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Conservative columnist: Ryan made a mistake speaking at ‘Values Voter Summit’

Saturday, September 15, 2012
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The Washington Post‘s conservative political columnist Dana Milbank, in his column Friday, openly criticized GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan for his appearance Friday morning to speak before attendees at the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit.”

Milbank has previously raised the ire of LGBT advocacy groups when he came to the defense of FRC president Tony Perkins in the aftermath of the shooting last month at FRC headquarters, after which Perkins placed direct blame on the Southern Poverty Center’s labeling of FRC as a “hate group.”

In that column, Milbank sided with Perkins, calling the label of “hate group” on FRC a misguided decision on the part of the SPLC.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.)

But on Friday, Milbank took aim at some of the very reasons FRC was included on the SPLC hate group watch list.

Milbank listed the reasons he felt that Ryan’s appearance at FRC’s function was bereft of any political gains by the Romney-Ryan presidential campaign.

As a member-in-good-standing of the religious right, I would like to tell Ryan that was a mistake. Fifty-three days before the election, this is not the sort of message Mitt Romney and Ryan should be sending to the American public.

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There’s Perkins’s claim that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem” and his labeling as “disgusting” a campaign to help gay youth overcome bullying. There’s the statement by Jerry Boykin, the group’s executive vice president, that “Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protection” and his belief that Jews should be converted to Christianity. I asked council officials about such statements but was offered no repudiation of them.

There’s also the 2010 statement by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, one of the Values Voter Summit’s co-sponsors, that “homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”

Classy.

Is this the sort of thing Ryan, and by extension Romney, wish to associate themselves with? Apparently so. In his speech, Ryan said nothing about such outlandish positions, telling the Family Research Council, “We can be confident in the rightness of our cause,” and promising that Romney is “a defender of marriage.”

But as the Romney campaign fights for the support from the middle of the electorate, the gays-as-pedophiles theme has limited appeal. It would seem to be better to put some distance between the Republican ticket and the sort of people who blame the Holocaust on gay people.

A coalition of LGBT advocacy organization had called on Ryan to skip the event.

“We urge you not to lend the prestige of your office to the summit,” they wrote in a letter. “We urge you to decline the FRC’s invitation and not share the stage with and lend your credibility to an organization that spreads demonizing falsehoods about other people.”

During his speech Friday morning, Rep. Ryan (R-Wisc.) was heckled by two women who identified themselves as members of the queer activist group “ACT UP Philadelphia.”

The women were removed from the auditorium by members of the hired event security and agents from the U.S. Secret Service. Both women were threatened with arrest if they were to reappear on the Omni-Shoreham Hotel’s property where the summit is being held.

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