Looking At LGBT Equality And The Family Research Council Shooting
When Scott Roeder assassinated Wichita, Kansas based physician and abortion provider George Tiller on Sunday, May 31, 2009, I was understandably upset. Violence of this type is nothing new, and Tiller himself was the target of a previous assassination attempt in 1993. This kind of thing happens from time to time in the abortion debate, with outraged zealots choosing to solve through mind bending acts of violence what they feel they are unable to accomplish through considered and thoughtful debate.
When things like that happen, when the business of political discourse derails in such a mindless and tragic fashion, the aftermath always proves instructive. Within the first few hours, anti-abortion activists from the major pro-life organizations, fearing a backlash, moved in quickly with full throated denunciations of the attack. Here is one from World-Class-Asshole Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council.
We are stunned at today’s news. As Christians we pray and look toward the end of all violence and for the saving of souls, not the taking of human life. George Tiller was a man who we publicly sought to stop through legal and peaceful means. We strongly condemn the actions taken today by this vigilante killer and we pray for the Tiller family and for the nation that we might once again be a nation that values all human life, both born and unborn.
See that? He denounces the attack, while affirming the basic premise of their argument. From a PR perspective, itâ€™s a pretty nicely constructed public statement.
It is also one that enraged me. â€œScrew you,â€ I thought to myself. â€œYou played a part in this. You spend all of your time riling up the base hatred and self-righteous indignation of your supporters, and then run for the hills when things escalate beyond your control.â€ While it probably unfair to blame the FRC entirely for the part they played in Dr. George Tiller’sÂ assassination, on some level, that is true. In politics, some amount of your strategy must be an attempt to clarify the sins of your opponent. These sins are then used to motivate your organization. The more awful your enemy behaves, the more useful that behavior is a recruiting tool for your movement. Itâ€™s depressing, but times are what they are.
The problem is that angry, hostile rhetoric can produce a wide range of results, and when you start painting targets on people some of the more misguided sociopaths among us will elect to shoot at them. Some of us donâ€™t handle passion well, and for those people, a passionate debate like abortion becomes an ideal breeding ground for the bacteria of hate. The FRC had long been part of the effort to demonize abortion providers, and the attack was at least in some small way an outgrowth of that. I wanted them to take responsibility for their role in stoking that public fervor, however minor a factor it may have been in that specific assassination attempt.
I thought about Dr. Tiller upon learning of Floyd Lee Corkins, and his attack on the D.C. offices of the Family Research Council. According to news reports, which for our purposes today we will assume are accurate, Floyd walked into the FRC lobby with a loaded pistol, ludicrous amounts of ammunition, some Chick-Fil-A sundry, and began running his mouth about how awful the FRC is. They are, by they way, awful. Upon questioning by a member of the security staff, Corkins started firing, shooting the security guard in the arm. The tables, it seems, had been reversed. This time, it was one of our people doing something violently stupid.
I want to make clear, I am not taking responsibility for this yahooâ€™s poor judgment or unstable psyche. Something exists in the mind of a potential mass shooter that is unique to their classification. These are people capable of packing up lethal weaponry, leaving the house, driving across town, parking, getting out of the car, putting change in the meter, walking into a public place in the middle of the day, taking a pistol out, and shooting someone. A shooting isnâ€™t ever just one bad decision. Itâ€™s a deliberate series of bad decisions, each one being a necessary step in a process. At every stage of that bad decision, the assailant in question must renew their resolve to murder. To make it through each step, and to complete the devastating final act, takes determination of a sort that chills the blood. Ultimate responsibility belongs to the shooter. They’ve worked hard to accomplish their horrific goals, and have earned the appropriate recognition for their efforts. Hopefully involving orange outfits and lots of concrete.
