vision” page, the group clarifies that is a “diverse group of Christians who have been delivered from LGBTQ lifestyles” who “seek to bring hope of deliverance to the LGBTQ community and point them to Christ!”

The group uses rainbow colors — generally associated with LGBTQ people and LGBTQ Pride — on its logo for both the Freedom March and its Facebook avatar.

Freedom March L.A. logo
The Freedom March L.A. logo

The event is organized by founder and CEO of Freedom March Jeffrey McCall, who claims to be both formerly gay and a former trans woman.

This is the second event by Freedom March; the first was held in Washington, D.C., and featured twelve “former LGBT men and women” as speakers. Around twenty are slated to speak in November, according to The Christian Post.

McCall explained to The Christian Post that despite constant talk about the perils of conversion therapy, the Freedom March centers on how the Holy Spirit has transformed the lives of “countless people and their journeys of newness of life in Christ.”

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