Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
On Friday, hard-line anti-gay activists gathered at the National Press Club in Washington to announce the formation of a new organization to fight what they call the "global LGBT agenda." Known as the Coalition for Family Values, the group is the brainchild of two extreme anti-gay advocates: Scott Lively, a Massachusetts-based pastor who is running for governor of the Bay State, and Peter LaBarbera, the founder of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality. The coalition's aim is to spread Russian-style anti-gay legislation throughout the world. Lively kicked off the event by praising Russia’s "much needed leadership in restoring family values," and urged other countries to follow its "excellent example" by passing laws against gay-rights "propaganda" and banning adoption by gay parents. But the event did not go as planned.
About 20 minutes into the program, a young gay Russian man named Slava Revin stood up and yelled, “Vladimir Putin is a dictator!” After that, the conference dissolved into chaos, with Revin and the speakers shouting over each other. "Stop killing us," cried a Lively supporter. "Stop killing speech. Stop killing freedom." Eventually, Lively launched into a diatribe about "homo-fascists," and Press Club staffers ushered Revin and another activist named Ellen Sturtz out of the room. Below is video of the exchange:
This kind of rhetoric is not unusual for Lively. The anti-gay crusader co-authored a book called The Pink Swastika, which argues that homosexuals were the driving force behind the Holocaust. In the United States, Lively's ideas haven't gotten much traction. But he has forged deep ties to religious and political leaders in Uganda and former Russian republics, where he has helped pave the way for anti-gay bills. Uganda's main gay-rights organization is suing him for crimes against humanity for allegedly fostering anti-gay sentiment and legislation in that country. (Last week, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda declared that he would sign a bill that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison.)
Through the Coalition for Family Values, Lively and LaBarbera intend to promote other types of legislation, including a bill to protect discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Lively casts it as a matter of religious freedom.) So far, they say, 75 pro-family organizations around the globe have signed on. Those listed in press materials are mostly obscure groups, but a few prominent social conservative outfits have joined, including Liberty Counsel Action and the American Family Association. "Other nations, including the United States, could learn form Russia and stop the homosexualization of our nation," Diane Gramley, a representative of the AFA's Pennsylvania affiliate told the crowd at Friday's event. "It's time for the United States to stop using our children as lab rats to see how they react to homosexual propaganda."
Lively noted at the press conference that he considers most family-values crusaders too timid and said that he believes strong laws, such as the recently-passed Russian measure that criminalizes public support of same-sex relationships, are the only way to keep gay activists from "tearing down the fabric of society."
After the event, the crowd spilled out onto the sidewalk. Revin, the gay Russian activist, was standing in the rain, holding a rainbow banner, and reciting the speech he had intended to give inside. "Putin is corrupted thief who invents scapegoats and deflects attention from his crimes" he declared. "His latest invention is the anti-gay law, so gays in modern Russia feel like Jews back in the USSR." Then Sturtz handed Lively a miniature rainbow flag.
Lively tucked the flag into his pocket.