What makes this personally conflicting is that I completely understand where his anger comes from. The Family Research Council, along with other like minded organizations like the American Family Association, and the National Organization for Marriage, deal in bigotry. The sole reason for their existence, the very premise upon which they have rented office space and obtained corporate letterhead, is to work to make the lives of LGBT people in this country worse. A good day for the FRC will almost always be a bad day for gay people. They cloak themselves in Christ, and then work as hard as they can to make sure that gay people canâ€™t marry, have no federal protection of any kind, and are as despised and alienated as possible by the general public. If the FRC had its way, the United States would return to the days before Lawrence v. Texas, when homosexuality was illegal. They want me to be able to be fired from my job, or kicked out of my home for being gay. They would have gay teachers disgraced and removed from contact with their students. They would have us return to the days before Stonewall when we were hunted by our peers, lobotomized by our loved ones, terrified to leave our closets. There is no law supporting any aspect of LGBT equality that people like the FRC wouldnâ€™t find time to oppose. Whatâ€™s worse, mainstream media outlets frequently have FRC head Tony Perkins on their programs so that he can tell the American people all of this in person. The reality is that if not for hate, organizations like the FRC would have very little to do all day. Perhaps you can engineer a way that their behavior doesnâ€™t positively define bigotry, but if so, I have yet to see a compelling case made for such a prospect.
When the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the Family Research CouncilÂ a hate group, it does so for a reason. Essentially, we have two groups. Gay people and enlightened supporters, and the Family Research CouncilÂ and their hate filled cabal. Gay people are simply minding their own business, falling in love, starting families, having jobs, trying to find their place in society. We wish only to participate in society with the same protections and responsibilities everyone else enjoys. The ideal situation is one of agnostic disinterest on the part of the American people. We want equality, and to be left alone. The FRC, entirely uninvited to the equation, exists to interfere in that process. They work to deny us the basic pleasures of life. In a world with no FRC in it, we exist unmolested, content to engage in the standard issue Jeffersonian pursuit of happiness. Without us, the FRC has no meaning. They do nothing. They have no point. Their goals are ones of destruction. They instigate and perpetuate this battle, leaving us little choice but to set about fighting it.
I understand why Floyd Corkins felt like he was under attack. He was. We all are. He has a right to be angry. What he doesn’t have is a right to run around shooting people. I want to win this debate on the merits of our argument, not by inflicting damage on our opponent sufficient to run them out of the debate entirely. I want them to realize why they are wrong. I want our victory to be clean, and based on well considered fact.Â Floyd Corkins, by choosing aÂ solutionÂ of violence, has undercut the righteousness of our struggle, injured a perfectly innocent security guard, and what’s worse, generated public sympathy for anÂ organizationÂ that deserves nothing but national scorn.Â Violence, even against the empty suit that is Tony Perkins, is no way to solve our problems.Â Only through winning the hearts and minds of the American people can our struggles come to an end. Bigotry is a reaction to fear, and making bigots more fearful isn’t going to help solve our problems. It only makes things worse.
While the actions of Floyd Corkins are his own, both sides of the battle for equality must take time to acknowledge our casualties, and take responsibility for the damage the battle is causing. We would stop our defense in a moment if that were possible. However, as we remain gay despite the best efforts of the Family Research Council, we have little choice but to continue fighting. The only actor in this scenario capable of ending this confrontation are the bigots, the agitators, the ones who choose to assault our community. For us this struggle is mandatory. For them, it is decidedly optional. They elect to attack us, and we must therefore defend. Never through violence, as that sort of victory is never sustainable, but through the perseverance of thought and the never abating belief that equality shines through all other obstructions, and in the end will prevail.
Benjamin PhillipsÂ is an Essayist, Web Developer, Civics Nerd, and all around crank that spends entirely too much time shouting with deep exasperation at the television, especially whenever cable news is on, and proudly serves as Director ofÂ Development for The New Civil Rights Movement.Â He lives in St. Louis,Â MOÂ and spends most of his time staring at variousÂ LCDÂ screens, occasionally taking walks in the park whenever his boyfriend becomes sufficiently convinced that Benjamin is becoming aÂ reclusive hermit person. He is available for childrenâ€™s parties, provided that those children are entertained by hearing aÂ complete windbag talk for two hours about the importance of science education, or worse yet, poorly researched anecdotesÂ PROVINGÂ that James Buchanan was totally gay. If civilization were to collapse due to zombie hoards or nuclear holocaust, Benjamin would be among the first to die as he has no useful skills of any kind. The post-apocalyptic hellscape has no real need for homosexual computer programmers who can name all the presidents in order, as well as the actors who have played all eleven incarnations of Doctor Who.
