New York – GLAAD has joined calls from leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates in urging media to report critically on responses from anti-LGBT organizations including the Family Research Council (FRC) and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) following a shooting at FRC headquarters last week.
Last Wednesday, an armed man walked into the headquarters of FRC in Washington D.C., shot security guard Leonardo Johnson in the arm, and Johnson’s quick thinking and heroism may have saved countless lives. In the days since the attack, FRC and other anti-gay organizations and individuals have placed the blame for the shooting on research organization Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), for having designated FRC a “hate group.”
In the past, when the targets of similar incidents have been those on the political or social left, conservative groups have been quick to place blame on the individual responsible. This time, anti-gay organizations have flipped the script and are exploiting Johnson’s heroism for political (and in the case of the National Organization for Marriage, monetary) gain. FRC, NOM and others have repeatedly stated that the ‘hate group’ designation is what gave the shooter, in FRC President Tony Perkins’ words, a “license to kill.”
However, the Southern Poverty Law Center cites 24 paragraphs of actions that the FRC has taken, all of which explain exactly what Perkins and his organization did to earn such a designation.
The LGBT community says there’s a simple solution to FRC’s stated dilemma. Don’t want to be called out for being vehemently anti-LGBT? Do better.
Perkins has told supporters that gay people are “pawns of the enemy” referring to the devil. His organization distributes flyers that compare marriage equality to “man-horse marriage” (complete with horse graphic) and brochures that trumpet “reorientation therapy” for gay people, while falsely claiming gay men are more likely to molest children.
Journalist Michelangelo Signorile has challenged Perkins to discuss the reasons his organization has been labeled a hate group by SPLC and others, writing “It’s vitally important to have this dialogue now if you agree that we’ve all got to bring down the temperature, and if you sincerely want to clear up what you believe are misunderstandings. Let’s take this instance, this latest tragedy, and turn it into a moment of understanding and insight.”
Today GLAAD’s President Herndon Graddick added his voice to those shining the spotlight on the real FRC, writing “(a)nti-gay activists like Perkins accuse critics of trying to ‘silence’ them. Sorry Tony, but we’re doing the opposite. SPLC, GLAAD and many others are bringing more attention to Perkins’ and Brown’s words and exposing FRC’s and NOM’s actions. There are many Americans who might not yet support marriage equality, but also don’t think LGBT people are pawns of the devil, the way Perkins does.”
GLAAD’s own Commentator Accountability Project lists the above examples and more than two dozen others from Tony Perkins and FRC senior fellow Peter Sprigg, with the purpose of providing journalists with critical context for their positions on issues that affect the LGBT community.
"Tony Perkins has gone so far as to defend a bill in Uganda in which gay men and lesbians would be subject to the death penalty on the basis of their sexual orientation," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "The bill has not yet passed, but tragically the leader of the opposition to the bill was murdered for being gay. History is full of people like Tony Perkins who put a warm face on what is a essentially a cold-blooded effort to demonize and scapegoat a minority community."
Media that covered the shooting last week and the FRC’s subsequent blaming of the SPLC and the gay community has the responsibility to now discuss the community’s response.
RESOURCES FOR MEDIA COVERING CHALLENGE TO FRC AND TONY PERKINS:
Michelangelo Signorile’s offer to discuss the issue with Perkins:
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick on FRC and NOM’s responses to the shooting:
Tony Perkins’ profile on GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project:
Peter Sprigg’s profile on GLAAD’s Commentator Accountability Project:
Southern Poverty Law Center’s profile of Family Research Council:
HRC President Chad Griffin’s Op-Ed: