The Southern Poverty Law Center this week labeled as “hate groups” several political and religious organizations that campaign against same-sex marriage and, the center says, engage in “repeated, groundless name-calling” against gays and lesbians.
Included on the list released by the civil rights organization is the Family Research Council, a prominent and politically influential group of social conservatives. The report by the law center, which has spent four decades tracking extremist groups and hate speech, accuses the council and a dozen other groups of putting out “demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities.”
The report, which has sparked debate across the Internet, taps into the continuing potency of social issues, such as same-sex marriage, in American politics. Several of the groups described in the report supported a successful effort to oust state Supreme Court judges in Iowa because of a unanimous ruling last year that legalized same-sex unions.
The Family Research Council has been at the forefront of political activism against same-sex marriage. In explaining the decision to put the council on its hate-groups list, the law center highlighted comments by Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the council, who told MSNBC host Chris Matthews this year that he thinks “homosexual behavior” should be outlawed.
Council President Tony Perkins, who was also named in the report, called the hate-group designation a political attack by a “liberal organization.”
“The left’s smear campaign of conservatives is . . . being driven by the clear evidence that the American public is losing patience with their radical policy agenda as seen in the recent election and in the fact that every state . . . that has had the opportunity to defend the natural definition of marriage has done so,” Perkins said in a statement.