How do you kill time during a government shutdown? If you’re a conservative member of Congress vying for the White House, you help raise money for an antigay hate group.
That’s according to coalition of civil-rights advocates, who are calling on GOP lawmakers to skip the controversial Values Voter Summit -- the annual confab for social conservatives and a favorite hangout for Republican presidential aspirants.
In a letter signed by more than a half-dozen organizations, gay-rights supporters slammed the conservative Christian group Family Research Council, which hosts the event, along with the American Family Association, one of its major sponsors. Both groups, the letter says, have a long history of spreading “demonizing lies” about the LBGT community, including blaming homosexuality for pedophilia, the Holocaust and the rise of Adolph Hitler.
“The FRC has amassed an extensive record of vilifying gays and lesbians with falsehoods -- portraying them as sick, evil, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation. Perhaps its most insidious claim is that gay men molest children at a far higher rate than heterosexual men -- a claim refuted by all credible scientific authorities, including the American Psychological Association. Yet the FRC has continued to smear gays and lesbians by claiming that pedophilia, in the words of FRC President Tony Perkins, ‘is a homosexual problem.’”
A number of Republican lawmakers from both houses of Congress have been invited to speak, including rising-star Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Reps. Paul Ryan and Michele Bachmann. Most of the invitees have spoken at the event in past years.
The Family Research Center has been designated an antigay “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the same organization that has taken on such hatemongers as the KKK. The center is one of the letter’s signatories, along with GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, People for the American Way, NAACP, National Council of La Raza and Faithful America.
Faithful America, which describes itself as an “online community dedicated to reclaiming Christianity from the religious right,” singled out Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who is slated to speak at the summit. In an online petition signed by nearly 13,000 people, the group said that “appearing at the American Family Association’s hatefest is no way to demonstrate his Christian faith.” According to SPLC, Forbes is scheduled to speak on Friday at a $40-a-plate luncheon in Washington.
Some GOP politicians have vowed to skip the summit. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Tuesday that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal won't attend. Organizers of the Values Voter Summit are billing it as the “premier conservative event of 2013."
Read the coalition’s full letter here, and see below for a TV spot calling on Forbes to skip the summit.