Brian Brown

NOM Spins Judicial Smackdown As Victory

Last year the National Organization for Marriage sued the IRS over a clerk’s mistaken release in 2012 of a tax form that by law should have had the group’s donors redacted but didn’t. When gay rights activists published the list of major donors, NOM portrayed the release as a sinister political plot by the Obama administration that was “reminiscent of Watergate” and “part of a deliberate attempt to chill the First Amendment activity of NOM, its donors, and others who associate with NOM.” Based on this conspiracy theory, NOM sued the IRS for punitive damages.

Last week a federal judge harshly rejected NOM’s claims that the release was willful or a result of gross negligence, but NOM is trying to spin the humiliating rejection of its false charges as some kind of victory.

In reviewing the facts of the case, the judge said it is clear that the IRS clerk, who was responding to a public records request, sent a copy without the donors redacted by mistake. The government readily admits the accidental release. But NOM lawyers absurdly tried to claim that IRS supervisors investigating the incident were somehow breaking the law by reviewing the group’s forms.

“NOM has proffered no evidence that its unredacted tax information was willfully disclosed,” wrote Judge James Cacheris. In fact, the judge’s ruling says, the clerk had no idea who was requesting the information or what NOM was about. David Badash at the New Civil Rights movement nicely summarized the tone of the judge’s dismissal on summary judgment of the charges that the release was due to a political plot or gross negligence:

United States District Court Judge James C. Cacheris in his Tuesday ruling against NOM used terms like, “NOM has failed to produce a shred of proof,” NOM’s argument “misses the mark,” is “unconvincing,” “is unpersuasive,” and “[t]o find that NOM could prevail from this scintilla of evidence … is not appropriate.”

The one part of NOM’s lawsuit the judge did not throw out was NOM’s claim for attorney’s fees and funds for any actual damages it can prove resulted from the mistaken release. NOM will get to make the case for those damages in court.

That was enough for NOM to spin the decision as a victory. In an email to supporters on Sunday evening, NOM’s Brian Brown wrote:

First, the IRS news you've been waiting to hear — they finally admitted we were right and they were wrong! This week the IRS was forced to admit that they were the ones who unlawfully released our confidential donor information to a gay activist who promptly gave it to our political opponents, and opponents of marriage, the Human Rights Campaign.

Brown’s email makes it sound as if the government was trying to cover up the mistaken release, and it was only the pressure from grassroots activists and the Act Right Legal Foundation (which Brown chairs) that pushed members of Congress to “keep the IRS scandal in the public view and to dig into the truth of what happened to NOM and its donors.”

The truth is much less exciting than NOM’s claims. But NOM seems likely to get the government to pay some legal fees related to the mistaken release. Also to be considered by the court will be the government’s argument that any damages NOM can prove should be offset by money NOM raised by falsely portraying themselves as the victims of political persecution.

NOM’s lawyers, of course, have plenty to keep them busy.

World Congress Of Families Funder Convenes Far-Right Group To Discuss Ridding Europe of 'Satanic Gay Lobby'

Yesterday, Andy Towle spotted a report in the Austrian Independent about a meeting in Vienna this week “discussing ways to rid Europe of the ‘satanic gay lobby’” that was “hosted by a Russian oligarch” and attended by far-right politicians from throughout Europe.

A secret meeting discussing ways to rid Europe of the 'satanic gay lobby' was hosted by a Russian oligarch and attended by a host of far-right MPs and ultra-conservative Eurasian ideologists in Vienna at the weekend - just across the road from where the Life Ball was taking place the very same night.

The meeting was hosted by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeew and his Saint Basil the Great Charitable Foundation and was attended by nationalists and Christian fundamentalists from Russia and the West. These were thought to include the chief Russian ideologist of the Eurasian movement Alexander Dugin, the nationalist painter Ilja Glasunow, and MPs from far right parties including the Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache.

According to Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, who say they managed to confirm the event tok place from two independent sources, the meeting was hosted at Vienna’s Palais Liechtenstein under conditions of extreme secrecy.

As it happens, the Russian oligarch who convened the meeting is Konstantin Malofeev, who is also heavily involved with the Illinois-based World Congress of Families. According to a talk WCF's managing director gave in February, Malofeev’s St. Basil the Great Foundation was to be a major sponsor of WCF’s since-postponed conference in Moscow this year and Malofeev was a member of the conference’s planning committee.

It was also Malofeev who hosted the meeting in Moscow that National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown attended last summer, just in time to cheer on the Russian parliament’s approval of new anti-gay laws. (Brown had been invited to participate in the event by "Russian activists working with the World Congress of Families").

The Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger notes that Aymeric Chauprade, a newly elected member of the European Parliament from France’s far-right National Front party, also attended the event. (Chauprade confirmed his attendance to Le Figaro.) Chauprade, a foreign policy advisor to National Front leader Marine Le Pen, also participated in the meeting last year with Brown and Malofeev.

It’s hardly unusual for politicians and activists to have a private meeting, but the existence of this summit to combat the “satanic gay lobby” underscores the fraught role that anti-gay activism is currently playing in European and Russian politics. Many on the European far-right see Russia’s anti-gay crackdown as a key part of their resistance to the European Union and liberalism in Europe.

As Malofeev put it at the meeting last year, Russia is the “center of salvation for conservative, Christian, European values.” Or as Chauprade said, “Patriots around the world, as committed to the independence of nations as they are to the foundations of our civilization, turn their eyes at this time towards Moscow.”

Brian Brown's Far-Right French Allies Working To Form 'Pro-Russian Bloc' In European Parliament

The New York Times and Slate this week reported on the European far right’s love affair with Vladimir Putin, which could lead to the formation of “a pro-Russian bloc” in the European Parliament following this week’s elections.

The Times story focused on the French National Front party, and in particular Aymeric Chauprade, a top advisor to National Front leader Marine Le Pen and himself a candidate for European parliament.

Chauprade was a member of the small delegation of French activists who traveled to Moscow last year with National Organization for Marriage leader Brian Brown to advocate for Russia’s adoption of a spate of new anti-gay policies. Brown later said that he was invited to participate in the delegation by activists working with the Illinois-based World Congress of Families. The apparent leader of the delegation was French far-right activist Fabrice Sorlin, a former National Front candidate who runs an NGO devoted to developing “better relations between France and Russia” and who was appointed last year [pdf] as the World Congress of Families’ representative in France.

In a speech to fellow activists and members of Russia’s parliament at the meeting Brown attended, Chauprade backed Putin’s anti-gay policies along with the Russian president’s bid for greater geopolitical power, saying, “In this new battle…those who do not want the U.S. anti-missile shield, the dominance of NATO, or the war against Syria and Iran are in the same camp as those who refuse the loss of sovereignty, population replacement on a grand scale, FEMEN, gender theory, homosexual marriage, as well as the further commodification of the human body.”

