Equality For All

Bryan Fischer Explains Why He Only Hires Women As Secretaries

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer spent part of yesterday’s program talking about the arguments in the Hobby Lobby case, including the fear that if the Supreme Court exempts the business from the contraception coverage mandate, it could open the door to broad religious exemptions from many types of employment regulations .

Fischer declared that this fear was preposterous, because, he claimed, nobody would ever sue on religious grounds to evade the minimum wage requirement (which Fischer said that he in fact has religious objections to) or to discriminate in hiring on the basis of gender. But he then went directly on to tell about how he himself had discriminated on the basis of gender when he was hiring for receptionist and secretary positions at his church.

“I wanted the most welcoming, inviting, hospitable voice I could find on our end of the line,” he said. “And I said, guys, don’t bother to apply. I’m discriminating on the basis of gender here, males need not apply for this position.”

“One of the things that God has built into women,” he continued, “I believe, is he’s designed them to be warm, to be hospitable, to be open-hearted, to be open-handed, to have their arms open, to be welcoming, to be receptive, to create a nurturing, welcoming environment.

“I’ve got other jobs I want guys to do in the church, but this job is going to be reserved for a woman because of the unique things that God has built into women.”

He then invited the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to sue him.

Women Justices Press Important Questions During Hobby Lobby Arguments

Crowds of activists and advocacy groups gathered outside while the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in the Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Inc. case.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg did not shy away from asking difficult questions that demonstrate the broad implications this case could have. Justices Sotomayor and Kagan voiced concerns regarding the implications of a ruling for the first time in our nation’s history that for-profit corporations have religious rights. Both justices questioned whether this decision would allow companies to deny access to coverage of not only contraceptive methods, but also of other lifesaving procedures employers might object to on religious grounds—like blood transfusions or vaccines.

The Huffington Post quotes Justice Kagan as saying, “There are quite a number of medical treatments that could be religiously objected to… Everything would be piecemeal, nothing would be uniform.”

Pushing the issue further, Justice Sotomayor asked, “How are courts supposed to know whether a corporation holds a particular religious belief?”

Similarly, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

was a law that was passed overwhelmingly [by] both houses of Congress. People from all sides of the political spectrum voted for it. It seems strange that there would have been that tremendous uniformity if it means [corporations are covered].

She added…

[T]here was an effort to adopt a … specific conscience amendment in 2012, and the Senate rejected that… That amendment would have enabled secular employers and insurance providers to deny coverage on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions. It was specifically geared to secular employers and insurance providers. And that…was rejected.

Justice Kagan noted that RFRA was considered non-controversial when it passed, an unlikely reaction if it had been understood to open the door to employers citing religious objections to complying with laws relating to sex discrimination, minimum wage, family leave, or child labor.

Justice Kagan also noted that women are “quite tangibly harmed” when employers don’t provide contraceptive coverage. This decision, however, could have far-reaching implications beyond women’s reproductive rights since this case deals with some of the same core issues seen in “right to discriminate” bills like Arizona’s, as we pointed out yesterday morning.

PFAW Foundation

World Congress Of Families Suspends Kremlin Summit, Still Supports Russia's Anti-Gay Crackdown

The World Congress of Families announced in a press release today that it is suspending planning on an upcoming summit at the Kremlin due to concerns about “travel, logistics, and other matters” related to “the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea.”

The WCF’s planned Moscow summit – which was funded in part by advocates with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin –  came under increased scrutiny after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine, with one American group, Concerned Women For America, publicly announcing that it would pull out of the event .

Adding another layer of complication, two of the primary Russian organizers of the event were put under US economic sanctions last week in response to the Ukraine invasion.

In the press release, WCF makes clear that it still supports Russian president Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on LGBT people. “At a time when Western governments are moving backward to a pagan worldview, Russia has taken a leadership role to advance the natural family,” it says.

As we have documented extensively, WCF has been active in pushing anti-gay laws in both Russia and Ukraine, aiding Putin’s effort to use anti-gay politics as a wedge issue against American and European influence.

