OK...this has been the busiest week I have had in some time and this the first chance I have had to respond to the shooting that took place recently at the DC offices of The Family Research Council and I have a lot to say about it.....
For those of you who may not be up on what happened, 28 year old Floyd Lee Corkins(above) walked into the DC office of the anti-gay lobbying organisation, The Family Research Council, with a gun and a back pack full of Chick-Fil-A sandwiches...made the statement, " I don't like your politics." and opened fire hitting a security guard in the arm. In spite of having been shot, the guard...Leo Johnson...managed to wrestle Corkins to the ground before he could hurt anyone else...rightfully, earning him the title of hero. In addition to Corkins comments and the contents of his bag, he was also reported to be a volunteer at the local LGBT center. Given the history of The FRC's actions against the gay community...a history that earned them a listing as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center....there is little doubt that Corkins chose this violent act because....well, I can't even guess what he thought he was going to accomplish by shooting people in cold blood...but we know it had everything to do with the long history of the FRC and it's work against LGBT people....more about that after the jump.
First off I need to say that picking up a gun and shooting random people because you are angry or frustrated with the world is just plain wrong. Period. Full Stop. My heart goes out to the security guard who stopped Floyd Corkins from hurting more people. I feel that what he did was the essence of bravery and self sacrifice. Not many people would continue to subdue an attacker after having been shot once already and face that attacker at point blank range.
Now.... I wish I could stop there. In a situation like this it is just simple human compassion and decency to support those who lived through it, pick up the pieces and help the healing to begin. But instead, what we often do is look for a source of blame. Being that the Corkins was gay and the victim in this case was one of the most prolific and vocal of anti-gay lobbying organisations. It didn't take much to know where this was going to end up.
Let the martyrdom of the FRC and every religiously motivated anti-gay group begin in 3...2...1...
I really got to give it to Tony...in the same breath that he claims that only Floyd Lee Corkins is responsible for the shooting...he then goes right on to blame the SPLC for "making it possible" for this act to occur because...as he claims...they recklessly labeled the FRC as a hate group. Well guess what....you are Blanche..you are...
And of course, Brian Brown and The National Organisation for Marriage....never one to miss an opportunity to paint the gay community as aggresors and themselves as victims, popped up to defend their sister org. Here is Brian Browns take on the shooting....
"Today's attack is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end," said Brian Brown, President of NOM. "The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Family Research Council a 'hate group' for its pro-marriage views, and less than a day ago the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement calling FRC a 'hate group'—they even specified that FRC hosts events in Washington, DC, where today's attack took place."
"NOM has always condemned all violence and vilification connected to our ongoing national debate about the meaning and definition of marriage," Brown stated. "For too long national gay rights groups have intentionally marginalized and ostracized pro-marriage groups and individuals by labeling them as 'hateful' and 'bigoted' -- such harmful and dangerous labels deserve no place in our civil society and NOM renews its call today for gay rights groups and the Southern Poverty Law Center to withdraw such incendiary rhetoric from a debate that involves millions of good Americans," added Brown.
Brown concluded: "Violence is never the answer, and on that we all must agree, or risk the consequences.
