“It Gets Better” founder Dan Savage recently lashed out at the Family Research Council again, saying that “every dead gay kid is a victory for the Family Research Council” and that “Tony Perkins sits on a pile of dead gay kids every day when he goes to work.” Savage’s concerns arise because of how FRC encourages parents to reject their children for being LGBT, contributing to a higher risk of homelessness, drug use, sexually transmitted infection, and suicide. Perkins responded in a conversation with Mike Huckabee yesterday, saying that Savage “has some issues” and that FRC is “pursuing everything possible to deal with him because he is out of control.” Now, Savage is calling Perkins’ legal bluff:
Sue me, Tony. I’d love to see you talk about my “issues” on a witness stand.
I realize that this isn’t how you think the world is supposed to work, Tony. You believe — and you’re old enough to remember a time when — people like you were free to say vile and disgusting things about people like me without anyone objecting. Certainly people like me weren’t allowed to call people like you out. You still believe you should be free to lie about me and other LGBT people with absolutely impunity — we’re all pedophiles and terrorists and Satanists — and that we should have to shut up and take it because… well, I’m not sure why you think we’re not allowed to respond when you lie about us.
Maybe that’s something we could get to the bottom of during the depositions.
Savage’s original comments obviously occupy a rhetorical extreme that few tread upon, but they still bear truth. It’s notable, as Savage himself points out, that Perkins did nothing to rebut the remarks or clarify any particular concern for children’s well-being. He couldn’t genuinely do so anyway; by proliferating the junk-science idea that gays can and should change, FRC is causing exactly the kind of harm to which Savage refers.
The raw nature of Savage’s rhetoric illuminates how little accountability hate groups like FRC take for their anti-gay advocacy. Perkins’ new campaign against the Southern Poverty Law Center for the “hate group” designation — a flip for many of the conservatives rallying behind the effort — is the same kind of umbrage that obfuscates the harmful miseducation such groups churn out on a daily basis. Similarly, one of the National Organization for Marriage’s chief argument against equality is that conservatives will be labeled as “bigots,” but it then has no problem painting LGBT activists as violent or endorsing the harmful quackery that is ex-gay therapy.
Savage’s approach might not always be the most elegant, but it certainly does cut through the rhetorical muck and focus attention on the harm caused by anti-gay groups like FRC.