[**SOURCING FOR ALL QUOTES: Tony Perkins: GLAAD CAP]
A week ago, I showed you how the Family Research Council, one of the most anti-LGBT organizations in the country, had assembled a team of very hostile voices in order to advocate for Mississippi's version of one of those Arizona-style license-to-discriminate bills that are making their way across the country. The team, led by FRC president Tony Perkins, framed their advocacy as being against "the homosexual agenda" and they admitted in a latter to MS lawmakers that LGBT people are "those who engage in behavior we find objectionable." There is no denying that they saw this as a fight against LGBT people and rights.
Sadly, in the time since that writing, that thinly masked attempt to discriminate against LGBT people under the guise of "religious freedom" managed to pass through the Mississippi state legislature and onto the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant (R). Even more sad is that Gov. Bryant didn't follow the lead of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who recognized her state's bill for the discriminatory overstatement that it was, instead signing his version into law.
But while all involved deny that this so-called "religious freedom" bill (now law in Mississippi) is motivated by an anti-LGBT mindset, as they always do, you really need to consider what transpired on April 3, the day of the bill's signing, to understand what's really going on. Because on this day, two different events pretty much showed the hand that guides this and these other efforts.
One was a radio show. The radio show of the aforementioned Tony Perkins, namely. On the afternoon program that the FRC president hosts for the radio network of the equally anti-LGBT American Family Association, Gov. Bryant showed up as Tony's in-studio guest, marking one of his first big interviews following the bill's signing. For a very cozy and cordial fifteen minutes, the governor joined forces with the anti-LGBT activist so the two could sell to the AFA's viewpoint-driven audience the lie that this and the other "religious freedom" bills (that even members of the evangelical right, like Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore, admit are a bit of a last-ditch effort in their fight for marriage) are not at all about LGBT people, and certainly aren't discrmininatory. You can listen to the full interview at link (begins around 18:00 mark).
But the bigger and more glaring event happened just prior to that interview. That event looked like this:
Yup, that's right: FRC president Tony Perkins was actually at the bill signing, joining local lawmakers and the governor for what they considered a triumphant moment. Of the small handfull of invitees, Tony was one of the only non-elected officials (and/or non-Mississippi residents) to be there. He had no real ties other than the fact that he, as one of the strongest practitioners of the anti-LGBT arts, sees this bill as a boon to his cause.
Although it's really no big surprise that the governor invited Mr. Perkins. Again, Tony and his equally LGBT-hostile team of advocates pushed and pushed hard for this, one of the many bills that the anti-LGBT movement is trying to dupe state legislatures into passing. The governor was likely grateful for Tony's handiwork against "those who engage in behavior we find objectionable." "Come join the party, Tony—you earned it."
I just wonder if the governor really knows what kind of mindset he invited into his office. Personally, if I were trying to prove that my newly signed law was something other than targeted discrimination against a certain population, I'd probably be a little more careful about inviting an out-of-state star guest who makes his career off of exactly that. But that's just me.