I could hardly believe what I was reading when I saw this breathtaking quote in Dana Milbank’s WaPo column arguing that the Family Research Council, because Tony Perkins doesn’t wear white sheets and go on Night Rides, isn’t a hate group.

Gays and lesbians are winning the fight for equality by example and persuasion. Those who support gay rights will gain nothing by sticking inflammatory labels on their opponents, many of whom are driven by deeply held religious beliefs.

My assumption is that Mr. Milbank doesn’t read or see any news reports of the continuing struggle in much of the U.S. for LGBTs to have even the most basic of civil rights he takes for granted — equal accommodation, the right not be fired for sexual orientation or gender identity — oh, and not to be killed or maimed for simply existing. His overall message is the inaccurate, pathetic, lazy zero-sum argument that, in his mind, the LGBT community has not suffered as much violence or deprivation of civil rights as, say, blacks. Please. Like I said, he doesn’t bother to even bone up on recent incidents of horrid violence:

Those are just a few stories Mr. Milbank might have come across while Googling. Maybe gay is A-OK where he lives, but “winning” the fight for equality is still a distant dream for many, and even when laws are on the books, as many people of color and women can tell you, discrimination and violence can only be punished at that point, it doesn’t stop it from occurring on a regular basis.  That’s quite a bit of privilege Mr. Milbank leans on in that column.

“…many of whom are driven by deeply held religious beliefs.”

What makes the column insidious is that Milbank is not some right-wing fanatic like Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, who spends his workday doing everything he can to demonize LGBTs in print and on video/radio.  We expect Fischer to parrot that FRC is the victim of  the “mean-spirited” Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization that deemed FRC a hate group, but a Washington Post columnist? It should be noted that the right wing anti-gay “conservative thinker” Robert George is loving Milbank’s column. Who is George? Aside from being co-founder and former Chairman of the National Organization For Marriage, he’s a busy anti-gay force. From the GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project:

– Described being gay as “beneath the dignity of human beings as free and rational creatures.”

– Argued that gay relationships have “no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence.”

– Suggested that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shouldn’t be considered a Catholic because by signing marriage equality into law, “he has made it clear that he simply does not believe what Catholicism teaches about sexual morality and marriage.”

– Said marriage equality is “about sex,” not about love, commitment, and responsibility.

– Sits on the Board of an organization that supports and funds anti-Islam extremists.

– Drafted the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto signed by Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical leaders that “promised resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.”

NOTE: He is part of the political mainstream – Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner appointed George to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

So Milbank’s view can be seen as reasonable by those who aren’t clued into the level of anti-LGBT bias still legal and occurring around the country. The column reeks of a lack of knowledge of facts readily available to him as you can see, and he appears to have no sense of why the LGBT community is up against a professional anti-LGBT establishment that has respect inside the Beltway in a way the KKK could never be. FRC is in a much better political position to wield its anti-gay views with much more sophistication. As Zack Ford notes at Think Progress LGBT:

The violent history of the KKK and Aryan Nations are obviously quite different from that of anti-gay groups, though it’s worth noting that Tony Perkins has happily spoken in front of white supremacy groups before and even once rented a KKK Grand Wizard’s phone bank. Milbank seems content to focus on these differences, but in doing so he fails to notice the obvious similarities. Groups like the KKK, or even the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, might not function as a “policy shop” per say, but the effect of their efforts is no different. Groups that promote white supremacy and heterosexual-supremacy both publish and promote rhetorical fuel designed to foster hate, disdain, and bigotry against groups of people throughout society.

Burning crosses and stringing people up are not some “gold standard” that earns an organization a hate group designation.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding