In April, the National Organization for Marriage alluded to the existence of an International Organization for Marriage, which sounded like an umbrella group for organizations around the globe opposed to marriage equality, such as the efforts NOM supported in France. It has yet to be publicly unveiled, but according to a new report from Right Wing Watch, NOM’s Brian Brown joined some of the French activists in bringing those anti-gay views to Russia.
Brown traveled to Russia in mid-June, just days after the Duma’s final passage of a ban on “gay propaganda,” He and the other French activists met with lawmakers to discuss adoption laws, as well as other family issues. Five days after this trip, the Duma passed a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples. Here’s a look at what Brown had to say to the Duma (translated from English to Russian and back to English again):
BROWN: But we are now convinced, having heard the presentations of our French brothers and sisters, that we are talking about very serious problems indeed. We are talking about violations of rights, we are talking about the rights and problems of children in their education. We should not shy away from this and should not forget about it and create an illusion for ourselves. A reconsideration of the definition and understanding of marriage is in fact a real threat to rights. Very soon after a law was passed that legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Massachusetts, we saw that religious organizations were closing down, religious organizations that dealt with adoptions and that did not support adoption by same-sex families. They were closing one after another.
Massachusetts marriage equality was delivered by the state Supreme Court, not legislation, but that might be a translation error. Still, the claims about adoption agencies being forced to shut down are simply false. Many agencies continued to issue adoptions to same-sex couples in Massachusetts for years after marriage equality was decided, but then voluntarily chose to discriminate, and then voluntarily shut down after state funding was cut because of that discrimination.
Brown also condemned same-sex adoption speaking to a Russian news program, suggesting it could lead to “negative developments all over the world” (again, retranslated back to English):
BROWN: Right now you’re having the fight about adoption, but the adoption issue is indivisible from the marriage issue. If you don’t defend your values now, I’m afraid we’re going to see very negative developments all over the world.
Russia is now considering a bill that would deny parents custody of their own biological children if they identify as gay or lesbian. According to the bill’s sponsor, Duma Deputy Alexei Zhuravlev, those children would be better off in an orphanage. Both bills have been heavily influenced by Mark Regnerus’ flawed study that attempts to draw negative conclusions about same-sex parenting. Regnerus has even distanced himself from the new legislation, arguing that homosexuality isn’t so bad that it merits taking children away from their biological parents.
Brown was not the only American who helped influence Russia’s anti-gay laws. Jack Hanick, who describes himself as a founding employee of Fox News, called on Russia to “stand up for traditional values.” He even believes that Russia’s theocratic tendencies could be a good model for the United States, calling it a “positive thing” that Russia does not have the same separation of church and state.
Brown’s international anti-gay advocacy mirrors that of Scott Lively, who has boasted his anti-gay influence around the world. Armed with his book about how homosexuality was responsible for the rise of the Nazi party, Lively helped plant the seeds for Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill, and calls Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda” “one of the proudest achievements of my career.”
The International Organization for Marriage is still not an official entity, but NOM’s international advocacy is clearly underway.