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Candor is Kryptonite: How the anti-LGBT movement is blackballing its most dedicated

Right-wing

Both the piece on how the extreme right are being treated, and the analysis FROM the opposition on why “they” lost in Maryland are fascinating. -Adam

Cross-posted at Good As You

By Jeremy Hooper

Over the past couple of years, I and a few other perceptive “culture war” geeks have noticed the obvious, considerable, and growing fractures that exist within the “pro-family” movement. Despite suspect alliances that dip into extremism still being perceptible to those who know where to look (and/or have the wherewithal to do so), there are clear divides on the other side — schisms between the more “on-message” politicos and the more shoot-from-the-hip voices of discrimination, which become even more evident whenever a state marriage debate approaches a ballot.

One of the most major recent examples was the Maine Question One campaign. Anybody who knew anything about the state knew that Mike Heath has been the most vocal and visible anti-LGBT activist for years on end. On the same year that marriage ultimately passed and then went to the ballot (2009), Tony Perkins and a host of other folks who would go on to steer the “Yes on One” campaign toasted Heath at a big banquet thingie. But then just a few months later, when the ballot campaign went full steam and the need to seem mainstream earned a newfound premium, something weird happened. All of a sudden, Mike Heath was nowhere to be found. Not in campaign releases. Not speaking for the campaign in the media. Not at official campaign rallies, alongside his longtime colleagues. Nowhere. It was as if Schubert Flint Public Affairs — the firm that most always drives the look and feel of these kinds of state campaigns — paid him off or something.

It was patently obvious why Heath disappeared: It was because he is from the Peter LaBarbera, Scott Lively, Matt Barber, et al., school of advocacy. Heath is loose-lipped and known to say nutty, personally hostile things, often referencing Satan, spiritual wars, and the kinds of things that don’t make good ad copy. For a campaign that needs the cherished voters in the “movable middle,” loosed-lipped and nutty just doesn’t work. Personally hostile certainly doesn’t work. So bye bye, man who says what’s on his mind; hello, team that’s willing to stay “on-message.”

It’s a shift that’s mimicked the overall trajectory of the professional anti-LGBT. Even with groups like the Family Research Council, which is still rife with incendiary rhetoric, there’s been a noticeable drift. If you search back on the Wayback Machine, you will see that FRC, at the turn of the millennium, was stacked with many voices who are now considered on the extreme end. Peter LaBarbera, Robert Knight, and a number of “ex-gays” were all on staff, and they routinely played host to folks who made no bones about their pure disgust at homosexuality itself. Nowadays, FRC messages it all just a little more carefully — and makes its outreach efforts to certain voices much less apparent — which has led to the organization being rewarded with greater GOP prominence.

Okay, so why all of this opining on this subject in the here and now? Well, because MassResistance, an SPLC-designated “hate group” that most anyone would put on the extreme end of the gay debate, has just posted a very interesting article about why they think the “pro-family” side lost in the Maryland legislative debate on marriage. And as is often true in this weird and wacky debate of ours, the more hostile group is proving to be the most honest about what is really going on over on the opposition’s side:

Here’s our analysis of why our side lost:

1) The pro-family establishment adopted a strategy based on fear. We were told (by multiple sources) that the leaders of Maryland’s pro-family establishment were “warned” by legislators that last year a key Senator changed his vote to support gay “marriage” because of the “hateful rhetoric” from our side that he heard. “You need to police your people,” pro-family leaders were told. So they aggressively ordered everyone to be polite, reasonable and not “extreme” sounding in any way.

Unfortunately, that’s the oldest trick in the book. The homosexual lobby and their allies use that ploy all over the country to get pro-family leaders to soften their message into mush — and we subsequently lose. It certainly worked this time.

2) The pro-family establishment took tight control of the entire lobbying process. They had already established contacts with the churches, major pro-family legislators, and activists. They made it clear that they were running the entire effort. They took control of who Screen Shot 2012-02-29 At 3.37.30 Pmwould lobby, what the role of churches would be, who would testify and in what order, who would talk to politicians, and most importantly what the message would be. One activist said they were told at a meeting by the leadership, “Put your trust in us. We want to win. Yes, we’re trying to muzzle you.” Another activist was told, “You need to leave lobbying to the professionals.”

