This past weekend was the Values Voters Summit, in which the Family Research Council welcomes its fellow social conservative groups together to show how many lawmakers they can attract to such an audience. As usual, the weekend was rife with anti-choice and anti-gay rhetoric, but as Justin Snow at MetroWeekly points out, very few lawmakers mentioned LGBT issues in their speeches. Still, attendees voted that “religious liberty” was the most important issue for conservatives, a dog whistle for the arguments used to oppose most LGBT rights.
Though elected officials like Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Tim Scott (R-SC) avoided the topic of LGBT issues, plenty of others who spoke at the conference filled in the gap. Thanks in particular to coverage from People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch, here is a glimpse of what social conservatives have to say about LGBT people:
1. Marriage Equality Attempts To “Deconstruct The Very Nature Of Reality”
The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown was adamant that marriage equality is not a “live and let live debate.” Indeed, same-sex marriage, he explained, is an attempt to deconstruct the very nature of reality, the very nature of what it means to be a human being”:
2. Boys Will Pretend To Be Transgender To Get Into The Girls’ Locker Room
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took to the stage to rail against California’s new law protecting transgender students. He joked that if the law were in place when he was in high school, all the boys would have pretended to be transgender so they could shower in the girls’ locker room, adding, “isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?”
The Transgender Law Center provides the video:
3. Marriage Equality Belongs “In the Dustbin Of History” With Slavery
Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel was outraged that the Supreme Court “had the audacity” to rule against the Defense of Marriage Act and imply that those who oppose marriage equality are bigoted. He compared the decision to the Dred Scott decision, which upheld slavery, and suggested that Windsor belongs in the “dustbins of history” along with it.
Watch Staver’s full remarks on the Values Voter Summit website (anti-equality remarks begin around 13:58)
4. LGBT Rights “Bring Hostility Into The Public Square”
According to columnist Star Parker, homosexuality can only be defined as sexual behavior, which means it is an adult behavior and thus should be hidden away from children. LGBT rights, she argued, are only being brought up by the liberal “enemies of God” to divide people and “bring hostility into the public square”:
5. “There Are Tons Of Ex-Gays With Fabulous Stories”
Radio host and Fox News contributor Sandy Rios had plenty of anti-LGBT talking points to share. Among them was an endorsement of ex-gay therapy, adding that there are ex-gays “everywhere”; in fact, “there are tons of ex-gays with fabulous stories,” but they hide because they are maligned and threatened. She added that it was important to teach young men that homosexuality puts them at risk for HIV, other diseases, and thus “shortens their lifespan.” As Right Wing Watch points out, when Rios asked if anybody in the audience knew someone who was ex-gay, nobody raised their hand:
6. Matthew Shepard’s Murder Was A “Complete Fraud,” A Drug Deal Gone Bad
Rios also eagerly endorsed the biased reporting of Stephen Jimenez about the murder of Matthew Shepard, who died 15 years ago this weekend. According to Jimenez, Shepard was not murdered because he was gay, but because of a drug deal that had gone badly. Even though there is little, if any, evidence to support this alternate telling of the story, it’s unclear why it matters, because Shepard’s murder is only one example of many violent crimes that target the LGBT community, even 15 years later. Still, Rios emphasized that the Matthew Shepard story is a “complete fraud”:
7. Kids Are Brainwashed To Become Gays And Lesbians “Caught In A Powerful Web Of Deceit”
Before Rios finished speaking, she offered her belief that children are now exposed to “an absolute ocean of propaganda on the homosexual issue.” As a result, “millions of gay men and lesbians are caught in a powerful web of deceit that is breaking hearts,” in particular because gay men have so many partners that they’re always being dumped:
8. Military Servicemembers Are Losing Religious Freedom
The Summit dedicated a full panel to the story of Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, who believes he was punished for speaking out against marriage equality. In reality, he refused to obey an order from a commanding officer who directed him to discipline someone he supervises who imposed his anti-gay beliefs on a group of trainees in violation of military policies. Last week, the Air Force ruled against Monk’s “religious liberty” claim, calling it a case about “command authority, good order, and discipline, and civil rights — not religious freedoms.” Nevertheless, the Summit still trumpeted Monk’s story as an example of religious persecution in the military.
Watch the full panel on “The Erosion of Religious Liberties in the Military” on the Values Voter Summit website.
9. Homophobia Is A Myth, Because People Who Oppose Stealing Aren’t “Kleptophobic”
Ryan Bomberger of the anti-choice and anti-NAACP Radiance Foundation took a moment to also complain about the myth of homophobia, which is he believes is part of increasing “hostility towards Christianity in this country.” As proof, Bomberger pointed out that people who disapprove of cohabiting couples are not “cohabiphobic,” nor are those who disapprove of a habitual stealing problem “kleptophobic”:
10. Nobody In Government Has The Right To “Redefine Marriage”
Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), now president of the Heritage Foundation, explained, somewhat oxymoronically, that “no one in government has the right” to “redefine” marriage to allow for same-sex couples, but it is up to “the states, the people, and the church” to define it:
While this rhetoric all sounds very fringe, there is still reason to be concerned. Among the attendees at the conference were various teenagers who parroted the anti-LGBT talking points.