The World Congress of Families (WCF) is an Illinois-based group that believes homosexuality is a “deviation” from sexual norms comparable to pornography, promiscuity, and incest, and it has been directly responsible for exporting American homophobia to countries like Russia, organizing trips for anti-gay leaders like the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to go speak with Russian lawmakers. They had planned a meeting today in a Senate office building that features three anti-gay voices: Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America, and Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute. The session, called “The Family in America,” is specifically geared toward sharing lessons learned from successful anti-gay campaigns in other countries — like Russia.
On Thursday, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, who represents WCF’s home state of Illinois, realized that his office had booked the space being used for this anti-gay symposium and canceled access to the meeting room. A spokesman for Kirk’s office told BuzzFeed that the Senator “doesn’t affiliate with groups that discriminate.” As of Friday morning, it seemed that the event would not be able to proceed.
That was, at least, until Speaker Boehner stepped in and secured new meeting space for the group on the Hill. His office did not comment, but WCF President Allan Carlson offered high praise for his intervention during his opening remarks at the symposium:
CARLSON: At least in the House of Representatives people have not succumbed to the great fear [of LGBT activists]. A great fear seems to be descending over what has been called the world’s greatest deliberative body … ideas are being suppressed, debate is being shut off, and minds are being closed.
Russia has been internationally scrutinized for its new laws oppressing the LGBT community, including a ban on anything that could be construed as “gay propaganda,” a ban on international adoptions by same-sex couples, and the latest proposals: a bill that would disqualify gay and lesbian parents from custody of their own biological children and a bill to ban same-sex surrogacy. These laws and proposed bills have been directly tied to the influence of U.S. anti-gay activists who WCF sent to Russia, and now these are the values Boehner believes deserve a voice on Capitol Hill. It’s unclear how this endorsement of discriminatory values squares his belief that there is “no need” to protect the LGBT community from the very same kind of unfair treatment.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told Buzzfeed that Boehner does not necessarily support the views of the World Congress of Families:
STEEL: One of the duties of the Speaker’s office is scheduling rooms throughout the Capitol complex, and we routinely provide a forum for discussion of public policy issues from across the political spectrum, including for liberal causes. “This administrative task obviously does not imply endorsement of any particular point of view.