While What Brian says is true on the surface, both NOM and the FRC better take a good look in the mirror. The Family Research Council and NOM are attempting a sleight of hand here and one that they should not be allowed to get away with.....even in the face of something as wrong as this shooting attempt. They are attempting to use Floyd Lee Corkins actions to distract your eye and focus on him while hoping desparately that you will not notice that they have been guilty of doing exactly what they are accusing the SPLC of.....demonizing a group of people through concerted effort, actively promoting discrimination, and creating an enviroment in which people capable of violence feel justified in doing so.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a respected and mainstream organisation that tracks hate groups and extremists of all kinds including organisations like the kkk(who Tony Perkins has been linked to). This is a connection that Tony Perkins and the FRC does not like because it gives a big black eye to their image as a fair-minded moderate lobbying organisation merely advancing a pro-family point of view. Unfortunately they are anything but that and there is substantial documentation to prove it. This is exactly why they ended up on the SPLC's list. So...this is no simple disagreement over policy matters. This is a matter of fact and public record. The FRC has earned their designation for a great many reasons, like these found on the SPLC's dossier on the Family Research Council and printed in the FRC's own words:
“While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. … It is a homosexual problem.”— FRC President Tony Perkins, FRC website, 2010
“Gaining access to children has been a long-term goal of the homosexual movement.”— Robert Knight, FRC director of cultural studies, and Frank York, 1999
"Since homosexual conduct is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence, it too qualifies as a behavior that is harmful to the people who engage in it and to society at large."— Tony Perkins, “Christian compassion requires the truth about the harms of homosexuality,”Washington Post, 10/25/2010
“[W]elcoming open homosexuality in the military would clearly damage the readiness and effectiveness of the force – in part because it would increase the already serious problem of homosexual assault in the military.”— Peter Sprigg, “Homosexual Assault in the Military," 2010
And here's a couple of gems I dug up from the very recent past:
"I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society" ---Peter Sprigg, "Gays Seek Immigration Reform" (Youtube, Medill Reports 2008)
Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal--yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are "born gay" and can never change. This--and not society's disapproval--may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide. --Tony Perkins "Christian Compassion Requires The Truth About Harms Of Homosexuality", (Washington Post 2010)
Claims that "It's a fact that homosexuality leads to eternal damnation." Tony Perkins (Called To Action 2009)
This list is just a very few of a rather long list of reasons that the FRC landed on the Southern Poverty Law Centers hate group list. There is so much more, including Peter Spriggs view that the Supreme Court should impose "criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior" from an article on a Christian website which has since been removed for obvious reasons.... and Tony Perkins acting as a spokesperson for the FRC when praising Uganda's "Kill The Gays" Bill. I recommend checking out GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project for a more extensive list Peter Spriggs and Tony Perkins vilification and literal demonization of the gay community. Yet I think with just the short list you can get a clear view of what the FRC espouses and that it goes far beyond "simply disagreeing on policy." Through their words and actions they have been casting us as subhuman and worthy of the legal discrimination they espouse. From there it is not a far jump for some to go to violence. They are a hate group with ties to other known hate groups. They just happen to be slightly more polished and publically acceptable to trot out in front of congress because the people they practice hate against happen to the the gay community. If any of the quotes above had been about a racial group....would we even have to be debating this? I strongly doubt it.
I have been reading about the FRC for some time in my relatively short tenure in blogging but I have learned one thing about them...they wear two faces. One for public at large and another for when they are among others like them and think no one is watching. There is the fair minded version with the very precise and controlled talking points that bends over backwards to frame themselves as simply "Pro family". That version of the FRC does it's best to be civil and not literally call us the Devil in front of a TV camera. This careful control over how they are percieved has allowed them access to the halls of congress and invites to testify in major policy debates such as over DADT, ENDA, and DOMA. It gets them on CNN regularly as the alleged moderate voice of opposition to gay rights much to the chagrin of anyone who knows better. But then there is this one...the one that does nothing to had that their opposition to us is wholly and completely religiously based:
Oh...and did I mention that many of the "Studies" they sighted to make the claims they do came from discredited researchers like Paul Cameron? The case for anti-gay animus just gets worse and worse as it becomes clear that the FRC will use discredited data and outright lies to advance their religious agenda. Some may call that...vile...intollerant...and hatefull perhaps?
