.- The Southern Poverty Law Centerâs classification of pro-family groups as hate groups is the ânext phaseâ of a gay rights movement which seeks to redefine Christianity as bigotry and to shut down honest debate, pro-family leaders warned.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a well-funded civil rights organization which began in 1971 in opposition to racism and white supremacist groups.
Last week the center published an article classifying the Family Research Council and several other organizations as a âhate groups.â The SPLC also criticized the National Organization for Marriage, claiming both groups are âanti-gay.â The center claimed its listed groups have spread âknown falsehoodsâ about âLGBT peopleâ and have engaged in ârepeated, groundless name-calling.â
The group listed 18 total organizations, including Concerned Women for America, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and MassResistance. The law center stated that viewing homosexuality as unbiblical âdoes not qualify organizations for listing as hate group.â
In response, FRC president Tony Perkins charged that the SPLC was engaging in âa deliberately timed smear campaignâ against FRCâs nearly 30 years of action âwith civility and passion.â
âWe hold to the indisputable fact that the family- a Dad, a Mom, and children - is the best building block of a good society, which is why we oppose efforts to transform it based on personal sexual preference,â he said in a Nov. 24 statement.
He called on the law center to apologize for its âslanderous attack and attempted character assassination.â
Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the board for the National Organization for Marriage, spoke about the SPLC article and list in a Nov. 29 interview with CNA. She called it an âabsurd distractionâ and a âvery sadâ move for âa once-great civil rights organization.â
âWhat weâre seeing now is the next phase of the gay rights movement,â she warned. She noted homosexual rights activist Dan Savageâs claim in the Washington Post that the country should get to a point where same-sex marriage isnât debatable.
âThis is part of the unfolding process of attempting to redefine Christian teaching on sex and marriage as the moral, legal and cultural equivalent of racism.â
âI do believe this is the goal of the architects of the gay marriage movement,â Gallagher stated. âAnd theyâre making it very clear.
In a Nov. 29 e-mail to CNA, Princeton University law professor and National Organization for Marriage chairman emeritus Robert P. George compared the action to Sen. Joseph McCarthyâs smearing of opponents by accusing them of being communist sympathizers.
While the Law Center continues to do some good work in the area of civil rights, its âtarringâ of those it opposes âreveals itself to have become an ideologically partisan organization bent on shutting down dissent by intimidating into silence those with whom it should be engaged in honest debate.â
Gallagher noted that the Southern Poverty Law Center did not name her organization as a hate group âbut even the Washington Post got confusedâ by its article.
Responding to the Law Center's accusations that some groups listed had spread falsehoods, she said she did not see anything that âwould remotely cause us to be included in this report.â
In general comments about the SPLCâs attack on other groups, she described precedents in Europe where professions of belief in religious freedom accompany government suppression of believers in traditional marriage.
In Britain, according to Gallagher, Christian schools have the right to teach religious doctrine but the state claims the right to decide whether or not what is taught is a fact.
âThe line theyâre drawing is that you can say that gay marriage is unbiblical, but you canât say âItâs better for children to have a mom and a dadâ,â Gallagher explained.
The attempt to âshut down the scientific debateâ on statements of fact controls what ordinary people can say and think and helps âmorally shameâ people who think marriage is a union of a man and a wife.
Gallagher saw the Law Centerâs action as a vindication of her past statements.
âI wish they would stop proving that weâre right so consistently. Iâm not surprised. This is what I predicted would happen. Iâm a little surprised itâs happening so fast.
âThey believe you should be treated like a racist if you think marriage is a union of a man and a wife,â she said.
Asked to explain the difference between having racist views and having views opposed to homosexual acts, Prof. George said that debates about sexual ethics are about whether certain acts are âconsistent with the dignity of human beings.â
However, this debate assumes âthe equal and inestimable worth and dignity of all human beingsâ because it asks whether certain acts are worthy of them. Racist ideology rejects this, basing itself on âskin pigmentationâ or other âmorally irrelevant factors.â
âWe need to face squarely the goals of this movement, the rhetoric of this movement, and the fact that this is an issue,â Gallagher remarked.
She added that Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic bishops have made clear that âit doesnât get betterâ if opponents of same-sex âmarriageâ stand down.
âThe next fight is going to be whether or not our religious institutions and parents and schools are going to be stigmatized in the public square as racists, and face legal disabilities that racists face.â
George similarly warned that adherents of traditional Christian and Jewish beliefs have seen their rights âtrampledâ where same-sex unions have been recognized and where anti-discrimination laws have been used as âweapons against dissenters.â
âHere in the United States, we don't put people in jail for advocating bigotry, but we impose civil disabilities of various sorts,â he commented.
He predicted that if support for traditional marriage is treated as a form of bigotry, dissenting persons and institutions like the Catholic Church will âquickly find such disabilities imposed upon them.â
âIt has already happened in Massachusetts, where Catholic Charities has been driven out of the field of providing adoption services,â he said.