Chauprade repeated the theme in a speech quoted by the Times, in which he offered up Russia’s leadership as the way for Europe to break free of both the “technocratic elite serving the American and European financial oligarchy” and its “enslavement by consumerist urges and sexual impulses,” and attacks Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst. Chauprade was an enthusiastic supporter of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, and the Times notes that he joined a pro-Russian election monitoring outfit for Crimea’s vote to annex itself to Russia. The Economist characterized the observers as “a motley group of radicals” who “declared that the ballot, denounced by most Western governments as illegitimate, had been exemplary.”

Of course, Brown doesn’t subscribe to the views of everyone he’s ever been to a meeting with. But Chauprade’s activism illuminates an important subtext of the anti-gay activism that Brown and the World Congress of Families were aiding in Russia. For Putin and his far-right European allies, opposition to gay rights is part of a much larger project.

NYT:

While the European Union has joined Washington in denouncing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the chaos stirred by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe’s right-wing populists have been gripped by a contrarian fever of enthusiasm for Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin.

“Russian influence in the affairs of the far right is a phenomenon seen all over Europe,” said a study by the Political Capital Institute, a Hungarian research group. It predicted that far-right parties, “spearheaded by the French National Front,” could form a pro-Russian bloc in the European Parliament or, at the very least, amplify previously marginal pro-Russian voices.

Some of Russia’s European fans, particularly those with a religious bent, are attracted by Mr. Putin’s image as a muscular foe of homosexuality and decadent Western ways. Others, like Aymeric Chauprade, a foreign policy adviser to the National Front’s leader, Marine Le Pen, are motivated more by geopolitical calculations that emphasize Russia’s role as a counterweight to American power.

“Russia has become the hope of the world against new totalitarianism,” Mr. Chauprade, the National Front’s top European Parliament candidate for the Paris region, said in a speech to Russia’s Parliament in Moscow last year.

When Crimea held a referendum in March on whether the peninsula should secede from Ukraine and join Russia, Mr. Chauprade joined a team of election monitors organized by a pro-Russian outfit in Belgium, the Eurasian Observatory for Elections and Democracy. The team, which pronounced the referendum free and fair, also included members of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party; a Flemish nationalist group in Belgium; and the Jobbik politician in Hungary accused of spying for Russia.

Russia offers the prospect of a new European order free of what Mr. Chauprade, in his own speech, described as its servitude to a “technocratic elite serving the American and European financial oligarchy” and its “enslavement by consumerist urges and sexual impulses.”

The view that Europe has been cut adrift from its traditional moral moorings gained new traction this month when Conchita Wurst, a bearded Austrian drag queen, won the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Russian officials and the Russian Orthodox Church bemoaned the victory — over, among others, singing Russian twins — as evidence of Europe’s moral disarray.

At the National Front’s pre-election rally, Mr. Chauprade mocked the “bearded lady” and won loud applause with a passionate plaint that Europeans had become a rootless mass of “consumers disconnected from their natural attachments — the family, the nation and the divine.”

Paranoia-Rama: Hitler's 'Super Gay' Race, Gun Tracking Bracelet Myth & Another Bogus Religious Right Persecution Story

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

Did you know that it is illegal to be a Christian in America? Or that World War II was all about promoting homosexuality?

Probably not, but you might just think that if you get all of your news from the paranoid world of the Religious Right media.

5. Hitler’s Gay Dream

Religious Right talk show host Rick Wiles is not happy about the growing support for gay rights in America, which he believes is really the fulfillment of Adolf Hitler’s dream to engender a “race of super gay male soldiers” that would “slaughter” Christians.

According to Wiles, Nazism and World War II had nothing to do with promoting the supremacy of the “Aryan race,” but were all about Hitler’s plan to create a Christian-killing “homosexual special race.”

His guest, BarbWire editor and pastor Jeff Allen, unsurprisingly agreed.

4. Gays Targeting South Carolina For ‘Recruitment’

South Carolina Republicans are fighting the scourge of gay “recruitment,” which apparently has become a major problem in the Palmetto State. State senator and US Senate candidate Lee Bright, for example, is worried that the “homosexual agenda” has “seized the educational establishment” and has gone on “full march in our institutions of higher ed and we’ve gone from education to indoctrination.”

Fellow GOP state senator Mike Fair similarly fears that a lesbian comedian is “recruiting” students into homosexuality at the University of South Carolina-Upstate, and wants to punish the school along with the College of Charleston for their “glorification of same-sex culture.”

3. Gun Tracking Bracelets A-Comin’

It didn’t take long for conservative media outlets to disseminate the false claim that Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would be exploring “gun tracking bracelets” as part of a looming crackdown on gun rights. Of course, Holder never said that he would be tracking gun owners through bracelets.

As Erich Lach of TPM writes, Holder only “talked about ideas for gun safety technology including finger print identification and a bracelet that ‘talks to’ a gun, to allow use only by the lawful owner,” a technology that many gun manufacturers are working to develop.

Naturally, the story moved up from right-wing pundits to GOP politicians like Mitch McConnell and Sarah Palin, who pushed the gun tracking bracelet myth regardless of the actual facts.

2. Religious Right Persecution Story Debunked, Again

It’s time for another bogus Religious Right tale about persecution in schools, this time in North Carolina. Conservatives were outraged when a teacher allegedly tried to dissuade a student from writing a short essay about how Jesus is her hero, and now there is a phony photo circulating of an essay marked with “F: Remove Jesus Please!”

However, as the myth-busting website Snopes points out, the school explained that the only reason the teacher spoke to the student about the assignment was because the student approached the teacher and told her she is having problems writing it.

“Our school has recently been the target of intense negative publicity in numerous forms of the media,” the school’s principal said in a statement [PDF], noting that at no point was the student pressured to drop Jesus as the subject of the essay and that the finished product “is still entitled, ‘Jesus is my Hero.’”

As is often the case, right-wing activists quickly jumped at the first cry of “persecution!,” without waiting for the facts of the case to come out.

1. Christianity Made Illegal!

Back in 2011, a seniors group affiliated with the Traditional Values Coalition sent out mailers with the headline “Christianity Now Outlawed,” warning that President Obama has declared the Bible to be “illegal hate literature.”

Of course it wasn’t true, but conservative activists every year seem to come up with new ways to claim that it is now against the law to be a Christian.

Just this week, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins said that the gay rights movement is transforming America into Nazi Germany, while Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage maintained that Christians are now facing anti-religious Jim Crow laws.

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer took the ridiculousness to a new level, declaring that “it is now a criminal offense according to the Supreme Court of the United States, it is now a punishable offense, you can be fined for being a Christian in the United States of America. For living, behaving as a Christian, it has now become a crime in the United States of America.”

Brian Brown: Gay Rights Activists Reviving Jim Crow With 'Anti-Christian Bigotry'

In a conference call in February about Arizona’s proposed “right to discriminate" bill, National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown counseled fellow Religious Right activists to turn accusations of anti-gay discrimination around and accuse gay rights activists of “anti-religious” and “anti-Christian bigotry.”