ROCKFORD, Ill., March 25, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Planning on World Congress of Families VIII - the Moscow Congress (scheduled for September 10-12, 2014) -- has been suspended for the time being. The situation in the Ukraine and Crimea (and the resulting U.S. and European sanctions) has raised questions about the travel, logistics, and other matters necessary to plan WCF VIII.

The foregoing is not meant to reflect negatively on the Russian people, churches or individuals who have taken a leadership role in the fight to preserve life, marriage, and the natural family at home and as part of the international pro-family movement.

We are proud of the accomplishments of our Russian Partners, and applaud the moves of the Russian people, through their elected representatives, to protect life, the family and the innocence of children. At a time when Western governments are moving backward to a pagan worldview, Russia has taken a leadership role to advance the natural family.

The World Congress of Families takes no position on foreign affairs, except as they affect the natural family. The family is above national concerns and should unite all people of good will who recognize the centrality of the family as the foundation of civilization. Our Russian Partners and others we have worked with in the Russian Federation have our prayers and encouragement in their pro-family work.

Scott Lively: Gays Are Foot Soldiers in Marxist/Freemason Plot To Impose New World Order

In a lengthy interview last week with a Denver radio show, anti-gay crusader Scott Lively presented his theories that a Freemason Supreme Court justice conspired to destroy Christianity through the separation of church and state and that gay people are the “main foot soldiers” of a Marxist plot to impose a New World Order.

Lively told hosts Chris and Sheree Geo that the Supreme Court’s church/state separation decisions in Everson v. Board of Education and Torcaso v. Watkins were the “beginning of the collapse of our freedom and prosperity as a nation,” for which he blamed Justice Hugo Black, "a 33rd degree Mason, very hostile to Christianity.”

Lively went on to elaborate on his previously stated theory that gay rights are part of a Marxist plot to destroy society.

He explained that in the 1940s and the 1950s, gay people “lived discreetly and everyone was pretty happy,” but that now gay rights activists are “demanding that homosexuality be legitimized to children and to be on every television show and every aspect, sports figures coming out and that sort of thing.”

He blames this shift on the “cultural Marxists” of the 1960s. “That was all about destroying the existing order, destroying it down to ashes, so they could rebuild society according to their own socialist utopian model,” he said. “And that’s what this whole culture war is about. Its’ a conflict really between Christians and Marxists.”

He argued that gay rights advocates had brought the same Marxist plot to Africa, where along with the “big gigantic lie” of climate change, they are trying “to gut the morality of the countries and break the family system down and make the countries more pliable” in order to impose the New World Order.

“The whole New World Order system is a Marxist system, and there are different components of it, but the fact is that the homosexuals are the foot soldiers, they’re the main foot soldiers of this agenda,” he insisted.

Finally, Lively explained why he supports criminal sodomy bans like the onerecently re-imposed in India and the one currently being debated in Jamaica.

“The sodomy laws should be in place and lightly enforced,” he said. “That’s what people don’t understand. The reason you have things like sodomy criminalized is not so you can go and break down people’s doors – we hardly ever did that when we had the sodomy laws in this country – but when you have them in the law, that means that the people that are advocating those things cannot go into the schools for example and teach it to the kids, they cannot advocate criminal behavior.

“What that means is, you can allow subcultures of people who are breaking the law to do it discreetly and leave them alone. But then when they get too out of hand, you have a tool to be able to stop them.”

‘Right to Discriminate’ Bills, Meet Hobby Lobby

Last month, as Arizona governor Jan Brewer deliberated whether to sign or veto a law that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers, the public outcry was immense. Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain shared their opposition via Twitter. Companies including American Airlines, Apple, and AT&T urged a veto. Multiple state senators who had voted for SB 1062 asked Gov. Brewer to veto it. When she did, advocacy groups praised the decision and many in Arizona and across the country breathed a well-deserved sigh of relief.

But it turns out that sigh may have been premature.

