WASHINGTON — The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of civil rights groups on Wednesday called on the head of the Republican National Committee (RNC) to urge party members to disassociate themselves from groups behind this week’s Values Voter Summit because of their relentless demonization of the LGBT community.
In an open letter published in today’s editions of The Washington Post and The Hill, the groups reminded RNC Chair Reince Priebus that 15 years ago his predecessor told GOP elected officials to shun the Council of Conservative Citizens because of the group’s “racist views.”
“Will the GOP condemn anti-LGBT bigotry as vigorously as it opposed racism 15 years ago?” the open letter asks.
“Our elected officials should not legitimize hate speech by appearing before extremist groups that vilify entire groups of people simply because of who they are,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “We’re asking the leaders of the GOP to take a stand against the politics of division.”
U.S. Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are among those currently scheduled to speak at this year’s Values Voter Summit, which begins Thursday in Washington, D.C.
The summit is hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC) and co-sponsored by the American Family Association (AFA) and the Liberty Counsel. “These groups,” the open letter says, “engage in groundless demonization of LGBT people – portraying them as sick, vile, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation.”
The open letter contains these examples of the groups’ vilification of the LGBT community:
- FRC President Tony Perkins has repeatedly claimed that pedophilia is a “homosexual problem.” He has called the “It Gets Better” campaign – designed to give LGBT students hope for a better tomorrow – “disgusting” and a “concerted effort” to “recruit” children into the gay “lifestyle.” He also recently condemned the National Republican Congressional Committee for supporting three openly gay candidates.
Bryan Fischer of the AFA has said the United States needs to “be more like Russia,” which enacted a law criminalizing the distribution of LGBT “propaganda.” He also has said, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.”
Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel has compared those who do not denounce same-sex marriage to those who remained silent during the Holocaust. Marriage equality, he has said, is the “beginning of the end of Western civilization.”
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“These views are far outside the mainstream, and those who continue to associate with anti-LGBT extremists will find themselves on the wrong side of history,” Cohen said.
Joining the SPLC in signing the open letter are Faithful America, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., and People for the American Way.