Ludovine de la Rochere, co-founder and president of the movement that calls itself La Manif Pour Tous ("Demonstration for All"), has gone out of her way to say that her work against marriage equality and adoption rights is not in any way an anti-gay cause. In every speech that she gives, de la Rochere calls out homophobia, by name ("We are neither a political movement, nor a religious movement, nor a coalition of disgraceful homophobes"), which is something you'd certainly be hard pressed to find one of her American counterparts doing. Also, de la Rochere's organization takes a step that American anti-LGBT groups would never take, running a disclaimer at the bottom of her official website that states, unequivocally, that La Manif Pour Tous condemns "any sort of homophobia or intolerance, whichever its form."
While it's true that American activists say similar things, routinely positioning their case as "pro-family" rather than anti-LGBT, and while it's true that La Manif Pur Tous' ultimate goal of denying loving couples of their deserved rights is just as hurtful and detrimental as what we have here in the states, de la Rochere actually does seem to have made some strides to distance herself from more heated words and actions. Poking around, I can't find the kinds of vicious comments that I can so easily find for just about any activist working in the American "pro-family" movement. She does seem to want to keep a more tempered tone, for what that's worth.
Which is why I have to wonder: if moderation and focus is really the image this organization and its president want to cultivate back at home, why the heck would Ludovine de La Rochere associate herself with a group of people who have such a clear and demonstrated record of animus toward LGBT people?
I ask, because that is exactly what this French activist has done by signing up for the National Organization For Marriage's upcoming "March for Marriage," to be held in Washington D.C. on June 19. In addition to de la Rochere, NOM has unveiled a list of announced speakers who have all proven, without exception, that their work is, in fact, in opposition to LGBT people and our basic acceptance and not just our marriage rights.
There's Gary Bauer, the longtime social conservative who rounded out the twentieth century by declaring he'll "encourage anybody I can to get out of what I think is a destructive lifestyle" and who has spent the twenty-first century proving that to be true through his continued campaigns against LGBT people's peace of mind:
-- In late nineties, declared himself "immovable" on the topic of gay people needing to "get out" of "a destructive lifestyle": "I will encourage anybody I can to get out of what I think is a destructive lifestyle. I don't believe a healthy society can endorse, subsidize, or encourage it. I am sorry if this disappoints you, but again, on this, I am immovable."
-- Warns that marriage equality creates climate where "we really do risk God taking His hand of protection off of our country," which he claims "could very well mean the end of the American experiment in liberty under God."
-- On supposed historical link to current marriage debate: "Our country fought a civil war over the idea that some matters are too important to be decided state by state. Just as slavery was an assault on human dignity, the redefinition of marriage is an assault on an institution at the foundation of successful families and civilizations."
-- Pushes inaccurate science: "More importantly, however, the government has an obligation to promote public policy that is best for the general welfare and to discriminate against behaviors that adversely impact society and public health. Tobacco use is heavily regulated by the state and smoking is strongly discouraged. A major study conducted by Oxford University demonstrated that homosexual conduct is three times more deadly than smoking. Homosexual behavior is fraught with adverse health affects. (sic) Again, this is not opinion, but documented medical fact." (*The researchers behind that Oxford study, conducted at the height of the AIDS crisis, have condemned the way folks like Bauer have twisted their findings)
-- Claims gay activists' ultimate goal is to throw dissenters in jail: "The ultimate goal of homosexual-rights activists is not to legalize same-sex marriage. Rather, it is to silence those who disagree with them and, if necessary, to throw them in jail. In a world in which the biblical viewpoint of marriage is demonized, it does not take a constitutional scholar to predict that soon those who hold that view will find themselves in court."
