Trump nominates homophobic former Family Research Council chief to board of ‘religious freedom’ crusaders

It was announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump nominated Gary Bauer to be the latest member of the Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Bauer once led the Family Research Council, the anti-LGBT organization that advocates that homosexuals are harmful to society. The group has even been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Before that, Bauer was known for his opposition to having an LGBT advisor to former President Ronald Reagan’s Commission on the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the 1980s.

“Millions of Americans try to raise their children to believe that homosexuality is immoral,” he wrote in a 1987 memo. “In many states homosexual practices are illegal, including sodomy. For you to appoint a known homosexual to a Presidential Commission will give homosexuality a stamp of acceptability. It will drive a wedge between us and many of our socially conservative supporters.”

Candidate Donald Trump boasted of his support for LGBT Americans during the 2016 campaign.

“Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs,” Trump even wrote in a June, 2016 tweet.

[Raw Story]

Trump Tweets Research From Designated ‘Hate’ Group

President Donald Trump was criticized on Tuesday for tweeting statistics compiled by an anti-immigration organization designated as a hate group by a leading civil rights watchdog.

In the midst of a series of posts about immigration, the proposed border wall and California’s legal status as a sanctuary state, at 8:24 a.m. Trump tweeted:

The second aspect of the above claim–regarding the alleged propensity of immigrants to access legal welfare benefits–linked to by Trump is controversial in the extreme.

Originally sourced to the Center for Immigration Studies (“CIS”), the claim is frequently shared by proponents of reduced immigration. In response to the popularity of the claim, the underlying research was debunked as misleading by the Center for Law and Social Policy (“CLASP”) in 2017.

But the problem with Trump’s use of statistics from CIS is not simply their reliability as a source, according to Vox journalist Carlos Maza noted in his tweet calling Trump out.

In 2017, CIS was officially designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Maza noted a few instances cited by the SPLC as to why CIS was tagged with their official designation.

Of note, in January 2017, CIS promoted an anti-Semitic article written by Kevin MacDonald which asked why “Jewish organizations” are promoting “the refugee invasion of Europe.”

Various additional instances of CIS’ racially and ethnically insensitive posture were catalogued as well. In one instance cited by Maza, the SPLC notes:

In June 2016, CIS distributed an article from John Friend, a contributing editor of the anti-Semitic The Barnes Review, claiming that “so-called refugees are committing rape and other horrific crimes against European women and men in increasing numbers.” Friend once described the Holocaust as a “manufactured narrative, chock full of a wide variety of ridiculous claims and impossible events, all to advance the Jewish agenda of world domination and subjugation.”

In response to the SPLC’s designation as a hate group, CIS defended itself. CIS’ Executive Director Mark Krikorian insists that CIS’ incidents of promoting white nationalists and anti-semites is accidental–that after they are published by CIS, some “writers…turned out to be cranks.”

Oppositely, Krikorian has repeatedly defended the work of Jason Richwine, a National Review contributor and blogger for CIS. Richwine once asserted that Latino immigrants are less intelligent than “native whites” and has previously contributed to Richard Spencer‘s online periodical Alternative Right.

[Law and Crime]

Reality

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, wrote last April that “the border wall would have to deter the entry of about 1 million illegal immigrants over the next ten years to break even — an estimated 5 to 6.3 times as many as CIS estimated.

“Furthermore, this means that the border wall would have to permanently deter 59 percent of the predicted border crossers over the next ten years to break even. This does not include the cost of any additional enforcement measures such as hiring more border agents, border returns, or border deportations.”

Cato also estimated that the average undocumented immigrant uses closer to $43,444 more in public services than they pay in taxes, and that building and maintaining a wall would cost closer to $43.8 billion.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Speaks to ‘Hate Group’ Behind Closed Doors

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave an off-camera speech behind closed doors on Tuesday. As announced on his public schedule, Sessions addressed a crowd at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, California.

As the news of the scheduled speech traveled, nonprofit advocacy groups and Democrats issued statements asking why the head of the U.S. Department of Justice was speaking at a meeting of a “hate group” — a designation bestowed upon Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2016.

“You can judge a person by the company they keep and tonight – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is choosing to spend his time speaking in front of one of the country’s leading anti-LGBTQ hate groups,” Democratic Party spokesperson Joel Kasnetz wrote in a statement emailed to NBC News. “Sessions’ appearance at this event, as the top law enforcement official in the country, brings into question whether the attorney general intends to protect all Americans.”

NBC News asked the Justice Department for comment on the public outcry but did not receive a response. An additional request for comment sent to Alliance Defending Freedom did not receive a reply.

ADF is essentially a powerhouse Christian law firm, defending clients like Masterpiece Cakeshop, the bakery taking its refusal to make a same-sex wedding cake all the way to the Supreme Court. But with millions in its war chest, ADF does more than just litigate: The firm wrote model legislation called the Student Physical Privacy Act that built a foundation for dozens of proposals and policies around the country that are frequently referred to as “bathroom bills.” ADF’s model legislation, and the national trend that stems from it, is aimed at keeping transgender people out of restrooms and other private facilities that correspond to their gender identity and presentation.

Founded in 1994, the Alliance Defending Freedom was a coalition effort between conservative Christian leaders aiming to preserve traditional social norms, restrict access to abortion and fight the “homosexual agenda.” Much of the firm’s early work came in the form of court briefs urging states to keep anti-gay sodomy laws on the books and in fighting attempts to legalize same-sex marriage. After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2003, ADF issued an official statement deriding the “radical homosexual” state policy.

“Radical homosexual activists have made their intentions clear – ‘couples’ will now converge on Massachusetts, ‘marry,’ and return to their respective states and file lawsuits to challenge Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) and try to force the states to recognize their ‘marriages.’ We are disappointed but we’re going to continue the fight state by state,” longtime ADF president Alan Sears wrote at the time.

The list of anti-LGBTQ remarks by ADF co-founders is long; James C. Dobson wrote an entire book about the gay “culture war” in 2004’s “Marriage Under Fire.” But after a Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges made same-sex marriage legal across America, ADF pivoted away from a now-futile fight and toward a new goal: keeping transgender people out of bathrooms.

In April, ADF attorney Kellie Fiedorek disputed the idea that the firm’s model legislation — and general motivation — is anti-LGBTQ or harmful to the rights of transgender people.

“The bills protecting privacy are simply ensuring that when it comes to intimate facilities, they are simply limiting them to biological sex. We all have a right to privacy,” Fiedorek said. “Even if you believe you are a man, a woman shouldn’t have to undress in front of you.”

In response to ADF being designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Fiedorek said the latter was “increasingly irrelevant” and “extreme,” saying ADF was the world’s “largest religious freedom legal advocacy organization.”

SPLC’s Heidi Beirich, though, told NBC News in April her organization doesn’t recklessly toss around the hate group label and had good reason to classify ADF as such a group.

“We don’t put a group on the hate list because they are against gay marriage,” Beirich said. “Where the rubber hits the road is when ADF attorneys engage in model legislation and litigation that attacks the LGBT community.”

The Attorney General’s own track record on LGBTQ issues has been cause for concern among LGBTQ advocates, too. When Sessions was confirmed in February, Lambda Legal executive director Rachel Tiven called it a “travesty,” while Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality said the confirmation marked a “deeply distressing day for civil rights.”

[NBC News]