In my opinion, what Floyd Lee Corkins did was wrong. The people he would have killed in the lobby of the FRC may have had little to do with the organisation itself. And while all of us may be able to identify with the anger that drove Corkins to do this...all I feel this will accomplish is that it will make those who oppose us feel further justified in their hysteria and discrimination against us. Not that anyone at the Family Research Council would ever pick up a gun and fire it personally....but through their actions they encourage and support those who would. They still support ex-gay therapy and claim(somewhat circumspectly now the exodus is off the map)...that being gay is a choice and that we can be changed. They actively oppose bullying programs in school and instead blame LGBT teen suicide on their feelings of being "abnormal". Well gee...I wonder where that feeling came from eh? Perhaps from the FRC working with local churches hammering home the idea that being gay is something to be ashamed of and should be changed? These kids were not abnormal....nor did they commit suicide out of some "intuition" of abnormality. They gave in to despair because their peers felt entitled to treat them as subhuman. And those kids got that from their own families who in turn got it from churches who agree and work with the FRC to make sure these kids felt "abnormal". And these are just the kids that made the news. How many more must there be?.....
These kids each had to make a decision to commit suicide. That is the mechanism the Tony Perkins and Peter Sprigg use to distance themselves from the fact that what they do helps bring this about. But instead of acknowledging that....they blame the kids and some bullsh*t idea of intuition of abnormality...a feeling that they helped create.
But there is more....so much more... The men and women who for no fault of their own are beaten, shot, or terrorized because they are gay. When you brand a group of people as sick, bad, and less then worthy of human dignity, this is what you get...
A 17 year old girl beaten so badly she required a plate put in her head...beaten by full grown men because she is gay:
52 yr old John Skaggs beaten to the point of needing reconstructive surgery:
Dane Hall, 20 years old...attacked while leaving a gay club in Salt Lake City. He lost six teeth in the attack, suffered a broken jaw, and had a piece of bone lodged in his brain:
Kristen Cooper beaten outside a Halloween party in San Antonio Texas by two men:
Here is Emmanuel Winston, one of two men attacked and beaten after a softball game in Austin, Texas:
Scott Patronick...beaten to death in Phillipsburg, New Jersey:
I could go on for a very long time with this, but I think I've made my point. While what Floyd Lee Corkins did was very misguided and absolutely wrong....for the Tony Perkins of the FRC and Brian Brown of NOM to turn this around and claim that Corkins was enabled because the SPLC labeled them a hate group is to turn a blind eye to all these people have gone through because of their own hatefull actions and words over the years. Tony Perkins may not have pulled a trigger or swung a punch...but by his own definition, he is just as guilty of these attacks as the people who actually did them.
Additionally, not all violence is physical. Sometimes it's felt the worst in the loss of our families when we come out to them. That also is the legacy of people like Tony Perkins and Peter Sprigg. Preach in churches about the evils of the homosexual agenda, they pay for commercials and media that lie about us and scare teh public into thinking we are all scary monsters bent on destroying all that is precious....many of those people listening are our parents. That's how letters like this one come to be written...
I will not let the Family Research Council or NOM roll over and bleat like helpless victims on this one. It is complete and utter bullsh*t and they do not have the right. Tony Perkins, Peter Sprigg, and the FRC are there because of your own actions and I'm hazarding a guess that NOM could easily follow if they continue to let there own veneer of civility continue to slip. This horrible event does not give the FRC a pass on all it has done.
In addition, lets be clear about one thing...groups like the FRC and NOM like to soften there image with lingo like pro-marriage or pro-family in order to hide the fact that the only think they are...the only reason they exist is to be anti-gay. But no matter matter how much they try to carefully craft there message... to pretend to an image of mainstream fairness...their actions and the ripples they cause in the world prove their words to be utterly false and I feel that increasing numbers of people are beginning to see that. Tony Perkins can cry crocodile tears on CNN all day and it will not change the facts of their actions. People are beginning to understand who the FRC is and what it really does...as they also are of NOM, the AFA, and the rest of the alphabet soup of organisations who's only goal is to make sure LGBT's don't sully their vision of society by being included in it.
In closing I believe that what Floyd Corkins felt, we as gay people may all understand to some degree though what he did was totally wrong. It was a terrible and unconscionable thing to do and would have solved nothing. That said...Tony Perkins does not get to put himself and the FRC on the cross until they take off the gay people they have already nailed there. There game is in controlling the message and we have to stand up and set the record straight.
Until next time dear readers....