Thrice-married Newt Gingrich has secured the endorsement of Don Wildmon, the founder of the vehemently anti-gay American Family Association, the Hill reports. “Newt Gingrich recognizes the threat to our country posed by judges and lawyers imposing values upon the country inconsistent with our religious heritage, and has proposed constitutional steps to bring the courts back in balance under the constitution,” Wildmon said in a statement. “We need someone in the White House who can balance the budget and get the economy moving again. Newt has done it before and I believe he can do it again. I am proud to endorse Newt Gingrich for president.”
One of the cogs in Gingrich’s vast network of business enterprises and front groups, ReAL Action, has provided $125,000 to the AFA’s sister organization, American Family Association Action. The group’s outspoken policy directory Bryan Fischer has “proposed criminalizing homosexual behavior” and has even advocated forcing gays into “reparative” therapy.
When ThinkProgress confronted Gingrich over his association with the group, the former speaker defended Fischer, saying, “You bring a series of allegations that I can’t check about a group that is largely a Christian based membership group, that is fairly widespread in its membership and I suspect most of those people do not in any way think of themselves as a hate group even if that’s how you would characterize them. Watch it:
During an appearance on Fisher’s show, Gingrich also promised to “slow down the homosexual agenda” if he were elected president and told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly in 2008 that “there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us is prepared to use violence, to use harassment.” Gingrich has recently described same-sex marriage as “a temporary aberration that will dissipate.” “I think that it is just fundamentally goes against everything we know,” he claimed in September.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled AFA a hate group — and for good reason. Aside from its animus towards gay people, “In late 2009, Fischer suggested that all Muslims should be banned from joining the U.S. military” and has repeatedly called “for a ban on immigration by Muslims and for local communities to ban the construction of mosques.” But according to Gingrich, this kind of sentiment should not reflect poorly on “a Christian based membership group.”
Right Wing Watch notes that some members of AFA, including Fischer, have harshly criticized Gingrich for his marital indiscretions.