Brown was the guest on a weekly call held by Staying True to America’s National Destiny (STAND), an organization run by former Virginia GOP lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson.

Noting that opponents of Arizona’s bill – which was later vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer – pointed out its similarities to Jim Crow laws, Brown said, “in fact, it’s the reverse” and that gay rights opponents are the ones facing systematic discrimination.

He advised the activists on the call to claim that opponents of gay rights are the real victims: “So, when they bring up discrimination, we need to turn it on its head and say, this is about anti-religious, specifically in some cases, anti-Christian religious bigotry, and there’s no place for this in this country. The discrimination is there, but right now what’s happening is the discrimination is coming from those that want to punish, repress and marginalize individuals and organizations that stand up for their religious beliefs.”

Whether it’s being forced to photograph a ceremony that you don’t agree with, forced to create a same-sex marriage wedding cake, whatever it is, that’s a very different thing than saying this is somehow Jim Crow all over again. In fact, it’s the reverse. What proponents of same-sex marriage are attempting to do is to coerce Americans to leave their faith at the door when they enter the public square, leave their faith at the door if they own a business.

So, when they bring up discrimination, we need to turn it on its head and say, this is about anti-religious, specifically in some cases, anti-Christian religious bigotry, and there’s no place for this in this country. The discrimination is there, but right now what’s happening is the discrimination is coming from those that want to punish, repress and marginalize individuals and organizations that stand up for their religious beliefs.

And what they’re trying to do is to constrain religious liberty to a new term: freedom of worship. Well, our founders didn’t die and come here for freedom of worship, they came here for religious liberty, to practice in the public square, not only within their houses of worship what they believed, but to go out into the community and act on it. And this is one of the important points when we debate this, is to not accept this new language of quote-unquote ‘freedom of worship.’ We believe in religious liberty, we believe in freedom of conscience. We don’t accept the idea that people should be punished in the public square for trying to live out the Gospel call.

Focus On The Family Spokesman: 'Organized Homosexuals' Ushering In 'New Era Of Intolerance'

The National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown and Focus on the Family vice president Tim Goeglein were the guests on a webinar last week hosted by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, in which they discussed the need for young “heroes” to bring the anti-marriage equality cause to younger generations.

The two also discussed the supposed threat to religious liberty put forward by what Goeglein called “the political agenda of organized homosexuals.”

“One of the things that perhaps Christians and Jews and others have not fully internalized is that the political agenda of organized homosexuals in America is one of the great threats to our religious liberty,” Goeglein said. 

He added that gay rights are bringing about “a new era of intolerance against those of us who are men and women of faith.”

“I think that’s exactly right,” agreed Brown
 

Concerned Women For America Drops Out Of World Congress of Families Moscow Summit

As we’ve been reporting, the American Religious Right has found itself in a tough spot following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, since many Religious Right leaders have not only praised Putin’s anti-gay, anti-choice policies but are planning to attend a World Congress of Families summit at the Kremlin later this year.

Now, one such group that previously praised Putin has announced that it will pull out of the Moscow summit. Buzzfeed reported yesterday that Concerned Women for America will no longer be participating in the World Congress of Families event because, as the group’s CEO Penny Nance said, “I don’t want to appear to be giving aid and comfort to Vladimir Putin.”

CWA’s choice is especially surprising because its senior fellow, Janice Shaw Crouse, is amember of the board of the World Congress of Families and has been a vocal defender of Putin’s social policies. Last month, Crouse even appeared at a press conference promoting the Moscow summit.

Now the question becomes whether other American groups will follow Nance’s lead. An organizing meeting for the event in October included Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Benjamin Bull of Alliance Defending Freedom, Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network and Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

A draft program for the event that was obtained by Buzzfeed includes speeches by ADF president Allan Sears, Focus president Jim Daly, Mike Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, Brown, Ruse and Murff, among others.

In addition, the World Congress of Families receives funding from “partner organizations” including the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and Americans United for Life.

The World Congress of Families’ Larry Jacobs said at last month’s press conference that members of the U.S. Congress would also attend the event, though he would not specify which ones since he said their confirmations were not yet finalized. The draft program also accounts for speeches from unidentified members of Congress. to speak.

As we’ve noted, the planned summit is more than just a trip to Moscow. It’s being held at the Kremlin with funding from key Putin allies and will include a joint forum with Russia’s parliament. In addition, the World Congress of Families itself has been working to support Putin’s crackdown on LGBT rights in Russia, along with his push to keep Ukraine out of the European Union. Riling up hostility to gay rights, in particular, has become a powerful wedge issue for Russian-aligned, anti-EU activists in Ukraine.

Ruse articulated the apparent attitude of many American groups when he told Buzzfeed that although the Ukraine invasion “muddied the water,” he had not been concerned about working so closely with the Putin regime until now, “because the Russian government has been quite good on our issues.”

Nance is aware of the message that her group’s participation in the summit would send. Will anybody else follow her lead?

Religious Right Leaders Rail Against Virginia Marriage Equality Decision

A federal judge’s decision to strike down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriagehas unsurprisingly stoked the ire of conservatives.

Family Research Council head Tony Perkins offered a typical rebuke of “activist judges” and the “arrogant judiciary,” and once again warned that marriage equality will in fact lead to unprecedented inequality.

It appears that we have yet another example of an arrogant judge substituting her personal preferences for the judgment of the General Assembly and 57 percent of Virginia voters. Our nation's judicial system has been infected by activist judges, which threaten the stability of our nation and the rule of law.

This ruling comes on the heels of Attorney General Mark Herring's refusal to fulfill his constitutional duty to defend the state's marriage law. His lawlessness is an insult to the voters of Virginia who rightfully expected elected officials to uphold the laws and constitution of the state, not attack them as Herring has done.

An arrogant judiciary is only one of the major consequences of the drive to redefine marriage. Increasingly, Americans are being forced to finance and celebrate unions that not only step on free speech and religious liberty but also deny children a mom and a dad. Rather than live-and-let-live, this court by redefining marriage will create a level of inequality that has never been seen in our country as people are forced to suppress or violate the basic teachings of their faith," concluded Perkins.

Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and Liberty University Law School, which is based in Virginia, said the judge must not have ever read the Constitution.

“This decision is outrageous and legally flawed. Judges would be well-served to read the U.S. Constitution and not invent or rewrite it,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The Constitution cannot be changed by the stroke of a judge’s pen, nor does it bow to a judge’s personal ideology. The overwhelming majority of Virginia voters who make up ‘we the people’ voted to affirm natural marriage. Same-sex marriage, as a policy matter, sends the message that children do not need moms and dads. There is ample evidence that children fair [sic] best when raised with a mother and a father. Same-sex marriage is not the equivalent of natural marriage. Judges should be careful to render decisions grounded in the Constitution and the rule of law. Otherwise, judges and courts will render themselves impotent when the people lose confidence in the judicial system,” Staver continued.

