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LGBT report or pro-family 'hit' list?

Targets of a new Human Rights Campaign report say the organization has gone too far

Marchers carry the Human Rights Campaign flag up Market Street during the 44th annual San Francisco Gay Pride parade. Associated Press/Photo by Eric Risberg

LGBT report or pro-family 'hit' list?

A new report published by the Human Rights Campaign ratchets up the rhetoric in its fight for LGBT rights, claiming pro-family activists have formed a "global network of extremists."

Complete with pencil-sketched portraits, the report lists leaders of 12 pro-family organizations as the “most vitriolic American activists promoting anti-LGBT bigotry abroad,” HRC said in a press release. Conservatives liken the report to a hit list.

“It’s like the only things missing are the words ‘wanted dead or alive,’” said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council (FRC).

HRC did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Scott Lively, the first activist listed in the report, claims he received death threats following the report’s publication. Lively believes HRC published the list to incite murder against the people named, especially in light of one gay activist’s attempted mass murder at FRC two years ago. “As of today, I am for the first time going to start taking precautions against the possibility of being assassinated by agents of the LGBT movement,” Lively said in a blog post.

In August 2012, Floyd Corkins II opened fire in the lobby of FRC’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, shooting one security guard in the arm before the unarmed officer subdued him. Planning to kill as many people as he could, Corkins carried more than 100 rounds of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches to smear in his victims’ faces as a political statement. Corkins, who had been volunteering at The DC Center for the LGBT Community, targeted FRC after the organization backed Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s stance against gay marriage. In September, a district judge sentenced Corkins to 25 years in prison.

To create its report, HRC relied in part on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBT “hate groups.” Corkins admitted he used the same list to select FRC as his target, Sprigg said.

Other leaders in the pro-family movement expressed surprise at HRC’s new tactic.

“It’s really surprising that HRC would put out something that’s beneath the standards they have set,” said Gregg Scott, Alliance Defending Freedom’s vice president of media communications. He said HRC has traditionally remained a professional, responsible, “calm purveyor” of its position, even while opposing ADF.

At the same time, the type of rhetoric used in the report is dangerous “and they have to know that,” Scott said. “The implications there are really irresponsible.”

While Scott couldn’t confirm any death threats following the report’s publication, he did say if ADF received any credible threats, it wouldn’t be the first time.

The report places the people listed in the uncomfortable position of arguing they aren’t “haters,” said Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality and the fourth activist listed in the report. American culture is saturated with the idea that opposition to homosexuality equals hate, and the rhetoric espoused in the HRC report increases the difficulty of disassociating Christian beliefs from hate.

“This cultural war is hard to fight because these falsehoods are always advanced in the name of good,” LaBarbera said. “The average Christian is largely ignorant of how much premeditated work has gone into driving this false equivalency.”

The report also spreads the false idea that America is exporting the pro-family agenda, when in reality many countries already hold to the definition of marriage as only between one man and one woman and don’t want the homosexual agenda spread to their culture. “There are countries who don’t want this part of America,” LaBarbera said.

Moving forward, Sprigg recommended the organizations listed consider increasing their security measures. FRC increased its security following the 2012 attack. The organizations also should regularly reaffirm their position on homosexuality and their interactions with the gay community stem from love.

“We want them to have the best life they can have,” Sprigg said. “That is our only motivation.”

Pro-family organizations listed in the HRC report

The Human Rights Campaign lists the following leaders and organizations as the “most vitriolic American activists promoting anti-LGBT bigotry abroad."

Scott Lively, Abiding Truths Ministries Benjamin Bull, ADF-Global Jordan Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice Peter LaBarbera, Americans for Truth about Homosexuality Paul Cameron, Family Research Institute Sharon Slater, Family Watch International Robert Oscar Lopez, (no organization) Brian Brown, National Organization for Marriage Larry Jacobs, World Congress of Families Brian Camenker, MassResistance

Dishonorable Mentions:

Mat Staver, radio host and Liberty University law school dean Michael Brown, radio host Janice Shaw Crouse, Concerned Women for America and World Congress of Families Scott Stirm, an American missionary and executive director of Belize Action

Courtney Crandell Courtney is a former WORLD correspondent.

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