This morning the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a case that, on its face, appears to be dealing with a different issue – women’s access to contraception – but in fact grapples with some of the same core issues in play with “right to discriminate” bills like Arizona’s. In the Hobby Lobby case, as in its companion case Conestoga Wood Specialities v. Sebelius, corporations are trying to avoid complying with the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. But both the Supreme Court cases and the “right to discriminate” bills address the question of whether for-profit corporations have religious rights and can use those “rights” in a way that brings harm to others. 

Comparing the vetoed Arizona bill to efforts to let companies deny covering contraception, National Women’s Law Center vice president Emily Martin put it like this: “What you’re seeing in both cases are corporations asserting the right to break the law in the name of religion, even if it results in harm and discrimination for third parties.” And The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin noted,

Indeed, a victory for Hobby Lobby might bring in an Arizona-style rule through the back door….The Arizona law and the Hobby Lobby case represent two sides of the same coin. Both assert that the invocation of a religious belief allows a company to opt out of a government requirement that applies to everyone else.

But corporations have never had religious rights, and as affiliate PFAW Foundation senior fellow Jamie Raskin wrote in a recent report, that concept is simply “absurd.”

[I]t is time for the Court to restore some reality to the conversation.  Business corporations do not belong to religions and they do not worship God.  We do not protect anyone’s religious free exercise rights by denying millions of women workers access to contraception.

PFAW

Scott Lively: The Mark Of The Beast Now Looks Like A Chick-Fil-A Sandwich

Of all the right-wing reactions to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s quiet step back from the marriage equality debate, Scott Lively’s might just take the cake.

In a post on Matt Barber’s BarbWire today, Lively writes that although Cathy has not yet taken the “Mark of the Beast,” his decision to back out of the gay marriage debate “suggests he might be willing to take it if faced with that choice.”

“I am convinced that God is using the homosexual issue as a test of believers all over the world,” Lively continues. “What would it profit Mr. Cathy to gain the whole world (or a few more restaurants on college campuses), if his compromise of Biblical truth today makes him less able to resist the real Mark of the Beast tomorrow?”

“In my mind’s eye I used to see the Mark of the Beast as a black dot on the back of the hand,” he concludes. “Now it looks more like a Chik Fil A [sic] sandwich. I’ll never buy another one, and I hope you won’t either.”

Dan Cathy Takes the Mark of the Beast

That headline is not true. Dan Cathy of Chick Fil A has not (to my knowledge) taken the Mark of the Beast. Yet he has done something that suggests he might be willing to take it if faced with that choice, in the same way that answering a poll is an indication of how a person will vote in an election. As the Bible says in Luke 16:10, “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.”

I am convinced that God is using the homosexual issue as a test of believers all over the world. It’s like the “stress test” the central bankers are using to forecast which banks would fail in the event of an economic collapse. Except in this case God is testing us for what we will do in the coming moral and spiritual collapse. The Bible hasn’t changed, only the culture has changed, and believers are being “stress tested” to see whether they stand with Him or with the world on the things He says are true but which the world is pressing very hard to declare false.

The good thing about a stress test is that it gives people an opportunity to change their ways (repent) before the final exam or the big crash. God doesn’t care about Chick Fil A’s profit margins if they come at the expense of Dan Cathy’s willingness to stand up for the truth under pressure. What would it profit Mr. Cathy to gain the whole world (or a few more restaurants on college campuses), if his compromise of Biblical truth today makes him less able to resist the real Mark of the Beast tomorrow?

I’m not saying that Dan Cathy isn’t saved, but he has certainly failed the stress test, and failed the Bible-believing Christian remnant everywhere, by surrendering to the “gay” bullies. How long before we see Chick Fil A running “gay”-friendly commercials as penance for Cathy‘s “homophobia?”

There are varying theological views about what the Mark of the Beast is, or will be, and which ones among us will face that choice of taking or rejecting it. Nevertheless, it stands as a symbol to all Christians everywhere as the choice for or against Christ when the sword is on your neck and to choose Christ means to die saved, or live condemned to hell. The stress test of pressure from “gay” bullies is not life or death, but it is an indicator of whether you have the faith and courage to choose Him over the things of this world. In my mind’s eye I used to see the Mark of the Beast as a black dot on the back of the hand. Now it looks more like a Chik Fil A sandwich. I’ll never buy another one, and I hope you won’t either.
 

