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Anti-LGBT leader appointed to religious freedom panel

Perkins runs hate group that has attacked LGBT rights for years

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Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was appointed to a U.S. commission on international religious freedom. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A new member has been named to an international religious freedom panel whose advocacy for the issue has focused on enabling anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom.”

Tony Perkins, president of the notoriously anti-LGBT Family Research Council, announced Tuesday in a statement that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has named him to a two-year term on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

“I am grateful to Majority Leader McConnell for appointing me to this prestigious position,” Perkins said. “From my post at USCIRF, I look forward to doing all that I can to ensure that our government is the single biggest defender of religious freedom internationally.”

The congressional record for Monday confirms Perkins was appointed to the commission pursuant to McConnell’s authority under federal law.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom bills itself as an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission dedicated to defending religious freedom in the United States and abroad. Commissioners are appointed by the president and congressional leaders of both parties.

Perkins has spoken out against the persecution of minority Christians overseas, but the Family Research Council — dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — domestically promoted the idea religious freedom should allow individuals to discriminate against LGBT people.

The Family Research Council has sought to derail virtually every advancement on LGBT rights, ranging from non-discrimination laws to marriage equality. In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case before the U.S. Supreme Court, the organization maintains Christian baker Jack Phillips has a First Amendment right to refuse to make custom wedding cakes for same-sex marriages.

LGBT groups roundly condemned the appointment of Perkins to the commission on the basis of his advocacy against LGBT rights and also cited as concern his views on Islam.

Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project, said the appointment of Perkins is “deeply disturbing.”

“As head of the hate group Family Research Council, Perkins specializes in spreading false propaganda that demonizes the LGBT community and Muslims,” Beirich said. “His idea of ‘religious freedom’ is having the freedom to discriminate against entire groups of people he doesn’t like. His well-documented bigotry has no place in any government entity.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, also condemned the appointment of Perkins in a statement, calling him “the most recognizable anti-LGBTQ activist in America.”

“He has espoused the most extreme views of LGBTQ people and other vulnerable communities including vocally supporting foreign laws that punish LGBTQ identity with death,” Ellis said. “The idea that Perkins would be making policy recommendations to an administration that is already anti-LGBTQ is dangerous and puts LGBTQ people directly in harm’s way.”

The Washington Blade has placed a request in seeking comment from McConnell’s office on why the majority leader appointed Perkins to the commission.

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Virginia

Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate opposes marriage equality

The Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center categorized as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group has endorsed Youngkin

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Glenn Youngkin (Blade file photo)

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – Glenn Youngkin in an interview with the Associated Press has reiterated his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Youngkin—a Republican who is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe to succeed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam—said in an interview published on Friday that he feels “called to love everyone.” Youngkin then reiterated his opposition to marriage equality before he added it is “legally acceptable” in the state. “I, as governor, will support that,” Youngkin told the AP.

McAuliffe was Virginia’s governor from 2014-2018. Same-sex couples began to legally marry in Virginia a few months after McAuliffe took office.

McAuliffe in 2014 became the first governor of a Southern state to officiate a same-sex wedding. The lesbian couple who McAuliffe married recently appeared in one of his campaign ads.

McAuliffe on Friday criticized Youngkin. “As governor, I worked my heart out to keep Virginia open and welcoming to all,” said McAuliffe in a tweet. “This type of bigotry and intolerance has no place in our commonwealth.”

The Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized as an extremist anti-LGBTQ hate group, earlier this month endorsed Youngkin, but Log Cabin Republicans are among the groups that have backed his campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign in 2019 named Youngkin’s former company, the Carlyle Group, as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index.

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Politics

California Rep. Eric Swalwell on death threats from Tucker Carlson fans

“He does this because he knows that his followers will be inspired & radicalized & then aim their vitriol at whoever he is attacking”

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Los Angeles Blade file screenshot Fox News

WASHINGTON – Appearing on MSNBC’s Deadline: White House, on Friday, U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell, (D) who represents California 15th which covers most of eastern Alameda County and part of central Contra Costa County, detailed the death and other threats he receives from fans of Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

We receive hundreds of threats. What was specific about this was the caller identified he had just been watching Tucker Carlson. Now, we get a lot of threats that come in as Tucker Carlson attacks me, but this person identified he had just heard from Tucker Carlson. He was now calling my office and then of course dropped a number of racist, sexist, homophobic epithets in the call, and then threatened to kill my entire family,” Swalwell said. “And what is so frustrating about this, Nicole, is that I have personally, eyeball to eyeball, asked Tucker Carlson not to lie about me on his show because of this effect.”

I’ve even in the last couple months sent a text message to him telling him when he lies about me on his show it results in death threats to me, my wife, and our family. And when he had people protesting outside his house just a couple years ago I went on Twitter despite not agreeing with almost anything he says and I said that that’s wrong to go to his house and terrify his wife in the way that that happened. But he does this because he knows that his followers will be inspired and radicalized and then aim their vitriol at whoever he is attacking that day,” the congressman added.

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Southern-Central Asia

Petition urges White House to protect LGBTQ Afghans

Taliban regained control of country on Aug. 15

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Two men in Kabul, Afghanistan, in July 2021 (Photo courtesy of Dr. Ahmad Qais Munzahim)

WASHINGTON — More than 10,000 people have signed a petition that urges the Biden administration to do more to help LGBTQ Afghans who remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country.

The Human Rights Campaign; the Council for Global Equality; Immigration Equality; Rainbow Railroad; the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration and the International Refugee Assistance Project on Friday presented to the White House the petition that urges the administration to adopt “a 10-point action plan … to expedite and ease the refugee and asylum process for LGBTQI Afghans.”

The same six groups last month urged the Biden administration to adopt a plan that would “prioritize the evacuation and resettlement of vulnerable refugee populations, including LGBTQI people, and ensure that any transitory stay in a third country is indeed temporary by expediting refugee processing.” The groups, among other things, asked the White House to “speak out forcefully against human rights abuses by the new Taliban regime and any increased targeting of vulnerable communities, including LGBTQI people, and use existing mechanisms to sanction and hold accountable perpetrators of human rights abuse.”

The Taliban entered Kabul, the Afghan capital, on Aug. 15 and regained control of the country.

A Taliban judge in July said the group would once again execute people if it were to return to power in Afghanistan.

Rainbow Railroad and Immigration Equality are among the other groups that have continued their efforts to evacuate LGBTQ Afghans since American troops completed their withdrawal from the country on Aug. 30. Some of the 50 Afghan human rights activists who Taylor Hirschberg, a researcher at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health who is also a Hearst Foundation scholar, has been able to help leave the country are LGBTQ.

“We reiterate our call for President Biden to adopt the 10-point policy plan which will expedite and ease the refugee process for LGBTQI Afghans,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof in a press release. “The 10,000+ people who signed our petition have demonstrated that they want the United States, long a beacon of refuge for those fleeing persecution, to take action to protect LGBTQI Afghans—a vulnerable group who risk oppression, even death, simply for who they are or who they love. Now is the time for action.”

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