The Family Foundation of Virginia, meanwhile, blamed Valentine’s Day for the ruling, which the group says threatens “our entire social fabric.”

“The timing of this decision certainly calls into question Judge Wright Allen’s objectivity,” a Friday morning statement from the group stated. “This rushed release just prior to Valentine’s Day reeks of political show, making her ruling less a legal argument and more a press release. It’s disappointing that a federal judge would so blatantly expose her personal political agenda at the expense of not just marriage, but our entire social fabric.”



“Regardless of one’s stance on marriage, the people of Virginia were disenfranchised by this ruling as our voice and our vote that amended our Constitution have been rendered meaningless by a single federal judge with the assistance of our own Attorney General,” the Family Foundation statement read. “Protecting a timeless institution for the well-being of children was the will of the overwhelming majority of Virginians and this ruling denies this important state interest as it places the desires of adults over the outcomes of children.”

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown said the “terrible decision” must be reversed:

This is another example of an Obama-appointed judge twisting the constitution and the rule of law to impose her own views of marriage in defiance of the people of Virginia. There is no right to same-sex 'marriage' in the United States constitution. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that states have the preeminent duty of defining marriage. The people of Virginia did just that in voting overwhelmingly to affirm marriage as the union of one man and woman. That decision should be respected by federal judges and we hope that the U.S. Supreme Court ends up reversing this terrible decision. This case also leaves a particular stench because of the unconscionable decision of Attorney General Mark Herring to not only abandon his sworn duty to defend the laws of the state, but to actually join the case against the very people he is duty-bound to represent.

Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation blasted the “imperious federal judiciary” and the “liberal state apparatus,” warning that they are trying “to advance a social experiment that changes America from the nation that we know into something totally unrecognizable” and “will force you to support homosexual marriage.”

The case, if it can be appealed must be appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The problem is that appellate courts have to rule based on the record from the trial court. The record is the transcript of witnesses’ testimony and other evidence the trial judge heard.

With Virginia’s Attorney General refusing to defend the case, the case might not even be appealed and even if it is, the record may be very limited.

Once again, we see an imperious federal judiciary overruling the voters of a state to advance a social experiment that changes America from the nation that we know into something totally unrecognizable.

And with the striking down of this law, can the liberal state apparatus be far behind? That liberal state apparatus is the one that will force you to support homosexual marriage whether or not it conflicts with your religious beliefs.

Video: Brian Brown Says Anti-Gay Movement Represents 'True Civil Rights'

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown spoke Tuesday night at an anti-marriage equality rally at the Utah state capitol, where he claimed that the anti-gay movement represents “true civil rights.” There have been several news reports about the event, but YouTube user Drew Stelter posted video of Brown’s speech.

In the speech, Brown pushed the narrative that conservative Christians are being persecuted by the increased acceptance of gay rights. While he acknowledged that there might be people of many faiths in the crowd, he made it clear exactly who his audience was: “I would say that it’s pretty likely that those of us here share some respect for our savior, Jesus Christ.”

Brown went on to compare the movement against marriage equality to Christians who fought against the Roman empire, slavery, and those at the head of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. “Throughout history, people of faith have stood up against gross injustices, stood up for true civil rights,” he said, adding later: “We stand up for the civil rights for all when we stand up for the truth about marriage.”

Ted Cruz vs. The Religious Right: Is Putin Tyrant Or Savior?

Is it possible to talk about human rights abuses in Russia in the context of the Olympics and not once mention Russia’s anti-gay laws, the rising tide of anti-gay violence, or the controversy over the impact that Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law might have on athletes and visitors? Sure, if you’re Sen. Ted Cruz speaking at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation. 

Cruz, darling of the Religious Right and Tea Party, slammed Russia’s “increasingly autocratic” president at the January 28 Heritage event.  He portrayed Vladimir Putin as a tyrant systematically working to crush Ukrainian independence and reassemble the old Soviet Union. And of course he took the opportunity to slam the Obama administration, which he said was not standing up forcefully for human rights.

Following Cruz to the microphone was Katrina Lantos Swett, Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Swett, a “proud Democrat,” detailed a litany of anti-democratic laws adopted in Putin’s Russia, including “religious freedom” and “extremism” laws that give the government wide latitude to discriminate against minority religions, including Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Pentecostal Christians.  She said the Russian government is undermining civil society with severe restrictions on protests and the return of Soviet-era tactics like sentencing dissidents to psychiatric treatment. Swett did mention the anti-gay “propaganda” law in her list of Putin’s anti-democratic actions.

There are a couple remarkable things about this panel, other than finding myself in agreement with Cruz about something (Putin is an anti-democratic strongman).

First, in his 26-minute speech and during the Q&A, at an event about human rights and the Olympics, Cruz did not breathe a word about the raging controversy over Russia’s attacks on the rights and lives of LGBT people. The closest Cruz came was mentioning, as an example of Putin’s efforts to crush dissent, his moves against “a punk rock band.” Cruz joked about his unwillingness to say the band’s name (Pussy Riot).

Second, Cruz is clearly at odds with anti-gay and anti-abortion leaders in the U.S. who have been busily praising Putin as the defender of traditional values and savior of Christianity. Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber, for example, has said Putin is being allowed to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation.” The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer has called Putin “the lion of Christianity, the defender of Christian values, the president that’s calling his nation back to embracing its identity as a nation founded on Christian values.”

In fact there is a whole gaggle of Religious Right leaders who have, as Miranda has reported, fallen all over themselves to praise Putin and his anti-free-speech, anti-gay crackdown. And some of them have done more than just praise Putin. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage traveled to Russia to build support for anti-gay legislation. The Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society is excited about heading to Moscow for its 2014 “World Congress of Families” summit.

Cruz was eager to criticize the Obama administration for not advocating more strongly for human rights in Russia, but what does he have to say about his Religious Right pals who are actively praising and enabling Putin’s anti-democratic moves? And who have attacked the Obama administration’s efforts to promote the human rights of LGBT people abroad? We’re listening.

Right Wing Round-Up - 1/14/14

Paranoia-Rama: Pot Welfare; Islamists In Charge & The Gay Police State Is Coming For You

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

This week, we learned more details about President Obama’s sinister gay-Sharia plot. And according to one right-wing radio host, if the president fails to implement his nefarious policies before his second term runs out, he will simply set up “a satellite administration in exile.”

5. Pot Wreaking Havoc On Colorado!

Colorado’s legalization of marijuana went into effect at the start of the year, providing plenty of material for satirical websites such as the Daily Currant and the National Report. Unfortunately, it seems that many people fell for the Daily Currant’s post titled “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado On First Day of Legalization”; many also believed the National Report articles, “Feds Raid Colorado Pot Shop” and “Colorado Pot Shop Accepting Food Stamps – Taxpayer Funded Marijuana for Welfare Recipients.”

