Today, People For the American Way (PFAW) hosted a press call detailing the extremist backgrounds of the speakers at and sponsors of Values Voter Summit 2016, the Religious Right conference that begins tomorrow and at which Donald Trump is scheduled to appear.
“The Values Voter Summit doesn’t shy away from the Religious Right’s extremism – it puts it on display,” said PFAW Senior Fellow Peter Montgomery, who will be attending the conference. “Donald Trump will be the first one to address this conference as the Republican nominee for president. Among the featured speakers are people who have said Islam doesn’t deserve First Amendment protection, who have opposed every advance in legal recognition of the rights of LGBT people, and who promote outlandish conspiracy theories about President Obama, who, some say, is paving the way for the anti-Christ.”
Montgomery and PFAW Research Editor Miranda Blue detailed the speakers and sponsors of the conference who have advocated for criminalizing homosexuality in the U.S. and abroad. Montgomery provided one example: “Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, the group sponsoring Values Voter, defended Uganda’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Act – at a time when it was known as a ‘kill the gays’ bill because it included a death penalty – as a ‘laudable’ effort to ‘uphold moral conduct.’” Blue elaborated that FRC along with other groups sponsoring the summit including the American Family Association and First Liberty “all filed amicus briefs supporting Texas’ right to outlaw homosexuality” in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case. Some of these briefs, she said, used “explicitly anti-gay arguments, such as the American Family Association’s claim that outlawing homosexuality would prevent ‘injury caused to the public by same-sex sodomy.’ And many continue to hold these views; FRC spokesman Peter Sprigg, who will be speaking at VVS, said in 2010 that he would support outlawing ‘homosexual behavior.’”
Criminalizing homosexuality is far from the only anti-gay stance many of these speakers and sponsors have taken. PFAW Senior Research Analyst Brian Tashman provided examples including that of Sprigg, who has said that “homosexuality is destructive to society,” and James Dobson who in 2012 attributed the Sandy Hook shooting to God’s judgment on America for “kill[ing] fifty-four million babies and the institution of marriage [being] right on the verge of a complete redefinition.” Tashman noted that Trump has long courted anti-gay extremists, such as last month when “Trump addressed a conference organized by David Lane, who once said that God will punish America for gay rights in the form of car bombings and the destruction of the country.”
Miranda Blue detailed the anti-choice, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant sentiments and policy priorities of many of the speakers and sponsors of the conference, such as the Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, who “recently joined a group of retired generals endorsing Trump and has said that ‘Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections.’” Blue also described how anti-choice speakers like David Daleiden and the Benham Brothers “all came out of the ‘rescue’ movement, which is the extreme clinic-protest wing of the anti-choice movement.” FRC President Tony Perkins has said that President Obama’s immigration actions that aimed to prevent DREAMers and immigrant families from deportation were an “impeachable act.”
PFAW Resources on Values Voter Summit 2016:
- Trump Cozying Up To Activists Who've Supported Criminalizing Homosexuality
- Donald Trump's Extremist Allies: Who's Who At The Values Voter Summit 2016
- For additional Right Wing Watch posts on individual speakers or sponsors, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A recording of the call is available upon request. Peter Montgomery will be attending the conference this weekend, and he, Miranda Blue, and Brian Tashman are all available for interviews. To schedule an interview, or if you have any questions, please email email@example.com.