Judge Strikes Michigan’s Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

A federal judge ruled today that Michigan’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional, the latest in a string of state marriage equality victories.

The Associated Press reports:

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman announced his ruling after a rare two-week trial that mostly focused on the impact of same-sex parenting on children.

There was no indication that the judge was suspending his decision. Attorney General Bill Schuette said he was immediately filing a request with a federal appeals court to suspend Friedman's decision and prevent same-sex couples from immediately marrying. The decision was released shortly after 5 p.m., when most county clerk offices in Michigan were closed.


PFAW Foundation

Safe Schools Supporters Make Strong Showing for Launch of Letter Campaign

PFAW recently launched a letter campaign urging members of Congress to support safe schools legislation. Along with six allies who also sent letters this week, and those who will soon join us, we are making a strong showing for the idea that all students deserve far better than what they're getting when it comes to bullying and harassment in schools.
PFAW

Phyllis Schlafly Is 'Very Disappointed' That 'Nobody's Saying Anything' Against Marriage Equality

In an interview with VCY America’s Crosstalk program yesterday, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly declared that she was “very disappointed in the leadership of all the churches” and “positively amazed” that neither politicians nor pastors are voicing “any objection” to a recent spate of marriage equality rulings in the courts.

“I think everyone in leadership is to blame for not speaking up against this whole series of judges who are knocking down the constitutional provisions who were voted by the people of their state to say that marriage is a man and a woman,” Schlafly said. “Where are they? Where are the spokesmen?”

If only Schlafly read Right Wing Watch, she would find plenty of politicians and church leaders willing to speak out against the marriage equality rulings.

BarbWire: 'Don't Negotiate With Queer Terrorists'

Matt Barber’s BarbWire website today published yet another unhinged reaction to the fallout over the Boston and New York St. Patrick’s Day parades’ banning of LGBT groups. Jeff Allen writes on the site that the parades “have become the latest pawn in the homosexual hijacking of this country.”

“As the militant homosexual activists aggressively sweep through our society in their hostage-taking enterprise, they trample on religious rights — and numerous other freedoms — leaving only debauchery in their wake,” he writes.

Allen laments that corporations and universities are eager to “ride the ‘gay’ bandwagon on its path to perdition” and that “public officials cower in fear and cave to their every terrorist-like tactic.”

“What the St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers and every other religious group, cultural edifice or icon of morality need to do is implement a ‘we don’t negotiate with “queer” terrorists’ policy,” he concludes. “Or else all will be lost to the homosexual hijackers.”

When the celebration of a godly Catholic Saint becomes a flashpoint for the homosexual agenda, it’s just another sure sign that things have really spiraled out of control in America. How is it that the St. Patrick’s Day parades in Boston and New York have become the latest pawn in the homosexual hijacking of this country?

In the current cultural clash between morality and decadence, apparently nothing is considered sacred or beyond the tainting touch of the “gay lobby.”

As the militant homosexual activists aggressively sweep through our society in their hostage-taking enterprise, they trample on religious rights — and numerous other freedoms — leaving only debauchery in their wake. Through their shameless “gay” gangland style thuggery, they defile and hypersexualize everything that they come into contact with. And the “Big Beer” brouhaha is just their latest attempt to distort a holiday observance, which is supposed to be about commemorating a heroic, holy man, into more perversity on parade. The homosexual wrecking ball has “come out” in full vengeance mode with corporate sponsors, professional sports organizations, elected officials, mainstream media outlets, Hollywood celebrities, and universities all drooling and panting to be the first to ride the “gay” bandwagon on its path to perdition. 

