A prominent social conservative leader compared homosexuality to drug use on Wednesday while urging parents not to “condone and enable” a child being gay.
Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council, made the remarks while speaking at the National Press Club luncheon after being asked if he would disown one of his children if they came out as gay.
Perkins, the father of five children, replied that he wouldn’t “disown my children for anything,” but advised parents they should express disapproval if they’re children make such an announcement.
“And if we really love them, we’ll be willing to tell them the truth that the choices that they have made, continuing what they’re doing, are both destructive to them personally and society as a whole,” Perkins said. “And so while I would disagree with my child getting involved in that lifestyle, I would not in any way — nor would I ever encourage a parent — to disown a child because of something like that that occurs. Love them compassionately, pray for them, but don’t condone and enable that behavior, whatever it might be.”
Perkins said as a parent he has “a responsibility for the environment in which I raise my children,” suggesting that sexual orientation is determined by parenting — a notion disputed by major psychiatric groups. Later in his comments, Perkins compared homosexuality to drug use.
“I believe as a parent we have the ability to protect them from a lot of unfortunate experiences that have shaping influences upon their lives,” Perkins said. “That’s not to say that those whose children may have ended up in homosexuality were not good parents. We can’t guarantee that. We can do our very best job as a parent and still something may happen, whether they end up in drugs or whether they end up in some other lifestyle that they end up.”
At the beginning of his response, Perkins said similar inquiries has been posed to him previously on national TV as what he called a “gotcha” question. The inquiry on Wednesday came from National Press Club President Theresa Werner, who was reading questions submitted in advance by reporters and attendees at the event.
Michael Cole-Schwartz, an HRC spokesperson, responded by saying Perkins is spreading lies about LGBT people and that parents should provide “unconditional support” to children who come out.
“Tony Perkins continues to spread lies and misinformation and his comments are offensive to the millions of LGBT people and those who love and respect us,” Cole-Schwartz said. “LGBT young people need unconditional support, not leaders or parents who will compare their inherent identities to things like substance abuse. It’s time Tony Perkins disavows that junk science and learns what the experts have to say about sexual orientation and gender identity.”
In response to another question submitted by the Washington Blade, Perkins said he thinks the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is getting better about talking about views of marriage and gay rights favorable to social conservatives. Perkins gave general praise to Romney, despite grumblings throughout his campaign from social conservatives who’ve said they suspect the candidate doesn’t share their views.
“I think Mitt Romney is doing a good job in becoming more comfortable in talking about the issues of faith, talking about the social issues of marriage, and life in particular,” Perkins said. “There is no question that we have theological when it comes to our religions, but we have a shared concern over where this country is headed today. And we have a shared value system that we believe can put American on the right way. I believe that Gov. Romney is doing a good job in reaching out and bringing in all concerns within the conservative movement, including those of social conservatives.”