I was in love, about to be married, and never could have imagined that my life would soon be intertwined with an unimaginable amount of hate from strangers who wanted to tear apart everything I held dear.
You’re a pedophile, they said.
You’re a danger, they said.
You’re a pervert, they said.
You need to be stopped, they said.
It was 2008, and a California court had just cleared the way for LGBTQ people, like Jeff and me, to marry — a move that prompted the Family Research Council to further spread its anti-LGBTQ hatred and lies.
I knew about the organization, along with the Alliance Defending Freedom (then known as the Alliance Defense Fund), but didn’t realize the extent of their LGBTQ hatred or how deeply it had already infiltrated the mainstream until later that year when — amid their cries that LGBTQ people were destroying their values — California’s Proposition 8 passed and stopped marriage equality in the state.
That’s the year I learned that their hate can look like your neighbors who leave anti-LGBTQ fliers under your door, family members who leave the Christmas dinner table when you sit down, business owners who use their religious beliefs to kick you out, strangers who loudly say “fa--ots” before staring you down as you walk by, and death threats mailed to your office.
The FRC and ADF are now attempting to shift the narrative away from their history of hurting the LGBTQ community and doing more to divide families with LGBTQ family members than unite them. This weekend, a former FRC staffer, who currently works for the ADF, wrote an op-ed published in USA Today in which she defends the anti-LGBTQ organizations from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group designations and insists that the SPLC is the real danger.
Let me be clear: The FRC and ADF are indeed hate groups. We define a hate group as an organization that, based on its official activities, beliefs, statements, principles or practices, attacks or maligns an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.
The FRC, for instance, continues to push its false narrative that gay men are pedophiles and that the LGBTQ community is attempting to indoctrinate children through projects like the “It Gets Better” campaign, saying “it’s part of a concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that lifestyle.” Meanwhile, the ADF is pushing an anti-transgender agenda and has recently supported the criminalization of LGBTQ people.
The organizations on our hate group list vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity — prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines.
The op-ed writer attempts to dismiss the FRC’s and ADF’s attacks on the LGBTQ community by pointing to news stories about the SPLC, but there’s no excusing their vitriol and no justification for their hate that’s impacted millions nationwide.
Our work, especially our commitment and dedication to the communities we serve, has never been deterred, and it will keep driving us as we continue to look forward to truly model the change we want to see in the world.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality nationwide in 2015, I’ve increasingly heard leaders from anti-LGBTQ organizations like the FRC vilify the LGBTQ community.
I’ve heard them call LGBTQ people like me names. And I’ve heard those names echoed online and in the streets.
I’m not a pedophile. I’m gay.
I’m not a danger. I’m a pacifist.
I’m not a pervert. I’m a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, a friend.
I’m not a terrorist. I simply want to live free from someone else’s hate.
Their attacks normalize attacks.
And that’s neither an SPLC value nor mine.
Read the SPLC's response to the FRC and ADF's attack oped.
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