Tony Perkins
YouTube/Fox News

Wednesday evening Tony Perkins made a number of misleading statements regarding the Equality Act (HR5) on the blog of his organization, Family Research Council. Before I get to that, a review is in order.

Tony Perkins is a liar

Some of Perkins’ prevarications are vague and some are whoppers. The sanctimonious Christian (who would have “Jesus1” license plate if he could get it) is shaping opinion through mendacity. There is a difference between alternate views and alternate facts.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Perkins’ organization, Family Research Council, is a hate group. The SPLC claims that anti-LGBT hate groups try to marginalize LGBT people but it is more. Tony Perkins advances his depravity through dishonesty.

FRC’s supporters do not resent the fact that Perkins is insulting their intelligence. Perhaps they do not realize that they are being lied to. Perhaps Perkins has license to lie to supporters because he tells them what they want to hear. People who do not correct Perkins are complicit in his malevolence. For the year ended June 30, 2017, FRC received nearly $15 million in contributions which means that Mr. Perkins has many enablers.

The Equality Act

Perkins’ entire tirade warrants scrutiny. Here are some of the lies:

The so-called Equality Act is one of the latest examples, which shows once again how the new Democratic party is being controlled by extreme LGBT activists.

The Democratic party is comprised primarily of people who believe in LGBTQ equality (as expressed by equal protection and due process). Perkins is suggesting that radical LGBT activists have some control over the process. Extremism is defined by views or actions. We who support equality do not have control and there is nothing extreme about equal protection and due process.

The bill is so far-reaching in its effect that it rewrites the rules of business, education, sports, health care, privacy, and faith.

What Perkins is dishonestly claiming is that a vast swath of our society requires the ability to discriminate against LGBT people. Here is a similar quote.

This provision affects farmers,
hospitals, schools, local government loans,
social security, veterans, banks, …

That was from Senator Strom Thurmond debating Senator Hubert Humphrey in 1963 in opposition to what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Here is another Thurmond quote from the same debate while I am at it:

Senator, we live in a
country of freedom-and under our Constitution a man has a right to use his own
private property as he sees fit. The mayor
of Salisbury, Md., said that if they had had
a law on the books, as we’re trying to pass
here now, they would not have been able to
have desegregated their business. Now, he
says they were able to get the business people to do it voluntarily. You can’t do some
things by law. Some things have got to come
in the hearts and minds of people. And we
mustn’t think that we can regiment and control and regulate the lives of people. After
all we have a Constitution that guarantees
freedom, and we must observe that Constitution, and we don’t want to require people
to live in involuntary servitude. And I think
it is involuntary servitude for a woman of
one race to have to give a massage to a
woman of another race if she doesn’t want
to do It.

As I go along you decide how much Perkins’s homophobia and transphobia resembles the racist rhetoric of Strom Thurmond 56 years ago.

Casualty number one? Religious freedom. As far back as Chai Feldblum, liberals have been pretty candid about the fact that when faith and sexuality clash, there isn’t “a single instance” when they thought religious liberty should win. The Equality Act makes sure of that, gutting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act …

Note how Perkins quotes Chai Feldblum (out of context) and then attributes her supposed view to everyone else he doesn’t like. The Equality Act has no effect on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which I am sure Perkins understands in its entirety. He probably has it committed to memory.

Government may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person … is the least restrictive means of furthering [a] compelling governmental interest.

The above elicits two questions that neither I nor Perkins can answer to any degree of certainty:

  1. Is refusing service citing religious belief an exercise of religion? In other words, is that baker so pious that just providing a cake conflicts with his religious beliefs or, in one alternative, is he using the situation as a means of demonstrating disapproval, conveniently cloaked in scripture?
  2. Is nondiscrimination a compelling government interest?

These are questions that the Supreme Court will eventually have to answer.

My greatest consternation is reserved for the following:

Long before the Equality Act, dozens of bakers, florists, sportscasters, teachers, policemen, nurses, athletes, and so many others were already living proof that the Left has no interest in co-existence. Democrats haven’t even hollowed out RFRA yet, and look at the fallout. If Congress ever did put the full weight of government behind the Left’s intolerance — and passed a bill like this — imagine the price Americans would pay for believing in natural marriage and science-based gender. The 99 percent are already at the mercy of the one percent when it comes to locker rooms, sports competition, privacy, and business. What’s next? Purging half the country from society?

The four biggest lies in the above are expressed through: “…imagine the price Americans would pay for believing in natural marriage and science-based gender.”

  1. Coexistence with conservative Christians requires those people to have a right to discriminate.
  2. By “price” Perkins is claiming that American would suffer greatly from nondiscrimination. That is a lie.
  3. [B]elieving is irrelevant (and a lie). The fact that someone believes that real marriage is limited to a man and a woman has nothing to do with refusing service. People can believe anything they want. In Strom Thurmond’s day (see the quote above) it meant being thoroughly repulsed if a while person were required to massage a black person.
  4. [S]cience-based gender? Perkins knows perfectly well that the overwhelming consensus of science is that gender is a separate construct from natal sex. In essence he is saying that a restaurant should be free not to seat a transgender person if the owner/chef believes that the trans person is inexplicably choosing to present themselves in opposition to their natal sex. This is not the first time that Perkins has no problem lying in disagreement to established science. He is a proponent of conversion therapy for example. He does so because he believes that making false claims about the efficacy of conversion therapy justifies the kind of discrimination that HR5 would outlaw.