Of course, we don’t need satirical stories from the Daily Currant or National Report when we already have terrible reporting on marijuana policy from folks like Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly and Washington Times opinion editor Emily Miller.

4. Priebus Uncovers Democratic Jobless Aid Conspiracy

After Senate Republicans failed to block a vote to extend unemployment benefits for three months, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus alleged that is actually the Democrats who want the jobless aid bill to fail, even though every single Democratic member of the Senate voted to consider the legislation. “They don’t want this to pass,” Priebus said, arguing that Democrats simply want to make Republicans look bad by trying to hold a vote on an extension of unemployment insurance for 1.3 million jobseekers.

“I’m reasonably certain this theory is stark raving mad, but let’s assume for the sake of conversation that Priebus is onto something,” Steve Benen responded. “If this were true, wouldn’t it make sense for Republican leaders to pass the measures and undermine the Democratic plan?”

Instead, all but six Senate Republicans opposed it.

3. The Mythical Gay Police State

The National Organization for Marriage is still fuming Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s brief suspension from A&E and defending his imaginary constitutional right to appear on television. In a hysterical post about the Duck Dynasty flap — since deleted but grabbed by Jeremy Hooper — NOM president Brian Brown warned that soon the police may arrest and prosecute people for “criminal hate-speech charges.” He asserted that the “homosexual lobby” is creating “a new State regime” that will make religious beliefs “subject to punishment” and “grounds for criminal action.”

“This is what our country is facing if the same-sex ‘marriage’ movement gets its way: a society in which not just Phil and other celebrities who voice Christian values are put in the crosshairs and targeted for persecution, but any ordinary citizen who believes in traditional values — ordinary citizens like you and me — will be liable to sanction,” Brown wrote.

Laura Ingraham delivered a similar message on her radio show this week, cautioning that gay rights laws represent “a victory against religious liberty” that “puts us on a very dangerous path, it’s a path that Karl Marx would be very happy from the grave, or from hell, to see us being on right now.”

2. Limbaugh: Obama Will Keep Power After Second Term

When President Obama announced that his family may stay in the Washington, DC, area after his second term ends so his youngest daughter can graduate from school, Rush Limbaugh’s sixth sense for conspiracies was immediately triggered.

The conservative talk show host alleged that Obama will try to hold on to power by establishing “a satellite administration in exile” with the “media continuing to treat him as though he is still president.” He warned that Obama will have an “unprecedented post-presidency” that will allow him to hold onto the reins of power even outside of elected office. 

“He’s gonna be staying there to protect his legacy and to make sure it is never unwound,” Limbaugh said. “Unless he’s run out of town in shame.”

1. Islamists In The White House

Doing his best Joseph McCarthy impression, Fox News pundit Tom McInerney insists that he has a list of names of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are working in government…except he doesn’t know their names. “We’ve got Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S. government today,” McInerney told the Washington radio station WMAL. “I haven’t got their names exactly but there’s a list of them, at least 10 or 15 of them in the U.S. government.”

Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association took this theory one step further to contend that the chief Islamist in the Obama administration is Obama himself:

NOM's Brown: Rose Parade Wedding Used to 'Target Children,' 'Indoctrinate Kids'

National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown was one of the Religious Right activists to attack last week’s Rose Parade in Pasadena for including a float featuring a same-sex wedding, lamenting that “once marriage is redefined to make it genderless, this perverse construct of ‘marriage’ is forced on everyone.”

In an interview with Voice of Russia radio on Friday, Brown doubled down, saying that Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclaire’s wedding had been “shoved in the face of families,” including those who had voted against marriage equality in their states.

This was all part of a plan to “target children” and use “a family event to sort of indoctrinate kids,” he added.

All along, we’ve been hearing from activists who support same-sex marriage, ‘Hey, if we redefine marriage, it won’t have any effect on you, this is about loving individuals, what they decide to do, it will have no effect on you.’

Well, lo and behold, it has to be shoved in the face of families -- many of whom voted to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman – on a float at a family event.



We know that when you redefine marriage this  is taught in schools, we know that teachers tell kids that folks who believe in this notion of marriage as a union between a man and a woman are discriminating, they’re the functional equivalent of bigots.

And now it hasn’t even stopped in the classroom, now the idea has to be, well, at family events we need to make a point to have a same-sex marriage to sort of put it right in their faces and call them out. Well, that’s just wrong. In America, we can disagree over key issues, but the idea that you would target children and make this about using a family event to sort of indoctrinate kids, that’s just wrong.

In a speech before the Russian parliament promoting anti-gay laws last year, Brown similarly warned that advances in gay rights would lead to “talking to children about homosexuality.”

Duck the Halls: The Religious Right's Own War on Christmas

If you’re already tired of the Duck Dynasty flap, I have some bad news for you: Religious Right leaders aren’t going to drop it. On Christmas Eve, while millions of Americans were finishing Christmas preparations and gathering with loved ones, Janet Porter and Rick Scarborough were holding an emergency conference call to launch Porter’s latest gimmicky scheme: sending rubber ducks to A&E executives to protest the suspension of Phil Robertson.

Porter has been warning about a war on American Christians for years – she even wrote a book called The Criminalization of Christianity.  So she clearly sees this as her (current) last chance to save America.  Faith2Action has launched a website MailTheDuck.com, at which you can hand over your contact information to Porter so that she can send a postcard on your behalf to Nancy Dubuq, CEO of A&E Networks, declaring “You Can’t Camouflage Anti-Christian Bigotry!” The postcard demands an apology and warns of a boycott until Robertson is reinstated.  You can also fork over some cash if you want to send a rubber duck or ten to A&E to be sure they get the message.

The opening image of the website is, unfortunately, a big lie. It’s a picture of Robertson with the word FIRED stamped across it. In fact, Robertson hasn’t been fired for making offensive comments in a magazine interview, just suspended. Americans who have wanted to get their Duck on this week have been able to watch a Duck Dynasty marathon. Even WND, in its story on the project, notes: “According to Entertainment Weekly, sources close to the show report nine of the 10 remaining episodes of season four have already been shot, and the network has no plans to cut out the footage featuring the senior Robertson.”

But on the conference call Porter and Scarborough had with activists, freedom was hanging by a thread. Robertson’s suspension is “an atrocity,” “an attack on religious liberty” and an effort to “shut down Christians.” Faith itself is at risk of “being declared unlawful.” Porter even compared Robertson to the famous Chinese activist who stood in front of a tank (yeah, that’s just the kind of risk Robertson took by spouting off to GQ magazine). Porter says Americans can courageously stand with Robertson by sending  millions of ducks (probably made in China, come to think of it) to A&E.