3) A weak, compromising message was mandated. Pro-family activists were ordered to be polite, reasonable, and not “extreme” or “anti-gay.” No “Bible thumping” either, they were told. The message was to be that the word “marriage” was special and must not be re-defined at any cost. This implied that civil unions and domestic partnerships would be acceptable as long as the word “marriage” was not changed. As a result, many pro-family people — even clergymen — testified that civil unions would be a reasonable compromise. The secondary message was that every child needs a mother and father, but that was undermined by not opposing homosexual civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Aggressive pro-family groups were excluded. Groups like Protect Marriage Maryland which were willing to take the same uncompromising stand that was successful last year were blackballed. The message even got out to the politicians, many of whom shunned and avoided the non-establishment pro-family people. (Very familiar to us at MassResistance!) In addition, the use of ex-gays and others was strongly discouraged.

But what happened in Maryland is unfortunately a the latest instance of what’s been going on across the country. This kind of foolish and cowardly strategy has started to dominate the pro-family movement.

FULL: ANALYSIS: The top 10 reasons Maryland lost the “gay marriage” battle — after winning it last year. [MassResistance]

I find this shift fascinating. On the pro-equality side of things, we know that LGBT acceptance is dependent on the number of people who are willing to stand up, be seen, be heard, and be counted, as we know that people who know us are less likely to go against us. But on the other side, candor is becoming Kryptonite. Heck, even admitting you want to ban marriage for same-sex couples is becoming off limits. It’s getting to where the only ones allowed to speak against LGBT rights are those who don’t have the fortitude to admit that this is what they are actually doing! You can protest — just don’t protest.

It’s good, in terms of where we are headed in the world, since it shows the dwindling palatability of overt aggression. But at the same time it’s frustrating for those of us who want the other side to admit and take ownership of the undeniable motivations that fuel their movement. These are the voices and sentiments that fueled this debate for decades. That the “mainstream” executives at Discrimination Inc. are now trying so hard to push that foundation aside? It’s kinda, sorta bullshit. I’m actually on Team MassResistance on this one, extremely limited point.

28 Comments

  • 1. Alan_Eckert  |  February 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    If you keep reading the rest of the list, they even include the "little black book" scandal-that-wasn't. I read it as a list from SPLC about how MassResistance is a hate group.

  • 2. Gregory in SLC  |  February 29, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks Jeremy…I took a moment to visit your site (good as you) as I haven't done so in a while and love seeing the expanded 2009 post "This is what marriage equality looks like". This is what our fight is about… love. Great footnote to wedding photos : )
    No religious freedoms were harmed in the making of these photos/videos.
    http://www.goodasyou.org/good_as_you/2009/07/6130

  • 3. James Sweet  |  February 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Welcome, my LGBTQ friends, to dog whistle politics. Once upon a time, the problem was "the blacks", but that's not okay to say anymore, so the problem is "inner city kids", "welfare", etc. And just a few short years ago, the problem was "the gays", but – hell yes! – that's not okay to say anymore either. Unfortunately, we'll be hearing about "the breakdown of the traditional family" and "special rights" for quite some time…

    (Disclaimer: As a straight white male, I've never felt the sting of having a mainstream politician call me less-than-human in cleverly veiled terms. I can't imagine…)

  • 4. Rich  |  February 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Fabulous photo spread! Best wishes to the couple!

