As the Family Research Council continues to politically exploit last Wednesday’s tragic shooting to attack the Southern Poverty Law Center, the hate group is struggling to find allies beyond its fellow anti-gay organizations. In a newsletter sent out Tuesday, Tony Perkins boasted that two columnists have come to its defense against the “hate group” label, Dana Milbank — who essentially argued that promoting hate against LGBT people simply isn’t as bad as promoting hate against people of color — and James Kirchick, who Perkins describes as a “leading voice on gay politics.” In his column, Kirchick gave a pass to people who oppose marriage equality just because they are concerned about the “familial breakdown”:
As for gay marriage opponents, many of them object in name only; that is, they have no problem extending all of the same legal benefits to gay couples but are made uncomfortable by calling same-sex partnerships “marriage.” Such a position, no matter how intellectually confused, is not on the same level as calling blacks and Hispanics members of “mud races” who should be shipped back to the lands of their ancestors.
To be sure, there are many people whose opposition to gay rights is motivated by hate. They are less animated by the specter of familial breakdown than they are by the perceived degeneration of the culture at the hands of “godless sodomites.”
Kirchick seems to only be known as a “leading voice on gay politics” on his own Wikipedia page . His post conflates all anti-LGBT positions, ignoring the very clear distinction between those who may have a privately held religious belief against same-sex marriage and those who dedicate millions of dollars to advocating against the very lives of LGBT people. Regardless of how they package their rhetoric, groups like FRC that proactively campaign against equality demonize the LGBT community as second-class citizens who would destroy society (or “the family,” or “the institution of marriage”) if given the opportunity to participate in it fairly and safely. Like Milbank, Kirchick whitewashes this denigration and arbitrarily decrees that it simply isn’t as dangerous or deplorable as similar judgments of race.
Any claim FRC might make in the mainstream media that it only cares about “the specter of familial breakdown” is folly. This is an organization whose spokespeople regularly call for the deportation and imprisonment of homosexuals, comparing them to people who engage in pedophilia and bestiality. Such rhetoric is no more benign than the racist language Kirchick and Milbank compare it to, and the incendiary impact is easily measurable. As The Advocate’s editor Lucas Grindley points out this week, the magazine dedicates an entire section for crimes against LGBT people that is often overflowing. In fact, The Williams Institute found that gay men face inordinately high rates of hate-motivated violence — at five times the rate of African Americans and Jewish Americans. The motivation for such animus isn’t spontaneous and random.
Perkins may have found a few people he can convince to ignore his decades of anti-gay vitriol, but that doesn’t minimize the hateful impact of his organization’s work.