And homosexuals claim that they want equal treatment under the law, but as soon as they are told that they will be treated like any other citizen who breaks public decency laws, they throw a hissy fit. Apparently, they don’t really want equal treatment; what they demand is special treatment. They think that they are entitled to some sort of “protected class,” above-the-law status that allows them to brazenly break the law with impunity, and sadly, in most places and in many ways, that’s exactly what were witnessing as public officials cower in fear and cave to their every terrorist-like tactic!

Therefore, the “coexist” meme is a falsehood of epic proportions; it’s really “Leftist code” for the legal authorization of the anti-Christian forces – of which the virulent homosexual hijackers have become the worst offenders – to run roughshod over anyone with whom they disagree. In their twisted idea of coexistence, Christians and conservatives must live under the heel of the homofascists.

What the St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers and every other religious group, cultural edifice or icon of morality need to do is implement a “we don’t negotiate with ‘queer’ terrorists” policy. Or else all will be lost to the homosexual hijackers.
 

Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps Is Dead

Notorious anti-gay activist Fred Phelps has died, according to news reports.

Fred Phelps was the founder and patriarch of Westboro Baptist Church, which he and his family members used as a base for attention-grabbing protests at funerals of people who had died from AIDS, at gay-rights rallies and marches, at churches he deemed insufficiently anti-gay, and later at the funerals of American soldiers (based on the “logic” that America itself is vile and hated by God for its growing acceptance of LGBT people).

It is hard to know how much pain Phelps caused individual LGBT people and their families, particularly young people struggling with their sexuality and/or faith, with his denunciations.  But he certainly failed in his mission to frighten or harass Americans away from support for equality. In fact he may have accelerated the trend by putting such an unappealing face on anti-gay bigotry that many American Christians wanted nothing to do with him.

Phelps did allow other anti-gay leaders to posture that he was the face of hatred, not them. But the substance of their message to gay people is similar: repent or be damned – it’s just that Phelps framed it as “God hates fags” while people like Bryan Fischer say God loves them and wants them to abandon their demonic lifestyle. They may have disagreed on rhetorical strategy, but they shared their hostility to an America in which LGBT people are treated equally under the law.  In the end, other anti-gay religious leaders, even ones who distanced themselves from Phelps’s rhetoric, were tainted by him.

The Phelps family has inspired some truly creative activism by pro-equality activists, who used their appearances to raise funds for progressive organizations, and who created visually striking walls of “angels” to keep Phelps family protesters out of view of grieving family members.

Fred Phelps’s decision to protest military funerals may have accomplished the most in terms of helping more Americans view anti-gay bigotry as broadly un-American. He may have left exactly the legacy he didn’t want.

Peroutka: Rand Paul's 'Agree To Disagree' Plan 'Formula For Total Chaos, Tyranny And Anarchy'

The Institute on the Constitution’s Michael Peroutka, like Sen. Ted Cruz, will not agree with Sen. Rand Paul’s suggestion that the GOP needs to “agree to disagree” on social issues in order to attract young voters.

In fact, Peroutka told radio host Steve Deace yesterday that Paul’s suggestion is “really a formula for total chaos, tyranny and anarchy.”

“It’s really an un-American and unbiblical worldview,” he added. “It flies in the face of Americanism.”

“Right and wrong is already determined,” he explained. “You can’t give it over to some generation of people -- I don’t care how media savvy they are, I don’t care how relevant they might seem. That’s not where truth and right and wrong comes from.”
 

Focus On The Family Spokesman: 'Organized Homosexuals' Ushering In 'New Era Of Intolerance'

The National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown and Focus on the Family vice president Tim Goeglein were the guests on a webinar last week hosted by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, in which they discussed the need for young “heroes” to bring the anti-marriage equality cause to younger generations.

The two also discussed the supposed threat to religious liberty put forward by what Goeglein called “the political agenda of organized homosexuals.”

“One of the things that perhaps Christians and Jews and others have not fully internalized is that the political agenda of organized homosexuals in America is one of the great threats to our religious liberty,” Goeglein said. 

He added that gay rights are bringing about “a new era of intolerance against those of us who are men and women of faith.”

