As David Badash said over at The New Civil Rights Movement, SPLC-certified hate group leader of Family Research Council Tony Perkins learned on Thursday that “credible journalists will no longer allow him to lie about gay people, same-sex marriage, or the LGBT community on national TV anymore.” Underscore credible.
Most talking head interviewers would bring him on to spout anti-gay BS and never challenge his frequent use of fact-free or fact-challenged propaganda, leading under-informed audiences with the impression that this Beltway tool actually was qualified or had credentials to back anything he said up. Perkins always tones down his preposterous, venomous homophobia that turns up in his writing and on anti-gay forums where he feels comfortable saying that gay people, for instance, try to “recruit (children) into that lifestyle.”
But Tony’s had a hard time in the last couple of weeks when he sat down to preen for the latest chance to try to deny the humanity and rights of LGBTs on the national media. David Badash:
Two weeks to the day of Perkins’ horrible, no good, very bad day, during which MSNBC’s Chris Matthews finally played hardball on “Hardball” with Perkins — asking him tough questions and holding his feet to the fire on same-sex marriage and gay rights — with Congressman Barney Frank doing some of the heavy lifting, two weeks to the day when CNN’s Soledad O’Brien took Tony Perkins apart, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin very elegantly annihilated Perkins today.
Yes, Brooke Baldwin trapped him quite nicely, pulling the discussion from the propaganda to the personal, and Perkins was caught off guard and on the defensive. The line of questioning, outlined here by GLAAD, shows how weak and ineffective other media hosts have been in the past — allowing Perkins to represent purported “balance” without following up or countering his statements with facts.
- Baldwin asked Perkins if he had ever been to the home of a married same-sex couple. He had not.
- She asked how he would explain to a married gay couple that they should not have the protections of marriage. He did not answer.
- Baldwin asked Perkins why gay people bother him so much. He said they don’t … but he did so very uncomfortably, and it was evident he was not telling the whole truth.
- When he implied that his was the majority position, she corrected him, citing the latest polls showing only 39% of Americans believing marriage equality should be illegal, opposed to 53% who say it should be legal.
- And when he told her it was a policy issue, she corrected him, and told him it was a human issue.
Discussing LGBT rights as policy cannot be divorced from the fact that it is a human rights issue, and the professional anti-LGBTs don’t like (and cannot answer effectively) questions that turn back to the matter of discrimination, oppression and de-humanization — it’s not just political gamesmanship because Tony Perkins wants to sanitize the personal out of it.
Here’s the video (transcript below the fold); Perkins is going to need to regroup with a different approach if other hosts take Baldwin’s lead and treat him like the junk science, anti-human rights propagandist that he is:
BALDWIN: Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council.
Tony, nice to have you on.
TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Good afternoon, Brooke.
BALDWIN: You heard the president right there. You’re speaking at the top of the hour. Give me a little preview of what you’ll be saying at 3:00 Eastern.
PERKINS: Well, I’m actually joining a large group of pastors from various ethnic and denominational backgrounds who have come to Washington, who are saying that, look, the president has gone one bridge too far. A lot of these African-American pastors saying, look, marriage is very clearly described in the Bible. The president has basically drawn a line in the sand and said, hey, are you going to cross it? And these pastors are going to cross it.
I can tell you this. Based on the polling data, and when you see 32 states that have voted to defend traditional marriage, none voting to redefine it, voters are not going to follow the president down the same-sex marriage aisle. In fact, I don’t think they’re going to hold their piece. I think they’re going to start speaking out. The president is doing too much in trying to redefine our culture by redefining marriage.
BALDWIN: Well, Tony, I know you point to those polls. I do want to show you another poll as well. This is when it comes to opposition of same-sex marriage. It’s actually, if you see the numbers, I don’t know if you have a monitor there on The Hill, it’s a new low here. This is a “Washington Post”/ABC News poll. So you say the question is, should same-sex marriage be legal or illegal? The majority there, 53 percent, say legal. Most people in the country don’t agree with you.
PERKINS: Well, it’s on — how you ask the question. You look at the various polls out there. And the real poll that matters is when the voters vote on whether or not marriage should be defined as a union of a man and a woman. And again, 30 states have been trying that definition into their constitution with an average vote of 67 percent. It’s not a close issue when it gets to the states.
BALDWIN: OK, well let’s then move away from numbers. And I just want to play a little sound. This is from Secretary of State Colin Powell, Republican, spoke with Wolf Blitz on CNN here. Take a listen to what he said. They talked about this, marriage equality.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN COLIN POWELL (RET.), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: In terms of a legal matter, of creating a contract between two people that’s called marriage and allowing them to live together with the protection of law, it seems to me is the way we should be moving in this country. And so I support the president’s decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: This is a man, you know the history as well as I do in the ’90s, led, you know, the adoption of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Now he’s saying no problem with gay marriage. My question to you, Tony Perkins, why are Colin Powell and Dick Cheney, why are they wrong?
PERKINS: Well, I think if it were to stop at say the marriage alter, just two people who loved each other, and I think if that were all that we were talking about here, more Americans might agree with Colin Powell. But what we’re talking about here are the — is the curriculum in our public schools and what our children are going to be taught. We’re already seeing that happening. We’re seeing the issue of religious liberty. A clear conflict and a contradiction with what many people believe in the –
BALDWIN: Well, why are we talking about — forgive me for interrupting. Why are we talking about curriculum in the school when really this is just about — this is about –
PERKINS: Well, because (INAUDIBLE) –
BALDWIN: Love and the law and the ability to get married or not and having those rights recognized.