  • 5. Walter  |  February 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Emphasize the religious nature of this battle. Most Americans outside the religious right relate to our fundamental American freedom of religion value and appreciate the fairness it brings to our culture. The battle to destroy gay families by attacking gay parents and their children is a religious effort to deny governmental benefits to those the religious right deems do not follow their religious beliefs. It centers on destroying the parents’ marriage. This is fading as an issue. All the leading medical and mental health organizations support marriage equality. The only organized opposition today comes from right-wing religious groups based upon a discredited religious mythology of human sexuality.
    http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsArticle

  • 6. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  February 29, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    As a straight white male, I've never felt the sting of having a mainstream politician call me less-than-human in cleverly veiled terms. I can't imagine…
    It's down right jaw dropping unbelievable James….the swirl of emotions each time it happens is often overwhelming for me. It hurts my very soul. I am NOT less than……I am NOT inferior…..I am NOT evil…..I am NOT a second class citizen!!!
    Thank you for your support James….you can't know what you straight allies mean to me/us. :-)

  • 7. Deeelaaach  |  February 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." – attributed to Voltaire.

    Free speech, like many things, is a double edged sword. I personally think it's a travesty that they cannot say what they think, though I keep in mind that when they open their mouths, the very act of free speech tells us what kind of people they are, just as we do when we open our mouths. When some of them speak, they speak they show their ignorance of who we are. Some of us show our ignorance of who they are.

    Personally, I like to follow the above quote. I detest what they believe and say about us, but I will defend their right to free (hate) speech. When we silence them, we are no better than they are; I don't have to remind anyone about how we have been silenced before by them. It's my opinion that turn about is not always fair play. They are beginning to discover that their extreme views about us sideline them when they open their mouths, just as hate speech about racial minorities, women, etc. sideline people today, as they should.

    @James and other straight supporters – thank you also, from the bottom of my heart!

  • 8. TPAKyle  |  February 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Interesting development at (Methodist) Florida Southern College. Anita Bryant was booted as speaker at the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary Gala being held on campus due to student, faculty and administration backlash. See Facebook page for details:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Open-Letters-to-the

    The times they are a changing!

  • 9. Mark  |  February 29, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Deeelaach — no is claiming that these people can't still say whatever they want. The article is simply stating what the reaction is from others based on what they're saying and that those reactions are changing the method in which the hate groups go about their tactics. There's nothing in the Constitution that protects someone from feeling shamed into changing what they say. They still have every right to say what they want, but they're now getting dirty looks and the thumbs down when they do say such things (and rightfully so). It's the same change in reaction from people today when others use the N word that didn't exist 50 years ago. That's a free market working at its best, not a limitation of speech or any other Constitutional right.

  • 10. Deeelaaach  |  February 29, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Mark – perhaps I misinterpreted this statement: "Heck, even admitting you want to ban marriage for same-sex couples is becoming off limits."

    Misinterpretation is easy for me; I suffer from extreme fatigue and can miss a lot of the things I once would not have missed. So if I misinterpreted, I apologize.

  • 11. Mackenzie  |  February 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Saw this video today and loved it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed

  • 12. Bob  |  February 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    http://www.pcccourier.com/opinion-prop-8-is-it-a-… read this today,, love it cause it quotes Zack Wallls,,,,,,

  • 13. Bill S.  |  March 1, 2012 at 1:10 am

    There are two huge misconceptions about "freedom of speech" :

    1. Freedom of speech does not give you a right to voice your views in a private forum, on the Internet or otherwise ("How dare this website censor my comment! Freedom of speech!")

    2. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from criticism. ("People won't like me anymore if I say I'm against gay equality! I'm being oppressed! Freedom of speech!")

  • 14. Str8Grandmother  |  March 1, 2012 at 2:38 am

    Walter, Here-here! Nicely said Walter! Well written and concise.

  • 15. Str8Grandmother  |  March 1, 2012 at 2:48 am

    OMG Mackenzie, that video made me cry. WOW! Everyone should watch the video Mackenzie posted. I'll try to embed it in this comment. [youtube ibVlVzGI9y0&feature=colike http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibVlVzGI9y0&feature=colike youtube]

  • 16. Shannon  |  March 1, 2012 at 4:16 am

    I read this article and just got happy about the reality of WHY we're winning. Because the people fighting against our rights are often just hateful or ignorant people. And when some of them recognize that they're coming off as hateful or ignorant, they try to "soften" the message and "stay on message," the reality is that they have no real message that can stand up to reason or logic (see Prop 8 trial). I love, love, love the fact that their alliances, like their logic, are falling apart at the seams.