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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Troubling Questions’: Experts Slam Ginni Thomas’ Group That Waged Cultural War Against the Left via Web of Dark Money Orgs
Legal experts are responding to bombshell reporting from The Washington Post revealing Ginni Thomas, the spouse of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House and Oval Office, for years headed a secretive right-wing activist organization funded through a web of dark money groups, whose purpose was to wage a culture war against the left.
The Post reports the organization, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, took in nearly $600,000 in anonymous funds to fuel its efforts to battle “cultural Marxism,” as Ginni Thomas, who headed the group, called their mission.
Thomas had stepped away from her previous non-profit right-wing activist group “amid concerns that it created potential conflicts for her husband on hot-button issues before the court,” The Post says, and yet, she led Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, which creates the same concerns. Where is the money coming from? What is the group doing with it? How much crossover is there between her activism and the group’s targets and efforts, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ work?
According to The Post, in tax filings of its think tank sponsor, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty is described as an “informal, unincorporated nonprofit association which serves as an incubator for ideas across a network of conservative leaders, cultural entrepreneurs, and cultural influences.”
READ MORE: ‘Heist’: Ginni Thomas Tells J6 Committee Election Was Stolen, Says She Never Discussed Efforts to Overturn With Spouse
It appears great efforts were made to ensure the donors to Thomas’ Crowdsourcers group would not be able to be publicly identified.
“In 2019, anonymous donors gave the think tank Capital Research Center, or CRC, $596,000 that was designated for Crowdsourcers, according to tax filings and audits the think tank submitted to state regulators. The majority of that money, $400,000, was routed through yet another nonprofit, Donors Trust, according to that organization’s tax filings. Donors Trust is a fund that receives money from wealthy donors whose identities are not disclosed and steers it toward conservative causes,” The Post explains.
Thomas, who is reportedly active in another secretive far-right wing group, the Council for National Policy, brought two well-known far-right wing activists from CNP into Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty: former Trump attorney, ally, and advisor Cleta Mitchell, and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
The New York Times last year described the Council for National Policy as an organization that “brings together old-school Republican luminaries, Christian conservatives, Tea Party activists and MAGA operatives, with more than 400 members who include leaders of organizations like the Federalist Society, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council.”
But despite all the obvious red flags, an attorney for Ginni Thomas, Mark Paoletta, told The Washington Post she was “proud of the work she did with Crowdsourcers, which brought together conservative leaders to discuss amplifying conservative values with respect to the battle over culture.”
READ MORE: Ginni Thomas ‘Intertwined’ With ‘Vast’ Campaign Pressuring Supreme Court to Overturn Roe: Report
“She believes Crowdsourcers identified the Left’s dominance in most cultural lanes, while conservatives were mostly funding political organizations,” Paoletta also told The Post.
“There is no plausible conflict of interest issue with respect to Justice Thomas,” he claimed.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who is also an attorney, responded to The Post’s report by mocking Paoletta’s claim there is no conflict of interest.
“Donors Trust was central to the far-right Court-packing operation, and now they pass secret donor funds to a justice’s spouse, but ‘no plausible conflict of interest’? Please.”
Sen. Whitehouse went on to explain his additional concerns.
“Plus, remember that the secrecy conduits like Donors Trust keep the *public* from knowing what’s happening, but nothing prevents the secret donor from telling the spouse or the justice, ‘Hey, that money that secretly came through to you — that’s me.'”
Adam Smith, Vice President for Democracy Initiatives at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), observed: “Seems like the spouse of a Supreme Court Justice shouldn’t be able to hide the source of huge donations that could be from people with business before the court.”
READ MORE: Ginni Thomas’ Attempts to Influence Overturn of Election Even Wider Than Previously Known
CREW’s President, Noah Bookbinder, a former federal corruption prosecutor, adds: “Hundreds of thousands in anonymous donations to an activist group led by Ginni Thomas, spouse of a Supreme Court justice, raises all kinds of troubling questions about who could be influencing decisions that affect all of us.”
Attorney and Slate Magazine senior writer covering courts and the law, Mark Joseph Stern, pushed back against any idea the nearly $600,000 funding came from small donations.
“Ginni Thomas’ various political ventures have never had any small/grassroots donors. They have ALWAYS been funded by a handful of ultra-wealthy individuals and organizations who are very obviously trying to curry favor with her husband,” Stern said.
