A coalition of human rights groups is calling on public officials including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan not to attend this week's Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., because its host, the Family Research Council, has spread demonizing lies about the LGBT community, and because one of its co-sponsors, the American Family Association, has linked homosexuality to the Holocaust.
GLAAD joined organizations including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC); People for the American Way Foundation (PFAWF); the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF); the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC); the National Council of La Raza (NCLR); and Faithful America in signing a letter which was mailed this week to all participating speakers.
The public officials to whom the letter was sent include: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, U.S. Rep. Steve King, U.S. Rep. Jim Lankford, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, and U.S. Rep. Allen West.
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick stated:
When reporting on this summit for so-called "Values Voters," media have an obligation to put the event into context--and that includes the violently anti-LGBT rhetoric of its organizers, including FRC's Tony Perkins and AFA's Bryan Fischer. By speaking at the conference and aligning with these organizers, elected officials are sending a dangerous message to the American people that they support their outdated and false views. It appears that the only credentials Perkins and Fischer have to speak about LGBT issues is that they hate LGBT people, but hate is not an American value.
"Our message is a simple one," said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. "Public officials should not lend the prestige of their office to groups that spread demeaning and false propaganda about other people."
"Given the FRC's and AFA's public statements, we urge you not to lend the prestige of your office to the summit," the coalition wrote in letters to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, Sens. Jim DeMint and Rand Paul, and other public officials who have been invited to speak at the summit. "The FRC is far outside the mainstream," the letter states. "It has engaged in repeated, groundless demonization – portraying LGBT people as sick, vile, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation. One of its officials has gone so far as to say that homosexuality should be criminalized."
"The FRC's extremism is vividly illustrated," the letter adds, "by the fact that it has invited the American Family Association (AFA) to co-sponsor the Summit at which you have been invited to speak. Here is what Bryan Fischer, the AFA's Director of Issue Analysis, wrote in 2010: 'Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews."
Earlier this year GLAAD launched the Commentator Accountability Project, which puts critical information about frequent anti-LGBT media interviewees into the hands of newsrooms, editors, hosts and reporters. The Value Voters Summit lists eight people who have been profiled in CAP as speakers.