Anti-LGBT commentators vs. responsibility: One case study on a larger problem
On Jan 28, 2010, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins followed up President Obama's State of the Union speech with a tirade about how the commander-in-chief's advocacy for inclusive service was supposedly a threat to our national security:
At a time of enormous economic challenge, two on-going wars in which Americans are fighting and increased terrorist threats to Americans at home, President Obama seems untethered from that reality as he called on Congress to force the military to allow open homosexuality. As a veteran of the Marine Corps, the timing of the President’s call in the midst of two wars shows that he is willing to jeopardize our nation’s security to advance the agenda of the radical homosexual lobby.
“The military is a warrior culture for a reason: Our service members wear the uniform to fight and win wars, not serve as liberal social policy guinea pigs. The sexual environment the President is seeking to impose upon the young men and women who serve this country is the antithesis of the successful warfighting culture and as such should be rejected. [SOURCE]
On January 29, 2010, one day after the above smearing of the commander-in-chief and his supposed priorities and motivations, the chaplain's office at Andrews Air Force base sent a letter to Mr. Perkins explaining why comments like the above forced them to rescind an invite that they had previously extended:
It is all spelled out. In the military culture, an individual is not free to lob such claims at his or her commander-in-chief. The person who sent Perkins the letter might even agree with his politics, but that's neither here nor there. The problem, so ably spelled out for Tony, was his choice to publicly lash out against the President. Period.
But three years later, Tony is still pretending like he is the "victim" in this scenario. Just yesterday on his radio show, Tony said the following:
The truth, of course, is that Tony didn't just stand in opposition to DADT repeal. Tony quite literally claimed that the President was turning our servicemembers into "liberal social policy guinea pigs" and said that the commander-in-chief is "willing to jeopardize our nation’s security to advance the agenda of the radical homosexual lobby." Andrews Air Force Base told Tony that this was the issue. The chaplain's office told him that they fully support his right to speak but that his speech, in this case, is incompatible with this previously extended invite. Reminder: no one has a constiutional right to recieve and retain speaking invites.
But the FRC prez does not like to swim in the waters of reality, and this one of several things that are reliabily frustrating about commentators like Tony. Even though they claim to be the "moral values" crowd, these commentators are always playing games like this. They pretend to not know what we know they know. Rather than take responsbility for their own words or actions, they unfairly cast aspersions against those of us who base our assessments in what actually happened. Duplicity is always the order of the day.
Through this duplicty comes obvous fallout. In this case, Tony is impugning the character of Andrews Air Force Base and its staff, acting as if they showed some sort of "agenda" against him. Without apparent concern for the reputation of this institution or its employees, Tony has engaged in a three-year verbal assault against those who rescinded this invite. In turn, he has stirred up animus within his own support base, using this situation to rally his own troops, bring in donor dollars, and besmirch the reputation of "Obama's military." If he would have chosen to be honest from the get-go, Tony would have admitted that his words were incompatibile with this speaking engagement, he would have ackowledged the reasonable explanation that Andrews offered to him, and he would have presented his supporters with a measured take on why he has chosen to be an advocate on this and other controversial issues rather than a non-partisan speaker who earns invites to events like this one. But instead, Tony chose to spin, twist, and play the "victim" role, not seeming to care who within the military he was unfairly discrediting in the process, despite being a veteran of the military himself. So much for Semper Fi, ("always loyal") I suppose.
Tony is not alone. The anti-gay industry is always doing this stuff. When their advocacy in support of ideas that discriminate against LGBT people comes in conflict with fair policies, the leaders of their movement don't tend to just lament their sorrows. Instead, they go full-on aggressive against those who spell out the facts on the ground—and actual human beings get hurt. Sometimes it's those who enforce fair business practices, at other times it's decision makers who are tasked with sustaining the welfare of communities, and in some cases it's just commentators like me who pull our data from documented facts and concrete laws rather than some sort of 'wish-it-were-so' place. But in most all cases in which an anti-LGBT figure loses the right to have his or her cake and eat our civil rights too, there is said to be some sort of person or group on the other side who has supposedly come down in an unfair way against them. It's shocking, frankly, to witness their willingness to demean, smear, or even defame so that they can seem like the target rather than the instigator.
I'm sick of it, to be honest. But beyond my own proverbial sickness, it's the health of our national debate that really suffers.