Former White House aide and CNN commentator Keith Boykin, also an attorney, called for Justice Thomas to recuse from certain cases: “If Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had to recuse herself from the Harvard affirmative action case, then Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from all the cases on right-wing issues in which his activist wife, Ginni Thomas, is involved.”
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Christian Nationalist Group Working to Get Its ‘Biblical Worldview Spread Across the Nation’
Last week, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation prohibiting transgender people from using public school facilities that match their gender identity. That legislation was crafted by the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, a right-wing organization that seeks to elect “godly leaders in our nation at every level” and then use them to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundation of our nation.”
Following the signing of this legislation into law, Jason Rapert, a longtime religious-right activist and ardent Christian nationalist who founded the NACL, took a victory lap, crediting his organization for the law and celebrating its success in pushing back “against the things of the devil in our country.”
As Rapert reported, this legislation had first been proposed by Arkansas school board member David Naylor during an annual NACL meeting and then brought to the Arkansas state legislature by state Rep. Mary Bentley, who serves on the board of the NACL.
On Friday, Rapert interviewed Bentley on his “Save The Nation” program, where she celebrated the NACL’s efforts “to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
“Thank goodness we’ve got some common sense left here in Arkansas,” Bentley said. “[It was because of the NACL] that we were able to get that passed as model policy and bring it forth. I just love seeing grassroots come together and school board members coming to the capitol and going to the governor’s desk and just seeing it all work and flow just exactly how we want to. So, for the folks that are supporting NACL and what we’re doing, this is what we want to do across the country.”
“This is an example of the power of the NACL’s ability with model legislation,” Rapert replied. “This was brought by one of our members, and this policy actually could be immediately adopted by school boards in every school district across this country. If the school board wanted to adopt it, this is the model that they can utilize. And in addition to that, just like you did, go and pass it for the state so that this is going to apply to all the school boards in your state.”
Rapert and Bentley agreed that Arkansas has now blazed the trail on this issue, thereby making it easier for legislatures in other states to enact the same law.
“That’s what happens when you can be a leader,” Bentley asserted. “Once you make a trail, it’s a lot easier for people to follow once you get that trail made.”
“Thank you again for being a part of the NACL,” Bentley declared. “It’s just what we need in this nation right now to have it moving forward, to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
Pence Ordered to Comply With Subpoena, Testify Before Special Counsel’s Grand Jury
Mike Pence, the ex-vice president, must testify before Dept. of Justice special counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection, a federal judge has ruled, rejecting his claims of executive privilege.
The judge is requiring Pence to answer questions about his conversations with Donald Trump leading up to the insurrection, and to answer any questions related to any possible illegal acts Donald Trump may have committed, according to ABC News’ senior investigative reporter Katherine Faulders and CNN’s Abby Phillip.
Judge James Boasberg, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, “outright rejected Trump’s executive privilege challenge, but ruled more narrowly on Pence speech and debate challenge,” Faulders adds.
The judge, apparently citing Pence’s “speech and debate clause” claim, said “that Pence can still decline to answer questions related to his actions on January 6 itself, when he was serving as president of the Senate for the certification of the 2020 presidential election,” CNN reports.
READ MORE: ‘We’re Not Gonna Fix It’: TN Republican Says Congress Can Do Nothing to Stop Gun Violence – Calls for Christian ‘Revival’
NBC News reports Judge Boasberg “did, however, grant Pence a partial victory as to his argument that he was shielded from having to testify about Jan. 6 because of his constitutional role as part of the legislative branch.”
In what some legal experts dismissed as a faulty argument, “Pence’s legal team had argued that the Constitution’s ‘speech and debate’ clause should prevent special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors from eliciting any testimony about communications or activity related to Pence’s role as president of the Senate in presiding over the certification of the election results.”
Overall CNN calls it “another win for special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the Trump-aligned effort to subvert the 2020 election. Smith subpoenaed Pence for testimony and documents earlier this year.”
Pence can still appeal.
Watch MSNBC’s report below or at this link.
BREAKING: Former VP Pence has been ordered to testify in the special counsel’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. https://t.co/EuAAgB8ILO pic.twitter.com/wrYoKJcL0g
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 28, 2023
This is a breaking news and developing story.
This article has been updated to add video.
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