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Family Research Council clearly ducking debate over hate group charge

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"The people who avoid a debate are the ones afraid of losing."

This statement by Family Research Council head Tony Perkins was meant to smear the lgbt community in regards to the recent debacle of the law firm King & Spalding's decision not to defend the DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) in court.

Of course this decision was a bit more complicated than the narrative of a bullying lgbt community, as this Huffington Post article clearly shows.

But I find that Perkins's statement about cowardice relating less to the lgbt community and more to his organization, the Family Research Council.

In November of last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center officially named FRC  - and several other religious right groups - as anti-gay hate groups because they

have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations.

In response, FRC  launched a huge "Start Debating, Stop Hating" campaign which claimed that SPLC's accusation was a plot to attack FRC's "Christian" stance on gay marriage and homosexuality:

The surest sign one is losing a debate is to resort to character assassination. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a liberal fundraising machine whose tactics have been condemned by observers across the political spectrum, is doing just that.

The group, which was once known for combating racial bigotry, is now attacking several groups that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

How does the SPLC attack? By labeling its opponents "hate groups." No discussion. No consideration of the issues. No engagement. No debate!

Perkins said an interview with Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller:

“We’re not afraid to debate the issues,” Perkins said in a phone interview. “We are not running from the debate. We are confident on the issues we advocate for based on empirical, peer-reviewed research.”

The comment is highly ironic seeing that the last time Perkins did have a debate on the issue - on the news program Hardball with the SPLC's Mark Potok - he distorted data to make the inaccurate claim that pedophilia and homosexuality is connected. He also cited an organization, the American College of Pediatricians. It was later discovered that the ACP is not a legitimate medical organization but a sham group created to push religious right distortions about the lgbt community.

Hardball's host, Chris Matthews, was forced to give a clarifying statement regarding the ACP on a later broadcast.

Since that time, Perkins has pretty much avoided debates, appearing on "friendly" news programs such as  Fox and Friends.  Nor has he been directly addressing SPLC's charges.

Now in December of last year, FRC spokesperson Peter Sprigg said the following:

"We will be preparing a more detailed response to (the) charge that FRC spreads “falsehoods” in our well-documented research, which does show that certain harms are associated with homosexual conduct."

Sprigg referred readers to two pieces he wrote - Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows About Homosexuality and The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality. However, both of those pieces c ontained serious problems with distorted data and studies taken out of context and included studies that FRC admitted removing from its web page because of outdated sources.

And since Sprigg's statement, there has been no detailed response from the Family Research Council.

The closest thing to a response came as an answer to a question from a reader of this blog. FRC referred him to a piece, Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality, written by Perkins and published by The Washington Post on National Coming Out Day. An FRC official claimed that the piece clearly showed "motives for opposing homosexuality."

However, this settled nothing because Perkins had already been called out by Media Matters when that piece was published for distorting data - one of the very reasons why SPLC declared the organization to be a hate group.

In March, FRC contradicted itself as to the reason why SPLC accused it of being a hate group. You will remember that the organization was initially saying that it was being picked on because its Biblical beliefs. However, FRC said the following during a printed prayer (I highlighted the pertinent part):

. . . then the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) asserted and continues to assert that FRC is a “hate group” because it publishes social science data with which some homosexual activists disagree.

So basically, it's been over five months and FRC has yet to supply a "detailed response" to SPLC's charges that it is an anti-gay hate group even after an FRC official said it would.

Therefore, if Tony Perkins wants to talk about how "when people are afraid of a debate it is because they are scared of losing," I don't think he can point fingers at the lgbt community when his organization clearly illustrates his point much better.