ThinkProgress filed this report from an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) recently signed an anti-bullying law that advocates have heralded as the nation’s toughest and a major step forward in the fight to prevent students from being bullied for any number of reasons, including their sexual orientation. Anti-bullying laws have taken shape in response to high-profile suicides of LGBT students in several states, including one at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Social conservatives, however, have traditionally opposed such measures. With the Republican establishment eying Christie as a potential candidate for president in 2012, ThinkProgress asked Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, how he thought social conservatives would react to Christie and his signing of the anti-bullying legislation. While Perkins said there were other issues that would affect Christie’s popularity with social conservatives more, he suggested that their opposition to such laws could be a hang-up for Christie were he to run for president. At the same time, Perkins attempted to strike a moderate, anti-bullying tone on the issue:
PERKINS: When it comes to anti-bullying, I think you’ll find in evangelicals, Protestants, Catholics, a strong desire to make our schools a safe place for all children. And no child should go to school and be bullied for any reason, whether it’s their religious conviction, whether it is their looks, whether it’s the fact that they’re overweight, or if they are of a particular sexual orientation. What is of concern, when it comes to so-called anti-bullying legislation is that it is used to advance a particular view of sexual orientation and leads to the bullying by teachers and administrators of other students, and that’s where there’s a problem. And so it depends on the actual legislation.
But social conservatives have long opposed anti-bullying legislation. In 2009, the FRC wrote that anti-bullying laws would lead to “paid agents of the state forcing kids to regurgitate the approved liberal line on homosexuality,” asking, “Is there a better definition of bullying than this?” At other times, it has said the laws would “make children hide their Christianity or religion in the closet” while the government “promotes harmful and sinful sexual practices among our youth.” And FRC has even argued that telling LGBT youth that they are wrong to lead their life as they are isn’t bullying.
It’s not “bullying” to tell the truth in love — which is that homosexual conduct is harmful to the people who engage in it and to society at large. The most compassionate thing we can do for people struggling with this lifestyle is to debunk the lie that they’re born “gay” and can never change. Instead we should assure them that change is possible for those who seek it.
Fox News reported today that Christie has again decided not to run for president. But with a stance like that, it’s no wonder Perkins feels Christie, who did the right thing by signing a law to prevent harmful bullying and discrimination in his state, would have had “a hard time” winning the support of social conservatives had he actually decided to run.