On the Monday afternoon edition of his American Family Radio show, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins made two things perfectly clear. When speaking about the case involving the New Mexico photographer (Elaine Huguenin of Elane Photography) who chose to discriminate against a lesbian client requesting services for her commitment ceremony, Perkins
- admitted that he believes homosexuality is immoral and "runs counter to nature."
- said that the world that situations like the photography case are creating for people like him is reminiscent of Nazi Germany
You can listen to those two clips here:
The first point is important to know because it defines Tony's advocacy. If he doesn't think homosexuality is even natural, much less good, than there is no way he is ever going to step up and defend LGBT equality. We know from this and other comments that Tony doesn't beelive LGBT people should even be L, G, B, or T. That is the root of his work. His underlying animus, which he has admitted time and time again, defines his punditry on LGBT issues.
The second is important to know because it is just plain disgusting. The idea that the expansion and/or protection of basic LGBT rights is anywhere comparable to Nazi Germany is obviously offensive in many deep ways for many different groups of people. Holocaust imagery is such a through affront to all that is good and decent about humanity that most modern commentators, from any perspective, refuse to use it in their commentary, even when talking about situations where human beings truly face a form of persecution. Tony's analogizing Hitler's Germany with an America that simply says you have to treat LGBT people fairly in the public square is a beyond the pale rhetorical device that anyone should step up an condemn.
But let's be clear: Tony makes the second point because he believes the first. Again, he doesn't recognize LGBT people to be real (or at least fully realized) people. He doesn't think we are right, good, or moral living our truths and so he is determined to suppress us. He uses this Nazi Germany motif because he wants his supporters to see our supposed "threat" as being as great. He wants people to see us as a dangerous force that must be stopped. This is who Tony Perkins is and this is how he conducts his punditry. We have more than just these two clips: we have mountains of comments in which Tony shows his true hand.
Which brings me to Fox News. Just hours after Tony made the above comments, Megyn Kelly brought Tony onto her primetime cable news show—the very first guest, even—and let him play the role of a buttoned up conservative with well considered opinions about the law. But as is usually the case with Perkins, the anchor made no mention of Tony's daily denigration of LGBT people, she didn't do any sort of digging to find out what drives her guest's advocacy. In fact, she didn't even really push back on anything he said. And then, when Tony made a less obvious but still present reference about having to "go back to the 1930s to see this kind of totalitarianism," there was no questioning of what, exactly, Tony meant by that comment.
Tony is not a lawyer. Tony is not an elected official. Tony is not a photographer, a New Mexico resident, or a Supreme Court justice. Tony Perkins's only "qualification" for speaking on these subjects is his admitted dislike for LGBT lives (or "behavior," as he would say). That is it. There is no other reason why he is on this primetime TV show. His opposition to LGBT people living, loving, and moving forward in society in a fair and free way is why he gets to speak to the American public as an "expert" on these subjects.
If that is how the American media insists on conducting this human and civil rights debate, then at the very least, the producers and anchors responsible for these kinds of segments need to tell their viewers who, exactly, is speaking to them and what, exactly, qualifies them. If the subject were healthcare reform, the anchor would surely mention if her guest had admitted he just doesn't care for modern medicine. If it were a segment on immigration, hopefully an on-air reporter would note whether or not the on-screen policy expert had equated advocacy for the DREAM Act with a historic mindset that ultimately led to genocide. If discussing financial reform, it would be incumbent on the segment producer to introduce to tell viewers if a lead guest believes we should pray until all of the nation's dollars are changed into bitcoins. And so on and so forth. For most topics, simply honoring the guests' own body of work is considered a thoroughly responsible and wholly non-controversial thing to do.
LGBT rights debates deserve the same standard.