Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council whose bread and butter seems to be defaming gay people, sparked controversy last week when during a radio broadcast for Washington Watch he compared gay rights to the Holocaust.
The court case he was commenting on centers on a judge’s ruling that Denver-based Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips unlawfully discriminated when he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, especially because Phillips had made cakes for other occasions such as pet weddings and so clearly wasn’t just catering to how he defined Christian weddings. As such, the judge ruled Phillips must serve people regardless of sexual orientation or close up shop.
Phillips, who appears to have taken his business online, has become a martyr for the Religious Right, with some calling this “slavery,” and others saying it is an example of how Christians’ rights are being “taken away.” Tony Perkins went further though. Speaking with Nicolle Martin of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who represent Phillips, he said:
“I’m beginning to think, are re-education camps next? When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians? I mean, at what point do Christians say enough is enough?”
Perkins’ non-too-subtle Holocaust reference, which isn’t an isolated incident, has earned him a raft of criticism, not least of which from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, which in a stinging rebuke said:
“There is no comparison between contemporary American political issues and the actions of Hitler’s regime during the Holocaust. Such inappropriate analogies only serve to trivialize the Holocaust and are deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors, as well as those Americans who fought valiantly against the Nazis in World War II.”
To add to the above: it also forgets the thousands of gay people who were also victims of the Holocaust and who, in the case of Germany’s laws, were then placed into prisons rather than set free after internment because they were known to be homosexual.
Perkins’ statements about reeducation camps are also supremely ironic. What Perkins fears gay people might do to Christians is precisely the kind of thing he and others on the Right like him are advocating for gay people when they back the quack practice of ex-gay therapy — which can even involve actual ex-gay camps, where men are “taught” that heterosexuality is the norm and that they need to get back in touch with the art of “manliness,” sometimes by stripping naked with one another and touching themselves in front of a mirror, to name but a few of these suspect approaches.
Just last week, the Texas GOP agreed on a party platform that not only supports ex-gay therapy for adults but opposes efforts like those in California and New Jersey that would prevent this ineffective and, anecdotal evidence says, destructive practice being tried on minors. The language reads:
“[The Republican Party of Texas recognizes] the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness for their homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.”
You can find a more detailed analysis of the anti-gay language in the platform here and a look at the full platform here, but in case we might think to brush this off as simply the Texas GOP being true to form, there are now calls to adopt that language as an official nationwide plank for the Republican Party.
“Don’t mess with Texas,” religious conservative Janet Porter of the group Faith 2 Action said on her radio show. “That’s the message sent to the homosexual agenda from Texas Republicans, who now have an official state platform that stands for religious freedom and the freedom to counsel people out of homosexuality. … Let’s hope this platform gets adopted nationwide.”
The worrying thing is, this seems like exactly the kind of measure that Tea Party House Republicans in particular would go for, especially if it frames the issue as a “religious right,” which is of course misleading but would be a part of the national trend of eroding other rights by aping religion, not just in the gay rights sphere, but for example in women’s rights too.
The fact that Tony Perkins and his ilk are completely blind to their own propaganda is shocking, but it does demonstrate their persecution complex in stark terms. It also should provide a teachable moment, not for Perkins but for the mainstream media and in particular CNN, which has continued to go to Perkins for comments on gay rights issues despite his long history of anti-LGBT defamation and his complete misrepresentation of cases such as the Utah polygamy ruling.
CNN should take note of his rhetoric surrounding the Holocaust and the angry reactions it has received and, once and for all, stop elevating his ridiculous commentary.
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