Southern Poverty Law Center: Social conservative organizations are hate groups

John Rossomando Contributor
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The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) says it will not back down from its decision to label the Family Research Council and other socially conservative groups as hate groups, on par with the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations, for their views about homosexuality.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins recently asked SPLC to retract the hate group designation, but SPLC Intelligence Project Director Mark Potok told The Daily Caller that will never happen.

SPLC’s Winter 2010 edition of its “Intelligence Report” magazine lists the Family Research Council as a hate group alongside the American Family Association, the Traditional Values Coalition, and 11 other social conservative groups. The report, titled “18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda,” also lists five other organizations as being anti-gay  — such as Concerned Women for America and the National Organization for Marriage — but refrains from classifying them as hate groups.

According to SPLC,  the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the other similar groups spread “known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling.”

“Labeling people and groups as hate groups is laying the groundwork to then charge them with hate crimes using the full force of government to oppress people for their beliefs,” said Concerned Women America President Wendy Wright.

Potok told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews SPLC chose to add the FRC to its list of hate groups due to its claims that gay men molest children at higher rates than straight men, its insistence gay activists want to eliminate age of consent laws, and due to comments FRC Senior Research Fellow Peter Sprigg made suggesting homosexual behavior should be recriminalized.

Perkins disavowed Sprigg’s statement calling for the recriminalization of homosexual behavior during his joint appearance with Potok on MSNBC and said it did not represent the Family Research Council’s official stance.

“The group [SPLC] has marginal credibility,” Perkins said. “They actually used to be a pretty good group that did a lot of good working against racism, but that’s been pretty much worked out.

“So they have to find a new gig, and so apparently they have picked up the banner of the homosexuals … [and have made] claim of [us being] a hate group as if it is a trump card and it’s over.”

Perkins told TheDC that the SPLC cherry-picked the scientific evidence it chose to cite against the Family Research Council and other similar groups in its related report, titled “10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked”, and ignored contrary evidence.

“We actually went through the studies they cited in their report and have seen the flaws in them, and we pointed to other peer-reviewed research,” Perkins said. “We’re not saying every homosexual has a proclivity to abuse children or that most of them do, but we are saying there is a link that is out there in the research.

“That’s open there for debate, and we need to debate that. To say this is beyond debate or shouldn’t be debated is just wrong.”

The Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America say the studies SPLC cites in its reports suffer from serious methodological errors and politically motivated biases.

“Liberal groups claim all of the science is on their side, and that’s simply not true,” Wright said. “They refer to studies that often were conducted by homosexual activists or people associated with the homosexual movement.

“Unbiased studies back up the fact that engaging in homosexual behavior carries detrimental consequences; oftentimes these studies were sponsored or paid for by homosexual advocacy groups.”

The social conservative groups take particular aim at SPLC’s claim that the minority status of gays and lesbians accounts for the “higher rates of anxiety, depression and depression-related illnesses, and behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse than the general population.”

Perkins points to peer-reviewed studies done in the Netherlands and elsewhere, where homosexuality is tolerated to a greater degree than in the U.S., that show gays and lesbians still suffer from these same maladies, including elevated rates of suicide, even in the absence of widespread anti-gay prejudice.

“None of that is beyond debate,” Perkins said. “All of this should be on the table for debate. The facts are not on their side, so all they want to do is to claim people with different positions are anti-gay and are hate organizations.”

Perkins called the recent spate of well-publicized, bullying-related suicides by gay youths “unfortunate” and declined to discount the role prejudice played in their deaths, but said they should not be used as a political weapon to silence dissent.

Wright charged that many of the leading mental-health research organizations have been taken over by gay activists and produce politically motivated statements rather than neutral, unbiased science.

Perkins vows to keep up the fight against the gay-rights movement despite SPLC’s effort to brand the Family Research Council as a hate group.

“We are not backing up, and we are not shutting up,” he said. “As long as they are pushing their radical social agenda, they are going to be waiting a long time before they are seeing a white flag from this building.”

Potok declined to explain what why SPLC didn’t define Concerned Women for America as a hate group despite including it alongside the Family Research Council and others it defined as hate groups in its literature.

“SPLC’s designations are distinction with no difference,” Wright said. “Their list differentiates between so-called hate groups and extremists by using an asterisk, and it all serves the same purpose.

“And that is to intimidate people from expressing their well-founded beliefs.”