In an email to supporters Tuesday evening, Tony Perkins insists that anti-gay animus was not a factor in the Orlando shooting. As leader of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council his effort to change the narrative provides a tacit admission his group is responsible for some of the bigoted rhetoric that he says was not a factor. The more that he tries to explain away his bigotry the deeper he gets in the homophobia marsh.

Two days ago, on Monday, Perkins quoted a supposed gay activist who is supposedly now a Trump supporter due to the Orlando shooting. It turned out to be an anonymous post on a far-right website. Perkins also quoted a tweet from a supposed LGBT person in Phoenix. That anonymous Twitter account was created on June 12 and is responsible for all of three tweets. Now he is quoting unnamed columnists at unnamed outlets with quotes that are actually quite accurate in describing how Perkins and his ilk were contributors to the climate that may have enabled the Orlando shooter. Perkins also claims that the shooter was gay and, therefore, this could not have been an anti-gay massacre.

And the Left’s Christian blame game goes on. It’s the religious
right, columnists rant, who created this “toxic climate” with their Kim
Davises and H.B. 2s. Citing North Carolina and Mississippi, liberals
insist, “The Christian right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the
last six months, and people are [pointing the finger at] Islam for this.
No.” First of all, people are blaming radical Islam because the shooter did.
Secondly, it’s a little ridiculous to suggest that disagreements over
special rights for people who identify as LGBT are responsible, since even the gunman’s ex-wife alleges he was gay.
While the investigation is ongoing, the 29-year-old Islamist was
reportedly a regular at gay clubs, tried to get romantically involved
with a male coworker, and had profiles on several gay dating apps. It’s
time for liberals to stop tiptoeing around the obvious and embrace what
the facts already do: which is that a hateful ideology — not guns,
Christians, or anti-Muslim sentiment — is to blame.

In point of fact Tony Perkins does contribute to a toxic climate. Dehumanizing and denigrating gay people makes it easier to do violence to them. There is a reason that FRC is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Even here Perkins cannot help himself. He describes equal rights for LGBT citizens as “special rights.”

I have seen no evidence to support Perkins’ claim that the shooter was a regular at gay clubs, had a romantic gay relationship or had profiles on gay dating sites. According to the AP: “A U.S. official briefed on the case said
Tuesday that the FBI is investigating reports that [the shooter] had been a
regular at the nightclub and had used gay dating apps.”

Suppose the shooter was gay or bisexual? Perkins seems to think that this would somehow confirm that this was solely the act of an Islamic terrorist. Perkins implies that a man would not slaughter his own affinity group. Would this not then serve as the perfect example of self-loathing behavior? After all, shame is currency for religious conservatives, including Muslims. I don’t doubt for a second that Islamic religious zealotry  was a factor, possibly the prime motivator. However the bigotry that comes from the Vatican, Conservative Christians and people like Mr. Perkins is certainly a contributing factor. There is a reason that a gay bar was targeted. It is reasonable to conclude that the shooter hated gay people including, perhaps, himself. This was a suicidal act.

Some Christians are likely to be reflective with respect to their anti-gay rhetoric. The ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges has created a frenzy in the Christian Right that is extraordinarily disproportionate to the effect of same-sex marriage on them or their ministries. A torrent of revenge legislation has flooded state chambers. HB2 is the perfect example. Aside from its effect on transgender people it nullified sexual orientation nondiscrimination protections that existed throughout much of urban North Carolina.

Perkins is looking for a societal hold-harmless for the Orlando shooting. Given Perkins’ bigotry and the fact that anti-gay rhetoric was likely a contributing factor that should be something that is quite difficult for him to obtain.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.