The shooting that took place at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council last week was a tragedy.
The security guard who apprehended the shooter is a hero.
The actions of anti-gay groups in the aftermath have been nothing short of reprehensible.
After the shooting, GLAAD and more than 40 organizations that support LGBT equality condemned the incident and expressed our best wishes to the victim (FRC security guard Leonardo Johnson) and his family. Our community knows how such acts of violence can cause harm to more than just the direct victims, and must be denounced.
In 2009, Tony Perkins called the man who murdered women's health care provider (and frequent FRC punching bag) George Tiller a "vigilante" and said that we should all "look toward the end of all violence."
But after the shooting last week, the rhetoric coming from people like Perkins is missing words like "vigilante." Instead, Perkins and fellow anti-gay crusader Brian Brown from the National Organization for Marriage are trying to blame this inexcusable act of violence on groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labeled FRC a "Hate Group" for its damaging misinformation campaigns against the LGBT community. Perkins wants people to think this designation comes solely from his groups' positions on the issues.
Unfortunately this sentiment has been seeping out into the public consciousness. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank referred to FRC as a "mainstream conservative think tank."
Trouble is, I don't know many mainstream organizations that characterize their opponents as being in league with Satan, as Perkins did (calling LGBT advocates "pawns of the enemy") in April of last year at the Oak Initiative Summit.
Mainstream organizations don't advocate for criminal sanctions for the mere existence of their opponents as FRC fellow Peter Sprigg did with Chris Matthews in Feburary of 2010. If they were mainstream, Perkins wouldn't have said that people who are born gay or lesbian have an "emptiness inside them" or that the It Gets Better campaign to prevent suicide is "disgusting." (from AFA Radio and a letter to FRC supporters)
Look at his statements. "Pawns of the enemy?" This is not a mainstream organization. This is as fringe as fringe gets.
As for NOM -- we were shocked earlier this year when internal documents revealed that NOM was proudly trumpeting race-baiting and was planning to attack equality by "fanning the hostility" between the LGBT community and the Black and Latino communities. This week we were shocked again to see it brazenly using the shooting at FRC to ask for money. Brian Brown said LGBT equality organizations were guilty of "attempted murder" and wrote "We must fight back against the violent and hateful tactics of intimidation being pursued every day by gay 'marriage' thugs and activists."
Because doubling down on anti-gay rhetoric and funding more racially-divisive politics is a way to bring people together, right Brian?
Look closer at the language he used. "Fight." "Violent." "Hateful." "Intimidation." "Thugs." And that's just one sentence. He condemned violence in one sentence then used warlike language in his next breath.
But here's the most important part. By their own admission, here are the "tactics" that FRC and NOM have wrongfully claimed led to last week's unpardonable act of violence: SPLC brought more attention to FRC's own words and actions.
SPLC didn't just call FRC a hate group and walk away. It did so by citing FRC's long history of disseminating purposeful misinformation and spreading discriminatory and harmful stereotypes.
It's the same thing here at GLAAD, where our Commentator Accountability Project has made countless journalists aware of actual quotes from Perkins and Brown that reveal what's truly driving these groups' anti-gay activism. When millions of Americans see these activists on national news outlets, it's important that they also have some context.
Anti-gay activists like Perkins accuse critics of trying to "silence" them. Sorry Tony, but we're doing the opposite. SPLC, GLAAD and many others are bringing more attention to Perkins' and Brown's words and exposing FRC's and NOM's actions. There are many Americans who might not yet support marriage equality, but also don't think LGBT people are pawns of the devil, the way Perkins does.
In the wake of last week's unforgivable attack on FRC's headquarters, that organization has done nothing but exploit Mr. Johnson's heroism in an attempt to keep its work -- and the reasons for SPLC's categorization -- hidden. As for NOM's tasteless attempt to raise money off of another organization's tragedy? That speaks for itself.
Follow Herndon Graddick on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hgraddick