When it comes to conservative voices, the list of speakers at the Values Voters Summit do not get more prominent. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) are at the top of anyone's list of likely candidates for the Republican party's 2016 presidential nomination; Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was the GOP's most recent vice presidential candidate; and at least nine others are sitting members of our current U.S. Congress. Then there are the non-elected luminaries, like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Glenn Beck, who are widely seen as thought leaders and rain makers within the conservative movement.
All of the above, plus many, many more, have cleared a portion of their weekend calendars so that they can show up to speak and participate in the so-called Values Voter Summit, an annual production of the Family Research Council. Some of them will be there (between Oct 11 and 13) in search of future votes, while others are more concerned about their future book sales. But regardless of motivation, all of them will be lending their names, reputations, and credence to this event and its host organization.
So why is this an issue? Well, for starters, the Family Research Council is not a mere conservative organization. This organization, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has singled out on its shortlist of active anti-gay "hate groups," possesses one of the most hostile anti-LGBT records in all of DC. In addition to the daily work against LGBT rights and the shocking rhetoric of its senior staffers (more on that in a minute), the FRC is a personally-denigrating organization that fundraises by telling Americans that we LGBT folk must be "cured" of our "unhealthy and destructive lifestyles." I'm not exaggerating. This call to "heal" us is part of FRC's current fundraising campaign:
And to solidify this "pray away the gay" advocacy, FRC has invited the "Parents and Friends of Ex-gays" organization to exhibit on site at the Summit. This is the kind of mindset that is fueling this upcoming Values Voter Summit: one that thinks the only "good" LGBT person is a "changed" LGBT person.
But this mindset is not so surprising when you consider the slate of speakers who will be joining the aforementioned conservative luminaries. Let's take a quick glimpse at some of the voices that FRC has recruited for this year's event.
There's Ryan T Anderson, the suddenly omnipresent young marriage "expert" who has admitted that he wants gay people to be chaste:
-- 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."
MORE: Ryan T. Anderson [GLAAD CAP]
Or how about Gary Bauer, who equates marriage equality with slavery?
-- 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."
MORE: Gary Bauer [GLAAD CAP]
There's also Ben Carson, who recently equated gays who want to marry with folks who sexually abuse children or fornicate with wildlife:
-- In Fox News appearance, equated gays with bestiality and the North American Man/Boy Love Association: "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."
MORE: Ben Carson [GLAAD CAP]
And let's not forget Sandy Rios. She has years of really nasty words for us:
-- Equated the love shared by two men to the “love” that kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro had for the young women he kept captive as slaves; when confronted, doubled down
-- When Supreme Court overturned criminal bans on gay sex, Rios described it as a "sad moment in American history;" said it was "an immoral act" on par with "the Dred Scott decision declaring slaves two-thirds persons"
-- Warns that God is going to punish LGBT people (among others): "I would not want to be in the shoes of any of the left right now. I would not want to be in Barack Obama’s shoes. I would not want to be in the shoes of homosexual activists. I say that with humility and with fear for them because God will even the score, he will sort things out, he will be God and he will not be mocked. Whereas they think they are getting away with breaking all kinds of moral laws and mocking everyone in the process, they just don’t know God, they don’t know who they are up against and we do. And that should bring out some mercy in us because I wouldn’t want to be—what did that old evangelist say: ‘it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God.’"
MORE: Sandy Rios [GLAAD CAP]
For the legal perspective, Mat Staver will take to the VV Summit podium. Perhaps he will continue his attempts to incite war over LGBT rights:
-- Suggested marriage equality should lead opponents to rise up and fight “another American Revolution.”
-- Or a civil war, perhaps: "[The marriage fight] is the thing that revolutions literally are made of. This would be more devastating to our freedom, to our religious freedom, to the rights of pastors and their duty to be able to speak and to Christians around the country, then anything that the revolutionaries during the American Revolution even dreamed of facing. This would be the thing that revolutions are made of. This could split the country right in two. This could cause another civil war. I’m not talking about just people protesting in the streets, this could be that level because what would ultimately happen is a direct collision would immediately happen with pastors, with churches, with Christians, with Christian ministries, with other businesses, it would be an avalanche that would go across the country."
MORE: Mat Staver [GLAAD CAP]
FRC friend and "ex-gay" advocate Harry Jackson will lead a summit break out session. One has to wonder if he's again frame marriage equality as a "satanic plot":
-- Calls LGBT families "discombobulated, Frankenstein structures" that are "out of order" with God
-- Said gay activists' current marriage push is "just like during the times of Hitler"
-- Said marriage equality is part of “a satanic plot to destroy our seed," and “an assault” which “corrupts, perverts and pollutes.”