MORE: Gary Bauer [GLAAD CAP]
Or what about Ryan T. Anderson? While his movement puts the Heritage Foundation scholar out there as a moderate young voice, he has publicly suggested that gay people must be celibate in order to be moral, as well as told a gay man, to his face, that his marriage will never be valid, even though it is under the laws of his state. And more:
-- Penned column calling for gays to be chaste: "From the premise that homosexual characteristics are 'determined,' many make the unwarranted leap of asserting the moral legitimacy of homosexual acts. Alcoholism, for example, is often claimed to be genetic, yet its being genetic does not mean it is good. Certainly we know people who are 'by nature' gentle or violent, honest or dishonest, prudish or licentious. But we don't assume every action is determined by one's genetic composition. We neither excuse the crimes of a pedophiliac priest for genes that attracted him to children, nor do we dismiss the generosity of someone like Mother Teresa as the consequence of her biological makeup. We have good and bad desires, and likewise we have orientations that may incline us toward good or bad. These desires and orientations, however, are not morally important; only our actions and intentions are. Regardless of our 'natural' yearnings, we are called to the good."..."All people, regardless of their genetic makeup, orientation, or "natural" urges, are called to be saints. No one is excused from living out his or her calling in the realm of sexuality — not the womanizer, the "easy" girl, the engaged couple that just can't wait, the porn enthusiast or the sexually active gay couple."
-- Wrote lengthy, misinformative, pro-"ex-gay" column advocating for a friend who "suffers same-sex attractions, he doesn’t want to, and he seeks to be made whole again"; followed up with a separate pro-"ex-gay" article
-- Tells gay man from a state with marriage equality: "you can get a marriage license, but you can't get married."
-- Says Glee corrupts youth: "We should be as concerned about what the FOX TV show Glee has done to corrupt a young generation as we are about anything the Court has done."
-- In piece advising conservatives on how to move forward in marriage fight, says churches should work to "set free" people with "same-sex attractions": "The second will be particular ministries to those who experience same-sex attractions and to those who experience gender-identity conflicts. Both the truths that we are created male and female, and that male and female are created for each other, are being challenged in ways that they never have been before. The church will need to think through these issues and develop pastoral plans that truly meet people where they are with the truth of Christ that can set them free. "
-- While at Princeton, co-authored a letter to the school's paper calling on the LGBT Center to include so-called "ex-gay" advocates (like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's son) in their lectures: "We suggest that the LBGT Center invite Fr. Paul Scalia, the chaplain of the COURAGE ministry to Christians who experience same-sex attractions...One would hope that the LGBT Center could be "by, for and about" the whole University — including those who do not share their ideology but still seek to learn about LGBT issues. The mission also includes 'advocating for the needs and concerns of LGBT students.' We hope that this includes students with same-sex attractions who, having evaluated the actual arguments on the competing sides, commit themselves to lives of chastity and desire support in living up to their commitment. Will the LGBT Center support them?"
-- Denigrates same-sex couples' sexualities and marriages by claiming: "Same-sex marriage is only plausible in a world that has already done so much damage to marriage and human sexuality."
MORE: Ryan T. Anderson [GLAAD CAP]
And let's not forget speaker Harry Jackson, a longtime NOM ally. Oh, Harry, Harry, Harry:
- Says of LGBT activists: "Folks who cannot reproduce want to recruit your kids"..."What we're facing is a radical force of people who want to change the way America looks the next twenty years, and we need to stop this thing now"..."We need to steal back the rainbow—we can't let the gays have it."
-- Calls LGBT families "discombobulated, Frankenstein structures" that are "out of order" with God (at 10:55)
-- Said (1:10–2:05) gay activists' current marriage push is "just like during the times of Hitler"
-- Accuses gays of "recruiting"
-- Says of marriage equality: "the nation has walking pneumonia and if we don't stop it this thing could become fatal." (2:36 in first clip)
-- Says same-sex marriage is "an assault" and that “The Enemy wants it to be a legacy, or a seed that is planted in this generation that corrupts, perverts and pollutes”
-- Analogizing same-sex marriage to the Titanic, says: "this is one of those icebergs that, if we don't navigate around them correctly, will take us under" (:34–:41)
MORE: Harry Jackson [GLAAD CAP]
Then there's Jim Garlow. Garlow, who was just in Singapore advocating on behalf of an organization that fights to keep homosexuality criminalized in the nation, is most known for his work supporting the discriminatory Proposition 8. To LGBT activists, he's also known for proving, without a doubt, that his negative attitude toward homosexuality goes far beyond the issue of marriage. To wit:
-- Said that “Satan” is behind extending the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples: “So if I were Satan, if I were the Devil, I'd want to destroy the imagery of male and female coming together with light and joy, covenantal marriage on Earth.” (0:45-0:60)
-- Compared children losing their parents on 9/11 to children with gay parents: "Our President gave a speech a few days ago in which he said, ‘the tragedy of 9/11 was that it robbed so many children of having a mommy or a daddy.' Well, you know something Mr. President, your failure to defend marriage and to redefine marriage means that everybody who is under that redefined marriage will lack either a mommy or a daddy and that is morally wrong.”
