The Southern Poverty Law Center has always been a leader in fighting back against groups that espouse hate as a motivating and unifying philosophy. So when it placed the Family Research Council, one of the most prominent voices in conservative social politics on its list of hate groups, the designation should cause Republicans to take pause as the FRC now finds itself sharing a dubious distinction with the likes of the Ku Klux Klan.
The designation was a result of an anti-gay speech from its leaders that included calls for gay men and lesbians to be imprisoned. To be placed on the hate group list a group must have “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”
According to the SPLC, the main offender and what triggered the designation is the work of Peter Sprigg, the FRC’s senior researcher and a vocal opponent of the gay rights movement. In May Sprigg went on record saying that an end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would lead to more American servicemen receiving “unwelcome same-sex fellatio in their sleep” among other claims.
The FRC hosts the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington and the event is seen as a right of passage for any Republican presidential hopeful. According to the SPLC the FRC is part of a growing list of anti-gay groups that mask themselves under the guise of conservatism or Christianity. It also marks an important step of the SPLC placing attacks against gays and lesbians squarely in the same vein as white racism.
The designation will no doubt rankle many Republicans. Some will dismiss the designation as a progressive smear campaign, but to do so will make reaching out to gay and lesbian Republicans very tricky. It will also place an unwelcome spotlight on the rhetoric tossed around at the Values Voter Summit and really, for once, force national Republican leaders to confront the bigotry in their ranks.
photo courtesy of See-ming Lee via Flickr
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