The LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign and the Southern Poverty Law Center are standing by their decision to label conservative group Family Research Council a "hate" group even as some in their camp back away. But they say it's not because FRC simply opposes same-sex marriage. FRC is "hateful" because it links gay people to pedophiles, they claim.
HRC and SPLC also argue that the "hate" label should stick – even in the wake of a shooting that took place at the FRC headquarters last week – because the conservative group wants to expel gays from the U.S.
But are those claims true?
FRC, which champions traditional marriage and religious freedom, released a document this week refuting the charges of "hate."
"FRC has never said, and does not believe, that most homosexuals are child molesters," the group says in its document.
In an op-ed featured in The Washington Post this week, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, made a reference to comments made by FRC President Tony Perkins in 2010, arguing that the conservative group links gays to pedophiles.
In 2010, Perkins said: "While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. ... It is a homosexual problem."
In the FRC document, the family group argued, "It is undisputed that the percentage of child sex abuse cases that are male-on-male is far higher than the percentage of adult males who are homosexual. This suggests that male homosexuality is a risk factor for child sexual abuse. Homosexual activists argue that men who molest boys are not actually 'homosexual;' but scholarly evidence undermines that claim. It also cannot be disputed that there is a sub-culture within the homosexual movement that advocates 'intergenerational' sexual relationships."
Griffin also pointed to a 2008 comment made by Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at FRC, claiming that FRC called for the expulsion of gays and the criminalization of homosexuality.
"I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than import them," Sprigg said then when commenting on uniting gay partners through immigration.
Griffin noted that while Sprigg apologized for that remark, Sprigg said in 2009, "I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions on homosexual behavior."
Does FRC want to kick homosexuals out of the country?
The FRC document cited Sprigg's public apology for those comments.
"In response to a question regarding bi-national same-sex couples who are separated by an international border, I used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God. I apologize for speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace," Sprigg said in the 2008 apology.
Does FRC want to "criminalize" homosexuality?
"FRC has made no effort to reinstate sodomy laws since the U.S. Supreme Court struck them down in the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas," the group stated. It added that "re-criminalizing" homosexuality is not a policy goal for FRC.
Last Wednesday, a gunman opened fire at the Washington, D.C., offices of FRC. One employee was shot in the arm but that employee, Leo Johnson, was able to subdue the shooter.
The gunman was identified as Floyd Corkins, 28, who was a volunteer for the U Street NW community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. According to a criminal complaint filed, Corkins said something to the effect of "I don't like your politics" after being subdued.
LGBT groups, including HRC, have condemned the violence but have not backed down on their labeling FRC a "hate" group. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank and fellow liberal James Kirchick have denounced the label.
While Perkins of FRC said Corkins alone was responsible for the shooting, Corkins was "given a license to shoot" by organizations that have recklessly labeled other groups as "hate" groups.
"People from across the political spectrum have endorsed our call for an end to inflammatory rhetoric against FRC and other pro-family organizations that peacefully, legally, and responsibly participate in public policy debate on issues like same-sex 'marriage.' It's a shame that HRC won't join them," FRC said in an email Tuesday.