-- On same-sex marriage: "Satan is obsessed in destroying marriage, the coming together, fitting together of the two complimentary halves of humanity – male and female, since they are on earth, a mirror, an image, of what is to be fulfilled at the end of this age. And that is why we are in the battle we are in... It is about the desire of Satan to decimate the picture of God’s ultimate design for the Cosmos – the Grand Wedding of His Son to the Prepared Bride.
-- Said President Obama should apologize for supporting gay-inclusive military service: (writing in voice of the President) "I have helped to demoralize the military that defends us. I ran roughshod over 59% of the US Marines when I forced my social experimentation upon them, coercing them to accept lifestyles as normative, with no thought of troop readiness and cohesion. I was drawn in to the errors, lies and sins of political correctness, at the expense of truth. I am ashamed of this. I am sorry. I ask for forgiveness."
-- Compares marriage equality to slavery: "Isn't it interesting that the African Americans that were brought here against their will, coercively, in bondage and chains in a horrific experience called slavery...they end up being, in state by state, in many cases, what has saved us from the bondage and enslavement that would come upon us if gay marriage actually passed in a state, California being a prime example where the African Americans saved us from the bondage we would've faced." (10:00 in 2nd clip)
-- Says of the current marriage equality fight: "If I were Satan, I would want to destroy the image of God on the planet. How do you do that? You've got to destroy the institution of marriage" (12:55-13:05; expounds on this topic for next three mins.)
MORE: Jim Garlow [GLAAD CAP]
Bill Owens Jr. is a doozy of a speaker. Let's go audio on this one, shall we?
"A few months ago, the Commercial Appeal carried an article with a young man’s picture in it. He was charged with having sex with a dog. Now I wonder was that his civil right? Will we go down that road where whatever we choose to do, we’ll call it our civil rights? Well if it’s a civil right for a man to marry man, and a woman to marry woman, what’s the difference of a man deciding he wants to have sex with a dog?...When people that you don’t know they’re homosexuals, and they get caught into something, they will tell you it was early childhood that they were molested. Sometimes by a family member, sometimes by their father, or sometimes by a friend. It starts in early childhood...Homosexuality spreads because somebody abused children."
Owens also supported Russia's anti-gay laws, has repeatedly claimed homosexuality is not natural, and has a penchant for linking homosexuality to pedophilia. Additionally, in a video he and his wife Deborah produced to promote this very "March for Marriage," Owens directly linked marriage for same-sex couples with slavery, the KKK, segregation, racism, and other problems that have African American people have faced. So there's that.
And that's just some of the speakers. I could go on. For instance, Doug Mainwaring, the Tea Party activist who has positioned himself as a gay-man-against-marriage-equality, describes equal marriage rights as "a tyrannical assault on freedom and a rejection of natural law and reason" and an "objective evil," as well as claims gay parents turn our children into "chattel-like sources of fulfillment." There's also Salvatore Cordileone, the California Bishop, known as the "father of Prop 8," who has spoken about gay people needing to "avoid the behaviors and lifestyles that so often end in self-destruction" and claimed same-sex marriage "contributes to the denigrating of women." And even NOM president Brian Brown, who typically manages to stay on message, has slipped up a few times and proven that his cause runs deeper:
-- Says homosexuality is "not logical" and "degrading to the human soul": "Well guess what — homosexuality IS a sin in the bible, and virtually every other sacred text out there. Engaging in homosexual sex IS considered by God to be sinful according to the teachings of most religions. And sin is NOT logical. Sin is deceitful, harmful and degrading to the human soul."
