Brian Tashman's blog

Ex-Gay Activists Plan To Lobby On ENDA, Hate Crimes Laws

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is preparing for the “Second Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month” conference taking place this week in Washington, D.C., and PFOX executive director Regina Griggs appeared on today’s edition of “Sandy Rios In The Morning” to promote the event to all of American Family Radio’s ex-gay listeners.

Griggs told guest host Fred Jackson that the group of ex-gay activists will be visiting Capitol Hill because “many, many people within our Congress and in our Senate do not know and have never met an ex-gay, never heard of one.”

According to Griggs, the ex-gay lobbyists will tell members of Congress, “I want you to know that when you consider legislation, when you consider protection, hate crimes, ENDA, we do exist, we are out here, change is possible.”

Griggs, who has a gay son who does not identify as an “ex-gay,” also claimed that homosexuality is a choice, and a “dangerous” one at that.

“It is declared by the individual, it’s a decision that they have made,” she said. “If they have unwanted same-sex attractions that are based on being encouraged to live this lifestyle, many of them make the decision to live in a lifestyle that is changeable.”

She denounced laws in California and New Jersey that bar minors from undergoing ex-gay therapy, which she said will prevent people from receiving “help to walk away from a dangerous lifestyle.”

Stop Persecuting Us! Five Religious Right Tactics On Clear Display At The Values Voter Summit

One thing was clear at last week’s Values Voter Summit: many of the Religious Right’s leaders and allied politicians know that their stances on abortion rights and LGBT equality are becoming more and more toxic to the average voter, and less and less popular within the GOP.

Many speakers at the conference tried to reframe the debate on issues such as same-sex marriage, insisting that opponents of LGBT rights are becoming an oppressed minority in America. This delusion even seeped into matters such as foreign policy, with speakers attacking President Obama as an Islamist sympathizer who refuses to take military action against ISIS, even while he was doing exactly that.

Naturally, one politician was able to prey upon the many fears and fantasies of the far-right: Ted Cruz.

Even as the Values Voter Summit subtly changed its tone on some familiar issues, five tried and true tactics of the Religious Right were unchanged at last week’s event:

5. Make Audacious Persecution Analogies

While addressing the plight of Christians in the Mideast and people such as Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan and Saeed Abedini in Iran — both of whom are actually the victims of shocking anti-Christian persecution — Values Voter Summit speakers often attempted to claim that conservative Christians face similar abuses and comparable treatment in America.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel attempted to paint the Obama administration as more malicious than the government of Nazi Germany, and twins Jason and David Benham — who lost a planned HGTV reality show after we reported on their anti-gay political activism — even had the gall to compare themselves to the victims of ISIS.

Todd Starnes and Kelly Shackelford rattled off cases of purported anti-Christian persecution in America, “Duck Dynasty” star Alan Robertson said his family’s reality TV show was briefly suspended as the result of demonic attacks, and a Colorado baker who gained national attention after denying service to a gay couple broke down in tears.

Maggie Gallagher, the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, told attendees that marriage equality opponents will be “oppressed” due to their opinions, and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel predicted Big Government persecution of Christians on behalf of “the intolerant homosexual lobby.”

4. Demand Religious Freedom… Except For Muslims

For a conference dedicated to protecting religious liberty and addressing the supposed persecution of Christians in America, there sure was plenty of animosity towards Muslims.

Conference speakers including Michele BachmannRobert DeesGary Bauer and Brigitte Gabriel dedicated their remarks to the threat of Islam, with several conflating Al Qaeda and ISIS with all of Islam and suggesting that the U.S. government somehow declare war on the religion.

Prior to the conference, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, whose group was the summit’s chief sponsor, suggested that Muslim-Americans be stripped of their rights under the Constitution.

3. Brazenly Ignore Reality

It was surreal to watch several Values Voter Summit speakers criticize President Obama for not going after ISIS at the same time as a U.S.-led coalition was launching a daily torrent of airstrikes against ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria and Iraq.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said Obama doesn’t believe that ISIS leaders need to be “hunted down and killed and destroyed.”

Bachmann declared that the president was ignoring her sage advice on how to handle ISIS: “You kill their leader, you kill their council, you kill their army until they wave the white flag of surrender. That’s how you win a war!”

2. Push Back Against The GOP

There was a palpable fear throughout the conference that the Republican Party is moving away from the Religious Right, as more and more GOP candidates either refuse to highlight the movement’s anti-choice and anti-gay positions or are openly trumpeting support for abortion rights and gay marriage.

