|Mitch McConnell with hate group leader/white supremacist linked Tony Perkins.|
Over the weekend Family Research Council ("FRC") - a certified hate group - held it disingenuously named "Value Voters Summit" in the nation's capital. The key note speaker was Mike Pence - a religious extremist in his own right. Also addressing the group was Mitch McConnell who disgustingly praised FRC Tony Perkins, a man with well documented ties to white supremacy organizations. Such is the state of today's GOP that someone like Perkins could have Trump's ear and have McConnell basically groveling to Perkins and assured the Bible thumpers that Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court no matter what issues or damning facts might arise. As is the norm for such gatherings of Christian extremists, abortion and gays were the topics of rants and lies. This year, a new anti-LGBT rallying cry was formulated pursuant to which lies and disinformation will be disseminated. A piece in Rewire looks at this latest nastiness. Here are excerpts:
“Gender ideology” took center stage at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit (VVS) in Washington, D.C. And side stage. And student mixer. In each instance, it was used as a handy catchall: Objecting to “gender ideology” allows Christian conservatives to consolidate all their objections to treating LGBTQ people with dignity into one scary talking point.
This year, Vice President Mike Pence gave the keynote address following evangelical and conservative darlings like the Benham Brothers (house flippers and sons of Operation Save America’s Flip Benham), Michele Bachmann, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, David Daleiden (of Planned Parenthood hit-video fame), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Masterpiece baker Jack Phillips, and many others.
The turn to “gender ideology” marks a change for this conference and for conservative talking points in general, which in the past have focused more directly on bathroom bills and specious fears for the safety of children. If you’re not familiar with the term, that’s not surprising. More popular with European conservatives, “gender ideology” as a conservative rallying cry has only grown in domestic U.S. circles in the past year or two.
Among conservatives, “gender ideology” encompasses a broad range of horrors: LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, transgender-inclusive school and ID-document policies, and comprehensive sex education, to name a few.
Rather than ginning up support around specific topics, the broader lens of “gender ideology” allowed speakers to talk about a range of theoretical harms to religious freedom if politics are permitted to be overrun by the “new secular orthodoxy” of sexual orientation and gender identity, as Emilie Kao of the Heritage Foundation called it during her presentation on religious liberty.
[O]n Saturday, moderator Peter Sprigg—researcher at FRC and author of many a [anti-gay] blog about LGBTQ people and policies—introduced the panelists to talk about “How Gender Ideology Harms Children.” First up was disreputed former head of Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry head Dr. Paul McHugh. In 1977, Dr. McHugh ended Johns Hopkins’ groundbreaking trans-affirmative medical program. Johns Hopkins reversed the ensuing decades of anti-trans pseudo-scientific rhetoric in 2017, when it reopened its Center for Transgender Health. At VVS, Dr. McHugh gave the same speech he’s been giving at conservative conferences since his retirement, comparing transgender people to people with eating disorders: “We work not to affirm their belief [that they are transgender], but to correct it.”
Throughout his remarks, Dr. McHugh cited discredited research, misrepresented data on trans children, and flat-out lied.
Elizabeth Johnston, known for her Activist Mommy blog and her campaigns against comprehensive sex education, was the last to speak from the stage on Saturday morning. Johnston is a fiery speaker who was the perfect closer for an audience primed to hear her lies and misinformation. Schools are teaching our kids “gender confusion” and how to have oral and anal sex, she claimed. She described comprehensive sex education as “sexual abuse and grooming.”
The week before last, a similar panel was held at the World Congress of Families, in Moldova. Peter Sprigg was there too, giving a PowerPoint presentation on “Five Myths of Gender Identity.” Sprigg was joined by several European anti-transgender activists, and the talking points they shared were very similar to those sprinkled throughout VVS on Saturday.
I dealt with and corresponded with Peter Sprigg some years ago. He has NO legitimate credentials, continually disseminates deliberate lies about LGBT individuals, and has covered up for "ex-gay" frauds whom he knows are not "cured" of their homosexuality. Combine Sprigg and other bogus "experts" with Tony Perkins' white supremacist ties, and the only values upheld by "values voters" are lies, bigotry, racism and homophobia.The similarity is no coincidence: Right-wing and Christian conservatives have been trading tactics and talking points across the ocean for several years now as they try to fight the gains made by the LGBTQ community. And the broadening of their rhetoric is also not a coincidence: Framing support for the LGBTQ community as “gender ideology” allows anti-LGBTQ activists to scare, confuse, and galvanize their voters as we move into an important election season here in the United States, and into a crucial moment in political history across the world.