Violent Rhetoric from Family Research Council Sets Stage for Violent Treatment of LGBT Activists
Following Event Speaker's Admonition to "Beat Up" Demonstrators, LGBT Activists Unnecessarily Roughed Up Despite Efforts to Comply
WASHINGTON, DC -- Last weekend at the "Values Voter Summit," sponsored and organized by the Family Research Council, GetEQUAL -- a national civil rights organization fighting for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans -- encountered a violent and extreme reaction from what appeared to be a hired security firm and from conference-goers when activists entered the conference announcing, "Your values are killing us!"
Seven activists entered the Values Voter Summit at the conclusion of Saturday's morning plenary, holding a rainbow American flag, quoting anti-LGBT comments from Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins, and responding with "Your values are killing us" -- referring to the prevalence of LGBT youth who have been violently bullied or have taken their lives based on the religion-based bigotry from groups like FRC. As soon as the activists began chanting, guards from what appeared to be a private security firm hired by conference organizers dragged the activists out of the event, taking two out through a separate exit and taking the rest out through the hotel lobby while kicking, pushing, and choking them.
Video from the action can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YT6U_TUeug4. In the video, you can hear individuals shouting things like, "Our values are not killing you -- it’s AIDS and you're spreading it!" and "Get out of my country!" -- despite the fact that one of the activists is an Iraq War veteran.
For years, the Family Research Council has used harmful and sometimes violent language when talking about LGBT Americans -- enough to be designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group (http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/the-hard-liners).
This particular event was no exception, featuring the president of the Media Research Council, Brent Bozell, who announced from the podium, "Any demonstrators, go ahead and leave right now. If you see any demonstrators, beat 'em up on the way out. All right...that's not politically correct..." This violent rhetoric was part of Bozell's introduction of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who spoke just minutes before activists entered the conference space.
"We had prepared ourselves for the risks related to direct action, including violence, after we saw Mr.Bozell's comments over Twitter. But we were still surprised to be put in chokeholds, shoved up stairs, trampled, and insulted with violent language by participants and staff of a conference that calls themselves 'value voters,'" said Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, one of the activists involved on Saturday and GetEQUAL's national field director. "It was clear to us that the environment of this Family Research Council conference was one of violence, hatred, and unmitigated discrimination. Violence and hate are not American values!"
"Throughout the planning of this action, we had decided that we would follow any instructions from law enforcement or security," said Charles Butler, co-lead organizer with GetEQUAL DC. "The problem was that when the action took place, there weren't any instructions -- just hands-on force and insults with several of the 'values voters' joining in this display of violence. Saturday gave us all a chance to see what these people's values really are."
GetEQUAL is a national, direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBT community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL, please visit: http://www.getequal.org. You can follow GetEQUAL on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/getequal, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/GetEQUAL, or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/getequal.blog comments powered by Disqus