“I think that’s exactly right,” agreed Brown
 

People For the American Way and Allies Tell Congress, "Stand up for Safe Schools"

Today People for the American Way sent a letter to every member of Congress urging their support of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA). We are joined by twenty-four other safe schools supporters also sending letters to Congress. Each of us has taken a day to tell the House and Senate that this issue is not forgotten, that quality education means education without discrimination.
PFAW

Young People Are Leading the Way on Marriage and Family Equality

18- to 29-year-olds are leading the way overall (69 percent) and among Democrats (77 percent) and Republicans (61 percent). It's in the Republican Party where the generation gap is widest, with 30- to 49-year-olds 18 points behind at 43 percent, 50- to 64-year-olds 31 points behind at 30 percent, and those 65 and older 39 points behind at 22 percent.
PFAW

Mississippi Tries to Redefine Southern Hospitality With Proposed 'Right to Discriminate' Bill

The following is a guest blog from Zane Ballard, a Fellow in affiliate People For the American Way Foundation’s Young People For program.

In spite of the nationwide outcry over Arizona’s SB 1062, the “Turn Away the Gays” bill vetoed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer last month, some far-right legislators across the country have continued to claim that gay rights present a threat to their religious freedom. In my state of Mississippi, conservative legislators have pushed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 2681), which is similar to the vetoed Arizona law. When the Mississippi State Senate passed SB 2681 on January 31, some senators said they did not even realize its implications. Mississippi Sen. David Blount, for example, said he “was not aware…of this intention or possible result” when he voted – that is, the result of legalizing discrimination.

The version of the bill passed by the Senate would have allowed businesses to deny service to individuals based upon the belief that “state action or an action by any person based on state action shall not burden a person's right to exercise of religion.” It would have allowed broad, almost unchecked discrimination by any business that claimed its “exercise of religion has been burdened or is likely to be burdened” by serving a customer. This could have included refusal to serve LGBT persons, people of color, or those of non-Christian or no faith, all on the basis of an individual exercising their religion.

Yesterday the discriminatory bill faced a major setback when the House voted to replace most of the text of the bill with language establishing a committee to study the issue. The study committee will be examining the bill closely in search of any possible way that the language could be usable without promoting discrimination.  But according to the Mississippi ACLU, “Senate Bill 2681 remains a looming threat. The results of the study committee that was established by the amendment that passed the House today may go to conference. If the conference committee reaches an agreement, its report must be approved by both houses by April 2nd.”

In the meantime, advocates on the ground in Mississippi will continue to watch closely as the process unfolds. Last week, I joined students from Mississippi State University and Millsaps College, representatives from Equality Mississippi, and other concerned Mississippians on the steps of the state capitol to demonstrate against the bill. Protestors had also planned to be present during a House Judiciary Committee meeting that day, in hopes that they would be duly represented by those they had elected. However, these concerned Mississippians were unable to sit in on the committee meeting, which ended seven minutes before it was even scheduled to even begin. 

Even though the bill has been stalled, the work to keep this discriminatory law off the books continues. The Gulf Coast Lesbian & Gay Community Center in Mississippi has organized an action on the steps of the state capitol for March 26 at 12 pm, to once again draw attention to the bill and to highlight the general lack of protections for LGBT people in our state. In the wake of momentum generated in response to SB 2681, it would not be surprising to see the pro-equality energy of those in the state carrying over into other channels. This could include support for non-discrimination ordinances in cities across Mississippi, or even a statewide piece of legislation preventing discrimination and preserving the real ideal of southern hospitality.
 

PFAW

Reince Priebus Promises To Be 'As Strong On These Social Issues' As A Pastor 'On Sunday Morning'

In a conversation with conservative bloggers at CPAC last week, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus promised that he would be “as strong on these social issues” – including choice and marriage equality – as a pastor “on Sunday morning.”

In the wide-ranging conversation, audio of which was posted by LifeSiteNews, Priebus assured his audience that autopsy reports aside, the GOP will not moderate or shy away from its anti-choice or anti-gay stances…while at the same time saying he wasn’t going to be “walking around down the street” proclaiming his opposition to marriage equality.

