Wednesday’s shooting at the Family Research Council’s (FRC) headquarters is a stark reminder of the fragility of life. GetEQUAL condemns the shooting and wishes the officer a speedy recovery.
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s events, it would benefit us all to consider the impact of the continued discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans face on a daily basis. For decades, LGBT Americans have endured ridicule, stigmatization, demonization, physical abuse — often at the hands of our own families, classmates, co-workers and neighbors — and blame for countless natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina…all in the name of “family values.”
At a Thursday afternoon press conference, and despite no evidence to substantiate his claim, FRC president Tony Perkins laid the blame for Wednesday’s shooting at the feet of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), stating that by labeling the FRC a “hate group,” the SPLC had contributed to this horrible and violent tragedy. To be clear, the SPLC has worked for decades to track incidents of violence and intolerance in an effort to prevent just such an attack, laboring tirelessly to provide reliable information on hundreds of groups across the country that demonize groups of people simply for who they are — whether that’s based on race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation and gender identity.
We stand side-by-side with the Southern Poverty Law Center — a group born out of the civil rights movement over four decades ago — and support their work to track incidents of hatred and intolerance directed toward the LGBT community and other marginalized communities across the country. Despite Mr. Perkins’ attempts to paint himself and the FRC as victims, it is groups like the Family Research Council that regularly and routinely use deceptive practices and intolerant rhetoric to create a dangerous environment for LGBT Americans. It is for this very reason that the SPLC has, accurately, labeled the FRC as a hate group.
While Tony Perkins places the blame for Wednesday’s shooting at the feet of the SPLC, we must ask: Where was Tony Perkins when two members of our community were left for dead in the bushes of Violet Andrews Park in Portland, Texas? Where is Tony Perkins’ condemnation of the thousands of LGBT youth being bullied, beat up and laughed at in the halls of our schools? Where was Tony Perkins when North Carolina pastor Charles Worley declared that all gays and lesbians should be rounded up and put in camps surrounded by electric fences, and left to die?
We all know the answer — Tony Perkins is and has been silent. Mr. Perkins has time and again advocated against the humane treatment of LGBT Americans and against any legislation that would protect LGBT people from discrimination or attack. Decades of paid work focused on marginalizing and demonizing LGBT Americans has resulted in tacit endorsement of violent acts and the spread of false information about LGBT Americans. Through his ongoing campaign of discrimination and insistence on pursuing a radical right-wing agenda, Mr. Perkins has advocated for the reinstatement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” an amendment to the Constitution that would forever outlaw marriage equality, and state laws that would continue to keep LGBT Americans as second-class citizens.
As GetEQUAL is committed to fighting against injustice and for equality by using non-violent civil disobedience, we condemn Wednesday’s shooting even as we also ask the Family Research Council (and organizations that share its views) to think about the environment they have created by marginalizing a minority group and making family members, neighbors, and friends into scapegoats for society’s challenges. GetEQUAL never condones or advocates for violence, and believes wholeheartedly that when violence is used we all lose. There is no power in violence; our power comes by coming together as a community, standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters and refusing to be moved under the weight of discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance. Even as we hope for the recovery of the security guard who suffered violence on Wednesday, we also hope for an end to the Family Research Council’s tactics of division and fear-mongering that have created such a toxic environment within our homes, neighborhoods, schools, places of worship, and workplaces.
Telling the truth about a group’s hateful message is not the same as advocating violence. We pray, with all people of good will, for an end to violence as a means of expression.
(For highlights from Tony Perkins’ anti-LGBT record, visit: http://www.glaad.org/cap/tony-perkins.)