The SPLC gave the Family Research Council the designation due to anti-gay speech from its leaders, which the SPLC says includes calls for gay men and lesbians to be imprisoned.
Labeling the Family Research Council a hate group puts one of Washington’s most powerful social issues advocates into the company of groups like the Nation of Islam and the now mostly defunct Aryan Nations in the eyes of the SPLC, which tracks 932 active hate groups in the U.S.
Groups are labeled hate groups by the SPLC — which made a name for itself by using civil lawsuits to severely weaken the KKK and other white supremacist groups — when they “have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics,” according to the group’s website.
For the Family Research Council, which hosts the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington — an event which this year drew presidential hopefuls like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee — the designation comes thanks to the group’s standing at the forefront of opposition to gay marriage and open gay and lesbian service in the military.
The main offender in the eyes of the SPLC is Peter Sprigg, the FRC’s senior researcher and vocal opponent of the gay rights movement. In May, Sprigg told me that an end to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would lead to more American servicemen receiving unwelcome same-sex fellatio in their sleep, part of a long line of reasoning from Sprigg suggesting that gay men are more likely to be sex offenders than anyone else.
The SPLC pointed to several other Sprigg comments when deciding to list the FRC as a hate group.
For instance, this:
[I]n March 2008, Sprigg, responding to a question about uniting gay partners during the immigration process, said: “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them.” He later apologized, but then went on, last February, to tell MSNBC host Chris Matthews, “I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions on homosexual behavior.” “So we should outlaw gay behavior?” Matthews asked. “Yes,” Sprigg replied.
The SPLC designation of the Family Research Council as an anti-gay hate group potentially poses more of a challenge for Republicans. Though many conservatives view the SPLC as a progressive group and therefore no more worthy of respect than, say, ACORN, the SPLC hate group label will almost undoubtedly make it into press reports about future events like the Values Voter Summit. That means Republican presidential hopefuls who may want to reach out to gay and lesbian Republican groups like the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud — which can be good sources of fundraising as well as “I’m not anti-gay” cred on the campaign trail — may have to explain why they publicly praised and rushed to address a group that SPLC is calling one of the worst perpetrators of ugly myths about gays.
Cue up the accusations of “anti-Christian bigotry” and “promoting the Radical Homosexual Agenda” from the FRC in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Ignition… We have liftoff.