He said that his attendance at the March for Life this year was a “wake-up call” that “maybe we need to start reminding people about the core positions of our party more.”

"We're a pro-life party and I'm not shying away from that at all," he added.

He also said that he tells pastors that “church can’t just be vanilla ice cream and cotton candy on Sunday morning either, and that there’s joint responsibility in talking about issues of faith.”

“I tell a lot of pastors sometimes, in groups like this, I say, ‘Listen, I got a deal for you. I’ll be as strong on these social issues as you’re willing to be on Sunday morning. How about that deal?’”

When an attendee asked him if he considers “opposition to gay marriage still to be a core party issue,” Priebus responded that it was but implied that Republicans should avoid talking about it to much.

“Yeah, I mean, we’re a party that believes that marriage ought to be between one man and one woman, that’s our party platform, it’s a position that I’ve never backed away from,” he said. “What I have said, though, is that we need to treat each other with grace and dignity and respect. And that’s not code language, it comes out of the New Testament. So there should be no confusion about where we stand.”

When the questioner asked if opposition to marriage equality was “something that you want to be reminding people of more,” Priebus answered: “Well, I mean, I’m not like walking around down the street, but if someone wants to ask me like you did, I didn’t dance for you. I mean, I answered the question head-on and very clear.”

How the World Congress of Families' Anti-Gay Activism Aided Anti-EU Propaganda In Ukraine

Late last week, Don Feder of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families sent out a press release announcing that his group was “concerned about the crisis in Ukraine” and would “pray for world leaders to come together to promote peace and resolve the conflict.” The group also announced that it would go ahead with a planned meeting in Kiev later this year; it did not mention whether its planned summit at the Kremlin in September was still on.

But the World Congress of Families’ involvement in relations between Ukraine, Russia, and the European Union is more complicated than Feder’s release lets on. Although WCF has distanced itself from Feder’s foreign policy opinions, Feder has been very clear where his loyalty lies in Ukraine’s unrest. In a column earlier this month, Feder attacked the “Maidan mob” that had ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and bashed the EU’s “willingness to accept same-sex ‘marriage,’ abortion on demand, and anti-religion ethos.”

And the WCF itself has allied with anti-EU activists in Ukraine to push anti-gay causes, putting itself right in the middle of a powerful anti-EU wedge issue .

Many right-wing groups, including the World Congress of Families, have enthusiastically praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new focus on opposing gay rights and abortion access, promoting large families, and close alliance with the Russian Orthodox church, while conveniently ignoring the role these “family issues” play in his consolidation and expansion of power. When Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine two weeks ago, that dynamic became harder to ignore.

In fact, the World Congress of Families, an offshoot of the Howard Center on Family, Religion and Society, has done more than ally with Russia’s leaders as they seek to impose harsh anti-gay policies in their own country. The group has also brought its advocacy to Ukraine, where it has worked to push anti-gay legislation backed by pro-Russia, anti-EU groups in the lead-up the governmental crisis, which was precipitated by Yanukovych’s decision to back out of an association agreement with the EU in favor of a customs union with Russia. Putin strongly opposed closer ties between EU and Ukraine and offered Yanukovych’s government financial incentives to fortify its relationship with Russia.

In November, Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder (no relation to Don) published an extensive report on how Russia was pushing “homophobic nationalism” in Ukraine as part of its campaign to prevent the country from strengthening its association with the European Union. Those efforts were aided by pro-Russian lawmakers pushing a “homosexual propaganda” ban similar to the one passed last year in Russia. A similar bill had passed in parliament with wide support in 2012, but had become a potential sticking point in negotiations with the EU. An EU parliament member explained to Buzzfeed:

“I don’t think the more pro-Western [politicians] would necessarily be that much in favor of LGBT rights,” said Ulrike Lunacek, a member of the European Parliament from Austria and co-president of its intergroup on LGBT rights and sits on its foreign affairs committee. “But it’s very clear that the more pro-Russian side is using the … propaganda law that [means] you’re not allowed to talk about LGBT rights to enhance their political situation in the country. Very often the politicians in these countries … [use] the argument against LGBT rights to cover up problems that exist on the economic level.”