Porter mentioned that she is working on a documentary about anti-Christian persecution. A caller who described herself as a former lesbian urged Porter to include the story of Lisa Miller, the woman who became a far-right folk hero when she kidnapped her child and fled the country rather than obeying court ordered custody arrangements involving Miller’s former partner.  Porter said Miller’s story is part of her film project.

Back to the ducks.  In addition to Scarborough’s Vision America, Porter’s new project is being cosponsored by the dominionist Oak Initiative (Porter is a board member) and by Liberty Counsel, the Religious Right legal group that used to represent Lisa Miller. Of course, Porter and Scarborough aren’t the only ones trying to cash in on the Duck Dynasty controversy. Among those who have launched  petitions are the National Organization for Marriage and Mike Huckabee.  Huckabee and Porter are longtime allies; she declared his 2008 presidential candidacy anointed by God.

What Persecution Looks Like

Nothing like putting things in perspective.

At the end of a week in which Religious Right leaders, cable TV pundits, and conservative politicians acted as if freedom were being destroyed because a rich TV star was suspended for making offensive racist and anti-gay comments, the Parliament in Uganda passed a bill that threatens gay people with life in prison.

And with that vote, all the alarmist bluster about persecution from Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and every Religious Right leader who saw a chance to boost year-end fundraising by jumping on the martyrdom bandwagon was made to look ridiculous.

This week’s news gave us plenty of evidence about real persecution, and it had nothing to do with Duck Dynasty. The face of persecution is not Phil Robertson, but the terrified LGBT people in Uganda who fear that they are about to be hunted.  Persecution looks like gay teenagers in Russia being beaten by thugs, and like gay parents who have the ability to leave Russia fleeing because anti-gay political leaders are threatening to take their children from them. Persecution looks like LGBT people all over the globe whose lives and freedom are threatened by new laws that enshrine discrimination and define them as criminals. Persecution looks like LGBT teens in Jamaica facing vigilante violence.  And on and on.

Newsweek reported a week ago that Ethiopia had declared war on gay men this year, noting, “A representative from the Ethiopian Inter-Religious Council Against Homosexuality announced that the council was making ‘promising’ progress in convincing the government to introduce the death penalty to punish ‘homosexual acts.’”

How do American conservative religious and political figures respond to this kind of persecution? Not with shouts of outrage but with enthusiastic cheering. It is no small irony that many of those most loudly screaming "persecution" over Robertson's suspension have been equally vocal supporters of international efforts to literally criminalize homosexuality. 

Brian Brown, Pat Buchanan, Matt Barber, and a sad parade of other religious conservatives fawn over Russia’s violently anti-democratic strongman Vladimir Putin as if he were Christendom’s new Defender of the Faith. Putin, in Barber’s words, is being allowed to “out-Christian our once-Christian nation.” (Of course many American Christians want nothing to do with Barber or his interpretation of the faith.)

And to their lasting shame, American Religious Right leaders’ financial and political support have been inflaming anti-gay passions in Uganda for years.  Lou Engle and Scott Lively actually traveled to Uganda and helped rally support for the bill. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who takes such umbrage at FRC’s designation as a hate group, dismissed criticism of the Uganda law in its earlier and more sinister incarnation, calling the proposed law an effort to “uphold moral conduct.”

There’s no indication that the Uganda bill’s passage is causing any noticeable soul-searching among the far right.  Far from it. The American Family Association’s always-repellant Bryan Fischer invoked the Duck Dynasty flap in celebrating the passage of the anti-gay law in Uganda: “Uganda stands with Phil. Makes homosexuality contrary to public policy. It can be done.”

Actually, as offensive as Phil Robertson’s statements were, they pale in comparison to Fischer’s. Robertson hasn’t suggested, as far as I know, that gay people should be arrested and put in prison for life. And I seriously doubt that Robertson has ever traveled to Russia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, or Australia to promote legal discrimination against and criminalization of LGBT people or anyone who advocates for equality, the way right-wing figures like Engle, Lively, Brown, Mat Staver, Peter LaBarbera, Paul Cameron, and others have.

No worries about the Olympics on the American Right.  In fact the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society is excited about having its 2014 “World Congress of Families” summit in Moscow, which they see as a new stronghold for “traditional values” against the secular moral squalor of Western Europe.

Conservative activists were prepared to see Phil Robertson as a victim of religious persecution because they’ve been primed for years with the “religious liberty” narrative being pushed by Religious Right leaders and their conservative Catholic allies. They portray criticism as persecution. They equate being on the losing side of policy debates with being under the heel of oppression. And when courts and legislatures struggle with the challenge of balancing religious liberty with other constitutional values like equality under the law, they see only black-and-white battles between good and evil.

Their rhetoric cheapens and distorts the meaning of terms like tyranny. Anti-religious persecution is a violent, heartbreaking reality for Christians in many parts of the world. But not for the privileged and powerful figures in the United States who wrap themselves in the mantle of martyrdom.

The next time you hear some talking head on Fox talk about persecution, think about people in the Central African Republic who are caught in sectarian violence verging on genocide. Or think about LGBT people whose lives and freedom are threatened every day in the name of Christian values.  

Religious Right Activists Suddenly Against Biblical Definition of Marriage

The same activists who support a wide definition of religious liberty that entails sweeping legal exemptions for Christians and who believe that US laws must closely follow biblical dictates, are now upset that a religious family has successfully challenged Utah’s anti-polygamy statute.

Religious Right Piles On To Defend Proponent Of Russia Anti-Gay Laws

A couple of weeks ago, the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society -- an Illinois-based group that through its World Congress of Families helped promote Russia’s new anti-gay laws -- was forced to relocate a Capitol Hill symposium on “family policy lessons from foreign lands” when Sen. Mark Kirk learned what it was up to and pulled the plug on its meeting room.

The group got a last-minute helping hand from House Speaker John Boehner , but the symposium’s speakers – World Congress of Families (WCF) founder Allan Carlson, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute president Austin Ruse, and Concerned Women For America senior fellow/WCF board member Janice Shaw Crouse – still spent much of the event bashing Kirk over the scheduling snafu .

Now, Religious Right groups including the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, and the American Family Association are coming to WCF’s defense.

The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown – who WCF arranged to testify before the Russian parliament in favor of its broad ban on adoption by gay people – told the American Family Association’s One News Now that Kirk decided to “discriminate against a group that stands for traditional marriage” and that by doing so he was “undermining the party platform” because “it’s part of the Republican Party platform to stand up for traditional marriage.”

The Family Research Council piled on with a press release accusing the senator of “true discrimination” and “silencing anyone who doesn’t adhere to a politically correct view of sexuality.”

"Holding a different view of marriage and sexuality is not discriminatory - especially when all the social science research demonstrates the benefits of the natural family,” added FRC’s Tony Perkins.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Family Institute, the state affiliate of the American Family Association, published an article accusing Sen. Kirk of wanting to “normalize sexual deviance while trampling the conscience rights of untold numbers of people” and followed it up with an email urging its members to call Kirk’s office and express their displeasure.

