— By Stephen Richer
The Values Voter Summit (VVS) recently wrapped up it’s seventh annual conference. The self-proclaimed “premier conservative event of 2013” (self-proclaimed) brought in around 2,000 guests and offered an impressive political roll call including:
- Rep. Michele Bachmann
- Sen. Ted Cruz
- Jim DeMint
- Rep. Louie Gohmert
- Gov. Mike Huckabee
- Sen. Rand Paul
- Sen. Marco Rubio
- Rep. Paul Ryan
- Rick Santorum
The conference is now a favorite for future Republican presidential candidates. Sadly, it’s also a favorite of gay bashers. VVS has developed such an anti-gay reputation that various “anti-hate” organizations wrote letters to VVS invitees, asking them to skip the summit in protest (Governor Bobby Jindal, e.g., decided not to attend, though it’s not clear if this was a result of the letters). Here’s a taste of this letter — focusing on two of the leading figures and hosts of VVS:
… [T]he FRC has repeatedly portrayed gay men and lesbians as sick, evil, incestuous, violent, perverted and a threat to the nation. … FRC President Tony Perkins has gone so far as to describe the “It Gets Better” campaign – an effort to give LGBT students hope for a better tomorrow – as “disgusting” and part of a “concerted effort” to “recruit” children into the gay “lifestyle.” (More on FRC’s anti-gay history)
Bryan Fischer, AFA spokesman and director of issue analysis, has blamed gay men for the Holocaust and the Nazi Party. “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews,” Fischer has written. (More on AFA’s anti-gay history)
These past statements coupled nicely with the lineup of anti-equality speakers the Summit arranged. Glaad’s Jeremy Hooper does a wonderful job presenting the anti-gay comments and opinions of Summit speakers Ryan T. Anderson, Gary Bauer, Ben Carson, Sandy Rios, Mat Staver, Harry Jackson, and others. Check it out. And Mother Jones’s Tim Murphy nicely captures the anti-gay history of one of the Summit’s late additions, Craig James, who got fired from Fox News for some of his anti-gay remarks.
“I think right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don’t stand up with leaders who don’t go ride in gay parades,” (Craig James, Summit speaker)
None of this surprised too much. After all, the VVS really started to draw a crowd when it positioned itself as the social conservative alternative to CPAC who — gasp! — allowed GOProud to have a table at its event.
But did VVS wind up being the homophobic slugfest that it’s been in year’s past? I didn’t go (law school), so I can only give you the opinion’s of others. And some say yes, some say no.
Zack Ford of Think Progress clearly thought it was business as usual at the VVS. (“10 Disgusting Things Said About LGBT People At The Values Voter Summit“) Ditto LGBTQ Nation. (“Brown: Gay marriage deconstructs the very nature of what it means to be a human“)
But Michael Signorile — Editor-at-large of HuffPost Gay Voices — titled his article on VVS, “Values Voter Summit: Has GOP Homophobia Been Shoved Into the Closet?” And Justin Snow at Metro Weekly wrote:
But unlike in years past, noticeably missing was some of the more vitriolic anti-gay rhetoric that has become a trademark of the conference. Although vague references were made to preserving traditional American families, language slamming LGBT-rights appeared to have little to no place in the primetime lineup — or from any elected official with a political future.
A muddled verdict. But the fact that the level of anti-gayness at VVS is even debatable is a step (a small one) in the right direction for the Republican Party.