  • 17. Gregory in SLC  |  March 1, 2012 at 5:37 am

    I inadvertently "unliked" Mackenzie…oops! sorry! I Loved it too….powerful and well made : )

  • 18. Bob  |  March 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hmucr0l1wUA&fe… this is the restriciton of free speach,,,,,, they're fighting for now in Russia

  • 19. Rich  |  March 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Makenzie…I cannot wait to show this video to the kids in our Gay/Straight Alliance although I suspect some might have seen it. Truly beautiful, poignant and necessary for all to see. Thank you.

  • 20. Mackenzie  |  March 1, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I found the link on twitter. SO GOOD!

  • 21. Mackenzie  |  March 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

    It is sad that the MPAA would stand in the way of letting the people who need to see this the most in our schools be kept in the dark.
    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/w_ParentingResource/

  • 22. Rich  |  March 1, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Well said Shannon. Thank you for the reminder that those who oppose equality do so out of ignorance which breeds fear which is manifested in intolerance. We must keep the focus on the true nature of the opposition's argument and then, most importantly, invite everyone else who cherishs equality, fair-play and love for their fellow man to stand up. This includes the many religious people/institutions who aren't saddled with intolerance.

  • 23. Rich  |  March 1, 2012 at 10:55 am

    I just signed the petition. Decisions like this one are often made by adults who haven't been in a school ( or school bus) in many years. The kids will get a hold of this.

  • 24. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  March 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

    It does indeed have a powerful message however as we've been discussing on FaceBook, some of the acting is rather….ummmm, dramatic and a bit over the top. Makes some of the segments look less belieavble and far more staged.
    Don't get me wrong I love the video for what it is trying to do, but think the director could have done a bit better with the actors.
    IMHO

  • 25. EricKoszyk  |  March 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    The MPAA is a very conservative organization known for its ridiculous rating systems. Violent movies will get a PG rating while movies with nudity will get an R rating. Movies with heterosexual male based sexual themes often get a PG or PG-13 rating while movies with gay, lesbian or female based sexual themes will get an R or NC-17 (which is a death sentence for mainstream movies). It is controlled by the big studios.

    Writers, producers, directors and actors need to band together and finally abolish the MPAA.

    A great documentary about the MPAA is "This Film Is Not Yet Rated". I highly recommend it. You get it on Netflix (I love Netflix because it has in many ways weakened the MPAA as well as conservative businesses such as Blockbuster).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Film_Is_Not_Yet

  • 26. MightyAcorn  |  March 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I also recommend "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," which exposed publicly for the first time why sexuality is so strictly censored when violence is let fly: there are priests on the rating and appeals board who decide what content gets repressed. Any surprise there, or in the fact that the MPAA kept their membership secret for so long?

    From the film's Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Film_Is_Not_Yet

    "Other revelations in the film include: the discovery that many ratings board members either have children 18 and over or have no children at all (typically, the MPAA has suggested it hires only parents with children between the ages of 5 and 17); that the board seems to treat homosexual material much more harshly than heterosexual material (this assertion is supported by an MPAA spokesperson’s statement in USA Today that "We don't create standards; we just follow them"); that the board's raters receive no training and are deliberately chosen because of their lack of expertise in media literacy or child development; that senior raters have direct contact in the form of required meetings with studio personnel after movie screenings; and that the MPAA's appeals board is just as secretive as the ratings board, its members being mostly movie theater chain and studio executives. Also included on the appeals board are two members of the clergy (one Catholic and one Protestant, who may or may not have voting power)."

    Because the MPAA is a privately held "industry group" there's no way to compel them to change their methods or personnel.

  • 27. Chris in Lathrop  |  March 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    "Thank you for the reminder that those who oppose equality do so out of ignorance which breeds fear which is manifested in intolerance." ~Rich

    "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you." ~Yoda

    I think you've one-upped Yoda! I'll pick up my jaw now. :)

  • 28. Deeelaaach  |  March 3, 2012 at 1:53 am

    In addition, freedom of speech also does not imply that anyone will like what you say.

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