SANTA ANA, Calif. — What does it mean when you call a press conference and no one shows up?
On Monday, Reverend Louis Sheldon, an adamant opponent of LGBTQ rights, and founder of the Traditional Values Coalition — one of three California “pro-family” organizations leading the effort to overturn California‘s FAIR Education Act — invited the Southern Californian press corps to attend a news conference on TVC efforts seeking a ballot initiate to overturn the law.
The Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, also known as SB 48, is the landmark legislation that would require classroom text books and other instructional materials used in public schools to include the historical contributions LGBT people. It was signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown on July 14.
But joining Sheldon and his assistant on Monday were exactly three others — all staff from the Los Angeles-baed based LGBTQ advocacy group, Courage Campaign. There was not a single reporter in attendance.
Sheldon, whose organization has been promulgating anti-gay propaganda for several decades, and has also been classified as a hate-group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was forced to give his “briefing” in the parking lot of the offices for the Orange County, California Voter Registrar after officials told him that he couldn’t be present inside the building to give his presentation.
“With such low attendance, Courage staff got a front-row seat for this press conference and even got to ask a few follow-up questions before he abruptly ended his presentation. He struggled to stay on message, often times contradicted himself and seemed to suggest that his biggest problem with the Fair Education Act was that it doesn’t allow negative portrayals of the LGBT community, said Arisha Michelle Hatch, Courage Campaign’s National Field Director, who was present for the briefing.
According to Rick Jacobs, Chairman and Founder of the Courage Campaign:
“The Rev. Louis Sheldon and the ‘Traditional Values Coalition’ have been peddling so-called ‘facts’ about gay people for decades now. All they’ve managed to do is hurt people and earn themselves a place in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s pantheon of hate groups together with the Ku Klux Klan.
“Their latest lies are about the Fair Education Act, a law that requires California schools to integrate lessons about social movements, current events and the social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals into existing social studies lessons.
“Rather than encouraging learning about the diversity of American history, Rev. Sheldon, like his friends at Westboro Baptist Church and other fringe groups, seek to foment division and hatred, the opposite of Judeo-Christian teachings.”
A copy of Sheldon’s invitation to the media to attend yesterday’s briefing can be read on the Courage Campaign’s Prop 8 Trial tracker website.