PERKINS: Well, no, no, no, no. Listen, Brooke, that’s not it. We’ve already seen in places such as Massachusetts that’s legalized same-sex marriage, all of a sudden in the elementary schools it’s taught that homosexual relationships are the same as heterosexual and parents are not able to opt their children out of that teaching. We’ve seen religious institutions that have lost their tax exemption because they refuse to allow their facility to be used for same-sex unions. So this is much more than just whether or not two people love each other.
BALDWIN: Of course.
PERKINS: This is about who we are as a nation.
BALDWIN: It’s about rights. I understand.
PERKINS: No, it’s about religious freedom. It’s about parental rights. It’s about public accommodation. There’s a lot more here than just two people who might have an affinity for one another.
BALDWIN: You bring up Massachusetts, and we all know, Massachusetts, it was the first state to legalize same sex marriage. That was back in 2004. And the divorce rate actually in that state has only fallen since then.
PERKINS: Well, absolutely. And what you’re also seeing is the marriage rates are falling, because as we in our public policy devalue marriage, which we began really in 1969 with no fault divorce, we have devalued the institution and, of course, we have 40 years now of social science research that says this public policy change was a disaster. This could very well be the death nail of marriage.
And, of course, the real losers here are children. We found that children who grow up with a mom and a dad are much better economically, they’re better emotionally, they’re better in their educational pursuits. So why would we adopt policy that would move us away from the gold standard? We need to promote that which is good for our children and society as a whole, not just one or two people here and there.
BALDWIN: Would you rather have children then grow up without parents? And also, how is a same-sex relationship, how is that less valued?
PERKINS: Well, Brooke, I mean that’s a good question. It’s not just the issue of two caregivers. If it were just two caregivers, three would be even better. It’s an issue of a mom and a dad and the fundamental role. And this is not — this is not political hyperbole. This is the social science that shows that children need the developmental aspects of both a mom and a dad. And now while we — obviously we don’t get to that in every situation, we should strive for that and our policy should undergird that and promote it. This moves us away from that. And so that’s why you see pastors from different ethnic backgrounds, denominational backgrounds saying, we’re not going to be silent on this issue.
BALDWIN: Not all, but some. And everyone has the right to opine. But my question is, I guess more on a personal level to you, have you ever been to the home of a married same-sex couple, Tony?
PERKINS: I have not been to the home of a same-sex married couple, no.
BALDWIN: If you were ever to do so and you’re sitting across from them over dinner, how would you convince them that their life together — either two men, two women — hurts straight couples? What do you tell them?
PERKINS: Well, first, Brooke, we don’t make public policy based on what’s good for me and my family or you and your family or one couple.
BALDWIN: I’m just asking on a personal level. I’m just asking, personal level.
PERKINS: No, but I’m — but we’re engaged here in a discussion about public policy and what’s best for the nation, not anecdotes or what one couple likes or how this –
BALDWIN: But this issue is — it is personal.
PERKINS: I mean, look, I’m sure — look –
BALDWIN: It is personal as well.
PERKINS: But that’s not how we make public policy. Certainly there are some same-sex couple that are probably great parents, but that’s not what the overwhelming amount of social science shows us. And we’ve got some great single moms that are doing a great jobs. And we applaud them and encourage them. But we still know the best environment for a child is with a mom and a dad. And our policy should encourage –
BALDWIN: But shouldn’t public policy in part be dictated by evolving cultures, evolving demographics, reflecting that?
PERKINS: But we’re not evolving to a better standard when we look at children growing up without those critical role models. And, again, we’ve got 40 years of public policy or the research that’s come from the public policy that shows that we’ve not been moving in a better direction by moving away from that standard of marriage being at the center of the family of a mom and a dad. We’ve actually incurred tremendous costs as a society, both emotionally and financially.
BALDWIN: OK. I know — I know you don’t want to answer the personal questions, but I’m going to try again, Tony. I’m going to try again. And this is really just it for me today. Why do you — you’ve never been to a home of a same-sex couple. Why do homosexuals bother you so much? I mean would it be fair to characterize –
PERKINS: They don’t bother me. They don’t bother me.
BALDWIN: They don’t bother you?
BALDWIN: Not at all.
PERKINS: I’m not going to — I’m not going to be silent while they try to redefine marriage in this country, change policy, what my children are taught in schools and what religious organizations can do. I’m not going to be silent nor are millions of other Christians across this country. It doesn’t mean that we have a dislike for homosexuals.
BALDWIN: But if they don’t bother you, then why shouldn’t they have the same right to get married?
PERKINS: They don’t have a right to redefine marriage for the rest of us. They don’t have a right to take away any religious freedom. They don’t have a right to step between me and what my child is taught. That’s what’s happening. That’s why people are getting involved. And that’s why this issue will not be resolved, whether the president says it should be or not. There are many, many Americans, as we’ve seen in every time — every time this has gone through the ballot box, Americans understand, the definition of a marriage is what it has been for 5,000 years, it’s the union of a man and a woman.
BALDWIN: Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council. We’ll look for you at the top of the hour there on Capitol Hill with this group preaching what you just explained to us.
PERKINS: All right. OK, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Tony, thanks.