A Capitol Hill event featuring groups that push anti-gay laws abroad, which was scheduled to take place in a Senate office building today, developed a layer of unexpected intrigue last night when the event’s organizers sent out an email announcing that the meeting would be moved to a House building after the unnamed “senator who was sponsoring our room” canceled the room “due to media pressure.”
It turned out that the senator in question was Illinois’ Mark Kirk (home-state senator of the event’s organizer the World Congress of Families), and that the “media pressure” was Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder simply calling up his office to ask about it. Kirk’s office immediately dropped the event and announce that “Sen. Kirk doesn’t affiliate with groups that discriminate.”
WCF responded by announcing that “obviously Senator Kirk doesn’t care about families and children and freedom and has chosen to side with the policies of decline, death and disease promoted by the Sexual Radicals.”
To the rescue came none other than Speaker Boehner, whom World Congress of Families president Allan Carlson thanked for providing the group with its new Capitol Hill digs. Boehner’s spokesman nevertheless distanced his boss from the group in a statement to Feder: “This administrative task obviously does not imply endorsement of any particular point of view.”
All of this drama then became a central focus of the event, which was billed as a discussion on what the U.S. can learn from “family policy lessons from other lands.”
Carlson kicked off the event by announcing, “A great fear seems to be descending on what was once called the world’s greatest deliberative body” and saying that Kirk’s pulling the plug on the event’s room reminded him of the early days of fascism in Europe.
[UPDATE: Concerned Women of America has posted videos of the event]
Another speaker, Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse, who is also on WCF’s board of directors, blamed the change of plans on “a group of radicals” – an odd accusation since there had been no organized effort to prevent the event from taking place.
Finally, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute’s Austin Ruse declared that Sen. Kirk’s action made him less friendly to free speech than Russia – whose law criminalizing pro-gay-rights speech has the vocal support of C-FAM and WCF .
UPDATE: Peter has a post on the summit speakers' defense of Russia's anti-gay laws.