MORE: Harry Jackson [GLAAD CAP]
From the media world, FRC is bringing both WorldNetDaily publisher Joseph Farah and Fox News commentator Todd Starnes. You might know Farah for comments like these:
-- Says homosexuality threatens the nation: "It’s not only the kind of unrepentant sin that will keep someone from eternal life with God, it’s the kind of sin that defiles the land. It’s the kind of sin that caused the inhabitants of Canaan to be spued out, opening the door to the nation of Israel. It’s the kind of sin that brings on national judgment."
-- Says of President Obama's support for marriage equality: "As a man claiming to be America’s leader, Obama has cursed us all. In fact, he himself represents one of those judgments that, I believe, is already upon us as a nation."
MORE: Joseph Farah [GLAAD CAP]
And Starnes, who has taken on the anti-LGBT beat as his personal journalistic pet, leaves little doubt about where he stands:
-- When Supreme Court overturned the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, responded: "Supreme Court overrules God"
-- Compared same-sex marriages to man-on-dog unions; then doubled down on the claim, asking: "You know it's interesting because the passage of the Bible that people -- that people talk about in regards to, you know, the act of homosexuality, it goes further to talk about that. That men should not lie with beasts. And the women should not do that either. All this kind of stuff. I think the point I was trying to make there is that once you decide, you know what, marriage is not just between a man and a woman anymore, well, why are -- you know, if you open it up, where do you draw the lines? Where do you draw the lines?"
MORE: Todd Starnes [Fox News]
Want more? Well let's look at Rick Scarborough. While lesser known than other speakers, Scarborough's anti-LGBT rhetoric is outsized in its extremism:
-- Says that the AIDS epidemic is God's "judgement as a result of an immoral act" (at 0:10 mark) and calls it "a homosexual disease" (at 0:27 mark).
-- Says of gays: "Those who engage in unnatural acts should hang their heads in shame – so should the president who asks us to celebrate their sinful lifestyle.”
MORE: Rick Scarborough [GLAAD CAP]
And of course what would an anti-LGBT event be without the man who has been leading the national fight against marriage equality? National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown will be speaking on a Values Voter Summit panel. If he's honest about his motivation, perhaps Brian will again try to raise a link between gays and pedophiles, position families with gay parents as "abnormal," or encourage parents to put their children into "ex-gay" therapy, all of which he has done in the past:
-- Testified in favor of a Russian law banning same-sex adoptions, saying that “Every child should have the right to have normal parents: a father and a mother”
-- 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?”
-- 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]
Exhausted? I know I am!
But we can't stop here, because we must now look at the VV Summit speakers who are on FRC's payroll. Peter Sprigg, FRC's Senior Policy Fellow, will be hosting a "young person" breakout event (alongside the aforementioned Ryan T. Anderson). This would be the same Peter Sprigg who...
-- Says “The most effective way of reducing teen suicide attempts is not to create a 'positive social environment' for the affirmation of homosexuality. Instead, it would be to discourage teens from self-identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual."
-- “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States, because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society.” (See 0:11 mark here.) [*NOTE: A week later, Peter rolled back his statements, saying he "used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God"]
-- Says he wants to see being gay punished by law: “I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.”
-- Claims: “There is, for example, a single and simple solution for smoking-related illnesses, and we have all heard it—‘If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit.’ It’s long past time for public health authorities to say the same” (about being gay)
MORE: Peter Sprigg [GLAAD CAP]
FRC's Jerry Boykin will also be there to give the military perspective. Of course he might also give the vehemently anti-LGBT perspective, since he's great at doing that:
-- Says gays are not "normal": "You believe that homosexuality is normal—I do not...their behavior and their chosen lifestyle is not consistent with the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ"
-- One of most outspoken opponents of gays serving openly, says Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal has permanently corrupted the armed forces: "The military has been the anchor of our society. It has maintained a very strict standard in terms of morality, ethics, and professional conduct, and now that has all been destroyed by a single vote in our Senate as well as the House"
-- Falsely equates homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality: "Where does it stop? If we're protecting or providing people special rights because of their sexual orientation, then how far do you go with that? What about pedophilia? What about bestiality? I mean, those are all sexual preferences, so how far do we go with it? And some would say, 'well, thats ridiculous'—well, no it's not ridiculous. My generation would have said it was ridiculous to think that there would ever be same-sex marriage in America, but look how far it's gone. So where does it stop?"