Despite what all three groups said, the Howard Center and the World Congress of Families don’t merely hold “a different view of marriage and sexuality.” WCF actively works to push oppressive anti-gay laws throughout the world, including actively working toward Russia’s ban on pro-gay-rights speech. Indeed, the speakers at the Capitol Hill symposium enthusiastically defended Russia's anti-gay laws and denyied that the laws actually harm gay people.

It maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise that three of the largest anti-gay groups in the US have jumped to the defense of WCF: Brown has close ties with WCF and has signed fundraising emails for the group, and FRC and AFA are both official “partners” of the organization.

Cuccinelli Backers: We Were Betrayed; Expel Bolling

With Ken Cuccinelli’s conservative backers already crying foul about their failed candidate’s supposed mistreatment, the GOP’s Civil War continues.

Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel is fantasizing about voter fraud despite offering absolutely no proof, and Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips wants Virginia’s Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling — who refused to endorse Cuccinelli — expelled from the GOP:

The Republican Party of Virginia has bylaws that call for the automatic expulsion of members who support Democrats in contested elections. Bill Bolling’s support of Terry McAuliffe has been well documents [sic].



Had the Republican establishment not worked against Cuccinelli, he would be governor today. Conservatives need to make an example of Bolling. He should be persona non grata at any Republican function in Virginia. His name should be synonymous with being a sell out [sic].

And if the Republican Party of Virginia does not publicly expel Bolling, then conservatives need to find a new political party in Virginia.

Just to add some perspective, Phillips hailed Cuccinelli’s running mate E.W. Jackson as the “future of the conservative movement.” Jackson was soundly defeated 55-44%.

John Nolte of Breitbart News attacked Chris Christie for not helping Cuccinelli in Virginia and said that Cuccinelli’s defeat actually helped the Tea Party:

Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning, NBC's Chuck Todd reported that New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie refused to campaign for Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia Republican who narrowly lost his own governor's race to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. "They begged Christie, and you can make an argument," Todd said on Morning Joe. "That to bring a Chris Christie to Northern Virginia might have helped. But Chris Christie is worried about his own brand."

Part of Christie's brand problem, though, is his behavior during the closing days of last year's presidential campaign. After running one of the most divisive administrations and re-election campaigns in recent memory; in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Barack Obama went to New Jersey seeking bipartisan credibility. And in the eyes of many, Christie went above and beyond to give it to him.



Had Christie taken just a half-day to stump for Cuccinelli, not only would that have helped wash the Sandy stain away, it might have actually made him a hero to the base for both defying the Morning Joe crowd and helping to drag Cuccinelli over the finish line.



If Christie wins the 2016 Republican nomination but loses Virginia, and with it the general election, last night should be remembered as the most short-sighted and spiteful cutting off of the nose to spite the Tea Party in years.

The GOP Establishment and Morning Joe crowd keep lecturing the Tea Party about how it is all about winning elections. In Virginia last night that talking point was laid bare as nothing more than a lie.

Longtime conservative activist Richard Viguerie maintained that Cuccinelli’s loss has nothing to do with his radical views. Viguerie even compared Cuccinelli to Goldwater, who lost the 1964 presidential election in a landslide:

What is clear is that Cuccinelli’s ideas weren’t rejected so much as he was drowned in the sea of money that flowed in to Terry McAuliffe’s campaign to keep Virginia government growing, taxes rising, to roll back the progress social conservatives have made in the state, and most importantly, to keep cronyism as the governing principle at the Virginia state Capitol building.



The betrayal of Ken Cuccinelli by Bolling and other nominal Republicans, such as political consultant Boyd Marcus, mirrors the betrayal of Barry Goldwater by the Republican establishment and their nominal allies in the business community.



George Will once wrote that Barry Goldwater didn't lose in 1964, it just took 16 years, until the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, to count the votes. We expect that the same will be said of Ken Cuccinelli and we believe he will be vindicated in the future.

Ken Cuccinelli did not lose last night because he is a principled limited government constitutional conservative. Cuccinelli lost because he was drowned in a sea of money and undercut by a Republican establishment that would rather see a Democrat in the Governor’s mansion than end the good ole boy politics in Richmond and allow a real conservative anywhere near the levers of power that he might use to make good on Republican promises to govern as limited government constitutional conservatives.

Anti-choice activist Marjorie Dannenfelser said that Cuccinelli was hamstrung by the Star Scientific scandal and “misleading attack ads,” but insisted that the “Republican establishment” is to blame “for abandoning this race.”

Somehow, Dannenfelser thinks that Cuccinelli’s loss shows the need for candidates to emphasize their opposition to abortion rights, even though 61% of Virginia voters [PDF] said they are pro-choice.

In response to Ken Cuccinelli’s close defeat in the Virginia gubernatorial election tonight, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), told LifeNews that the race shows the pro-life movement needs to spend more time exposing how extreme candidates like McAuliffe are on abortion.

“Despite being woefully outspent and compromised both by the government shutdown and the ethics scandal faced by Governor Bob McDonnell, Cuccinelli came within inches of victory. The political prognosticators that can often drive election results by their predictions ought not to have given up on him. The results make clear that more support from outside groups in the final weeks could have changed the outcome. Shame on the Republican establishment for abandoning this race and failing to push Ken over the finish line.

“Terry McAuliffe spent well over $5 million on misleading attack ads about Ken Cuccinelli and the fictitious ‘war on women,’ including running more than 5,600 spots on the abortion issue alone. Attacks on Cuccinelli were left unanswered, or answered too late, and the negative message stuck.

“This election shows that it is imperative for pro-lifers to be on offense in 2014 against the distortions and extremism of the Left. The Democrat strategy for 2014 is set: demonize pro-life candidates and spend big on ‘war on women’ advertising. The party, candidates, and movement must aggressively expose the other side’s extremism and penchant for putting women and children at risk through their abortion policies.”

Women Speak Out – Virginia, the state PAC of the SBA List, raised and spent $870,000 in support of Ken Cuccinelli’s candidacy, working to turn out the pro-life base. The organization canvassed the homes of 69,700 voters, engaged in volunteer calls reaching 255,000 identified pro-life inconsistent voters, and had get out the vote calls reaching as many as 1 million homes.

UPDATE: Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage accused the Republican Party of abandoning Cuccinelli over his opposition to same-sex marriage:

"Too many leaders of the Republican Party have drunk the Kool-Aid of the consulting class that they should abandon conservatives like Ken Cuccinelli because they have taken principled stances on social issues such as preserving marriage and protecting life," said Brown. "How many elections do they need to lose before they realize they are implementing a disastrous election strategy and ruining their chances of success?"

Brown noted that when the marriage issue has been on the ballot, it has outpolled the Republican ticket by a significant margin. Support for traditional marriage polled an average of seven points higher than Mitt Romney did in the four states it was on the ballot in 2012.

