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Southern Poverty Law Center Designates Anti-LGBT Organizations as Hate Groups

For the last four decades, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has fought for those whose basic human rights have been violated and denied, including racial and ethnic minorities, women, the economically disadvantaged, immigrants, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. In the Winter 2010 edition of its quarterly Intelligence Report, SPLC profiled 18 groups that it condemns for the falsehoods about LGBT individuals they perpetuate and the intolerance of the LGBT population they foster. SPLC added five far-Right, anti-LGBT organizations to its extensive list of hate groups and profiled five other groups that “operate under the…so-called ‘pro-family’” banner, condemning the “demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities” that all 10 organizations disseminate.[1] Eight of the groups included were previously listed.
 
SPLC recognizes that LGBT individuals are much more likely to be victims of violence, and, as such, continues to identify groups of “anti-[LGBT] ideologues” whose “influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the ‘facts’ they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations.”[2] SPLC’s list of hate groups includes such groups as the Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society, and other organizations that are white supremacist, neo-Nazi, Holocaust-denying, or Christian fundamentalist. While “most” of the groups SPLC profiled are “religiously motivated,” SPLC affirms that “[v]iewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.”[3]
 
According to SPLC, the anti-LGBT groups it has newly designated as hate groups—the American Family Association, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, Dove World Outreach Center, the Family Research Council, and the Illinois Family Institute—have propagated numerous unfounded, prejudicial claims about LGBT individuals. Among the groundless assertions that representatives from these organizations have made: only gay soldiers were vicious enough to carry out Adolf Hitler’s genocidal orders during the Holocaust; same-sex sexual behavior threatens public health more than cigarette smoking and thus should be regulated just as strictly; hate crimes legislation protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity will criminalize religious leaders’ speech; same-sex sexual behavior should be criminalized or justification for deportation; and, gay men are highly likely to be pedophiles.[4]  
 
Many of these claims rely on junk science, such as the publications of Paul Cameron, founder of another SPLC–designated hate group, the Family Research Institute, whose research has been widely discredited and who has been denounced by the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins repeatedly references the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), a fringe organization with roughly 200 members whose founder left the highly regarded American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), which boasts 60,000 members, because they disagreed with the AAP’s support of parenting by same-sex couples. The ACP’s claims about LGBT individuals, their behavior, and health have been widely refuted even by the authors of the studies it cites.[5] 
 
In addition to the newly recognized hate groups, SPLC identified five other organizations that also have disseminated misinformation about LGBT individuals and have engaged in “repeated, groundless name-calling” but have not sunk to the level of the hate groups.[6] These groups—the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, Liberty Counsel, and the National Organization for Marriage—or their representatives have similarly made many baseless claims about the LGBT population. These falsehoods include Christian Anti-Defamation Commission Advisory Board member O’Neal Dozier’s statement that “‘[h]omosexuality not only spreads disease and neutralizes God’s command,’ but also ‘destroys families,’” and Concerned Women for American’s characterization of anti-bullying organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) as promoting a “homosexual lifestyle” that will induce young people to “develop into adults who are desensitized to the harmful, immoral reality of sexual deviance.” [7] SPLC notes that the National Organization for Marriage has also poured millions of dollars into efforts to thwart marriage equality, including supporting California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative, which amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage; defending Proposition 8 in federal court; and campaigning to unseat three Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined in that court’s unanimous decision to allow same-sex marriage. 
 
Reactions to the SPLC’s report have ranged from defensive to defiant.  Family Resource Council’s President Tony Perkins publicly excoriated SPLC numerous times for branding his organization as a hate group, and the Council launched an online campaign to protest the designation called “Start Debating/Stop Hating.”  The campaign published a full-page advertisement in two Washington, DC, newspapers, which was signed by over 25 current and former Republican politicians and numerous radical right-wing organizations. The website and advertisement denounce SPLC for engaging in “slanderous tactics,” which the Family Resource Council deemed “character assassination,” as well as disingenuously claiming that SPLC is attacking organizations based on their religious beliefs despite the fact that SPLC has reiterated time and again that their judgments were based on the hate groups’ “propagation of known falsehoods.”[8] 
 
On the other hand, Americans For Truth About Homosexuality’s Peter LaBarbera and American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer consider their organizations’ designation to be a badge of honor—LaBarbera believes that “[i]f you are not on the SPLC hate list, you are not doing enough.”[9] Bryan Fischer resorted to insults, contending that American Family Association being branded a hate group is “a sign of desperation on the part of the SPLC … that they are so threatened by the truths that these groups speak that they are now flailing about trying to silence,” and that “their strategy now is not to persuade the public but to demonize their cultural adversaries.”[10]
 
“SIECUS commends the Southern Poverty Law Center for its strong legacy of working for social justice, and appreciates its focus on anti-LGBT groups that claim to be ‘pro-family’ while simultaneously stigmatizing LGBT individuals and their families,” said Jen Heitel Yakush, director of public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “We hope that SPLC’s profiles will draw attention to the outright bigotry that these duplicitous organizations perpetuate and the damage they create in people’s lives.”
 
 


[1] Robert Steinback, “AFA’s Fischer Doubles Down on Anti-Gay Lies,” Hatewatch , 20 December 2010, accessed 21 December 2010, <http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2010/12/20/afas-fischer-doubles-down-on-anti-gay-lies/>; Evelyn Schlatter, “18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda” Intelligence Report 140, Winter 2010,, accessed 10 December 2010, <http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/the-hard-liners>.
[2] Mark Potok, “Anti-Gay Movement Fuels Hate Violence,” Intelligence Report 140, Winter 2010, accessed 10 December 2010, <http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/fuel-on-the-fire>; Evelyn Schlatter, “18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda”.
[3] Evelyn Schlatter, “18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda”
[4] Ibid.
[5] See “Statement from NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., in Response to the American College of Pediatricians,” National Institutes of Health, accessed 21 December 2010, <http://www.nih.gov/about/director/04152010_statement_ACP.htm>; “Factsaboutyouth.com: A critical Review,” Warren Throckmorton, 6 April 2010, accessed 21 December 2010, <http://wthrockmorton.com/2010/04/06/factsaboutyouth-com-a-critical-review/>; “TWO Exclusive: Researcher Reprimands Sham Pediatric Group For Distorting Research,” Truth Wins Out, 12 April 2010, accessed 21 December 2010, <http://www.truthwinsout.org/pressreleases/2010/04/8136/>.
[6] Ibid. 
[7] Ibid.
[8] “Start Debating/Stop Hating,” Family Research Council,” December 2010, accessed 10 December 2010, <http://www.startdebatingstophating.com/>; Evelyn Schlatter, “18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda.”
[9] “LaBarbera: ‘If You Are Not On The SPLC Hate List, You Are Not Doing Enough,’” Right Wing Watch, 6 December 2010, accessed 10 December 2010, <http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/labarbera-if-you-are-not-splc-hate-list-you-are-not-doing-enough>.
[10] “AFA's Professional Name-Caller Accuses SPLC of Name-Calling,” Right Wing Watch , 29 November 2010, accessed 10 December 2010, <http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/afas-professional-name-caller-accuses-splc-name-calling>.
 

 

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