That is, Ukraine’s proposed “homosexual propaganda” law had support from advocates on both sides of the EU issue; but it was the anti-EU politicians aligned with Putin who were using it as a wedge issue to promote a larger geopolitical agenda.

In July, 2013, a pro-Russia Ukrainian lawmaker reintroduced the “homosexual propaganda” ban. Three months later, in October, WCF announced that Feder, the group's communications director, would travel to Kiev to meet with “key Ukrainian leaders, including members of parliament.” Speaking at a press conference in Kiev in October, Feder warned Ukrainians against following the US into the “abyss” of gay rights.

“Everywhere you look, from Washington to the United Nations to the European Union to the courts, the family is threatened,” he said. “There are forces in your country that want to put you on the road America’s taken. I urge you to resist them.”

He went on to warn that gay rights advances in the United States were leading to legalized pedophilia, “a campaign to abolish gender distinctions,” and ultimately “the criminalization of Christianity.”

“What starts by asking for tolerance ends by demanding obedience,” he warned.

The video below contains Feder's full speech; we have edited out the interjections of a translator.

Feder was surrounded at the news conference by Alexey Komov, WCF’s main organizer in Moscow, Fabrice Sorlin, a far-right French activist allied with WCF who has praised Russia for stopping gay rights advances like it fought off “Mongol hordes,” and by Aleksander Skvortsov of an NGO called the Parents Committee of Ukraine.

Skvortsov’s group doesn’t just oppose gay rights; it also pressed the Ukrainian government to reject an agreement with the EU because, as Skvortsov put it, “it will lead to the inevitable homosexualizing of Ukraine.” A couple of weeks after the press conference with Feder, Skortsov’s group burned a rainbow flag to protest the planned EU agreement. In November, when Yanukovych rejected the EU deal, tens of thousands of Ukrainians marched in protest; but Skortsov helped organize a flash mob dance in celebration of Ukraine’s rejection of  "homodictatorship.”

WCF was also involved in the effort to pass the gay “propaganda” bill that threatened to harm EU negotiations. In May, WCF’s “ambassador to European institutions” Pavel Parfentiev worked with Skvortsov’s group to write a memo to the Venice Commission defending the proposed “homosexual propaganda” bills in Russia and Ukraine, claiming such laws are “fully compatible with international human rights law provisions.”

In early November, shortly before Yanukovych rejected the EU deal, Parfentiev joined Skortsov at a press conference urging Ukraine not to sign an association agreement with the EU without amending it to prevent Ukraine from adopting gay rights laws. “I find it surprising that Ukrainian leaders did nothing to protect the family and family values ​​in the Ukraine Association Agreement with the European Union,” Parfentiev reportedly said, adding that EU gay rights protections present “a very real threat to the family and morality in Ukraine.”

“You need to work to change the treaty or simply refuse to accept it,” he said.

At the press conference, Skortsov also announced the creation of a campaign called “Stop It Now,” to counter “homototalitarianism” throughout the world. The campaign’s website contains various colorful materials educating readers about the myriad of dangers gay rights supposedly present to society.

The New York Times reported in December about how pro-government demonstrators were using opposition to gay rights as a wedge against an agreement with the EU:

"We are against the spiritual expansion of the West,” said another protester, Andrei A. Shyropov, a teacher. “We are against the Euro Sodom,” he continued, using a phrase rhyming with and mocking the name the supporters of European integration have given to their movement, the Euromaidan, which means “Eurosquare” in Ukrainian.

Valentin B. Lukyanik, an organizer of the march Friday, said the economic benefits of European trade were outweighed by “the expansion of European values that destroy the family.”

The World Congress of Families and the American groups it allies with– including Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage – seem to be conveniently ignoring the role that anti-gay activism is playing in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s expansionist plans, including his efforts to wrest Ukraine’s loyalties away from the European Union.

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