Family Research Council Whines, Fundraises Off Subpoenas from Trans Servicemembers Lawsuit

The Family Research Council posits itself as nonprofit advocacy group advancing "faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview." Citing FRC's words and actions, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dubbed FRC a "hate" group, targeting the LGBT community in particular. Lawsuits arguing the transgender individuals have a right to openly service in the US armed forces is about to put that designation to the test. And while FRC isn't happy about it, at least they can fear monger and raise some money.

There's no real surprise about FRC's public policy position. The FRC website says: "Family Research Council believes that homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed. It is by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects." It's a position FRC has prominently featured since 2013, citing the bible and other supposedly unimpeachable anti-LGBT Christian sources.

Recently, Peter Sprigg, FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, published a new 25-page brochure entitled "How to Respond to the LGBT Movement" focusing on the "attack on the previously undisputed reality that human beings are created either male or female." It concludes by asserting that, "In recent years, public discussions about homosexual and transgender issues have taken an ominous turn—ominous, that is, for the future of democracy, academic freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. Perhaps frustrated with the pace of social change in a democratic society, those demanding public affirmation of homosexual conduct and relationships and of non-biological gender identities have begun to abandon the methods of honest and respectful debate, and demand that no debate on the issues of sexual orientation or gender identity be permitted."

Sprigg argues that the information in his brochure establishes "that there are legitimate grounds for debate on the origin, nature, and consequences of both homosexuality and gender dysphoria. Let all people of goodwill—regardless of their politics, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity—agree that the debate should continue, with a respect for honest research and for the freedom of thought, speech, and religion."

People of goodwill might agree to a civil debate if, in fact, the sources for Sprigg's conclusions were not rooted in discredited "junk science." After signing SB 1171, a bill banning so-called "conversion therapy" that withstood countless political and legal challenges, California Gov. Jerry Brown said sexual orientation change efforts "have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery"—and the whole world heard him. Nonetheless, Sprigg cites discredited NARTH and Focus on the Family "research" to prove his points.

Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, took a sledgehammer to NARTH's attempt to stop SB 1171. "NARTH and Liberty Counsel want it to be about beliefs and ideology. They're presenting this as the state trying to suppress their point of view," Minter said in 2009. "We want to make sure the court understands it has nothing to do with that. This is about stopping therapists who are licensed by the state of California from engaging in practices that every leading mental health organization in the country has recognized are not only ineffective but actually put young people at risk of very serious harm, including death by suicide."

The "ex-gay" industry is trying the same tactics again in their attacks on a new bill, AB 2943, authored by out Assemblymember Evan Low with backing from the California LGBT Legislative Caucus. This bill protects adults, as well as children in describing "conversion therapy" as "a fraudulent business practice that misleads consumers and exposes LGBTQ people to damaging psychological abuse," according to an Equality California press release. AB 2943 just passed with a bipartisan vote of 50-14 in the full Assembly and is headed to the Senate.

At the heart of these legislative takedowns of "conversion therapy" is the democratic worldview that "faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture" ought to stem from an individual's right to freedom of expression and the unalienable Rights pledged in the Declaration of Independence—equality, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The fight against FRC and the anti-LGBT coalition taking a stand against open trans military service is about to face a significant legal test—and they aren't happy about it. Plaintiffs in Doe v. Trump, the lawsuit brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLAD in D.C. district court, have asked presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to compel FRC and Heritage Foundation, who are nonparties to the lawsuit, to comply with subpoenas requesting documents pertaining to the trans ban. (Read the motion here:  The request has not yet been ruled on so fireworks may be in store.

As the Los Angeles Blade has previously reported, FRC's Tony Perkins and Heritage have worked closely with Vice President Mike Pence to orchestrate the ban. In fact, congressional lawmakers asked the Pentagon last October for proof that their experts advised Trump on the ban, not Pence and Perkins.

Perkins may have a foot in the Oval Office and be bosom buddies with Mike Pence, but FRC cannot ignore subpoenas. So—despite having a hefty font of funds—$12,065,844 in total revenue, with 13% or $1,518,703 in Executive compensation, according to FRC Inc's Form 990 —Perkins used the opportunity to play the fear-mongering victim card to fundraise off the prospect of having to turn over documents about their role in the Trump/Pence ban on trans servicemembers.

"You'll recall that last July, President Trump kept his pledge to end the Obama era of social experimentation in our nation's armed forces. Moving away from political correctness and putting the focus on the military's mission of preparing to fight and win wars, he announced that the military would return to the status quo policy of not allowing individuals to serve who identify as transgender," Perkins wrote in an email pitch.

"Despite fierce push back from LGBT activist groups, the Department of Defense released their report last month reinforcing the administration's commitment to implementing policies that are essential to keeping our military strong and our country safe. Upset by these actions, groups like the National Center for Lesbian Rights and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders have resorted to one of their favorite avenues to impose their fringe agenda: the court system," Perkins continued.

"Last fall, these activists sued the Trump administration to put a hold on the policy change. And now they have issued subpoenas, demanding that we produce all communications on the topic between senior leaders at Family Research Council and the administration. We've had to hire a law firm to represent us in the case, and our lawyers have objected to this demand, asserting our First Amendment religious freedom and speech rights. The LGBT activist groups have now filed a motion seeking a court order compelling us to turn over the privileged documents."

The money shot: "Let me be clear, the purpose of these subpoenas is not to resolve any constitutional questions. Their intent is clear — to intimidate FRC and our supporters from standing up for our military service members. They also know that it takes significant time and resources to respond to subpoenas, scarce time and resources that we should be focusing on advancing faith, family, and freedom.

‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.' (Eph. 6:10, ESV)"

Perkins goes on to say that for 35 years, FRC has stood alongside everyday Americans who have been targeted for their faith."

Now FRC is being targeted, Perkins claims. "If standing up against injustice stirs your heart, we now need you to stand with FRC. Will you pray for us as we face this legal challenge? And will you prayerfully consider a generous gift to help us fight this attack as we continue to stand strong and defend your right to influence your government?"

Or, perhaps said another way, will you help us shield the truth from a federal court? To paraphrase Betty Davis, "fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride."


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