Just before the conference took place, Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council issued a letter announcing their vow to defeat two openly gay Republican House candidates and the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Oregon, who is pro-choice and running advertisements boasting of her support for marriage equality.

NOM president Brian Brown criticized Republicans for blaming the party’s stances on social issues for losses in the 2012 election. “It’s not our fault,” Brown insisted as he introduced unabashedly anti-gay politician Rick Santorum at the summit.

Later, at a NOM-sponsored panel, Brown accused gay rights supporters of attempting to “hijack” the GOP. While one panel at the summit attempted to explain the potential for libertarians and social conservatives to build a political alliance, it seems many in the audience didn’t want anything to do with the libertarian message.

1. Throw Them Red Meat

Ted Cruz once again won the summit’s presidential candidate straw poll, with Ben Carson, who didn’t attend the summit this year but was well-represented by campaigners from the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee, finishing in second place. Cruz and Carson notably outpaced Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, two favorites of Religious Right movement who both spoke at the summit.

Cruz packed his speech with warnings about imminent threats to the Second Amendment and religious freedom, and listing objects of conservative derision: IRS, Common Core and Obamacare.

Conference organizers said Jeb Bush and Chris Christie were not welcome at the summit, but they wouldn’t have been able to stand a chance against Cruz’s easy applause lines anyway.

Who Does Glenn Beck Really Stand With: Russian Gays Or America's Religious Right?

Shortly after Russia passed its new spate of anti-gay laws, Glenn Beck said he was so offended by one Russian commentator who called for the mass killing of gays and lesbians that he would “stand with GLAAD” against the growing tide of anti-gay bigotry and “hetero-fascism” in the country.

At the same time, however, Beck was heaping praise on anti-gay activists such as Mat Staver, the Liberty Counsel attorney who endorsed draconian anti-gay laws in Russia and Malawi.

Then, this weekend, Beck took the same stand against growing Russian “hetero-fascism” in his closing speech at the Values Voter Summit, even though many of the summit’s sponsors and his fellow speakers have openly backed harsh anti-gay laws in Russia and throughout the world.

To begin with, Tony Perkins, the president of the summit’s chief sponsor, the Family Research Council, defended Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill when it included provisions making homosexuality a crime punishable by life imprisonment or death.

Beck’s fellow Values Voter Summit speakers included not only Staver and Perkins but also Peter Sprigg, the FRC spokesman who called for the U.S. to export gay people and criminalize homosexuality. The American Family Association also sponsored the summit, and its spokesmen Bryan Fischer and Sandy Rios have also endorsed Russia’s anti-gay policies, with Fischer even backing Uganda’s law.

Maybe Beck was trying to hold Religious Right leaders at the summit to task for their support of brutal anti-gay policies. But if that’s the case, Beck should start confronting them directly when they come on his show, rather than singing their praises and appearing at their conferences while calling policies they support “fascist.”

Anti-Gay Activist Peter LaBarbera: I'm Like A Jew In Nazi Germany!

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality is joining the chorus of anti-gay activists likening themselves to Jews living in Nazi Germany, twice drawing comparisons to Nazism during a Friday interview with conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd.

While discussing the Human Rights Campaign’s “Export of Hate” report and what he claims are Right Wing Watch’s misrepresentations of his remarks, LaBarbera said of gay rights supporters: “They’re doing to us what the Nazis did to the Jews.”

“We have to trust in God to protect us,” LaBarbera said, suggesting that criticism of his anti-gay activism is fanning the flames of violence.

“This demonization is just — it’s what’s been done to minorities to the past and like I said, it’s what the Nazis did to the Jews,” LaBarbera added. “We’re losing our freedoms.”

LaBarbera repeatedly told Mefferd that HRC and others are trying to stop him from appearing in the media, which is actually exactly what LaBarbera did to gay rights advocate Wayne Besen.

Michele Bachmann Tries To Walk Back 'Boring' Gay Marriage Remarks

Following her Values Voter Summit speech about engaging in “spiritual warfare” with Islam, Rep. Michele Bachmann spoke to journalists, including Michelangelo Signorile, who asked her about gay marriage.

Bachmann, a leading anti-gay Republican, said that “it’s not an issue,” telling Signorile, “In fact, it’s boring.”

The Minnesota congresswoman now appears to be walking back her remarks, suggesting in an interview with WorldNetDaily that she is the victim of a media attack:

In a follow-up interview with WND, however, Bachmann clarified her comments.

“What I said is that this won’t be the issue that drives the 2014 election,” Bachmann said. “I told the reporter it’s getting boring having them only press this issue with Republicans while ignoring Democrats.

