Special Report

SPLC examines role, history of FRC, AFA in ‘demonization of LGBT people’


The Southern Poverty Law Center on Friday issued a ground breaking intelligence report that examines two of the most powerful and influential organizations in the American anti-gay lobby — the Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA), headquartered in Tupelo, Miss. — calling them the “chief purveyors of lies about LGBT people.”

The report — titled “The Anti-Gay Lobby: The Family Research Council, the American Family Association and the Demonization of LGBT People” — is perhaps the most extensive examination to-date of the FRC and AFA, who together, are co-hosting the “Values Voter Summit” in Washington this weekend.

According to the SPLC‘s report, the FRC and the AFA regualrly disseminate “propaganda” that demonizes the LGBT community, and “creates an atmosphere where violence is all but inevitable.”

The FRC has claimed that gay activists “work to normalize sex with boys,” seek to “abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of a new sexual order,” and support anti-bullying programs solely in order to promote homosexuality.

The AFA has declared that “homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler … the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews,” suggested that gay sex be punished like heroin use, and said that the “homosexual agenda” endangers “every funda- mental right” in the Constitution, including religious freedom.

Both groups have enthusiastically promoted “reparative therapy,” which claims against the bulk of the evidence that it can “cure” gay men and les- bians and make them heterosexual, but in fact has left a string of people behind who were badly hurt by the process.

“LGBT people are now, by far, the group most victimized by violent hate crimes in America,” said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, which complies statistics and information on hate groups operating in the United States. “Public figures should not lend their names to groups that vilify or spread lies about them.”

Speaking with LGBTQ Nation on Friday, Potok said politicians “who know that the claims made by FRC and AFA are false, but who take no action, make these outrageous lies seem legitimate,” referring GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and other Republican luminaries making appearances at the Values Voter Summit.

Potok points a finger at both FRC and AFA as the “chief purveyors of lies about LGBT people,” but said another troubling aspect is that the major mainstream media outlets “have refused to point out those lies,” which often “validates their outlandish claims and falsehoods.”

“People need to ask and expect the press to tell the truth,” Potok said. “FRC and AFA must be held accountable for their combined provably false statements about LGBT people.”

At a news conference on Friday, Wayne Besen, founder of Truth Wins Out, an organization that fights against “ex-gay [reparative] therapy” said, “The lies peddled by these groups end up hurting real people. Hate speech and the lies spread by FRC and AFA encourages bullying in schools, which has led to tragic suicides.”

Potok agreed, and noted that kids who bully take their cue from their parents who, “get ideas from some place.”

In 2010, the SPLC analyzed nearly a decade and a half of hate crime data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and determined that the LGBT community was targeted and victimized more than any other minority. According to the report:

Gay people are… more than twice as likely to be attacked as black people; more than twice as likely to be attacked as Jews; and, more than four times as likely to be attacked as Muslims.

Potok said that analysis of the FBI data, and the evidence which showed a consistent pattern of spreading lies about LGBT persons, is why the SPLC categorizes the FRC and AFA as “hate groups.”

“Both the FRC and AFA are disingenuous in claiming that being listed as hate groups is because of their ‘Christian’ beliefs and values,” Potok noted. “This is not because they oppose same-sex marriage, or because they believe the Bible describes homosexuality as a sin. It is because FRC and AFA continue to spread provably false propaganda to demonize members of the LGBT community.”

In addition to profiling the FRC and AFA, the SPLC report debunks ten myths commonly promulgated about the LGBT community:

Ever since born-again singer and orange juice pitchwoman Anita Bryant helped kick off the contemporary anti-gay movement more than 30 years ago, hard-line elements of the religious right have been searching for ways to demonize gay people — or, at a minimum, to find arguments that will prevent their normalization in society.

For the former Florida beauty queen and her Save Our Children group, it was the alleged plans of gay men and lesbians to “recruit” in schools that provided the fodder for their crusade.

But in addition to hawking that myth, the legions of anti-gay activists who followed have added a panoply of others, ranging from the extremely doubtful claim that sexual orientation is a choice, to unalloyed lies like the claims that gay men molest children far more than heterosexuals or that hate crime laws will lead to the legalization of bestiality and necrophilia.

On Monday, LGBTQ Nation continues its coverage of the SPLC report in a conversation with Christine P. Sun, SPLC’s Deputy Legal Director and a review of the top ten myths promulgated by the FRC, AFA and other anti-gay lobbying groups, and new efforts to legally restrict so-called reparative therapy.

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