"The GOP elite wants candidates to be silent about their views on marriage and other social issues, but election results show that is exactly the wrong thing to do," Brown said. "Election after election has shown that voters across America, including in deep blue states, support traditional marriage by a significantly higher margin than they support the GOP. For the second election in a row, Republican leaders and consultants have pursued a flawed strategy of urging silence on social issues that has cost their candidates. If they don’t wake up, they could face disaster next year."

Focus On The Family, Alliance Defending Freedom, NOM Leaders Reportedly Met With Author Of Russian 'Homosexual Propaganda' Bill

Last week, we reported that National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown had just gotten back from a Moscow planning meeting for the 2014 World Congress of Families gathering in Russia. Brown confirmed his participation to Rachel Maddow, telling her “we are proud to work with our allies in Russia and around the world to protect marriage as the union as one man and one woman.”

We now have a clearer idea of who those allies are. In a press release yesterday, the World Congress listed many of the participants in last week’s planning meeting. They included leaders of several major American religious right groups including Brown, Benjamin Bull of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM).

Also on the list is Fabrice Sorlin, the far-right French activist who led a delegation joined by Brown to testify before the Russian parliament in May in favor of a broad ban on the adoption of Russian orphans by gay couples and single people living in countries that allow same-sex marriage. Sorlin is the one who told members of the Duma that Russia’s efforts to repel advances in gay rights (or “the suicide of our civilization”) was just like its role protecting Europe from the “the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan” in the 13th century.

Also attending the meeting was Jack Hanick, the former Fox News employee who has surfaced as an activist and “consultant” in Russia.

According to the World Congress’ press release, these activists not only discussed topics for the upcoming summit (including “declining fertility and the origins of the sexual revolution, the ideological roots of the anti-family lobby, the protection and promotion of marriage [and] countering the radical sexual rights agenda”) but also met with Russian legislator Yelena Mizulina to discuss a “WCF parliamentary forum” for September 2014.

Mizulina is the head of the Duma’s committee for family, women and children and coauthor of Russia’s new ban on speech in favor of gay rights to minors. The World Congress has been one of the most vocal international defenders of that law. The fact that the World Congress and its members are working directly with her to plan an exchange with members of the Russian parliament shows that the summit’s location in Moscow isn’t just an accident of geography.

In fact, as we have reported, WCF has built up a structure of activists in Russia to push anti-gay, anti-choice policies throughout Eastern Europe in the year’s leading up to the 2014 summit, and it was “activists working with the World Congress of Families” who invited Brown to speak to the Duma in favor of the adoption ban.

WCF’s managing director went so far as to say, shortly before Russia’s parliament passed the “gay propaganda” bill, that “the Russians might be the Christian saviors of the world.” As Political Research Associates has noted, the very idea for the World Congress of Families came from a meeting of the group's founder with Russian Orthodox activists, so the upcoming events in Moscow are something of a homecoming for the group.

Right Wing Round-Up - 10/23/13

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Brian Brown Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Friday 09/26/2014, 2:30pm
Back from defending anti-gay laws in Russia, Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage introduced Rick Santorum at today’s Values Voter Summit. Brown spent most of his time pushing back on claims that the GOP’s opposition to abortion rights and LGBT equality is dragging down the party, suggesting that Republicans would win more elections if they nominated more social issue crusaders in the mold of Rick Santorum. “It’s not our fault” when Republican candidates lose, Brown said. “You cannot blame social conservatives for lost elections.” MORE >
Miranda Blue, Tuesday 09/16/2014, 3:34pm
This past weekend, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown was scheduled to stop in France on his way back from Moscow to train activists with the French anti-gay group Manif Pour Tous. Manif Pour Tous is the most prominent organization working against LGBT rights in France, and has strong ties with American groups, as evidenced by its president Ludovine de la Rochere’s appearance at this year’s March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. So what was the Manif Pour Tous event that Brown participated in like? A reporter from the French publication Le Nouvel... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 09/15/2014, 4:33pm
PFAW: Senate Needs to Confirm Pending Judicial Nominees. Alan Colmes: Arizona GOP Vice-Chair Resigns Over Remarks On Sterilizing Poor Women. Jeremy Hooper: Brian Brown warns America: We probably won't survive gay people's marriages. Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: Lindsey Graham: We may ‘all get killed’ by ISIS. Caitlin MacNeal @ TPM: Palin's Camp Weighs In: We Brawled, But Someone Else Started It! Tina Nguyen @ Mediaite: TV Commentator Demands Jews Return Gold Stolen During Biblical Exodus. Zack Ford @ Think Progress: Kazakh Political... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Friday 09/12/2014, 9:56am
UPDATED According to the foundation run by Russian oligarch Constantin Malofeev, this week’s international gathering of anti-gay, anti-abortion-rights activists in Moscow ended with delegates issuing a proclamation that blasts liberal social policies in Western countries and calls for Russian-style “homosexual propaganda” bans to be passed throughout the world. The forum in Moscow was originally organized under the name of the Illinois-based World Congress of Families, which officially “suspended” its planning of the conference after Russia invaded Ukraine,... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Thursday 09/11/2014, 1:48pm
This week, a number of American Religious Right activists are participating an in international forum on “large families and the future of mankind,” which is organized and funded by a number of close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin and kicked off its session at the Kremlin yesterday with the reading of a personal message from Putin himself. Among the Americans speaking at the forum, according to a preliminary schedule, are the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute’s Austin Ruse, Family Watch... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 09/10/2014, 4:47pm
Constantin Malofeev’s group has posted photos of one of today’s panels on Facebook, which show that Brian Brown did indeed present at the event. MORE >
Brian Tashman, Monday 09/08/2014, 9:35am
The same Religious Right activists who accuse President Obama of persecuting Christians by supporting gay rights, have over the last few years hailed Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a hero and global leader of conservative Christians. Religious Right leaders such as Franklin Graham, Phyllis Schlafly, William Murray, Pat Buchanan, Bryan Fischer, Brian Brown, Don Feder and Scott Lively, among others, have lionized Putin as a fearless Christian leader who is bravely cracking down on gay rights. The World Congress of Families even decided to hold its annual... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 08/27/2014, 4:33pm
Lauren Windsor @ The Nation: Caught on Tape: What Mitch McConnell Complained About to a Roomful of Billionaires (Exclusive). Jeremy Hooper @ GLAAD: His other tactics failing, NOM president turns to anti-trans fear-mongering. Ian Millhiser @ Think Progress: Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Bizarre Scheme To Stop His Own Education Plan By Suing The Obama Administration. Asawin Suebsaeng @ The Daily Beast: The GOP's Weird Anti-Dem Video Game, Starring a Frat-Boy Elephant. Caitlin MacNeal @ TPM: Steve King: Executive Action On Immigration Could Trigger Shutdown. John Avignone... MORE >