“The media loves to divide us on this issue. They look for something all the time,” Bachmann told WND. “I said nothing different. I’m the woman who carried the traditional marriage amendment in Minnesota, and I stand firm in my belief that marriage should be between one man and one woman.”

Bachmann’s aide told WND she wasn’t brushing off the radio host, she was merely making a quick, parting comment as she was leaving.

Brigitte Gabriel: Hundreds Of Millions Of Muslims Are Aspiring Suicide Bombers

How fitting that a conference ostensibly about guarding religious liberty included several speakers who used their time to level attacks against Muslim-Americans, including Brigitte Gabriel of the anti-Muslim group Act! for America.

Gabriel, whose organization focuses on fighting Muslim campus affinity groups and passing dubiously-constitutional laws barring sharia law, claimed in her speech this morning that around 180-300 million Muslims are “radical Islamists who are willing to strap bombs on their bodies and walk into this room and blow us all up to smithereens.”

Erick Erickson: People Who Believe In Evolution Are Dumb And Jealous

It was tough to top the sanctimonious speech delivered by Religious Right activist twins David and Jason Benham at the Values Voter Summit last night, but RedState editor Erick Erickson tried his best. Erickson, who also serves as a Fox News pundit, dedicated his remarks to explaining how people like himself and the VVS audience are headed to Heaven and, because of that, everyone else is jealous of them.

These days, Erickson lamented, people “worship science” and “believe we were an accident of a primordial goo, particles bumping into each other after the Big Bang that created bacteria that created amoeba that created something that led to something that led to something, a missing link, and then men, somewhere in there there’s a monkey apparently.”

After mocking evolution as dumb and incompatible with the religious faith, even cracking a joke about the Fox series “Cosmos,” Erickson said “I see a world that is opposed to us in this room because we’re headed home to eternity, we’re just passing through.”

“There is a last day, pick a side and the right side wins,” he said, adding: “You have got to love someone enough that you don’t want them to go to Hell.”

Alan Robertson: Satan Attacked 'Duck Dynasty' Clan Because We're So Great

“Duck Dynasty” family member Alan Robertson spoke to the Values Voter Summit last night about criticism of his father Phil Robertson’s racist and anti-gay statements.

Robertson said his father was a victim of a plot by “the Evil One,” who wants to “derail [his] message” about “a return to godliness,” which apparently includes waxing nostalgic about Jim Crow and smearing gays and lesbians.

“We’re talking about undergoing that change and trying to help other people see that because now you realize we’ve got generations of people in our nation that really don’t understand godliness at any level, they don’t know,” he said.

Later in his remarks, Robertson prayed that the heathens outside of the Values Voter Summit will one day become just as wise and godly as the Robertson clan: “I pray for even our American brothers and sisters who aren’t there yet, I pray for them, because I want our nation to rise up and be great again.”

Benham Twins: We Are Like ISIS Victims!

We have gotten used to Religious Right activists compare themselves to Jews living under Nazi Germany, but David and Jason Benham took a new approach at the Values Voter Summit last night and compared themselves to victims of the terrorist group ISIS.

The Benham twins, of course, were referring to how they lost their planned HGTV reality show after we reported on their anti-gay, anti-choice and anti-Muslim political activism.

In their speech to the summit, the Benham twins argued that just as ISIS beheads their victim with a sword, progressive groups like Right Wing Watch “silence” conservatives by quoting them verbatim.

Jason Benham kicked it off by likening himself and his brother to Jesus Christ — a theme throughout their speech — and later David said that Christians in America are facing persecution just like Christians in the Mideast who are coming under attack from violent groups such as ISIS.

“There is a radical agenda that has come in our nation,” David explained, “the weapon of choice for the agenda in the Middle East is a sword, but the weapon of choice for the agenda in America is silence. They demand silence.”

John Fleming: Colorado's Pot Law Linked To 'Increase In Homeless People,' Violence And Mental Illness

Rep. John Fleming, R-La., warned about the dangers of marijuana law reform efforts today at the Values Voter Summit, arguing that Colorado is seeing a wave of homeless people moving to the state as a result of its legalization vote.

Rather than bringing in revenue for the state, the congressman said, “already an increase in homeless people are [sic] moving to Colorado has been reported. As social problems and crimes increase, so will the burden on the treasury to provide for broken families, broken lives and broken bodies.”

The reports he cites, however, claim that homeless people moving to Colorado are largely looking for jobs in the marijuana industry.

Later in the speech, Fleming linked marijuana to family violence, mental illnesses and divorce.

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