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LGBTQ Advocates, Hate Group React to Perkins Appointment

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday May 16, 2018

The race to the bottom may just have been won hands-down by the GOP... at least, until the political and religious right manage to dig even deeper.

In a move that was ignored by the mainstream media - but reported by multiple LGBTQ sources - hate group leader and longtime virulent homophobe Tony Perkins has been appointed the new head of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

It's a victory for the anti-LGBTQ right that left the Family Research Council crowing.

The FRC - which Perkins has long headed, and which has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group - attempted to put a bipartisan gloss on Perkins' appointment.

"Majority Leader McConnell appointed Perkins to the independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission which is tasked with reviewing 'the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the president, the secretary of state, and Congress,'" the FRC said in a statement. "USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the president and the congressional leadership of both political parties."

The FRC also noted, however, that "Mr. Perkins will remain FRC president during his time with USCIRF," a dual role that smacks of a conflict of interest given the FRC's weaponization of faith as a means of attacking sexual and gender minorities.

Perkins' two-year appointment came at the recommendation of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader who blocked President Obama's Supreme Court nomination for the last year of Obama's presidency in an ultimately successful bid to hand a Republican president appointment to the country's highest judicial bench.

The Souther Poverty Law Center lost no time in denouncing the appointment.

"As head of the hate group Family Research Council, Perkins specializes in spreading false propaganda that demonizes the LGBT community and Muslims," the SPLC stad in a release.

"Perkins' idea of 'religious freedom' is having the freedom to discriminate against entire groups of people he doesn't like," the release went on to note. "His well-documented bigotry has no place in any government entity."

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAAD) weighed in with its own takedown.

"Notably, Perkins has called for Justice Kennedy to be impeached following his marriage equality ruling, promotes the dangerous and scientifically discredited practice of so-called conversion therapy, and has compared LGBTQ advocates to terrorists," GLAAD recounted.

"Tony Perkins is the most recognizable anti-LGBTQ activist in America," the head of GLAAD, Sarah Kaye Ellis, stated. "He has espoused the most extreme views of LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities including vocally supporting foreign laws that punish LGBTQ identity with death."

Added Ellis, "The idea that Perkins would be making policy recommendations to an administration that is already anti-LGBTQ is dangerous and puts LGBTQ people directly in harm's way."

With numerous nations around the globe actively persecuting LGBTQs, often using religion as a justification, Perkins' appointment struck some as inapt.

GLAAD put it plainly: "Tony Perkins is unqualified to hold this position, given his anti-LGBTQ record," the organization's release said.

Also appointed to the commission was equally ardent homophobe Gary Bauer, himself a former president of the Family Research Council. In a statement, the Human Rights Campaign summarized Bauer's career this way: "He has claimed LGBTQ advocates are aiming to 'throw dissenters in jail' and would try to criminalize Christianity and take children away from dissenting parents.

"In 2012, he was widely mocked for an ad during the presidential campaign that claimed President Obama was attempting to 'force gay marriage on the country.' "

"Tony Perkins and Gary Bauer have devoted their careers to limiting the legal rights of LGBTQ people to live their lives openly and honestly," the HRC's Charlotte Clymer said in the statement. "In their America, LGBTQ people would be forced to hide who they are or face criminal sanction, their relationships would be unrecognized, their children could be taken away and LGBTQ youth would face harmful conversion therapy."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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