A series of lies having nothing to do with the Equality Act:

The far-Left has been lying about this grand compromise for years. “Live and let live,” they promised during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” same-sex marriage, bathroom, and transgender debates. Now, we have drag queens reading to our kids in elementary school, girls running from the half-naked boys in their locker room, and teachers getting fired for using the “wrong” pronoun. Fool me once, the saying goes, shame on you. Fool us twice, and suddenly, there’s no such thing as the First Amendment, religious liberty, or expression.

No one in support of LGBT equality has ever used the phrase “live and let live.” Perkins is lying when he claims that LGBT supporters have been lying. We promised that open military service would be to the betterment of the armed services. It has been according to the service chiefs and has been accepted without further debate, resistance or review. I’ll resist the temptation to provide all of Tony Perkins’ quotes on that subject that have never come to pass.

We promised that marriage equality would have no effect on Traditional Marriage. It has not. Perkins will probably claim that the handful of wedding vendors who refused service to same-sex couples are victims. They are victims only of their own stupidity. Mr. Perkins’s organization distributed a pamphlet which equates same-sex marriage to someone who wants to marry his horse. Then there is this lie in the same piece: “Gay marriage threatens the institutions of marriage and the family.” Has that happened?

In transgender matters we have promised, and continue to promise, that transgender women and girls pose no threat to cisgender women and girls. That has been proven true. Perkins continues to promote the lie that trans women will rape or otherwise violate cisgender women.

Drag Queen Story Hour is available at the discretion of parents. It has nothing to do with military service, marriage equality or transgender accommodations and it is a very beneficial program. It certainly has nothing to do with HR5. That is a lie.

I am not aware of “girls running from the half-naked boys in their locker room.” Perkins is unspecific and is possibly exaggerating one incident to an every day occurrence.

I am aware of the fact that teachers have been disciplined for refusing to properly address transgender students in accordance with their gender. There is absolutely no reason for teachers not to be polite. Misgendering trans people does violence to them. It’s just a petty way of displaying disapproval and it is unnecessary no matter what the teacher’s religious beliefs are. It is a lie to suggest that this demonstrates our dishonesty or has anything to do with HR5.

Perkins also indulges himself with the notion that someone is trying to fool Christians. It is yet another lie. He further claims that HR5 obliterates the First Amendment which is a lie. Perkins, by the way, has his own version of the first part of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

Perkins then lies about the abolition of religious freedom. The First Amendment and the RFRA remain in full force and effect. Perkins lies when he says that HR5 will mean the end of expression. There is no connection between the two.

More lies:

Most Americans, even the ones the Left despises, aren’t trying to discriminate. They just want the freedom to live out their beliefs in their every day lives. That doesn’t mean they don’t believe in the dignity and decency of people who identify differently than they do. These are folks, Comer points out, who believe in the “fair treatment of their fellow citizens.” But they shouldn’t have to sacrifice who they are to prove it.

The people who are supposedly represented by Perkins want the right to discriminate against people they disapprove of. It is Perkins who is dishonestly promoting a theme of live-and-let-live. They wish to discriminate in the guise of religious necessity. Perkins then claims that he believes in the dignity and decency of people who identify differently from him. That, too, is bullshit.

This is not about how people “identify.” It is about who people are. It is the recognition of dignity that has caused Perkins to define homosexuality as a lifestyle choice comparable to drug addiction. GLAAD has the applicable collection of Perkins’ statements. It is remarkable how much dignity and decency he assigns to LGBT people and the lie of his own dignity and decency.

The reference to Comer is to Rep. James Comer, Jr. of Kentucky who does not like HR5 (which is a gross understatement). Comer is so extreme that he thinks a woman should be forced to carry her rapist’s baby (even if that rapist happens to be the woman’s father). He also thinks that a woman should die from foreseeable complications rather than have an abortion. Great choice of someone to admire.

Perkins’ conclusion offers an invitation to compare Rep. Comer and Mr. Perkins to the late Sen. Thurmond (see above):

“Some of the things I see in the Equality Act go beyond the pale of anything I’ve heard — from anyone,” Comer said. “The poor execution of this bill, I’m afraid, will result in certain persecution for millions of innocent Americans who are still under the impression that religious freedom is a fundamental American right.” Stop House Democrats from taking a blowtorch to 230 years of constitutional tradition.

Perkins thinks that he is required to be dishonest in order to defend his and supporters’ religious beliefs which says something about those beliefs. I don’t know what Perkins believes in other than greed and power. He is an avid supporter of the most indecent, undignified and dishonest president in America’s history. Someone who actually has taken a blowtorch to 230 years of constitutional tradition.

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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.