MORE: Jerry Boykin [GLAAD CAP]
I'm not sure if Kenyn Cureton will have an active role at the summit, but if he does, we might expect the FRC Senior VP to yet againt say gay people are contoleld by the Devil:
- Says about LGBT people: "Who do you think is ultimately behind the efforts to advance the radical homosexual agenda, indoctrinate our children, and ruin our military, now? Who's behind the efforts to get God out of government, Christ out of culture, and faith out of public life? Who's behind it? Well, I think we've got a pretty clear answer. [laughter] The Devil is behind it! So, the real enemy…it's not the poor, deluded souls who are advancing these ungodly agendas—they're simply pawns in the hands of their malevolent master. They need to be set free by the grace of God in the person of Jesus Christ—amen?…As you think about this battle in which we're engaged, you need to think about who the real enemy is that we're fighting against here, and that is, the fact is, we're up against the organized, mobilized, demonized forces of hell itself. And really, to the victor goes the prize of the America our children will inherit, so this is a fight we dare not lose. Amen?"
MORE: Kenyn Cureton [GLAAD CAP]
Yet all of these men will surely pale in comparison to the big dog: FRC president Tony Perkins. Tony, a mainstay on the conservative punditry circuit and the superstar of this Values Voter Summit, has condemned us in every way imaginable. To wit:
-- Says about gay people: “They are intolerant. They are hateful. They are vile. They are spiteful"..."pawns" of the "enemy."
-- Says many gays have an "emptiness within them" because they are "operating outside of nature"
-- Says that gay young people “have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict; homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal.”
-- Despite what health experts have said, insists that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem.”
-- Compares gay legal advocates to terrorists: “[B]ack in the 80s and early 90s, I worked with the State Department in anti-terrorism and we trained about 50 different countries in defending against terrorism, and it’s, at its base, what terrorism is, it's a strike against the general populace simply to spread fear and intimidation so that they can disrupt and destabilize the system of government. That's what the homosexuals are doing here to the legal system.”
-- Says: "It doesn't matter what society does, I think within the homosexual, most of them know that this behavior, it's just not right, it's not what we were created to do and it's against God's plan and it's contrary to our nature and the way were were created."
-- Says: “The truth is that we cannot redefine marriage without opening the door to all manner of moral and social evil.”
-- Called the It Gets Better project "disgusting," claiming it tells children "that it's okay to be immoral" and constitutes a "concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that lifestyle"; also called the project a "deceptive lie"
-- Says "it's a fact" that homosexuality leads to "eternal damnation"
-- Says gays and lesbians are "held captive by the enemy"
-- Claims his kids couldn't be gay because he is "teaching them the right ways that they are to interact as human beings" (3:15-3:39)
-- Compares the "unfortunate experience" and "lifestyle choice" of homosexuality to that of drug abuse
-- Says marriage equality will be "the nail in coffin of marriage" and will "take society down with it"
MORE: Tony Perkins [GLAAD CAP]
What a host, right?
What an organization. What a conference.
There is no way you could assemble a more anti-LGBT roster than the one that FRC has lined up for this year's Values Voter Summit. This is a slate that unabashedly claims that both God and government must be against us in order for there to be peace in the kingdom. I wish I was being hyperbolic and overstating the truth, but I'm clearly not. All of the above items are fully sourced (at links); all of these words came from the speakers themselves.
If it were one outlying voice or even a small handful of extremists who slipped under the radar, that would be one thing. But it's not. Media outlets who cover the Values Voter Summit need to understand that the vast majority of the speakers and the host organization that will be pushing this frightening point of view. It's not as if condemning LGBT people is one perspective at this summit. Condemning LGBT people is one of the primary goals!
Any prominent speaker who shows up this weekend will be lending tacit, if not expressed, approval of all that I relayed in this post. Any mainstream media outlet that covers this conference—and they always do, year after year—needs to step up and ask why these individuals think aggressive hostility against LGBT people is the way to build their brands. Media should ask why the participants at the Values Voter Summit need to be so virulently anti-LGBT when the country has been moving toward greater acceptance of LGBT people, or why participants think this is the way to reach mainstream America.
To be clear, the Values Voter Summit is not just a conservative gathering, but a who's-who of anti-LGBT animus, and those who attend and participate should be asked why they support such an extremist agenda.