Anti-LGBTQ activist and Religious Right attorney Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel told Crosstalk radio listeners on Tuesday that the Equality Act is “the most serious threat to religious freedom, life, and to family” and insisted that it would protect pedophilia.
The comments came towards the end of a lengthy discussion with Voice of Christian Youth America host Jim Schneider on the Equality Act, or HR 5, which passed in the House last Friday. The Equality Act would extend civil rights protections to LGBTQ people and would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Schneider, however, called the piece of legislation “LGBT and abortion on steroids crushing religious freedom,” and called the eight Republicans who joined Democratic majority to pass it in the House “a hand slap across the face of the Church.”
Staver went further and claimed that the civil right protections would protect pedophiles.
“Well, they are already using the idea of ‘sexual orientation’ to say just as someone is homosexual, lesbian, or gender confused, so this person is minor attracted. That’s what they use, the term minor attracted. That they are sexually attracted to minors,” Staver said. “And it’s no different, they say, as a ‘sexual orientation’ than anything else, and so if there is sexual orientation protection, it ought to include pedophilia, because who’s to say that minors should not engage in sex, who’s to say, they say, that adults should not have sex?”
“It’s already being used that way,” he insisted.
Staver doesn’t say who “they” are or cite any cases to support his claim. But anti-gay Religious Right activists have long tried to associate the LGBTQ community with pedophilia and employed slippery slope fallacies to oppose granting rights and protections to LGBTQ people.
Earlier in the conversation, Schneider tried to compare Michael Swift’s 1987 essay, “Gay Revolutionary,” originally published in Boston-based Gay Community News, to what he sees as the dangers of the Equality Act.
“Here’s what they say, folks, and this is what is embodied in HR. 5,” Schneider said. He began to read aloud, “We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity, of your shallow dreams and vulgar lies. We shall seduce them in your schools, in your dormitories, in your gymnasiums, in your locker rooms, in your sports arenas, in your seminaries, in your youth groups, in your movie theater bathrooms, in your army bunkhouses, in your truck stops, in your all male clubs, in your houses of Congress, wherever men are with men together.”
The problem? The essay is satire. The first line of the piece—which Schneider did read but failed to grasp—says, “This essay is an outré, madness, a tragic, cruel fantasy, an eruption of inner rage, on how the oppressed desperately dream of being the oppressor.” And as this Houston Press article notes, the essay is “a gayification of Jonathan Swift’s 1729 ‘A Modest Proposal,’ a benchmark of satire that suggests resolving Ireland’s economic woes by having poor people sell their children to the nobles for food.”
Unfortunately, that knowledge hasn’t stopped the Religious Right from using the essay to promote its own anti-LGBTQ propaganda.