by Holly Fetter, ’13
I recently had the pleasure of accidentally attending the 2012 Values Voter Summit. Midway through a school-sponsored trip to the nation’s capital, our hotel was overrun by perky people holding signs that advertised the conference’s host, FRC Action. This organization is the lobbyist branch of the Family Research Council (FRC), a right-wing hate group. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, FRC “richly deserves” such a designation because it “engages in baseless, incendiery name-calling and spreads demonizing lies about the LGBT community.” Other hate groups include the Ku Klux Klan and Stormfront, Wade Page’s favorite website. The FRC is also anti-choice, anti-tax, anti-welfare, anti-pornography, anti-gambling, pro-school prayer, and they question the validity of global warming. Basically, they hate everyone who isn’t a middle-class White heterosexual Christian Republican that dresses modestly. Which is a lot of people.
I couldn’t gain access to the actual events during the conference, but my friends and I were permitted to browse the multiple rooms of organizations passing out propaganda for their various causes. We’re greeted by a large painting of Jesus kissing the Liberty Bell as we begin to make our way through the right-wing extremist version of a Stanford Activities Fair. We browse through booths with names like Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, Rick Santorum’s Patriot Voices, Porn Harms, and Modesty Matters. There’s a group called ProEnglish devoted to maintaining English as the official U.S. language. Another organization, Adopt a Liberal, invites you to join them in regular mass prayer for a specified liberal – their list includes President Obama, Rachel Maddow, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A woman with a “Real Men Marry Women” sticker across her laptop bag sports a shirt from ONUG, or One Nation Under G-d, a merchant selling glittery t-shirts with phrases like, “OMG – Obama Must Go.” A representative from Family Watch International tells us that the attack on “traditional” marriage is the most important issue of the election, which she visualizes by comparing same-sex marriage to a blank sheet of paper and heterosexual marriage to a $100 bill. (I’m still trying to make sense of that metaphor, and of the fact that she finds marriage to be more important than stuff like fixing the economy or dealing with anti-U.S. sentiment across the globe). The only perks of our tour through hate-fueled Disneyland was the free Liberty University lipbalm and the photo op with a cardboard cutout of Mitt Romney.
I was ready to dismiss FRC and their followers as some radical sect of Republicanism, until I discovered that the keynote speaker for their conference was Congressman Paul Ryan, and that Mitt Romney addressed the crowd via video. This may have been just another stop on the campaign trail for these men, but it is a significant one. They believe that the Values Voter Summit is a valuable use of their resources, despite the fact that the event’s host organization is a known hate group. As November approaches, we cannot forget that the Republicans are haters. I’m not condeming all members of the GOP – a straight, Republican friend of mine sports a pro-LGBT wristband, and that gesture means a lot to me. However, the Republican Party as a whole – via the actions of its elected leadership – has officially endorsed hatred. By addressing this summit, Romney and Ryan remind us that the GOP supports and encourages a culture of intolerance. So please don’t abandon your values when you cast a vote this year.
To learn more about the Republican Party’s stance on mainstream LGBT issues, see this handy guide from the Christian Science Monitor.
Holly is a Senior majoring in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.