-- Claims same-sex marriage is “an attempt to deconstruct the very nature of reality—the very nature of what it means to be a human being”
-- Recently attempted, via his national newsletter, to raise a link between marriage equality and pedophilia: "Will pedophiles become "minor-attracted persons" in our culture? Will courts which endorse orientation as a protected class decide down the road that therefore laws which discriminate against "minor-attracted persons" must be narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest?”
-- When Rhode Island passed marriage equality, equated same-sex-headed families with those that have been affected by divorce or even death
-- Has advocated for gay people to change their orientation. Said of a faith-based study on self-identified so-called "ex-gays": "Even those who disagree with us about gay marriage (or Christian sexual ethics) should feel good about this this scientific verification of the possibility of free will triumphing over desire. We are all more than our instincts, sexual or otherwise."
-- Encouraged parents to attend a Love Won Out so-called "ex-gay" conference, calling it a way to "prevent your child from embracing this destructive way of life."
MORE: Brian Brown [GLAAD CAP]
Or we could even look to headlining speaker Mike Huckabee. Remember the infamous Esquire interview where he equated same-sex marraige with bestiality and alcoholism, as well as reiterated his belief that being gay is a "disposition" that you can choose to control?
"The problem with changing the definition of marriage is that once you cross that line, then there's no stopping," he explains. He tells me that when he spoke recently in Japan, there was an American student there who objected to his views on gay marriage. "This was right in the middle of what was going on in west Texas, and I thought, Okay, how can we say that what those polygamists in west Texas are doing is wrong if we allow same-sex marriage? Who are you to tell them that that man can't have fifteen wives? [The student said] 'Well, it's not the same!' And I said, 'Okay, well, here's another one: bestiality. Now I know you're going to have a problem,' and he just went berserk on that. But there was recently an actual news story where a man wanted to marry his animal....I think it was a sheep."
Huckabee says he doesn't know if homosexuality is inborn, but he believes you can control the behavior. He compares homosexuality to obesity or alcoholism: "Some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean they're not responsible for getting drunk? No."
I give him the liberal line: Being gay is so integral to a person's identity that it's not a choice, that it's like being African-American.
"I'm especially offended by that," he answers immediately. "Because blackness is an inescapable quality. Black is not a behavior. There's no behavior to black. What you can say is that whatever disposition, it's a choice. A lot of people are celibate. When people enter the priesthood, they make a choice to subjugate certain behaviors and/or feelings. It's not that they don't have them; it's that they choose not to act on them."
Mike Huckabee: The Laughing Man [Esquire]
Oh, and this one was even worse:
Huckabee went on to draw parallels between homosexuality and other lifestyles that are considered by some to be morally aberrant. “You don’t go ahead and accommodate every behavioral pattern that is against the ideal,” he said of same-sex marriage. “That would be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs, so let’s go ahead and accommodate those who want who use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, so we should accommodate them.”
He also affirmed support for a law in Arkansas that prohibits same-sex couples from becoming adoptive or foster parents. “I think this is not about trying to create statements for people who want to change the basic fundamental definitions of family,” Huckabee said. “And always we should act in the best interest of the children, not in the seeming interest of the adults.”
“Children are not puppies,” he continued. “This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?”
[*Full audio of Huckabee's comments can be found here; the writer posted them after Huckabee, in typical fashion, tried to claim he was misrepresented]
Homophobia? If not, I'd certainly like to know what is.
And therein lies the burden for someone like Ludovine de La Rochere, who might sincerely want to avoid personal hostility, even as she advocates in its political and legal equal. Perhaps this is really going on in France, but it America, it it 100% impossible to separate the two. Whenever you gather together a group for the purpose of denying rights, you always—every time, in every case, without fail—find a coalition that, if left to its own devices, would actually deny much more than that. That is not my opinion—it is documented fact. The American "protect marriage" movement is inextricably anti-gay; the so-called March for Marriage is, factually, an anti-gay event.
When Ludovine de La Rochere shows up on June 19 to speak, she will forever strip herself of the claim that she's not catering to the mentality that links gays to bestiality and Satan and defines homosexuality by how much it needs to be "prayed away." If I were her, I'd make a better choice.